Why are some not saved?
This is a huge question we all will ask at one time or another during our walk with Jesus. If God loves the whole world and sent Jesus for all of us (John 3:16), why isn’t everybody saved? There are many responses I have heard over time, and one verse I often hear cited is John 6:44. Let’s take a look.
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.” – John 6:44
As a result of this verse, some have come to believe that what Jesus says in John 6 implies exclusivity with regards to salvation. ‘Since I am saved I know I was elected to be drawn, and since many are not saved they must not have been drawn, for who can resist God’s supernatural attraction?’ is the basic conclusion.
Yet only six chapters later Jesus prophetically makes a definitive statement of what will happen when He is raised up to be crucified. To me, His words put to rest the question arisen in John 6 of ‘who then is drawn by God, some or all?’
“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” – John 12:32
This leads us to another question, if Jesus draws “all people” to Himself, then why are not all people saved? We’re painting with broad strokes today, but let’s try to answer that question with Biblical evidence.
Jesus drawing all people to Himself is surely in line with God’s will elsewhere in scripture. Both Peter and Paul held the conviction that God deeply loves all people and wholeheartedly wants them to be saved.
“This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people…” – 1 Tim 2:3-6
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” – 2 Peter 3:9
Jesus declared He “will draw all people” to Himself. Paul proclaimed God “wants all people to be saved.” Peter insisted God is “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” All of these statements are very inclusive, transparently revealing God’s will for “all people” wouldn’t you agree?
Jesus even went so far as to say plainly… “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” in John 3:17. This would have been an excellent place for Him to use the words “some” or “many”, as He often did in other teachings. Yet we consistently see a very inclusive and inviting offer of salvation coming from our Lord.
“On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” – John 7:37-38
“Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” – John 6:35
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30
Therefore if God loves the whole world, is drawing all people to Jesus, wills to save the whole world, and does not want anyone to perish… why do people still perish?
The stoning of Stephen sheds a great deal of light on this question. Before his death he reminded the Sanhedrin of why, even though Jesus had come for the whole world, they would still be perishing.
“You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit!” Acts 7:51
Why would these people not be saved? They resisted the Holy Spirit and the draw of Jesus to salvation. Not only they but the generations before them had done the same. They were a “stiff-necked” people who “always resist the Holy Spirit”.
When someone perishes, it is not ever because God does not love them, not ever because they were not drawn or not “special enough” to come to Jesus. Thankfully the Lord is an equal opportunity savior, and “whosoever believes” will be saved (Mark 16:16). If then someone is not saved, we know they willfully resisted God’s love and guidance (Matthew 23:37). In doing this they chose separation from fellowship with their Heavenly Father and denied salvation for their soul which was equally offered to them and the whole world through the sacrifice of Jesus.
God is the only one who could sovereignly offer us the gift of salvation, we could not even have the opportunity to love Him and be saved if He alone had not elected to send Jesus and demonstrate His love to us (1 John 4:19). Yet He has also, from the very beginning, sovereignly elected to do something else for us that He did not have to… He gave us choice.
“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live” – Deuteronomy 30:19
Therefore it is now our job as Christians who have responded to God’s drawing to be agents of reconciliation, making His appeal to our neighbors through acts of love, mercy, and generosity. We are to live like Jesus, so that all who observe us might see a glimmer of how wonderful He truly is.
“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:18-21
Therefore I encourage you, go and answer the call to be Christ’s Ambassador. Don’t sit back and say “eh, God will draw people, I don’t need to worry about it”. Can you see how a doctrine which convinces us that people have not been given a choice leads to evangelistic complacency? Friends, if we are going to be like Christ then we must share in his urgency to save the lost! We must work with our Father in this ministry of reconciliation, for all people have a huge decision to make and we want them to make the right choice; to choose life through Christ, so that they and their children may live eternally in the love of God!
Will you join our Lord’s Ministry of Reconciliation with me?