"If God really wanted everyone to go to heaven, He could 'force' everyone to accept His free gift of eternal life." Right? I suppose so.
But if you were forced to accept it, wouldn't you then feel forced to live for Him and do His will? Things don't work so well in relationships when people are forced to do things.
And so, God doesn't force everyone (or anyone) to accept Jesus as their Savior and receive His free gift of eternal life. He invites people to believe it, and receive it. (see John 1:12) But there are plenty of folks who are not interested, and who don't believe any of this stuff.
Some people hold the view that God ultimately doesn't want every single person to go to heaven. If He did, He would make it happen automatically. Or so goes the line of reasoning.
But I would like to offer you proof that God does indeed want every single person to end up in heaven. Here goes.
Find someone who is not a believer. Perhaps it is even you. Now take that person and invite him or her to genuinely turn to the Lord and seek to know Him. That is, genuinely ask God to forgive your sins and sincerely invite Jesus to be your Lord and Savior.
Guess what? Anyone, and I mean anyone who does that sincerely will discover how easy it is to get to God, and ultimately to heaven. As Oswald Chambers wrote, "The reason it is so easy for us to obtain salvation is because it cost God so much."
The proof that God wants everyone to be saved is first and foremost found in Scripture where this truth is clearly taught. (see 1 Timothy 2:4 and 2 Peter 3:9) But there is more proof. And that is found in human experience. Every single person who sincerely turns to Christ for salvation is granted this free gift. Their sins are forgiven. Why? Because of this fact: "God wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth." (1 Timothy 2:4)
You know what you don't find in the world? You don't find people saying, "I turned to God in repentance and faith, but He rejected me. He didn't want me. I wasn't good enough." That sort of thing doesn't happen.
What does happen is that millions of people choose to continue living their lives without Jesus Christ. It's their choice, but not God's choice for them. His choice for them was the cross. His desire for them is eternal life in heaven. But God does not make robots who are programmed to believe. He makes human beings, some of whom respond to His love, and others who don't.
The Bible tells us "Christ died for sins once for all." (1 Peter 3:18) Not "once for some." Not "once only for Gentiles." And not "once only for Jews." But rather, "once for all." That includes Jews, Gentiles, young, old, black, white, brown, believer, unbeliever, Christian, Buddhist, atheist, etc. Jesus died for the sins of all people. But not everyone accepts the implications and the power of this reality.
And so while Christ died for all, there are those who are not willing to "die to self" and live for Christ. In other words, they refuse to invite Jesus to sit on the throne of their heart. They would rather keep "self" on the throne.
Could God force "self" off the throne in the life of every single person? Sure, I suppose so. But if He did, what would happen to those people who feel like they were "forced" to follow Jesus? Do you think it would last? That is not a recipe for a loving and lasting relationship.
"Wait a minute Dan. Doesn't the Bible teach that God predestines some people to hell, and that He even makes this determination before they are born?"
Absolutely not! The doctrine of predestination in the Bible is only for believers, and it is there to comfort us with the assurance of our salvation. Scripture does not teach that God predestines some people to hell. Man's human reason came up with that unbiblical and unloving doctrine.
Whoever wants to become part of the "elect" can repent of his sin and believe the good news. That's how you get into the family. God won't turn you away if you come to the Father through the Son. And that proves God wants everyone in heaven.
"But I am not yet convinced Dan. Predestination doesn't make sense to me if God truly does want everyone in heaven."
And until you get to heaven, you won't fully understand it. Neither will I. But we could say the same thing about the doctrine of the Trinity. "It doesn't make sense to my human reason." That doesn't make it false. Scripture clearly teaches that God is Three Persons in One God, and that God wants everyone to be saved. And because Scripture teaches these doctrines, they are true. The truth of these doctrines is not dependent upon our ability to fully grasp them with our human reason.
There are some Scripture passages that teach Jesus died for the sins of the world. (see Heb. 2:9 and John 3:16) Other passages state He died for the sins of His sheep. (see John 10:15) And still other passages state He died for the world and for His sheep. (see 1 John 2:2) But there is not so much as one verse of Scripture which teaches that Jesus died only for His sheep. Not one. It simply isn't taught in Scripture. Christ died for all, plain and simple. (1 Peter 3:18)
So it boils down to whether you are going to trust human reason more than God's Word. That sort of thing does happen you know. Just as some believers place too much trust in tradition, other Christians give way too much credence to human reason. But man is fallible. God's Word is infallible. Scripture alone must be our guide and the final say on the matter.
So what about you? Would you like to have the assurance of salvation? If you are not yet a recipient of eternal life, then it's because you have not yet reached out in faith to accept God's gracious gift. The gift has been earned by Christ and is being extended to you. But God will not force you to receive this gift. He just won't.
The Holy Spirit is a Gentleman. He is the third Person of the Trinity. And He is the primary Person involved in leading people to accept Christ. But in His gentleness, He allows those who insist on doing it their own way to continue on that path.
The Holy Spirit calls. He invites. He convicts of sin. He brings people to faith. (see John 3:5-8 and 1 Cor. 12:3) But some people absolutely refuse to be led in the direction of eternal life. They are convinced they are just fine without Jesus.
But the proof that God wants everyone to be saved is found in the evidence of what happens every time someone turns to the Lord. In each case, God is more than willing to receive a sincere seeker who brings his or her sin to the foot of the cross in a spirit of repentance and faith. Everyone who comes that way gets blessed, and forgiven, and saved. Eternal life is available for the taking. "Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life." (Revelation 22:17)
There are no limitations in the word "whoever." It is all-inclusive. God's Word doesn't say, "If you have a certain background, you are eligible to come to Jesus." The invitation goes out to all. Repent and believe. Turn and receive. Trust and be saved. Bring your sin to the cross in faith and know that Christ died there on your behalf.
You are the lawbreaker. It wasn't Christ who sinned. We did. And yet, in His amazing love for us, God sent His only Son to be our Savior. There is a part of me that wishes I could "force" you to believe it, because I know what benefits are available to you through Christ. But at the same time, I realize that if you were forced to believe, there is no guarantee you would sincerely want to live for Him who died for you.
So I guess it really all does come down to a person's individual faith, or lack of it. If you don't have it, and don't want it, even God will not force you to receive the free gift He earned for you on the cross. That's just the way this whole thing is going to play out. But there is still time for you to get on the right side of God's plan of salvation.
If you accept it, you will learn from firsthand experience that God wants everyone to be saved. If you refuse it, you will learn from firsthand experience that God does not force this free gift upon anyone, including you.
So which one of these two results do you want to see proven in your life, as well as in your death? Make no mistake about it my friend. The proof is coming to a soul near you.