Is God's Plan of Salvation a Failure Since So Many People Are Going to Hell?

The following is an edited transcript of the audio.

God does not desire that anyone should perish, but we know many people are going to hell. So is God's plan of salvation a success or failure?

It's a success. But what they said was true. 1 Timothy 2:4—God desires all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. 2 Peter 3:9—God does not delight in anybody's perishing. He does not will that they perish, but that they repent and come to a knowledge of the truth.

So there we have it. As God looks out upon the world, he sees a world in which he has a desire for their salvation. And then we see numerous other texts, like Ephesians 1:4, that teach us that he has predestined before the foundation of the world some for adoption and not others.

So he does not act on his desire. There is something deeper. There is a desire, clearly, where God says, "I weep over Jerusalem. Would that you knew the day of peace!" Or in Ezekiel: "God does not delight in the death of the wicked." So there is this emotional reality in God's heart. And then there is the revelation of his action, and he doesn't act on this emotion.

He saves some of those that he desires would be saved. He becomes the decisive opener of Lydia's heart, but not Judas' heart. God grants some to believe (Philippians 1:29). He grants some repentance (2 Timothy 2:26). So some of those that he desires would be saved he saves.

So whether this salvation is a success depends on whether all of that is a good idea and is happening according to God's design. And I would say, It is! God knows what he's doing in having this desire and not fulfilling it at this level of decisive action in peoples' lives. He has his reasons. We don't have to know them all. There are hints in Romans 9:20-23 why he would do it that way, and elsewhere; but we don't have to know.

What we have to believe is what the Bible says about the way God does it. And if God is doing it that way, then he made choices before the foundation of the world for the glory of the crucified Christ to do it that way. And we should call it a success.

Corrie ten Boom uses the illustration of a tapestry. Right now we're looking from underneath, and it's got all these dangling pieces down here of pain and sorrow and loss, and he's weaving and weaving this tapestry for all of history. And when we're there, we will see it from the other side and say, "Perfect."

Full author john piper

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.

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