If God loves people, why doesn’t he just save everyone? Perhaps you have asked this question or know someone who has. While the question is good, it places the blame for people’s damnation on the wrong person: God.
God does not want anyone to spend eternity in hell. In fact, he earnestly desires that everyone spend all eternity with him in heaven. Scripture tells us, “[God] does not want anyone to perish, so he is giving more time for everyone to repent” (2 Peter 3:9). Throughout the Bible we see God’s loving and patient invitation for us to come to him:
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
“Come. Let the thirsty ones come – anyone who wants to. Let them come and drink the water of life without charge.” (Revelation 22:17)
The truth is that there are some things only God can do – such as cleanse us of our sin, forgive us, and justify us. At the same time, there are some things only we can do – such as come to him, believe in him, and repent of our sins. While God does indeed love everyone (John 3:16 and Romans 5:8), he has given us a wonderful but dangerous gift. That gift is called “free will.” It is the ability to choose between right and wrong, good and evil, God and Satan, and heaven and hell. God will not force his salvation and forgiveness upon our lives. It is our choice to say yes or no.
Anyone who ends up in the hell is there because of his or her wilful and deliberate decision to reject God’s offer of forgiveness. As the famous British author, C. S. Lewis put it, “The gates of hell are locked from the inside.”