Why is it Impossible for Jesus to Save Some People Whom God Loved?
There is a broad assumption among Christians that God loves everyone. The primary reason people believe this is because it is communicated all the time. In fact, to even call this belief into question almost makes one sound like a heretic in postmodern church culture.
The defenders of this universal love are often offended by the mere breach of the subject, but we must question this belief without fear of man. We should pursue understanding for the sake of the truth. There is no question God has set His love upon His people (Dt 10:15), but has He set His love on all people universally?
To set the stage for understanding, I wish to pose a question, “Why is it impossible for Jesus to save some people whom God loved?” Let us look at our first premise regarding the popular notion of God’s universal love for humanity. Premise #1: God loves everyone. Premise #2: God saves those He loves. Conclusion: God loves everyone, so God must save everyone, otherwise it would be deficient love.
God loves everyone seems to be agreeable to everyone (with the exception of some of us). We sing about God’s love for everyone. We hear preaching about God’s love for everyone. We watch videos that tell us that God loves everyone. We do not question any of it.
If God loves everyone so much, there would be a real disconnect if God did not save everyone. With salvation, of course, we are talking about just judgment, punishment, and eternal hell in the lake of fire. Now these doctrines are not preached much, today. No one makes videos warning about such things. Sure, there are some who have their obsession with end times tribulation in the world but think about the last time you sat through a sermon on eternal, fiery hell.
Christians do not sing about hell, by that I mean deliverance from hell, much anymore. No videos, no songs, and no sermons on the consequences of reprobation. This even reduces the number of videos, songs, and sermons on the subject of salvation. What do we have left to talk about in church? Love. With so much distortion, do we even communicate biblical love with a right understanding?
When Christians talk about salvation, there are only three possible scenarios. First, everyone is saved. This is called, “Universalism.” Second, some people are saved. This is called, “Arminianism.” Third, all of God’s people are saved. This is nicknamed, “Calvinism.”
Universalism says, “God loves everyone, and everyone is saved.” This message is consistent and reasonable if it is true. Arminianism says, “God loves everyone, but only some people are saved.” This is inconsistent and unreasonable, but it is by far the most popular position regarding the doctrine of salvation. Calvinism says, “God loves His chosen people, and all of them are saved.” This is consistent and reasonable if it is true.
The reason Arminianism is unreasonable is because of what we believe about God’s love. We believe, “God, who is love (1 Jn 4:8), saves those He loves (Rom 5:8).” If there are people in hell today, and for eternity, whom God loved, then God is a disgrace for not saving them.
There is another disturbing possibility: God is too weak to save them, which humiliates Him for carrying the title “God,” if this is true. With Universalism and Calvinism being consistent: God loves, God saves all; then, we must ask what makes the unreasonable position (God loves all people but He does not save all) so popular?
Most of the church in Western culture and society over the past four hundred years has followed the teachings of Jacobus Arminius, a Dutch theologian, who was denounced as a heretic at the Synod of Dort in A.D. 1618–19. Arminius was dead by then, but his prodigies had a penchant for being progressive.
In reality, they had simply tweaked the heresies of Pelagius, who St. Augustine denounced back in the 5th century A.D. Arminian ideas won the centuries following their condemnation by the church synod at Dordrecht. They have won the great majority of pulpits in America throughout our history, too. Many Christians could not even tell you why they believe that God loves everyone but is not saving everyone.
My desire here is simply to raise the awareness of how the logic of the majority Christian community cannot make sense. Is this an important topic for the church? Some would say, this debate has been going on for four hundred years so let us find another subject. Others might say, this subject is so obvious, “Of course God loves everyone,” and it is blasphemous to even bring it up as a contradiction.
I write with a sad heart over this subject. None of us is ever going to change the truth from God’s perspective, but there is enormous deception here. As I proceed, remember my heart is for the truth, and I wish only for myself and other Christians to hold to the right position regarding the issue of God’s love and God’s salvation. Of the three positions on salvation, only one of them can be right, and arguably, it is the only one taught in the Bible. Which one is it?
Universalism is consistent and reasonable, but it is wrong. The reason is the doctrines of justice, judgment, punishment, divine wrath, hell, and the lake of fire. If everyone is loved and saved by Jesus, then why does the Bible have so much to say about these “dark” doctrines?
Jesus told the story of Dives and Lazarus, and Jesus did not hide the reality of hell for this man in literal, bodily torment. In fact, Jesus is the most prolific teacher of hell in the Bible. We know little of this doctrine apart from His direct teachings on the subject. It is simply untenable that He would preach on something that does not exist or that does not matter. Universalism is false teaching.
There is more Universalism in the Western church than most Evangelicals realize. It is subtle and does not label itself as Universalism, but where some component parts to Arminianism are missing, we have Universalism by default. “God loves everyone” is Universalism, and it is those components by Arminians that temper the Universalist’s sentiment regarding salvation. As a result, Arminianism only has some people, who God loves, being saved.
Calvinism has a slightly larger following in the Western church than identifiable Universalism. Still, it is a minority position. The premise here is simply: God actually saves those whom He loved and for whom Christ died on the Cross (Jn 10:11, 15; 15:13; Rom 5:8; 2 Thess 2:13; 1 Pet 2:24).
God loved an elect, or chosen, group out of the mass populous of humanity (Rom 5:5; Eph 1:4–5). God saved His people, whom He loved (Titus 3:5). Calvinists believe in hell, and they believe the majority of humanity throughout history is in hell for eternity, under the just judgment of God (Mt 25:41, 46; Jude 7; Rev 20:14–15). The conclusion, like the premise, is simple: God loves a select people, and He actually saves all of them.
Arminianism is far more complicated, even confusing, because it is illogical. The premise is that God loves everyone but only some people are saved. So, Yahweh’s love is universal, but Yahweh’s salvation is not universal. What is the key to the disconnection?
Arminians agree with the Universalists, “God loves everyone.” Whereas the Universalists claim everyone is saved, the Arminian does not agree with the Universalist on this belief. The Arminian agrees with the Calvinist that there is justice, judgment, punishment, wrath, hell and the lake of fire.
So, we see Arminianism is an attempt to be the middle way between to two consistent theories of love and salvation. This is the very reason it is illogical. Why is it impossible for Jesus to save some people whom God loved? We see our titled question is really directed at the Arminians. Stated another way, “What is wrong with Jesus that He cannot save those He came to save, if indeed, He came to save everyone God loved?”
What happens in Arminian theology is that the Sovereign God of the Universe, Maker of the heavens and the earth, and Savior of the world, actually hands over His sovereignty in salvation to sinful men. These spiritually dead men (Eph 2:1) have no capacity for having an interest in the things of God because they do not have the Spirit of Christ in them (Jn 3:36; Rom 8:9; 1 Cor 2:14). Suddenly, God is no longer the center of our theological discussion, but man becomes the subject. You will probably hear it in church this coming Sunday like you heard it this past Sunday.
Listen closely to the song lyrics you sing. Who is the subject? You or God? Who is the object? You or God? What about the sermon? Yes, listen closely to the sermon. Is it about what God has done; or is it about what you need to do? If it is about God and what He has done, then it is likely a Calvinist preacher; but if it is about you and what you need to do, then it is likely an Arminian preacher.
Arminianism is man-centered. It sounds like, “I will; I have decided; I am choosing; my free will; etc.” When God hands over the onerous of responsibility to man, to make his choice to be saved or not, God takes Himself out of the equation. He did His part, but now everything rests on what each man will decide for himself.
Man is in control of his eternal destiny. By extension, God is not even sure who will choose Him, nor does He know what future events may occur. Of course, in this scheme, Jesus saved no one on the cross. He only made salvation a possibility. Arminianism logically leads to Open Theism. God is on the journey into the future with us, and like us, He is hoping for the best.
Some Arminians will not follow the logical forward next step after Arminianism, which is Open Theism, but they will play hot potato with God. In the game of hot potato, you want to hold the potato for as little time as possible before handing it back to your neighbor. God hands the hot potato of salvation to each man, and the wise and prudent decide to accept Jesus as their Savior, and then return the sovereign power and control back to Jesus for Him to become their Lord. The foolish and stupid decide to reject Jesus as their Savior by holding onto the hot potato of salvation and doing nothing. This is the reason Arminian theology is loaded with pressure techniques to try and force people to do something, quickly, “If you died tonight…”
“Accepting the offer,” or “Acting on the invitation,” or “Receiving Jesus,” or “Asking Jesus into your heart, “ or “Responding to the altar call,” or “Coming forward,” or “Raising your hand to receive Jesus,” are all decisive actions made by men to make their sovereign choice to be saved by Almighty God. The problem is that none of this is in the Bible. Each of these maneuvers is a man-made manipulation, prompted by men who do not understand one simple fact, “Salvation belongs to God (Ps 3:8; Jon 2:9; Rev 19:1).”
As we move to close, we hold the truth to be: God is the sovereign Savior, and man is not. God is the subject of our interest in salvation, and man is the mere object. Only in man-centered churches do we find man at the center of our discussion. This is nothing but an aberration, and we must encourage all men, everywhere to repent of man-centered Arminian theology (Acts 17:30). The way to do this, by God’s grace, is to acknowledge God’s will, God’s work, for God’s glory, according to God’s Word. Man is simply a beneficiary, in whom God manifests His work of salvation from before the foundation of the world, through the Cross, in the Christian life, and for all eternity in heaven.
If God does not save those He purportedly loves, then what kind of love is this? It is either too weak to save, which is an embarrassment to God, or it is a loss of sovereignty, by the One who presents Himself as Sovereign (Ps 115:3; 135:6). In which case, He is again, very weak. Weak, powerless love or weak, powerless sovereignty are sad misrepresentations of the Christian God, who is all-powerful and love personified (1 Cor 13:8; 1 Jn 4:8).
Could God love everyone? We suppose so. Could God save everyone? We suppose so. If He did, we would know nothing of justice, judgment, wrath, hell and the lake of fire. Does God save everyone? We know from the Bible that God does not save everyone. Does God love everyone? God loves every one of the people He predestined to be saved by Him (Rom 8:29–30; Eph 1:4–5). Each one of them is loved, and each one of them is guaranteed salvation (Jn 10:28–29; Rom 8:35–39; Phil 1:6; Heb 13:5; 1 Jn 5:11–13).
To answer our question, “Why is it impossible for Jesus to save some people whom God loved?” It is only impossible for Jesus to save people God did not love and had no intention of saving from the foundation of the world. The apostle Paul identified them as vessels of wrath prepared for destruction (Rom 9:22). This is the doctrine of reprobation.
Reprobates did not have their names written in the Lamb’s book of life (Rev 13:8; 17:8). Christ did not come into the world to die for them (Mt 1:21; Jn 10:11, 15; Eph 5:25). The Holy Spirit never came to regenerate them with new life by His indwelling presence (Jn 3:1–8; Rom 8:9, 11; Eph 2:5; Col 2:13; 1 Pet 1:3).
The better question for us to ask, “Why did God choose to love a people and choose to save all those He loved?” That remains one of the mysteries of the Christian faith, and it is truly a glorious mystery. One thing is sure about this mystery: all God’s people praise Him for it. Do you?
David E. Norczyk
Spokane Valley, Washington
April 10, 2021