The first revival meeting I ever preached was in Rock Island, Illinois, back in the early 1970s. The church already had another evangelist coming to preach to their adults, but wanted someone to hold a children’s crusade in conjunction with that revival. I gladly accepted. That week the workers did a fantastic job of bringing boys and girls. God was at work. Children were being saved nightly, and I was having the time of my life.
One night after I dismissed the children, I was walking across the parking lot to the main building to say goodnight to the pastor when I suddenly felt a tug on my coattail. I turned around, and there stood a little six-year-old boy by the name of Matt Webb. He had ridden one of the buses to the service. His clothes were crumpled, his hair matted, and tears were trickling down his dirty face. He looked up at me and said, “Mister, does God love me too?” I’m sure glad I didn’t have to tell Matt that night that God only loved important people and that Jesus only died for a few. I’m glad that Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. Scripture doesn’t qualify the lost; it just says in Romans 5:8 that He died for sinners (I think we all qualify).
I will admit that to me much of the world is not very lovable. We see people in every culture turning away from God and living in wicked sin. Like Jonah of old, it is easy to develop the attitude that the world deserves God’s wrath and judgment. But the Bible states that, “God so loved the world” (John 3:16). In fact, right after that wonderful verse, God states, “For God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” In 2 Peter 3:9 we read that, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Paul agrees in 1 Timothy 2:3–4 when he writes, “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”
While we may not understand God’s love (His thoughts are higher than ours), we dare not ignore His command to, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:5).
A gentleman once took issue with an article I wrote on the subject of Calvinism. In the course of our discussion, I said, “Look, smarter people than us have debated this issue for years without convincing the other side. It seems that a lot of time is spent on the internet and in blogs criticizing and arguing. I just wish we would take all of this energy and, instead of arguing about it, just go and try to win someone to Christ.”
He responded quite indignantly and said, “Are you suggesting that I would be better off going out and winning souls than trying to get you to see the truth?” That was kind of what I was thinking.
When the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:15 that Christ died for “all,” how can we say that He didn’t? When Scripture teaches us that He is not willing that anyone go to Hell, and that it is His will for all to be saved; how can we conclude that He only died for a certain number, and that He actually has decided that some will go to Hell? While I don’t profess to be a theologian, I think that much of our theology today is an excuse for laziness and unconcern.
Jesus states in Matthew chapter nine that the fields are “white” unto harvest. From my farm background, I understand that when the crop is “white,” it is more than ready to be harvested. Unless the farmer acts quickly, that harvest will be lost. The problem is not with the harvest—Jesus states that the problem is with a lack of laborers. The problem really hasn’t changed through the centuries. God loves the world; Jesus died for all; the Lord commanded us to go and preach the Gospel; but the truth is, we come up with reasons why we won’t!
I’m sure there are people who can explain better than I how man’s free will and God’s sovereignty work and why. All I know is that there are close to seven billion people on this planet whom God says He loves. He said He died for all of them and offers each eternal life if they will receive it by faith. Why do some accept His gift and others not? I am content to leave it with God. I do know that He has commanded us to go with the message. We used to call it the “Great Commission.” I am afraid for some it has become the “Great Omission.”
Not everyone who hears the Gospel will be saved, but I don’t think God minds if we give them the good news anyway. In fact, He commands it: “When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand” (Ezekiel 33:8).