In the end, we must trust God because our ability to understand God’s justice and love are limited by our humanness. We don’t know all like God does. We cannot see the whole picture. We do not truly understand what sin is except that it privates what it is good.
“God is Love,” writes John (1 John 4:8). Out of this love, God loved us even while we were yet enemies (Rom 5:10; cf. 5:8). And this love accords with the divine desire that none “should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Pet 3:9). Hence, God takes no “pleasure in the death of the wicked” (Ezek 18:23).
Given all of this, shall all be saved in the end? Do God’s love and power mean that God has both the motive (love) and means (power) to save all? Of course. He truly has made salvation available for all by his death and resurrection. But this perfect sacrifice does not entail that all will, in fact, be saved since not all do, in fact, believe in Jesus Christ for their salvation.
Here are 3 reasons why I believe that not all shall be saved.
First, our hope for all to be saved does not mean that all shall be saved.
Paul said, “my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved” (Rom 10:1). He spoke of his kinsman according to the flesh (Jewish people). We must grant that Paul hoped such because there was a cause of concern—namely, that all would not be saved.
Yet be careful not to make this prior conclusion alone and thereby miss the point of the passage: Paul’s ardent desire was for the salvation of the lost. He desired and prayed for the salvation of all.
Paul knows that the full number of Jewish people will eventually attain salvation in the future (Rom 11:12). But in the meantime, he desires to “save some of them” (Rom 11:14). Paul mixes ardent hope with a zeal to save as many as he can in the present age. We should share that ethos by having a sort of unstoppable hope matched with an untractable zeal.
Second, the next age, though partly present now, will be the final age—and no other age will follow from it. Hence, it is an unending age. Put simply, hell is an eternal reality.
The Greek word often translated eternal (aion) can mean eternal (especially as an adjective) but more often means “age.” And so we can agree partly with David Bentley Hart’s critique of eternal punishment on the basis of the Greek word (aion). But only part of the way. The last age in a sequence of ages by definition has no terminus, no end. It is, in fact, eternal; or perhaps more accurately, it is everlasting.
But even at the lexical level, the adjectival form of the word “age” (aionios) often works as a title for God to indicate his permanence and, well, eternity (Gen 21:33; Rom 16:26; Heb 9:14; Isa 26:4; 40:28). Isaiah 40:28 connects the “age” or “eternity” of God with his creation: “God is the eternal (aionios) God who founded the farthest reaches of the earth, not thirsting or hungering; nor does his understanding seek things out” (LXX).
If God created all things, then his “age” must extend from before creation unto Isaiah’s present. And of course, biblical authors affirm the endless life of God. So “age” here as a description of God must mean something like the notion of eternality.
Jesus uses the adjectival form of “age” in Matthew 25:41 when he speaks of “eternal (aionios) fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” It seems at least reasonable to assume that “eternal” makes sense here due to the word itself.