God’s Love Extends to Many
As a scientist, Christian apologist, and pastor, I’ve received thousands of questions over the years from people who’ve wrestled with challenges to the faith. I cherish the opportunity to respond and seek to offer help and hope for each person who asks. Here’s one such question.
Jesus speaks of the road to destruction for humanity being wide and the road to eternal life being narrow. This statement raises a question: How can God be winning his battle with Satan when most of his creation goes down the path to destruction?
Scriptural Clues on the Number of People Saved
One way to approach this question is to caution against judging matters on numbers alone. The Bible doesn’t give numbers when it refers to “few,” “many,” and so on. Nevertheless, based on numbers alone, God didn’t lose his battle in the heavens against Satan. While Satan won one-third of the angels over to his evil causes, two-thirds of the angels remained loyal to God and to God’s righteous goals and purposes.
In the human realm as well, Satan may at first appear to be winning. Jesus himself said in Matthew’s Gospel, “Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13–14). While Jesus’s words imply that the majority of humans will reject God’s offer of redemption from their sins and an eternal loving relationship with him, the minority who do accept God’s offer will not be a tiny fraction.
In the Great Commission, Jesus commanded his followers to make disciples among all the world’s people groups (Matthew 28:19). This charge implies that a large number of people will choose to follow Christ. The number of people in the world today who claim to be Christians (approximately 2.18 billion, according to recent Pew Research) affirms that though a “minority” of all humans will follow Christ, it’s a large, not small, minority. The prophecy in Zechariah 13:7–9 declares that a third of all the Jews living in the land of Israel will become God’s people and will say, “The Lord is our God.” Based on multiple New Testament passages declaring that God makes no distinction between Jews and Gentiles—for example, Galatians 3:26–29—it’s reasonable to presume that the percentage will be approximately the same for the Gentile people groups.
God’s Intent: Strong Love
In Matthew 28:18 Jesus proclaimed, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” This passage implies that it was God’s choice and purpose all along (through the authority of Christ) that only a large minority of people would become his disciples. God could have ensured that the vast majority of angels and humans would choose to obey and fellowship with him simply by endowing all the angels and humans with less powerful wills than the free wills they possess. However, with such debilitated wills, angels and humans wouldn’t be able to experience and express love at the level that God intends.
One of God’s purposes in creating was to magnify the expression of his love. Therefore, God didn’t create us to robotically obey, serve, and please him. Nor did God create us to experience and express anything less than a strong love. He wanted both angels and humans to be capable of experiencing and expressing the kind of love he demonstrates toward us.
The Value of Love
God considers strong, freely given love to be of such an extremely high value that it is worth the price of allowing his creatures to reject his offer of strong love. The apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13 attempts to express the high value of the strong love God offers to us all. He declares that nothing can compare with its value. He explains that if one of us has faith, knowledge, understanding, generosity, and prophetic powers beyond that of any other person, but lacks love, then we have nothing.
Much Greater Love to Come
God’s intent through his creation is to continually increase the expression of his love. Unlike other religions, Christianity is a two-creation faith. In the first creation, God created the universe and the angelic realm to be spheres where he can and does eradicate evil and suffering. Here he increases the free-will capability of angels and humans who choose to spend eternity in fellowship with him to experience and express love to God and to one another. In this creation, through the laws of physics and cosmic dimensions God established, God limits the amount of evil that fallen humans can perpetrate.
In the new creation briefly described in Revelation 21–22, God brings those angels and humans who have chosen to spend eternity in fellowship with him into a realm where all the limitations on the expression and experience of love are removed. With evil no longer a possibility, there’s no longer a need for the cosmic laws of physics or the cosmic space-time dimensions. These laws and dimensions will be replaced with new ones that will exponentially enhance the experience and expression of love that the righteous angels and redeemed humans will enjoy. The love they’ll experience and express in the new creation will be so exponentially greater than anything possible in the present creation that, in the words of the apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 2:9), “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.”
● For more on God’s purposes in creating and his plan and guarantee to win the victory over evil, see my book Beyond the Cosmos, 3rd edition. Anyone can get a free chapter on my Scholar Connect page at reasons.org/ross.