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Although many people will go to heaven, even more will be in hell. Why doesn't God stop the world so that people won't go to hell?
This is a great question - and one that I'm sure has been asked by many people - thank you for giving me the opportunity to answer it for you.
You are right in saying that many people will be saved. Revelation explains this to us when it describes what the redeemed gathering around Jesus' throne looks like:
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9-10)
And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation" (Revelation 5:9)
There will also be a day when the world will come to an end, Jesus will return, and those who are saved will be with him, and those who aren't will be going to hell:
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. (2 Peter 3:10)
So your question is a good one. In answering it though, we have to start at the right place, and I would suggest that means starting with the question - what is God like? What does the bible say he is like?
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:8)
The bible tells us that God is Love! And what's more, God loves us! That’s why he gave everything to save us:
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16)
We reach a point where we can really begin to answer your question. Starting from the point of knowing that God is love and he loves us helps us to understand his waiting - the bible calls it patience. We have to remember that while God withholds his judgement, and holds back the 'stopping the world', two things are happening:
- Yes - people are dying who are not saved, but
- People are also turning to Jesus and being saved!
Jesus wants to give everyone this opportunity to turn to him, repent and know life with God. And his waiting is giving people opportunity to do that. There is a verse in 2 Peter that explains this really well - in fact it was written to answer this very question:
The Lord is not slow to fulfil his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
How wonderful is that? He does not want any of us to perish, he wants us all to reach repentance and a relationship with him! When Peter wrote this he explains that God is not slow to fulfil his promise as some would count slowness - in other words, it may look slow to us and we may not understand his waiting, but be assured, God does not wish that any should perish and so he is being patient with us, allowing everyone an opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel.
Standing in our point in history having heard the gospel, we may ask why the Lord doesn't 'stop' the world now. But what if he had done so 100 years ago? None of us would have had the opportunity to hear the gospel and respond - we would have missed out! God is not merely interested in us 'avoiding hell'. He is deeply interested in man, and made us to spend eternity with him.
When Adam sinned and took us out of relationship with God he didn't just let us go, but pursued us in Jesus Christ who lived a perfect life, died a sinner's death, rose back to life and ascended to heaven - all so that we might come back into God's family. It is this interest in man that causes him to wait, that many more would turn to him and be saved.
In summary then, the Bible teaches us that while there will be a great many saved there will be those who are lost. But the Bible teaches us that God is waiting, not because he doesn't care, but because he loves us and is patient towards us not wishing that any should perish, and that really is a comforting truth!
I hope this answer helps you to find peace with God through Jesus Christ. If you want to know more about what Jesus has done for you please watch the video on the main part of our site: Watch the video
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*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise
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