It is God’s desire that everyone be saved.
If you need convincing, consider this passage:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him,” John 3:16-17 ESV (emphasis added).
For God so loved the world. Not “For God so loved the chosen ones,” not “For God so loved Israel,” not “For God so loved the saints.” For God so loved the world.
I am certain you could probably recite that passage without error, but we absolutely cannot miss this. If we miss it, our gospel becomes exclusive rather than comprehensive and our commission becomes a suggestion and not an assignment.
To receive His heart for the lost, we have to know His heart toward them.
God’s heart for the lost is big.
In Isaiah 49:6, God says, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” ESV.
Every person on this planet, every soul that does not yet know their Father, is a child that Jesus died to save. That’s why it isn’t enough for God to see just one nation saved; it is His desire that all the world would know His saving grace. His heart for the lost is big because He made every single one.
God’s heart for the lost is extravagant.
We cannot even begin to comprehend the eruption of joy in Heaven when one who was lost turns toward their Father and comes running into His arms. In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, we see a son who had broken off relationship with his father, wasted all of his wealth, and found himself deeply in need. When the son returned home to the father, prepared to be treated like a servant, this is what the father said:
“Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” Luke 15:22-24 ESV.
This is how God rejoices over His children when they turn to Him. His heart isn’t hard or cold, frustrated or meager. He doesn’t give us the scraps; He is eagerly awaiting the opportunity to lavish His love upon the ones once lost and to bless them with His abundance.
God’s heart for the lost is relentless.
Also in Luke 15, we see the Parable of the Lost Sheep. You probably know this story. The shepherd leaves his 99 sheep to go after his one that is lost. That paints a powerful picture, that each individual means so much to God that He pursues us without hesitation because of what it might cost Him. But there’s a piece of the scripture that speaks to how He pursues that lost sheep:
“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?” Luke 15:4 ESV (emphasis added).
There is no time limit on God’s pursuit of the hearts He is after. He doesn’t give up after days, months, years of seeking them. He goes after them until they are found, and still He pursues them.
God’s heart for the lost is patient.
2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” ESV.
It is out of His desire for all to come to know Him that God is not in a hurry. In constant pursuit, yes, but not in a hurry. While there is urgency to His seeking, He does not become frustrated. He forgives as many times as it takes. He reaches out through as many avenues as it takes. He never runs out of grace.
Maybe the most important part is that God’s heart is for the lost.
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10 ESV.
Maybe you’ve always known God. Maybe you haven’t. Maybe you were once lost. Maybe you feel like you are lost. If you’ve ever felt God’s heart for you, if you’ve ever even tasted the understanding that He wants relationship with you more than anything you could offer Him, you need to know that He feels the same way about every single person under the sun. If you’ve never felt that, if you’ve never known that God is longing for you and has a celebration waiting for you, you need to know that you’re exactly who He came for.
God, thank you that you are for us and that you are for every person we know and don’t know. Thank you that you’ve never stopped being for us. Help us to see all the world as your children, precious souls that you said were worth dying for. Break us for the ones that don’t know you. Fill us with hope for the rejoicing over them when they have that “yes” in their heart. Let us never forget that there is not one exception to your love. Amen.
Author | Kalli Drake