I am sometimes asked the question, “Do you not believe that God can save someone and hold on to him or keep him saved until death?” The Bible in numerous places states that God will never leave you nor forsake you. Please note that in this sentence it does not say that you cannot leave Him or forsake Him. This sentence refers only to God. The question above asks me whether I believe in the sovereignty of God. Let us consider this question in view of the following:
Is God’s sovereignty to be questioned because of the following?
1. Permitted Lucifer to rebel against Him.
2. Permitted Lucifer to become Satan.
3. Permitted Satan to be the ruler of this world (John 12:31; John 14:30; John 16:11; Revelation 12:9).
4. Permitted Satan to be the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4)
5. Created Adam and Eve primarily as spirits yet allowed Satan to deceive Adam and Eve, causing the carnal nature.
6. Permitted all descendants of Adam to inherit the carnal nature (Adamic nature).
7. Allowed His Son to die on a cross as the sin offering, taking each sin committed by every human being that has lived or will ever live into Himself.
8. Created man to have free will, even after the resurrection of His Son and the sending of the Holy Spirit.
9. Made His calling [invitation] to be irrevocable, yet allowed His Son to clarify by saying, “For many are called [invited] but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:14.
10. Warned us that in order to make His choosing and election sure we must be growing in the qualities listed at 2 Peter 1:5-7 (so that we can receive His magnificent promises and become partakers of His divine nature, thereby escaping the corruption that is in the world [cosmos–sociological order] by lust). 2 Peter 1:4.
11. State that we are “sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13) yet state that after being sealed we must come to a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him so that the eyes of our heart may enlighten us to know the hope of his calling (Ephesians 1:17-18).
12. Say to us that if a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, his righteous deeds will be forgotten by God, and we shall surely die (Ezekiel 18:24).
13. Have Paul in speaking to formerly Spirit-filled believers, state: “You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched [evil-eyed; blinded] you, before whose eyes the Messiah was publicly portrayed as crucified?” (Galatians 3:1) What had happened here? They turned from the Spirit back to legalism (carnality – observing the law) Galatians 3:2-3. They turned from relying on the Spirit to relying on human efforts (religion) in keeping religious rules or the Ten Commandments (the “Law”), and all of them were now under a curse. Galatians 3:10.
14. Have Paul (of all humans who ever has or ever will live on this earth) to write, “but I beat my body and make it my slave, so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:27. Paul is talking about being disqualified for the prize (eternal life). 1 Corinthians 9:24-25.
The answer is yes, God is sovereign! Sovereignty means that God does what He wants, when He wants, and how He wants, without asking the opinion of anyone! God wrote the rule book and that rule book is the Word of God. What is the Word of God? It is the Old Covenant and the New Covenant, and the New Covenant gives us eternal life through the Seed (Yeshua Messiah Himself). Messiah, as Seed of Abraham, gives us the legal rights [dikaiomata] to all of God’s promises, including the primary promise of eternal life. But we must meet the conditions in order to stay in the Spirit and not in the desires of this age and world. 2 Peter 1:3-11.
Yes, God is sovereign. “By the Word of the Lord the heavens were made, And by the breath of His mouth all their host.” Psalm 33:6. And if God removes His Spirit, all of mankind will return to dust. Psalm 104:29b.
Yes, God is sovereign. But God is a Spirit, not a soul with a lowly human mind. John 4:24. We cannot make God into what we want Him to be. We cannot use our minds to rationalize who He is or what He wants. We must see God according to His Words in His Scriptures. And Messiah says we must be killing the desires of our souls and taking up our crosses daily in order to follow Him. And we must be putting to death the deeds of our bodies in order to replace the lusts in the world with walking after the Spirit, not the flesh. We are further warned to be warring in our minds against Satan in order to bring every thought captive and obedient to Messiah. This is what God requires.
If we want to belong to Messiah, we must be crucifying our carnal natures (flesh) with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:24. Messiah died on the cross in order to give us legal rights [dikaiomata], but we must apply the cross in our own lives so we can submit to Messiah and His Father instead of submitting to the desires of the soul (desires of this age), the mind (from Satan), and the body (desires of this world). Titus 2:11-13; 2 Peter 1:3-4.
So then, let me answer the question of whether I believe God can save one and hold on to him until death. The question is irrelevant and is a judgmental assumption that if I say no, I do not believe in God’s sovereignty. God wrote the rule book, and God has hundreds of warnings against falling away, straddling the fence, and becoming negligent. In Revelation the Messiah says in several places in chapters 2 and 3 that those who receive eternal life are those who overcome. Overcoming is not an event of initially being saved; it is a walk through life. See specifically Revelation 21:7, which states clearly those who receive eternal life: “He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.” “These things” in the foregoing verse refer to eternal life (see Revelation 21:1-6). Please note serious words in Ezekiel 18:24 about how important it is to overcome:
“But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity and does according to all the abominations that a wicked man does, will he live? All his righteous deeds which he has done will not be remembered for his treachery which he has committed and his sin which he has committed; for them he will die” (emphasis added).
This is confirmed by the New Covenant:
“If they have escaped the corruption of the world [the definition of sanctification or holiness] by knowing [epignosis] our Lord and Savior Messiah and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way [hodos] of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: ‘a dog returns to its vomit,’ and, ‘a sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud’” (emphasis added). 2 Peter 2:20.
Epignosis is the Greek word used for “knowing” or “knowledge” in 2 Peter 2:20, above. Epignosis means: “an intense knowledge, meaning clear and exact knowledge…it expresses a more thorough participation in the object of knowledge on the part of the subject” (emphasis added).
Please note that “escaping the corruption of the world” is the definition of sanctification and holiness. Please look again at 2 Peter 1:3-4:
“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these [His promises] He has given us His very great and precious promises so that through Him you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption of the world caused by evil desires” (emphasis added).
1 Timothy 2:3-4 states: “This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and come to a knowledge [epignosis] of the truth.” Please note that the same word for truth—epignosis—is used here as it is in 2 Peter 2:20. We are saved and then come to a knowledge of the truth. In 2 Peter 2:20 they has received this knowledge (previously saved) before falling away.
A person cannot be sanctified unless he has been saved. Thus, to say that a person was never saved if he falls away is not correct because of 2 Peter 2:20, Ezekiel 18:24, and other verses. Furthermore, in Revelation 3:5 Jesus stated the following:
“He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the Book of Life but will acknowledge his name before my Father and His angels.”
Please note that if you overcome He will never blot out your name from the Book of Life. This does not say if you are saved your name will not be blotted out from the Book of Life but states that if you overcome your name will not be blotted out from the Book of Life. To blot out means to erase in modern English. Something cannot be blotted out or erased unless it was already there. A name must be in the Book of Life before it can be blotted out or erased. This is confirmed in Exodus 32:31-33 (last sentence):
“So Moses went back to the Lord and said, ‘Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. But now please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.’ The Lord replied to Moses, ‘Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of My book.'”
These verses make clear Hebrews 6:4-6 and 2 Peter 1:8-10.
For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Messiah. But if anyone does not have them [2 Peter 1:5-7], he is nearsighted and blind and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from all of his past sins (emphasis added). Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Messiah. 2 Peter 1:8-10.
The “way” [hodos] of righteousness in 2 Peter 2:21 means: “way, path. A way, a road in which one travels (Matthew 2:12; 8:28; 10:5), a journey (Luke 2:44; Acts 1:12; 1 Thessalonians 3:11); a way, manner of life or action, custom (Acts 14:16; Romans 3:16; James 1:8; Jude 1:11); particularly with a general following, a way leading to, a method or manner of obtaining (Acts 24:14; 2 Peter 2:21).
The question is not whether God is sovereign. The question is who is sovereign in our lives? Are the five senses of our bodies more interested in what the world has to offer than in spiritual matters? Are our minds and souls (I/ego) more interested in things of this age than in spiritual union with God? Do we allow Satan to condemn us in our minds, make us feel guilty, or set our minds upon things of this world, or do we set our minds on things that are above, knowing that through Messiah’s resurrection we do not have to be any longer under condemnation?
Whether God can do one thing or another is not the question. God can do anything He wants; and what He has done, is doing, and will do is set forth in His Word. The question is whether God is Sovereign in my life or are the desires of this age and the world sovereign. If God is Sovereign, then I am applying Messiah’s cross in my life by executing (crucifying) my carnal nature; otherwise, I am in rebellion against God. “I have been crucified [am being crucified] with Messiah; and it is no longer I who live [am living], but Messiah lives [is living] in me; and I live [am living] by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Galatians 2:20. If I am not executing my carnal nature, Messiah is not living in me.
Our souls—will, intellect and emotions (the mind)—are saved; and this allows the spirit to live—the Spirit inside us. Saving the soul—related to this age (time)—is not the same as living (the breath from the Spirit and eternal life). The blood saves our souls; and the Spirit gives us eternal breath (life).
We must heed a clear warning: “My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover a multitude of sins.” James 5:19-20. James is not talking to people who just think they are believers. He is speaking of believers who wander from the way of truth. In these Scriptures, a brother who wanders from the truth is called a sinner. He must return to obedience because if he persists in his wandering ways, the result will ultimately be death to the soul (a lost soul), if there is no turning back to God (repentance).
“A man who strays from the path of understanding comes to rest in the company of the dead.” Proverbs 21:16.
Paul instructs Timothy to set an example to believers in speech, life, love, faith and purity. Then he tells Timothy that he must watch his life and doctrine closely and persevere in them in order to save himself (Timothy) and his hearers, who are believers. “Command and teach these things. Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do you will save both yourself and your hearers [believers].” 1 Timothy 4:11-16 (emphasis added). Please note that Paul was speaking to Timothy, a believer, and about those hearing Timothy, also believers. But even though they were believers—and saved and born again—Paul says to Timothy that you (Timothy) must persevere so you and your hearing believers will be saved.