Sticky: Lordship Salvation

If “all who died in the wilderness were never saved” that Mount of Transfiguration thing must have been a real gas.  Aaron, Miriam and Moses all died in the Wilderness and according to Lordship Salvationists must never really have been saved at all … The following two clips are from a Moody Flounders Week address from 2006 by Pastor James MacDonald:





  1. Great question!The Bible rgcienozes the value of persistence in prayer, Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always (1 Chr. 16:11). It also warns against laziness in the same, You have not called upon me, O Jacob, you have not wearied yourselves for me, O Israel (Isaiah 43:22).But your question has to do with repetition. I suppose it depends on what we mean by more effective and what heart attitudes the repetition reflects. If by P.U.S.H., I’m viewing God as a vending machine that I need to bang on until the candy bar drops, then I would say any result that I get is despite my repetition rather than because of it. Jesus corrects this error in Matthew 6:7, esposing it as pagan.But that does not mean all repetition is vain either. Jesus called on the Father three times with the same prayer as he approached Gethsemane. The Psalms include prayers that were evidently meant for repeated use in public worship. So we might ask what the reason our purpose for such repetition is.Repetition of prayer might reflect personal earnestness, authentic faith or righteous commitment (Hebrews 11:6). These are qualities in the lives of petitioners that God does reward. So it isn’t the repetition that is more effective (or not), so much as the heart that it reflects.I also suspect that repetition in prayer is a way in which God guides. I’d compare that to the way I might discuss a decision with my wife. We might go over the matter on more than one occasion. The conversations might repeat themselves, or they develop into new insights or directions. Of course that requires that we spend time listening as well as repeating our concerns.I recall praying for my sister-in-law as she was dying of cancer many years ago. At some point it became clear to me that God wanted me to pray for something other than her healing. Perhaps that is similar to why Jesus stopped after three prayers in the Garden. Interestingly, Paul also stopped praying for his thorn in the flesh after three repetitions, and came to accept the sufficiency of God’s grace. On the other hand, a Canaanite woman found relief for her demon possessed daughter after pleading three times (Matt. 15:21-28). As near I can tell, the apparent reluctance of Jesus was to deepen her faith in the reaches of his mercy and riches of his grace.Last, I would say that repeated prayer can be effective in honing our appetite for the blessings God wants to give to us and to the world. You who call on the Lord,give yourselves no rest,and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalemand makes her the praise of the earth. (Is. 62:7).The prophetess Anna gives us an example here (Lk. 2:37), persisting day and night for over 50 years in the temple in fasting and prayer, precisely because she anticipated the redemption of Jerusalem.A big topic and I’ve only scratched the surface. Perhaps the most important guideline is to remember that effective prayer grows out of appropriate personal relationship with God through Jesus.Hope that helps!

  2. John Cronin /

    Just some questions……..
    Is Christ a Savior or not?
    What does a Savior do?
    Why does God warn BELIEVERS to flee from all kinds of sin if a believer could only walk in victory?
    Did Christ die for ALL of our sins or just some, or %99?
    Is “backsliding” and “turning away” a sin?
    Where is the cut off point for losing salvation?
    Can you be born again AGAIN?
    Can you be born again again AGAIN?
    Once a believer dies and goes to heaven, can he/she lose salvation then?
    Can we be sure we are saved if we can still fumble the ball at the end of the big game?
    Is salvation really a free gift?
    What is a “shipwrecked” faith?
    What does it mean to be “in Christ”?
    What does it mean to be a “citizen of heaven”?
    When you answer these questions, you will have the answer.

  3. Bill Ward /

    Okay, Lord help me, I’m going to spill this can of worms all over the floor. What I am seeing is the irrationality that develops when one attempts to maintain an absolutist “once saved always saved” position. MacDonald, as have so many others, becomes entrapped by this irrationality. His claim that none of those who died in the wilderness were saved is patently absurd (and frankly, outrageously offensive) for many reasons as well as the reason stated by the Parson concerning Moses, etc. It needs no further analysis except to explore why folks like MacDonald feel the need to twist reason out of shape in order to satisfy a particular unbending theological position.

    But conversely, (wait, let me check the lock on my fallout shelter) to suggest that everyone that died in the wilderness was absolutely saved I find absurd as well, though perhaps more defensible and certainly more positive. What is lacking is a thoroughly reasonable and scripturally accurate position which allows both to be true. There is in fact one, and only one “work” that we must do in order to be saved. As Jesus said “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” And again, as was pointed out earlier, the single “work” that was given the Israelites to do before salvation from Egypt was to apply the blood to the door frame (a picture of belief in Christ). God gave them the law after they were brought out (saved) from Egypt.

    Salvation is not lost by breaking the law, or repeated breaking of the law. However, the breaking of the law can create a hardness of heart that can lead to the following: salvation being lost by a continual heart desire to “go back to Egypt”. “Remember Lot’s wife.” Luke 17:32 She turned her eyes and heart to look back at Sodom (her Egypt) Or if the blood is washed off the door frame thinking it is no longer needed. The blood on the door frame is our salvation provided by God that His judgment might passover us. The one work that must be maintained is belief: “believe in Him whom He has sent”. Now please, the loss of belief is not a momentary doubt, but is best represented by a person wishing to go back to Egypt: the individual in his heart gathers all his belongings and family; hitches the wagon, plans the route, and strikes out across the desert; across the Red Sea and back into the bondage of sin and worships the gods of Egypt. There is that point and only God knows that point, where God allows the non-believer to leave.

    I do not understand why this is such a hard middle ground to accept. It is born out through reason, experiential evidence, and scripture over and over again. There’s no need to play a game of semantics (pretending to live in eternity outside of freewill); claiming that the non-believer who returns to Egypt was never actually saved. Did he not pass through the Red Sea with the others? Did in fact, the seed that fell in the rocky places and sprang up quickly before it was scorched by the sun in fact never really sprout? There’s no need for the mental gymnastics and theological semantics of attempting to prove, at the exclusion of the other, that either predestination or freewill is true. Because this is what it always comes down to. Both are true, and both are found in the Bible. Exactly how they interact is the profound mystery that is not explained in the Bible. Probably because it couldn’t be explained and we couldn’t understand it anyway. But what I do understand is that as real as predestination is in eternity, freewill is equally real here in time. And since I’m also quite certain that we live in time experiencing past, present, and future, we are governed primarily by the “laws” of freewill.

    It is unreasonable to assume that ALL were saved or ALL were unsaved who died in the wilderness. It is dependent upon the faith or lack of faith of each individual. God’s salvation involves individuals not masses of people. Israel’s salvation, as a group, out of Egypt is a representation (a picture) of our individual salvation. In viewing this representation, we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that Israel is made up of individuals each with their own unique salvation experience or lack thereof.

  4. Hey Dave,

    I’m going offline for the next week, so seems as good a time as any to thank you for the exchange here and sign off. I appreciate the sentiment in your last post, and it’s good to come across guys like you to challenge me. I’ll say this: you may be right about the wilderness – maybe James is wrong. I read further into Hebrews and maybe “the rest” could be taken as worldly as opposed to after life (oddly enough, I think later verses in Hebrews are the best rebuttal to 7-11 being about not entering Heaven, but didn’t realize that until looking further into your comment). I don’t know, but I’m also not hyper-sensitive about the subject. I understand where you’re coming from, but still don’t think telling people to look back on their life choices to examine how they’re glorifying God justifies heresy. My beef from the start was the talk on the show about how James was pushing Salvation by works and losing Salvation – I stand firm that he says neither. He could be wrong about the wilderness, but there are arguments on boths sides about that one (I’m sure you’ve heard both, so no need to rehash here). It sounds like “Lordship Salvation” involves preaching both works to obtain Salvation, and the possibility of losing it – I still haven’t heard James say those things (In fact, both messages the sound bytes come from he specifically says you cannot lose Salvation). Further, I’m still completely lost about views around here on how one becomes Saved, and how one knows they’re Saved.

    Anyway, I hope we can keep the communication lines open because I respect everything you and John have to say on these subjects and see it as a benefit to have a guy like you around. Take it easy,


  5. Artskoe /

    An act of God’s GRACE in the O.T.:

    “Exo 2:24 And God HEARD their groaning, and God REMEMBERED his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.
    Exo 2:25 And God LOOKED upon the children of Israel, and God HAD RESPECT (marked) unto them.” -KJV (emphasis mine)

    Grace is never an act of man, in fact man usually rejects grace, such as when Christ as born as a man. In this case, Israel believed God and Moses as their leader, and led them through the walls of water. Pharaoh rejected it, and perished!

  6. davesteiger /

    Sorry, sorry, Joe, but I just can’t stop thinking about you, Brother!

    May I ask that you carefully read these passages from the chapter that folks generally call the – oh, what’s that name again, what to they call it….? -oh yeah, the “FAITH” chapter!


    We read:

    Heb 11:23-29

    “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment.

    “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;

    “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;

    “Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.

    “By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.

    “Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.

    “By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.”

    Okay, short quiz:

    1. What KIND of “faith” might Paul be referring to in the case of Moses? A ‘non-saving’ faith? A ‘false’ faith? An ‘insufficient’ faith? A ‘misplaced’ faith?

    Seriously, I am asking that seriously. If, as your church’s website states, when one has FAITH in God, and the Holy Spirit via the Apostle Paul says Moses did, you are IMMEDIATELY Saved and not your own, then what else must one do afterwards? It’s written for all time and eternity here, Joe, we cannot question this, can we?

    And it’s not only Moses in those passages, Joe…

    2. Does the above passage (v. 29) indicate to you that Israel also had “faith,” as well?

    Now look, we have to think about this. The Holy Spirit says that both Moses and the people of Israel HAD FAITH. Pastor MacDonald (and you) indicate that if they died in the wilderness they DID NOT HAVE A SAVING FAITH.

    Joe, what possible “faith” could the Holy Spirit being speaking of if it wasn’t a “saving faith?” Is there any other kind that could *possibly* be construed given the context above? If so, what on Earth could it possibly be…? And why go through all the trouble of recording it?

    So, bearing in mind how you used Hebrews chapter 3 earlier, and in light of this, tell me, did they, or did they not, at one time have “faith?” If they did, then what needs to be fleshed out is WHY that faith, in Pastor MacDonald’s eyes, was INsufficient for Salvation, as he sates that anyone having died in the wilderness did NOT have a saving faith. Then what was it, and why are they mentioned in Hebrews at all, Joe?

    This is a legitimate line of questioning, Joe.

    Let’s be honest, let’s do the math, there might have been a million or more that died in the wilderness in those 4 decades. I honestly admit that I find it appaling, horrifying, even, that any person would conclude them all unsaved.

    “Maybe Moses,” Joe? “MAYBE?” Please tell me that in light of the above passages you’re willing to at least take this into prayer and consider it, Joe.



  7. davesteiger /

    Just curious, then (not picking a fight, Joe!), but if Moses was Saved then how can anyone say the others were not, as Hebrews 3:7-11 does not differentiate?

    Also, do not those passages speak to you from a Law perspective, as opposed to a Grace perspective? After all, the did go through the Red Sea, they did follow the Passover (blood on the door frame) instructions, so what DID they believe if it was not in the One and True Living God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob…?

    Surely it does not make sense to accept the notion that they would do those things in UNbelief. If you accept those acts as act OF belief then wouldn’t you then be indicating that (continued) works are necessary in order to “maintain” an individual’s Salvation?

    Joe, NO ONE even remotely sensible walks through a wall of water on either side of them 60 to 100 feet tall unless they have a boatload of faith, Brother.

    Would you?

    Sincerely asking.

    Let me say, for the record, IMHO anyone teaching/believing that all those who died in the wilderness were unsaved has serious, serious, issues needing immediate attention. There can never be any rest for that person, that person will always be in doubt if they’re taking that position seriously. However, fortunately for them I believe that person is not taking that position seriously.



  8. Maybe Moses was Dave…for the rest, Hebrews 3:7-11.

  9. davesteiger /

    For those wondering why what Pastor MacDonald was saying would sound odd to The Parson and I, we read the following:

    Deuteronomy 32:48-52

    “And the LORD spake unto Moses that selfsame day, saying,

    “Get thee up into this mountain Abarim, unto mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, that is over against Jericho; and behold the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel for a possession:

    “And die in the mount whither thou goest up, and be gathered unto thy people; as Aaron thy brother died in mount Hor, and was gathered unto his people:

    “Because ye trespassed against me among the children of Israel at the waters of Meribah-Kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin; because ye sanctified me not in the midst of the children of Israel.

    “Yet thou shalt see the land before thee; but thou shalt not go thither unto the land which I give the children of Israel.”

    We are certain that Moses was 100% Saved. Yet Moses never left “the wilderness.” God told him to “die” there. Pastor MacDonald states that those who died in the wilderness, “…never really had the Salvation.”

    The flaw is, again, in mixing Law vs. Grace. Moses lived under Law, and violated in exactly one instance (of which we are told, anyway), yet that one instance was enough. (If that’s all it took for Moses I’m doomed.)

    However, the exact opposite is true under Grace – no amount of incidents is enough. And Moses was, without question, Saved by Grace through faith. He never heard the “Gospel” message as we know and understand it during his lifetime, but that’s irrelevant. He was Saved by it, nonetheless.

    The lesson is that Grace is superior to Law for fallen sinners, thank God for it!, and certainly that Salvation and Discipleship are two different things. They should never be confused, but when blended result in this thing known as “Lordship Salvation.”

    Merry Christmas,


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