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I. Introduction

A. Aberrant/Heterodox

I would first like to say that this movement is made up of many to mostly Christian. This is why the Word-Faith Movement is described as aberrant or heterodox.

B. What constitutes Damnable Heresy?

Damnable heresy usually focuses on one of three areas:

The Godhead
The Person/Work of Christ
Salvation by Grace through Faith

C. Word-Faith Quotes

Following are just some of the quotes made by Word-Faith leaders:

To demonstrate the eclectic method used by WoF, let’s look at the Grand Daddy of WoF, E.W. Kenyon.

As quoted from “The Word-Faith Controversy” by Robert M. Bowman, Page 160:

Kenyon and the modern Word-Faith teachers all teach that Jesus died spiritually as well as physically. For Kenyon this was something of which he was convinced on theological grounds even before he could prove it biblically: [b]”Jesus died twice on the cross. I knew this for many years, but I had no scriptural evidence of it.”[b] He eventually found such proof, he says, in Isaiah 53:9, where “the word ‘death’ is plural in the Hebrew.”

Kenyon, Identification, P.16

The point of this quote is that Kenyon along with his spiritual offspring have presuppositions and the look for verses that seemingly fit their presuppositions.

“Do you think that the punishment for our sin was to die on a cross? If that were the case, the two thieves could have paid your price. No, the punishment was to go into hell itself and to serve time in hell separated from God Satan and all the demons of hell thought that they had Him bound and they threw a net over Jesus and they dragged Him down to the very pit of hell itself to serve our sentence.“ (Fred Price, Ever Increasing Faith Messenger June 1980. Hank Hanegraaff, “Christianity in Crisis” page 347.)

“Now here’s the part I want you to get. When He said, “It is finished,” on that cross he was not speaking of the plan of redemption — the plan of redemption had just begun. There were still three days and three nights to be gone through before He went to the throne.“(Ken Copeland, “What Happened From The Cross To The Throne.” The atonement of christ and the “faith” message, Christian Research Institute)

“It wasn’t a physical death on the cross that paid the price for sin…anybody can do that.” (Kenneth Copeland, Audio-Clip “Christianity in Crisis,” Hank Hanegraaff)

“Satan conquered Jesus on the Cross.”(Ken Copeland, “Kenneth Copeland Reference Bible 1991, page 129. Hank Hanegraaff, “Christianity in Crisis” page 338.)

“He [Jesus] allowed the devil to drag Him into the depths of hell….He allowed Himself to come under Satan’s control…every demon in hell came down on Him to annihilate Him….They tortured Him beyond anything anybody had ever conceived. For three days He suffered everything there is to suffer.”(Kenneth Copeland, “The Price of It All,” page 3. WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE FAITH MOVEMENT?” Christian Research Institute)

“He [Jesus] tasted spiritual death for every man. And His spirit and inner men went to hell in my place. Can’t you see that? Physical death wouldn’t remove your sins. He’s tasted death for every man. He’s talking about tasting spiritual death.”(Ken Hagin, “How Jesus Obtained His Name.” Hank Hanegraaff, “Christianity in Crisis” page 164)

D. Logical Conclusion to JDS being True

We have to ask some very difficult questions. If Christ took on Satan’s nature and died spiritually:

What happened to the Trinity? What happened to the Christ God? Did this Spiritual death affect the Father and the Holy Spirit? Did Jesus the man go to hell while Jesus God watched?

No matter how a Word of Faith apologist answers these questions, he will be in the Kingdom of the Cults.

Hebrews 13

8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

E. The Damage done by JDS

What this teaching does is attack the atonement of Christ. If these comments had happened only during public speaking, one might think that these speakers were just embellishing on a story. But, this doctrine known as JDS, Jesus Died Spiritually, has been clearly described in Word-Faith literature too.
JDS teaches that Christ took on Satan’s nature. Obviously that does damage to the Godhead (1/3 of Godhead became Satanic), The Deity of Christ (Christ was no longer Deity while he was Satanic), and the work of Christ (had to be completed in Hell rather than on the Cross).

II. The Atonement

A. We have to first understand the Old Testament regarding sacrifices.

1. Blood Atonement


11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.’ 12 Therefore I said to the children of Israel, ‘No one among you shall eat blood, nor shall any stranger who dwells among you eat blood.’
13 “Whatever man of the children of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who hunts and catches any animal or bird that may be eaten, he shall pour out its blood and cover it with dust; 14 for it is the life of all flesh. Its blood sustains its life. Therefore I said to the children of Israel, ‘You shall not eat the blood of any flesh, for the life of all flesh is its blood. Whoever eats it shall be cut off.’

2. Sacrifice Holy before and after the ceremony

Leviticus 6

24 Also the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 25 “Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, ‘This is the law of the sin offering: In the place where the burnt offering is killed, the sin offering shall be killed before the LORD. It is most holy. 26 The priest who offers it for sin shall eat it. In a holy place it shall be eaten, in the court of the tabernacle of meeting. 27 Everyone who touches its flesh must be holy. And when its blood is sprinkled on any garment, you shall wash that on which it was sprinkled, in a holy place. 28 But the earthen vessel in which it is boiled shall be broken. And if it is boiled in a bronze pot, it shall be both scoured and rinsed in water. 29 All the males among the priests may eat it. It is most holy.

B The New Testament View

1. The Lamb of God

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29

2. The Flesh and Blood of Christ, On the Cross/Tree

Rom 3:25
25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed,

1 Peter 4:1

Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,

1 Peter 2:24

24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness — by whose stripes you were healed.

Colossians 2:13-15

13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.

1 Peter 1

18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

Ephesians 1

7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace

Revelations 5

9 And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,

Luke 22

19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

Ephesians 2

For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace,

1 Peter 3

18 Christ’s Suffering and Ours
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, 19 by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison,

John 6

51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”

Ephesians 2:13-16

“But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby.

Colossians 1:19-22

“For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight”

Colossians 2:13-15

“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”

Hebrews 10:10

“By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

Ephesians 2:13-16

“But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby.”

Colossians 1:19-22

”body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight”

1 Peter 2:23-24

“Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”

1 Peter 4:1-2

“Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.”

Romans 7:4

“Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.”

Hebrews 2:14-15

“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”

1 Peter 1:19

18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

1 Peter 2:22

21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:
22 “Who committed no sin,
Nor was deceit found in His mouth”;
23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness — by whose stripes you were healed.

3 Separation from God

Jesus, like the OT priest, bore the sin. He represented the sinners of Israel with His own person. And as the priest efforts and works accomplished atonement for Israel, so Christ’s efforts and works accomplished atonement for the people of God. This is speaking of a type that is being fulfilled from the OT. The Priest was the representative of the people of God. Every year he would bear the sin of Israel, stand in for the nation, and take the Lamb into the Holy of Holies, behind the veil. The priest was physically taking the sin of the people, not into his body, but to the place of atonement. He did not have sin entering into his body but instead was bearing/ carrying the people’s sin so that it could be atoned for, the same with Christ. He was the sin bearer, or the representative of the people of God. He with His physical body took the atonement before God and the shed blood of the Lamb atoned for sin, sin did not enter into His body for this to happen.

Also, the definition of “Spiritual Death” is not the absence or separation of a person from God. But instead let the scripture themselves tell you what that is. It is the separation of man from God’s favor, thereby entering into the judgment of God, and banishment from His communion. That is what happened in the Garden. And that is what spiritual death is. God has never separated himself from man and has since the beginning when man fell made every effort to bring him into fellowship and right standing with Himself.

Genesis 50:20 KJVA

But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

Acts 2:23-24

Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should beholden of it.

Even the most vile and wicked men are not “separated from God”, but instead they suffer the judgment of God and are outside of His favor, being banished from His communion. But their action and evil plans are not out of the sovereign plan of God, and they only do what they can do according to that nature that has been judged already as they are not favored of God nor do they commune with Him.

If we are going to talk about “spiritual death” lets put it in light of the scripture and define it as scripture does, or show from scripture that “spiritual death” is separation from God in no uncertain terms.

With this in mind when we read what happened to Adam, when he fell, we read that He fell out of favor with God and was banished from the communion he had with God in the Garden. The death that entered wasn’t a separation from God, because God atoned for him and his family, and gave him access to his fellowship through the shedding of blood. What happened was a separation from the favor of God that kept His man in the life and light of the Spirit.

4 It is finished, The Veil

Our Evangelism Explosion training tells us that the Greek word used here for “finished” is Tetelastai which means, “The debt is paid in full”. That debt is yours and my sin.

John 19

29 Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. 30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

When Christ died, the Veil to the Holy of Holies ripped from top to bottom signifying that sinful man now has direct access to God.

Luke 23:45, Mark 15:38, Matthew 27:51

III The Three Days, There are two different views regarding the three days based on scripture

A. The Hades View

One position claims that Christ’s spirit went to the spirit world, while his body was in the grave. Here, they believe, he spoke to the “spirits in prison” (1 Peter 3:19) who were in a temporary holding place until he would come and “lead captivity captive,” that is, take them to heaven. According to this view, there were two compartments in Hades (or sheol)—one for the saved and another for the unsaved. They were separated by a “great gulf” (Luke 16:26) which no man could pass. The section for the saved was called “Abraham’s bosom” (Luke 16:22). When Christ, as the “first fruits” of the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:20), ascended, he led these Old Testament saints into heaven for the first time with him.

B. The Heaven View

This teaching holds that the souls of Old Testament believers went directly to heaven the moment they died. Jesus affirmed that his spirit was going directly to heaven, declaring, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46 NIV). Jesus promised the thief on the cross, “Today, you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). “Paradise” is defined as “the third heaven” in 2 Corinthians 12:2–4.

When Old Testament saints departed this life, they went directly to heaven. God took Enoch to be with himself (Gen. 5:24; cf. Heb. 11:5), and Elijah was caught up into “heaven” when he departed (2 Kings 2:1).

“Abraham’s bosom” (Luke 16:23) is a description of heaven. At no time is it ever described as hell. It is the place to which Abraham went, which is the kingdom of heaven in Matthew 8:11. When Old Testament saints appear before the cross, they appear from heaven, as Moses and Elijah did on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt. 17:3).

1. Old Testament saints had to await Christ’s resurrection before their bodies could be resurrected (1 Cor. 15:20; cf. Matt. 27:53), but their souls went directly to heaven. Christ was the Lamb slain “from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8), and they were there on the merits of what God knew Christ would accomplish.

2. “Descending into the lower parts of the earth” is not a reference to hell, but to the grave. Even a woman’s womb is described as “lowest parts of the earth” (Ps. 139:15). The phrase simply means caves, graves, or enclosures on the earth, as opposed to higher parts, like mountains. Besides, hell itself is not in the lower parts of the earth—it is “under the earth” (Phil. 2:10).

3. The phrase descended into hell was not in the earliest Apostles’ Creed. It was not added until the fourth century. Whenever this phrase was added, the Apostle’s Creed is not inspired—it is only a human confession of faith.

4. The “spirits in prison” were unsaved beings. Indeed, they may be angels, rather than human beings.

5. When Christ “led captivity captive,” he was not leading friends into heaven, but bringing foes into bondage. It is a reference to his conquest of the forces of evil. Christians are not “captives” in heaven. We get there by our own free choice (see Matt. 23:37; 2 Peter 3:9).

IV. Word Faith Defenses

Colossians 1:18—Was Christ “born again” in hell?

Word-Faith teachers argue that this verse means that Jesus was “born again” in hell after suffering there for three days. “Jesus was born again—the firstborn from the dead the Word calls Him—and He whipped the devil in his own backyard” (Kenneth Copeland, “The Price of It All,” 1991).

Christ is “firstborn” in the sense that he is the preeminent one over all creation. He wasn’t born again in hell. Indeed, he didn’t need to be born again in any way (John 3:3, 6–7).

A. 2 Corinthians 5:21 – Christ became a sinner

2 Corinthians 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Jesus did not literally become sin. God looked at him as if he were a sinner. God viewed Christ as a sin offering

B. Christ God let Christ Man suffer in Hell

The Nestorian Heresy has been used my some claiming that Jesus the man suffered while Jesus the God watched on. This flies straight in to the face of the Hypostatic Union.

C. Luther, Calvin

As far as Calvin and Luther for that matter, both have discussed the issue of Christ experiencing Hell. Neither has said that Christ was literally a sinner. But, God treated him as a sinner. Christ never lost his nature. He did not become Satanic. And no matter what happened those three days, he was not dragged in to hell and tortured by Satan and his minions.

1. Nestorian Heresy

One Word-Faith apologist tried saying that the Jesus-God watched as Jesus-Man became satanic and a sinner. The two were separated while Jesus-Man had died spiritually and was then raised from the dead to become born again.
This is known as the Nestorian heresy that was deemed heresy at the Chalcedon.

D. Deflection Tactics

1. Cessationist/Calvinists

Word-Faith Apologists have made it clear that the attacks upon their beliefs systems come from Calvinists and Cessationists. Never mind the accuracy of the attacks upon their suppositions and eclectic use of scripture.

D.R. McConnell is not a Calvinist nor a cessationist.
Dale Simmons is not a Calvinist
Hank Hannegraaff is not a Calvinist
Dave Hunt is not a Calvinist
Chuck Swindoll is not a Calvinist
Jack Hayford is not a Calvinist
Gordon Fee is not a Calvinist nor a cessationist
David Cloud is not a Calvinist
Charles Farah is not a Calvinist nor a cessationist
Chuck Smith is not a Calvinist

2. Anti-Scholarship

The last and perhaps most lethal plank is the ignoring of Systematic Theology, Church History, Christian Doctrine History, and Commentaries. This attitude causes the circling of wagons and the Word Faith believer will only look to Word Faith leaders for their spiritual milk.

If an author is deemed a Cessationist, he cannot be listened to due to his being unspiritual in the Charismatic sense. If the author is Charismatic and speaks contrary to Word Faith, he is deemed to have a bitter spirit.

V. Conclusion

There are many Christians in the Word Faith Movement. I have to consider most of them the weaker Christian that Paul speaks of in Romans. My hope is that reform would come from within. For too long Charismatics and more specifically Word Faith adherents have defended, protected, and supported those who truly teach doctrines of demons.

Joseph R. Guth Jr.

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