Paul said about Christ:
"And without controversy great is the mystery of Godliness (refers to the Truth of the Cross previously hidden, but now fully revealed): God was manifest in the flesh (refers to the Incarnation of Christ), justified in the Spirit (vindicated, endorsed, proved, and pronounced by the Holy Spirit), seen of Angels (refers to the fact that Angels witnessed every capacity of His Birth, Life, Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension), Preached unto the Gentiles (would have been better translated, "Preached unto the Nations"; His Atonement was for the entirety of mankind, which Message is to be proclaimed to the entirety of the world), believed on in the world (accepted by many), received up into Glory. (His Mission was accomplished, finished, and accepted in totality by God.)" (I Tim. 3:16).
The teachers of the "Jesus died spiritually doctrine" conclude from the phrase, "justified in the Spirit" that Jesus Himself had to be justified, and had to be made sin, and possess an evil, satanic nature. Thus, they say, He had to be made righteous once more, justified, and born again. But, according to the Greek, even as we have already stated, "to justify" as it is used here is "to declare righteous" or "to show to be righteous." Jesus was "evinced to be righteous as to His Spiritual Nature."
The Bible, in this Passage, is not saying that Jesus was being made righteous, but that His Righteousness was being announced. Jesus never ceased to be righteous; He never ceased to be just. But as a Man, the Man Christ Jesus, the Holy Spirit, in essence, is saying that Christ is just as righteous now as He was before the Incarnation.
Therefore, without any Scriptural support whatsoever, these teachers declare, "suddenly God justified Jesus in the Pit and He was born again."
There is no Scriptural basis whatsoever for the doctrine that says that God arbitrarily waved His Hand over Christ and said, "be Thou cleansed," and suddenly Jesus was justified (made righteous), born again, and restored to Sonship with the Father.
Was Jesus abandoned by God at Calvary, as these teachers claim?
Jesus was God's Own Sacrifice, chosen by Him (Isa., Chpt. 53; Jn. 1:29; 3:16) and never out of Divine Favor for one moment. He was called "an Offering and a Sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savor" (Eph. 5:2). This is in perfect harmony with the Old Testament teaching that the Sin Offering was "most holy" to God (Lev., Chpt. 6).
First of all, it is impossible to separate the Godhead - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. "For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily" (Col. 2:9). If Jesus had died spiritually, then at the Cross" - by Him being lost - He would have divided the Godhead, or at least had made the entire Godhead sinful and in need of the new birth. The idea of dividing up the Godhead for three days by sending the Son of God to Hell as a lost sinner, totally abandoned by God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, is totally ridiculous. This spurious teaching even goes so far as to say that God was no longer the Father of Jesus while He was in Hell.
THE WORDS OF JESUS ON THE CROSS
When Jesus uttered the words on the Cross, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" Jesus was quoting from a Prophetic Passage, Psalms 22:1. He also said, "I thirst" (Jn. 19:28). An utterance based upon another Old Testament Prophecy, Psalms 69:21. When He uttered these words, "My God, My God," the religious leaders and the people of His day misinterpreted them saying, "This man calls for Elijah" (Mat. 27:47).
With these words Jesus consciously identified Himself as the One of Whom the Old Testament Prophecy spoke. Someone has even supposed that Jesus recited all of Psalm 22 as well as other Prophecies concerning Him while He hung on the Cross for several hours. We do know, of course, that not everything Jesus did was recorded. Only a small portion was, in fact, recorded (Jn. 21:25).
Was Jesus forsaken by God?
No, He was not.
God had temporally "turned a deaf ear," in that, instead of delivering His Son from death, which He did do on several occasions, the Father delivered Him up unto death when He became a Sin Offering for others; but this was not abandonment. Jesus Himself said, "Behold, the hour comes, yes, is now come, that you shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave Me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me" (Jn. 16:32). He could say this because "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself" (II Cor. 5:19).
The Bible states again and again that Jesus offered up His Body as a Sacrifice for our sins, that He was put to death in the flesh. In other words, Jesus died physically but not spiritually. Nowhere in the Word of God does it tell us that Jesus died in His Spirit. However, it does say . . .
"Christ . . . His Own Self bear our sins in His Own Body on the tree" (I Pet. 2:21-24).
"Christ . . . was put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit" (I Pet. 3:18).
"Christ has suffered for us in the flesh" (I Pet. 4:1).
"He reconciled us in the Body of His Flesh through death" (Col. 1:21-22).
"We are Sanctified through the Offering of the Body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Heb. 10:10).
"He abolished in His Flesh the enmity, even the Law of Commandments" (Eph. 2:15).
So, while Scriptures repeatedly stress that Jesus offered up His Body and His Flesh as a Sacrifice for sin, not once do they say He died in His Spirit.
God could not die spiritually. Why would the Son of God need a body of flesh? He took on flesh so that He could die physically on behalf of sinners as had the Old Testament Type.
The erroneous teaching, it seems, is that the shedding of Jesus' Blood was insignificant. The following are some of the ridiculous theories of this doctrine.
FALSE ASSERTIONS OF THIS UNSCRIPTURAL DOCTRINE
When His Blood was poured out, it did not atone.
Jesus bled only a few drops, and when people sing about the Blood of Jesus, they do not know what they are talking about.
To comment on this would be a waste of time. The efficacy of the Atonement did not depend on how much blood was shed on the Cross, or how much time was involved in the process of dying. The Atonement's validity depended on the fact that the Son of God shed His spotless Blood and died on our behalf. This false teaching claims that . . .
Jesus was "born again" in the pit of Hell as the first man to be regenerated under the New Covenant. The proponents of this doctrine apparently are referring to the Verse that says, "God . . . has raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the Second Psalm, "You are My Son, this day have I begotten You"" (Acts 13:33).
He was the first begotten from spiritual death, citing, "Jesus Christ, Who is the faithful Witness, and the first begotten of the dead" (Rev. 1:5).
Jesus started the Church in Hell when He was "born again" in the Pit, citing, "Jesus became the Firstborn among many brethren" (Rom. 8:29).
He was righteous while on Earth, but while on the Cross He became unrighteous, and went to Hell, and then in the Pit was made righteous once more. That seems strange when the Bible says that He is unchangeable (Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8).
The first thing we must make clear is that two different English terms were used by the King James translators to translate the same Greek word. "Firstborn and Firstbegotten" both translate "prototokos." "Firstbegotten" (Heb. 1:6; Rev. 1:5) is "firstborn." "Begotten" (Acts 13:33), a different Greek word altogether, refers to the physical Resurrection of Jesus and completely rules out the fanciful notion that Jesus was born again in Hell.
In the preceding Verses (Acts 13:16-32) Paul spoke of Christ's physical Death and the burial of His Body in a sepulcher. Verses 30 through 33 speak of His physical Resurrection from the dead. The Resurrection of Jesus in the Bible always has reference to the Resurrection of His Body and not of His Spirit, since His Spirit did not die (Lk. 24:36-46; I Cor. 15:20-23).
The term "firstborn" in Scripture is used not only to refer to the physical birth of the first child in a family, but also to speak of position and inheritance rights. So, the term refers not merely to birth, but also to birthright as well as to position or status. The firstborn always held a special position in God's Sight, possessing special rights and privileges. In this same sense, Jesus Christ is called the "firstborn" (Rom. 8:29; Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:6).
In Romans 8:29, it refers to Jesus as being the Father of the Salvation Plan.
In Colossians 1:15, it refers to Jesus being the Creator of all things.
In Hebrews 1:6, it refers to Jesus being born of the Virgin Mary.
In Colossians 1:18, it refers to Jesus being the first to be raised from the dead as it regards the Resurrection, never to die again. In other words, Jesus is the Father of Creation, the Father of Salvation, and the Father of the Resurrection. That is what the word "firstborn," means. In fact, the Greek Scholars tell us, that the word "firstborn" is as near in English that can be obtained from the Greek word "prototokos," but doesn't quite give it the full meaning.
FROM THE CROSS TO THE RESURRECTION
After His Death on Calvary, Jesus did go down into Paradise, which, in effect, was a part of Hell, even as our Lord outlined it in Luke, Chapter 16, where the righteous souls - such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, and other Old Testament Saints - were kept, and one might say, against their will. Actually, they were captives of Satan, even though he could not harm them, with our Lord saying that they were comforted (Lk. 16:25).
All of this means that when the Old Testament Saints died, they could not be taken to Heaven, but were rather taken down into Paradise, sometimes referred to as "Abraham's bosom" (Lk. 16:23). There was a reason that they could not be taken to Heaven at that time.
Jesus had not yet gone to the Cross, and Paul plainly stated, "For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins" (Heb. 10:4). While these Old Testament Saints most definitely were Saved, their Salvation to be sure, was predicated totally and solely upon the Redemption that would be afforded upon Christ going to the Cross. In other words, everything hinged on the Cross. It was there that every sin was atoned, which included all the Old Testament Saints.
The animal blood being insufficient to remove the sin debt, this means that the terrible realization of such, was forever with the Old Testament Saints. Concerning this, Paul also said:
"The Holy Spirit this signifying (the Holy Spirit was both the Divine Author of the Levitical system of worship, and its Interpreter), that the way into the Holiest of all was not yet made manifest (proclaims the fact [and by the Holy Spirit, at that] that access to God was blocked while the Law was enforced, except in the most limited way), while as the First Tabernacle was yet standing (show the limitations of the Levitical system):
"Which was a figure for the time then present (refers to the Tabernacle being a representation of Heavenly realities), in which were offered both Gifts and Sacrifices, that could not make him who did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience (portrays the weakness of the First Covenant, in that it was based on animal blood, which was insufficient; in other words, the conscience of the Jew was still heavy with realization that sin had only been covered, not taken away; only the Cross could take away sin [Jn. 1:29]);
"Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal Ordinances (refers to the entirety of the Levitical system, which could only present Types and Shadows), imposed on them until the time of Reformation. (The Cross, to which all of this pointed, would address all of this once and for all.)
"But Christ being come (the little word but is the pivot upon which all the arguments swing) an High Priest (presented by the Apostle to show how marvelously the one Offering of our Lord Jesus Christ transcends all the Types and Shadows of the old) of good things to come (should have been translated, of the good things realized), by a greater and more perfect Tabernacle (presents Christ Himself as the more Perfect Tabernacle), not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building (Christ is not a flimsy structure like the Tabernacle of old);
"Neither by the blood of goats and calves (proclaims by the fact of the continued need of more Sacrifices that it was not properly effected), but by His Own Blood (presents the price paid) He entered in once into the Holy Place (presents Christ doing what no other Priest had ever done; He offered a Sacrifice that was complete, which means it would never have to be repeated; thereby, the Heavenly Tabernacle was opened to Him; and if opened to Him, it was opened to us as well), having obtained Eternal Redemption for us. (This proclaims what was accomplished by the giving of Himself on the Cross)" (Heb. 9:8-12).
As we have stated, Jesus did go down into Paradise, which was a part of Hell, where the righteous souls were, but there was no record that He ever went into the burning Pit. This is the place to which Jesus was referring when He said to the dying thief, "Today shall you be with Me in Paradise" (Lk. 23:43). He was speaking of that place in the heart of the Earth where He would go. The other thief would go to the punishment side of Hell where the rich man was.
HE LED CAPTIVITY CAPTIVE
After Jesus died on the Cross, He went down into Paradise to "lead captivity captive" (Eph. 4:8). This strange term means that all of the Old Testament Saints were actually captives of Satan, in effect, kept in this place against their will, in fact, awaiting the coming of Christ. And let it be understood, when Jesus went down into this place, He did not go there as a defeated worm, as some claim, but He went as a victorious conqueror, which, in fact, He was. That is what the Scripture means when it says that Christ descended first into Hell, the lower parts of the Earth (Ps. 16:10; Acts 2:27; Eph. 4:8-10). He captured these righteous souls from Satan, and there was nothing the Evil One could do about it, leading them captive to Heaven when He ascended on high. This fulfilled Psalms 68:18.
Prior to this, as stated, all righteous souls went into Hades or Sheol when they died, along with the souls of the wicked who went to another compartment of that place. These two compartments had a great gulf between them (Lk. 16:19-31), in effect, separating the two. Since the Cross, every Believer upon death immediately goes to Heaven to await the Resurrection of the body (II Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:21-24; Heb. 12:23; Rev. 6:9-11).
When the wicked die, they continue to go into this torment compartment of Hades or Sheol until the end of the Millennium. Then death and Hell will deliver up the wicked souls, who will be reunited with their bodies and resurrected to be sentenced to the Lake of Fire, which will take place at the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11-15).
In this context a person could say that Jesus went to Hell, but it in no way means that He went down into the burning flames of the Pit as a sinner. Nor was He molested by Satan, triumphed over by the powers of darkness, and then suddenly justified by God and born again as the "Firstborn among many brethren" (Rom. 8:29). This is an erroneous teaching that does not understand the Scriptural sense of the Atonement and the vicarious Sacrifice paid by Christ at Calvary’s Cross as a Sin Offering.
As well, of Jesus during the three days and nights He was in the heart of the Earth, the Scripture says:
"By which also He went (between the time of His Death and Resurrection) and preached (announced something) unto the spirits in prison (does not refer to humans, but rather to fallen Angels; humans in the Bible are never referred to in this particular manner; these were probably the fallen Angels who tried to corrupt the human race by cohabiting with women [II Pet. 2:4; Jude, Vss. 6-7]; these fallen Angels are still locked up in this underworld prison);
"Which sometime (in times past) were disobedient (this was shortly before the Flood), when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah (refers to this eruption of fallen Angels with women taking place at the time of Noah; this was probably a hundred or so years before the Flood), while the Ark was a preparing (these fallen Angels were committing this particular sin while the Ark was being made ready, however long it took; the Scripture doesn't say!), wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. (This doesn't refer to being Saved from sin. They were saved from drowning in the Flood by being in the Ark)" (I Pet. 3:19-20).
What Jesus said to these fallen Angels we aren't told, but the following must be said.
FROM THE CROSS TO THE RESURRECTION
The Word of God relates only two things to us, even as we have enumerated, which Christ did during His three days and nights in the heart of the Earth, between His Death on Calvary and His Resurrection. They are:
He preached to these fallen Angels who were locked up and, in fact, are still locked up at this time in the heart of the Earth. They will, at the Great White Throne Judgment, be placed into the Lake of Fire with their master Satan, where they will remain forever and forever (Rev. 20:10-15).
The word "preached" as Peter used it here, is not the same Greek word used as we normally think of preaching. It actually means that Jesus made an announcement to these Angels, but it doesn't say what that announcement was. Quite possibly, the Cross now being a fact where every sin was atoned and Redemption afforded for all who will believe, He related to them the stern fact that they had failed and failed miserably.
He went into the place called Paradise, where He "led captivity captive," meaning that He delivered every righteous soul in that place, taking them with Him to Heaven. The compartment called Paradise is now empty.
Those two things alone are all that the Scripture says as it regards what Jesus did between the Cross and His Resurrection. The Scripture says absolutely nothing about Jesus going into the burning side of the Pit, where He suffered as a sinner for three days and nights, etc. All of that is a fabrication.
No, Jesus did not die spiritually on the Cross. He did not go to the burning side of Hell. He was not placed under Satan's domain. He was not subject to the Evil One. He was, in fact, the Perfect Sacrifice as our Substitute, given up as a "Sin Offering." He died physically, not spiritually.
ARE THOSE WHO SUBSCRIBE TO THE JESUS DIED SPIRITUALLY DOCTRINE, SAVED?
Some are, and some aren't!
If it is to be noticed, those who are in this particular
doctrine claim that it's not their business to try to get people Saved, but rather to lead them to a deeper experience with God, which, in effect, will tell them how to get rich, etc. So, precious few people are Saved under these particular Ministries, whoever they might be.
The reason should be obvious, what they are preaching is error and, in fact, a person cannot be Saved by believing that error. So they don't even try to get people to come to Christ.
The truth is, many of the people in this doctrine, gave their hearts to Christ, and were truly Saved, before believing this particular fabrication. In fact, most people in the Word of Faith teaching have little or no understanding at all of the "Jesus died spiritually doctrine." As stated, they have already given their hearts and lives to Christ under other types of ministry. If the cover be pulled off this teaching, most have embraced its concepts, thinking that it is their avenue to riches. To be sure, there are riches involved, but it's only for a few of the preachers and not for the people at all.
Regrettably, the "Jesus died spiritually doctrine" repudiates the Cross, referring to it as "past miseries," and "the worst defeat in human history." Many, if not most, of their Churches refuse to even sing songs about the Blood, about the Cross, about the great Sacrifice of Christ, concluding and claiming that such are "defeatist."
All of that is strange when Paul said, "I, Brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the Testimony of God.
"For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and Him Crucified" (I Cor. 2:1-2).
If the Cross of Christ was the primary Message of the Apostle Paul, it had better be our primary Message as well!