There are two sections of this article on Jesus dying spiritually as proclaimed by some of those in the Word of Faith movement. The first section contains quotes from Hank Hanegraaff's book Christianity in Crisis, 14th chapter, exposing the false claims of those who are teaching that Jesus died spiritually on the cross and spent 3 days in hell. The second section explains what is meant when scripture says Jesus spent 3 days and 3 nights "in the heart of the earth" and how it cannot be referring to Hell.
As Hank explained, this "Jesus died spiritually" and "Jesus went to hell to be redeamed" theory comes from Frederick K.C. Price who got it from Kenneth Hagin who got it from E.W. Kenyon (an early faith teacher), who got his information from metaphyusical cults.
Following are some quotes on this subject from these false teachers
False teacher quotes are in bold, mine are in
plain text and scripture is in Teal.
"He [Jesus] tasted spiritual death for every man. And His spirit and inner man 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."
(Kenneth Hagin, "How Jesus Obtained His Name," tape #44H01, side 1. Kenneth Hagin Ministries).
"When Jesus cried, 'it is finished' He was not speaking of the plan of redemption. There were still three days and nights to go through before He went to the throne. . . . Jesus' death on the cross was only the beginning of the complete work of redemption."
(Kenneth Copeland, "Jesus--Our Lord of Glory," Believer's Voice of Victory 10, 4 (April 1982).
Jan Crouch, wife of TBN's Paul Crouch, approvingly recited the following from Paul Billheimer's book, "Destined for the Throne,":
As Hank explains "How can anyone miss what the Lord said to the thief on the cross? Jesus did not say, 'Today you will be with me in hell.' He said, 'I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise' (Luke 23:43)."
Hank also points out that "It is worth noting that Jesus on the cross cried, 'Father, into your hands I commit my spirit' (Luke 23:46; cf. John 19:30) "
He also points out how Matthew 12:40 and Eph 4:9,10 are taken out of context and forced to speak of Jesus going to hell when they are merely talking about Christ being dead for 3 days and how David used the same expression in Psalm 139:15, 16.
Hank concludes his 14th chapter by saying: "Jesus did not suffer horrible torture at the hands of Satan in the bowels of hell. Christ triumphed over the devil at the cross! It was His death on the cross that made possible our salvation. How could the writer of Hebrews have made it any clearer?":
"Since the children have flesh and blood, he [Christ] too shared in their humanity so that BY HIS DEATH HE MIGHT DESTROY HIM WHO HOLDS THE POWER OF DEATH--THAT IS, THE DEVIL--and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death (Hebrews 2:14, 15) ."
I would really recommend Hank's book, Christianity in Crisis. It is very well documented. He also has tapes of these false teachers speaking their untruths. They can be obtained through Christian Research Institute.
Some use the following verse to claim that Jesus descended into hell after he died:
A lot of people translate "in the heart of the earth" to mean "hell." But is that what it really means?
In the Greek the word "heart" is *Kardia* #2588 and when speaking of the body it means heart, "for the life of the flesh is in the blood," (Leviticus 17:11) so the heart is the seat of physical life. However, according to Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon, when speaking of the earth, this word means "the seat and center of all physical and spiritual life."
Does any spiritual life originate in HELL? No!
Some refer to the following verse to also mean Jesus descended into hell:
And if one is thinking that the "heart of the earth" means means Hell, then the next logical conclusion is that must be where Jesus descended to.
What does the Bible say is the seat of spiritual life on the earth and where is this for those who have died? Abraham's bosom. Read the story of Lazarus:
Do those in Hell get a second chance at redemption? No.
Would Jesus therefore have lead captives out of hell? No! But he could have led them out of Abraham's bosom.
Did Jonah go to Hell when he was swallowed by the great fish? No! He was in a protected place provided by God in the belly of the great fish. And the same thing happens with those in Abraham's bosom before Christ came to earth, died and was resurrected.
The word translated as "accomplished" in the KJV is the exact same word and spelling and tense, mood and voice as used in verse 30 (which is translated as finished in the KJV).
In other words, when Jesus uttered those last words, his work was completed right there on the cross, shedding his blood for us. NOT IN HELL.
See also a collection of articles critiquing the teachings of Joyce Meyer on this site, on Jesus supposedly dying in Hell.
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