Did Jesus Die Spiritually, His Spirit Become Re-Created, And He Become Born Again?
Neil Rivalland

The cross of Christ and the Atonement are at the heart of the Christian faith. Our understanding of the doctrine of the Atonement affects our understanding of all other fundamental Christian doctrine - everything from the attributes of God, to the person of Christ, to the doctrine of salvation, and to our understanding of sanctification. It cannot be put more clearly than what has already been written by the New Testament writers of Christ's atoning work found in the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:1-4; Tit. 3:4-7; Eph. 1:7, Col. 1:14). To formulate doctrine beyond what the Scriptures declare is the imagination of man's conceit, inventive theory and vain speculation.

The New Testament atonement, the deity, and the sinlessness of Jesus Christ  are the most attacked doctrines by the cults and the false religions. In this article elaborated upon will be the New Testament atonement and Christ's sinlessness in defense against the unscriptural teachings of the word of faith/ positive confession movement.

Our salvation by which we have been redeemed to God through Christ hinges about the atonement; the propitiatory sacrifice of His body which was broken so His blood could be shed. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; (Eph 1:7).No more was required for our salvation than redemption through his blood (1 Pet. 1:18, 19). To say Christ died spiritually, took on the nature of Satan, was dragged to hell to be tormented of Satan, became re-created in spirit, and born again as the word of faith/ positive confession has taught is the fabrication of the imagination, as nowhere is it to be found that the Holy Bible supports such a theories. Sadly, the teaching that Christ died spiritually is one of the many doctrines they have plagiarized from works of E.W. Kenyon of who's works I will discuss in this article.

One of the key disciples of word of faith/positive confession, Kenneth Hagin, has declared,

[s]piritual death means something more than separation from God. Spiritual death also means having Satan's nature. . .Jesus tasted death - spiritual death - for every man. [Kenneth E. Hagin, The Name of Jesus (Tulsa, OK: Kenneth Hagin Ministries, 1981), 31.]

Roots of the Word of Faith/Positive Confession Movement

Much of Kenyon's theories are practiced, and his writings plagiarized by the word of faith/positive confession promulgators. The positive confession movement, also known as the "faith movement," profess characteristics in their teachings that resemble either identical, or modifications of the foundational doctrines of E.W. Kenyon. The five major doctrines prominent are: faith in faith; guaranteed health; wealth/prosperity; spiritual death of Christ; and the view that Christians are little gods. These doctrines all originated with Kenyon. [Michael G. Moriarty, The New Charismatics (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan), p. 80.]. As any one of these doctrines can be analyzed at length, the "spiritual death" of Jesus is the one I will deal with - the most erroneous doctrine of them all.

The origin of the positive confession teaching can be traced back to the life and teachings of E.W. Kenyon who was introduced to the philosophical ideas of positive confession at Emerson College of Oratory in Boston in 1880. [D.R. McConnell, A different Gospel: A Historical and Biblical Analysis of  the Modern Faith Movement (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1988), p. 35-36]

The religious system promoted at Emerson College was New Thought metaphysics,* which is a system of cultic belief that taught that true reality is spiritual, that the spiritual is the cause of all physical effects, and that the human mind through positive mental attitude and positive confession has the power to create its own reality: either health and wealth, or sickness and poverty. [D.R. McConnell, A different Gospel: A Historical and Biblical Analysis of  the Modern Faith Movement (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1988), pp. 35-36].To believe that true reality is spiritual, and that the human mind has the potential to create its own reality is sorcery. In hinduism this is called maya, and is based upon the ancient sorcerer's belief that the entire universe is an illusion created by the mind. [Dave Hunt, The Seduction of Christianity (Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon 97402), p. 138.]. Incidently, there used to be a children's TV animated program called "Maya the Bee" many years ago. Then it was not as obvious, but today the New Age Movement (based on hinduism) have infiltrated every sector of society, indoctrinating our youth with sorceress practices. Not only is the world being influenced by New Age principals, but, also the church, who are adopting these identical principles and techniques masked or disguised under new titles  and names. New Thought is the old technique called Transcedentalism, which emphasized that thought controls everything. Out of his book The Seduction of Christianity Dave Hunt wrote,

The power of thinking, whether negative or positive, was believed to be sufficient to even create physical reality or destroy it. God was not personal, but a great Mind which was activated by our thoughts and would actualize them into our concrete form. The corollary to this axiom is obvious: Man is divine. Forced out of the church at that time as heresy, New Thought became the basis for such mind-science cults as Christian Science, Religious Science, and Unity. Today's church is being swept by a revival of New Thought, now called Positive Thinking, Possibility Thinking, Positive Confession, Positive Mental Attitude, and Inner Healing. We are very concerned that this time New Thought, which represents inside the church what New Age is in the secular world, will not be forced out, but will remain within the evangelical church to contribute to the growing confusion and seduction. One of the most basic New Thought techniques is visualization, which is now firmly entrenched within the church. [Dave Hunt, The Seduction of Christianity (Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon 97402), p. 150.]

Emerson College of Oratory in Boston, where E.W. Kenyon received his instruction, was "a hotbed of the emerging New Thought philosophy." [John Coffee and Richard L. Wentworth, A Century of Eloquence: The History of Emerson College, 1880 - 1980 (Alternative Publications, 1982).] Kenyon's teaching about "the power of words" and his warnings never to make a "negative confession" [Kenyon and Gosset, Confession, pp. 129-36, 152-55, 182-85, etc.] deeply influenced Hagin and many others who are recognized today as leaders of the word of faith/positive confession movement. Kenyon also taught that man is a little god "in God's class" and therefore can use the same faith-force that God does. [E.W. Kenyon, What Happened from the Cross to the Throne? (Kenyon, 1945, 5th ed.) pp. 62, 173-76.] We allegedly create our own reality with the words of our mouth: "What I confess, I possess." [E.W. Kenyon, The Hidden Man: An Unveiling of the Subconscious Mind (Kenyon, 1970), p. 98.]

The theological deviations of E.W. Kenyon from orthodox Christianity were initially minor when compared to those later on in his ministry. With each of Kenyon's disciples who succeeded him, the errors became more and more pronounced. In his book Christianity in Crisis, Hank Hanegraaff wrote,

Hagin who popularized Kenyon, not only expanded Kenyon's errors but added to them as well. The progression from bad to worse has continued with people like Kenneth Copeland and Charles Capps, and is now sinking to new depths through ministry leaders as Frederick Price, Benny Hinn, and Robert Tilton. [Hank Hanegraaff, Christianity in Crisis, (Harvest House Publishers, Oregon, 1993), p. 32.]

Kenyon taught that Jesus was imputed with Satan's nature on the cross, died spiritually, and went to hell to suffer in our place. [E.W. Kenyon, Identification: A Romance in Redemption (Seattle: Kenyon's Gospel Publishing Society, 1968), p. 15.]

In a thesis submitted by D.R. McConnell to theological faculty, Oral Roberts University, McConnell summarizes Kenyon's reasoning to the physical death of Jesus insufficient to atone, citing:

For Christ to defeat his enemies, He had to: (1) die spiritually and become one with Satan in order to provide salvation from sin and healing for sickness, (2) die physically and fulfill the Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenant, (3) be dragged to Hell by Satan where He suffered the torments for the damned for three days and nights, (4) be recreated in Hell and , thus, become the first born again man, (5) defeat Satan and the Demonic host in open combat, (6) rise from the dead as vindication of His victory in Hell, and (7) ascend to the Father where He was enthroned and now serves as the priestly mediator of the new covenant. [D.R. McConnell, The Kenyon Connection: A Theological and Historical Analysis of the Cultic Origins of the Faith Movement (Thesis submitted to the theological faculty, Oral Roberts University, Tulsa, Oklahoma, May 1982), 32-33. Also see Kenyon, Identification, 8, 15, 18.]

Kenyon had also this to quote. "Since sin and sickness are purely spiritual, mere physical death could never atone, nor could it deal with the source of sin and sickness: Satan." [E.W. Kenyon, Jesus the Healer, p. 17.]

The popular advocates of the positive confession movement teaching this doctrine are Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Charles Capps, Fred Price, Robert Tilton, and Jerry Savelle. [Michael G. Moriarty, The New Charismatics (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan), p. 80.]

Kenyon's attendance at Emerson College gave him broad exposure to various transcendental and metaphysical ideas. Although Kenyon probably did not consciously appropriate the teachings of the metaphysical cults to dignify his doctrine, he was unquestionably influenced by various strands of metaphysical teaching. [Michael G. Moriarty, The New Charismatics (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan), p. 79.]

The mission of the college was to produce graduates who would believe, practice, and preach the New Thought Gospel of Charles Wesley Emerson, founder of the college.

What does Scripture say happened at the cross?

What Christ did at the cross was,

reconcile man to God by redemption through His blood for the forgiveness of sin. (Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14; 1 Pet. 1:18, 19; 1 John 1:7).

justify man by His blood (Rom. 5:9).

purge our conscience from dead works, by His blood, to serve the living God (Heb. 9:14).

sanctify us (make us holy) with His own blood. (Heb. 13:12).

wash us in His blood from our sins (Rev. 1:5).

make peace through the blood of His cross, and to reconcile all things unto himself; whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. (Col. 1:20)

in 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 Pet 2:24)

bring the Gentiles who were far off  near  by His blood (Eph. 2:13).

make Himself our peace, who hath made both Jew and Gentile one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between them (Eph. 2:14).

abolish in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of two, both Jew and Gentile, one new man, so making peace; (Eph. 2:15).

reconcile unto God in one body, both Jew and Gentile, by the cross, having slain the enmity between them (Eph. 2:16).

confound the wise, destroy their wisdom, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent (1 Cor. 1:18, 19).

blot out the handwriting of ordinances (the Law) that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way (Col. 2:14).

become dead to the law through His body, and marry Himself to us who is raised from the dead, to bring fruit unto God (Rom.7:4).

become the author and finisher of our faith (Heb 12:2).

die for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose from the dead.    (2 Cor. 5:15)

Nothing is ever mentioned of Christ's motive by any of the disciples, especially that of Paul, of Jesus dying spiritually. What Paul does say is:

"For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:" (1 Cor. 15:3, 4)

"For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living." (Rom. 14:9)

Take careful note of what is said in the Scriptures above - that of three events which took place:

1. Christ died,

2. Christ was buried,

3. Christ rose from the dead.

One must distinguish between what is didactic (meant for instruction, and in this instance: biblical doctrine and theory), and what is narrative as in the example of Matthew's account of Jesus' death. When Matthew records the words of Christ, "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?" (Mat. 27:46) he does this as the account to what transpired before the eyes of witnesses, and not as a teaching on the atoning work of Christ. In his book Did Jesus Die Spiritually?, Hobart E. Freeman writes,

What are we to make of our Lord's statement "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?" First, this cry of despair was not merely spontaneous, but Jesus was well aware that He was reciting a quotation from a prophetic passage, Psa. 22:1. King David first uttered these words in the midst of suffering trials. But these words also have an application to the Messiah, as do numerous other Old Testament passages. [Hobart E. Freeman, Did Jesus Die Spiritually? (Warsaw, Ind.: Faith Ministries and Publications, n.d.), p. 39.]. I would advise one read Psalm 22 if not entirely certain what its content is for personal clarification.

Psalm 22 is entirely prophetic, having reference to the crucifixion of Christ. Jesus truly in agony in Psalm 22 identifies Himself as the One of whom the prophetic Psalm spoke. Such prophetic statements are foreordained expressions to fulfill the Old Testament prophets predictions.

An interesting but flawed illustration used by many Bible teachers to describe the separation between Father and Son is the picturesque explanation of how the Father had to turn His head from His Son when the sins of the world were dumped on Him. Psalm 22, however, repudiates this illustration by stating that exactly the opposite happened; the Father did not turn away from His Son, but looked upon Him with care.

" For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard." (Psa. 22:24)

Word of faith/positive confession ministers use Mat. 27:46 to support their theory that when Jesus died on the cross He became "sin" and was imputed with Satan's nature, abandoned by the Father, and went to hell for three days and three nights where He was tortured by the Devil. Copeland says,

There is no more sacrifice beyond this [the cross] because God has given Himself. There's not any further that God can go 'cause that is part of Himself hanging on that cross. And the very inside of God, hanging on that cross, is severed from Him and in that moment of severing, the spirit of Jesus accepting that sin and making it to be sin, He's separated from His God at that moment. He's a mortal man; capable of failure, capable of death. Not only that, but He's fixing on being ushered into the very jaws of hell. And if Satan is capable of overpowering Him there, he will win the universe and mankind is doomed. [Kenneth Copeland, What Happened from the Cross to the Throne? (Fort Worth: Kenneth Copeland Ministries, n.d.), cassette tape, side 2.]

How does one interpret Acts 2:31 where Peter quotes Ps. 16:10 by saying, "that his [Jesus'] soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption."?

How do Kenyon, Hagin, Copeland and the like justify the claims they make?

Nowhere in Scripture is there an account of Christ going to hell as the word of faith/positive confessors say who use Eph. 4:9-10 to support their argument. Earl Paulk in his book, Satan Unmasked, writes this, "Ephesians 4 clearly states that Jesus went into hell and demonstrated how to conquer death, hell and the grave." [Earl Paulk, Satan Unmasked (Atlanta: K Dimension, 1984), p. 252.]

Theologians throughout church history have differed in their interpretation of verse 9, but none of which Paulk and certain charismatics conclude. The apostle Paul writes in Eph. 4:9-10 "Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things."

What did Paul mean by the phrase "the lower parts of the earth?"

Many of the earlier church fathers believed this referred to Christ's decent into the underworld, which comprised of two places, the place of torment and the place of comfort. While either of these views is possible, the most likely interpretation is that Paul was simply referring to Christ's decent to the earth in His incarnation.

Isaiah 44:23 gives reference to the "the lower parts of the earth." God had delivered Jacob by blotting out her sin which was cause for great rejoicing that even all creation in the lower parts of the earth, that of: mountains, forests and every tree rejoiced at Jacobs deliverance. Therefore. from Scriptural perspective, the "lower parts of the earth" do not indicate this to be the underworld, and to use Eph. 4:9-10 as proof text to argue that Jesus descended into hell as a mortal man to be tortured by the Devil is a bizarre speculation going way beyond the truth of Scripture.

One final reference worthy of examination is found in 1 Pet. 3:18-20.

"For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water."

In his book, The New Charismatics, Michael Moriarty writes,

First, according to Peter, Christ died in the flesh (not in the spirit) and was then made alive (resurrected) by the Spirit. After this He went to preach to the spirits in prison. The order of events here is significant because Hagin and Copeland insist that Jesus was not born again spiritually until after He suffered in hell. However, if they understand these verses (vv. 18-19) to teach that Jesus went to hell, why does the text say that He was made alive by the Spirit "before" He went to preach to the spirits in prison? The sequence of events here casts another doubt against their war-in-hell theory.

Second, Peter tells us that Christ went and preached to the spirits, Copeland and Hagin say that Christ was a prisoner who suffered at the hands of Satan. This wild theory, however, is exactly the opposite of what the apostle Peter says. Christ was not the prisoner, but He preached to the prisoners making proclamation to them.

The exalted Christ passed through the realm where the unbelieving spirits reside, or where the fallen angels are kept, and proclaimed His triumph over them (see Eph. 6:12; Col. 2:15). Although the passages in 1 Pet. 3:18-20 are not crystal clear, they clearly do not teach that Jesus was tormented by Satan as a spiritually dead mortal man. [Michael G. Moriarty, The New Charismatics (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan), pp. 374-5.].

By God's grace (Acts 15:11) we appropriate or take possession of by faith what Christ has done for us at the cross (Rom. 3:21; 1 Cor. 15:2-4; Eph. 2:8-9). We are saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ based on the Father's giving of His Son (John 3:16) in the finished work of the cross, and not the redemption in hell that word of faith/positive confession professors teach.

When Jesus promised the thief on the cross eternal life; "Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise." Luke 23:43), Jesus said to-day - the very day He gave up the ghost, that He would be with the redeemed thief in paradise. How could it have been also possible for Jesus to be in hell as well?

Also, upon Jesus giving up the ghost, He declared, "It is finished!" The blood of Christ had been shed. Atonement had been made for the sins of mankind. Reconciliation between God and man was at that very moment now made possible.

The doctrine that Christ died spiritually, took the nature of Satan, went to hell, was re-created in hell, became born again, and in hell is where the redemption of man was made, is being taught in a growing number of charismatic circles. The doctrine of the Atonement is being distorted, and rejected. For example, Copeland has unabashedly stated that Christ's atoning work on the cross was not sufficient for our redemption. He writes,

When Jesus was made to be sin; He was separated from God. This is the reason while hanging on the cross, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" He had finished the Abrahamic Covenant by becoming the last sacrifice to ever be offered. When His blood was poured out, it did not atone, it did away with the handwriting of the ordinances that were against us. Jesus spent three horrible days and nights in the bowels of this earth getting back for you and me our rights with God. [Kenneth Copeland, from a form letter dated March 12, 1979, and sent to those who had questions concerning his view of Christ's alleged spiritual death and atoning work.]

What Copeland has said here is patently unbiblical. The Bible clearly states that Christ finished His atoning work on the cross (John 19:30).

Numerous believers are being misled by Copeland and others who have adopted the teaching that Christ's work on the cross was unfinished. They do this to the detriment of those trusting their capable leadership that this is biblical truth.

The teaching of the word of faith/positive confession movement upon examining it, presents three essentials to what happened to Christ from the Cross to the Resurrection, which implied are: (1) Jesus died spiritually and took on Satan's corrupt nature, (2) Jesus was dragged to hell and tortured by the devil for three days and nights, and (3) Jesus had to be born again by His spirit becoming re-created.

Unless the Scriptures are able to thoroughly examine that what is being taught here is the Word of God, these teaching can only be considered as distortion of the truth - doctrines of devils (1 Tim. 4:1).

Spiritual Death

E.W. Kenyon was the first within the church to teach that Jesus died spiritually and was imputed with Satan's nature on the cross.

Many believe that when Jesus bore the sins of the world He was for the first time separated from God. If this is so then what implications does this have on the relationship between the Father and the Son. Kenneth Hagin and Kenneth Copeland have openly taught that when Jesus died on the cross He "died spiritually." They say spiritual death is something more than being separated from God; it is taking on the nature of Satan. The claim that separation from God involves taking on a satanic nature is speculation, as nowhere in the Bible does it say the unsaved have a satanic nature, let alone saying Christ took on a satanic nature is blasphemy. It is no wonder that if Kenyon and Hagin have an unbiblical view of the nature of humankind that their view of Christ is also distorted.

Hagin forgets that by supporting the view of Christ having taken on the nature of Satan disqualifies Him as the sacrifice for our sin. Christ could then never be the "...lamb without blemish and without spot:" (Heb. 9:14; 1 Pet. 1:19) if this is what both Kenyon and Hagin imply. Christ is the sin offering of the New Covenant, eternally righteous, pure and holy and of which these characteristics  never changed at His death on the cross. The Scriptures declare that God took away the first; the Old Covenant atonement, to establish the second; the New Covenant atonement, which is the sacrifice of His only begotten Son through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Heb 10:9, 10). This is well covered in this article under the sub-title The Atonement.

To say Christ died spiritually is to reduce Him to the level of sinful man, and breed doubt to His divinity and deity in union with the Godhead. God cannot die, so how can this be possible? Christ was put to death in the flesh, not the spirit (1 Pet 3:18). There is no reference in the Bible to this, but what the Bible does say is Christ died a physical death - offering His body as the sacrifice for our sin. The Scriptures tell us our redemption took place at the cross when the blood of Jesus was shed, and by offering His flesh as the atonement for sin. The blood of Christ is what we have been purchased with (Acts 20:28; Col. 1:14), for bringing us into reconciliation or at-one-ment with God. Paul draws attention to everything regarding the death of Christ as bodily, with no mention of Him ever dying otherwise. The significance of Christ's body is important as paying attention to because it is the antitype of the New Testament sacrifice. (Rom.8:3; Eph. 2:15; Col.1:22). "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" (Heb 2:14).

It was necessary for God to appear to us by His Son Jesus Christ so that the suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 could be fulfilled when the sins of the world were imputed** to Him, and "By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Heb.10:10) "In the body of his flesh through death, to present you[us] holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight" (Col.1:22) "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 Pet.2:24). "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:" (1 Pet 3:18). By suffering, and putting sin to death in His flesh He has reconciled us to God. Wherefore we "...are become dead to the law through the body of Christ," and married to Christ who is raised from the dead, to bring fruit unto God (Rom.7:4).

The fundamental principle in which God deals with sinners is expressed in the words apart from the shedding of blood, i.e., unless a death takes place, 'there is no remission' of sins, (Heb. 9:22). Blood is sometimes substituted for death, inasmuch as, blood being essential to life (Lev. 17:11), when the blood is shed life is given up, that is, death takes place. When the blood with regards to Jewish sacrifices is mentioned, no reference is made to the victim from which it flowed, but in the great antitypical sacrifice of the New Testament the words the blood never stand alone; the One Who shed the blood is invariably specified, for it is the Person that gives value to the work; the saving efficacy of the Death depends entirely upon the fact that He Who died was the Son of God." [W.E. Vine. An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Moody Press Chicago W.E. Vine. An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. Moody Press Chicago)]

God ritually depicted in the Old Testament that an acceptable substitute had to be holy and guiltless itself in order to bear the punishment for the guilt of the sinner, therefore, a pure and holy sacrifice is exactly what the Old Testament type required; Jesus Christ now being the pure and holy new covenant sacrifice.

Sin entered the world by the disobedience of Adam. When Christ went to the cross it was His voluntary act to impute the sin of Adam upon Himself, therefore, nullifying the consequences of what brought death. Man's sinful state cannot be compared to Christ's voluntary act of taking the sin of the world upon Himself, as this would make Him a mere man. Kenneth Copeland seems to think Christ was a mere man, and that he (Copeland) could just as well been the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world, quoting:

The Spirit of God spoke to me and He said, "Son, realize this. Now follow me in this and don t let your tradition trip you up." He said, "Think this way - a twice born man whipped Satan in his own domain." And I threw my Bible down ... like that. I said, "What?" He said, "A born-again man defeated Satan, the firstborn of many brethren defeated him." He said, "You are the very image, the very copy of that one." I said. "Goodness, gracious sakes alive!" And I began to see what had gone on in there, and I said, "Well now you don t mean, you couldn t dare mean, that I could have done the same thing?" He said, "Oh yeah, if you had the knowledge of the word of God that He did, you could ve done the same thing. cause you re a reborn man too.[Kenneth Copeland, Substitution and Identification, (Kenneth Copeland Ministries, 1989), tape #00-0202, side 2.]

The Atonement

Atonement is the act by which God restored the relationship, harmony, and unity between Himself and human beings. Through God's atoning grace and forgiveness, we are reinstated to a relationship at-one-ment with God, in spite of our sin.

A quote from Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary explains the purpose of the Atonement.

Human Need. Because of Adam's sin (Rom. 5:18; 1 Cor. 15:22) and our own personal sins (Col. 1:21), no person is worthy of relationship with a Holy God (Eccl. 7:20; Rom. 3:23). Since we are helpless to correct this situation (Prov. 20:9) and can do nothing to hide our sin from God (Heb. 4:13), we all stand condemned by sin (Rom. 3:19). It is human nature (our sinfulness) and God's nature (His holy wrath against sin) which makes us "enemies"

God's Gift: Atonement. God's gracious response to the helplessness of His chosen people, the nation of Israel, was to give them a means of RECONCILIATION through Old Testament covenant Law. This came in the sacrificial system where the death, or "blood" of the animal was accepted by God as a substitute for the death (Ezek. 18:20) which the sinner deserved: "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" (Lev. 17:11).

The Law required that the sacrificial victims must be free from defect, and buying them always involved some cost to the sinner. But an animal's death did not automatically make people right with God in some simple, mechanical way. The hostility between God and man because of sin is a personal matter. God for His part personally gave the means of atonement in the sacrificial system; men and women for their part personally are expected to recognize the seriousness of their sin (Lev. 16:29-30; Mic. 6:6-8). They must also identify themselves personally with the victim that dies: "Then he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him" (Lev. 1:4).

In the Old Testament, God Himself brought about atonement by graciously providing the appointed sacrifices. The priests represented Him in the atonement ritual, and the sinner received the benefits of being reconciled to God in forgiveness and harmony.

Although Old Testament believers were truly forgiven and received genuine atonement through animal sacrifice, the New Testament clearly states that during the Old Testament period God's justice was not served: "For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins" (Heb. 10:4). Atonement was possible "because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed" (Rom. 3:25). However, God's justice was served in the death of Jesus Christ as a substitute who "not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption" (Heb. 9:12). "And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant" (Heb. 9:15).

Our Response. The Lord Jesus came according to God's will (Acts 2:23; 1 Pet. 1:20) "to give His life a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45), or "for all" (1 Tim. 2:6). Though God "laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Is. 53:6); {also (2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13)}, yet Christ "has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God" (Eph. 5:2), so that those who believe in Him (Rom. 3:22) might receive atonement and "be saved from [God's] wrath" (Rom. 5:9) through "the precious blood of Christ" (1 Pet. 1:19).

No believer who truly understands the awesome holiness of God's wrath and the terrible hopelessness that comes from personal sin can fail to be overwhelmed by the deep love of Jesus for each of us, and the wonder of God's gracious gift of eternal atonement through Christ. Through Jesus, God will present us "faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy" (Jude 24).

The blood of Christ is the most important factor relating to one's salvation. as the entire reason for Christ going to the cross was for His blood to be shed for the forgiveness of our sins. At the last supper He took the cup and said, For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (Mat 26:28)


* Metaphysics as a philosophical system pertains to questions of ultimate reality - in both the sensible and insensible realms. Such questions include: Why do evil and sickness exist? What is their nature or essence? What is there origin?

** The Imputation of the Believer's Sin to Christ. In addition to guilt imputed from Adam's sin, each individual is also charged with guilt for hispersonal sin. When the believer is redeemed to God through Jesus Christ, their sin is blotted out. This Paul describes as "not imputing their trespasses to them" (2Cor. 5:19). The Lord Jesus, whose supernatural conception and birth freed Him from guilt from Adam's sin and who committed no personal sin, had nosin counted against Him. But when He died as our substitute, God "made Himwho knew no sin to be sin for us" (2 Cor. 5:21) so that He "bore our sinsin His own body on the tree" (1 Pet. 2:24). This is made explicit in the Book of Isaiah, where the prophet says of the Lord Jesus, "The Lord haslaid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Is. 53:6).