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Question:
I’ve heard some televangelists say this and I understand it is the belief of Joyce Meyer and others that during the 3 days from His death to His resurrection, Jesus Christ went to hell, supposedly to obtain the keys of death and hell. I can find no scripture anywhere in the Bible that Satan was ever given the keys to the gates of hell. I also hear them quite entertainly talk of how Jesus was beat up on by the demons, and then was “reborn” as the Holy Spirit rescued Him. Have you heard of this teaching?

Answer:

Yes, I have. While many misinterpretations, exaggerations and misapplied Scriptures can simply fall into the category of “false teaching” or “misunderstood doctrine”, this particular teaching you ask about lands squarely in the camp of NON-CHRISTIAN. It constitutes a false Christ, thus a false Gospel and cannot be accepted or tolerated as Biblical or Truth.

That’s a strong statement yes, but it must be made.

Over emphasis on materialism is one thing. Disagreements over spiritual gifts are one thing. Conflicts over points of Christian living and practice are one thing. BUT CHANGING THE NATURE OF CHRIST CONSTITUTES SOMETHING OTHER THAN GENUINE CHRISTIANITY AND MUST BE CONFRONTED, CONDEMNED AND PURGED FROM THE TRUE PURSUIT OF BIBLICAL SALVATION.

Now, having prefaced my upcoming comments with WHY I am so strongly outspoken about the teaching you speak of, let me proceed with telling you what is wrong with this “Jesus died, went to hell, got beat up and was born again” business.

Let me state the false doctrine I’m speaking of one more time to make sure no one misunderstands: “Jesus died on the cross, descended to hell for three days to get beat up on Satan, then was filled with the Holy Spirit and born again.”

It is taught primarily by those who follow Ken Hagin, Ken Copeland and similar proponents of the “Word Faith” movement. With consideration to the average person in the Word Faith movement, most apparently have never heard it before because I constantly have members of Word Faith churches tell me they’ve never heard it. This answer is not a broad-stroke indictment on those who attend Word Faith churches (whether overtly Word Faith, or just influenced by Word Faith). This answer is not questioning the motives, hearts or salvation of those in Word Faith churches. The sole purpose of this answer is to address a very dangerous and false teaching that is taught by Word Faith leaders (reference the list of quotes by one popular Word Faith teacher following this answer).

There are many problems with this teaching which put it plainly in the camp of false teaching:

  • The Bible does not teach anything even remotely close to this doctrine; it takes incredible amounts of implication, prooftexting and distortion of Scriptures
  • Satan is not in hell, nor does he rule over hell; God is in control of hell
  • The Bible never says in any way that Jesus was beat up on by demons for three days who were throwing a party in hell because they had defeated Jesus
  • The idea the Jesus was “born again” is pure heresy clearly implying that 1) Jesus had a sin nature that needed to be regenerated, and 2) that Jesus is equal to MAN, not GOD.

What does the Bible teach?

  • Luke 23:46And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ ” Having said this, He breathed His last. (NKJV)

Jesus Himself plainly says “into Thy hands I commend my Spirit”; not into Satan’s hands and hopefully God would come rescue Him. He clearly stated that He was going to the Father. Consider as well what Jesus told the thief:

  • Luke 23:43And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” (NKJV)

The thief would be where? When? With who? In Paradise, that day, with Jesus. Does it make any sense, or can it be support Scripturally or even logically that Jesus went to spend a little time in Paradise before moving on to get His beating by Satan?

This verse alone DESTROYS the notion that Jesus went to hell for three days to be punished by Satan. It would be ludicrious to think He stopped by Paradise for a while before going.

Now, the difficult verse related to this matter is:

  • 1 Peter 3:18-20For 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, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. (NKJV)

These verses are sometimes used to support the idea the Jesus went to hell. Granted, there is no definitive interpretation of these verses, but we can know that it does NOT mean that Jesus went to hell and got beat up on by Satan for three days because the Bible does NOT support that idea for reasons listed above.

There are many opinions on this verse including:

  • Jesus went to declare victory over death to the Old Testament era persons
  • Jesus went to proclaim victory over the demons that were imprisoned in Noah’s time
  • Jesus went to proclaim His Kingship to the lost and have every knee bow to Him who had died rejecting God and thus eternally condemned

There are pros and cons against each of those points. But the clear fact remains, it has NOTHING to do with Jesus going to hell for three days and being “born again” which is rank heresy. It is completely unsupported Biblically that Jesus went to hell to get “beat up” by Satan. That makes this doctrine right off the bat a false teaching.

However, to add the “Jesus was born again” aspect, is to now step over into teaching a FALSE GOSPEL which cannot result in salvation for those who believe it.

The purpose of this teaching is to lower Christ to man’s level, and raise man to Christ’s level.

This teaching serves to lower Christ to man’s status who has the need to be born again, which in turn elevates man to Christ’s equal… that is the real essence and agenda of this teaching.

Lower Christ, Raise Man.

The same folks that teach this doctrine also teach that we are “little gods” which makes perfect sense given this doctrine. Lower Christ, raise man. Man is equal to Christ. Man is God. We’re back in the Garden of Eden listening to Satan lie to Eve… “you can be like God.”

Jesus did NOT go to hell and get beat up on by Satan. He was not “born again”. He was not punished for three days as our replacement. His shed blood and death paid for our sins, and was complete when Jesus said, ‘it is finished’. Jesus didn’t say ‘I’m getting started, only three more days’. He said, IT IS FINISHED!

Jesus DID go to the Father; He was in Paradise with the thief; He did “preach to the spirits in prison”; and He did raise again in a glorified body on the third day.

Let me repeat very clearly without compromise – the doctrine that says Jesus descended to hell, was beat up on by Satan and the demons for three days and then was born again – constitutes ANOTHER GOSPEL and cannot result in salvation for any who actively teach or knowingly believe it. If you come to find out that a preacher or teacher holds this view, they should not be considered teachers of true Christianity.

It is one thing to grant liberty about ideas you might have doctrinal disagreement with (ie, tithing, miracles, supernatural gifts, prosperity teaching, etc.); but it is quite another to ignore or be passive about:

  • a doctrine that denies Christ’s deity,
  • turns the Lord into a Sinner,
  • makes Jesus merely a man in need of being born again,
  • and drags the Savior down to the level of sin-filled man…

All for one purpose: to elevate man to equality with God. Again, we can hear the whispers of Satan: “you can be like God.”


Ken Copeland teaching this doctrine; Mr. Copeland by all accounts seems to be a moral and sincere man. I’m not questioning his heart, motive or character. I use Copeland as the example because most of the Word Faith teachers take their cues from him. Only God knows the heart. I am considering his public message:

(emphasis mine; BR)

  • Jesus supposedly “put Himself into the hands of Satan when He went to that cross, and took that same nature that Adam did [when he sinned].” (Kenneth Copeland, The Incarnation (Fort Worth: Kenneth Copeland Ministries, 1985, audiotape #01-0402), side 1.)
  • “The day that Jesus was crucified, God’s life, that eternal energy that was His from birth, moved out of Him [The deity removed from Christ; Jesus is no longer God according to Copeland; BR] and He accepted the very nature of death itself.” (Kenneth Copeland, “The Price of It All,” Believer’s Voice of Victory, September 1991, 3.)
  • Satan conquered Jesus on the Cross and took His spirit to the dark regions of hell” (Kenneth Copeland, Holy Bible: Kenneth Copeland Reference Edition (Kenneth Copeland, Fort Worth: Kenneth Copeland Ministries, 1991), 129.)
  • “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,” 3.)
  • “How did Jesus then on the cross say, ‘My God.’ Because God was not His Father any more [The deity removed from Christ; Jesus is no longer God according to Copeland; BR]. He took upon Himself the nature of Satan. And I’m telling you Jesus is in the middle of that pit. He’s suffering all that there is to suffer, there is no suffering left . . . apart from Him. His emaciated, little wormy spirit is down in the bottom of that thing and the devil thinks He’s got Him destroyed. But, all of a sudden God started talking.” (Kenneth Copeland, Believer’s Voice of Victory (television program), TBN, 21 April 1991.)
  • “That Word of the living God went down into that pit of destruction and charged the spirit of Jesus with resurrection power! Suddenly His twisted, death-wracked spirit began to fill out and come back to life….Jesus was born again — the firstborn [again, “firstborn” is construed to mean “born again” which is does NOT in Scripture; it means ‘preeminent’; BR] from the dead the Word calls Him — and He whipped the devil in his own backyard.” (Kenneth Copeland, “The Price of It All,” 4-6.)
  • “Jesus is no longer the only begotten Son of God” (Kenneth Copeland, NOW WE ARE IN CHRIST JESUS (Ft. Worth, TX: Kenneth Copeland Ministries, 1980), 24.)
  • “You don’t have a god in you, you are one.” (Kenneth Copeland, “The Force Of Love” tape # 02-0028)
  • “I say this with all respect so that it don’t upset you too bad, but I say it anyway. When I read in the Bible where he [Jesus] says, ‘I Am,’ [Copeland teaches that Jesus never claimed to be God, and yet ‘I AM’ is the name of God, and every Bible student knows that when Jesus said ‘I AM’, He was claiming to be God; Copeland then claims to be “I AM” too which is utter blasphemy; BR] I just smile and say, ‘Yes, I Am, too!'” (Kenneth Copeland, “Believer’s Voice of Victory” broadcast on TBN, recorded 7/9/87)
  • “Gods reason for creating Adam was His desire to reproduce Himself. I mean a reproduction of Himself. He [Adam] was not a little like God, he was not almost like God, He was not subordinate to God even”. (Kenneth Copeland, “Following the Faith of Abraham” tape # 01-3001)
  • Adam is God manifested in the flesh” (Kenneth Copeland, “Following the Faith of Abraham” tape # 01-3001)
  • “Don’t be disturbed when people accuse you of thinking you’re God. The more you get to be like Me, the more they’re going to think that way of you. They crucified Me for claiming that I was God. But I didn’t claim I was God [any serious Bible reader knows how shockingly false that statement is; Jesus claimed many times openly to be God. BR]; I just claimed I walked with Him and that He was in Me. Hallelujah. That’s what you’re doing.” (Kenneth Copeland, “Voice of Victory” Vol. 15, No. 2, 2/87)
  • “You don’t have a God in you; you are one,” (Kenneth Copeland, The Force of Love (Fort Worth: Kenneth Copeland Ministries, 1987, audiotape #02-0028), side 1.)
  • “And the whole New Testament calls Him the first-born….The word “born” began to ring in my spirit; it just began to roll around: born, born. I never had let Him go through that in my own thinking….And while I was laying there thinking about these things, the Spirit of God spoke to me. And He said, “Son, realize this: Now follow Me in this, 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. I said, “What?” He said, “A born-again man defeated Satan. The first-born of many brethren defeated him.” [again, “firstborn” is construed to mean “born again” which is does NOT in Scripture; it means ‘preeminent’; BR] He said, “You are the very image and 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, “You don’t mean–you couldn’t dare mean, that I could have done the same thing?” He said, “Oh, yeah, if you’d had the knowledge of the Word of God that He did, you could have done the same thing, ’cause you’re a reborn man, too.[There is BIG difference between “first born” which means preeminent, and “born again” which means regenerated; BR] (Kenneth Copeland, “What Happened from the Cross to the Throne” tape # 02-0017)
  • Christ “had no innate supernatural powers [Christ was not always God according to Copeland; BR]. He had no ability to perform miracles until after He was anointed by the Holy Spirit.” (Kenneth Copeland, “Question & Answer,” Believer’s Voice of Victory, August 1988, 8.)

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