I have heard it taught that Jesus “was crucified and descended into hell.” I can’t find references in the bible the indicate that Jesus “descended into hell”. What is your understanding of this? I’ve heard someone teach that Jesus was beat up in hell and born again. Have you heard that?
I have been avoiding this topic for quite some time because I will invoke a FIRESTORM of criticism and “you’re being divisive and judgmental” email. It has already been written about many times, but evidently it needs to be written about again, because I get this Topic repeatedly.
It has to do with Jesus descending to hell after his death on the cross. The idea comes primarily from these verses:
1 Peter 3:18-20 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, 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 (NKJV; emphasis mine)
First, we know that we are talking about the abode of the condemned (Hell, Hades, Torment) because the disobedient of Noah were either angels that overstepped their bounds with God, or the humans that were so wicked that God decided to destroy the whole world except Noah.
It’s not my intent to declare what the phrase “preached to the spirits in prison” does mean, because there are multiple possible valid options. However, what we can know for sure what it does NOT mean: it does NOT mean that Jesus went to hell for three days and got beat up on by Satan and then was born again.
This is a commonly held but extremely heretical version of Christ’s death that is publicly taught today by many leaders of the Word Faith movement. This doctrine is so dangerous, that I consider it of the upmost importance not to mince words, or sugarcoat the topic.
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 also 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.
Jesus went to hell for three days and got beat up on by Satan and then was born again.
This is a well documented position of many, if not most, of the well known Word Faith teachers and for it, they have been the recipient of numerous rebukes and attempts at correction from other Christian leaders.
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 a part of true Christianity.
Now, those are very bold and somewhat harsh words but they must be said. We’re not talking about styles of music, hair length, tattoos or electric guitars in worship service. We’re talking about robbing Jesus Christ of His deity and calling Him a sinner. That constitutes “another Gospel” which can in no way be tolerated or excused by true Christians.
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.”
I could write an extremely long answer on the theological reasons why this doctrine is dangerous and unBiblical but space does not permit. So it will suffice to give several simple foundational considerations that more than make the point:
- Yes, Jesus descended to “prison” (some part of hell) to “PREACH to the spirits” NOT “get beat up on by Satan”. There is no Biblical support anywhere for this idea. Who the “spirits” are is a matter of question, but it still remains that He descended in victory to preach, not to get “beat up”.
- Satan does not rule hell. Satan has no authority over Christ anywhere, anytime. Satan’s domain, temporarily, is the earth. Hell is Satan’s future damnation, not his personal playground.
- Finally, and the point that definitively makes this doctrine “another Gospel”: for a man to teach that Jesus was “filled with the Spirit” and “born again” is to declare that Jesus didn’t just DIE FOR SINS, but that Jesus Christ WAS a sinner who needed to have the supernatural regeneration (Titus 3.5; “born again”) that all sin-cursed descendents of Adam are in need of (you and me!).
Do not pass this over lightly. First of all, it is completely unsupported Biblically that Jesus went to hell to get “beat up” by Satan. Thatmakes 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.
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.”
I have communicated this to many people over the years, even friends in Word Faith churches, and often I hear “I’ve never heard anyone teach that doctrine”.
If it could be adequately cited that one popular major leader of a worldwide movement (Word Faith) teaches this doctrine, would that be enough to at least get you to investigate further?
(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.)
Mr. Copeland by all accounts seems to be a moral and sincere man. I’m not questioning his heart, motive or character. Only God knows the heart. I am considering his public message.
He is arguably the foremost leader today of the Word Faith movement and his teachings and methods of using the Bible to support his prosperity and faith ideas are repeated and emulated in tens of thousands of churchs all over the world. His teaching is absorbed globally across the electronic airwaves every hour of every day.
The rank-and-file Word Faith church member may not have ever heard this doctrine preached even though it is publicly adhered to and promoted by a “who’s who” of Word Faith teachers: Hagin, Hinn, Dollar, Crouch, Meyers just to name a few.
Now you personally HAVE been made aware of this doctrine. Should it be ignored? Should it be passed off as irrelevant? Should my answer be ignored as typical “heresy hunting”?
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.”
If this many documented quotes aren’t enough to establish that this docrine is taught, how much evidence does it take? If doctrine does not constitute “another gospel” what does? If this teaching does not disqualify someone as Christian, how heretical or blasphemous do you have to get to cross the line?
Where do you draw the line with false teaching? Heresy? Blasphemy? Read 2 Peter, Chapter 2.