Beware of the “Jesus Died Spiritually” Heresy

This year I have come across some teachers that at first seem sound in certain areas but have various flaws in their theology. One false teaching I would like to call attention to is the idea that Jesus died spiritually on the Cross. This view essentially says that Christ died two deaths on the cross. The first being spiritual and the second being physical.

The view that am referring to is different from the view espoused by certain Word Faith teachers who taught that Jesus went to hell and was tortured.  This view centers more on the idea that Christ, in being like Adam, also had to die spiritually on the cross in order to be able to be the sacrifice for all mankind. This view holds that the shedding of blood and physical death is not enough for the atonement but that Christ had to experience spiritual separation from the Father.  Here are some key verses used to try to support this view.

Heb 2:9  But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

Isa 53:9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

Mat 27:45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.
Mat 27:46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

One proponent of this view is Dr. Robert Dean.

Dean

The doctrinal statement on his website states this:

“Jesus came to redeem mankind (1 Peter 1:18–19) through His efficacious, spiritual, substitutionary death on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:21–24; Isaiah 53:10–12). In the Hebrew of Isaiah 53:9 and the Greek of Col. 2:12 two deaths are mentioned:

His grave was assigned with wicked men
Yet He was with a rich man in His DEATHS,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth. Is 53:9

The first death of the Savior was spiritual as darkness descended upon the cross and the Father poured out our sins upon Him and then judged Him. The great violence of this activity was hidden from the eyes of all He suffered alone in the darkness. Upon completion of His work He said, “It is finished” (John 19:30).

The work for our reconciliation was completed. The door was open for anyone to believe in Him and gain eternal life for He died for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2). He paid for our sins while still physically alive.
To understand Heb 2:9, I think much can be determined just by looking at Heb 2:7 through the end of the chapter.  Hebrews chapter 9 specifically verses 9:11 through and 9:28 are also helpful.

Heb 2:7 Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands:
Heb 2:8 Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him.
Heb 2:9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

Heb 2:14 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 2:15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
Heb 2:16 For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.
Heb 2:17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.
Heb 2:18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.

Heb 9:11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;
Heb 9:12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
Heb 9:13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:
Heb 9:14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
Heb 9:15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.
Heb 9:16 For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.
Heb 9:17 For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.
Heb 9:18 Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood.
Heb 9:19 For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people,
Heb 9:20 Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you.
Heb 9:21 Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry.
Heb 9:22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.
Heb 9:23 It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
Heb 9:24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:
Heb 9:25 Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;
Heb 9:26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
Heb 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
Heb 9:28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

Dean claims that Isaiah 53:9 and the Greek of Col. 2:12 mention two deaths. I have read that, in Hebrew, sometimes a plural form was used of the word not to signify plurality but to make a point of emphasis. Also, I do not see how it can be claimed that the greek indicates two deaths in Col 2:12. Even if someone can claim this to an extent, you don’t want to base a doctrine like this off of one possible intereptation of a greek word. It is far better to realize how the animal sacrifices (including the shedding of blood) was a picture of a more perfect sacrifice that Christ would become (including the importance of His shed blood).

In order to help see this point, please also consider the following verses:
Col 1:14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:.

Col 1:20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
Col 1:21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled
Col 1:22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:

1Ti 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
1Ti 2:6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

Eph 1:7  In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;,

Php 2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
Php 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Rom 1:3 Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;
Rom 1:4 And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:

Rom 3:21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
Rom 3:22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
Rom 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Rom 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Rom 3:25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
Rom 3:26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
Rom 3:27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.
Rom 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
Rom 3:29 Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also:
Rom 3:30 Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.
Rom 3:31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

Rom 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Rom 5:9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
Rom 5:10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
Rom 5:11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

Rom 5:19  For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous

Isa 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
Isa 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Isa 53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
Isa 53:8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

There is special significance in the shedding of Christ’s blood for the remission of our sins. This is the purchase price or our redemption. Creating a teaching that says that Jesus died twice on the cross is a great stretch from a few particular verses. It ultimately ends up with error concerning Christ and the exact nature of the atonement. We also must not forget the importance of the burial and resurrection!

In Christ,

Jim F

 

This entry was posted in Heresy and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Beware of the “Jesus Died Spiritually” Heresy

  1. jimfloyd12 says:

    I have received a guest contribution from John who frequently participates in the discussions at Expreacherman.com

    John offered me his insight concerning this topic as seen below:

    “These are the statements (from Robert Dean) with which I disagree:
    “The first death of the Savior was spiritual as darkness descended upon the cross and the Father poured out our sins upon Him and then judged Him. The great violence of this activity was hidden from the eyes of all He suffered alone in the darkness. Upon completion of His work He said, “It is finished” (John 19:30).
    The work for our reconciliation was completed. The door was open for anyone to believe in Him and gain eternal life for He died for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2). He paid for our sins while still physically alive. He then dismissed His own spirit to the Father (John 10:17–18; Luke 23:46) and died physically. When the soldiers came to break His legs they found Him dead. His spiritual work on the cross paid for the sins of the world and there is no work that mankind can do to add to His work or take away from it.”
    My comment: The atonement was provided by the bloodshed and physical death of Christ. To suggest otherwise is contrary to more passages of scripture than I have been able to count.
    I have seen Hebrews 2:9 used to argue that Christ died spiritually. I believe this is reading way too much into that verse. Of course Christ tasted death for every man – in other words “for the benefit of” every man.
    I have also seen Matthew 27:46 used to make the argument that Christ died spiritually. I think this is reading way too much into it. God could have broken fellowship with Jesus, etc., but nowhere does scripture say that Christ died spiritually. This is also a reference to Psalm 22.
    I believe this issue is non-trivial, because if someone insists on Christ suffering a spiritual death, then they may be concluding that His blood atonement was insufficient.”

    Please feel free to join the discussion.

    Jim F

  2. Jim (and John)

    Thanks for further clarifying the Robert Dean error recently broached at ExPreacherMan.com.

    Your analysis is very comprehensive and accurate — not much that I could add.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  3. john says:

    Jim, thanks for this article.

    You said: “This view centers more on the idea that Christ, in being like Adam, also had to die spiritually on the cross in order to be able to be the sacrifice for all mankind.”

    My comment: I have also heard this line of reasoning (Christ being like Adam) used to support the notion that Christ could have sinned when he was tempted. I don’t believe this was possible, because it overlooks the fact that Jesus, while taking on human form, never stopped being God. (1 John 3:9: “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”).

  4. jimfloyd12 says:

    John,

    There can be many problems when we try to fit God into our preconceived notions. Our safety net is the whole counsel of God. I find that too often people try to create whole teachings out of a few problematic texts or verses. We must always compare scripture with scripture. A “Jesus died spiritually teaching” goes against scripture. As we see so often though, the devil likes to use counterfeits that seem the closest to the truth.

    Jim f

  5. Pingback: Beware of the “Jesus Died Spiritually” Heresy | Redeemingmoments

  6. Terry says:

    I want to thank all of you for your commends concerning this false Doctrine. I haven’t come across anyone stating this , but I’m glad that I read this because I will be ready to show them the Truth in the Word of God. I can say ” you are reading too much into that Verse ” ( thank you Jim )

  7. jimfloyd12 says:

    Welcome Terry,

    Many times these things aren’t too well known. They are often introduced in the midst of many good things and it can be hard to spot the error at first because our guards can be down. It’s a good reminder to test everything with the rest of scripture. No one can claim a certain Greek word means this or that if it clearly conflicts with other passages. It is especially dangerous to mess with the atonement.

    Jim F

  8. Brenna says:

    RigҺt ɦere is thе perfect site for еveryone whо reallƴ wɑnts to understand this topic.
    Υօu realize ѕo mսch іts almost tough to argue ѡith
    үou (not thаt I ɑctually would want tο…HaHa). Ύou cеrtainly put a brand new spin on ɑ
    subject tҺat’s beеn discussed for ages. Wonderful stuff,
    just excellent!

  9. jimfloyd12 says:

    Thanks for stopping by Brenna, I am glad you enjoyed the post and the study. Thankfully is is not the most common of errors but I certainly would want some answers if it ever came up. I am also thankful that God’s Word had just what I was looking for.

    God Bless

    Jim F

  10. hollysgarcia says:

    I believe this was also a Dave Hunt error.

  11. hollysgarcia says:

    I didn’t realize I had read this before, sorry, but we know the New Testament/Covenant began at the cross, at the death of the Testator (Heb 9:16-18) and was dedicated by the shedding of His blood. As John mentioned above, it was finished at the cross, and His Spirit was commended to the Father at His death.

    Christ entered into heaven to sprinkle the blood on the mercy seat (same chapter), but Rev 1:5 says this.

    …and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood…

  12. Bobbie Jo says:

    I would also like to add that Kenneth Copeland has this same teaching. Which isn’t too much a surprise that the WoF movement would have this doctrinal error in being we are supposedly “little gods.” Anyway, before I get too off topic, this is a major problem also being it calls into question the Deity of Jesus Christ. Being He was/is God He couldn’t for one second cease becoming God. How could He die spiritually as God IS in His very nature a Spirit? It doesn’t even pass my common sense meter let alone the Scriptures. Thanks for this article, Jim.

  13. jimfloyd12 says:

    I agree with you Bobby Jo. How can God die in Spirit? The Bible says God is a Spirit an they that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in truth.

    Dean does end up in a similar place to Copeland yet is not nearly as extreme. Anyway you look at it you cannot have Christ dying spiritually on the cross without undoing major Bible doctrines.

  14. Curtis M says:

    “Beware of the “Jesus Died Spiritually” Heresy ”
    That is so twisted biblicaly, doctrinally , To me The holy word of Truth would look like it went through a cross cut paper shredder to make that mess .
    Thankful for the Holy Spirit to guide us in Truth .
    I didn’t know about that “Jesus died spiritually doctrine” till I see it here .

    We are spirit beings with a soul and body . It is either eternal life or eternal death . It is impossible to kill a spirit other than to be separated from God in eternal torment . Or be with God by the blood of Jesus , Trusting Jesus and Him alone as payment for our sin debt

  15. hollysgarcia says:

    This one comes to mind:

    And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. Luke 23:46

  16. RAS says:

    Isn’t spiritual death (lower case) separation from God (dead in trespasses and sin)? And isn’t it positional not physical? I don’t see how it is heresy to say that Jesus’ human spirit was separated from God as He bore our sins on the Cross. Of Course God who is Spirit did not die on the Cross and Jesus’ spirit was not reborn in Hell. That’s heresy.
    Luke 23:46 And 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.—isn’t our spirit placed in trust to the Father’s hand to be made spiritually alive? I think if Jesus did not die spiritually then He did not bear our sins (He had none). And if He did not die physically He could not be raised a spiritual body. And how could atonement be “finished” before physical death if physical death is the atonement? He atoned for all but only those who die on the Cross with Him (through faith alone) are made alive with Him.
    I believe spiritual death explains the taking away of guilt by imputation and the physical death made resurrection sure.

  17. jimfloyd12 says:

    RAS,

    I am currently working on a longer blog post to explain this topic further. However here is my initial response.

    Isn’t spiritual death (lower case) separation from God (dead in trespasses and sin)?

    (at no time was Jesus spiritually separate from God or dead in trespasses and sin.)

    And isn’t it positional not physical?

    (Same as above)

    I don’t see how it is heresy to say that Jesus’ human spirit was separated from God as He bore our sins on the Cross.

    (There are many reasons why. For starters the Bible does not say that it was in any place. Remember that Jesus is the God man.)

    Of Course God who is Spirit did not die on the Cross and Jesus’ spirit was not reborn in Hell. That’s heresy.

    (Right, that is partof what I am talking about. The Bible says the Word took on flesh)

    Luke 23:46 And 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.—isn’t our spirit placed in trust to the Father’s hand to be made spiritually alive?

    (No. Regeneration is a new man that is created – an new creature. Jesus did not get regenerated like we do. He never sinned. Having never sinned, he never needed any spiritual rebirth. The whole point was to be a spotless physical sacrifice. Justas in keeping with the OT pictures. )

    I think if Jesus did not die spiritually then He did not bear our sins (He had none).

    (It is actually the opposite. If he died spiritually then it proves he was not the sinless perfect sacrifice.)

    And if He did not die physically He could not be raised a spiritual body.

    (If he died spiritually then the resurrection would have been impossible. I Cor 15 warns of those that deny the resurrection. In a sense, logically speaking, this would have the same effect. Remember the resurrection demonstrates that Jesus indeed was sinless. He never died spiritually. What was changed at he resurrection was his body. It was raised incorruptible. A glorified body. I Cor 15 also mentions this. In the same respect we as believers will receive glorified bodies one day to go along with our new man that was created at regeneration. )

    And how could atonement be “finished” before physical death if physical death is the atonement? He atoned for all but only those who die on the Cross with Him (through faith alone) are made alive with Him.
    (I will attempt to explain that and more in a new blog post that I am currently working on.)

    I believe spiritual death explains the taking away of guilt by imputation and the physical death made resurrection sure.

    (The Savior was not made actually guilty. The imputation was of the penalty. It was the just for the unjust. It was the innocent for the guilty. He became the sin for us, that is the sin offering. Just as the sacrificed animal in the OT covered the sin of the person, Christ was that ultimate perfect sacrifice doing what animal sacrifices could not permanently do.)

    Jim

  18. RAS says:

    How did He take our sin and not be separated from The Father? He was not separated from God I grant that I put it wrong. He is undiminished Deity and perfect humanity. If He was made (imputed our) sin then His human (old man) spirit was separated from the Father. And indeed Jesus only called to the Father as “My God” once and that was on the Cross and it was for being forsaken. All other times He addresses the Father as Father. He was separated from the Father as a man I have no doubt.
    As I see it the New Man does not refer to individual believers but to the Body of Christ (Eph 2:15) Christ being the head. I do not mean that Christ was regenerated like us I mean the New Man was created. Christ was crucified a natural body and raised a spiritual body. The natural body had to die for this to be possible. That’s why I believe angelic guards were placed around the tree of live—to prevent Adam from eating of it and living in a now corrupted natural body.
    Jim we may just have to agree to disagree. I don’t share your beliefs in this matter but I don’t think your belief is heretical. The hypostatic union is as difficult to fully comprehend as the Trinity.
    God bless Jim and thanks for listening. I look forward to you longer post.

  19. jimfloyd12 says:

    RAS, he took our sin in that he took the sin penalty as the perfect sacrifice. When it comes to Christ there was no such thing as the old man. Jesus was not necessarily praying himself to God but also quoting David. That is why he does not use the word Father there. But does when he speaks about yielding up his Spirit. One that all the way through remain perfect. He was simply stating that he was about to pass physically and we know our Spirit after death is with the Lord.

    There was no separation mentioned especially in a spiritual sense.

    Yes he died physically but remember he was also raised physically except with his glorified body. It is not the hypostatic union that is so much the problem but the reading into the text that is done by so many preachers.

  20. jimfloyd12 says:

    The new man is a believer individually… just as in each person has the old man / old nature. But there is the body of Christ and the bride of Christ. So the church can be seen as both universal and as local churches.

    Yes Adam was prevented from the tree of life.

  21. jimfloyd12 says:

    The bottom line is that Christ cannot have died spiritually.

  22. jimfloyd12 says:

    My post will now be changed to a book on the topic. But it will take longer finish it. If anyone wants to discuss it with me further, they can email me at standforthefaith@charter.net

  23. Pingback: Beware of the “Jesus Died Spiritually” Heresy | Word of Promise Ministries' Blog

  24. dq520 says:

    Actually, do you mind if I ask a question that’s not related to this article? What do you think about romans 7? Is romans 7 a pre-conversion or post-conversion experience?

  25. jimfloyd12 says:

    Dq520,

    Thanks for asking. Paul was already a believer and it was post conversion for him.

    Jim F

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s