DID OUR LORD DIE SPIRITUALLY ON THE CROSS AS WELL AS PHYSICALLY? No!
The essence of this question is, “Did Jesus become a sinner on the Cross and thereby experience spiritual death, as some teach?”
Or was He rather a Sin Offering?
We teach and believe that Jesus was a Sin Offering. We also teach that He was Holy and Pure, just as the Old Testament Offerings foreshadowed. Isaiah said: “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief: when You shall make His Soul an Offering for sin, He shall see His Seed, He shall prolong His Days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His Hand” (Isa. 53:10).
NOTES FROM THE EXPOSITOR’S STUDY BIBLE ON VERSE TEN
“‘Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him,’ refers to the sufferings of Christ, which proceeded from the ‘determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God’ (Acts 2:23), and which, being permitted by Him, were in some way His doing. It ‘pleased Him’ moreover that they should be undergone, for the Father saw with satisfaction the Son’s self-sacrifice, and He witnessed with joy man’s Redemption and Deliverance affected thereby.
“‘He has put Him to grief,’ actually says ‘He has put Him to sicknesses’ or ‘He has made Him sick.’ This spoke of the time He was on the Cross bearing our sins and ‘sicknesses’ (Mat. 8:16-17; I Pet. 2:24). And yet, while all sin and sickness were atoned at the Cross, the total effects of such will not be completely dissipated until the coming Resurrection (Rom. 8:23).
“‘When You shall make His Soul an Offering for sin,’ is powerful indeed! The word ‘Offering’ in the Hebrew is ‘Asham,’ and means ‘a Trespass Offering,’ an ‘Offering for sin.’
“Offerings for sin, or ‘guilt offerings,’ were distinct from ‘Sin Offerings.’ The object of the former was ‘satisfaction’; of the latter, ‘expiation.’ The Servant of Jehovah was, however, to be both. He was both the ‘Sin Offering’ and the ‘Guilt Offering.’
“This completely destroys the idea that Jesus died spiritually on the Cross, meaning that He became a sinner on the Cross, and died and went to Hell as all sinners, and was born again in Hell after three days and nights of suffering, etc. None of that is in the Word of God. While Jesus definitely was a ‘Sin Offering,’ He was not a sinner, and did not become a sinner on the Cross. To have done so would have destroyed His Perfection of Sacrifice, which was demanded by God. In other words, the Sacrifice had to be perfect, and He was Perfect in every respect.
“‘He shall see His Seed,’ refers to all His ‘true followers,’ which include all who have ever been Born-Again.
“‘He shall prolong His Days,’ refers to His Resurrection.
“‘And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His Hand,’ refers to the great victory that He would win at Calvary, which would ultimately restore everything that Adam lost.”
IT IS FINISHED
Jesus did not go to the burning side of Hell for three days to redeem mankind from the terrible ravages of sin. Rather, He preached to the spirits which were in prison in Hell and, as well, He went to Paradise to deliver every person who had gone there for the past 4,000 years.
The Scripture says:
“By which also He went (between the time of His Death and Resurrection) and preached (announced something) unto the spirits in prison (does not refer to humans, but rather to fallen Angels; humans in the Bible are never referred to in this particular manner; these were probably the fallen Angels who tried to corrupt the human race by co-habiting with women [II Pet. 2:4; Jude, Vss. 6-7]; these fallen Angels are still locked up in this underworld prison)” (I Pet. 3:19).
And then Jesus went into Paradise. The Scripture says:
“Wherefore He said (Ps. 68:18), When He ascended up on high (the Ascension), He led captivity captive (liberated the souls in Paradise; before the Cross, despite being Believers, they were still held captive by Satan because the blood of bulls and goats could not take away the sin debt; but when Jesus died on the Cross, the sin debt was paid, and now He makes all of these His Captives), and gave Gifts unto men. (These ‘Gifts’ include all the Attributes of Christ, all made possible by the Cross.)
“(Now that He ascended (mission completed), what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? (Immediately before His Ascension to Glory, which would be done in total triumph, He first went down into Paradise to deliver all the believing souls in that region, which He did!)
“He Who descended is the same also Who ascended (this is a portrayal of Jesus as Deliverer and Mediator) up far above all Heavens (presents His present location, never again having to descend into the nether world), that He might fill all things.) (He has always been the Creator, but now He is also the Saviour.)” (Eph. 4:8-10).
THE LAST WORDS
Even though the Bible does not tell us exactly which words were the last spoken by Christ on the Cross before He died; however, it is believed that it was in this order: “It is Finished, Father, into Your Hands I commend My Spirit” (Lk. 23:46; Jn. 19:30).
What was finished?
The Work Christ came to do. As of that moment, man’s Salvation was complete. Nothing else was needed. Nothing else could be done that could add to His Finished Work at Calvary. It must be remembered, that while the Resurrection was of extreme significance, as should be obvious, still, the Resurrection, the Ascension, and the Exaltation of Christ were a result of the Cross. In fact, had one sin been left unatoned, due to the fact that the wages of sin is death, Christ could not have risen from the dead (Rom. 6:23). The fact of His Resurrection portrays the glaring truth that all was completed at Calvary. Actually, nothing else could be done that could add to His Finished Work. So these three words, “It is finished,” stand as a permanent rebuke to the doctrine that Jesus had to go to Hell and die spiritually to redeem man.
DIED AS A LOST SINNER ON THE CROSS?
This false doctrine of Jesus dying spiritually, also teaches that the sinless Son of God became unregenerate and died as a lost sinner at Calvary and that He had to be born again and justified from sin. The pitiful thing about this whole line of thinking is that He, they claim, was somehow born again in, of all places, Hell!
Now if perchance this were true, it would have been necessary for someone to die for the Lord Jesus Christ to redeem Him from His unregenerate state and provide for His Justification. Of course, we know this is all utter foolishness, because Jesus did not become unregenerate, and He did not die a lost sinner.
Some time ago one of the leading proponents of this heresy, and heresy it is, stated, “When His Blood was poured out, it did not atone. It simply did away with the handwriting of the Ordinances that were against us.”
He went on to say that Jesus redeemed man, not on the Cross but in Hell. Hopefully, the proponents of this doctrine do not realize what they are doing, for they are actually denying the Blood Atonement of Jesus Christ, and that is a very serious thing! It seems they do not understand that they have negated the power of Jesus’ Blood to cleanse from sin, by their teaching that Jesus became an unholy sacrifice on the Cross. This is heresy, and it is dangerous.
This heresy appears to teach that Jesus identified with the sinner on the Cross, while it ignores the fact that Jesus became a substitute for sinners — confusing the identification of Jesus with the human race at His Birth with His Substitution for sinners on the Cross.
If Jesus had become literal sin and had become lost and unregenerate while He hung on the Cross of Calvary, then He would have been an unacceptable sacrificial offering to God for the sins of others. Whereas if He indeed remained Pure and Holy as the Scriptures assert, then God could accept Him as a Substitute on behalf of sinners. It was only in this way that He could fulfill the Old Testament Type where the animal for the Sin Offering had to be spotless and “without blemish” (Lev. 4:2-3). If you remember, the Sin Offering was regarded as most holy even after its death.
Concerning our Lord, Peter also said:
“For even hereunto were you called (called to act Christlike, irrespective): because Christ also suffered for us (Peter reminds these slaves that Christ also suffered unjustly, for He the Just One died on behalf of unjust ones), leaving us an example, that we should follow His Steps (we are to reproduce Christ in our lives, which we can only do by the Help, Guidance, Leading, and Power of the Holy Spirit [Jn. 16:7-16]):
“Who did no sin (Christ was the only sinless human being Who ever lived), neither was guile found in His Mouth (He never sinned by speaking hypocritically or falsely, not even one time):
“Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again (He did not respond in kind); when He suffered, He threatened not (when He suffered unjustly, He did not call down wrath from Heaven, which He definitely could have done); but committed Himself to Him Who Judges Righteously (He committed His defense to God, which we as well should do):
“Who His Own Self bear our sins in His Own Body on the tree (gave Himself in Sacrifice on the Cross, taking the full penalty for our sins, which was physical death; it was not Christ’s suffering that redeemed us, although that definitely was a part of what happened, but rather the price He paid by the giving of Himself), that we, being dead to sins, should live unto Righteousness (we are ‘dead to sins’ by virtue of us being ‘in Christ’ when He died on the Cross, which is done by our exhibiting Faith in Christ [Rom. 6:3-5]; and we were raised with Him in ‘newness of life,’ which guarantees us a perfect, spotless Righteousness): by Whose stripes you were healed. (This refers to the healing of our souls, and the healing of our physical body as well. The Atonement included everything man lost in the Fall, but we only have the Firstfruits now, with the balance coming at the Resurrection [Rom. 8:23].)” (I Pet. 2:21-24).
Peter also said:
“For Christ also has once suffered for sins (the suffering of Christ on the Cross was but for one purpose, and that was ‘for sins’; while we as Believers might suffer for sins as well, such is never in the realm of Atonement; the price has been fully paid, which means there is nothing left owing), the just for the unjust (Christ was the Perfect Sacrifice, the One Who was born without original sin, and Who lived a Perfect Life, never failing even in one point; He Alone was the ‘Just’), that He might bring us to God (refers to the way being opened for sinful man to come into the very Presence of God), being put to death in the flesh (refers to the fact that Jesus died physically in order to serve as a Sacrifice, which means He didn’t die spiritually, as some claim!), but quickened by the Spirit (raised from the dead by the Holy Spirit [Rom. 8:11])” (I Pet. 3:18).
The Scripture in this Passage plainly says that Jesus, while suffering for our sins was “just.” So if He was just, while He was on the Cross suffering for our sins, how could He at the same time be unjust? The unjust as given here in this Passage, could not redeem the unjust. Such thinking is ludicrous to say the least! But, if Jesus became a sinner on the Cross as the Word of Faith people claim, how could He at the same time be “just”?
WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE?
Someone may ask the question, “What difference does all of this make?” The answer is, “It makes all the difference in the world,” because according to the Word of God our eternal Salvation rests upon what we personally believe concerning the Blood Atonement of Jesus Christ. It is here, at the Cross that a person’s Salvation either stands or falls. The doctrine of Jesus dying spiritually on the Cross and going to Hell, and Him having to be “born again” as a sinner, is heresy of the most serious kind — its seriousness stemming from the fact that if a person believes this perverted doctrine, he will find that in the end he has been robbed of the truth of the Blood Atonement.
The Bible is emphatic on this matter: one sinner cannot redeem another sinner. Only one who is guiltless could ever act as a substitute and suffer the punishment for the guilty party, thereby saving the guilty party. Even Jesus, although the Son of God could not have done this if He had become guilty Himself, as this particular doctrine contends. The central thrust of the entire Old Testament Sacrificial System is that Jesus was the guiltless Substitute, Who, like the Old Testament Type, remained Pure and Holy both on the Cross and after His Death.
There is nothing more important than the Atonement. If we are wrong about that, then we are wrong about our Salvation.
Using the physical body as an example, if we have a hangnail, that’s one thing; however, if we have a problem with our heart that’s something else altogether. The hangnail won’t kill you, the heart will! The Atonement is the heart of the Gospel, so to speak, and millions are in Hell today, and millions are on their way to Hell, to put it bluntly, simply because they believed a false way of Salvation. Nothing is worse than that!
THE JESUS DIED SPIRITUALLY DOCTRINE
According to the proponents of this heresy, and heresy it is, Jesus became sin on the Cross when He yielded Himself to Satan. He swallowed up the evil nature of Satan, thus becoming one in nature with the adversary, taking upon Himself the diabolical nature of Satan. At that time He became a lost man, they say, crying, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Mat. 27:46; Ps. 22:1). These teachers, therefore, conclude that Jesus at that time died spiritually, i.e., became a lost sinner.
He was then taken to the pit of Hell, they say, and we speak of the burning side of Hell, where He was chained with the fetters of sin, wickedness, disease, and all other evils of Satan. The Devil stood before the darkness, crying, “We have conquered the Son of God.” There followed, they continue, a gala celebration down in the Pit. Satan believed he had finally triumphed over God.
Jesus consequently suffered agonies beyond description in the Pit for three days as all the hosts of Hell were upon Him. But then suddenly, they say, Jesus was justified. From His Throne in Heaven, Almighty God arose and put His Hands to His Mouth and screamed, “It is Finished; it is enough.” Jesus was now, they say, “born again” and made spiritually alive once more.
Hell itself then was shaken, they say. Jesus shook off His Chains of sin, sickness, and evil. He walked over to the Devil, grabbed him, and threw him to the ground. As the Devil cowered and trembled on the floor of the Pit, Jesus put His Foot on top of him and took the keys of death, Hell, and the grave from Satan.
At this time, according to these teachers, the Holy Spirit kicked open the gates of Hell and raised Jesus from death. He then ascended to the Father and announced, “I have paid the price. The prison is now opened.” He was now a born again man who had defeated Satan. Jesus was the firstborn from the spiritually dead. Thus, it was at the time Jesus was made alive down in the Pit that the Believer was also made alive. The Church, they continue, had its origin in the pit of Hell when Jesus was begotten from the dead as the “firstborn among many brethren” (Rom. 8:29).
At first glance, this doctrine appears to be a glorious cause for rejoicing; however, if you think about it for a moment, you quickly realize that you have never read anything of this nature on the pages of your Bible. Why? Because it’s not in the Bible! It is fictitious from beginning to end.
The truth is, “He blotted out the handwriting of Ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His Cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Col. 2:14-15). The words, “Nailing it to His Cross . . . triumphing over them in it” means that Jesus’ great victory was won on the Cross, and on the Cross exclusively.