Beware of the “Jesus Died Spiritually” Heresy

Source: 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

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I am an ordained minister and I have been called to a ministry that will serve the Pacific Northwest and will eventually plant or restore a church in Northern California.

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