"Wells Without Water (2b)"
The Errors of the Word-of-Faith Movement (Part two of Four)
This four-part study is designed to demonstrate, using verbatim transcripts of the tapes of Kenneth Copeland, some of the errors in the "Positive Confession" movement.
You may find it hard to believe some of the things Copeland is reported as saying! But trust me, there has been NO tampering with the tapes. Not only did Copeland say these things in the 1980's when this study was first created but he continues to reiterate them up to this very moment. So do many, many others in the Word of Faith leadership.
These teachers are totally unrepentant of their heresies, despite having been approached by countless brethren who tried to point out their unscriptural teachings. They continue to teach doctrines that are dishonest in their scriptural content, deceptive in their outcome, and destructive to the genuine faith of a Christian.
[Note: all emphasis in Copeland's quotes is added by the editor.]
Part Two(b): RE-BORN OR RAISED?
Well, we have started now to get to the death of Jesus on the cross. He says death is to be cut off from the life-source. That is true, spiritual life is found only in God, that is why our spirits are dead without Him. But something else is alive, isn't it? Our souls and bodies.
Copeland says, there is no such thing as an independent human nature, that we either have the nature of God or the devil. So, we are always dependent on either God or Satan for life.
Wait a minute, though. Doesn't that mean that Satan is our life-giver before we are born again? Is the devil really able to provide us with a nature? I do not believe so.
When we were created, God gave us mortal life as well as spiritual life. Look at 1 Corinthians 15 for example, verses 44 and 45 say, "There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body...The first man Adam became a living soul.". We were created to have a bodily life, like animals, and also a self-conscious, intellectual life that sets us far above the animals.
Even greater is the spiritual life that lifts us to God but that part died out when Adam fell. Even so, there is not the slightest bit of scriptural evidence that Adam stopped thinking for himself, that he was dependent on Satan's thoughts, as Copeland says. He most certainly thought for himself, just as you do and I do.
If our nature really were Satanic and we had no independent life as a human being, then we would not be responsible for our actions, would we? I could indulge my sinfulness to the full and then say, "Well, what can you expect? It's the Satanic nature - nothing to do with me."
Jesus taught us where sin comes from; He said it proceeded from the evil heart of man, not the devil. "Out of your heart come evil thoughts", He said - your thoughts, your heart. How could anyone blame us, how could God blame us even, if we were just the puppets of Satan? However, this teaching that man has a Satanic nature, in effect he is devil-possessed, is central to the JDS doctrine.
So, what supposedly happened to Adam, (that he lost his divine nature and received a Satanic nature) that also, Copeland says, happened to Jesus on the cross. Jesus, he says, actually and literally died in His spirit and took upon Himself the nature of Satan. He became the possession of Satan. He was Satan possessed, in effect.
This is serious. "Jesus became as mortal as Adam". In the first place, Jesus was already "mortal" for He was fully human as well as fully divine, the two natures mixed perfectly into one. But Copeland is not I think arguing that the body of Jesus was not a mortal one before the Cross (although others, like Kenyon DID teach that). In saying Jesus became as Adam, he is teaching that his spiritual nature changed from that of the divine to that of the devil - indeed this is what he confirms later in the same tape.
Kenneth Hagin says the same - "spiritual death means having satan's nature".
In saying that Jesus became as mortal and satanically energised as Adam, surely Copeland cannot also argue that Jesus "was not a sinner". You might be justified in saying that Copeland teaches that Jesus sinned, since He received the sin-nature of the devil. But if you do, Copeland has a threat for you - you will be cursed if you oppose this teaching.
What Copeland says does imply that Jesus sinned whether He committed sinful acts or not. The logic is inescapable. To become mortal like Adam, and to possess the sin-nature of satan is to become a sinner.
I do not know the facts about the man of God, who died as a result of opposing Copeland, but I suspect it may have been Hobart Freeman, who went on TV in the States to refute the JDS doctrine. Hobart Freeman died of an infected ulceration of the leg a few years ago. [This written in the mid 1980's] How dreadful to say that it was a result of his opposition to this heresy. But at the same time, we can see how powerful these ministries are and how much is at stake. Let us be just as bold for the truth as Copeland is for the lie.
Scripture does say that Jesus bore or carried our griefs and sorrows, or "sicknesses and pains", as it can be translated; the Hebrew words mean the same thing. Yes, praise God, He was wounded for our sins and bruised for our iniquities but that is not the same as receiving sickness into His spirit, as it says here.
And it is not the same as actually being diseased in His body. The Father had promised His body would never see corruption. Disease would be corruption, wouldn't it? Jesus was beaten and abused, whipped and crucified; that is why the Scripture says, "His appearance was marred more than any man's", in Isaiah 52, verse 14. It was not because He was diseased.
Copeland himself says, it is sin that brings disease - but Jesus never sinned, nor was He a sinner on the cross.
To understand what really happened you have to look at the animal sacrifices of the old law. Under that law, instead of putting a man to death because of his sin, which was God's just punishment for sin, God accepted the life-blood or soul of an animal. That animal had to be totally blemish-free, totally perfect; it was minutely examined by the priests and nothing deformed in any way was acceptable. When they did offer deformed animals, God condemned them for it. Listen to this, Malachi 1:8; "When you offer the blind as a sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and the sick, is it not evil?".
Yet, Copeland wants us to believe that God will accept the sacrifice of the body of Jesus marred by every disease known to man. It cannot be!
I personally believe that the stripes of Jesus were part of the atonement, where Jesus received in His physical Body the sufferings in atonement for sickness and disease. When He was flogged, the punishment He bore was not for His own sins or because He had given Himself up to Satan, it was for us. He received those stripes in His body as the type of physical suffering on our behalf, and "with His stripes we are healed".
The physical abuse was one thing but "taking into His spirit all sin and disease" is quite another. That would have polluted His very nature. And not only would it have made the sacrifice unacceptable to God, it would have removed any possibility of atonement because, in order to redeem mankind, God has sent a pure, perfect, sinless offering for sin.
The law of atonement, as we have seen, demanded a perfect sacrifice, without any defect whatsoever. Well, when such a sacrifice was offered to God in the Old Testament, did it then become sinful? No! The priests would lay their hands on the animal and symbolically transfer the human sin to the animal. But an animal cannot sin. It did not become a sinner. The sin was, as we say, imputed to it. It was a legal transaction, under the covenant, whereby God accepted a substitute.
Now, Jesus was our substitute. He gave his own body as a sin offering for all mankind; and the sins of mankind were "laid upon him" - that is what the Bible means when it says "He became sin". He became a sin-offering. It most certainly does not mean that Jesus Christ became a sinner, or received the sin-nature into his own spirit.
The sin and the sin-offering are so closely identified, in the Bible, that the Hebrew language uses the same word. CHATTA'AH. Compare its use in Lev 4:3-4 with Gen 4:7 "If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him."
God here tells Cain that if he is in need of an atonement for sin, then the "sin-offering" stands ready and will not resist Cain killing it to provide a blood covering. There at the door of Cain's tent, lies the animal he could use for a sin-offering.
That animal represented Cain's sin but it was not Cain, nor was it sinful. And Jesus represented the Adamic race in its sin, yet He was not Adam nor was He a sinner. The phrase "He became sin" means; He became our sin-offering, our CHATTA'AH, the perfect sacrifice who dies in our place, on our behalf.
Read Isaiah 53:10; "You make His soul an offering for sin", and Ephesians 5:2 says the same thing.
However, Copeland says that Jesus died, having taken the sin-nature of the devil, and He goes to hell, not as the Son of God, but as a sin-ridden spirit like Adam. That means, Jesus must suffer the torments of hell, just like any sinner. Even though He died and paid the price for sin, He had to be taken down to Satan's domain and to suffer all the punishment for sin. He is unable to save Himself. He is no longer God.
But how can that be? Can you ever imagine that God can cease to be God, even for a moment? It is unthinkable that the indivisible unity of the Godhead could be shattered.
And even more so, if Jesus were not God, at that moment, there would be no hope for any man because it is the very fact of His sinless, Godly perfection that makes Him the sacrifice acceptable to God.
What does the word of God say? It says, the physical death of Jesus, on the cross, made atonement for sin. Let me give you a few of the many scriptures that prove this: Ephesians 2:16 Colossians 1:22 Hebrews 10:10 1 Peter 2:24 and 3:18 and 4, verse 1. All of these speak of the physical death, on the cross, as the means for redemption.
But Copeland says, the death on the cross was just the beginning. The real redemption was in hell, where Jesus had to suffer three days and nights of torment. This is made plain in another of Copeland's statements below, oft repeated in his booklets, his magazine and on tapes such as "What Happened From the Cross to the Throne".
Actually, one of the verses I have just mentioned, 1 Peter 3:18-19 says "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison"
Now how can Copeland teach that Jesus was dead in spirit, devoid of the Holy Spirit, cut off entirely from the Godhead, when the Bible teaches that Jesus was "quickened" or made alive by the Holy Spirit after his physical death and furthermore preached by the power and anointing of that same Holy Spirit to the righteous souls in "prison" who awaited the release of redemption. Jesus Christ defeated death and the devil by his sacrificial death and went victorious to the lower regions in order to preach release to its captives!! That is so very far from how Copeland portrays Jesus Christ as "emaciated, sin-ridden".
So, having "lost" the Son of God, because Jesus has died, God has to recreate Him. Once again, it is the word that does it, according to Copeland. The word created Adam because God said, "Let there be man.". The word brought Jesus into earth, as we have seen. And now the Father has to use words, again, to recreate the Son of God.
It is incredible, really, that anyone can preach this, but Copeland does. He makes a big deal out of the word, 'again', trying to prove that if something is done "again" then it's the second time not the first. Is that what the scriptures really say?
This use of the word "again" simply means; here's another quote. It's a way of saying, "in one place the scripture says this, and again in another place it says that..." Paul is quoting the scriptures to back up his doctrine, just as we would do. He refers to several scriptures, such as the one from Ps 2:7 and another from 2 Sam 7:14 and so on. [Compare Acts 13:33-35]
The use of the word "again" certainly DOES NOT prove that God recreated Jesus all over again. This is just one example of the misleading way in which the Word of Faith teachers support their doctrines. [See the NOTES below for scriptures on the Resurrection]
So, you can see, now, that the JDS doctrine goes much further than just saying Jesus took a sin-nature and died. It actually says, He ceased to exist as the Jesus who walked on earth and was recreated as a new creature. Not just raised, from the regions of the dead by the power of the Spirit, but recreated.
The idea of God recreating Himself is staggering. To think of the ever-existent, eternal, unchanging God of the universe having to be reborn in hell is beyond my capability to grasp.
After all, the word tells us that Jesus Christ is upholding all things by the word of His power, Hebrews 1, verse 3. And if He ceased to exist, even for a moment, all things would come to an end. Yet, here it is being said that the Son of God not only died and took into his nature the sin-nature of satan (that's bad enough!) but that He totally ceased to exist as the Son of God and had to be recreated. He "was not the same Jesus".
The implications are very serious because Jesus is our Lord and Saviour. Not only does this reduce our Lord to a mortal, sin-ridden, dead spirit, at the mercy of the demons of hell, it makes salvation depend, not on Jesus, but on the process of recreation by the word.
We have to understand this, if nothing else. The result of this doctrine is that Jesus becomes a born-again man, as an example, a pattern, just to show us how to become divine. Jesus becomes, as they say, the Way Shower.
Jesus is just "the first one to be born again". He is not God now; He is a new type of Adam, a born-again, Spirit-filled Adam, just like you and me. Do you see that? - just like you and me. That means, anything Jesus is, we can be. We have the right to be just like Him, as God-like as He is.
Salvation does not come, in Copeland's scheme, by unity with the glorious Lord of all, who destroyed the works of the devil; it does not come by the shed blood and the death of the cross. Salvation comes, as you will see, by following the example of Jesus, by getting an injection of power sufficient to make you a changed being; make you, that is in your own right, by yourself.
If God's power recreated and empowered that dead spirit in hell, He will do the same for you. Why would you need to be reunited to Jesus for that? The glorification of yourself is just a matter of applying to God for spiritual power. This is a New Age, altered consciousness, in fact; it is an initiation into power. It is not what the Bible calls justification by faith.
The gospel that Copeland, and all the other Word-of-Faith ministries teach is one of self- empowerment by understanding and utilising the same spiritual energies and words that the Way Shower did in defeating sickness and death! Rather than submit our sinful "vile bodies" to the death of the cross and come in our emptiness and incapability to Jesus Christ as the only Victor over death - we follow an example of how to live victoriously, we emulate the pattern of what Jesus did in hell.
This gospel teaches that salvation rests NOT in and through Jesus Christ alone, but in and through OUR ability to obtain and exercise spiritual power.
Well, this is a gospel, all right, but it is not the gospel of salvation in Christ. We are only the seed of Abraham if we are abiding in Him and He abides in us. We are only saved by virtue of His defeat of Satan. All the blessings exist only in Jesus.
That is true of authority, too, as Jesus said, "All authority belongs to me." He delegates it to His Church but He never gives it up entirely.
What is salvation, according to the word of God? Firstly, it means realising you are estranged from God and have no way of reconciling yourself with Him. And that vacuum in your life has been filled by selfishness and all kinds of sin. You cannot save yourself.
Secondly, you come to see that what you could not do, Jesus has done for you, on your behalf. He lived a perfect life and fulfilled every aspect of God's law, so He was perfectly acceptable to God. Then, when Jesus died, He died in your place and suffered the penalty for your sin. He offered Himself, as your substitute, to set you free.
There is much more to your salvation than just receiving a legal pardon for your sin; God forgives you because of Jesus but He also raises you to new life. And this is the problem with the Word of Faith doctrine; it makes life and power available to you apart from your unity with Jesus. However, all that we have we have in Him.
Being saved from sin does not make us divine or perfect, it makes us forgiven sinners. Without Jesus abiding in our hearts, we would not even change our behaviour. We would go on acting according to our human nature. Copeland, and the others, seem to want to change man by putting power there. That is not God's way. Think of it, if your human nature were more powerful, what do you think you would do with it? You would just be a more powerful version of what you were before - a more empowered sinner!
Rebirth is awakening to a new spiritual walk in fellowship with God. That is what Christianity is all about; not power, not using the creative word, not developing faith to move mountains. It is a voluntary submission to the will of God in your life because you realise that in your flesh dwells no good thing, as the word says.
And you need a higher experience than your humanity in order to please God. Without the indwelling Holy Spirit, all of us are incapable of pleasing God, in the slightest. When you became born again, you covenanted with God to make Him the Lord and Guide and Saviour, in all things, at all times. You agreed to obey Him, not self. Yet you cannot do so without a spiritual union with Jesus by the Spirit. In ourselves we are NOTHING.
What Copeland is proposing is very like the New Age initiation into power; the altered state of consciousness that makes you a spirit-being with creative energy. It is a doctrine that leads to self-Godhood and psychic power.
Our glory is only in Christ's presence within us, because only He has fulfilled the law, only He has defeated Satan and death, only He is filled with new life. It is Jesus who is the giver of the Holy Spirit. Colossians chapter 1, verse 27 says, "To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."
CHRIST IN YOU is salvation. And Ephesians 3:16-19 says the same, "That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith...". And Romans 8, verse 9 says: "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his".
There is no salvation, no power, no glory, outside of Jesus Christ. And our glory is unity with Him. We are made a member or a "limb" of the Body of Christ. What the Word-of-Faith gospel does is rob Jesus Christ of his place of pre-eminence, demote Him from being the Head of the Body, and replace his victory with some kind of ability of our own to know and work the wonders of God. Let us pray that this "gospel" will never "sweep the world" as Ken Copeland believes.Continue to Part Three
(or look at the scriptures on the Resurrection below.)
Scriptures that demonstrate how God RAISED Jesus Christ from the dead, and that he was not corrupted by his experience of death, nor was he changed in essence, only in his body being raised as a "spiritual body".
Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: 24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. 25 For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: 26 Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: 27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; 31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. 32 This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.
But God raised him from the dead: 31 And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people. 32 And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, 33 God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. 34 And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David. 35 Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 36 For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: 37 But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.
1 Cor 15:35-50
But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? 36 Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: 37 And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: 38 But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. 39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. 40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: 43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. 46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. 50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
Continue to Part Three
© 2003 Tricia Tillin of Banner Ministries. All rights reserved. Cross+Word Website: http://www.banner.org.uk/ This document is the property of its author and is not to be displayed on other websites, redistributed, sold, reprinted, or reproduced in printed in any other format without permission. Websites may link to this article, if they provide proper title and author information. One copy may be downloaded, stored and/or printed for personal research. All spelling and phraseology is UK English.