Word of Faith (& Prosperity Teachings)
Word of Faith (also known as Word-Faith or simply Faith Teachings) is a doctrine in many Pentecostal and Charismatic churches as well as individual ministries worldwide. It is akin to Prosperity teaching, but not completely identical - usually both are preached together. The movement emphasizes speaking, stating, or confessing verses found in the Bible, in orer to activate them (almost automatically) aside from the will of God.
Prosperity teaching applies the Word of Faith technique of claiming the promises in the bible to wealth, well-being, prosperity, advancement and success as well as healing and even cheating death. It is taught that financial blessing is the will of God for all Christians, and that faith, positive speaking, and donations to Christian ministries will always increase one's material wealth. In a similar way, perfect health is taught as the gold standard of the bible and through faith Christians should claim and believe for this at all times. Being ill therefore is often condemned as a "lack of faith".
A biblical analysis of the disturbing claims put forward by the Faith Movement, which include the inefficiency of Christ's blood, alone, to atone for the sins of Man; the need for Christ's spiritual death, and that the redemption of Mankind was completed in Hell!
Error, indeed, is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced (ridiculous as the expression may seem) more true than truth itself. Irenaeus
The doctrines of the Faith movement which will be investigated in this publication would not normally deserve a response, were it not for the fact that multitudes of sincere people have fallen prey to, and unknowingly accepted, a false view of the events leading up to and including the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is to these people, primarily, I declare foremost, that the precious blood of Christ alone DID atone for our sins!!
The Faith movement had its beginnings in 1963 in Garland, Texas, at the home of Kenneth E. Hagin, where he had set up his own office from which he distributed his tapes and books for approximately three years. The origin of most of the Faith movement's doctrines, however, have a much longer history, as will be borne out in a later chapter.
The Faith movement is also known by the titles 'The Word movement', and, 'The Word of Faith movement'. It is sometimes referred to by it's detractors as 'The Faith-Formula movement' and 'The Hyper-Faith movement'. It's acknowledged 'father' is Kenneth E. Hagin, also known as 'dad Hagin'. Kenneth Copeland, reckoned by many in the movement as 'God's man of the hour', is Hagin's heir apparent. Other leading identities of the Faith movement are: Kenneth Hagin, Jr., Gloria Copeland, Fred Price, Jerry Savelle, Charles Capps, Norvel Hayes, John Osteen, Robert Tilton, Lester Sumrall, John Avanzini, Marilyn Hickey, Buddy Harrison and Morris Cerullo.
It may surprise those Christians who believe the Faith movement to be a by-product of the Charismatic movement, to learn that this is not the case. The Faith movement did not spring from either the Charismatic or Pentecostal movements, but their roots. In fact, it can be traced back to the metaphysical cults, specifically New Thought. Though many charismatics have warmly welcomed and adopted certain Faith practices and beliefs, it is interesting to note that some charismatics actually frown upon the Faith movement, and view the Hagin/Copeland gospel as a gross distortion of true Bible doctrine, and have opposed it, virtually, from it's inception.
Many believe the Faith movement is a true moving of the Holy Spirit, simply because of numerous purported healings and supernatural occurrences for which it claims to be responsible. Experiences and results, as is increasingly the case, are what many people are forming their beliefs on, often at the expense of true Bible doctrine. What many fail to realize is the fact that every major religion produces 'results' and 'experiences'. D.R. McConnell, author of the outstanding book, A Different Gospel: A Historical and Biblical Analysis of the Modern Faith Movement explains:
"Results can never be the criterion by which the truth of an idea is proven. If that were the case, charismatics would have to admit that Mary Baker Eddy is a prophetess and that Christian Science is true gospel. Likewise, the numerous healings and miracles occurring in the Faith movement are not necessarily signs from God that the Faith gospel is the Gospel of the New Testament. Charismatics who naively assume that healings vindicate truth are overlooking the fact that almost every major religion and cult the world has ever known has produced healings. For every god there is a religion, and in every religion there are healings." 1
As will be detailed in a later chapter, the major doctrines of the Faith movement were plagiarized by Kenneth Hagin from the teachings of E.W. Kenyon. Kenyon (1867-1948), gained much of his theology from the mind-science cults, predominantly metaphysics. He incorporated these teachings with his Christian beliefs in an attempt to satisfy the desires for, as he termed it, a new type of Christianity which people had been longing for. Hagin adopted many of these ideas, adding his own theological views gained from his days in classical Pentecostalism and healing revivalism. The five central doctrines of the Faith movement: Revelation Knowledge, Identification, Faith, Healing and Prosperity, however, were all taken from Kenyon's writings, a man who often drank from the well of the Metaphysical cults, particularly, New Thought and Christian Science.
In the ensuing pages we will learn of the Faith movement's iniquitous assertions of Jesus coming to earth only as man; that Christ took on the satanic nature upon the cross; that His precious blood, alone, did not atone for our sins; that Jesus suffered a double-death upon the cross--spiritual as well as physical; and that man's redemption was completed in hell, where Jesus, it is alleged, became the first born-again man!
It has been said that, 'Christianity is Christ'! "Christianity centers on the person and work of Jesus of Nazareth: His deity, His humanity, and His atoning death as a substitute for sinners. To fool around with the Biblical material at these points is to engage in error at the level of eternal loss." 2
As we enter now into a Biblical analysis of the relevant Faith doctrine, the Faith follower is reminded that we follow the Lord Jesus Christ and no other. The Christian is not to be hesitant or become apprehensive of any investigation into the teachings of those they listen to and love. Salvation is not gained by our loyalty to a man, but by our acceptance of the truth. Let us recall the words of A. Lindsley, "The Christian has nothing to fear from thoughtful investigation."
"Why didn't Jesus openly proclaim Himself as God during His 33 years on earth? For one single reason. He hadn't come to earth as God, He'd come as man." 3 Kenneth Copeland.
Kenotic theology, the contention that Jesus Christ divested Himself of His deity during His incarnation, is in essence, heretical theology. Although Kenneth Copeland does not subscribe to the belief that Jesus was not God, he does however believe that Jesus did not come to earth as God. Nor is he of the opinion that Jesus even claimed to be God during His earthly ministry. Copeland claims to have received a direct revelation from God during which Jesus allegedly told him, "...I didn't claim I was God; I just claimed I walked with Him and that He was in Me..." 4 In addition, Copeland asserts that, "This man--Jesus, was a carbon copy of the one who walked through the Garden of Eden." 5 He gives his reason as to why it had to be this way, in the following statement, "He (God) has to have a man like that first one. It's got to be a man. He's got to be all man. He cannot be a God and come storming in here with attributes and dignities that are not common to man. He can't do that. Its not legal." 6
At the time of the alleged revelation from Jesus that Copeland 'received', it produced great concern among a number of Christians, one of whom was the late cult researcher, Walter Martin, who actually wrote Copeland expressing his concern at this 'revelation'. Sadly, "Copeland refused correction or even correspondence on the subject and re-issued his position, standing by his alleged revelation." 7 In the August, 1988 issue of Copeland's Believer's Voice of Victory magazine, Kenneth Copeland made these disquieting remarks:
"Jesus hadn't come to earth as God; He'd come as man. He'd set aside His divine power and had taken on the form of a human being--with all its limitations." And, that Jesus lived on earth, "...not as God but as a man." He also teaches that Jesus prayed, "...not as the divine One who had authority as God but as a man..." And that Jesus never believed Himself to be "...the Most High God."
The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology informs us of the orthodox Church view on the kenotic theory: "...all forms of classical orthodoxy either explicitly reject or reject in principle kenotic theology. This is because God must be affirmed to be changeless (Heb. 13:8); any concept of the incarnation that would imply change would mean that God would cease to be God."
In contrast with Copeland's belief that Jesus did not claim to be God while on earth, the Bible clearly teaches that He did. In John 8:58 Jesus says of Himself, "...Verily, verily I say unto you, before Abraham was, I AM." The term I AM, is of course one that God has assumed as His name, and was recognized by the Jews as a title of deity (see Ex. 3:14; cf. Isa. 44:6; 47:8). Also, the high priest's reaction to Jesus' use of the title, in the Gospel of Mark, suggests that he considered Jesus' utterance of it as being a blasphemous claim to deity (Mark 14:61-63). Jesus makes it perfectly clear in John 8 that He is most certainly God (cf. John 3:13; 5:18; 10:33; 17:5). Noted American theologian A.A. Hodge, speaks truly on this matter of the Person of Christ:
"Jesus of Nazareth was very God, possessing the divine nature and all its essential attributes. He is also true man, His human nature derived by generation from the stock of Adam. These natures continued united in His Person, yet ever remain true divinity and true humanity, unmixed and as to essence unchanged. So that Christ possesses at once in the unity of His Person two spirits with all their essential attributes, a human consciousness, mind, heart and will.... Yet it does not become us to attempt to explain the manner in which the two spirits mutually affect each other, or how far they meet in one consciousness, nor how the two wills cooperate in one activity, in the union of one person. Nevertheless, they constitute as thus united one single Person, and the attributes of both natures belong to the one Person." 8
The Scripture most widely used to support the view that Christ emptied Himself of His divinity is Philippians 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." The Revised Version has it, 'But emptied Himself, taking the form...' The Greek here means literally to empty. The question we have before us is: In what manner did Jesus empty Himself? Some contend that the kenosis (an emptying), was merely a concealment, a veiling of His divine attributes, not unlike the sun as when veiled by clouds still gives its light but the full radiance is concealed. John 1 shows clearly that Jesus, the second Person of the Godhead, was made flesh, maintaining His divinity and attributes. The Unger's Bible Dictionary informs us that, "The ancient Church, with but few exceptions, taught that the Son did not retain the divine glory for Himself, for His own advantage, while yet He did not cease even in the flesh to be what He eternally was." Luke 2:49, "How is it that ye sought Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?" indicates that even as a Child, Jesus was conscious of His divinity, as well as during the years of His ministry (John 8:58; 10:30; 14:9-11; 17:25).
Philippians 2:6 speaks of Jesus, being in the form of God... The word form (morph), is best defined by Gifford in his book The Incarnation, "morph is...properly the nature or essence, not in the abstract, but as actually subsisting in the individual, and retained as long as the individual itself exists...Thus in the passage before us morph Theou is the Divine nature actually and inseparably subsisting in the Person of Christ."
Perhaps the strongest verse which attests to Christ's divinity is Colossians 2:9: "For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." This verse plainly states that the fullness of the Godhead ie., divinity or divine essence, became incarnate and indwelt the body of Jesus Christ. It does not mean that only the will of God dwelt in Him, nor even of the divine knowledge alone, but that the whole deity had become incarnate and dwelt in human form. Jesus was not just a man who had God dwelling in Him, He was wholly God and wholly man. Hebrews 13:8, an oft used verse by both Faith movement teachers and followers alike, is proof that Jesus was wholly divine, and yet in human form during His ministry on earth, for He is forever unchangeable. According to Philippians 2:6-8, Jesus came to earth in the form of God, and in the form of a servant. "The eternal, infinite form of God took upon Himself flesh" (John 1:1, 14).
Kenneth Copeland has, in clear contradiction to his earlier statements in this chapter, on occasion taught correctly that Jesus "...was and is God manifested in the flesh." 9 Yet, as we have seen, Copeland elsewhere denies Christ's having come to earth as wholly man and wholly God. We hope that Mr. Copeland would soon realize his own confusion and inconsistency and teach only the truth, that Jesus came to this earth as God manifested in the flesh (see Isa. 9:6; Rom. 8:3; 1Tim. 3:16; Heb. 2:14).
THE BLOOD ATONEMENT
The cross of Christ is the most central doctrine of the Christian faith. It was there that Jesus' work of atonement for mankind was completed, a fact evidenced by Jesus' own words, found in John 19:30, "...it is finished..." and by Paul in Colossians 1:20: "...having made peace through the blood of His cross..." "It is this doctrine, perhaps more than any other, that has been repeatedly attacked by non-Christian cults and false religions. These concentrated attacks, however, can no longer be confined to the enemies outside the Church, but are quickly beginning to surface within the broad walls of Christendom." 10
The Faith movement is one of these enemies which has surfaced and presented, to the Church at large, a different account of what occurred and what was achieved upon the rugged cross. Kenneth Copeland states quite emphatically in a taped sermon entitled, 'What Happened From The Cross To The Throne?', "...if it had been a physical death only, it wouldn't have worked." Consequently, Copeland teaches that our redemption was not completed on the cross, but in the pit of hell! (more on this later).
The Faith movement employs what is known as a metaphysical view of salvation, which spiritualises the atonement and deifies man. The completion of the atonement is located in hell rather than the cross, thus depriving the physical death of Christ of the power to atone for our sins, which the Bible attributes solely to the blood of Christ (Lev. 17:11; Heb. 10:10). The central doctrine of the Christian faith has been plundered.
Although there are several theories as to how the atonement was achieved, we are interested only in the Faith movement's view and why it is a false teaching. Most Christians would agree that our sins were fully atoned for by the physical death of Jesus upon the cross. The Faith movement has other ideas. We shall be dealing specifically in this chapter with their belief in Kenneth Copeland's claims that,
"Since He (Jesus) was made to be sin, He had to pay the penalty for sin. He had to die spiritually, which took Him into the regions of the damned, before He could redeem us." 11
He also says, "...When His blood poured out, it did not atone. It did away with the handwriting of the ordinances that were against us." 12
Faith movement theology concerning the cross was known to the early Church as the 'Devil Ransom Theory' or 'The Classical Theory' or 'The Fishhook Theory'. The early Church fathers who subscribed to this thesis, believed that because of sin man belonged to Satan. In order to save mankind, God is purported to have offered His Son Jesus as a ransom to the Devil. This is in sharp contrast with the Bible's teaching that Christ had given Himself as an offering for us, and as a sacrifice to God not Satan (Eph. 5:2; cf. 1Cor. 5:7; Heb. 10:12).
The theory that Christ was a ransom paid to the Devil, did not originate with the Faith movement. It was taught as early as A.D. 230 by Origen and more emphatically by Gregory of Nyssa A.D. 370. This doctrine however was always met with the strongest opposition and denial by theologians such as Athanasius A.D. 370; and Gregory of Nazianzum A.D. 390. Never did it become the official and accepted view of the Church.
The Devil Ransom Theory gradually faded from view due to its lack of intelligent support, and after Anselm (1033-1109), an 11th century scholastic theologian, subjected it to criticism in his book Cur deus Homo? (Why Did God Become Man?).
Another historic atonement theory that parallels, at least in part, the Faith movement view is called 'The Example Theory'. It was promulgated by the Socinians, a 16th century movement founded by Faustus Socinus, who was to later become the leader of Unitarianism. The Socinians denied the Trinity, the deity of Christ, that men are fallen, and also claimed that Christ's death on the cross did not atone for the sins of mankind.
Two centuries later another group emerged which denied the efficacy of Christ's atoning blood. Swedenborgianism, founded by Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772), also discarded the concept of the Trinity. The vicarious atonement is considered an "abomination" and "mere human invention", while the death of Christ is considered "a climax to a life of service", not "a debt of blood."
A more recent group of dissenters from the Biblical teaching that the atonement for sin was fulfilled by Christ's death upon the cross, is The Seventh-Day Adventist Church. They teach that the atonement is an ongoing event! Ellen G. White, the group's 'prophetess', has this to say of the precious blood of Christ, "The blood of Christ, while it was to release the repentant sinner from the condemnation of the law, was not to cancel sin...It will stand in the sanctuary until the final atonement." 13 Ephesians 1:7 assures the Christian that his sins have been cancelled, "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins..." (cf. Rom. 8:1).
Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science, believed that the shed blood of Christ was ineffectual for sin. She stated in her 'divinely inspired' book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, that, "The material blood of Jesus was no more efficacious to cleanse from sin when it was shed upon 'the accursed tree' than when it was flowing in His veins." She even denied the need for a physical sacrifice, labelling it as a 'heathen conception'.
The Biblically alert Christian will instantly recognize these claims as blasphemous and a direct attack upon the effectiveness of Christ's physical death in atoning for our sins. The reader may have already noticed an affinity between Copeland's teachings and some of these others just mentioned. We propose to present to the reader in the following pages, irrefutable evidence that the Faith movement is no less a dissenter from the true Biblical doctrine of the atonement than are these others.
Though Copeland and other Faith teachers do not totally discount the blood from being a necessary part of the atonement 'package', they do not, however, believe that the blood--the physical death of Jesus--alone, was sufficient to complete our redemption.
E.W. Kenyon, the originator of most Faith movement doctrine, teaches that the shed blood of Christ did not effect the sin issue at all! Kenyon states that the physical death of Jesus could never eradicate sin and sickness, as these were of spiritual origin. He also declares, as does Kenneth Copeland, that Jesus' physical death was only the beginning of His redemptive work, and not a mark of its completion.14
Let us now briefly turn to the Scriptures and hear what the Word of God teaches about the cross and the atonement. The apostle Paul said, "God forbid that I should glory, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ..." (Gal. 6:14). Paul did not glory in any mythical spiritual death of Christ, nor did he ever speak of a glorious redemption completed in hell. It was in the cross that Paul centred his attention and gloried. And it is the cross which the church of Jesus Christ has always gloried in. It has been wisely stated that the Church's roots are in the cross--in the atonement (cf. 1Cor. 1:18).
Revelation 1:5, "...To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood", describes the cleansing and purifying power of the atoning blood of Jesus. Revelation 7:14 states, "...These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb." The usage of the word blood in the Bible is evidence of the fact that it is synonymous with physical life given in death. Leon Morris explains:
"Of the 362 uses of the Hebrew word for blood (dam) in the O.T., 103 refer to sacrificial blood and 203 refer to violent physical death of some kind. Likewise, of the 98 uses of the Greek word for blood (haima) in the N.T., 25 refer to violent physical death, 12 refer to animal sacrifice, and 37 refer to the physical death of Christ." 15 (see 1Pet. 1:18,19; cf. Heb. 10:19,20; Acts 20:28; Eph. 1:7).
Therefore, we are to understand that when the Bible speaks of Christ's blood, it is talking about His physical death and His physical death ONLY. When Copeland denies the sufficiency of Christ's physical death alone to deal fully with man's sin, he not only diminishes the full redeeming power of the blood, but also its role in God's plan of salvation for mankind, as set out in the Bible. The shedding of Christ's blood which secured the forgiveness of sins, was made possible because it was blood poured forth in a violent sacrificial death made on our behalf (Rom. 5:8,9; 8:32; Eph. 5:2; Gal. 3:13; 1Thess. 5:10; cf. Isa. 53).
Several Scriptures which refer to Jesus as the Lamb of God (Mark 1:4; Luke 1:77; John 1:29), clearly portray a familiar image found in the O.T. sacrificial system, which included the sacrifice of a lamb as a sin offering (Lev. 4:32,33). It is a well known fact that without the shedding of blood there could be no forgiveness, for ...the life of the flesh is in the blood...it is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul (Lev. 17:11; see also Heb. 9.22). One would be hard pressed to find a clearer statement in support of the fact that the word blood in the Bible speaks expressly of physical death. In O.T. times it was the physical death of an animal that would atone for a man's sin. Hebrews 9:14 tells us that if this was the case then, How much more shall the blood of Christ...purge your conscience from dead works...? In other words: How much more would the physical death of Christ atone for the sins of mankind?
The Old Testament sacrifices were a mere shadow of the one true Sacrifice which was to come. In O.T. times, the sacrificial system was set up in order, primarily, to atone for sin. The blood of the sacrificial offering was brought into the presence of God (Heb. 9:6,7; cf. Heb. 9:12), and was necessary in satisfying (stilling), the anger of God. The Hebrew word kippûr, (propitiation or atonement), denotes the covering of sin or the sinner by means of an atonement. The blood of the sacrifice was placed between man and God, thus 'shielding' the man from the wrath of God, much like the blood on the doorpost kept those inside the house safe from the angel of death in Exodus 12.
According to Hebrews 10:4, animal sacrifice had no merit in itself to take away sin, this was made possible only because of God's choosing it as the way (Lev. 17:11). How the O.T. sacrificial system was a foreshadowing of the N.T. sacrifice of Jesus will be discussed in greater detail in a later chapter.
The point in mentioning the Old Testament sacrifice here, is to show that the way sins were atoned for in the past was by the physical death of animals. Now, of course, there is no further need for such animal sacrifices for we have the physical death of Jesus, the one, true and only sacrifice by which the sins of man are atoned. Jesus said it Himself when at the Last Supper He declared, "This is My blood...which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matt. 26:28). Notice He did not say 'this is My Spirit...' Again, the blood here denotes His physical death. In this verse, Jesus is signifying that His physical death on the cross would be the means whereby men's sins shall be forgiven.
Christ's physical death on the cross effected a universal forgiveness of sins. "It is finished," was His cry from the cross. The atonement was completed. The resurrection which followed was God's seal of approval on Christ's atoning work upon the cross. There are many Scriptures which confirm this fact. Here are just a few: Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:32; John 10:11-17; Acts 17:1-3; 20:28; Rom. 8:1-3; 1Cor. 6:9-11; 2Cor. 5:14,15; Gal. 3:13; 1Pet. 3:18; 1Jn. 1:7; 2:1-3.
One can only imagine what the saints of Revelation 5 and 12 would say to the Faith teacher's claims of the insufficiency of Christ's blood, alone, to atone for our sins. Those who cry so loudly, overcame Satan by the blood of the Lamb, denoting His sacrificial atoning death. They were redeemed by His shed blood (His physical death), and by virtue of that blood atonement were enabled to achieve victory, And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony... (Rev. 12:11).
We turn our attention now to the Faith movement's 'ransom theory', the belief strongly adhered to by Copeland and co. that Christ's alleged spiritual death was the price that was paid to Satan in order to win mankind back to God D.R. McConnell sets the record straight as to who Jesus was a sacrifice to:
"The central focus of any doctrine of atonement should be on the fact that Christ's death is a sacrifice to God. The righteous and Holy God is the party that must be satisfied by atonement, not Satan. Paul tells the Ephesians that "Christ loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma" (Eph. 5:2). Elsewhere, Paul writes, "For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all" (1Tim. 2:5,6). As the Mediator, Christ's 'ransom' was to God, not to Satan." 16
There are only three verses in the N.T. which speak of a 'ransom', 1Timothy 2:6, Matthew 20:28 and Mark 10:45 (cf. Lev. 5:14-7:1-7; Num. 5:5-8; Isa. 53:10). The word ransom literally signifies a means of loosing. The Bible teaches that the ransom that would release mankind from sin and death was to be the sacrificial death of a sinless man. Only God made flesh could fulfill this role. Jesus gave His life a ransom for many. He died in the sinner's stead, and God accepted the pains of His death in place of and on behalf of sinful man.
The ransom, in Scripture, is more commonly referred to as the atonement (cf.Rom. 5:11), meaning reconciliation (see Rom. 11:15, 2 Cor. 5:18,19). The word atonement is actually mentioned only once in the N.T. (Rom. 5:11), and usually means a ransom or sacrifice which has effected a reconciliation between God and man. It is never spoken of as a ransom paid to Satan. In point of fact, Scripture does not say to whom the ransom was paid, only that Christ was a ransom for many, however, Ephesians 5:2 clearly states that Christ, ...hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God...
God did not, nor has He ever, owed Satan a ransom. In fact, God has never owed Satan a thing except to cast him down to the bottom of the burning lake. Millard Erickson writes:
"It was not the payment of a ransom to Satan that ensured his defeat and the triumph of God, but Christ's taking our place to free us from the curse of the law. By bearing the penalty of our sin and thus satisfying once and for all the just requirements of the law, Christ nullified Satan's control over us at its root--the power to bring us under the curse and condemnation of the law. Christ's death, then, was indeed God's triumph over the forces of evil, but only because it was a substitutionary sacrifice." 17
The cross holds central place in the N.T., for it is there that Jesus Christ--the Lamb of God--was to make the atonement for man's sin. It was the 'altar' whereon His body was to be slain. It was the physical death of the Messiah on the cross that accomplished, in full, the once and for all atonement of mankind (Heb. 9:26; 10:10).
Ephesians 2:13 states ,"But now in Christ Jesus you who sometimes were far off are made near by the blood of Christ." We are made near to God. We are able, with boldness, to approach the Living God by means of Christ's shed blood, signifying the physical death of Jesus Christ which, according to the Bible, was all that was needed, indeed, all that could atone for our sins (see Heb. 10:19; cf.1Jn. 1:7; Rev. 1:5).
Kenneth Copeland, in the November, '93 issue of his magazine The Believer's Voice of Victory, has written a letter to his 'partners', in an apparent attempt to quell any doubts or questions his own followers might have on his views of the blood of Christ. He heads the letter, "Faith in the blood of Jesus demands honor for the blood!" Copeland proudly declares that, "I have faith in His blood to guarantee my redemption and forgiveness." This statement is inconsistent with others he has made, such as "...when the blood poured forth it did not atone..." and, "If it had been a physical death only it wouldn't have worked", (these comments are documented above). Upon further investigation, it has been ascertained that when Copeland makes the statement that he has faith in the blood to guarantee his redemption, he is including in this the erroneous belief of Christ's spiritual death. The two cannot be separated according to Faith movement teachings. Much of what is heard from the mouths of Faith movement teachers sounds like the Gospel, but upon closer examination one discovers that it is in reality a different gospel.
In a taped sermon Copeland joyously exclaims, "You're free, you're free. Set free by the blood of Jesus." 18 Although Copeland makes such a remark, if pressed for more detail one would learn that it is no an atonement by Jesus' blood alone that he rejoices in, but one in which the blood is only a part of God's redemption 'package'. The language remains the same but the meaning is variant.
Kenneth Hagin, too, has made contradictory statements concerning the blood atonement. In his pamphlet entitled The Precious Blood of Jesus, Hagin's position appears to be orthodox. He fails, however, to inform his readers of such prominent Faith teachings as the spiritual death of Christ and of His taking on the satanic nature, events which play a vital role in the Faith movement's account of the atonement. Hagin has taught often concerning the blood, openly denying the efficiency of Christ's physical death. In a letter dated April 23, 1986 Hagin wrote that, "because Jesus was made sin with our sins He had to pay the penalty for sin... This, as we know, cannot be referring to natural, physical death or else any sinner following his death could say he had paid the penalty for his sins." What an amazing statement to make. How could the death of 'any sinner' pay the penalty for sin? If that were true, then why did Jesus come to this world all the way from heaven to do what, according to Hagin, any one of us could do?
...The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin (1Jn. 1:7). The blood atonement, according to Scripture, is critical to the Christian faith, and anyone who would diminish its role, treads on extremely dangerous territory (Gal. 1:9, 10 ). In conclusion to this chapter, Hank Hanegraaff writes this warning to all those who would dare do so:
"I cannot emphasize too strongly that the atonement is crucial to the historic Christian faith. Interestingly, the word 'crucial' comes from the Latin word 'crux' or 'cross'. So when I say that the atonement is the crux of Christianity, I am in effect saying that just as the cross stands at the centre of all history, so also our understanding of the atonement is central to the faith. Tampering with the doctrine of the atonement is the most direct road from Christianity into the kingdom of the cults--and, for some people, into the world of the occult." 19
© 1995-2013 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.