"Wells Without Water" by Tricia Tillin
The Errors of the Word-of-Faith Movement (Part Two A 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 (as a tape set called "Wells Without Water" on the Banner Ministries tape list) 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.
IIn part two, we are going to look at the Word of Faith doctrine called, 'JDS' or 'Jesus Died Spiritually'. Most of the Positive Confession ministers teach this and it has implications for us that go way beyond any of their other teachings. You may not have come across this doctrine yet, but I believe that it is important to grasp what is being said and to see what it means for believers, because it is a most subtle and serious heresy and we need to be prepared to refute it.
To understand how JDS doctrine has come about and why it would affect our entire Christian walk, we have to start at the beginning and see how faith ministers interpret the creation and fall of man. (Have your Bible handy for this message because you will want to look up some of the readings yourself, just to see what the Bible actually says.)
First of all then, we have to see the absolute priority of right thinking and right speaking in faith ministries. What Copeland calls "the principle of the inner image" is the first stage. This is forming an image (visualising) the desired result or condition beforehand. Then the image is created in reality by speaking forth words that accord to the inner image.
While Copeland does urge believers to make the Word of God (not new-age positive self-image) the basis for forming the right inner image, his methodology still follows the same trend as new-age philosophies.
He says, in the article "The Image of God in You" (Voice of Victory March 1987) that "the Word has supernatural power. If you fill that Word with faith and speak it out, it will work for you and change your life...words are powerful... They are containers that carry faith...words are so important that they can determine our eternal destiny...words can destroy or they can create. They take an inner image and project it onto the outside world..."
It is the word that has the power, Copeland says, rather than God. You need to grasp this aspect of the Word-of-Faith movement or you will miss the importance of the JDS doctrine.
Copeland states "God's word (the Bible) is a living thing. It has the inherent power to cause itself to come to pass... God's word has within itself the power to bring itself to pass..." (VOV March 1987)
This is apparently because God, in speaking his word, utilised just the same spiritual laws, or forces, of faith that WE are now obliged to use in our quest for health, wealth and success. "God energized his word --- God's words are packed with faith..." (ibid) thus God's words are containers packed with spiritual energy just waiting to be released when you speak them out loud! The emphasis is shifted away from God, and Jesus, and the Holy Spirit and placed on written and spoken words to achieve the end-result.
In their trust of the word, rather than God, the Word of Faith movement is falling into the same heresy as metaphysical cults who believe in an impersonal force in the universe, a force that is activated by the spoken word.
The impersonal god-force of the cults is governed by spiritual laws, just as we humans are governed and limited by the law of gravity for example. The god of these cults is not All-powerful, but a Force that must obey certain rules. Indeed, MANY of the Word of Faith doctrines can be found sourced in esoteric philosophies such as "New Thought" which arose in the 19th century and Christian Science, which was a version of this teaching.
In the Oxford Encyclopaedia of Religion, the entry on 'New Thought' reads almost like a Word-of-faith tract! Under the heading PRINCIPLES, it lists "The reign of universal law", in that the spiritual and mortal world are governed by immutable laws; also the teaching that "thoughts are forces" that have cause and effect. New Thought said that "mind is the dominant force in man" therefore transforming the mind by a proper understanding of the laws of the universe (and learning how to interact with those laws) was the most important principle in achieving progress and success, health and prosperity. It also taught that "man is a microcosm of God" (i.e., ye are gods).
In a new-age Internet document "Spiritual Healing of all Things, from the Inside Out", Michael Connolly states:
"not only do we create our own reality but we create each other's reality also -- and therein lies the blessing and the curse. ... our thoughts affect reality and indeed magnetize and give life to those thoughts, feelings, and experiences we hold in consciousness. ...From a healing perspective, the restoration of health, balance, and life is a function of using the creative potential we all have to project an image of restoration into the out-of-balance condition. While simple in concept, it takes practice to discipline the mind to look past appearances and hold a vision of wholeness. This is where Faith comes in. As long as you doubt the effectiveness of your visualization in bringing the healing you desire, you will have thoughts that are at cross-purpose with your healing purpose and you will have mixed results.... Faith in healing is the certainty that the image you project is a reality over any other appearance that may be present. It is more than belief. Belief doesn't mean knowing. Faith comes from knowing with certainty. The more certain you are of your healing, the faster the results will manifest in the reality around you.... I believe miracles will be possible for many of us... But we have to get into right mindedness in order to call forth those miracles."
There are many concepts here that word-of-Faith followers will be familiar with, including the need for a right inner image, the creative power of words and thoughts, the need to discipline the mind to see a new reality based on the truth about ourselves in God, and the visualising of the right outcome as important to bringing it forth into reality.
Both the new-age document above, and much of the Copeland ministry is based upon the same spiritual principles - the inner image and the creative word. This requires the believer to follow spiritual discipline in transforming the mind, and in learning to co-operate with immutable spiritual laws in order to make God's word effective in reality.
You see, when it is our thoughts and words that do the work, not the power of God, then it comes down to learning a formula for faith. All we have to do is learn the words and say them in the right way! Even using the name of Jesus becomes a formula to get power out of the word of God.
Biblical doctrine says that the word of God is powerful only because it is God's word. It is God who has the power, not spoken words. But Copeland makes the words themselves the active agency.
Copeland: "It is the word of God, in Isaiah 55 and Mark 4, Hebrews 1, Jeremiah 1:12, God said, "I watch over my word to perform it.". It is the word of God that is the bridge between God and man and it's the word of God that's the bridge between man and God. God, in His covenant with Jesus, swore to Him, covering every spectrum of man's existence. Everything that could possibly occur in the earth was covered in the Old Testament." (My emphasis)
People, today, seem obsessed with finding a bridge between God and man, that is, a way back to spiritual living. New Agers say, the rainbow is the bridge. Others say, it is the Virgin Mary, or the Church, or even Lucifer is the bridge to God.
Faith ministers say, the word, the Bible, is the bridge. That is how we get access to God.
But the Bible says, in 1 Timothy chapter 2, verse 5, "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus". Jesus is the bridge, not the Bible. You see, God is already being restricted or governed by the spoken or written word.
Copeland says elsewhere, "God has no will outside of His word." Of course, God's word is comprehensive and true and God will not contradict it. But how do we know God's ways sufficiently to say He has no will apart from His word?
There is to be another creation following this one, a new heaven and earth. Where is the Bible for that age? Can it be God will have to dictate a whole new set of Scriptures, before He is able to interact with man in the ages to come?
Also, Copeland says this limitation applies to Jesus. He says, "God made a covenant, even with Jesus, to enable Him to do a work on the earth". But Jesus is God. He is God Almighty. Jesus did not need a contract to visit Abraham, or Jacob, or Daniel in the Old Testament and He still does not need a contract to exercise His power today. It is we who need the covenant because we have fallen into sin.
Copeland: "Adam had been given authority over all the handiworks of God, the word says, and he gave that authority to Satan. Gave it to him. Gave him authority over the earth and everything in it. And, then, he set up the world system. He had authority here - do as he pleased - he was the god of the world. And in his authority he ruled man, and in order for man to get up from under his rule he's gonna have to be reborn. Well, is God gonna make a new body out of the dust of the earth? How can He? The dust of the earth doesn't belong to Him any more."
The cornerstone of Dominion Theology of any kind, is that Adam's authority, or dominion over the earth, has been lost and that he has given it to Satan. But is that true?
Psalm 24 says "The earth is the LORD's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein." [Note: this was spoken after the Fall and before redemption!]
God is, and always has been, the King-God of the earth. Adam was only His agent, or viceroy, His executive if you like. Adam was created as a subordinate to God, and given the job of tending and guarding creation, and of filling the earth with inhabitants.
The authority Adam had was DELEGATED AUTHORITY only. You delegate authority when you entrust your children to a baby-sitter. The children are yours. They belong to you, not the baby-sitter. However, you make the baby-sitter temporarily in charge of your children, trusting him/her with that task.
So it was with God and Adam. Just as you would demand that a baby-sitter abide by your rules and wishes in the care of your children, so God required obedience in the stewardship of his earth. That is what went wrong when Adam defected to satanic lordship.
what did man's dominion consist? The following shows that man was steward
of all created things, the animals, birds, fish and land.
"And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth." (Gen 1:26)
"What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas." (Ps 8:4-8)
Did Adam lose this dominion? Well, is lamb still on the menu? I think it is!
The Word of Faith view of dominion, however, goes beyond stewardship of the earth. It proposes that Adam was a god-ruler of his planet. I would ask a simple question about this viewpoint. If Adam and Eve were gods, what would be the attraction of the serpent's temptation "ye shall be as gods?"
A definition of godhood is SELF-DETERMINATION.
That is, the freedom to decide your own way, your own will, your own fate. Naturally our Lord is God because he is self-determining. But was Adam? Was he created to do as he pleased and go where he pleased? Not at all. He was given limited scope to act as he was told under the eye of his Heavenly Father, but not to go beyond those bounds.
Thus, when Lucifer came along with the suggestion that Adam and Eve might become as gods, it was an invitation to REBELLION against the over-lordship of God!
The suggestion of the serpent was that, in knowing all things, they would be thereby wise enough to make their own decisions, and no longer need to be beholden to the commands of God.
Thus, what happened in the Fall was Adam's defection from service to God, and his (unknowing) acceptance of the lordship of Satan. Because, of course, whosoever commits sin becomes its slave. What, therefore, did Adam and Eve actually give to Satan? Why, their service, their obedience, their willingness to be led and taught by him.
So, when Adam chose to resign his God-given employment and to sign up with Satan as boss, did he hand over the earth to Satan? No, of course he didn't. How could he? It did not belong to him. It belonged to God.
Did God lose the dust of the earth, then, as Copeland asserts? Not according to Scripture, that says long after the Fall: "the earth belongs to God".
All God lost was the obedient service of His viceroy. So, God could have made another Adam, but He did not. The only reason He did not strike Adam dead, on the spot, was because He loved mankind and wanted to save them from eternal damnation. THAT is why Adam and the earth were not immediately destroyed, NOT because God was somehow deprived of His authority over them.
If you think about it, what Copeland is saying is that God is subject to Satan under this scheme!!
In other places, Copeland paints a picture of a despairing God gazing helplessly from the outside of his creation, trying to formulate a plan for recovering his losses.
God has lost His earth to a fallen angel! He has to accept Satan's rulership. Nonsense! Let me put it this way: if I am Queen of England and I send you as my agent to, say the Falklands, does that make you the owner of the Falkland Islands?
if you decided to betray me to Argentina and become the Argentinean agent,
does that make Argentina the owner of the Falklands?
Of course it doesn't. It might cause a lot of problems for the Queen of England because it opens a door to our enemies. It may give them access to the manpower. They may even enslave all Falkland residents. But it most certainly does not transfer the ownership to Argentina.
All you would be there is a traitor to your country, not worth saving probably. Just watch the Queen and the UK government having "mercy" on such a traitor if ever they laid hands on you! Yet God reacted differently with Adam, with us. He forgave us our betrayal. He sent His own Son to bring us out. Praise God!
How can we possibly belittle such a God or say that He is forced to do certain things?
Copeland: "He [God] treated Satan like he was the ruler of the earth. He treated him like he planned on treating Adam and that's the reason Satan could walk before Him, in the days of Job, to and fro on the earth. And God said, "Where you been?" He said, "I've been walking to and fro on the earth." He had a right to. God treated him the way He planned on treating Adam. He had to - He had given Adam His word. If He had made another one out of the dust there, it would've looked just like that one did after it sinned. So I mean, what good's - I mean, He's just reproducing the same thing. Besides that, the dirt's not His, any longer. So God, really, is on the outside looking in." [My emphasis throughout]
Well, this really is saying that Satan has become all that Adam was meant to be. And God is forced, by His own word, to treat Satan as the proper authority, or god, of this earth. This makes God beholden to a fallen angel. It almost makes God the subject of Satan. (This is an important step in understanding the subject of "Jesus Died Spiritually" so hang in there!)
Well, what is Satan's authority, in fact? Over what does he rule? What does he mean, when he boasts to Jesus, that the authority on earth is given to him? And what does it mean that he is "the god of this world"?
Let us remember that God still remains the legal and actual Owner of planet earth. God cursed the ground so that it lost its fruitfulness and the animal creation was made subject to corruption, as well. Note that this cursing was carried out --- by whom? By God, not by Satan or Adam, according to the word in Romans 8:20. If God had actually lost control at that point, how come - after the Fall - He is exercising His authority over Creation to "subject it to futility" as the Bible says? Let's be logical in our thinking!
Secondly, Satan is not the god of the physical creation; he is only the false lord of the present world system. In other words, all he has is the obedience of mankind. Whatever authority he exercises, it is only effective over the affairs of mankind.
Satan deceives mankind, and tempts us to sin; that is his authority. He has been given a certain limited scope to play havoc with our lives and to cause certain tragedies, but nothing he does is outside the plan or rule of God.
God certainly is not on the outside looking in, impotently, as Copeland says. Copeland quotes the Book of Job, Chapter One; he says, "Satan was walking up and down on the earth.". So he was. But, you will notice there, he had to apply to God for permission before he touched Job and even then his actions were limited. And God overruled on Job's behalf, in the end. You see, God is the Lord. He is in control.
Also, God was not caught out by Adam's sin, so that He had to patch together some kind of contingency plan, to get Himself out of a hole. The Lord knew Adam would sin. He always knew He would have to send Jesus to save us.
Ephesians chapter 1, verse 4-5 says this, "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will" Yes, God had a plan even before Adam fell.
So, what about Satan then? Well, he is just a created being, a fallen angel who fell through pride. He wanted to be as God but God cast him out before the beginning of time as we know it, and bound him to the dark regions below the earth.
Spiritually speaking, though, he is able to influence mankind through his host of demons and they operate in the atmosphere. So, he is also called, "the prince of the power of the air", in Ephesians chapter 2:2.
His method is deception. He tempts man to do his own will and to fulfil his own plans. What Adam did, then, was to listen to a false teacher and to put his trust in a false lord. Adam decided to do the devil's will instead of God's on earth; that is all there is to it. Adam had a free will and he chose to follow the devil.
What God lost was fellowship with man and what man lost was his relationship with God. And, of course, that led to sin, sickness, poverty and eventually physical death.
I have laboured this point, rather, because I wanted you to see that Satan does not have all that much authority. To say that God is forced to treat Satan like the god of creation and He is bound by His own word to fall in with Satan's plan; it is just plain wrong.
Copeland: "See what happens. Here's God, in this position that Satan [has] - and Adam - have brought Him to. This thing has to be rectified. God is looking. He's - He's - God is a God of faith, He's a God of His word. He uses spiritual force to create matter. He doesn't - He doesn't fix anything with material things. He uses spiritual things to handle material things. So what plan does He settle on? This has done more to rejuvenate, change, influence, overhaul - however you want to say it - my life, than any other one thing I've ever learned, since I've made Jesus Christ the Lord of my life. God could have used creation, He could have used brute force, the fire of God, nuclear - whatever. And He's got it all. All alternatives were open to Him to regain the most prized possession that He had, everything He had. What did He do to get it? He gave. The law of giving is the most powerful thing in heaven and earth. It is the force of this universe. Everything God has ever done, He's done through the giving motive." [My emphasis]
Now, we see that God, because He has been bound by His own word and has lost His authority on earth, is forced by Adam and Satan, to conceive of a plan to find a way back into His own creation.
God is pictured as almost scratching His head in frustration as He watches His own planet snatched out of His grasp. The circumstances are ruling Him now and the plan, according to Copeland, is to use another spiritual law; the law of giving. By this law, whatsoever is given freely is returned a hundredfold.
So God is now bound by the word, by Adam's sin, by Satan AND by the laws of the universe; the universe He created!
Copeland calls this law, 'the force of the universe,' and God is going to put this law to work to get a foothold back on the earth.
First, He has to "convince Abraham to agree to a covenant with Himself". In another place, Copeland has said "After Adam's fall, God found Himself in a peculiar position --- God needed an avenue back into the earth --- God laid out His proposition and Abram accepted it. It gave God access to the earth and gave man access to God --- technically, if God ever broke the Covenant, He would have to destroy Himself."
As I see it, the covenant was actually God's act of mercy and love, in providing a means of atonement for man, to save him from the consequences of sin. God could have left man long enough for him to destroy himself and blow up the entire world, because that was what would have happened. And He could have sat back and watched as Satan took every man to hell for ever. Then, He would have brought into action what it says in 2 Peter and the Book of Revelation, "The earth and the works that are in it will be burned up", and Satan will be, "cast into the lake of fire".
instead of leaving man to his fate, God made a way for restoration of fellowship.
He took the initiative. He provided the covenant.
Indeed (and this is an important fact) long before Abraham was born, God provided a blood sacrifice atonement for the sin of Adam and Eve. As soon as that sin was admitted, God killed an animal and covered the couple with its skin. (Gen 3:21) Don't please have a picture of God the Father as a Fashion Designer crafting leather or fur tunics for the first man and woman. No, the slain animal's blood was still upon the hide as it wrapped Adam and Eve, providing a blood covering for their sin. Instead of slaying the first two humans on earth, God slew an animal as a substitute, thus giving us our first practical demonstration of how redemption was to be attained (eventually through the divine Substitute of Jesus, of course.)
So, already, God is making a way for man to return to God. You see, He is not impotent at all. But Copeland interprets the Abrahamic covenant in a different way. He says that God needed it to open a door for His word.
Copeland: "Now God has an open door in the earth for His word. He begins to give forth promises. Every promise God makes will work, if somebody will walk. God began to make promises. The Bible says, He was making promises to Jesus - Jesus wasn't there. Changed that old boy's name to Abraham and said, "You're My man". He kept making promises to Abraham, He kept making promises to Abraham. What's He doing? With His mind of the word, He's creating. Very little at a time, He'd find people that would listen to Him and do what He said, and He would get another portion of the word into the earth."
Remember what Copeland has taught so far - that God is outside his Creation looking in, seeking for a way to recover what was lost. All that God can do is find a man who will accept His words, obey them and record them.
Elsewhere Copeland has said: "Now you see, God is injecting his Word into the earth to produce this Jesus - these faith-filled words that framed the image that's in Him... He (God) can't just walk onto the earth and say "let it be" because he doesn't have the right. He had to sneak it in here around the god of this world that was blockin' every way that he possibly could."
Copeland teaches that words are the creative agency by which God achieves His goals. In order to bring forth Jesus onto the earth God has to announce it in words, and so God needs to find a channel for those words. In Abraham God finds that channel, and uses him, (and later all the other Old Testament saints), to form a sort of repository of power in the form of words.
Copeland says, God was creating something. Every time God spoke, creative power was released that existed in that word. So, by the time Jesus came, there were enough promises to cover all His needs. Then Jesus came.
And the important thing to remember is that Jesus is said to come as Adam, exactly the same as Adam, as a fallen creature, except that He never sinned. The basis of the JDS doctrine is that Jesus came as the last Adam, to recapture for us all that the first Adam lost - that is, dominion-godhood over this earth!
Copeland: "He called Himself the Ben-Adam - that was Adam's name. Son of Adam - the Bible called Him the Last Adam - it's exactly like the first, exactly like him, exactly like him. He was like him, after he sinned, lost the glory of God, but without sin in His life. He had to walk by faith. He couldn't walk by His inherited glory, because He's God Almighty,"
This brings us to the question of the divinity and humanity of Jesus. Now, people have been discussing this since Pentecost. But what the Church teaches, and I believe this is the scriptural truth, is that Jesus was both God and man at one time, in One Person.
Some teach that Jesus was a man filled with God, others that He was God only and that His body was just a convenient container. But this statement from one theologian sums up the orthodox position: "In the One Person of Jesus Christ, there are two natures; a human and a divine nature, each in its completeness and integrity. And these two natures are organically and indissolubly united, yet so that there is no third nature formed thereby."
In other words, when Jesus made Himself of no reputation and took the form of a servant, as it says in Philippians 2, He did not lose His divinity and He was not just a fallen man like Adam.
Jesus was born into the flesh of man, (incarnated) yet that flesh was untainted by sin. He was conceived of the Holy Spirit, not of man. So, Adam's taint of sin was not in the human nature of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, this HAD to be the case, for only a totally pure, unblemished and perfect Sacrifice could take away the sins of the World.
Copeland seems to believe that the physical body of Jesus (being human) was fallen because it was part of creation. He says that Jesus was EXACTLY like Adam "after he sinned". The Bible does not say that. It says that Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit, utterly without sin, and without the stain of original sin that taints every human being born in the normal way. The body that was created by God in the womb of a Virgin was a perfect creation, befitting the divine son of God.
Although Jesus chose willingly to "take the form of a man" and in order to do so became willingly obedient to the commands of the Father (as a servant) he did not at any time "lose his glory" of godliness as Copeland seems to suggest. Jesus was fully God and fully man at all times. But listen to this:
Copeland in his ministry magazine "Believer's Voice of Victory" volume 15 issue 2 [February 1987] in a piece titled "Take Time to Pray," reprints a supposed prophecy given through him at the Dallas Victory Campaign where Jesus Christ says: "They crucified Me for claiming that I was God. But I didn't claim I was God; I just claimed I walked with Him and that He was in Me."
At the very least, there is a confused and muddled doctrine here - at the worst this is heretical. It seems that Copeland believes Jesus laid aside his DIVINITY when he was born on earth and thus became merely a man who walked in God by the Spirit.
The very mechanics of the Redemption should be enough to tell us otherwise. The redemption of man was made necessary because all of Adam's race were born with a sin nature. [What we call "original sin"]
Thus, there had to come One who lived outside of that sin nature in order to rescue us. God had condemned every man to death because of sin; "The wages of sin is death". So then, if Jesus was just like Adam, He too would legally be condemned to death, no matter how good and law-abiding He was.
It is not what we do but what we are that condemns us to hell; we are Adam's children. Jesus came in the "likeness" of sinful man, yet without sin; it had to be that way. Jesus, then, was fully God and fully man, right from His birth. As Paul says in Colossians 2:9, "In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily". You would be hard-pressed to put it any better than that, wouldn't you?
For those who would like to know more about the incarnation, and this subject of the humanity and divinity of Jesus, there is some helpful material, and scriptures, at the end of this article. Go to the "Notes" section below.
Copeland: "But the word of God, now, was brought alive in her womb and when Jesus was born of Mary - Spirit of God in Him, the flesh of Adam - He's born of God. He's got God's blood flowing in His veins, just exactly the way Adam did, before he sinned. Except, this one is just like he was right after he sinned, with all of the weaknesses that Adam had after he sinned. And the first thing that Satan said to Him was, "Make these stones bread". Same thing that Adam fell for. Jesus said, "Man lives not by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God." Instead of doing what Adam did, He threw the word at him, which is what Adam should have done. He should have said, "I have been told that I have authority over this garden - you get out of it." But he didn't. So, three different times Jesus said, "It is written, it is written, it is written, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."
Copeland says that both Adam and Jesus had "God's blood flowing in his veins". This is a theological and medical question that we could debate, but let's stay on course and ignore it.
Let's pass on to where Copeland talks about Jesus being tempted in the wilderness by the devil. Notice that he says it's THE WORD that defeated the Devil, NOT Jesus Christ the divine Son of God. This is important.
You remember that, earlier, we found the spoken word was the power of the universe. Well, in the W-of-F teachings, because Jesus was another Adam, albeit a sinless one, He also had to rely on the power of the word.
I agree that it was not simply the presence of the Son of God that defeated Satan. But the victory was the obedience of Jesus, not the fact that He used certain words found in His Hebrew Bible.
We can now see why, earlier in the tape, Copeland said that God stored up a sort of repository of words to cover every eventuality, because now Jesus apparently needs them. It makes me wonder just what would have happened to Jesus, in this temptation, confronted with the devil, if He had had no Scripture to quote.
Now we can go on to see why God had to get His word into the earth, as Copeland says. All of it was actually spoken to Jesus.
Copeland: "--- through Christ Jesus. And if you'll read right on down in that - that third chapter, bless you, you'll find out along about sixteen, seventeen and eighteen verses in there that the word that God spoke to Abraham, in the way of covenant promise, was actually being spoken to Jesus."
Galatians 3:16, which talks about the Abrahamic covenant, says this;
"Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, "And to seeds," as of many, but as of one, "And to your Seed," who is Christ.". Verse 17; "And this I say that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect. For if the inheritance is of the law, then it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise".
What was that promise, by the way? In Genesis chapter 17, verses 2-8 God says to Abram,
"I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly --- behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.
So, the blessing of Abraham that Paul refers to in Galatians chapter three is this covenant promising blessing, prosperity, increase and a land. He also promised to be Abraham's God - his Saviour, Protector, Keeper and everything else that implies. Furthermore these covenant blessings were to be passed through Abraham to "his seed", which Paul interprets as THE Seed, the Son of God, Jesus Christ.
Now, Paul is saying that Jesus Christ came as the perfect recipient of that promise; "All the promises of God are Yea and Amen in Him".
So that, even though Abraham's natural descendants were and are blessed, the complete blessing of salvation and the favour of God are obtainable only in the Seed, Jesus. Where? - in Jesus. That is the plain meaning of Galatians 3.
Look at verse 29 of Galatians 3, it says, "If you are in Christ, then you are Abraham's seed". In other words, how do you inherit this blessing? By being a joint heir with Christ, because He is the promised Seed. If you are IN Christ you receive the covenant blessings; if you are OUTSIDE Christ you don't - simple as that.
Copeland, however, puts a spin on this and says "the covenant was actually spoken to Jesus". This allows him to develop the idea that God was planting a cache of words upon the earth, and making a covenant in advance with Jesus his god-man so that - come the time of redemption - Jesus would be able to achieve the works of God by drawing upon that covenant and those words. Hence in the wilderness temptation, Jesus speaks out the written word of God and so defeats the devil.
This mistake is only amplified by then having Jesus utilise the words of the covenant to oblige God to do His will.
Copeland: "God's covenant partner in the earth, Abraham, had given birth, by flesh, to God's Spirit through the word. Through what word? - the covenant word, the covenant word. God had a race of people walking close enough to Him that He could keep feeding the word into. Now, here's Jesus saying, "Rise, take up thy bed and walk." So what happened? God said, "You better get up. My Boy said, 'Rise.' - that means, get up." Jesus said, "Peace", to the wind, "Be still", to the sea. God said, "You better be still." And He's walking as a man, baptised in the Holy Ghost, out from under the dominion of Satan, and when He says, "Rise.", - bless God you can get up. When He says, "Be still.", to the wind, the wind said, "Amen." Isn't that right? Can you see why? It was the word of God in action. He's called the word. It was the covenant in operation."
Again, the emphasis is on the word, rather than on God's will. The Bible says, Jesus did the works of God by the Spirit of God, not by speaking the words. He said in John 14:10 "Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works" . God was with and in Him, inspiring Him by the Holy Spirit, and the miracles were the miracles of God.
But Copeland says, the reason Jesus was able to perform miracles was because He was entitled to make use of God's promises. It makes His ministry a matter of education and study of the Old Testament, rather than a dependence on God's Spirit. Was the real saviour the word of God, which Jesus used, or was it the Lord Jesus, who fulfilled the word?
The problem with Copeland's doctrine, here, is that we end up trusting the word more than God, and even Jesus is reduced to a man who used the word of God to do miracles.
Now Copeland makes a grave biblical error below when he tries to reinforce his teaching that the blessings and curses released by the words of Jesus are those of the Abrahamic Covenant.
Actually, Jesus released us from the curse of the MOSAIC law, not the ABRAHAMIC covenant!
The covenant Jesus fulfilled, in order to release us from the penalty of death, was the Mosaic law; the legal covenant God made with Moses and the people of Israel. (See Exod 34:8-11) In Galatians 3:16, the passage we recently looked at, Paul contrasts the promise to Abraham with the Legal Covenant given to Moses, four hundred and thirty years later.
What you need to bear in mind is that passage in Galatians three. Paul shows that the Abrahamic covenant, given earlier than the law, is a covenant of grace that promised blessing and salvation. The Mosaic law, on the other hand, with all its sacrifices and regulations and commandments, was a covenant of law. And it was the law that brought man into condemnation. Jesus came to release us from the penalty of the law and to bring the Mosaic covenant to an end, in Himself. But He did not end the Abrahamic covenant. Quite the contrary, He was the epitome of it. He was the expression and fulfilment of it. He was the promised Seed in whom all mankind was to be blessed. That is the difference between the covenants.
Copeland: "All right now, notice the promise of the Spirit was the Spirit promising Abraham his blessing. The curse, on the other hand, which is all listed in the twenty-eighth chapter of Deuteronomy - first fourteen verses is the blessing, the rest of it's the curse and it says every sickness and every disease not written in this book of the law is under the curse. All sickness and disease came because of the curse that came in between Adam and Satan. And here is Jesus being made a curse for us. Now, what does that mean? Jesus, walking perfect and upright before God, as a man full of the Spirit of God, baptised in the Spirit of God, walking in the name of the Father, He said, "I have kept them in your name." He's walking as a prophet under the Abrahamic covenant. He has walked perfect and upright before God, tempted in all things like as we are, yet without sin. He did not fail it like Adam did. He proved it and walked upright before it. No legal reason for Him to die."
You see what I mean? There is a terrible confusion, here. It is just not sound theology.
Look at the passage in Deuteronomy 28 for example, which Copeland calls, the ABRAHAMIC blessing and curse. Rather, look first at chapter 27, verse 1, "Then Moses" - MOSES - "with the elders of Israel, commanded the people", and so on.
It was part of God's legal covenant with Israel, wasn't it? Chapter 28 begins, "Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of God...that the Lord will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you".
And He goes on to list them, health, prosperity, and everything else. Likewise, if they do not obey God, the opposite will happen. God knew, and it actually came to pass in history, that if the people of Israel turned from God and served other gods, it would bring them nothing but heartache, pain and loss.
He even told them they would lose the land of Canaan, which they did; all because they turned away from loving God. But I do not see anything there about the promised Seed, or the salvation of the Gentiles, or justification by faith - all of that was promised to Abraham.
What Galatians is speaking of is the curse of the law, that is death. You can easily check that by reading Galatians 3:13, "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law." Once Christ had become a curse for us and paid the death penalty, then we were freed from the law and able to receive the blessing of Abraham. You see?
Verse 14 tells us what the blessing is; the Holy Spirit, to bring us to life and live in us, to raise us from the deadness of sin and reunite us with the Father. It is NOT, as Copeland has it, the "promise the Spirit gave to Abraham"; it is the promise of the Spirit. See verses 2 and 5 for confirmation of that.
[The above is essential background information for understanding the JDS doctrine. Now please proceed to Part B of this article where the JDS doctrine is discussed more thoroughly.]
Continue to Part Two(b) (or look at the scriptural doctrine of the incarnation below)
THE NATURE OF THE INCARNATION
The nature of the incarnation is given to us by Paul in the Philippian epistle in the seven-fold humiliation of the Christ of God. The seven steps of Christ’s humiliation are noted in the following outline of Philippians 2:6-8.
- Who, being in the form of God
- Thought it not robbery to be equal with God
- But made Himself of no reputation
- And took upon Himself the form of a servant
- And was made in the likeness of men
- And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself
- And became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
This seven-fold humiliation of Christ may be summed up in three major theological points:
- His deity, clauses 1 and 2;
- His humanity; clauses 3,4 and 5; and
- His crucifixion, clauses 6 and 7.
When Paul states that Christ “made Himself of no reputation” he is saying that Christ emptied Himself By being in “the form of God” and taking upon Himself “the form of man” there was a self-emptying process. This is spoken of as the Kenosis Theory. The expression “emptied Himself” comes from the Greek word “Kenoo” meaning “to make empty”. Theologians in general accept the Kenosis Theory, that Christ did empty Himself in the incarnation, but there is much misunderstanding concerning this theory. Common questions are, ‘In what way did Christ empty Himself?’ ‘What did this self-emptying consist of?’ and ‘In becoming man did He cease to be God?’.
1. False Concepts
a. He Emptied Himself of His Deity
This theory holds that Christ in His self-emptying laid aside His deity, giving up His essential attributes when He took upon Himself humanity. It can be refuted in that Jesus was always conscious of His deity. Deity could take humanity into union with itself but could never cease to be deity. Jesus was God manifest in the flesh.
b. He Emptied Himself of the Possession of Divine Attributes
This theory holds that in becoming man, Christ gave up the possession of certain essential attributes of deity, such as omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience. On the other hand, this theory holds that Christ in becoming man did not empty Himself of His moral attributes, such as love, truth, holiness and life. Also the essential attributes of self-existence, immutability and unity with the Father were not surrendered. However, if Christ would have given up some of the divine attributes, which seems impossible, then He would have ceased to be fully God.
c. He Emptied Himself of the Apparent Possession of Divine Attributes
This theory holds that Christ did not divest Himself of either essential or moral attributes, but simply acted as though He did not possess them. This theory introduces an element of deceit that is totally uncharacteristic of the God of truth.
d. He Emptied Himself of the Use of Divine Attributes
This concept holds that Christ in His self-emptying, gave up the use of divine attributes. It holds that He did not give up the possession of the divine nature and attributes but only the use of them. However, the Gospels, as it will be seen, show that He did use or exercise divine attributes at times.
2. Proper Concepts
Christ in becoming man did not cease to be God, neither did He give up the possession or use of divine attributes, whether essential or moral. It should be noted that God was not changed into a man but rather assumed the nature of man without ceasing to be God.
What did this self-emptying then consist of? Christ surrendered the independent exercise of divine attributes. He laid aside His prerogatives as God to act as God, and became dependent upon Father’s will for any exercise, operation or manifestation of these attributes. A. H. Strong “Systematic Theology” (p.703) says “His humiliation consisted in the continuous surrender, on the part of the God-Man so far as His human nature was concerned, of the exercise of those divine powers with which it was endowed by virtue of its union with the divine, and in the voluntary acceptance which followed upon this, of temptation, suffering, and death.”
a. Christ Was Always God
Before His incarnation, Christ was in the form of God (Philippians 2:6-8). In becoming man He did not cease to be God. The truth of His essential deity before His incarnation precludes that He could not cease to be God in becoming man. Jesus Christ was God before and during incarnation. He never ceased to be God. He is eternally God, but now He has taken humanity upon Himself. In taking humanity, He did not empty Himself of His deity. To deny this is to fall into the heresies of the early centuries and align with those who rejected the deity of Christ.
Herbert Lockyer in “All the Doctrines of the Bible” (p.45) says: “At His incarnation, Christ added to His already existing divine nature a human nature and became the God-Man. At regeneration, there was added to our already existing human nature, a divine nature and thus we become partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). Thus, like Christ, every true Christian is divine-human.”
In quoting Dr. Louis Berkhof, Lockyer continues to write, “Christ has a human nature, but He is not a human person. The person of the mediator is the unchangeable Son of God. In the incarnation He did not change into a human person, neither did He adopt a human person. He simply assumed, in addition to His divine nature, a human nature, which did not develop an independent personality, but became personal in the person of the Son of God.”
b. Christ Always Possessed Divine Attributes
In becoming a Man, Christ did not empty Himself of any of His essential or moral attributes. We note this in the following Scriptures.
(1) Essential Attributes
(a) Omnipresence (John 3:13; Matthew 28:19-20; 18:20) Jesus knew, as the Son of Man, that He was both on earth and in heaven. This is omnipresence. Only by this attribute can He also be with His people everywhere a times.
(b) Omnipotence (John 6:36; 14:11; 10:25,37-38; 15:24). The works of Jesus were divine works. Certain works only God Himself could do. Jesus forgave sins, declared the divine name, I AM, and exercised creative powers which c belong to deity. Jesus was all-powerful.
(c) Omniscience (John 2:24-25; 18:4) Jesus knew all men. He also knew all that was in man. As to His deity, He was all-knowing. Nothing was hidden from His sight.
(d) Immutable (Hebrews 1:12; 13:8) Jesus Christ is The same yesterday, today and forever. His character, love and life are unchangeable.
(e) Self-Existence (John 8:58; John 1:4; 5:26) Jesus offered men eternal life, saying that this life was in Himself. He that has the Son of God has eternal life. This is an attribute of deity (1 John 5:11-13).
(f) Eternal (Revelation 1:8; John 3:16; 5:26) Jesus is the eternal Son of God. He presents eternal life to all those who will believe on the Father through Him.
(2) Moral Attributes
The following moral attributes were also manifested in the Son of God. In becoming Man, He did not empty Himself of these moral attributes of deity.
(a) Holiness (Mark 1:24; Revelation 4:8; I Peter 1:15-16)
(b) Righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30; Jeremiah 23:4-5; I John 2:1-2)
(c) Love (John 3:16; Galatians 2:20; I John 4:16-19). Jesus Christ was perfect love manifested. This includes goodness, grace, mercy, compassion and kindness; all of which are qualities of God’s love. (Ephesians 2:4,7; Titus 3:4-7).
(d) Faithfulness (John 14:6; I John 5:20; Hebrews 2:17). Jesus Christ is truthfulness personified.
Jesus was and is God, possessing both the essential and moral attributes of deity. He possessed the attributes of God because He was God. As the God-Man He could never cease to possess all the attributes of God. Jesus was conscious of His deity as well as His humanity.
c. Christ as God Became Dependent Man
The self-emptying of Christ as God was in the fact that He humbled Himself, and from being in the form of God, took upon Himself the form of a servant. Though He was God and never ceased to be God in the incarnation, He became a subject, obedient and dependent Man upon the Father for the exercise of His essential attributes.
Of His own free will He subjected Himself as the God-Man to the Father’s will in total dependence upon the Holy Spirit. The Son took upon Himself the limitations of a perfect humanity and exercised a continuous surrender of His will. He did not need to suffer hunger, thirst, weariness, sorrows, suffering or death, and He never used His divine prerogatives to alleviate these infirmities of human nature.
This self-humbling was not forced upon Him or against His will, but the love of the eternal Godhead compelled Him to bring about the redemption of fallen man. Christ delighted to do the Father’s will (Psalm 40:6-7; Hebrews 10:5-10).As the subject and dependent God-Man He said that He could do nothing of Himself, only as the Father directed (John 5:30). Thus He never acted contrary to the will of the Father and any exercise or expression of essential or moral attributes was in accordance with the Father’s will. As the perfect God-Man, He was totally dependent upon the Holy Spirit for all He said and did.
- In His Self-emptying He gave up the glory, the outshining majesty and outward expression of the Godhead that He had with the Father (John 17:5).
- In His Self-emptying He gave up the form of God and took upon Himself the form of a servant, without ceasing to be God. This He did in the virgin birth (John 1:14; Philippians 2:6-8; I Peter 1:16-18).
- In His Self-emptying, He taught only what the Father told him to say (Jn 5:30, 8:28,35, 12:44-50)
- In His Self-emptying, He did only what the Father showed Him to do (Jn 5:36)
- In His Self-emptying He came into voluntary dependence upon the anointing and enabling power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:38, Luke 4:14-18, Matt 12:38, Heb 9:14, Acts 1:2)
- In His Self-emptying, He laid aside the independent exercise of his divine attributes, only exercising them as the Father willed. This was self-subordination for a redemptive purpose. He never used any of his divine prerogatives for selfish purposes. (Jn 14:28, 3:16, 10:18, 1Cor 11:3, 15:27-28)
From THE FOUNDATIONS OF CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE by Kevin J. Connor
© 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.