I have a friend who is a fan of Joyce Meyer. I’ve watched her a couple of times and she seems like a female counterpart to Joel Osteen. However, after looking into her background, her theological roots are grounded in the word-faith movement, which you and Tom were critical of in, The Seduction of Christianity. One of the most blatant heresies of the word-faith teachers, such as Kenneth Copeland, Gloria Copeland, Kenneth Hagen, Fred Price, Joyce Meyer and others, is the belief that Jesus paid for our sins by descending into hell where He was tortured by satan. I was about to bring that to her attention when I remembered that you two seemed to be saying something very similar by implying that Jesus experienced eternal suffering in the lake of fire, or did I misunderstand you?
Tom: Well, Dave, I remember when we addressed this issue with regard to, The Passion of the Christ, that we did get some letters, people thinking that we were, maybe, falling into this real heresy of Jesus being, to pay for our sins, He needed to descend into hell where He was tortured by satan, how long? Well, obviously it had to be within the 3 days and 3 nights. But this is not what we were saying.
Dave: Well, Tom, it’s pretty simple. First of all, Jesus said as He gave His Spirit into His Father’s hands, It is finished! Well, that’s how it’s translated, Tetelesti in the Greek, and it meant, Paid in Full!
Tom: During those three hours as He hung on the cross.
Tom: And the sky is darkened. He cried out, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?"
Dave: So, there could not have been any more to pay. Okay, but the soldiers were the ones that beat Him into submission---No, they didn’t! The Passion of the Christ would give the impression that it was the beatings of the Roman soldiers that executed God’s punishment upon Jesus for the sins of the whole world. Now, Tom, if you just think about that for a moment it’s absurd! They were the righteous judges who were executing God’s righteous judgment upon Christ through their beatings, and for all people of all times, billions, for eternal punishment? I mean, that doesn’t work. Okay. So, it’s no better---I’m sorry, The Passion of the Christ is no better than saying, Well, satan did it in hell, satan and the demons. You know they have song that goes: There’s holiday in hell, or something, and celebration down there. And Ken Copeland says: The emaciated Spirit body of Jesus was dragged up and down the corridors of hell. Satan isn’t even in hell yet, he’s not the proprietor.
Tom: The last place he wants to be.
Dave: Exactly, and he will not be punishing people in hell, he will be punished himself---okay---in the lake of fire. So, how was Jesus punished? It says---we’ve been over it many times---it pleased Yahweh to bruise Him. Thou hast put Him to grief, when Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin. It says, "All we, like sheep, have gone astray, we have turned everyone to his own way. But Yahweh laid on Him the iniquity, the sins of us all. He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities," and what the soldiers did, that would not punish Christ for the sins of the world. They were just beating Him because of their own hatred. So, the crucifixion and the beating and so forth, that’s what we did to Him. That would only add to our condemnation. That’s not going to save us. So, as you said, Christ cries out, My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me, because the Scripture says: God made Him to be sin for us. You get a picture of it, Tom, in---it’s a puzzling one for many people---Jesus says in John 3:14: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in thee wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up. The serpent was a picture, it was a brass replica of the serpent that was biting them and killing them. So, it’s as though Jesus had to become the very sin that was destroying the human race, and He was punished by God as though He were sin itself. It’s the only way you could explain His sweating, as it were, drops of blood, His agony in the garden and crying out: Father, if it’s possible for man to be saved any other way don’t make Me go through with this, because Jesus was not a coward. He wasn’t afraid to have nails driven into His hands and feet, but He was going to be made sin, the very thing He hated!
Tom: And Dave, the Scripture says that He tasted death for every man. So, in order to pay the penalty, the full penalty He had to experience what everyone who has ever sinned, and everyone has sinned. And only God could do that. That’s why we know He must be the God/man. So, for three hours on the cross, He could have experienced---No, let me say it another way---He did experience what I, had I not received Christ and accepted His paying the penalty for me, He would have experienced, not just for me but for, literally, everyone who rejects Him, that experience in all eternity. But only as God could He do that.
Dave: Absolutely! Hebrews 2 and Revelation 20 says of the lake of fire, this is the second death. So, He had to experience the lake of fire torment for me, Tom, for you, and we’re not going to be there, but He had to experience that so we wouldn’t be there.
Tom: That’s how He paid the penalty.
Dave: Exactly, and that, Tom, is beyond our comprehension, but it certainly was not done by the Roman soldiers, and that is one of the great problems with The Passion of the Christ. It gives a false gospel, a false impression.
Tom: So Dave, let’s go back to Joyce Meyer. This is what she believes, this is what she teaches.
Dave: She says, Unless you believe that Jesus suffered for your sins in hell three days and three nights, you cannot be saved. She insists on that. That is not the gospel!
Tom: Right. Dave, not only is it not the gospel, but the gospel that she replaces, the true gospel with is the gospel of prosperity, the gospel of healing. It’s all "what can I get out of it?" And that’s why I’m concerned that many Christian women who follow after her, they ought to know better.Dave: Tom, it’s amazing! We’ve traveled behind the Iron Curtain in the Iron Curtain days, and I remember being in Russia, and hundreds of thousands of copies of Kenneth Hagen and Yongi Cho, and so forth, have been translated into Russian and smuggled into Russia. And these poor Soviets were---Wow, we can be prosperous, and they are being put in jail. It didn’t fly over there. When the Iron Curtain came down they began to believe in this and seek it.
There have been quite a number of books written by or about people who claim to have personally visited Heaven. Some of these authors profess to be Christians while others do not. The descriptions of their experiences vary regarding such things as entering into a dazzling white light at the end of a dark tunnel and being greeted by deceased loved ones, or being in the presence of God and seeing the shed feathers of angels dotting the grand floor of His throne room. Many of their stories contain information that would seem to be beyond their ability to know at the time--or at all. How do we know who is giving us an accurate and truthful account? Let's apply biblical admonitions and critical questions to a book that is having an impact on Christendom and the American public: Heaven Is for Real.