Christians generally agree that Jonah’s three days and nights in the belly of the fish prefigured Jesus’ three days and nights in the belly of the earth (Matt. 12:40). However, in the 20th century, some respected preachers within Christian circles began to dogmatically teach what presumably transpired within the period of Christ’s death and resurrection – that Jesus paid the price for our sins not just by dying on the cross as the Bible says, but also by suffering in Hell and becoming “born again.”
Frederick Price wrote: “..the punishment [of Christ] was to go to hell itself and serve time in hell separated from God…Satan and all the demons of hell thought they had Him bound and they threw a net over Jesus and they dragged Him down to the very pit of Hell itself to serve our sentence” (Ever Increasing Faith Messenger, June 1980, 7)
First of all, before Jesus died, His last words were “Father, into thy hands I commend My spirit” (Lk. 23:46). How did He then end up in Satan’s hands? God laid all our iniquities on Him (Is. 53:6) and as He died, He cried in one final triumph: “It is finished!” which is translated from a Greek word, tetelestai, which can be rendered “it is completely complete.” That is, He paid the full penalty that sin demanded at the cross – to God – not to Satan.
Those who teach that Jesus atoned for sins in hell argue that they are unveiling what has been covered up and hidden in tradition for 2,000 years through “revelation knowledge.” The logical conclusion is that if you reject this doctrine, then you are swallowed up in traditions. In an edition of the Believer’s Voice of Victory, Kenneth Copeland insists he will keep teaching this gospel:
“He, that is Christ, allowed the devil to drag him into the depths of hell as if he were the most wicked sinner who ever lived. Every demon in hell came down on him to annihilate him. They tortured him beyond anything that anybody has ever conceived.”
Yes, Jesus Christ descended into hell. “Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither will thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption” (Acts 2:27).
“Now he that ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth” (Eph. 4:9).
But His descent into hell was not to become a tortured sinner and be reborn, but to conquer the power of hell and liberate captive souls from Satan. Hebrews 2:14-15 says “that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” He descended into the paradise compartment of hell to liberate all the saints who had died from Abel to His time, who were held in that compartment (Lk. 16:23). Therefore “when he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive” (Eph 4:8). He took the saints to heaven. He descended into hell as a Victor – not as a victim – to conquer Satan, death and hell.
Copeland continued: “In a thunder of spiritual force the voice of God spoke to the death-whipped, broken, punished spirit of Jesus in the pit of destruction and charged the Spirit of Jesus with resurrection power. [Then] his twisted, death-wracked spirit began to fill out and come back to life. He was literally reborn before the devil’s very eyes.” (September 1991, 4-6)
These ideas are not found in Scripture. The Bible is very clear that Jesus paid for our sins at the cross where He shed His blood and not hell.
“And having made peace through the BLOOD OF HIS CROSS…” (Col. 1:20)
“And that He might reconcile both unto God in one body BY THE CROSS…” (Eph. 2:16)
“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body ON THE TREE…”(1Pet 2:24)
If Jesus paid for our sins at the cross, why would He then end up in hell, in Satan’s hands with the debt of sin still unpaid? If in Him “we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Eph. 1:7) and He spoiled principalities and powers and “made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it [the cross]” (Col. 2:15), then its blasphemy to reduce God the Son to a lost sinner in the pit of Hell being tortured by Satan and demons. If Satan had to torture Jesus for Him to redeem us, that would also imply that Satan is a co-redeemer with Christ.
Another teacher wrote: “After Jesus was made sin, He had to be born again” (God’s Will for You, p. 5). Now why would Jesus need to be “born again” when He wasn’t a sinner? If He needed to be born again, then He is not a Saviour! These are serious errors that must be rejected. And this usually happens when people go beyond Scripture and mix in strange ideas under the guise of “new revelations.”