Jesus Died for Me

“Christ as our propitiation is a precious thought because it means that the wrath of God that we deserved was removed. Christ absorbed it, and took it away. He became the curse for us and took away the judgment of God. God was propitiated by God.”
– John Piper in his sermon, “The Greatest Thing in the World”

Jesus died for me. What a thought. When I meditate upon that thought, I scarce can take it in. It is almost too terrible, too wonderful, too scandalous. In the scriptures, there are two kinds of death described – physical and spiritual. Certainly, when we say that – “Jesus died for me” – we are not simply saying that Christ died a physical death in our place, for we all, like everyone who has lived before us, will die a physical death.  Don’t misunderstand me.  The physical death of Christ was certainly necessary, for our propitiation, but it was not enough.

So, when we say – “Jesus died for me so that I will not have to die” – we should mean something more than physical death, for Jesus also died a spiritual death.  Let me explain.  Romans 6:23 says, “The wages of Sin, is death”, that is the penalty for being a sinner is spiritual death – the Wrath of God.   Ephesians 2:3 continues this thought saying, “All of us also lived…at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like (everyone else), we were by nature objects of wrath.” Did you catch that? Paul said that we were “objects of wrath.” This helps us understand the nature of “spiritual death.” Spiritual death does not mean that we were “separate” or “apart” from God. It means that we were “enemies” of God and destined to be objects of His Holy Wrath. Not only were we under Wrath, the condition was even more disastrous because there was nothing we could do to change the situation. We were wretched. Shipwrecked. Homeless and hopeless.

Tennessee Williams describes the situation in his play, “The Milkman doesn’t stop here Anymore” when his character Chris provocatively concedes, “We all live in a house on fire, no fire department to call; no way out, just the upstairs window to look out of while the fire burns the house down with us trapped, locked inside.” In a devastating Pensee, Blaise Pascal adds to this bleak picture, “Imagine a number of men in chains, all under sentence of death, some of whom are each day butchered in the sight of the other; those remaining see their own condition in that of their fellow prisoners, and looking at each other with grief and despair await their turn. This is the image of the human condition.”

How dreadful are these thoughts, and yet, this is what the Apostle Paul means when he says that we are “objects” of God’s Wrath. So, who will save us from this horrible death? In Romans 7:25 Paul shouts the answer with the exuberance and joy of a death row inmate who has been exonerated while the noose was being tightened around his neck. “Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

So this is the picture of what it means that Christ is our “propitiation”: Not only did Jesus suffer the wrath of men by suffering physically, but he also endured the Wrath of his Father upon himself, the Wrath that rightfully should be applied to me for all eternity. Jesus satisfied the justice of God. He bore our stripes. He received our pain. He took our sorrow. He endured our punishment. He removed our Sin and covered our Shame. He suffered the Wrath of Hell itself.  So then, as Easter approaches, let us remember this wonderful thought. May this be our contemplation: Thanks be to God! Jesus died for me.

20 thoughts on “Jesus Died for Me

  1. Hey Tim, I was thinking about what Jesus did for us this morning, and pondering the wonder of it. And like you said, “I scarce can take it in.”

    I don’t follow your reasoning of why Jesus must have died spiritually, though. That “Jesus died for us so that we will not have to die…” is only true in the sense that we will not have to die the second death in the lake of fire, and have no hope of bodily resurrection. But in the sense that we will not have to die spiritually is not true, for we were born spiritually dead already, in the line of Adam. Such a reasoning cannot be used to conclude that Jesus must have died spiritually so we won’t have to, any more than He will go to the lake of fire so that we don’t have to.

    Certainly He prayed, “My God my God, why have you forsaken me,” and went through a terror we cannot begin to comprehend… How He on the cross satisfied the wrath of God over us for all eternity is as you said, a truth too wonderful and too terrible for us to take in…

    But this cannot be taken to mean that He died spiritually, like mankind is spiritually dead…

    Our being spiritually dead doesn’t merely mean that we were under God’s wrath. It means that in our existence we were dead to God – that although we were still alive and kicking, we were alive to unrighteousness, and dead to righteousness; alive to rebellion, and dead to obedience; and in so being, we were under God’s wrath.
    We in our spiritual death were indeed separated from the life of God: Paul referred to us Gentiles as “darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts” (Eph 4.18).

    Jesus was never dead in this way; He was never ignorant or had a hardened heart. This is what is meant though, in saying we were spiritually dead; we were not one with Him, and did not walk in His life. Christ, though, IS life. When John said of Him, “In Him was life, and that life was the light of men” (John 1.4), he was referencing a life that is self producing, and self sustaining. Even through the cross, He who is the resurrection and the life, never ceased to be so. He became sin for us, but He did not become a sinner. The whole work of the cross was in obedience to the Father.

    If Jesus died spiritually, it would mean that He then would have been born again. How could He who is life, be separated from it? No way! The significance of being born again is receiving a new heart, to be made new. This did not happen with Christ. It is us who must be born again – into Him, who did not need to be born a second time!

    The agony of what Jesus went through at the cross does leave us at a loss for words, for how can we explain such pain and grief? And the wonder of it is not just what Jesus went through at the cross, but what the whole Godhead went through. It is breathtaking. Staggering.

    Nevertheless, to say that Jesus died spiritually is to advocate something which the Scriptures do not teach. Rather, Jesus’ death is specifically referred to as a physical one in Scripture, and it is in this way that He was a propitiation for us. For example, Peter specifically says that Jesus “bore our sins in His body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24)… Paul also said that we have “died to the law through the body of Christ” (Rom 7:4)… Col 1:22 says that God has “reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight…” Dogmatically, the consistent presentation in the Scriptures is that it is through Christ’s physical body that God has brought reconciliation. It is through the shedding of His blood…

    Well this isn’t exhaustive but I tried to keep it short.. So much for that! I’m off to bed, mate. Praying for you, see you on Sunday. Hope you have a great day tomorrow.


  2. Tim,
    Since this is my first post, introductions are in order. I am a PCA pastor in Florida. Geof and I have been friends since high school, and we talk frequently on the phone. The other day he called me to say that you had posted the statement that Jesus died spiritually (henceforth JDS in my post.) He wanted to know if this was according to Scriptures. I don’t want to be unkind or abrupt, but let me say that it is not, for a multitude of reasons. The only group of people I have ever heard who hold to this are the Word-Faith camp. Fresh out of seminary, I worked for R.C. Sproul at Ligonier Ministries, and one of my duties was the resident cult expert. As such, I read voluminously on a variety of aberrant teachings, and became quite familiar with the errors of the Word-Faith group, including their assertion that JDS.

    As I said, the problems are manifold. Let’s take them one at a time. First, as PCA pastors, you and I have taken ordination vows to teach the Bible as it is presented in the Westminster Confession of Faith (henceforth WCF.) We know that the WCF is a document written by fallible men, and as such is not to be held on the same level as Scripture. Having said all that, I can’t find any such idea as JDS in the WCF. To teach that JDS is to go against the WCF, and is to be in conflict with one’s ordination vows, unless the ordaining Presbytery was informed that one intended to hold to such a view and they subsequently gave an exception for this view. I know of no PCA presbytery who would allow such an exception.

    More importantly, the idea of JDS is never found in Scripture. No one can read the text as it stands and find this idea; it has to be imported. Scripture repeatedly speaks of Jesus paying for our sins with his physical death. Geof has already cited the pertinent texts, so I won’t repeat them. The point is the same: had Jesus intended to pay for our sins by dying spiritually, why isn’t this idea found in the Bible? When Jesus was on the cross, he underwent our punishment while still fully alive. At his death, he cried, “it is finished!” Did he die spiritually on the cross? Nowhere do we see this in Scriptures. True, Paul says that God made him who had no sin to be sin for us that in him we might be the righteousness of God, but you and I both know that this was a representational act. Just as the righteousness of Christ is imputed to our accounts, so our sin is imputed to him. Martin Luther referred to our righteousness as “an alien righteousness,” because it is entirely from outside ourselves. This is the monergistic salvific work of Christ that we find in Ephesians 2: we were dead in trespasses and sins. We had no part in our regeneration. God did it all. He made the great exchange: our sins for Christ’s righteousness and vice versa. But it was not necessary for Christ to actually become sin any more than it was necessary for the Old Testament scape goat to become sin–both served in a representational capacity.

    A particularly persuasive argument against JDS is found in the Lord’s Supper. The bread and wine represent his body and blood, sacrificed for us. His sacrifice was perfect because his human life was one of perfect obedience to God. If he had paid for our sins with a spiritual death, why isn’t this spiritual death memorialized in the Lord’s Supper? Instead, it is his physical body that is offered for us, not his spirit.

    The death of Jesus is an awesome and staggering event–on that we both agree. But to argue that Jesus died spiritually is to turn the sacrifice from pure to putrid. It is equivalent to the blasphemous claim Kenneth Copeland has made: that Jesus became Satan on the cross. Such a statement is hard even for me to type, but Copeland is on record as saying such. As Geof pointed out, the logical consequence of JDS is that he would have to have been born again–exactly the error taught by Copeland, Hagin, et al. This is nothing short of blasphemy.

    Instead, the Apostles repeatedly speak of Jesus paying for our redemption with his broken body and spilled blood. To find the idea of spiritual death in Romans 6:23 is to go against not only the text, but thousands of years of church history. I have an extensive library, including many commentaries on Romans and systematic theologies, and none of them support this interpretation of Romans 6:23.

    One of the best books I have ever read on the cross work of Christ is “Redemption Accomplished and Applied” by John Murray. I know you would enjoy it. It helped me a great deal in my understanding of Jesus’ work on the cross.

    Thanks for letting me have my say. If you want to email me, feel free. Geof has my phone number if you wish to talk. Please check into this idea of JDS–it is very serious error and something you need to get cleared up as soon as possible. If you follow this trail, you will find it leads to more error, as evidenced by the Word-Faith teachers.

    God’s blessings on you as you minster in Myrtle Beach!

    Jerry Dodson


    • Jerry and Geof,

      Thank you for your feedback. I also appreciate the concerns that you intimated, however, I feel that you guys are reading far too much into this post. My point in the post is that Jesus did not simply die a physical death, but he also suffered spiritually as the wrath of God was poured out upon him. Certainly the suffering of Christ was of a physical nature, but moreover, Christ bore the ‘curse’ of the covenant and endured the wrath of God when he was crucified. So then, when I use the term ‘spiritual death’, this is what I am referencing: God’s righteous Wrath. In fact, that should be the proper understanding of spiritual death in the scripture – not a mere cessation of physical life, but as the unadulterated, expressed Wrath of God. Further, as I understand it, this is the true nature of hell – not a literal fire – but the wrath of God poured out against unbelievers for all eternity. There are a good many scriptures that bear out this perspective. Among them:

      Genesis 2:17 – but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.
      Is 53:10-11 – Yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted…Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer…After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life.
      John 3:36 – Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.
      Ephesians 5:6 – Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.
      Romans 1:18 – The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness.
      Romans 5:9 – Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!
      Galatians 3:13 – Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.
      Deuteronomy 21:22-23 – If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and his body is hung on a tree…anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse.
      Psalm 22:1ff – My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.
      2 Corinthians 5:21 – God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

      The Apostle’s Creed underscores this thought of Christ bearing the Wrath of God with the phrase, “He descended into Hell”. Commenting on this part of the Creed, Calvin says in the institutes,

      If Christ had died only a bodily death, it would have been ineffectual. No — it was expedient at the same time for him to undergo the severity of God’s vengeance, to appease his wrath and satisfy his just judgment. For this reason, he must also grapple hand to hand with the armies of hell and the dread of everlasting death…The point is that the Creed sets forth what Christ suffered in the sight of men, and then appositely speaks of that invisible and incomprehensible judgment which he underwent in the sight of God in order that we might know not only that Christ’s body was given as the price of our redemption, but that he paid a greater and more excellent price in suffering in his soul the terrible torments of a condemned and forsaken man (Institutes, 2.16.10-11).

      Calvin goes on to say in 2.16.12, “No wonder, then, that Christ is said to have descended into hell, for he suffered the death that, God in his wrath had inflicted upon the wicked!”

      This then is the death that Jesus endured on the cross: the Wrath of God poured out upon the soul of Christ. We must be careful here, however, because we must acknowledge that the Father, even in his wrath, did not find the Son, in himself, hateful or repulsive. God was not angry at the Son himself. In fact, He never stopped loving Christ. Calvin makes this clear when he says, “We do not suggest that God was ever inimical or angry toward Christ. How could he be angry toward his beloved Son, ‘in whom his heart reposed’? How could Christ by his intercession appease the Father towards others, if he were himself hateful to God? (Institutes 2:16:11). Yet, the Father most assuredly found sin hateful. So then, as our sin was laid upon Christ, so was the penalty of that sin laid upon Christ – namely God’s Wrath.

      I think this line of thinking is fairly obvious when you read the post in its entirety. However, it seems that you guys have unfortunately taken the term ‘spiritual death’ and attributed something to it that I did not intend. Of course, language is imprecise, so I can see how the phrase ‘spiritual death’ might evoke or be associated with a certain erroneous idea or errant theology. But, I assure you that, by use of the phrase, I did not intend to insinuate that Jesus sinned, or that Jesus became Satan on the cross, or any other such nonsense as that. Again, if you simply read the post in its context, I think these things should be evident.


  3. Tim,
    I admire a well-read guy, and you are certainly that! Thanks for the quotes from Calvin and the Apostle’s Creed–they are valuable contributions to our discussion. Still, I wonder if we are talking past each other here. We all agree that Jesus underwent God’s wrath on the cross, and that he did so for the elect. But the phrase “spiritual death” still nags at me. Your verses on the wrath of God are all well-taken, but is this the same as dying spiritually? You say yes; I say no. As I pointed out before, the death of Jesus in Scripture is never spoken of in those terms. As unregenerate humans, we are spiritually dead, but as the last Adam, Jesus avoided that condition, being the offspring of the woman and not the offspring of the serpent(Gen 3:15). Perhaps I am misunderstanding you, and if I have misrepresented you, I sincerely apologize. I have seen too many people use the terminology of JDS in a blasphemous way (Hagin, Copeland et al) and I am very sensitive to it whenever I read it. Still, I am not convinced of your definition of the term–I don’t see a one-to-one relation between the wrath of God and JDS. Still, I appreciate your willingness to discuss the issue. Iron sharpens iron.

    God’s blessings on you as you feed his flock in MB!!



    • Jerry,

      Indeed Iron does sharpen Iron and, in this regard, your replies have encouraged me to work toward using more precise language. It is obvious to me that we completely agree in our concepts. Our contention is really over the use of terminology. Of course, that will always be a struggle among theologians. For example, what we mean by the terms “Holy Spirit” or “Jesus Christ” is far different than what a Mormon might mean by the very same terms. We must constantly define our terms. Whenever I preach or write, I am always amazed by what conclusions are drawn from my words that I did not intend. How often it is that I have to go back and define “what I meant when I said that.” In our case, the term “spiritual death” is in question. When I use the term, I am referencing the thought of Calvin, while others might use the very same term to propagate the thought of Copeland and Hagin.

      While I continue to feel comfortable using the term ‘spiritual death’, I must admit that I see how it can lead to confusion. It may serve me best in the future to use the term “spiritual suffering” or “a suffering of soul”. Whatever the case, I do feel it is vital to communicate that Christ’s suffering, as Calvin maintains, went far beyond mere physical suffering and death. I certainly will continue to pray through whatever terminology might best be used to communicate this idea. Thanks again for your help.



  4. Hey man!
    I understand that you were meaning it in a different way Tim – and I do recognize that your point was Christ bearing the wrath of God. I’m with you 100% there. For that reason I hesitated to say anything, because I very much agreed with the wonder of that and didn’t want to take away from it. Although I don’t think Calvin used the terminology, “spiritual death,” in relation to Christ, correct me if I’m wrong.
    I also don’t want you to think I’m being antagonistic towards you – I’m not. I enjoy theological discussions and just think this a worthy point to bat around.

    In the interest of being on the same page on the Scriptural definition of the term, perhaps I could put it this way: Spiritual deadness is a condition in reference to fallen man, whereas God’s wrath is a condition in reference to God. They are two distinctives, reflected in verses like Eph 5:6. Speaking of sinful acts, Paul said “…because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient…” Because of such things. Col 3:5 reflects the same in regard to spiritual deadness, that the wrath of God is coming because of what belongs to the earthly nature.
    The wrath of God, then, is a consequence of spiritual deadness, not the essence of it. But praise God that although we were “dead in our sins” (Col 2:13), God has made us alive in Christ!

    Anyway, many blessings to ya mate, love you a bunch and thanks for being open to discussion.


  5. Tim,
    I am delighted to find our difference was merely one of philology and not philosophy. We both agree that Jesus’ death encompassed the physical and the spiritual. I too agree with Calvin’s statement that it was not just a physical death, although that was certainly part of it, representing the humanity of Jesus. The spiritual aspect is equally important. His life of perfect obedience, expressed through his heart being in harmony with his hands, marries the spiritual and physical perfectly. And as the wrath bearer, his death took on a whole additional aspect that was unseen by those at the foot of the cross. (I know you know all this; I just want to articulate my position in hopes of better affirming our mutual understanding.) And as a pastor myself, I have also had the experience of saying one thing and having people hear something I never intended them to hear–I can wholeheartedly relate. It is good to hear that you are reconsidering your choice of language on this subject–as I said before, the only people I have ever heard use this term are men who are so deep in error that it boggles the mind. I have never found the term applied to Jesus in any conservative commentary.

    As Geof said, I appreciate your willingness to dialogue on this issue–as ministers of the Gospel, we have such an awesome responsibility and are such weak vessels. Keep on lifting up the glory of the Savior and his unfathomable grace!

    Blessings on you as you shepherd the flock there in MB,



  6. Geof,
    Well said – “Spiritual deadness is a condition in reference to fallen man, whereas God’s wrath is a condition in reference to God”.
    In regard to Calvin’s terminology, you are right. As far as I can tell, he does not seem to use the term “spiritual death” in reference to Christ’s suffering. However, if you read my reply carefully you will notice that I said, “When I use the term, I am referencing the thought of Calvin”. I did not say that Calvin used the term. However, Calvin does use the term “death” and he uses it to mean death of a “spiritual” nature. For example, Calvin says:

    • “Christ suffered the death that, God in his wrath had inflicted upon the wicked” (Institutes 2.16.12)
    • “Christ felt the pains of death, and that the Father was fain [pleased] to wreak himself upon him, as though he had been an offender and guilty of all the sins of the world. (John Calvin Sermons on Galatians, Sermon 39, 6:2-5, p., 836/597)
    • “What led him (Christ) to pray to be delivered from death was of a greater evil (than physical death). When he saw the wrath of God exhibited to him, as he stood at the tribunal of God charged with the sins of the whole world. (Calvin Commentary, Matthew 26:39).
    • “We must always hold this truth that when the Apostle speaks of the death of Christ, he regards not the external action, but the spiritual benefit. He suffered death as men do, but as a priest he atoned for the sins of the world in a divine manner; there was an external shedding of blood, but there was also an internal and spiritual purgation; in a word, he died on earth, but the virtue and efficacy of his death proceeded from heaven. (Calvin Commentary, Hebrews 8:4)

    Jerry – Thank you again for raising my awareness in regard to the “Jesus Died Spiritually” JDS heresy. Truth is, I had never heard of JDS thought before you brought it to my attention. Of course, I’ve never read or listened to Kenneth Copeland, I don’t have a subscription to Charisma magazine, and I don’t regularly watch The Trinity Broadcasting Network; so that’s probably why it got past me. 🙂 However, since hearing about the heresy from you and Geof, I have done a bit of research about it, and wow, it really is out there – a scandalous, repulsive teaching that describes Jesus’ suffering as taking place after his physical death on the cross, suffering for three days in hell, and enduring scorn and mocking from Satan and all his demons. Besides being un-Biblical, such a goofy doctrine seems to give more glory to Satan than to Christ. If you have any other helpful links that explain and critique this heretical view, please feel free to post them in a reply. I also would appreciate any articles that you might have on the subject. You can e-mail me at –

    At any rate, it is unfortunate that the term “spiritual death”, used in regard to Christ’s suffering, has been co-oped and saddled with such a horrible connotation by Copeland and the JDS proponents.


  7. Tim, I did notice that you had said you were referencing the thought of Calvin, and not saying that Calvin used the term. Just clarifying. 🙂 I think there is reason for that. I take his words to denote a spiritual dynamic going on in His death, which I also have no doubt about – but not spiritual death itself.

    Jerry, speaking of people misconstruing things you have said… Your statement, “We both agree that Jesus’ death encompassed the physical and the spiritual. I too agree with Calvin’s statement that it was not just a physical death…” could be taken to mean that Jesus died physically and Jesus died spiritually, that His death wasn’t just physical but was spiritual death as well. Going from what you have said in the past, I don’t take you to mean it that way, but case in point!


  8. Geof: oops! I meant that Jesus’ death was not merely physical–he suffered in his spirit (or soul–the terms are interchangeable in Scripture) by bearing our sins. But your point is well taken. Thanks for stepping on my toes when I need it–that is the mark of a true brother!!


  9. Tim,
    There are some good books dealing (however briefly) with the JDS heresy, but not too many websites. Once I get my blog up, I think I’ll write an article on the subject in hopes of being an easy-to-grasp reference on the subject. There is one book that deals with it in some detail:

    It’s been awhile since I read it, and if memory serves, this woman is not the best theologian in the world, but she does corral the pertinent quotes and gives a passable critique (as I said, I don’t recall all she said, but it seems she did make some dodgy statements, so this is not a two thumbs up endorsement of the book.) Hank Hanegraaff deals with the subject briefly in “Christianity in Crisis.” I know there are other books that reference it, but since most of my library is in boxes due to lack of shelf space, I can’t give you titles at the moment.

    As much as I appreciate Calvin (and I do!), I still don’t find the idea of Jesus dying spiritually in Scripture, despite Calvin’s seeming assertion to the contrary. I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one, but I’m not comfortable doing so. Still and all, this is a great way to hammer out ideas and because I don’t have any PCA pastors anywhere close to me, it is refreshing to have this access to your well-read and thoughtful mind. Thanks for dialoguing with me and my bud Geof.

    Blessings and more blessings on you!!



  10. Wow, after almost a week of this discussion going on, I’m getting around to reading Tim’s blog. Geof and Tim know me. Jerry, I’m a new member of the session at Surfside Presbyterian. This whole discussion is a wonderful example of how Christians can help each other. I have been in Presbyterian churches since 1996, but for 26 years before that I attended pentecostal and charismatic churches. I didn’t really get introduced to good reformed theology until 1996. Anything that comes close to the theology of Copeland, et al, is horrifying to me. Actually, it was The Bible Answer Man with Hank Hanegraaff that helped me learn about the many heresies of word-faith theology back in the 90’s. Hank has a lot of good sources, including audio (many other word-faith teachers, too) of Copeland describing the spiritual death of Jesus and many more whacky things — for example, the approximate height of God, and the fact that we should say “my will be done” instead of “Thy will be done”. Enough to almost make one one to turn on Benny Hinn for something more sound. :–) Having said that, Tim, I think you are right. Your post does not describe anything like the word-faith heresy, but I would do everything to avoid sounding anything like them. “Spiritual suffering” sounds good to me.

    Looking forward to hearing you preach Sunday at 8:00. Wouldn’t miss it. Of course, Becky telling the choir we gotta be there might have something to do with it. :–) I’ll be praying for you, bro.



    • Great reply DonBob! It really is interesting to me how a certain term can arouse so much misunderstanding. Sometimes, you have to listen to the composition and look over the one strange note. In this case, the strange note was the term “spiritual death”.

      With that said, I still think it is tragic that a term can be hi-jacked by a certain group and so saddled with a certain meaning that it becomes taboo to use the term. For years, I’ve been using the term “spiritual death” to describe Jesus experience of the Father’s Wrath on the cross, To my knowledge, this is the first time anyone has ever associated the term with the Word/Faith JDS heresy.

      Another term that is often saddled with similar misunderstandings is the word “biblical law”. Some people hear it and immediately associate it with legalism. Others hear it and think about Jewish ceremonial law. Still others associate it with the American judiciary. So, when the context is cloudy, we have to define our terms. In this case, I did not think the context of my post was cloudy, but nothing I say ever seems cloudy to me, while in reality I’m often as clear as mud. 🙂


  11. DonBob and Tim,
    We all agree the WOF guys are guilty of propagating dangerous heresy. (We don’t put Tim in that camp!!) Geof and I don’t find this term in Scripture associated with Jesus, but instead those born dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2). As such, we see no warrant to use such a term in conjunction with the crosswork of Christ. We agree that Jesus’ soul/spirit (Scripture uses the terms interchangeably) underwent suffering on the cross, but did not die. As he said on the cross, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” His spirit was never dead, although it underwent the torments of hell. Thus,we see no reason to use the term, and in fact find it without Scriptural warrant and in error. The quotes from Calvin don’t seem to argue for spiritual death, either.
    If Jesus died spiritually, wouldn’t it follow that he would have to be born again, spiritually? Because he was the only human born spiritually alive (without a sin nature), he didn’t have to be born again spiritually. Jesus’ discussion with Nicodemus is clearly dealing with spiritual rebirth, because all humanity with the exception of Jesus were born spiritually dead.
    Since Scripture sets the definitions in this regard, we must follow them. And we wonder if Tim isn’t circumventing these definitions by saying that Jesus experienced spiritual death on the cross. We just can’t find Scriptural warrant for such an assertion, and in fact think it is in contradiction to Scripture. This is one of those systematic theological concerns: we can’t cite chapter and verse to make our case, but we don’t think Tim can either.

    Anyway, we appreciate Tim’s irenic spirit in the discussion, and we hope we are likewise gentle in our comments. You have a deep thinker there, DonBob!!

    Blessings to you both as you celebrate the triumph of Jesus over the last enemy, death.



  12. PS: Tim’s point about the term “biblical law” is well-taken. I too am constantly amazed at how people misunderstand it.


  13. Jerry, excellent response. Right on the money. FYI, my name is Don, but when I first moved here, Tim had a habit of calling me Bob instead of Don, so DonBob stuck. Blessings to you.


  14. ps: I meant to say, “we can’t cite ONE chapter and verse to make our case.” certainly we can cite chapters and verses, but we have to build the case from a systematic theological basis.


  15. Jerry, Geof, and Don

    Good news. I’ve settled on abandoning “died spiritually’ as a way of describing the spiritual suffering of Christ. Yet, as a way of continuing the conversation I would like to add a few more points to this discussion. As I’ve considered this issue, I think one of the problems we have here is that there just doesn’t seem to be a standardized theological term or phrase that alludes to Christ’s experience of suffering God’s Wrath on the cross. The best term we have is “propitiation”, but that word leaves something to be desired in that it more specifically speaks to God’s Satisfaction. “Propitiation: God’s Wrath was appeased on the Cross and his Justice was satisfied.” Propitiation is the biblical term among theologians to communicate this idea. Yet, when someone wants to delineate between Christ’s physical suffering (nails, cross, beating, crown of thorns, etc.) and his spiritual suffering (or God’s Wrath), there is no common theological word.

    As I see it, Christian Theological terminology is derived in two ways: (1) – From the Bible, and (2) – From Tradition. For example, a term like “Predestination” or “Propitiation” are terms the Bible uses to identify a particular point of theology. No one needs to find a word to fit the point. The word is provided for us. Romans and Ephesians are filled with theological terminology – Called, Chosen, Predestined, Foreknowledge, Redemption, etc.

    However, in other cases, the Bible teaches a point of theology, but never gives it an “identifier”. In such cases, church Fathers and theologians have provided ‘extra-biblical’ terminology to identify a Biblical point of theology. These are terms like: trinity, sacrament, catechism, hypostatic union, and so forth. I don’t think any of these terms appear in the scripture, even though the ideas certainly do. In regard to extrabiblical theological terms, I especially like this one: “adiaphora”. The early reformers came up with this one. It literally means “matters of indifference” which basically identifies that theological stuff that’s not worth fighting about. There are a number of other ‘extrabiblical’ terms, but I think these are sufficient to make the point.

    As I see it, in our case, we agree in our theological viewpoint, but we vary on what terminology should be used to identify that viewpoint. I think we have sufficiently ruled out the phrase “died spiritually” when speaking of Christ’s experience of Wrath. But that leaves us without an acceptable term to use. Now, there may be a term that has been consistently used by theologians in the past to make this point. But if there is, I am not aware of it. So, unless you can come up with something better, I am hereby scrapping the term “died spiritually” and from this point forward I will use the term: Zac-efroniation (that’s pronounced: Zak-efron-iation). I’ve chosen this particular term because the sound of it causes me a great deal of spiritual anguish. In closing, I’m sure that most Reformers would consider “Zak-efroniation” to be a trivial and worthless identifier and would consequently dismiss it under the category of “adiaphora”. 🙂

    Addendum: Are you guys familiar with Zak Efron or did I spend all that time setting up the joke only to lose my audience at the punchline?


  16. Tim,
    I don’t know which I like more: your sense of humor or your sanctified scholarship! Thanks for a great conversation and I look forward to your future postings as they will no doubt stimulate my thinking in as yet unforeseen areas. Louie, this looks like the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

    Blessings as you feed the sheep in MB,



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