Christian Discernment Ministry
This article was given me by a brother during the Personal Freedom Outreach Conference in Saint Louis (home of Joyce Meyers ministry). Many people have e-mailed and asked about her and instead of reinventing the wheel I have been given permission to place this article on our site - it is well written and proves Mrs. Meyer to be heretical in her soteriology.
Bubble Bursting Ministries
CONTEND FOR THE FAITH - JUDE 3
7758 Rannells Ave., Saint Louis MO 63143-1823
A CRITICAL LOOK AT JOYCE MEYER'S BOOK
THE MOST IMPORTANT DECISION YOU WILL EVER MAKE.
A COMPLETE AND THOROUGH UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT IT MEANS TO BE BORN AGAIN
by Paul Belli
The purpose of this review is not to deal with oddball or wacko Word/Faith teachings. It is to confront heresy head on, wherever it's found. And it is found in abundance in Joyce Meyer's book. Apart from the heresy, the book is also very aberrant and problematic. Our focus will be on the heretical material. If her book finds a place in your personal library, it should be in the cult section, not the evangelism section.
Debunking Common Objections
First off, let me preface the following by debunking a few common responses from Charismatics (I am referring, of course, to Word/Faith Charismatics) when they're challenged and confronted about heresy within their camp.
1) I do not question Joyce's motives. This is not a subjective issue but an objective one.
2) 1 never argue or divide over peripheral doctrines. I only argue and divide over essential doctrines. Charismatics do not understand the difference between essentials and peripherals and that is exactly why they become defensive when someone criticizes the doctrines of demons that they hold dear. And it's also why they themselves are very divisive when it comes to the gifts of the Holy Spirit and other non-essential issues.
Charismatics, when asked, would be hard pressed to explain the difference between essentials and peripherals or even list a few of the essentials. Essential doctrines are essential for salvation. Non-essentials are not essential for salvation.
For example, if someone says that the Trinity is a pagan doctrine from Satan (as did William Branham), they cannot be considered a believer. But if someone has the "wrong" view of the Rapture, they would not for that reason be considered a non-Christian. Salvation hinges upon the essentials just as life on this planet hinges upon having food, air, and water. Our physical lives do not hinge upon clothes, cars, and buildings. We can live without them. They are not essential to life and are thus non-essentials.
Not in all my years as a Charismatic did I ever hear any Charismatic teacher, pastor, or evangelist explain the above or make a clear distinction between the two different types of doctrine. Rather, time and time again they would "knock down all doctrinal walls" and make great claims of super spirituality over "dead churches" and "theologians" who differ with them on the subject of the Gifts.
Heresy, by the way, is when an essential is distorted beyond recognition or replaced with a counterfeit. Aberrant is when a peripheral doctrine is distorted or replaced with something else. A wrong view of the Rapture is merely aberrant. It only becomes heresy when salvation hinges upon a "correct" interpretation of it.
3) 1 do not take Mrs. Meyer out of context or twist her words. My experience has been that in any attempt to defend such teachers, most Charismatics put words in the mouths of their mentors rather than face up to solid, word-for-word quotations. The blade cuts both ways, I will not read into what is said nor will I allow others to interpret plain statements to mean things other than what was intended by the speaker/writer.
4) 1 am not an "anti-Charismatic." I was led to the Lord by watching The 700 Club, belonged to Grace World Outreach Center (now called Grace Church-St, Louis) for a couple of years, and then belonged to Life Christian Center for 8 years or so. All these ministries are local Charismatic ministries and I love these folks dearly.
5) 1 am not "attacking" Charismatics, I'm "responding" to their attacks upon the body of Christ. All cults cry, "You're attacking us." Ain't so. Those who proclaim and believe damnable doctrines of demons had better get used to good Christian folks responding to their attacks upon our faith. It's not only a good defense of the faith, it's biblical! In fact, one of my favorite pastors, Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel, is a Charismatic and he is very vocal in his opposition to the heresies within the Word/Faith Charismatic movement.
6) The most popular charge is that this type of criticism is "unloving and divisive." I Corinthians 13:6,7 says that love "rejoices with the truth" and "always protects." It is very loving to protect someone from a damnable lie that masquerades as the truth. And about division, are we to unite with cultists or remain separate from them?
7) "Judge not lest you be judged!" Matthew 7: 1. In verse 15 Jesus warns us to "watch out for false prophets." How can we evaluate whether or not someone is a false prophet unless we use some degree of judgment? Jesus was speaking about judging self righteously and hypocritically. Paul tells us in I Corinthians 5:3, "And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this.." (New International Version) And in verse 12 he states, "Are you not to judge those inside [the church]. Judging in a biblical manner is the result of discernment.
8) It's wrong to name names." I don't know where Christians ever got such an unbiblical idea except from those who wish to guard their prey. Did not Paul name names? Names like Hymenaeus, Philetus, Demas, and Alexander. And did not David mention Doeg the Edomite9 What do people have to hide by not wanting their names named? If someone was molesting young children in your neighborhood and I knew their name, would you be content to only know that they were out there or would you want to know their name?
Consider the Tylenol scare years ago. Would you have been satisfied if the media had said, "Watch out! There's a popular pain reliever on the market that's been tampered with which could kill you. We don't want to upset the company that produces it lest we offend them. Therefore, we won't name them. Lots of luck!" I don't think so. Such would be a "warningless-warning." Good for nothing and only protecting the guilty.
9) "Did you go to Joyce Meyer personally as laid out in Matthew 18 before writing this review?" Do not make the mistake that the cults make by reading into (eisegesis) a passage something that is not there. Instead, read out of (exegesis) the passage what is there. Read verses 15 - 17 and you'll find that we are to approach those who have personally sinned against us. Joyce has done me no personal wrong. So in accordance with Matthew 18, 1 did not go to her personally.
Even if I were to attempt to approach her with the heresy she presents in her book, do you think she would hear me out? Not a chance in Purgatory. Those close to her were given the cold shoulder when attempting such a thing. Who then am I? I am not a supporter. I am not a well known pastor of a big church. I am a nobody. To try would only be an exercise in futility.
Did she did bother to consult me before publicly proclaiming a doctrine that is dangerous to my lost loved ones and "neighbors" within my local community? No. Should she have? No, the public arena is open to all who would use it. Therefore, I am not doing Joyce any personal wrong, either. If she so chooses to poison people's minds with heresy, 1, and others like me, are just as free to inoculate people's minds to such poison.
"Is this biblical?" Anyone who knows their Bible would not ask such a question. The Apostle Paul dealt with Peter over a non-personal issue that involved sound doctrine. And he did so publicly.
"When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all,
"You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that. you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?" Galatians 2:14
Had Peter personally sinned against Paul? No. Did Paul have a reason to be concerned? Yes. Did Paul go privately to Peter and only later take two others with him before "telling it to the church?" No. Why? Matthew 18 does not apply to such instances. What we have in Galatians chapter two is a precedence for publicly handling doctrinal issues and disputes. Scripture is replete with such examples.
Notice, too, that Paul was not nit-picking. Peter was starting to undermine the Gospel with rules and regulations thus producing "another gospel" and Paul was rightfully concerned. As you read on, you'll see that I am not criticizing Joyce over benign doctrines. What she espouses in her book is a cancer that has spread within the body of Christ.
I realize that some folks find it hard to stomach confrontation, but we are commanded to "defend the faith, contend for the faith, and fight the good fight of the faith." Consider the Apostle Paul's attitude in responding to heretics.
"And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ." 2 Corinthians 1 1: 12-13
Paul was relentless in his defense of the truth. He would, no doubt, be considered a "heresy hunter" by today's Word/Faith Charismatic pastors and evangelists. They, like Paul's enemies, want to be considered peers with Evangelical pastors and evangelists. The fact that many Evangelicals do consider them their peers is regrettable. For,
"Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial ? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?" 2 Corinthians 6:14-15
If Word/Faith Charismatics want to be considered believers, let them prove it by renouncing the heresy that is so prevalent within their camp. Because of my involvement with the Charismatic movement, I know what I'm talking about. I was repeatedly exposed to heresy as a Charismatic. And because of my intense involvement in cult research and evangelism for about 9 years, I don't feel that I can be criticized as one unfamiliar with sound doctrine.
"What Should You Believe?"
"What Should You Believe?" is the title to chapter 4 (page 35) and the chapter I will focus on. Since the book's title implies that its purpose is to help someone to make "the most important decision (they) will ever make," we can assume that this chapter will discuss the facts whereby they may make an intelligent decision.
Joyce writes, "During that time He entered hell, where you and I deserved to go (legally) because of our sin. He paid the price there. ...no plan was too extreme. ... Jesus said on the cross and in hell." (Underlining in the original) On page 36, she continues....... God rose up from His throne and said to demon powers tormenting the sinless Son of God, 'Let Him go.' Then the resurrection power of Almighty God went through hell and filled Jesus. ...He was resurrected from the dead - the first born-again man. (Underlining in the original.)
The first sub-chapter heading is, "WHAT HAPPENED ON THE CROSS?" (Caps and underlining in the original) The heading is similar to Kenneth Copeland's infamous tape, "What Happened From The Cross To The Throne" (1984) in which he goes into great detail about the subject. Copeland apparently borrowed the title from E. W. Kenyon's book by the same name as well as the same heretical theme. Joyce no doubt has been greatly influenced by both these men. Both works are Charismatic "classics." In this sub-chapter she writes,
"His spirit went to hell because that is where we deserved to go. Remember in the very beginning of this, I said, 'When you die, only your body dies. The rest of you, your soul and spirit, goes either to heaven or hell."'
"There is no hope of anyone going to heaven unless they believe this truth I am presenting. You cannot go to heaven unless you believe with all your heart that Jesus took your place in hell." (Underlining added.)
On page 38 she claims, "Jesus went to hell for you." (Underlining in the original)
What she's just covered is the classical (and damnable) Word/Faith "born-Again Jesus Gospel." It's been espoused by the likes of Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin, Fred Price, John Jacobs, Charles Capps, Benny Hinn, Jan Crouch, and (locally) David Crank just to name a few. It's usually presented under the guise of "revelation knowledge" given by the Holy Ghost and based upon Scripture. Odd how none of these folks give credit to the originators of this heresy but rather credit (in reality, blame) such blasphemy on the Holy Spirit.
Does this message have "the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes if' as Joyce implies. If so, it is the Gospel (Romans 1: 16). And if not, it is a "different gospel." (Galatians 1:6-9) Let's see for ourselves as good Bareness (Acts 17:1 1).
Let's start with the idea of Jesus in Hell. Charismatics, not understanding the Born-Again Jesus Gospel or its implications, try to make their case by saying, "Well of course Jesus went to Hell. Doesn't it say so somewhere in the book of Acts?"
While it is true that Jesus went to Hell, the real area of attention needs to be narrowed down to this: Did He go there to pay for our sins? Payment is the issue, not visitation. What kind of payment? According to Joyce and others, it's the same kind of payment that took place on the cross! Perhaps even better.
"He paid the price there."
"Jesus paid on the cross and in hell." (Underlining in the original)
"...Jesus took your place in hell."
"Jesus went to hell for you." (Underlining in the original)
Enemies Of The Cross
Can anything be clearer? Does it sound as if she is "glorying in the cross" (Galatians 6:14)? Rather, she and the others share the one common denominator of every cult in the whole world; they disparage the cross. Thus they are "enemies of the cross of Christ (Philippians 3:18).
Remember this definition. An enemy of the cross is one who implies that the work of Jesus Christ on the cross was insufficient for our salvation. Period! Their destiny? Destruction! (Philippians 3:19) Thus, no enemy of the cross can be my brother in Christ.
Look into it. Every cult disparages the cross. And the cross being the core, the very crux of the Gospel makes any message that disparages the cross "another gospel."
Think about it, Jehovah's Witnesses view the work of Christ as simply a down payment for their salvation. It was not sufficient in and of itself. It must be supplemented with a regular serving of field service, literature placement, baptism, obedience to dress and hair codes, meeting attendance, and a myriad of good works on the "salvation treadmill."
On top of that they claim that the cross is a pagan symbol.
Likewise, Mormons don't display crosses. Why? They believe that part of the atonement was
accomplished in the Garden of Gethsemane where "He sweat as it were great drops of
blood." That's why a Mormon who commits murder must have his own blood shed (i.e.,
firing squad) in order to atone for that particular sin (the dreaded Blood Atonement
Reverend Sun Myung Moon teaches that Jesus failed His mission on earth by allowing Himself to be crucified.
"If Jesus had not been crucified, what would have happened? He would have accomplished the providence of salvation both spiritually and physically."
Oneness Pentecostals teach that it's essential for one to be baptized in order to be saved. The finished work of Christ was not enough. The Church of Christ teaches this also. Both groups also add many works that salvation hinges upon. Is it any wonder they have no assurance of salvation.
Roman Catholicism teaches Purgatory. Harmless? It's a place of fiery torment equal to the flames of Hell where one is purged (i.e., cleansed) of his sins, according to official Roman Catholic doctrine. In fact, the Council of Trent anathematizes (curses) anyone who believes that the cross is sufficient. Does His blood or fire cleanse us? Enough said. What is more important, the cross is relegated to Plan A while Purgatory is Plan B for those to whom the cross is insufficient.
Let me define a couple of words I've been using to help make my point. Disparage means to belittle, diminish, lessen, reduce, devalue, discount, impair, lower, degrade, minimize, curtail, or decrease.
To better illustrate this, let's say that a man says, "I love my wife with all my heart. (Then whispering) But listen, don't tell anybody, I've got a girlfriend on the side." Does he really love his wife with all his heart? How can he? It's double talk. He has just disparaged her. Her value to him is less than I 00%.
The word insufficient means not enough, not ample, unsatisfactory, or inadequate. The adulterous man's wife is not sufficient to meet his needs.
"It Is Unfinished??"
Did Jesus say, "It is unfinished!"? The Greek word for "it is finished means "paid in FULL." What do the cults claim? It was not paid in full. It was merely a down payment. But does the Word/Faith movement teach about the cross?
"When Jesus cried, 'It is finished!' He was not speaking of the plan of redemption. There were still three days and nights to go through before He went to the throne ... Jesus' death on the cross was only the beginning of the complete work of redemption." -- Kenneth Copeland (underlining added.)
Compare that with this,
"...when Jesus uttered his last words on the cross, saying, 'It is finished' (John 19:30), he did not mean that the whole purpose of the providence of salvation was attained through the cross. ...Therefore, Jesus meant by the words 'it is finished' that he finished establishing the basis for the providence of spiritual salvation through the cross, which was the secondary providence of salvation." Sun Myung Moon in his work, "Divine Principle" pages 151 and 152.
Do you smell a rat? Copeland also stated, "Satan conquered Jesus on the cross..." Holy Bible: Kenneth Copeland Reference Edition page 129 (italics in the original). Who should we believe, Jesus or Kenneth? Does he glory in the cross or disparage it? He not only implies that it is insufficient, he's blatant, bold, and arrogant about it.
Some are apt to argue that Copeland does glory in the cross. While it is true that he has tapes and books on the cross and the blood of Christ and talks a good talk, it is also true that he disparages the cross. He is no better than the adulterous husband who speaks "highly" of his wife. In the book of Galatians, Paul portrays men, like Copeland, who accept "another gospel" as "confused, led astray, and bewitched."
Likewise, Joyce is just as confused. On page 3 8, she writes....... that sinless blood had been shed to pay for man's sins." She cannot both glory in the blood and disparage it at the same time. Either it paid for our sins or it was merely a down payment. Because it can't be both, which is it? If you read the works of the major cults you'll find at times that they too speak "highly" of the cross and the blood of Christ.
If we can let Copeland and his ilk off the hook, we must also do the same for every cult that disparages the cross. For, "Differing weights and differing measures -- the LORD detests them both." (Proverbs 20: 1 0 NIV) Either all enemies of the cross are destined to destruction or they are our brothers in Christ. We can't be choosy based on who gives us the best "Holy Ghost goose bumps."
Does Joyce have a problem with the Born-Again Jesus Gospel? Apparently not. She endorses the ranting of one of the worst enemies of the cross in the world and makes it the main theme of her book, which, by the way, she offers at her meetings to lost souls who are looking for the truth.
Hot-line Or Hot Air?
Worse yet, Charismatics claim to have a "hot-line" to heaven. They receive Words, tongues, prophecies, interpretations, dreams, and visions from "God" yet why hasn't He bothered to warn them that they're following false brothers, wolves in sheep's clothing, enemies of the cross?
Can you imagine a parent watching their son eat rat poisoning and instead of warning him of the danger he's in, patting him on the head and saying, "I love you son. Keep loving me. I'll always be with you. I will never leave you or forsake you"? Not on your life! That parent's first words would be of warning, not praise. To my knowledge, nowhere at any time has God ever given one of these "great men or women of God" a public word of rebuke for teaching heresy. Why not? Because they have turned their backs on God by rejecting His finished work upon the cross.
I believe this fact alone voids their claim of having the true gifts of the Spirit. I do not discount the existence of the gifts today, I distinguish the difference between the real and the counterfeit. Those with the "gifts" ought to be the most discerning. The facts prove just the opposite.
Many Charismatic leaders (Paul Crouch for one) endorse Oneness Pentecostals as our brothers in Christ yet Oneness Pentecostals deny and attack (not question or doubt) the doctrine of the Trinity which classifies them as a cult. Just because Oneness Pentecostals seem to "speak in tongues" and have the "gifts of the Spirit" doesn't necessarily make it so. God does not bless cults with His precious gifts. And Charismatics would know better if they truly had a hot-line to heaven.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) claims to have the gifts of the Spirit. Yet just a few years ago the leadership of the church purchased forgeries of what they thought were documents written by Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of their religion. They paid over one million dollars directly to the forger because the documents were potentially damaging to the church.
Their intent was to lock them up in a vault in Salt Lake City, Utah as they have had a habit of doing for decades. I ask those of you who are Charismatic, does this not void their claim to having the gifts? If this is so, what makes them any different from Charismatic leaders who, having the "gifts," do not realize they are following bona-fide enemies of the cross? Perhaps the line is dead.
Charismatics are very divisive over their "gifts." They will tell you implicitly and explicitly that they are the super Christians because they have the gifts. So this is not a test that's to be put off easily. Their "gifts" either work or they don't. The bottom line: They fail the test with flying colors.
Lost And Found Deity
Paul not only warned the Corinthian church of accepting "another gospel," he warned them of accepting "another Jesus." (2 Corinthians 11:4) On page 38, Joyce writes,
"For three days He was alone paying for our sins as "only a man." (underlining in the original)
Here again she regurgitates the teachings of Kenyon and Copeland. It's all part of the myth of Jesus losing His Deity on the cross, going to Hell as a mere man, being reborn in Hell, receiving back His Deity and thus becoming God once again. Since we are reborn, we too (they reason) become "little Gods" (which she does not go into in her book).
You would think that Hebrews 13:8, which Charismatics are so fond of quoting, would prevent this sort of heresy since it says, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." Charismatics frequently quote it but do not read out of it what is there (exegesis) but rather read into it what is not there (eisegesis).
Instead of reading that He is immutable (unchangeable,) they read it to mean that "Jesus Christ does the same (things) yesterday and today and forever." Whenever they quote this verse, it's usually in reference to healing and miracles. This is just another example of "anointed" Scripture twisting.
And no, Jesus does not do the same things today that He did in the past. Let Charismatics provide just one person who having been born blind can now see with 20/20 vision.
It is heresy to say that at some point in time, God ceased being Triune in nature. When the nature of Jesus is changed, "another Jesus" is produced. Keep in mind that the Gospel is a Who and a what: Who is Jesus and what did He do. The theology of the Word/Faith movement, as clearly spelled out in Joyce's book, has both "another Jesus" and "another gospel." Lest Charismatics think this a minor point, let me point out that the majority of all cults have "another Jesus." Not good company to be in.
Counterfeit Scripture & Bible Butchering
Next, as if enough hasn't been covered, is attributing things to God that He never said. Can Joyce or any other Charismatic give me "chapter and verse" where God said "Let Him go"? Or as others have said, "It is enough!" Is this not mythology? Are their ears itching so much that anything goes?
Charismatic creation of Scripture is nothing new. Who hasn't heard the "verse," "No one can come to the Father except the Spirit draws him"? When confronted with this "verse," pastors Jeff Perry (St. Louis Family Church) and Rick Shelton (Joyce's pastor-Life Christian Center) both reference it as John 6:44.
The New International Version quotes Jesus as saying, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.'7-John 6:44. Where do you see the word "Spirit"? And who is drawing us to whom? Sloppy? For a new believer, yes. For a minister of the Gospel, unthinkable! Teachers will be judged more strictly for their handling (and mishandling) of God's Word.
Firstborn = Reborn = Born-Again???
Remember, a non-Christian is reading this book and thinking that Joyce Meyer knows her Bible better than he does so what she said He said must be so. This is not commendable. There are no heavenly brownie points for putting words (and doctrines) in God's mouth.
Did the Jesus you and I serve and worship become "the first born-again man"? I believe it was Kenneth Copeland who played biblical sleight-of-hand in a paragraph of one of his books where he mentioned "firstborn" then "reborn" then "born again" in reference to Jesus' visit to Hell. Jesus being the firstborn has absolutely nothing to do with being born again. It has to do with His preeminence. Anyone who has studied to show himself approved unto God, properly handling the word of truth would not make such a grievous error.
Satan seems to enjoy twisting the meaning of the word "firstborn." He's taught Jehovah's Witnesses that it means that Jesus is the "first and greatest creation of Jehovah God." Ask any JW how he knows that Jesus was only a mere man and they'll always bring up the fact that He is called the firstborn. Smell a rat yet?
When I first became aware of this aspect of the Born-Again Jesus Gospel, red flags went up immediately. My Jesus was not born-again. God does not need to be born-again.
Joyce, if she had "studied to show herself approved unto God, a workman who does not need to blush with embarrassment, properly handling the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15 Walter Martin paraphrase), would never believe or teach such damnable heresy. The very fact that one would follow enemies of the cross is proof that they have not studied to show themselves approved unto God.
What is needed is not a defensive attitude but rather repentance. Neither Joyce nor local Word/Faith pastors Rick Shelton, Ron Tucker (Grace Church-St. Louis), or Jeff Perry have repented of either teaching or allowing to be taught to their flocks such heresies and for allowing them to follow enemies of the cross. They have not renounced those who continue to teach them, nor have they denounced such damnable doctrines. How then can they win this city (St. Louis, MO) for Christ, protect their flocks, equip the saints, or contend for the faith? They haven't, they aren't, and they can't. Period!
Extracting Some, But Not All, Of The Cancer or How Not To Edit Heresy
I was notified by a mutual acquaintance that Joyce was corrected by a pastor about this book before he would allow her to speak at his church and as a result, made some changes in her book. I soon purchased the "Second Printing - May, 1993" edition 6md found that it was definitely revised but found that no mention is made of the fact. (Up to this point, I have been quoting from the "First Printing - August, 1991" edition.) The only chapter that appears to have been changed is chapter four. Some of the Born-Again Jesus Gospel was altered or deleted but the bulk of it remained.
Assuming Mrs. Meyer believes that error has been deleted and that the book is now clean, this prompts me to ask: Why hasn't she warned anyone to trash the old book? Why hasn't she recalled the original edition? Why hasn't she made a note in the new edition of her errors in the previous edition? Why has she opted to let the changes go by quietly unnoticed? Has she explained to her pastor what she's done so that he may publicly repent of allowing her to fall into and teach such error in her previous printing of the book?
Or were the changes simply insignificant? Not really worth mentioning? In reality, the changes were very significant. She deleted the following bold faced words from the second printing,
"As God's Spirit left Him." (page 37)
"...this truth I am presenting." (page 37)
"Jesus took your place in hell." (page 37)
"...the Father filled His spirit again. For three days He was alone paying for our sins as "only a man." The price had to be paid by someone just like us." (page 38, underlining in the original)
"He went to hell to pay the debt you owed. (page 4 1)
These deleted portions are indeed significant. They represent a mix of doctrines peculiar to the Word/Faith movement's Born Again Jesus Gospel. (An odd deletion is the "I am presenting." Whether she explicitly states that she is presenting it or not, she is still "presenting" it. And it doesn't become more "truth" by this deletion.) But perhaps they are merely minor issues in Joyce's mind. By her editorial actions, she seems to be saying, "Yes, having Jesus' atonement in Hell is error but nothing to lose any sleep over. In fact, it's so trivial that I only edited part of it out of my book." If that's her thinking, I must ask, is "another gospel" which sends the lost to Hell a doctrine to be treated as a secondary doctrine along with the rapture, baptism, eschatology, tithing, or the gifts?
I don't know why she made any changes at all because the book is still poisoned with heresy. If she had a grip on the Gospel (as the title of the book declares), she would have publicly repented of all the error published in the first printing, renounced the Born-Again Jesus Gospel, and denounced those who still teach it.
Some would argue that it's no big deal. Let's check to see what the word of God has to say.
"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel--which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!" Galatians 1:6-9
Benny Hinn changed his mind about the Born-Again Jesus Gospel (but treated it as if it were merely a non-essential issue-no repentance was thus necessary.) Perhaps Joyce should at least take a tip from Benny.
Ask former Jehovah's Witnesses if they left the Watchtower or former Mormons if they left The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because these organizations hold a wrong view on some peripheral doctrine or because they proclaim a counterfeit-gospel. They leave as fast as possible because the gospel that's presented is counterfeit and therefore deadly.
"Summary" is the sub-chapter heading on page 40. It covers eleven points (though unnumbered) which would be considered the Gospel if it weren't for the seventh point. It reads, "He went to hell in your place and gained victory there, triumphing over the enemy. (Acts 2:3 1)" Since she notes Acts 2:3 1, let's see what she's referring to. The King James Version reads,
"He seeing this before space of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption."
The King James H Version reads,
"Foreseeing, he spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption."
Hades, the realm of departed spirits, consisted of at least two compartments: one for the wicked and the other for the righteous. We see this clearly illustrated by Jesus Himself in the story (not parable) of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-3 1). The area for the righteous was also called Paradise before Jesus moved its occupants to the third Heaven (Ephesians 4:8- 1 0 and 2 Corinthians 12:2,4).
Jesus told the thief on the cross, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43). How do we reconcile passages like these? In interpreting a Scripture like Acts 2:3 1, we use a rule of interpretation called the Full Counsel of God, or Scripture Interprets Scripture. With it we look at all the passages that deal with a given subject to determine what is being said and taught. It's nothing more than looking at the overall context of the entire Bible.
We also use a rule that says that vague, unclear, and problematic passages are interpreted by the clear passages, not the other way around. These basic rules of interpretation are part of what's called hermeneutics. Hermeneutics is the science of biblical interpretation. As a Charismatic, I was never taught anything about hermeneutics. Properly handling the word of truth is foreign to the Word/Faith movement. And it shows.
Having said that, did He pay for our sins and redeem us in Hell or upon the cross? It's really very simple. The question is answered by the super-abundance of Scriptures that points us to the cross. Most notably, Paul gloried in the cross, not hell.
Adding just one work to the finished work of the cross disparages the cross thus creating "another gospel." Although the Born-Again Jesus Gospel does not require any additional work on the part of the repentant sinner for his salvation (as the cults teach), the result is the same. Any work, whether Jesus' torment in Hell or our works implies that the work of Christ upon the cross is insufficient. Only enemies of the cross disparage the cross. Not true Christians. Except for her statement, "He went to hell to pay the debt you owed," her summary could be called the Gospel. What a shame.
"You Put Up With It Easily Enough"
That's what Paul said to the Corinthians for receiving a "different gospel, Jesus, and Spirit" (2 Corinthians 11:4). Why then should we put up with someone who proclaims a counterfeit-gospel just because they are within the flock? Is spiritual cyanide less deadly when it's within the camp of God than when it's on the outside? Should we sit idly by wringing our hands? Or worse yet, continue to fellowship with those trapped within the kingdom of the cults without so much as giving a word of warning?
To those of you who are in the Word/Faith movement, ask yourself what "gospel" you accepted in order to be saved? Was it the Born Again Jesus Gospel? (i.e., the death, burial, torment in hell, born-again in hell, and bodily resurrection of Christ for our sins.) Or was it the death, burial, and bodily resurrection of Christ for our sins? (I Corinthians 15:1-4) Which one do you proclaim? Which one will you defend?
Is it true that,
"'there is no hope of anyone going to heaven unless they believe this truth. You cannot go to heaven unless you believe with all your heart that Jesus took your place"? (still referring to hell and not the cross - page 37, Second Printing - May, 1993)
The Apostle Paul thinks not. And most of all, God thinks not. Joyce Meyer has stood the Gospel on its head. She has perverted it beyond recognition. And beyond its ability to save.
"Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter." Isaiah 5:20
And woe to those who put "another gospel" for the Gospel! Mrs. Meyer would not have made such a grievous statement if she had not gotten her theology from a brood of vipers, enemies of the cross of Christ.
Finding Christ is certainly "The Most Important Decision You Will Ever Make" but is the information provided in Joyce Meyer's book helpful or damnable? Can an intelligent decision be made based upon it? I think not. Just as a counterfeit life preserver is useless no matter how strongly and sincerely one clings to it, a counterfeit gospel is useless no matter how much
faith or sincerity is attached to it. Nor is Joyce Meyer's book "A complete and thorough understanding of what it means to be born again." It is anything but.
If Charismatics and others who are sympathetic to the Word/Faith movement are mad as a result of this review, they should be mad at those who promote heresy-not those who expose it. As the Apostle Paul has well said,
"Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?" Galatians 4:16
Third revision April 25, 1998