“When Jesus paid the sin price for you, He was your substitute. Heaven has it recorded that you have been set free. It is as if you yourself died on the cross 2,000 years ago. But that doesn’t mean you will automatically go to heaven. Even though God sent Jesus to pay for your sin—even though He holds nothing against you—you can still go straight to hell. Why? Because you have not made the choice to receive Jesus as your own personal Lord and Savior, to accept His sacrifice as yours. You have a free will. You have the right to choose your own destiny, God will not force you to receive salvation. The choice is yours. You can go straight to hell and God will not lift a finger to stop you. He did all He is going to do when He sent Jesus into the world. Your choice is set before you.” (taken from Kenneth Copeland Ministries)
The above explanation has been provided by Kenneth Copeland Ministries (we will abbreviate this to KCM). Unfortunately, many believe this form of gospel. Only, this is no gospel at all, because it portrays a Christ that is impotent. Let’s take this apart.
“When Jesus paid the sin price for you, He was your substitute.”
Let us conclude then from this statement that, when Christ died, He literally died in the place of people. He paid their “sin price.” These people are named by KCM as “you”. This “you” must refer to everyone, as KCM has publicly posted this explanation on their site for all to see. So, Christ is said to have died in the place of every single person. At the very least, we can asininely say that Christ died for every single KCM reader.
“Heaven has recorded that you have been set free.”
As a result of Christ’s substitutionary atonement for all of the “you”-s, heaven has recorded that the “you”-s have been set free from sin debt, as the “sin price” had been paid.
“It is as if you yourself died on the cross 2,000 years ago.”
Again, he stresses the substitutionary atonement of Christ. He explains that this substitution was such a reality, that it was as though “you” were the one on the cross.
“But that doesn’t mean you will automatically go to heaven. Even though God sent Jesus to pay for your sin—even though He holds nothing against you—you can still go straight to hell.”
He then continues to say that it is possible for the substitutionary atonement of Christ to be ineffectual. That although the payment has been made for “your” sin, there is a possibility that God would disregard the payment. KCM states that even though God holds nothing against you, you can go straight to hell. This is self-contradictory. Even though God holds nothing against you, He holds hell against you. Even though He holds no penalty against you, you are still penalized. Although it was as though it was “you” on that cross, there is a possibility that God doesn’t recognize it.
This reminds me of a “repo man”. In case you aren’t familiar with this term, a “repo man” is a man who repossesses cars, boats, homes, etc. He (or the company he works for) is normally hired by the bank to carry out this process, because the cars, boats, etc. he is hired to collect have large debts that are not being paid on time. So the bank says, “Show up at this location and retrieve this vehicle for us, because the ‘owner’ isn’t paying the bills.” And normally repo men come when they are least expected to. This whole situation could be avoided if the bills were paid.
That may leave you wondering what I was getting at, but here’s a scenerio: Jim has a car, but is late on his payments. So a repo man is coming for Jim’s car on Tuesday. Jim does not know this. Jim also doesn’t know that I will pay for his car in full on Monday. The result of my paying his debt is, obviously, that his car will not be repossessed and taken from him.
If Christ paid “your” debt, you would not have it looming over your head any longer. It is paid. What KCM is proposing is that although I paid for Jim’s car in full, it will still be repossessed. It would be like paying for a light bill, but the lights are shut off. It does not make sense.
“Why? Because you have not made the choice to receive Jesus as your own personal Lord and Savior, to accept His sacrifice as yours.”
And despite the absurdity of the aforementioned claims, the statement above ties it all in, and at the same time, describes the thought process of mainstream Christianity. Christ paid your fine, and you just have to accept it. Otherwise you go to HELL.
Let’s go back to the Jim scenario. Suppose that Jim didn’t know I paid for his car in full. Eventually he would have known. It would have been brought to his attention. But, for the sake of not taking this scenario to an unintelligible point, we can at least say that Jim still would not have been penalized. It wouldn’t matter whether or not he was aware of it. If Christ paid the debt, then it is paid. I believe God is powerful enough to reveal that to “you”, if in fact He did die for “you.”
“You have a free will. You have the right to choose your own destiny, God will not force you to receive salvation. The choice is yours.”
This is what it ALWAYS boils down to, “free will.” It is that mysterious word that is still missing from the pages of the Bible. It is assumed through passages that say “choose for yourself” as was the case with Joshua and Elijah. But the New Testament emphasizes man’s utter inability and enslavement to sin. Although God may use such language, it is through His powerful word that men will respond. Men don’t get saved by the sharpening of pencils, the removal of braces, or the hunting of giraffe. Although God is more than capable of using such means, man is ultimately saved by hearing the word of God. And when God says through His children, “Choose”… it those who have their sin debt paid that will respond. They may not respond the first, or even the 41st time, but eventually they will.
As for destiny, KCM assumes that the future is what you make it. Although there are consequences for our sins, the outcome of history has not been declared based on the “free” actions of men. God is the Sovereign King. This isn’t like “Back to the Future” where the future is one way, and you can change it as though there are millions of possibilities. Scripture is clear that God is the one who has created and placed limits upon the days we each will live, and that He has drawn the boundaries for each of us.
God will not force you to receive salvation: this is important. When Jesus condemns the Pharisees, He explains that they can’t see and hear. Since when have deafness and blindness been choices? My father struggles with hearing loss, and needs hearing aids. Should I approach him and tell him to take the hearing aids out and start hearing better? Of course not. It is beyond his control. The point Jesus was making was that it WAS NOT a choice they could make. He was stressing their utter inability. If God does not change them, they are stuck this way.
“You can go straight to hell and God will not lift a finger to stop you. He did all He is going to do when He sent Jesus into the world. Your choice is set before you.”
I have one question for KCM, or anyone who holds the belief that God did/is doing ALL He can for the entire world. If God is doing 110% for the entire world in a salvific sense, why pray for them? What more can God do?! I must agree with KCM, God did all He needed to do in the person of Christ so that God’s children could be reconciled to Him.
For Christ to have died for “you”… that is, each and every individual, poses a problem. The will of the Father for Christ was that Christ not lose any of those given Him by the Father. For Christ to have paid the debt for Joe Schmo, and for Joe to have died unregenerate, would render Christ impotent – incapable of fulfilling the will of the Father. In such a case, He could not possibly be the Savior of all, because He does not save all. A savior, by definition, is someone who rescues or SAVES. The Jesus I proclaim, actually SAVES.