John Calvin Taught Jesus Suffered In Hell
In his “Institutes of the Christian Religion”, John Calvin wrote…
“But, apart from the Creed, we must seek for a surer exposition of Christ’s descent to hell: and the word of God furnishes us with one not only pious and holy, but replete with excellent consolation. Nothing had been done if Christ had only endured corporeal death. In order to interpose between us and God’s anger, and satisfy his righteous judgment, it was necessary that he should feel the weight of divine vengeance. Whence also it was necessary that he should engage, as it were, at close quarters with the powers of hell and the horrors of eternal death. We lately quoted from the Prophet, that the “chastisement of our peace was laid upon him” that he ‘was bruised for our iniquities’ that he ‘bore our infirmities;’ expressions which intimate, that, like a sponsor and surety for the guilty, and, as it were, subjected to condemnation, he undertook and paid all the penalties which must have been exacted from them, the only exception being, that the pains of death could not hold him. Hence there is nothing strange in its being said that he descended to hell, seeing he endured the death which is inflicted on the wicked by an angry God. It is frivolous and ridiculous to object that in this way the order is perverted, it being absurd that an event which preceded burial should be placed after it. But after explaining what Christ endured in the sight of man, the Creed appropriately adds the invisible and incomprehensible judgment which he endured before God, to teach us that not only was the body of Christ given up as the price of redemption, but that there was a greater and more excellent price — that he bore in his soul the tortures of condemned and ruined man.”
-John Calvin (Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 2, Chapter 16, Section 10)
I am fully aware that Calvin falls short of expressing the full JDS doctrine (Jesus dying spiritually and having to be born-again). However, the language is embarrassingly similar and a departure from the simple fact that Jesus declared/preached liberty and victory to the O.T. saints in Hades/Abraham’s bosom. The thought that Jesus somehow had to experience some compressed form of eternal damnation or the tortures of hell-fire to atone for our sin is clearly unscriptural and heretical.
Here are a few quotes expressing common thoughts from proponents of the JDS doctrine. Notice how closely such statements parallel Mr. Calvin’s….
“Do you think that the punishment for our sin was to die on a cross? If that were the case, the two thieves could have paid your price. No, the punishment was to go into hell itself and to serve time in hell separated from God.”
“Do not let the physical suffering of the graphic scene of Golgotha rob you of the reality of the son of God being made sin for us. When he was made sin he was turned over by God to the adversary. You remember that he uttered the sentence “It is finished”. You can now understand that he did not mean that he had finished His substitutionary work.”
“There can be no substitution unless Christ actually paid the spiritual penalty of man’s transgression…But this work (atonement) was not finished on the cross.”
“Isaiah 53 is a picture of the substitutionary sufferings in our stead. It is neither mental nor physical suffering. It is suffering in the spirit.”
“Jesus went to hell like any sinner…”
“Now here’s the part I want you to get. When He said, ‘It is finished,’ on that cross he was not speaking of the plan of redemption — the plan of redemption had just begun. There were still three days and three nights to be gone through before He went to the throne.”
“It wasn’t a physical death on the cross that paid the price for sin…”
It is Christ’s death, expressed via His shed blood, that atones. Jesus did not endure our penalty for sin, but was a substitute for our penalty. Anyone denying the atonement was secured at Calvary is teaching dangerous heresy…
Romans 5:10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
Colossians 2:13-15 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
1 Peter 2:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
Hebrews 2:14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil…
Now, again, read the quote above by Mr. Calvin. Who can deny that such words cast a shadow on Christ’s atoning work at Calvary?