Author: Ron Graham
Pentecostalism and the Cross
In this Bible lesson, we look at how the doctrine of Pentecostalism affects the doctrine of the crucifixion, especially its meaning and purpose.
We will lay aside all the details of Pentecostalism, and deal with one fundamental, namely the cross of Christ. Paul said, he knew nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified (1Corinthians 2:2).
This core doctrine does not escape damage from Pentecostalism. That's what I am about to show you. This is not an academic side issue unworthy of your attention, but a heresy that spoils the simple message of Christ’s sacrificial death. I refute Pentecostalism not because I love arguments, but because I love the pure message of the cross.
1 What is Pentecostalism?
Pentecostalism gets its name from the day of Pentecost when che Holy Spirit was poured out in Jerusalem (Acts chapter 2). The "Charismatic movement" today embraces Pentecostalism claiming that the Holy Spirit heals illnesses miraculously today.
But the doctrine goes further than that, and claims that Jesus died on the cross for our illnesses, as he did for our sins
There is no dispute that Jesus was crucified for our transgressions. But there is controversy about whether Jesus died on the cross to bear our sicknesses.
2 How Does Pentecostalism Spoil the Message of the Cross?
The main scripture cited to support that teaching, is Isaiah 53:4-5. The part that says, "He carried our sicknesses" is supposed to refer to the cross, just as does the part that says, "He was wounded for our transgressions."
However Matthew 8:16-17 interprets the passage for us: "He healed all who were sick that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet saying, 'He took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses'. That settles it. As stated by Matthew, Jesus fulfilled Isaiah 53:4 by his healing miracles, not by his death.
Matthew comments on Isaiah 53:4.
Surely he has borne our sickness, and carried our suffering; yet we considered him plagued, struck by God, and afflicted (Isaiah 53:4 WEB)
When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: "He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses" (Matthew 8:16-17 NKJV).
Against Matthew’s interpretation, Pentecostalism maintains that Jesus atoned for our illnesses on the cross just as he did for our sins. Furthermore, just as he forgives all our sins, so also does he heal all our bodily illnesses.
If you think about it, you can easily see that this doctrine casts doubt on the forgiveness of your sins.
If Jesus atoned for your sicknesses as well as your sins, yet your sicknesses aren't healed, how do you know your sins are forgiven?
If the thing that you can see (the healing of your sicknesses) is not accomplished, how can you be sure that the thing you cannot see (the forgiveness of your sins) has been accomplished? That's the issue at stake when we consider Pentecostalism.
3 What Did Jesus Accomplish By His Death?
"My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world" (1John 1:1-2 ESV).
Jesus is the propitiation, the atoning sacrifice, for sins. That was the purpose of the crucifixion of Christ. The scriptures teach that truth in many places. But they don't connect physical illnesses to it.
We can be absolutely sure that our sins are all forgiven. On the Day of Pentecost, Peter said, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38) Notice they were, every one, promised forgiveness of sins and the indwelling Spirit. They were not promised physical healing.
Certainly God stretched out his hand to heal and signs and wonders were done in the name of Jesus to confirm the word the apostles preached. (Acts 4:29-30). But that was not promised to everyone as was forgiveness of sins.
The apostle Paul prayed for healing of his "thorn in the flesh" but God said no (2Corinthians 12:7-10). If the redemption accomplished on the cross included physical healing, then God cancelled redemption for Paul.
So how could Paul be sure that his sins were still forgiven? Yes, Christ died as an atonement for Paul’s sins, and Paul was forgiven. How then, if Christ died also for Paul’s illnesses, was he still not healed?
Those of us who have believed and obeyed the gospel, are certain that through Jesus and his atoning death on the cross we are redeemed and have all our sins forgiven.
However, if the atonement and redemption of the cross covers physical illnesses, it has failed to heal them. We all have thorns in the flesh. We are left asking, "If the cross failed to banish my illnesses, perhaps it also failed to banish my sins." I hope you see how Pentecostalism casts doubt on the message of the cross.