He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
Each of these titles and positions of Jesus have significant meaning to His followers. When He called Himself “I AM” we understand that to mean He was calling Himself God. When He is referred to as “the Lamb of God” we understand that to mean He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins; and when He is called the Creator, we understand this to mean it was Jesus (along with the Father and the Holy Spirit) who spoke and created the universe and everything in it. But how are we to understand when Jesus is called the Word?
Steven Anderson looks at John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” and as a King James Version literalist he understands this passage to mean that Jesus was/is the Bible, or, more accurately, he believes the Bible is actually Jesus, and is actually God. Not the book itself, but the words contained within the book.38
In one of his online sermon videos, Steven Anderson holds up his Bible and preaches to his congregation saying, “This book is Jesus. … Jesus is the book! ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. Without Him’...oh, I’m sorry, ‘all things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.’ And then we read down that great passage and John said in John 1:14 where God says, ‘and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory,’ we looked at Him, ‘as of the only begotten of the Father.’ Who did we look at? The Word of God. Who created the world? Jesus Christ, the Word of God. …Jesus Christ the written Word of God who became the living Word of God.”39
In a video clip Anderson uploaded to his YouTube channel on January 17, 2009, he is shown holding up his Bible and emphatically proclaiming to his congregation, “Behold your God! This is God! Let me introduce you to God!...hey, I’m not worshiping a physical book, this is a book, nothing. But you know what?” He then points at the Bible and yells, “THOSE WORDS ARE GOD! Believe it or not. Call me a heretic, call me whatever you want, I will preach that until I am breathing my last breath!”40
And on April 27, 2018, just over nine years after posting the previous clip, Steven Anderson posted a clip from a different sermon where he says the same thing. Jesus is the Word, the Bible is Jesus, the Bible is God! Again, not the physical book, but as Anderson himself put it, “The words in the Book are God.”41
He taught this in 2009 and he was still teaching it less than a year ago, and there have been no videos posted by Steven Anderson that would indicate he no longer believed this, therefore we must accept that he continues to believe this doctrine.
Anderson’s doctrine of the deification of the words of Scripture carries with it some significant problems though. If the words of Scripture actually are God, then one would expect Anderson and his followers to worship them, yet they do not. If the words of Scripture are actually God Himself, then:
Does that not give those who wield those words have divine power themselves?
Why would God allow Himself to even be wielded by sinful man?
If they are Jesus, then Jesus is both within the Father and the Holy Spirit as God, as well as the man Jesus, and now, according to Anderson, the very words found on the pages of a Bible; and, knowing Steven Anderson, the King James version of the Bible specifically. But which version of the King James Bible? Which of the twenty-three different versions of the Authorized King James Version that have been printed between 1611 and 1904? Of these almost two dozen different versions, many contain obvious mistakes, such as the 1611 “Judas Bible” which reads, “Then cometh Judas with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder” in Matthew 26:36; or the 1631 edition which states the seventh commandment as “Thou shalt commit adultery”; or the 1717 edition which contains the “Parable of the Vinegar” in place of the “Parable of the Vineyard” in Luke 20.
And, of course, the original 1611 King James Version contained the Apocrypha as well.42 Will Steven Anderson hold to the belief he has clung to and preached for at least the past decade, that the words contained within the Authorized King James Version of the Holy Bible are in fact, actually God Almighty, actually Jesus Christ Himself?
When one takes into consideration the fact that these various editions of the King James Bible with all of the various errors in them, have been fairly common knowledge for the past few centuries; coupled with the fact that Steven Anderson has continued to teach his deification of the words of Scripture in the King James Bible without publicly renouncing the various “error editions” of the King James Bible – then one can only conclude that Steven Anderson accepts not only all the various errors that have crept into the King James Bible over the years, but also the Apocrypha as contained in the original 1611 edition, as being actually God and actually Jesus Christ.
Of course, there exists another possibility, a more reasonable and probable possibility; which is that Steven Anderson is wrong. Very wrong.
Scripture states in John 1: 1-3 reads, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made.” When we continue on in verses 14-18, we can clearly see that the “Word” which John is referring to is actually Jesus, and John’s use of the the term “Word” tells us a great deal about Jesus.
Compare John 1:1 with Genesis 1:1. Both start with the same three words, “In the beginning.” In Genesis we read that when God created the heavens and all that are in them, Scripture says He spoke everything into existence. Psalm 33:6 tells us, “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.” As with Genesis 1 and creation, we also see a correlation between Psalm 33:6 in the first chapter of John, verse 3, “All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.” And, in verse 10, we see again, “the world was made by Him”. This is reiterated throughout the New Testament in Acts 3:15; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:15-17; and Hebrews 1:2. These passages confirm that God made the universe and everything in it, and God created everything through Jesus.
We also see through many other passages that God employs His word throughout the earth to execute His will (see Psalm 33:6; 107:20; 119:89; 147:15-18; Isaiah 55:10-11). We also see in Genesis 15:1-5 where the Word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, and also brought Abram out of his tent in order to show him the stars as an illustration regarding his descendants. These passages all serve to demonstrate that when God talks, He does so through the Son, the second person of the Godhead, Jesus.
Jesus is the conduit through which God imparts revelation to the prophets, through which God spoke to man, through which God accomplished creation. Jesus is God the Son, the second person of the Triune Godhead, and He is also the Word of God, who came to earth as a human being. He is not, however, the words of Scripture. He is the author of Scripture, but not Scripture itself. To deify Scripture is to create an idol, and that is precisely what Steven Anderson is doing with this doctrine of his.
The insufficient death of Jesus
Steven Anderson also claims the death of Christ on the cross, the shedding of His blood, in not sufficient to provide an atonement for our sins. In fact, Anderson claims there are at least six things that Jesus must do in order to gain us entry into heaven.43 The six things are:
1. He had to be born,
2. He had to die on the cross,
3. He had to be buried,
4. He had to go to hell for three days and three nights and be a burnt sacrifice in the fire of hell,
5. He had to rise from the dead, and
6. “He had to enter the Holy of Holies in heaven, as the High Priest, and sprinkle the blood on the mercy seat seven times.”
Anderson states that until Jesus completes these six tasks, we cannot enter heaven. Apparently, He sprinkled the blood on the mercy seat when He entered heaven, as Anderson goes on to say, “He’s still up there making intercession for us, the blood is still on the mercy seat. It still speaks better things than that of Abel.” And he also places the sprinkling of the blood on the mercy seat BEFORE telling the apostles the great commission, and “then He has to ascend up into heaven.”44
This convoluted doctrine of Steven Anderson not only has no biblical support, but is actually contrary to Scripture. We are not saved by anything other than the grace of God. Period. Grace alone. Period. This is what Ephesians 2:8 clearly says. “For by grace are ye saved.” This same verse also tells us that faith is the conduit through which God’s grace is imparted to us. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that is not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” But faith in what? Faith in Jesus Christ and His death on the cross as making the necessary atonement for our sins.
Romans 3:23-26 states, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time His righteousness: that He might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” [emphasis added] [cf. 1 John 2:2; 4:10]
Jesus Christ is, through the shedding of His blood, and His death on the cross, the propitiation for the sins of the whole world; through faith in His blood, His propitiatory act on the cross, we receive remission of sins and are made righteous and able to enter into the presence of God in heaven. His burial does not provide this, He resurrection does not provide this, His ascension does not provide this, and Anderson’s own added requirement for our entrance into heaven: that Jesus must sprinkle blood seven times on the mercy seat in heaven, certainly does not provide this. The shedding of His blood and His death on the cross provides the propitiation, and nothing else, according to the Scriptures. (See Hebrews 9:22; 10:10; Galatians 3:22)
In short, Steven Anderson is teaching the blood of Christ shed at His death for the remission of sins is insufficient. Even though Romans 3:23-26 clearly and explicitly teaches that it is sufficient, and is the only acceptable sacrifice for the propitiation of our sins, Steven Anderson simply thumbs his nose at the Word of God (both the written and the Living) and adds to what Scripture teaches, even to the adding of his own personal and unbiblical beliefs.
Steven Anderson claims that in order for us to be able to enter heaven, in addition to other requirements he has added, he claims Jesus must first enter into the Holy of Holies in the temple in heaven, and sprinkle blood on the mercy seat seven times. This is not taught in Scripture. Anywhere. In order to come up with this teaching, Anderson must combine Hebrews 4:14-10:18 with Leviticus 16:11-14. The problem is, however, this is like adding 2+2 and coming up with 5.
Hebrews 4:14-10:18 explains Jesus is our High Priest, He is a High Priest in the order of Melchizedek, and He is a High Priest of a better covenant from the previous covenant of the Old Testament. It explains the earthly tabernacle and temple were an example and shadow of things to come, and that Jesus’ sacrifice was a better and a permanent sacrifice as opposed to the sacrifices of the previous covenant. But nowhere does this lengthy passage say anything about Jesus entering the Holy of Holies in heaven where He sprinkles blood on the mercy seat seven times.
The closest anything in the New Testament comes to this is in Hebrews 9:11-28, within which we read, “But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” (vv11-12). Christ, our High Priest, has entered into a tabernacle that is great and more perfect that the one on earth; and “by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place,” but no where does it say He entered the Holy of Holies in heaven and sprinkles His blood on the mercy seat. Anderson has to get that from Leviticus 16:11-14.
Leviticus 16 explains the sacrifices for the High Priest and the people on the Day of Atonement. The sacrifice detailed in verses 11-14, the sacrifice which includes sprinkling the mercy seat seven times with blood, is the sacrifice for the High Priest. Not for the people. It serves to atone for the sins of the High Priest for the next year. Following Steven Anderson’s teaching, he clearly has Jesus sprinkling the blood of the sacrifice (which would be His own blood) on the mercy seat, and the sacrifice that provided that blood serves to atone for the sins of only the High Priest. Therefore, Steven Anderson is teaching that Jesus died to atone for His own sins and for no one else. To say that Jesus was sinful is blasphemy. To say that His atoning sacrifice did not provide atonement for anyone other than Himself is also blasphemy.
Going back to Hebrews 9:11-28 for a moment, we see again that it is Jesus’ blood and the sacrifice of Himself that redeems our sin and purchases our salvation (vv 14-15,26). We also see that the Holy Place into which Jesus enters is not some heavenly tabernacle or temple that is like unto those that were one the earth which were nothing more than shadows and types of heaven. Not a temple with a holy place and a holy of holies that is in heaven, and certainly not one built by human hands, but rather heaven itself is God’s temple. For what does the Scripture say? “But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” (vv11-12) “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” (v24).
The temple where God dwells is heaven itself. The Holy of Holies were God dwells is heaven itself. Steven Anderson’s fictional accounting of what Jesus must do in order for those He has redeemed to enter into heaven is just that: total fiction. Nothing more and nothing less. It is completely unbiblical, it is blasphemous heresy; and, by teaching this doctrine, he is teaching a different gospel, a false gospel, and he is leading his congregation and his internet followers straight down into hell if they are unsaved, and into a stagnant and ineffective witness for those who are saved.
What About The Resurrection?
We have already established that it is Jesus’ atoning death on the cross – and nothing else, that redeems us as the propitiation for our sins. (Romans 5:11; Mark 10:45; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24; Isaiah 53:5; John 10 spec. vv 17-18) But what of the resurrection? If it is not one of the steps necessary to achieve salvation, then what it is for? What does the resurrection accomplish? The answer to that is quite a bit! For instance:
1. His resurrection proved that He overcame death, and thus is indeed the Son of God, that He is truly Divine. “Concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:3-4); because it was not possible for death to maintain its hold on Him (Acts 2:24). (See also 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; 2 Timothy 1:10; Revelation 1:18)
2. His resurrection serves as a guarantee of our justification. Note, however, His resurrection did not accomplish our justification, His death did that; but rather it serves as an assurance to us that we are fully justified by His sacrificial death on the cross. 1 Corinthians 15:17 states, “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.” And in Colossians 2:14 states, “Blotting out the handwriting of of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.” (cf. Romans 4:25; 8:11) The penalty for our sins has been paid in full, and accepted by God Almighty. (See also 1 Corinthians 15:1-21)
3. His resurrection guarantees that we serve a living Savior. It assures us that he is interceding for us. “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God the justifieth. Who is He that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” (Romans 8:33-34; Hebrews 7:25).
4. His resurrection guarantees that we are raised up to a new life, as well as guaranteeing our resurrection. Paul wrote, “For we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection. Knowing this, that our old man is cruicified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” (Romans 6:5-6); and “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.” (1 Corinthians 15:12-58, specifically vv20-23 here). (See also Romans 8:11; Philippians 3:20, 21; Ephesians 2:4-6; Colossians 3:1-4; 1 Peter 1:3-5)
Therefore, when Steven Anderson and others in the New IFB Movement teach that Christ’s resurrection is necessary to secure our salvation, they are demonstrating that they either do not possess even a rudimentary understanding of the death, atonement, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus; or, they do, and they are intentionally misleading their followers.
This brings us to one of the more troubling of Steven Anderson’s doctrines of Jesus, that of His burning in hell for us.
On the Necessity of Jesus Burning in Hell For Our Salvation
In 2014, Steven Anderson sat down with Dr. James White and ostensibly interviewed Dr. White. Near the end of the interview, Anderson and Dr. White were discussing hades, gehenna, and hell. While Dr. White tried to explain to Mr. Anderson that according to the clear teaching of Scripture hell is currently unpopulated, while hades contains those souls who have died in their sins and did not possess the free gift of salvation. Steven Anderson insisted that Jesus went to hell for three days and three nights.
Anderson derives this doctrine from Matthew 12:40, which reads, “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” and Acts 2:31, “He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that His soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.” The word translated “hell” in Acts 2:31 is the Greek word “hades,” which is the abode of departed spirits. This is not some new understanding of the word, but rather the same understanding of this word that has always been, and Anderson knows this, or, at least he should since he claims to know Greek, and claims to have read the New Testament cover to cover in Greek multiple times.45
Therefore, Anderson must also understand that hades, the abode of departed spirits, is divided into two sections or compartments. In the one are those departed spirits who died in their sin, and in the other are those who died in faith. Note that this is not heaven and hell. This is hades. While some may be inclined to close their minds at this point, just read a little further to understand why I say this.
The best description we have of hades and the two compartments or sections within it, is the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. Both die and their departed spirits enter hades (the abode of departed spirits). If you will look at verse 23, you can see that the rich man is in hell. This is translated from the same Greek word hades that we see in Acts 2:31. In reading verses 23-24 of Luke 16, we see the rich man lifting up “his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazaarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.” Abraham answers him in verses 25-26, reminding the rich man that he had a great life on earth and Lazarus a horrible life on earth, and now the roles are reversed. He goes on to explain to the rich man, “And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.”
Did you notice that the rich man could see Abraham and Lazarus, and they could see him, and a conversation took place between the rich man and Abraham. Therefore, this cannot be heaven and hell, as in heaven, “there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be anymore pain” (Revelation 21:4). Do you really believe that those in heaven will be able to look down into the depths of the earth and see people, possibly their loved ones and friends in eternal torment, and not experience sorrow, not cry, not be in emotional pain? Do you really believe that once in heaven we will be able to look down on those in eternal torment and care one bit? Not likely.
Furthermore, in Revelation 20:13-14 we see see that at the great white throne judgment, where the wicked will be judged by God before being cast into hell for all eternity, hell delivers up the dead in it, and after the judgment hell is cast into the lake of fire (also commonly known as hell). In both verse 13 and 14, the word hell is translated from the Greek word hades. Common sense should tell you that hell giving up the dead within it, so they can be cast into hell, and then hell itself is destroyed by casting it into hell makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Is God the God of confusion? No! (1 Cor.14:33)
It makes perfect sense to understand this as hades, the abode of departed spirits gave up the dead within it, and was later cast into the gehenna (the lake of fire) and destroyed, while the wicked dead were themselves cast into gehenna where they will suffer eternal torment. This makes more sense because this is the correct understanding, which has been the position of the Church for the past 2,000 years. When those who die in their sins – such as the rich man, they are cast into one compartment of hades where they are in torment; and those who die in faith were sent into another compartment of hades known as Abraham’s Bosom, or Paradise, where they are comforted.
We read also read about this in Luke 23:42-43, when the thief on the cross says to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” and Jesus tells him, “Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Comparing this to Matthew 12:40 and Acts 2:31, we can easily and clearly see that Jesus was not cast into hell upon death. He and the thief entered hades, into that part of hades known as Paradise, or Abraham’s Bosom. Incidentally, the other thief, the one who continued to curse and mock Jesus, likely entered into that compartment of hades reserved for those who died in their wickedness, just like the rich man.
The lowest section of that area of hades where the spirits of the wicked dead have been temporarily consigned is known as tartarus, and it is mentioned only once in all of Scripture – 2 Peter 2:4. Again, since Steven Anderson claims he knows Greek and has read the New Testament in Greek, cover to cover multiple times, he is fully aware of this. Tartarus is also known as “the abyss,” and is the habitation of those angels “which kept not their first estate, but left there own habitation,” and as a result, God “hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.” (Jude 6). These are the angels who are mentioned in Genesis 6:1-7, who “saw the daughters of men...and took them wives of all which they chose. ...and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.” As a result, God destroyed the earth with a worldwide cataclysmic flood, sparing only Noah, his family, and the creatures on the ark.
“For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; … the Lord knoweth how...to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished” (2 Peter 2:4-5,9).
It is this same deep abyss that demons are afraid to go, begging Jesus not to send them there (see Luke 8:31); and it is this same deep abyss where Jesus went during those three days and three nights before His resurrection. “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: by which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.” (1 Peter 3:19-20; cf Ephesians 4:8-10)
Remember now, Steven Anderson claims to know Greek, and claims to have read the New Testament cover to cover in Greek multiple times, so one would naturally assume he know all of this already. Yet, he continues to insist that Jesus spent three days and three nights burning in hell; and not just burning in hell, but being burned up as a burnt sacrifice in order to be an acceptable sacrifice to the Lord for our sins.
Now, we have already learned, from the very clear and explicit teaching of Scripture, that it was Jesus’s shed blood and death on the cross that made atonement for our sin. Not His burial, not His resurrection, not His ascension, but His shed blood and death on the cross is the acceptable sacrifice for our sin, that made atonement for our sin, that was the propitiation for our sin. Regardless of the clear and explicit teaching of Scripture, or perhaps in spite of the clear and explicit teaching of Scripture, Steven Anderson teaches it’s not enough. It’s acceptable to God, but not to Steven Anderson. No, because Steven Anderson insists that Jesus must also be a burnt sacrifice in order to be a God ordained sacrifice, a sacrifice acceptable to God; because, he reasons, all sacrifices are burned, all offerings are burned, and the Passover lamb is roasted.46
As we have already seen, again in the very clear and explicit passages of Scripture, God looked upon Jesus’ shed blood and death on the cross as an acceptable sacrifice. That was all that was necessary as an acceptable sacrifice to God; and, that is all that was necessary to atone for our sins. Steven Anderson says no, Scripture is wrong, God is wrong, but he is right. That is not all that Steven Anderson is wrong about, because when he says all sacrifices are burnt and all offerings are burnt he is wrong.
There were five types of offerings in the Old Testament, and they can be divided up into two categories. The first are the burnt offerings which are to be completely and totally consumed by fire, and the second are all the rest of the offerings which are only partially burned on the altar and the unburned portions are eaten. The obvious question to Steven Anderson is does he believe Jesus was totally and completely consumed in the fires of hell to the point where there was nothing left of Him; or, that He was only partially consumed by the fires of hell, with the rest of Jesus eaten by someone or something? Perhaps by cannibalistic demons? Perhaps by Roman Catholics during their mass? Which is it Mr. Anderson?
If Steven Anderson is telling the truth when he claims that he knows Greek and that he has read the New Testament in Greek, cover to cover, multiple times, then he is fully aware of the meanings of hades, and tartarus, and gehenna. If he is telling the truth, then why does he ignore that which he claims to know is true? Why teach something to his congregation and his followers something which he knows is not true? Why would he intentionally mislead them? Steven Anderson has actually given the answer to this numerous times over the years when he has disparaged those who understand biblical Greek and Hebrew, and the numerous times he has spoken against referring to the original languages of Scripture. The answer is because he has a blind adherence to and faith in a specific translation of the Bible, that he rejects the Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew manuscripts upon which that translation is based on.47 This view of his can best be described as “KJV-olatry.”
Well, that, or, he is simply having a 1 Corinthians 2:14 moment.
Steven Anderson’s false and heretical view that Jesus’ shed blood and death on the cross is insufficient to atone for our sins leads us to wonder about the view of salvation held by Steven Anderson and his New IFB Movement.
Links for Series Articles Posted Thus Far:
Steven Anderson and the New IFB Movement -- Update #1