What Does Christ Gospel Church Teach?

Analyzing the Teaching of Berniece R. Hicks

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Abstract

What does Christ Gospel Church teach? To answer this question, an analysis of Reverend Berniece R. Hicks’ teaching on Scripture, mankind, God, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the good news is required. Once evangelical Christians and others more clearly understand the basic beliefs of Hicks and the Christ Gospel Churches [CGC], they can effectively assess and address the differences that may exist between their beliefs and what is taught by CGC.

Introduction

Jeffersonville, Indiana is home to the international headquarters of one of the fastest-growing Christian denominations in the world, Christ Gospel Churches International,Inc. . . . . With a staff of 45 employees and many volunteers, Christ Gospel Churches International, Inc. oversees a world-wide organization of more than 1,300 churches in 25 countries.[1]

These words begin an introductory booklet to the Christ Gospel Churches International, Inc. [CGC], and demonstrate the ongoing growth of this new religious movement. Even if CGC is exaggerating how rapidly they are growing, they have made tremendous inroads around the globe (especially in Mexico and India). In Africa, CGC has affiliate churches inhalf a dozen African countries and shortwave broadcasts to many more throughout the continent. Founded by Reverend Berniece R. Hicks, the movement is a self-described”fundamentalist, pentecostal Christian group.”[2] The continuing worldwide success of CGC warrants a study of Hick’s teaching on such fundamental areas as Scripture,mankind,[3]God, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the good news.After quoting the relevant sections of CGC’s Articles of Faith,[4]a more in-depth study on each topic will follow. Taken together, evangelical Christians and others will be able to more effectively assess and address the differences that may exist between their beliefs and what is taught by CGC.

I. Scripture

We believe that the Holy Bible is the inspired Word of God, which has been given to man to reveal God’s eternal Master Plan and Purposive Will for all creation. We believe the Bible is infallible,authoritative, and that it provides the rules of faith and conduct for all Christian living. God’s Word is all-sufficient and meets mankind’s every need, both spiritually and naturally (II Timothy 3:16,17; I Thessalonians 2:13; II Peter 1:21).[5]

Because of CGC’s Pentecostal and fundamentalist roots, the church’s sacred book is the Christian Bible.It is foundational for all of their beliefs and practices.

A. The Word of God

In her writings, Hicks assumes a very high view of the Bible—it is the Word of God. “The excellency of the Scriptures is that they were given by the Inspiration of God;therefore, they are His Word. Not only does the Bible contain God’s Word,but it is God’s Word.”[6] The Bible is inerrant, infallible, complete,and unique.[7] Hicks states the Bible’s purpose as: “It was given to enable to creature to know his Creator and to know himself.”[8] As a result, the Bible has supreme authority in determining God’s truth.

Nevertheless, this fact does not mean that all translations are acceptable. Hicks maintains, “We,in the Crucified Way, hold to the King James Version because this translation has a special Bridal Anointing on it.The Patterns and Statures of the Bride’s Truth have been beautifully preserved in this Version.”[9] While the modern versions may be helpful as commentaries, the King James Version is the superior translation.[10] Hicks uses this version exclusively in her writing and her preaching.

B. The Method of Interpretation

Even with the correct translation, there is a specific way to understand its contents. Hicks discloses this method:

. . . since they [the modern translations] do not follow the mathematical patterns and forms found in the King James Version and since the exact wording from the original is not used, it is impossible for a Bible student to use any better source than the comprehensive, unparalleled help afforded by Dr. James Strong’s Concordance. Dr. Strong’s works have been highly recommended for many decades. . . . The King James Version is the most accurate for study purposes. The exact word meaning can be checked with the original Hebrew and Greek texts through use of Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible.[11]

Therefore, the mathematical patterns andforms in the King James Version along with Hebrew and Greek word study enablesa person to correctly interpret the Bible.

A sincere interaction with the text will also reveal Scripture’smoral spiritual principles. They aredefined as: “. . .God’s Divine Theories which are chief, highest in rank,first in degree of importance, and most notable in influence.”[12] Hicks identifies these principles throughoutthe Bible: “Let us look at the chronological order of God’s twentyseven-historical Spiritual Principles, established in the Old Testament; then,we will see these same historical Spiritual Principles repeated or reproved(proved again) in the twenty-seven Books of the New Testament.”[13] These truths are seen as vital and willgreatly benefit individuals’ lives.”God’s Divine Principles of Truth will assume the Rulership overour life if we will embrace them, join them to our heart, and yield to theirPower. We will find these PrincipleTruths forming the very braces and supports of our spiritual Temple.”[14] Consequently, these spiritual principlesshould be embraced and followed.

For the followers of CGC, Hicks’ material also plays an importantrole in interpreting the Bible.According to their introductory booklet, “Rev. Hicks’s teachingsare unique in the way she is able to tie together spiritual themes andprinciples in the Bible. She relies onher study of Hebrew to bring out hidden meanings of words in Scripture.”[15] Additionally, “Rev. Hicks has writtenand published over 90 books, which include studies on the Old Testamenttabernacle, the three fold nature of man, evolution and creation, overcomingdepression, and many spiritual exegeses of various books of the Bible.”[16] In light of her exclusive insight into themeaning of Scripture, members of CGC read and study Hicks’ works to guide theirunderstanding of biblical truth. Theyalso listen to her preaching and teaching as much as possible.

Although sheis now seventy-five years old, Rev. Hicks still preaches an average of twoservices each week at the Jeffersonville church, continues writing books andChristian training materials, and answers hundreds of letters each week. Annually, she preaches six majorconventions, four in Jeffersonville to a packed church, and two in Mexico, onein Tampico to a filled 15,000 seat stadium, and a minister’s trainingconvention in Mexico City. She stilltravels extensively and holds meetings in various churches.[17]

Therefore, Hicks’ ministry has a centralrole in interpreting the Bible for members of CGC.

II. Mankind

While CGC’s Articles ofFaith does not have a section devoted to the nature and beginning ofmankind, these beliefs are an essential component of their faith.

A. The Nature of Mankind

Hick’s understanding of the nature of man is explained with thelanguage of a wheel. She supports thisconcept by referring to James 3:6, noting that in the phrase “course ofnature,” the Greek word for course means “wheel.”[18] Thus, humanity’s being is to be understoodas a wheel of nature. Moreover, mankindconsists of three substances.”Although man is an entity, the different substances of man’sspirit, soul, and body retain their distinct identities at all times;therefore, he rightly can be called a threefold being.”[19] In light of this distinction, the wheel ofhumanity’s being is divided into three realms: body, soul, and spirit.

Additionally, “. . .in order for man’s threefold being tofunction as an entity, God equipped it with a communication system composed offive sensory channels that run as spokes through all three realms of his being.. . . The five channels or spokes thatmake up man’s communication system are his five senses: sight, taste, smell,hearing, and touch.”[20] Each sense communicates through the threerealms of man.[21] Working together, all of these spokes joinat the hub of man’s being. “Duringman’s lifetime, the wheel of his threefold nature revolves on the axle of hiswill that is located in the heart or hub of his being. . . . Man’s senses come together as one in thecenter of his heart or will.”[22] Together, the wheel functions, revolvingaround man’s will, and this wheel summarizes the nature of mankind.

B. The Beginning of Mankind

How and when did mankind begin?According to Hicks, “In Eternity-Past, present mankind had a grandand glorious beginning as a spirit and soul in God’s creative Loins.”[23] This state of mankind is in seed form,before they gained bodies. Aspreexistent beings, the wills of humanity were tested. “While mankind’s living spirits andsouls were still in Seed form in the invisible, spirit realm in Eternity-Past,they were tempted by Lucifer.”[24] Some of mankind sided with God while otherschose Lucifer’s path. “The Seedsof mankind, in spiritual and soul form, were subjected to a choice for oragainst God while dwelling, as it were, in the Body of the Glory of God or inthe Loins of God. In this stage, someSeeds won victory over Lucifer’s temptation by making a choice for God. But some Seeds failed and were defeated bymaking a choice against God.”[25] This choice was the first test that humanityfaced.

Later, in the creation account of Genesis, God joined man’sspirit and soul to a body. “God also begotthe spirits and souls of mankind; however, man’s body was formed by God’s Hands.After God had created Adam’s terrestrial body, God breathed a begottenspirit and soul into Adam’s created body.Thus, man was partly begotten (spirit and soul) and partly created(body). Man is a triune being.”[26] From the first man, two individuals wereseparated. “When God first createdAdam-male and Adam-female, they were one.The female was hidden inside the male.Then, God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam-male and tookAdam-female from his side.”[27] Hicks continues to describe Adam-male andAdam-female as originally created:

Godintended to cover Adam-male and Adam-female with all the fullness of His ownGlory, so He created them without a physical, natural covering. . . .

Adam-maleand Adam-female’s original covering, then, was a God-given gift of spiritualLight whose brightness emanated from within and surrounded them with a glowing,shining covering for their physical nakedness.Whether or not man would keep this glorious covering of Light dependedupon his obedience to God’s Will.[28]

The beginning of man is essential tounderstanding the theology that will follow.

III. God

There is oneGod (Deuteronomy 6:4), and out of this one Fountainhead flows a threefoldstream of revelation called the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost (I John5:7; John 1:1,2; Isaiah 48:16,17; John 10:30).[29]

Another central area of doctrine for CGC is their theologyproper. Hick’s teaching on the natureof God and the relationship between the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghostcontribute to their concept of God.

A. The Nature of God

The key to understanding Hicks’ conception of God is found in herapplication of Genesis 1:26. Here, shestates, “. . .God, in His desire to reveal Himself to man, shaped andformed man until man bore the visible Likeness or similitude of the invisibleGod. Consequently, as we view man andsee what he is like, we understand what God is like.”[30] As a result, the nature of God is seen inlight of the nature of mankind.”Since man is made in the Image and after the likeness of God andsince God made man like a wheel, it is apparent that God’s Being is also like aWheel.”[31] Moreover, God’s being is also threefold,having a body, soul, and spirit (called “His Body realm, His Soul realm,and His Spirit realm”). He hasfive senses which are channeled through his three realms. The hub of God’s wheel is his heart and theaxle that turns the wheel of God’s being is his will.[32]

Furthermore, there is a masculine and a feminine side ofGod. “[O]ne of our first conceptsof God is that, very basically, the Wheel of His Being has two sides: a Male sideand a Female side.”[33] This truth can also be seen in God’screation. Hicks says, “Genesis,chapter one, verse one, reveals God’s plural Form of being both Male andFemale; it says that ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and theearth.’ God (the Father-Mother) broughtforth all Creation, which consisted of male and female, and, finally, Hecreated man (male and female) in His own Image (Male and Female).”[34] Therefore, there are two sides of the wheelof God’s being—He is both Father and Mother.

B. The Relationship of the Father, the Word, andthe Holy Ghost

In describing what the Bible says about God, Hicks continues,”The Bible clearly declares that Godis One. Nevertheless, within theOne Godhead, there is a Father-realm, a Word-realm, and a Holy-Ghost-realm thatwork together in perfect Unity, Harmony, and Oneness of Purpose and Mind.”[35] The Father-realm of God (also called theGlory-realm) is the power that brings his invisible designs, plans, andknowledge into visibility. TheWord-realm of God is the eternal Christ who was humbled and made flesh. The Holy-Ghost-realm is God’s Spirit. Together, these three realms make up oneGod. [36] Hicks summarizes their relationship:

The OneGodhead is a compound unity that is comprised of Father, Word, and HolyGhost. The same Bible that teachesGod’s Oneness also teaches that the One God makes Himself known to mankindthrough three streams of revelation.The outflow of the invisible Godhead is manifested as Father, Word (Son), and Holy Ghost. The One God operates through three separateand distinct Personalities.[37]

To synthesize Hick’s development of this relationship provesdifficult. On the one hand, she seemsto advocate some kind of Monarchianism. She writes, “God’s infinite Mind is ONEWHEEL, as it were. Yet because Godknows that finite creatures cannot readily comprehend Infinity, He mercifullyseparates His Wheel into three distinct identities, known as Father, Word, andHoly Ghost, which is how He reveals Himself and how He works withmankind.”[38] Additionally, her connection between God andhumanity leans toward seeing God in this way.As Hicks maintains, “As we continue the comparison of man’s beingwith God’s Being (man having been made in God’s Image and Likeness), we seethat God, as well as man, is a triune Being.”[39] It is unclear, however, how she associatesGod’s Father-realm, Word-realm, and Holy-Ghost-realm with God’s Body realm,Soul realm, and Spirit realm. No plainconnections are made between the two sets of three.

On the other hand, Hicks also has statements that sound closer toorthodox Trinitarianism. First, sheuses the word “Trinity.””The word trinity is notfound in the Bible, but the Truth of this doctrine is evident. Many Scriptures support the Truth of God’sTrinitarian outflow to man.”[40] Second, Hicks will also occasionally referto members of the Godhead as persons.[41] Furthermore, she differentiates thethree. “When Jesus promised topray for the Father to send the Comforter, He confirmed the fact that He, JesusChrist, was neither the Father nor the Holy Ghost Comforter Who was tocome.”[42] Ultimately, a firm conclusion is hard toreach. Sometimes her writing seems similar to a form of Monarchianism, whileother times it sounds somewhat closer to orthodox Trinitarianism.

IV. The Lord Jesus Christ

Jesus Christwas both Divine and Human. As thefirstborn of every creature, Christ existed in Eternity-past (Colossians1:15-19). Then, Jesus was conceived bythe Holy Ghost in the womb of the Virgin Mary in present time (Luke 1:27-35),which was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s Prophecy in the Old Testament (Isaiah7:14). At the end of Jesus Christ’sthree-and-one-half years of Ministry on Earth, during which time he went aboutdoing good, healing all that were oppressed, raising the dead, and preachingthe gospel of the Kingdom of God, Jesus Christ was delivered up to becrucified, not because He ever had sinned, but because He determinedly died forthe sins of the whole world. On thethird day, Jesus Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father(Acts 10:38-40; Acts 10:38-40). He everlives at God’s Right Hand to make intercession for mankind (Hebrews 7:25; Acts7:56).[43]

When seeking to comprehend CGC’s doctrine of God, one’s attentionmust move toward their understanding of Jesus Christ.

A. The Beginning of Jesus

Whereas the Word is part of the eternal God, Jesus had abeginning. “The same Bible thatteaches the existence of a God, known as Father, Word (Christ), and Holy Ghost,without a beginning or an end, also teaches us about the beginning of God’sOnly Begotten Son, Whose Name is Jesus. . . .Whereas the Christ had nobeginning, the Scriptures plainly declare the Son’s beginning in Eternity-Past.”[44] Hicks also explains how the Son was broughtforth:

Since God’s Son was broughtforth, it is evident from the meaning of this expression that theFather-Mother God travailed Him into being in Spirit and Soul Form. The Scriptures state clearly that the Sonwas brought into existence, and sincethe Son did not appear in a physical, terrestrial Body until untold ages later,when a special, terrestrial body was prepared for Him in the Virgin Mary’swomb, it is evident that He existed as a Spirit and Soul in Eternity-Past.[45]

Even though Jesus did not begin with aphysical body, as a tripartite being his spirit and soul were united with aspiritual and celestial body. “TheSpiritual and Celestial Form that clothed the Only Begotten Son consisted ofChrist the Word and the Lord of Glory from the Father.”[46]

After Jesus was brought forth, he created all things. “Jesus was the firstborn of everycreature. The Father brought forth HisOnly Begotten Son in His own glorious Image before any thing was made that wasmade. Then, through His Son, Godcreated all things.”[47] Besides his position as creator, how isJesus different than other humans or angels?Hicks replies, “The Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, is unique becauseHis entire Being came forth out of God’s own Procreative Loins. . . . The Sonof God was begotten completely out ofGod’s Loins. The bodies of men and Angels were made by God’s Hands.”[48] While Jesus had a beginning, as did otherhumans and angels, he also remains one-of-a-kind.

B. The Relationship of Jesus and the Word

Therefore, Jesus and the Word of God (also known as Christ) arenot the same. Hicks compares the two:”The Name Jesus was given to the Man-Child born to the Virgin Mary throughImmaculate Conception. Thus, the ManJesus had a beginning; He was begotten by God and sent to earth in a humanBody. . . . The Name Christ refers to the Son’s eternalDivinity. The Christ has alwaysexisted, for He is the Word of God.”[49] So then, how are the two related? “When God’s Breath went forth, some ofGod’s Word went forth with it, and this Word, the Christ, remained joined tothe Son from the Son’s birth out of God’s Procreative Loins.”[50] Elsewhere, she clearly explains therelationship between Jesus and the Word: “The Christ, the Word, was inJesus in Person.”[51] So, the Word is not Jesus, the Word is inJesus.

However, Jesus does not manifest the Word alone. All three members of the Godhead aredisplayed in Jesus Christ. “Viewedin His Unity, God is One. Viewed in the outflow of His Working andRevelation to mankind, God is Three,and all Three are wonderfully manifested in the Person of Jesus Christ.”[52] Hicks further develops this threefoldmanifestation: “the Word gives us God’s portrait; the Holy Ghost leads usto God’s portrait and gives Life and Love to it; the Father’s Glory brings thePortrait forth and expresses it visibly to others through deeds of love andkindness that one man commits toward another, as he is motivated by Christ’sLove that dwells in his heart.”[53]

While Jesus the Son was begotten with Christ the Word and theLord of Glory, he was not eternally joined to them until his resurrection.”On resurrection morning, God the Father deified the Man Jesus by givingHim an eternal Union with the Lord and Christ.”[54] This was because of his humiliation whendwelling in a body of flesh:

. . .the Son’s scope of human powerand influence was limited as long as He dwelled in a Body of Flesh. Restrained to being in one place at onetime, at any given moment, Jesus could minister to just a few people,comparatively speaking. But the Fatherremoved these limitations when the Son arose from the dead because His humanName was then joined eternally to the Divine Names of Lord and Christ. . ..

UponJesus Christ’s Resurrection, an eternal Union was established between God andman; Divinity and Humanity now dwelt together in a Oneness ofRelationship. From His Resurrectiononward, Jesus’ Humanity was Deified or made Omnipresent, Omnipotent, andOmniscient.[55]

Since the resurrection, Jesus is foreverto be known as the Lord Jesus Christ.

C. The History of Jesus

Throughout the history of this creation, God has been working outhis plan to bring Jesus into the world.This plan begins with Adam-female and the promise God gave to her afterthe Fall. “When the Bible speaks about Jesus’ being the Seed of Woman, itrefers is [sic] to the Seed of Promise of the Saviour’s Humanity, thePromise given to Adam-female.”[56] This promise continued from Adam-female allof the way to Abraham. In Abraham,God’s plan took another step forward.”To Abraham, God gave another Seed, the Promise of the Divine Seed of the Christ. Abraham, then, had two Seeds: the Seed ofPromise of the Saviour’s Humanity and the Seed of Promise of HisDivinity.”[57] Both of these seeds were carried throughAbraham’s descendents until King David.”Jesus’ Humanity Seed and Christ’s Divine Seed were passed alongtogether until they finally reached King David, in whose loins they becamedivided into two separate streams of revelation, The Humanity Seed . . .traveled down through the lineage of Nathan.The Divine Seed of Christ . . . traveled down through the lineage ofSolomon.”[58]

The division of these seeds continued until the time came for theMessiah to come to earth. Joseph heldthe divine seed. “Joseph, to whomthe Virgin Mary was espoused, was of the lineage of Solomon. . . . Although he possessed the Divine Seed ofPromise, Joseph could not pass it through His natural, physical loins becausethe Messiah was ordained to be born of a Virgin.”[59] Mary had the humanity seed. “Mary, as a descendent of Nathan, carriedthe Humble Seed of Promise of the Redeemer’s Humanity. Not until she became espoused or engaged toJoseph did she receive the Divine Seed of Promise of the Christ.”[60] Through the engagement of Joseph and Mary,Mary possessed both seeds. At God’sappointed time, the two seeds were united.”The Seeds did not become one in her womb until the Glory Cloud ofthe Holy Ghost overshadowed her as she started testifying to Elizabeth aboutthe Promise the Angel had given her. Atthat moment, the Divine Seed of the Christ from the Father joined itself to theHumanity Seed that Mary carried.”[61]

Consequently, Jesus Christ was born. However, a valid question arises: if the Word of God was joinedto Jesus when he was originally begotten, then how does this joining relate tothe union of the divine seed with the humanity seed? Hicks’ answer seems ambiguous.When considering the titles of Jesus, she separates the titles “Sonof God” and “Son of Man,” maintaining, “The title Son of God refers to the divinegeneration of Jesus. In Eternity-Past,before any other thing was brought forth, God brought forth the divine Spiritand Soul of His Only Begotten Son. . . .The title Son of Man pertainsto the human generation of Jesus. Godprepared, in the Virgin Mary’s womb, a Human Body in which His Begotten Soncould dwell.”[62] Nevertheless, Hicks does not appear todiscuss how these two generations of Jesus are related.

In his earthly ministry, Jesus’ humanity and divinity were unitedyet also remained distinct. Thisdistinction is seen through Jesus having two wills. “During all the daysof His Life, Jesus kept His human Will in subjection to the Divine Will of theChrist that was within Him.”[63] He also had two kinds of blood:

As the Divine Son of God, Jesus had Pure, Holy, SpiritualBlood. But in order to redeem us fromsin, Jesus had to take on the part of flesh that was kept alive with natural,physical blood. It took natural bloodto sustain Jesus’ natural life in a Body of Flesh. Yet, natural blood alone could not have redeemed us. It took the natural blood and the SpiritualBlood of Jesus Christ to make atonement for our souls.[64]

A complete and permanent union of Jesusand the Christ did not come until after his resurrection.

At the same time, Jesus’ death on the cross also has tremendousimportance. Hicks states, “Godmanifested His infinite, sacrificial Love in giving His Son for the world. God magnified His Love in the deed of givingHis Son for us and to us. God gaveJesus Christ to be a propitiation for our sins.”[65] Hicks explains what happened to Jesus whenhe died: “Jesus’ Body went to the grave, and His Spirit went into theHands of the Father. Jesus’ Soul wentdown to Hell and Death.”[66] However, the Christ in Jesus did not leaveJesus to face this death alone.

“[W]hen the time came for Jesus theMan to die as a sacrifice for sin, Christ willingly chose to maintain Hisjoining by going to the Cross and by going down into Hell and Death withJesus. Thus, it is proper to say thatChrist, as well as Jesus, died for our sins.”[67] Not only did the Christ remain joined withJesus, but the Holy Ghost and the Father were also with Jesus during this time.[68] Therefore, “The entire Godhead (Father,Word, and Holy Ghost) was joined to the Son Jesus in the Promise and Performanceof man’s redemption.”[69] Through Jesus’ death, descent to hell, andresurrection, God’s plan for the redemption of mankind was completed.

V. The Good News

As one can already see, CGC extends hope for mankind. Several of CGC’s articles of faith are dedicatedto this important aspect of their beliefs.Through understanding mankind’s need as well as the degrees of reward,their understanding of the gospel message is made clear.

A. The Need of Mankind

Allhuman beings are born sinners. Sinentered the world through the disobedience of mankind. Before they sinned, these disobedientcreatures were known as Adam-male and Adam-female (Genesis 5:2; Romans 5:12).

Everyperson is a sinner by birth and by deed (Romans 3:23; Romans 3:10; Isaiah 53:6;Ecclesiastes 7:20; Psalm 51:5; Psalm 58:3).Because God says in His Word that the penalty for sin is eternal Deathin Hell and the Lake of Fire (Romans 6:23; Revelation 20:12-15), all men are inneed of a Saviour and the experience of Salvation through the shed Blood ofJesus Christ, God’s spotless Lamb (Hebrews 9:22; Matthew 26:28; John 3:17,18).

Salvationis received through confession and repentance of one’s sins (Romans 19:8,9) andthrough believing on the LORD Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8). Salvation is not earned by man’s good works;it is a Gift from God, which man receives by having faith in the shed Blood ofthe LORD Jesus Christ, Who died in man’s place on Calvary’s Cross (Titus 2:11;3:5-7).

Theevidence of Salvation is the outward demonstration of the inward Working ofGod’s Grace in the heart, which produces a separated, godly, holy life (Titus2:12).[70]

While God covered Adam-male and Adam-female with his glory, hegave them the ability to choose whether or not to follow him. Hicks states, “Present man, Adam-maleand Adam-female, had to decide either to obey or disobey God’s Will, which cameto them wrapped up, as it were, in His Word.”[71] Following the serpent’s deceit in thegarden, mankind once again chose to follow Lucifer, which brought error and death.[72] This corrupt state continues in allhumanity. “Upon acceptance of theSerpent’s corrupted will, Adam-male and Adam-female became totally depraved intheir threefold beings. This samedepraved condition has been passed on to every human being.”[73] Hicks summarizes the death of man since thefall: “Death is a true witness of man’s threefold being. The Scriptures prove that a sinner’s beingseparates in a threefold manner at Death.The body goes to the grave; the soul goes to Hell; and the spirit is leftto roam in a state of unrest after having ascended to God.”[74] Every human being is a sinner whose souldeserves to go to hell.

Hicks teaches that there are three tests of mankind. “In each period or age of existence,God has tested the spirits and souls of mankind with Light. First, they were tested as Seeds in thespiritual realm in Eternity-Past; then, they were tested as Seeds in PresentTime in a perfect body in the Garden of Eden.Now, in Present Time, . . . man is tested a third time, and this timehis test is in both the spiritual realm and the natural realm.”[75] Individuals have failed one or two of theprevious tests, but their choice regarding the third and final test willultimately determine their eternal destiny.

The only way for humanity to escape damnation in the lake of fireis to be saved through Jesus’ atonement.Hicks lays out three necessary steps for salvation: “First, aperson must believe there is a God; second, he must repent of his sin; and,third, he must accept the Gift of Salvation that the LORD God so freely bestowson those who believe on Him and repent of their sin.”[76] This provision of salvation is seen as atransaction. “We are saved bytaking the necessary steps toward Salvation, in obedience to the Word of God. Once we have done our part, God certainlywill do His Part. God plainly declaresin His Word that every soul who trusts in His Son is forgiven, saved, andbecomes a possessor of Eternal Life.”[77]

After being saved, Christians are to continue to grow in their faith. “God’s Infallible Word continues togenerate faith in our heart so that we can continue progressing in ourbelieving in our Saviour, Jesus Christ.God’s Word encourages us to persevere to the end of life’s journey witha strong, steadfast faith in Jesus Christ.”[78] The Christian life should be one marked byholiness and devotion to God. And untilJesus’ returns, at death a true believer only faces a twofold separation. “At Death, the threefold being of abeliever, both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament Dispensations, wasand is separated in a twofold way. Thespirit and the soul of the Old Testament believer went to Paradise, while thespirit and soul of the New Testament believer goes immediately intoheaven.”[79]

B. The Degrees of Reward

God hascommanded that believers grow in Grace and Knowledge of the LORD Jesus Christ(I Peter 2:1,2; II Peter 3:18). God’sWord commands that the believer grow unto the measure of the Stature of theFullness of Jesus Christ or unto full spiritual maturity (Ephesians 4:13,14).[80]

For Hicks, salvation is the first step in the Christian life, notthe sum of the Christian life.Christians are to live a life devoted to God. “God gives us His Gift of Salvation through Jesus Christ sothat we can have a New Heart created in us; thus our New Heart can perform thegood works of His Master Plan and Purposive Will.”[81] Hicks points to Ephesians 4:11-13 to showthe goal for followers of Christ: “In his letter to the church at Ephesus,the Apostle Paul set forth the possibility of growth to full maturity in theSpiritual Stature of Christ, which every believer is called to presstoward.”[82] She reveals how believers are to achievethis goal with the following insight: “Nowhere in Scripture do we findsuch a precious gem of truth or such a complete picture of the measure of thestature of Christ, which Paul relates in Ephesians 4:13, then in the OldTestament Tabernacle.”[83] Consequently, one discovers the stature ofJesus Christ through the detailed blueprint of the Old Testament Tabernacle.

Achieving the spiritual stature of Christ enables one to be amember of Christ’s bride. Thisobjective is accomplished through one’s works and is distinct fromsalvation. “According to theScriptures, man’s Salvation is a gift. . . .But the Prize of being inChrist’s Bride comes by personal choiceand by spiritual growth unto the measure of the Stature of the Fullness ofChrist.”[84] Later, Hicks is even more explicit:”The Bible tells us that the Bride madeherself ready, which speaks of her works. Salvation is a Gift to all believers fromGod, and, therefore, does not consist of works. . . . The reward of being in the Bride, however, is a result of Works.”[85] Therefore, “Not every Christian isgoing to be in the Bride. In thenatural realm there are more people at a wedding than the bride and thebridegroom. There are the best man, thebridesmaids, the guests, and many others.In like manner, the Wedding Supper of the Lamb will have more than justthe Bride and Jesus, the Bridegroom.”[86]

As a result, the works that a Christian accomplishes in theirpresent life will determine what they will obtain at the final judgement. When speaking of 1 Corinthians 15:41-42,Hicks compares the glory of the sun, moon, and stars with the resurrectionglory of believers:

In Eternity,the first group of Christians will shine as small stars of Glory. The second group will shine with brighterGlory, as the brighter stars. The thirdgroup will have gained a sufficient measure of the LORD Jesus Christ’s SpiritualStature to shine with a still brighter Glory, like the moon; and the fourthgroup will be those who have grown into the measure of the Fullness of Christ’sSpiritual Stature. They will bespiritually mature and will shine with the brightest Glory, like the sun,because their wills will have been joined in Marriage Union to Jesus Christ’sWill. It is the fourth class ofChristians who will be in Christ’s Bride because they will possess the highestdegree of Glory – the Glory of the Sun.[87]

Therefore, believers earn their futureeternal abiding place with God.

Christians will also receive a particular type of clothing basedupon their works. “The Book ofRevelation describes three distinct kinds of Clothing worn by saints at theresurrection: White Robes, White Raiment, and White Linen. This spiritual apparel is exceedinglyimportant because the believer’s eternal abiding place will be determined bythe Garment or Garments he wears on Resurrection Morning.”[88] The bottom groups of glory (both those ofthe star glory and the brighter star glory) will receive white robes and dwellin the New Heavens. “[T]he oneswho wear White Robes never will leave Heaven; they will stay there forever andever and serve God day and night. Godwill dwell among them by His Omnipresence in the same way that He dwells in theworld today.”[89] Those of the moon glory will receive whiteraiment and rule over the New Earth.”The New City will not be the dwelling place of the White Raimentgroup. . . . This group grew in SpiritualStature to such a degree that they will be entrusted with Christ’s GovernmentalRuling and Reigning Power on the New Earth.”[90] The New City [New Jerusalem] is for those inwhite linen, those of the sun glory, the bride of Christ. “Only the Bride of Jesus Christ, theNew Jerusalem, will be able to giveChrist’s Sun-Glory Light to the New Earth because she is the only one who willbe joined in perfect Marriage Relationship with Jesus Christ Who is the Lamb ofthe New City and the Light of the world.”[91]Therefore, the New Heavens, the NewEarth, and the New City are three stages of achievement for believers togain. Clearly, the goal for those whobelong to CGC is to become a member of the bride of Christ.

Conclusion

After a study of Hick’s teaching on Scripture,mankind, God, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the good news, one should more clearlyunderstand the basic beliefs of CGC.Through understanding the doctrine of CGC, individuals may moreeffectively assess and address the differences that may exist between theirbeliefs and what is taught by CGC.

[1]Preaching a Crucified and Living Christ to aDying World: Christ Gospel Churches International, Inc. (Jeffersonville,IN: Christ Gospel Churches International, Inc., 1993). No page numbers areprovided.

[2]Ibid.

[3]Since Hicksuses “mankind” and “man” in her works, this article willfollow her terminology to remain as close to her language and thought as possible.

[4]Articles of Faith, 1999 ed.(Jeffersonville, IN: Christ Gospel Churches International, Inc., 1999).

[5]Ibid, 3.

[6]B. R. Hicks, Confirming Our Faith in the Holy Bible(Jeffersonville, IN: Christ Gospel Press, 1978), 11. Emphasis in original.

[7]Ibid, 10-16.

[8]Ibid, 9.

[9]Ibid, 19.

[10]Ibid.

[11]Ibid.

[12]Ibid, 58.

[13]Ibid, 59.For the twenty-seven spiritual principles, see Ibid, 58-116.

[14]Ibid, 58.

[15]Preaching a Crucified and Living Christ to aDying World.

[16]Ibid.According to CGC’s web site, Hicks has now “written and published over 110books.”

[17]Ibid. Giventhe time since the publication of this booklet, Hicks is now over 86 years old.

[18]B. R. Hicks,Confirming Our Faith in what the BibleTeaches about Mankind, 2003 ed. (Jeffersonville, IN: Christ Gospel Press,2003), 44-45.

[19]Ibid, 45.

[20]Ibid, 55.

[21]For the wayin which each sense communicates through the three realms of man, see Ibid,58-75.

[22]Ibid, 55.

[23]Ibid, 82.

[24]Ibid, 84.

[25]Ibid, 113.

[26]B. R. Hicks,Confirming Our Faith in the Lord JesusChrist, 2004 ed. (Jeffersonville, IN: Christ Gospel Press, 2004), 8.Emphasis in original.

[27]Ibid, 124.

[28]Ibid, 125.

[29]Articles of Faith, 3.

[30]B. R. Hicks,Confirming Our Faith in God, 2003 ed.(Jeffersonville, IN: Christ Gospel Press, 2003), 20.

[31]Ibid, 21.

[32]Ibid, 21-42.

[33]B. R. Hicks,Confirming Our Faith in the Lord JesusChrist, 7. Interestingly, this basic point was never made in her earlierwork, Confirming Our Faith in God.

[34]Ibid, 6-7.

[35]Hicks, Confirming Our Faith in God, 47.Emphasis in original.

[36]Ibid, 47-52.

[37]Ibid, 52.Emphasis in original.

[38]Hicks, Confirming Our Faith in what the BibleTeaches about Mankind, 45.

[39]Hicks, Confirming Our Faith in God, 43.

[40]Ibid, 55.Emphasis in original. Of course, one could question connecting the Trinity withan “outflow to man.”

[41]One exampleis when she refers to the Holy Ghost as “The third Person in theGodhead.” Hicks, Confirming OurFaith in the Lord Jesus Christ, 5.

[42]Hicks, Confirming Our Faith in God, 56.

[43]Articles of Faith, 4.

[44]Hicks, Confirming Our Faith in the Lord JesusChrist, 6. Emphasis in original.

[45]Ibid, 10.Emphasis in original.

[46]Ibid, 11.

[47]Ibid, 38.

[48]Ibid, 9.Emphasis in original.

[49]Ibid, 70.Emphasis in original.

[50]Ibid, 89.

[51]Hicks, Confirming Our Faith in God, 55.

[52]Ibid, 52.Emphasis in original.

[53]Ibid, 54.

[54]Ibid, 105.

[55]Hicks, Confirming Our Faith in the Lord JesusChrist, 98. Emphasis in original.

[56]Ibid, 41.

[57]Ibid.Emphasis in original.

[58]Ibid, 43.

[59]Ibid.

[60]Ibid.

[61]Ibid, 44.

[62]Ibid, 47.Emphasis in original.

[63]Ibid, 51.

[64]Ibid, 52-53.

[65]Hicks, Confirming Our Faith in God, 73.

[66]Ibid, 64.

[67]Hicks, Confirming Our Faith in the Lord JesusChrist, 51.

[68]Hicks, Confirming Our Faith in God, 48-49.

[69]Ibid, 49.

[70]Articles of Faith, 4-5.

[71]Hicks, Confirming Our Faith in what the BibleTeaches about Mankind, 128.

[72]Ibid,128-136.

[73]Ibid,144-145.

[74]Ibid, 55.

[75]Ibid, 150.

[76]B. R. Hicks,Believe, Repent, and Accept God’s Gift ofSalvation (Jeffersonville, IN: Christ Gospel Press, 1997), 44.

[77]Ibid, 68.

[78]Ibid, 69.

[79]Hicks, Confirming Our Faith in what the BibleTeaches about Mankind, 55.

[80]Articles of Faith, 5.

[81]Hicks, Believe, Repent, and Accept God’s Gift ofSalvation, 51.

[82]B. R. Hicks,Growing in God, 1989 ed.(Jeffersonville, IN: Christ Gospel Press, 1989), 3. Ephesians 4:13 is anoft-quoted key text in Hicks’ beliefs and writings.

[83]B. R. Hicks,Precious Gem in the Tabernacle(Jeffersonville, IN: Christ Gospel Press, 1961), 9. This book contains Hicks’exposition of the Old Testament Tabernacle as it relates to believers’ spiritualgrowth.

[84]B. R. Hicks,Degrees of Reward for Spiritual Growth,2002 ed. (Jeffersonville, IN: Christ Gospel Press, 2002), 4. Emphasis inoriginal.

[85]Ibid, 44-45.Emphasis in original.

[86]Hicks, Growing in God, 11.

[87]Hicks, Degrees of Reward for Spiritual Growth,22-23.

[88]Ibid, 33.

[89]Ibid, 38.

[90]Ibid, 42.

[91]Ibid, 44.Emphasis in original.