Abstract: The Elijah Challenge contrasts from other teachings involving supernatural healing—which on the surface might appear to be similar. However, there do exist very significant differences.
- The primary purpose of the miraculous healings Our Training does not focus on ministering to born-again believers who need healing from physical infirmities. Although what is taught in The Elijah Challenge can in fact be used fruitfully and effectively for ministering healing to infirm believers, our primary focus is rather on evangelism and winning the lost for the gospel of Jesus Christ. We train disciples how to use miraculous healings as evidence to non-believers that Jesus Christ is the Messiah and the only way to our Father in heaven. Our focus is harvesting lost souls for the gospel toward the fulfillment of the Great Commission, and not simply ministering healing to saved believers.
- We focus especially on training harvest workers for rural and village regions of the world outside the cities—where the gospel has never been preached and where it is totally unavailable. Missions and crusades in gospel-resistant areas of the Third World have typically focused on cities. As such, the majority of people who have never heard the gospel still live outside the cities in rural and village areas—where few workers want to go. If we are to preach the gospel of the kingdom to all nations/people groups before the end (Matthew 24:14), we must now focus on training harvest workers to reach those people groups outside the cities who are totally unfamiliar with the life-saving message of the gospel and for whom it is completely unavailable.
- Our focus is not on the gifts of the Spirit Our teaching is not traditionally charismatic in the sense that it does not focus on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The term charismatic is derived from the Greek charisma which means “gift”—referring to the nine supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit as taught in 1 Corinthians 12. Although believers with a charismatic background readily accept teaching about these gifts, non-charismatic evangelical believers generally do not. But inasmuch as both groups give priority to evangelism and the Great Commission, we are able to train workers from both sides of the divide to be fruitful and effective witnesses of Jesus Christ. The Lord has entrusted to us a teaching on supernatural healing and deliverance which is not based on the gifts of the Spirit—yet which is both effective and acceptable to both charismatics and evangelicals. Further clarification on this is provided below.
- Our focus is instead on power and authority Instead of teaching about the gift of healing which became available to the disciples at Pentecost only after the Holy Spirit descended, we teach on the power and authority to cast out all demons and to heal diseases (Luke 9:1-2) which Jesus gave to his disciples well before Pentecost. While the gift of healing is primarily for ministering to infirm believers in the context of building up the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:7), supernatural power and authority are for ministering healing to the sick as compelling evidence to the lost that the kingdom of God is near (Luke 9:2; 10:9; John 14:11-12). Non-cessationist evangelicals who have a heart for evangelism will therefore be very amenable to the teaching. In Acts following Pentecost the early disciples continued to use this very same power and authority (and generally not the gift of healing) to heal the sick as compelling evidence for the gospel, resulting in great harvests of souls for the kingdom of God.
- We do not teach healing the sick in expectation of receiving offerings Sadly, healing services for believers can become associated with generous offerings for the “healing evangelist” given by grateful believers who have been miraculously healed. This can and has been abused in some circles. In The Elijah Challenge we instead teach harvest workers how to minister supernatural healing to the sick in order to win souls for Jesus Christ, and definitely not in the hope of receiving offerings afterwards. In that regard we never require a certain minimum honorarium for conducting the Elijah Challenge Training for a church or organization. “Freely we have received, freely we give.”
- The Baptism of the Holy Spirit Within charismatic circles, ministering with the gift of healing generally requires the disciple to be first baptized in the Holy Spirit (and according to some teachings accompanied by the evidence of speaking in unknown tongues). In The Elijah Challenge Training we do not bring up the question of whether or not the disciple is baptized in the Holy Spirit, either with or without the accompaniment of speaking in tongues. While we believe that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is in fact scriptural and paramount, for the sake of unity within the body we have chosen not to include the topic in our Training.
- Supernatural manifestations during the ministry When during the sharing of the gospel sick people are miraculously healed through the use of the Lord’s power and authority as is taught in our training, there are generally no accompanying manifestations other than the miraculous healing itself—in accordance with what we see in various instances of healing in Acts. By contrast in some charismatic streams today when believers utilize the gifts of the Holy Spirit in gatherings of believers, there are known to take place various supernatural manifestations like “being slain in the Spirit”—some of which are actually not recorded in Scripture.
- Reconciliation & unity within the body of Christ In the past, teachings on ministering supernatural healing have typically divided the body of Christ. But in The Elijah Challenge both non-charismatic evangelicals and charismatics can be trained together and then minister effective healing together in the context of sharing the gospel with the lost without regard to their respective positions on the baptism and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. By focusing on what they have in common—which is witnessing and sharing the gospel with non-believers—we distance ourselves from the potential conflict which exists between the two streams with regard to what they teach about the Holy Spirit and his gifts. In such a way, reconciliation between the two resulting in unity in the body can be a much-needed by product of the Training (Reconciliation between Evangelicals & Charismatics is Possible).
- In our teaching we do not go beyond what is written In The Elijah Challenge Training, we follow Scripture very closely and do not go beyond the written Word (1 Corinthians 4:6) with regard to ministering to the sick. As an example, we do not focus or major on any practice which is rarely mentioned or only found once in the gospels and Acts. Instead we major on and teach that which is strongly supported in New Testament Scripture. Neither do we stretch the Scriptures beyond their original meaning or intent. Our motivation in this is to “stay on the safe side” in view of Jesus’ stern warning in Matthew 7:22-23 where he declared, “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (As Paul warned in Colossians, some today may have “lost connection with the Head”)
- We do not teach what is popularly known as “Word of Faith” We do not teach “name it and claim it” according to Mark 11:24—a teaching primarily for believers to receive blessings from God. Rather, we teach the use of mountain-moving faith to heal the sick miraculously as compelling evidence to the lost that Jesus is the Messiah—for the purpose of preaching the gospel of the kingdom in the whole world as a powerful, irrefutable testimony to all nations before the end.