The vision for The Elijah Challenge was given in 1999 and the ministry itself was born in 2000. It is based on what the Old Testament prophet Elijah did on Mt. Carmel before the backslidden Israelites to demonstrate that the LORD is the true God. The Elijah Challenge has been using and teaching this same approach to prove to Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, idol-worshippers, and practitioners of witchcraft that our Father is the only true God, and that Jesus is the only way to Him.
The Lord has been gracious and blessed the Elijah Challenge Training on the foreign mission field to enable His servants there to proclaim the kingdom of God effectively to the “Gentiles”—to predominantly non-Christian people groups. Lately we have been sensing a desire to bring The Elijah Challenge back to our “Jerusalem,” which means the United States. It is clear to some that America is no longer a “Christian” country; if that is the case, then we have become a mission field.
This truth has been brought home to me in a way that I had never previously understood. This is how it has come about.
Both Elijah & John the Baptist were sent to God’s people
It was revealed to me that Elijah was not sent to the Gentiles, but to bring the Israelites back to the LORD. They had been deceived into believing that Baal was God, and not the LORD. What Elijah did at Mt. Carmel was to prove to the deceived Israelites that the LORD was the true God, and not Baal. Elijah was sent to bring the LORD’s own people back to the true God.
When John the Baptist came hundreds of years later in the spirit and power of Elijah to fulfill the prophecy of Malachi 4:5, he also came to bring the people of Israel back to the LORD their God—to prepare them for the Coming of the Messiah. Like Elijah, John was not sent to the Gentiles, but to bring the Israelites—God’s people—to repentance.
Even before John was conceived in his mother Elizabeth’s womb, the angel of the Lord spoke about him to his father Zechariah:
Luke 1:16 Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
After John appeared, he fulfilled the words of the angel through his ministry.
Luke 3:7 John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.
Like Elijah, John brought the message of repentance not to the Gentiles, but to God’s people—a message of turning back to the Lord their God. Genuine repentance would involve the outward evidence of visible fruit in the lives of God’s people. This visible fruit would involve obedience to God’s commands and living righteous and holy lives.
Luke 3:8b And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”
The Pharisees and teachers of the law would justify themselves by claiming to be the physical descendants of Abraham whom God had chosen out of all the nations on earth. But John rebuked them. It was not enough for them to be the descendants of Abraham; they also had to produce good fruit. If they did not produce good fruit, they would be cut down and thrown into the fire. That was the indisputable message of John the Baptist.
What does this mean for us?
Many believe that we are now in the days preceding the Second Coming of the Messiah. And Malachi’s prophecy about the coming of Elijah (Malachi 4:5) must be fulfilled a second time. The spirit and power of Elijah which was upon John the Baptist must be restored before the upcoming great and dreadful day of the LORD.
As it was in the time of Elijah, so it was in the time of John Baptist; and so shall it be in these days preceding the return of the LORD.
What does this mean?
In the days of Elijah, the people of God were called to repent from worshiping the wrong God. In the days of John the Baptist, the people of God were also called to repent in preparation for the coming of the Messiah. In these last days, God’s people are likewise called to repent. The spirit of Elijah today would make ready a people prepared for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
From what are we being called to repent? This answer to this is found in John’s words to the fruitless and hypocritical Pharisees and Sadducees when they came to him: “And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’”
“We have Jesus as our Savior”
Today as we consider the nearness of Christ’s Second Coming, some Christians would say to themselves: “We have Jesus as our Savior; we are Christians. We are saved by grace through faith—not by works.” What might John the Baptist say to us?
He might say: “For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up Christians. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”
John’s rebuke to the Israelites was later backed up by the words of Jesus Christ Himself. Below are just a sample of what Jesus taught about the absolute necessity of not only hearing, but of obeying and bearing good fruit.
Luke 6:46 “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?
Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
Luke 11:28 He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”
Luke 8:15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.
Luke 8:21 He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.”
Luke 13:22 Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. 23 Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” He said to them, 24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 25 Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’
“But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’
26 “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’
27 “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’
Luke 8:18 Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him.”
John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
Many “Christians” are not disciples of Christ
In line with these words, among those who call themselves Christians today are many who are not disciples of Jesus Christ. At some point they have repeated a “sinner’s prayer” confessing their sins and accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. They were assured that their sins were forgiven and that they had eternal life. They were saved purely by grace because of their faith in Jesus and not by any dead works which they may have done in the past.
According to the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ, however, this is only part of the story—it is only the beginning. Genuine repentance in the sight of Jesus Christ must and will result in the visible fruit of obedience and fruitfulness. Being fruitful for Jesus Christ encompasses different areas. It includes bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit which includes personal holiness and becoming like Jesus Christ in His character.
Bearing good fruit also includes being a witness of Jesus Christ to the world in obedience to the last command given by Him before His ascension to heaven almost two thousand years ago. In obedience to this command, the early disciples of the Lord continued the work that He began and extended the kingdom of Heaven on earth by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is well documented in Acts. Present-day disciples of Jesus Christ are no less expected to obey the Lord’s final command to disciple all nations.
Being like Jesus and doing what He did
Being fruitful, therefore, involves both becoming like Jesus in His holiness and also doing the works that He did when He was on earth. Christians today have for the most part failed on both counts. We are taught that “Christians are not perfect, just forgiven” (click here for more on this questionable teaching). But Jesus said in John 5:48 “be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” We are taught that we are essentially helpless and can do nothing, and that all we can do is to pray to God, trust Him, and wait on Him. But in Luke 10 Jesus commanded his disciples to “preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.” Later He commanded seventy more disciples—who were not apostles—to “heal the sick, and tell them, ‘the kingdom of God is near you.'”
What Christians are taught today is only part truth and at variance with what Jesus Christ taught. The result is that we are not bearing good fruit as we should be, either in personal holiness or in preaching the kingdom of heaven to the lost. Both John the Baptist and Jesus warned us that trees or branches lacking good fruit are thrown into the fire and burned. The inescapable conclusion is that many Christians today are not really saved at all.
I believe this is the primary reason—among other related areas which need to be dealt with separately—why the spirit of Elijah is being restored during these days preceding the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Through the spirit of Elijah we preach repentance to God’s people to bring them back to the Lord their God, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
The spirit of boldness and manifest power
The spirit of Elijah is the spirit of holiness. But the spirit of Elijah is also the spirit of boldness and manifest power to bring God’s people back to the Lord their God. At Mt. Carmel with Elijah, the Baal-worshiping Israelites fell prostrate and acknowledged that the Lord is God when they saw the fire fall from heaven. In the same way, God’s people who are failing to bear good fruit because they have received a compromised gospel and therefore a different Jesus can repent when they see the fire of miraculous healing fall in their midst. Like the prophets of Baal challenged by Elijah at Mt. Carmel, today’s false prophets will not be able to duplicate these miracles. When we preach repentance in the spirit of Elijah—with manifest healing power and with extreme boldness—God’s people will come back to the Lord their God to make ready a people prepared for the Second Coming of Christ.
Thus the mission of The Elijah Challenge is two-fold: to equip the Church to fulfill the Great Commission among the lost Gentiles; and also to equip the Church to bring God’s backslidden people back to Him to prepare them for the great and dreadful Day of the Lord.
This is The Elijah Challenge revisited.
Revelation 3:14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
By Brother B in May 2009