By Brannon S. Howse
Many teachers within the Word of Faith and New Apostolic Reformation declare that the spirit of Elijah is now on earth, turning the hearts of fathers toward their children and children toward their fathers. It may sound nice, but it’s not true. Let’s look at the problem these people create by their assertions and then examine the scriptural reality.
I was writing and speaking about the New Apostolic Reformation leaders long before most well-recognized Bible teachers even knew what it was. While many leaders had heard of some of the players, they didn’t know NAR had been organized into a 50-state network. I’ve been tracking the New Apostolic Reformation for a long time.
In a nutshell, NAR people think they are prophets and apostles. They believe they’re capable of doing signs and wonders, raising the dead, and other miracles like multiplying food. The truth is, these folks are among the false prophets Jesus warned about.
One of the foremost NAR leaders is Rick Joyner, founder of MorningStar Ministries of North Carolina. He bought the old Jim Bakker Heritage USA Hotel and about 50 acres and turned the property into the headquarters for his organization. He claims to have had some remarkable experiences as evidenced by these comments from one of his videos:
[quote] I had a prophetic dream this week. I spent eight hours in heaven. It was, you know, I’ve had a number of experiences like this. I’ve had encounters where I got drawn up and, you know, when I was awake, all of a sudden I’m in the heavenly realm; I’m in heaven. I’ve been in the throne room a number of times.
I’ve been in different dreams, I’ve had experiences like this, but never anything like I experienced this past week. It was on a whole new level. And the Lord gave me the key. He gave me the key to eternal joy. He showed me that every one of His people have this key. [end quote]
To jump to a quick bottom line, I will tell you that Rick Joyner has not gone to heaven. Yet he makes this claim and says everyone should have such a key to joy and happiness by going back and forth between here and heaven.
Joyner is not alone in his spurious claims. In the Worldview Weekend Situation Room, I provide a video series by Justin Peters in which he exposes the falsehoods of Colton Burpo, the boy whose book about visiting heaven was made into a movie, even though his descriptions contradict the Bible. Jesse Duplantis, founder of the charismatic ministry bearing his name, is another who claims that he was sucked up into heaven. According to his story, he took his trip to heaven on a cable car. But I can assure you that none of these people have visited heaven.
Joyner also maintains that some “apostles” like him can heal Ebola. Here’s one his messages about handling the epidemic disease:
[quote] I think every one of God’s people are supposed to be able to enter into the heavenly realm, and then to return evidence of heaven’s reality and its authority over anything on the earth. You know, in heaven there is no Ebola. It can’t get in. There is authority that can be received. I believe there’s some that are called to receive it, maybe many, total authority over Ebola.
Somebody with Ebola, they come into the room, the Ebola is gone. That person is healed. It cannot live; it cannot exist in their presence. Now, ultimately, I believe the whole body of Christ, at the end, is going to be walking in that kind of authority over disease, over—I saw children praying over whole regions and the radiation being removed from those regions by their prayer, by their authority. [end quote]
So, you know, this, this is a small thing for the Lord. The basic call then is to be like Christ and to do the works that he did. And now’s the time. Now is the time.
To say that there is no Ebola in heaven, of course, is a statement of the obvious. In heaven, there is no disease or sickness. We might wonder, though, why healers of Ebola wouldn’t head to Africa to help the problem there. The obvious reason is that they cannot heal people. God can heal whomever He chooses, but these people do not have the gift of healing.
On at least one of Joyner’s trips to heaven, he visited with Elijah and Enoch. This apparently is the source by which he knows that the spirit of Elijah is on the earth today. Here’s Joyner’s account of the meeting with Elijah and Enoch:
[quote] And, you know, Enoch is an example of that. And I shared in that, my book, The Path, the encounter I had with Enoch. And I don’t know if it was really him or a prophetic experience. I never know in these things, but it seemed real. I had had a number of encounters with Elijah. That’s becoming common, you know, with different people.
But the spirit of Elijah is coming upon the earth today, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and children to the fathers. He’s preparing the way for the Lord again. The spirit of Elijah is coming to prepare the way for the Lord. [end quote]
Now let’s look at the biblical perspective on what Joyner is saying. The idea starts with Malachi 4:5-6 which announces:
[quote] Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers lest I come and strike the Earth with a curse. [end quote]
This passage points out that Elijah will come to earth before “the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” And when is this day? The term is used many times in both the Old and New Testaments. The day of the Lord—or a day of the Lord—occurs any time God intervenes in the affairs of men to bring judgment.
The flood was a day of the Lord. So was Sodom and Gomorrah. Others are yet to come, such as the Second Coming. At the end of the Tribulation, leading into the millennial kingdom, the Second Coming will occur. Then, at the end of the millennial kingdom, God will destroy the whole Earth—another day of the Lord.
The specific day Malachi refers to is the one that happens at the end of the Tribulation. Prior to that, Elijah appears. It takes place during the Tribulation. Many believe that the actual Prophet Elijah will appear on earth. Some say it might be a person appearing in the spirit of Elijah, similar to John the Baptist. Although John said he was not Elijah, he came in the spirit of that Old Testament prophet. I believe it will actually be Elijah, probably Moses and Elijah (more about why later in this chapter).
To fully grasp the implications of the coming of Elijah, it is important to understand what Malachi means by turning the hearts of fathers to their children and children to their fathers. Since the passage addresses the nation of Israel, we look at the Old Testament situation to understand the context. During these times, some Jewish fathers were involved in activities such as paganism that did not honor God. In teaching this to their children, they turned the children’s hearts away from God.
The passage is also prophetic, looking to the future at which time this can refer to family strife. For a Jew to become a Christian can mean losing your family.
This verse speaks of preaching the Gospel. We know, for instance, that the two witnesses in Revelation preach the Gospel, and many are saved. An army of 144,000 Jewish evangelists will go all over the world sharing Christ. As a result, there will be a turning of the hearts of people to one another in unity through Jesus Christ. And that’s what is meant by turning the hearts of fathers to the children and the hearts of children to the fathers.
Looking back at Scripture, Luke 1:13-17 reveals the coming of John the Baptist in the spirit of Elijah:
[quote] But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” [end quote]
Compare this to what John the Baptist said of himself in John 1:19-23:
[quote] Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” Then they said to him, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?” He said: “I am ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Make straight the way of the Lord,”’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” [end quote]
In biblical days, it was common that a king or great leader would send someone ahead to herald his coming. The representative would make preparations for the monarch’s arrival. That happens even today.
When the President of the United States travels, an advance team makes preparations in the destination city. There are security precautions—bomb-sniffing dogs, electronic sweeps, visual inspections. The venue for a speech is locked down for hours in advance. Access is restricted so people come in and go out only through pre-determined passageways. The team secures a route from the location to a nearby hospital, so if necessary they can rush the President to the hospital. The hospital remains on standby in case the President becomes ill or injured. Even blood for his type is ready to go in case he needs a transfusion.
If the President plans to get in or out of his car near large buildings, those have to be cleared out and trucks or barriers brought in to block access for anyone who could do harm. The communication system alone in a hotel where he stays costs more than a million dollars.
A friend of mine in Des Moines, Iowa owns a hotel at which the President has stayed. He explains that the President requires an entire floor. Crews lay miles of cables to set up a situation room. He even has a podium and background screen set up in case he needs to make an emergency broadcast. There is satellite capability so he can talk to other world leaders or generals in the Pentagon. Most of it is never used, but the preparations are astounding. The Commander-in-Chief must have everything ready to deal with any national crisis.
Sometimes the motorcade requires a tent for dropping off the President at a location. Other places must have bullet-proof glass installed. Even the exact stopping point for the front tires of Air Force One is marked. Then there are the press teams and surrogates granting interviews—all because the President is coming to town. These preparations happen weeks in advance.
In biblical times, a crier would literally go ahead of the king and announce his coming. And that is the role of John the Baptist. He declares the coming of the Lord, the Messiah. Yet John was greatly ridiculed, even persecuted. Eventually the king beheaded him.
Persecution often comes to those who preach the Gospel of the kingdom of God. In fact, 2 Timothy 3:12 says, “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” So, John the Baptist is a type of Elijah, as his father had been told, but not a literal Elijah as John says of himself.
But will there come a time when Elijah literally appears? Absolutely, yes. Revelation 11:3-6 explains:
[quote] And I will give power to My two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the Earth. And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner. These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the Earth with all plagues, as often as they desire. [end quote]
It’s possible that the “two witnesses” are actually Moses and Elijah. John MacArthur outlines this potential in the notes of his study Bible:
[quote] While it is impossible to be dogmatic about the identity of these two witnesses, several observations suggest they might be Moses and Elijah: (1) like Moses, they strike the Earth with plagues, and like Elijah, they have power to keep it from raining: (2) Jewish tradition expected both Moses and Elijah to return in the future; (3) both Moses and Elijah were present at the transfiguration, the preview of Christ’s Second Coming; (4) both Moses and Elijah used supernatural means to provoke repentance; (5) Elijah was taken up alive into Heaven, and God buried Moses’ body where it could never be found; and [then finally] (6) the length of the drought the two witnesses bring (three-and-a-half years) is the same as that brought by Elijah. [end quote]
When this comes about, the whole Earth will watch via the worldwide communications network. When the witnesses are finally killed and their bodies lie in the street for three days, the world rejoices. That’s how evil things are during the Tribulation. People even give gifts to each other to celebrate the death of the two witnesses.
So how does this square with Rick Joyner’s contention that the spirit of Elijah is on earth today? The fact is, it doesn’t square at all. The Bible is clear about when Elijah, or someone in the spirit of Elijah, will come: during the Tribulation.
Even if the “coming” is someone in the spirit of Elijah, and not literally Elijah, it still is not here today. Scripture predicts the coming just before the great and terrible day of the Lord, during the Tribulation, and we’re not in the Tribulation yet. How do we know? There are several specific characteristics of the Tribulation that we don’t see now. During the Tribulation, we will have:
- A one-world leader
- A one-world government controlled by the beast or the antichrist
- A one-world economy.
- A one-world religion
- A temple in Jerusalem.
To be sure, these things are all in the works. The technology, political system, and religious thinking are being set up and the stage set, but we’re not there yet. So, if we’re not in the Tribulation, then the spirit of Elijah is not on the earth. That means Rick Joyner is wrong.
Just to pre-empt any other arguments in favor of Joyner’s belief, let’s answer a key question: Why does Scripture say John the Baptist came in the spirit of Elijah? The Elijah spirit at work in John the Baptist was his declaration of the Lord’s coming. He announced the coming of the Gospel of the kingdom and the way to salvation. John the Baptist called people to repentance and declared judgment for those who wouldn’t repent. John was the last Old Testament prophet, and like Elijah and the other prophets, he could do signs and wonders. That is part of the spirit and power of Elijah, but no one today truly manifests that supernatural gifting.
Accepted by Way Too Many
You would think someone declaring the sort of radical statements that come out of Rick Joyner’s mouth would be shunned by the Religious Right, but as I explain in Religious Trojan Horse, that is not the case. Rick Joyner, Lou Engle, Cindy Jacobs and many like them are openly embraced by the new Religious Right. These supposedly conservative evangelicals are letting into the Church a Trojan horse full of false teachers.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, is one evangelical who publicly supports Joyner. Perkins spoke at one of Joyner’s Oak Initiative events, and had this to say:
[quote] What we have done is we have undermined national security, have undermined the future of our country simply to advance the agenda of a very, very small percentage of America. . . . We need men who rightfully discern the times and can rightly divide the Word of God and provide solutions to the problems that America is facing. And these problems are significant. [end quote]
Yet if Tony Perkins could rightfully divide the Word of Truth and discern the times, he wouldn’t be preaching alongside someone like Rick Joyner.
Joyner’s claims aren’t limited to trips to heaven and curing Ebola. He also claims to believe other bizarre miraculous happenings:
[quote] I believe we’re going to see miracles like multiplying of food and things like that. You know, we all want to see these miracles; we just don’t want to be in a situation where we have to see them. Guess what? We’re going to be in a situation where we’re going to need to see some of these miracles. And we are. I’ve seen those before. I’ve seen food multiply. I mean you can’t see it. You look at the dish and you can’t see it, but there’s—we keep dishing out, and there’s—it’s the same amount. We’ve fed a mul-, I mean we fed a huge group one time from one casserole, and it just never ran out. [end quote]
Tim Wildmon of the American Family Association, also seems to endorse Joyner although I have personally cautioned Wildmon against associating with him. Wildmon interviewed Joyner on America Family Radio, and here’s how it went:
Wildmon—Our guest now is Rick Joyner. Rick is the author of more than 40 books, many of which have been international best sellers and translated into dozens of languages. He’s on TV and writes a lot, and his new book is called I See a New America. I See a New America, Rick Joyner. Rick, welcome to Today’s Issues.
Joyner—Well, thank you. Good to be with you.
Wildmon—You’re in North Carolina?
Joyner—I'm actually about a good 3 iron from North Carolina. I’m just over the border in South Carolina. . . .
Wildmon—Anyway, well, Rick you’ve got a new book called I See a New America, and it’s all about the great issues of our time that is facing our country and what needs to happen and what will happen if we don’t turn back to God’s ways and revering God’s laws.
But how can a false teacher help us get back to God? Obviously, he can’t, so Wildmon is engaging in unscriptural involvement with a false teacher.
This is not how you get God to bless America. This is how to bring judgment on America, which is why, in Religious Trojan Horse, I suggested:
[quote] When God finally brings judgment upon America, I believe you will be able to point to some of America’s favorite “evangelical” and pro-family leaders and say, “You and your organizations are [as] responsible, if not more responsible, for the Divine judgment on our nation than any secular company or organization in America. By your actions you gave credibility and rise to Satan’s number-one tool—false teachers—helping them to infiltrate and wage war against Satan’s number-one earthly adversary, the true Church.” [end quote]
What these pro-family leaders are doing is very dangerous.
Rick Joyner is also comfortable with other NAR leaders like Cindy Jacobs, who sits on the board of the Oak Initiative. Jacobs has made wild claims such as the one in a video interview about an event in California:
Interviewer—I remember when we were in Hemet, California, and you prayed for a lady.
Interviewer—Now, this lady had had a full hysterectomy.
Jacobs—Yeah, I didn’t lay hands on her. I was just like, now, operating just like I’m doing over television, giving what we call “words of knowledge.” I said, “There’s somebody being healed of barrenness.”
Interviewer—Yeah, now, I mean if you’ve had a full hysterectomy, believe me, you’re barren.
Jacobs—All the parts taken out.
Interviewer—I mean complete.
Jacobs—Yeah, no hope, yeah.
Interviewer—And now what I don’t recall, and remind the viewers, was this woman believing for a child, or did she ever testify that, what that was, because what happened is she went to the doctor because she was feeling odd. And she said,
Interviewer—And she said, “I think I’m pregnant.” And the guy says—obviously, he’s the doctor who performed the operation, and he knew he had taken out all of her parts—he said, “You know, look,”
Jacobs—“You couldn’t be because,”
Interviewer—“There’s no way that you can be pregnant.”
Jacobs—“I did your surgery.”
Interviewer—Yeah, “Because I’m the one who did, I know you don’t have the parts.”
Jacobs—Yeah. “You cannot be pregnant.”
Interviewer—But what happened when he examined her?
Jacobs—Well, he gave her—she was pregnant.
You would think claims like this would be enough to keep folks away from the New Apostolic Reformation, but sadly, they are not. So you can expect this sort of nonsense to continue.
In Religious Trojan Horse, I also revealed this about Joyner’s view of divorce and remarriage:
[quote] Rick Joyner, one of the most visible and popular leaders in the NAR, oversaw the restoration of “prophet” Todd Bentley to ministry after he left his wife and children for another woman. Joyner also claims to have received visits from an angel. [end quote]
Like C. Peter Wagner, Joyner has claimed that those who oppose the New Apostolic Reformation are under demonic influence:
This is Rick Joyner now:
[quote] Some pastors and leaders who continue to resist this tide of unity will be removed from their place. Some will become so hardened they will become opposers and resist God to the end... Some that were used greatly of God in the past have become too rigid in doctrinal emphasis... Some leaders will actually disband their organizations as they realize they are no longer relevant to what God is doing... This harvest will be so great that no one will look back at the early church as a standard... Those who have become vessels for this spirit and do not repent, will be displayed as so insane that even the most immature Christians will quickly discern their sickness... The source of witchcraft against us may not be the obvious satanic cults or New Age operatives. It can come from well meaning, though deceived, Christians who are praying against us instead of for us. [end quote]
Joyner contends that those who stand against him are the ones fooling around with witchcraft or the New Age. Those who come against him, doctrinally speaking, will be displayed as insane. But we’re not the ones claiming to take road trips to heaven. We don’t claim to have conversations with Elijah and Enoch. True believers are not claiming to heal Ebola, multiply food, or miraculously reverse hysterectomies. And take note that Joyner says, “no one will look back at the early church as a standard.” That alone should alert people that Joyner and the like are involved in unbiblical teaching, because the standard for the Church is the doctrinal foundation once delivered to the saints as written in Jude 3.
In his book Final Quest, Rick Joyner talks about the great Christian civil war that is coming. He says:
[quote] A great spiritual civil war now looms before the church. . . . The church will not be destroyed, but the institutions and doctrines that have kept men in spiritual slavery will be. [end quote]
So, if anyone tries to tell you that the spirit of Elijah is on the earth today, lump them with people who believe in trips to heaven. We’re not in the Tribulation, and neither Elijah nor his spirit are with us today.
Copyright 2015 ©Brannon Howse. This content is for Situation Room members and is not to be duplicated in any form or uploaded to other websites without the express written permission of Brannon Howse or his legally authorized representative.