When the Holy Spirit was poured out in the middle of the 20th Century, some in the body of Christ embraced it wholeheartedly while others were wary. As a result, some churches experienced painful splits because of this disagreement. While the situation in the Church has improved in recent decades with evangelicals and charismatics starting to come together in fellowship, it is a “agree to disagree” type of fellowship. The Elijah Challenge seeks to take the Church another step forward in the reconciliation which the Lord has in store for us during these last days.
Instead of focusing on the charismatic “gift of healing” which is primarily for the good of the body of Christ as clearly shown by the context of 1 Corinthians 12, we are focusing on the very different power and authority over disease which Jesus gave His disciples in the gospels even before Pentecost to demonstrate to the lost—especially difficult gospel-resistant peoples—that our God is the only true God and that Jesus is the only way to Him.
Luke 9:1-2 When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, (2) and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.
A close examination of Acts reveals that following Pentecost the early disciples continued to use this very same power and authority—and less so “the gift of healing”—to heal the sick as miraculous evidence to both Jews and Gentiles that Jesus was in fact the Messiah.
Today nameless disciples trained in the use of this power and authority—and not “the gift of healing”—are witnessing powerful Acts-like miracles especially on the mission field when they preach the kingdom of God to the lost. As a result, gospel-resistant peoples like Hindus and Muslims are now confessing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
When we focus on the paramount importance of preaching the gospel to unreached people groups in fulfillment of the Great Commission, evangelicals and charismatics can come together in unity. Instead of focusing on the baptism of the Spirit, speaking in tongues, and gifts like the gift of healing for ministering to believers who are already saved, we focus on the very purpose of the coming of the Spirit: that we may become effective witnesses of Jesus Christ to those who never heard (Acts 1:8).
The Elijah Challenge has trained both evangelical and charismatic believers to preach the gospel as the early disciples did in Acts in a way that follows New Testament Scripture very closely. And we can do this without mentioning the baptism of the Holy Spirit or the gift of healing. Perhaps this is the moment in the history of the modern Church that we can take another step toward the reconciliation that the Lord must desire for His body. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit was certainly not meant to divide the Church, but to bless the Church and enable us to fulfill the Great Commission together. Now during these last days both evangelicals and charismatics together can preach the gospel with power as “His witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”