A Restoration Church:
The Spirit of Elijah
NCW 13, November 1994
Q. In various places in your literature you refer to your Church as a "Restoration" Church. Does this mean that you have anything to do with the Mormons, or that you claim to be the exclusive representatives of Christ?
The answer is "no" to both your questions although it is true that in the beginning many of our people conceived of themselves in such a way. The New Covenant Church of God has as its goal the "restoration of all things" (Acts 3:21, ASV) but the Bible makes it perfectly clear that this restoration "as (God) promised long ago through His holy prophets" will not take place until Christ returns personally, for Paul says: "(Jesus) must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything" (Ibid., NIV). Since Jesus is still in heaven it follows that this restoration has not completely taken place yet, and will not be completed until His Second Coming.
We must understand what is to be "restored", however. The disciples thought that Jesus had come to restore the "kingdom of Israel" (Acts 1:6), the theocratic society. Jesus' answer was evasive, telling them that it was effectively none of their business to know (v.7). Jesus wasn't interested in the restoration of the Israelite theocracy at that time but led His disciples to think more in terms of the Spirit (v.8). The restoration of God's Kingdom physically is reserved for the last day. That is the task of the Holy Order. The NCCG like the first Christians are more concerned with spiritual restoration (Gal.6:1; 1 Pet.5:10) -- that is, the restoration of fallen man into fellowship with God through spiritual healing and forgiveness of sin. This is the kind of restoration work that occupies the New Covenant Church.
Jesus is the great restorer and comes in the spirit of Elijah, the Restorer (Matt.17:11). In the transfiguration of Jesus we are reminded of the presence of both Moses and Elijah on the mount. Why did they come? Moses was present as the representative of the Old Covenant (the Mosaic Covenant) and the promise of salvation. What, then, was Elijah doing on the Mount of Transfiguration?
In Mark 9:11-13 Jesus tells his questioners that Elijah has already come and restored "all things". What has he restored (brought back)? To answer this, we must understand what Elijah's rôle was in the Old Testament
The Rôle of Elijah
From this we can clearly see what Elijah has to do with the restoration of God's work. We are to understand that the spirit of Elijah is a necessary part of God's work in any and in all dispensations. Jesus was the first "inheritor" of this Spirit, being Himself the great prophet spoken of by Moses. Understanding as we do that the New Covenant is not a "replacement" but a "filling up" of the Old Covenant, we more clearly see that all the characteristics of God's prophets in the old days shall also be present in the last days. In other words, the Old Testament prophets belong to the New Testament -- and the last days -- also. Yet most Christian Churches reject this interpretation, saying that the prophets of old will not characterize the New Testament Age. They are wrong, and Jesus Himself contradicts them, by Himself acting in the Spirit of Elijah, like the one who prepared His way, John the Baptist. Let us look at some of those characteristics:
- (1) Elijah stands in the Old Testament tradition of what is sometimes called ecstatic prophecy which started in the days of Samuel and continued through what are called the rhapsodists or writing prophets. Elijah was a man of action and his Spirit-determined movements defied human anticipation (1 Ki.18:12). In other words, his actions were unorthodox and not easily understood by the human mind -- they could only be understood by the spirit of prophecy itself.
The Schools of the Prophets, also known as the Holy Order, that were established in Samuel's day, continued to exist in Elijah's (1 Ki.18:4,13; 2 Ki.2:3,5,7) and played a vitally important rôle.
His main mission was (a) Calling people to worship Yahweh (Jehovah) alone, abandoning their compromises with pagan religion, and (b) Proclaiming the standards of righteousness established through Moses in community life. His prophesying therefore anticipated the more fully developed oracles of Amos and Hosea.
There is no doubt that there is a direct parallel between Elijah and Moses. Physically, Elijah returned to Mount Horeb in Sinai, the place where Moses received the Law and Commandments.
He was succeeded by Elisha in the same kind of way as Moses was succeeded by Joshua (Deut.34:6), and there was an air of mystery about Moses' death just as there was about Elijah's translation. Joshua demonstrated his fitness for office by procuring a miraculous river crossing (the Jordan) as Moses had done (the Red Sea) (Deut.34:9; Josh.4:14). The translation narrative in 2 Kings 2 reproduces this pattern fairly precisely.
The fact that God answers Elijah by fire on two occasions (1 Ki.18:38; 2 Ki.1:10,12) seems to look back to the exhibition of God's presence and judgment in fire in the Exodus narratives (e.g. Ex.12:21; 19:18; 24:17; Num.11:1; 16:35). It is little wonder that the Jews regarded Elijah as the counterpart of Moses.
- (2) The ministry of Elijah is spoken of as being revived "before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord" (Mal.4:5-6). This theme is a popular one in the Jewish Mishnah and was a common topic of discussion during the ministry of Jesus (Mark 8:28). Jesus indicated that the Malachi prophecy had reference to the ministry of John the Baptist (Matt.11:14; 17:12ff). And Elijah appears in person on the mount of transfiguration (Mark 9:4) and is referred to elsewhere in the New Testament in Luke 4:25-26; Rim.11:2-4; James 5:17-18).
All these areas are concerned with what may be called the "restoration process" -- the restoration of God's power in His people, and especially through the Elijah prophets. If you belong to another church, or to no church, you might like to run through all of these points and ask yourself if any of these churches are exhibiting the spirit of Elijah.
- (1) Ecstatic prophecy/miracles: the kinds of contests that existed between Moses and Pharaoh, and Elijah and the prophets of Baal will occur again in the New Covenant Church and possibly in other Christian Churches also; it is still awaiting that call and power. It occured in Jesus' ministry in the casting our of demons;
- (2) Writing Prophecy: the kinds of scriptural prophecy issued by the prophets in the Old Covenant will be issued in the New. And they already have done. The New Covenant Church of God has already received many, many written prophecies which it has published. And it will publish more. In that respect, it is in the Spirit of Elijah. Though Jesus never 8as far as we know) wrote anything down, His apostles certainly did, and continue to do so today;
- (3) School of the Prophets: an organisation for the training and fellowship of prophets (and prophetesses) will exist. That organisation exists today and is called the Holy Order; it is a division of the New Covenant Church of God. The elect band of apostles and disciples belonged to this Order to, and it was to these that Jesus most often appeared after His resurrection to teach them;
- (4) Unpredictability: when God speaks to the Elijah prophets, their actions do not always match human expectation, and this can sometimes be very offensive. The New Covenant Church does not fall into the "expected Christian pattern" of so-called orthodoxy and people are often offended by us. Jesus upset social norms by conversing with prostitutes and tax collectors, driving out the money-changers in the temple (characteristic of the Old Testament prophets), and contrdicting the religious authortities of His day;
- (5) Mission: the Elijah prophets have as their chief rôle to restore the true worship of God (Yahweh/Jehovah) and to lead the people to communal holiness. This has been the dominant theme of the New Covenant Church from the beginning. It teaches that we should not compromise with the world in any way by rejecting its many false traditions. Jesus cleansed the Temple of His Father and taught the people how to pray and act towards one another;
- (6) Contemporary Revelation -- The Mountain of the Lord: Both Moses and Elijah obtained current revelation at Mount Horeb -- Moses through the drama of the burning bush and the cloud, and Elijah through the still small voice of God within. The New Covenant Church is a Church of revelation and has received nearly 600 modern revelations (all recorded) to guide God's people in this day. Most of them have come through the "still small voice" of the Spirit. Jesus brought much new revelation, reforming much of the Torah with regard to Sabbath observance, divorce, and loving ones enemies;
- (7) Mystery: the departure of Moses and Elijah from this world is shrouded in mystery. Similarly, the deeper things of Christ's Gospel are shrouded in mystery for the uninitiated, especially the mechanism of the death of self and the translation of the soul into a new creature in Christ. The New Covenant Church of God has received many deep mysteries of the faith which it reserves for the faithful who have committed themselves 100% to serving the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself deliberately taught in parables so that only those who were truly God's children would understand. The meaning of many of His deeper sayings have been debated throughout the centuries and understood only by a few;
- (8) Judgment by fire: there are few who are long-standing members of the New Covenant Church who would deny that the Church is a Church of spiritual fire. Though judgment through literal fire will come (Rev.11:3-6) through the Elijah prophets of the Church, the primary judgment is spiritual. One of the functions of the Holy Order is to take committed souls through spiritual fire, revealing their weaknesses so that they can fully repent and die to self and thus allow Christ to totally control their lives. The translation of Elijah in the chariot of fire demonstrates that we must pass through this fire if we are to ascend into heaven also, and is paralleled by Moses and Joshua leading God's people across the Red Sea and Jordan River -- from the world into Zion. Jesus allowed no-one to escape reality, and confronted everyone with the truth -- rich and poor, wise and igorant, Greek and Jew, slave and freeman. His love was all-encompassing but His judgment was also strict. He knew where the unrepentant were going and was unafraid to witness of the reality of hell.
We have discovered that some are, though only partially. Similarly, the New Covenant Church of God is only presently demonstrating some of these characteristics of the spirit of Elijah and therefore it cannot claim exclusive authority to be Christ's representatives. Moreover, even if it did, it would not preclude other Christians enjoying this spirit too, and enjoying a measure of authority in the areas in which they are faithful.
Mormons have a very different concept of "Restoration" to New Covenant Christians, claiming that "restoration" is the conferral of legal authority by the laying on of hands by angelic beings (like John the Baptist, Peter, James & John). Though they pay lip-service to the fruits of the spirit of Elijah, in reality there is little practical connection. Their emphasis is on outer ordination, or legalism, like the Catholics, showing that they have more in common with the Old Covenant than the New. Whether or not the fruits are present, they will always fall back on their "legal authority" to claim to be God's exclusive representatives. Therefore the New Covenant Christian concept of Restoration is radically different from the Mormon one since it does not preclude God working through other Christians with equal or even greater authority.
The New Covenant Church of God is a "restoration" Church because (a) it believes in the full restoration of the prophetic ministry of Elijah, and (2) it believes in the full restoration of the soul in and through the power of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Unlike Mormons who believe to be a restoration of the New Testament Church organisation, New Covenant Christians claim first and foremost to be aspiring to a full restoration of the spirit of the New Testament Church with organisation very much a subordinate aspect. It does not believe, like the Mormons, that it is the "one and only true church" but it believes that it may possibly become it if the people are faithful and if the Lord wills it. We accept the testimony of Paul that complete restoration cannot occur until Jesus returns, for He will bring with Him the fullness of the spirit of Elijah, to judge the world by fire (literal and spiritual), rapturing His people to meet Him in the sky, and bring to pass the conquest of not just the Holy Land but of the whole world. And that will be accomplished by Jesus alone, and not by any Church.
This page was created on 24 April 1998
Last updated on 24 April 1998
Copyright © 1987-2008 NCCG - All Rights Reserved