International Conferences for Clergy
Questions And Answers
ICC - Questions And Answers - John The Baptist & Elijah
QUESTION: 1. Was John the Baptist, the miserable failure, saved? Or was he none other than Judas Iscariot?
ANSWER: Only God can judge. All I know is that we must endure to the end in order to be saved (Matt. 10:22).
QUESTION: 2. I thought you said John did not prepare an adequate way for Christ. Now you say it was John's foundation that Jesus received? Which do Unificationists believe?
ANSWER: I stated repeatedly that John was successful in his initial role to make the foundation that was to go to the Lord. He made that foundation, but he failed totally to bring that foundation over to the Lord, owing to his own lack of faith in Jesus which is expressed from his own mouth from prison.
QUESTION: 3. Which is it? The rejection of John the Baptist or the rejection of Jesus that caused the Kingdom's postponement?
ANSWER: The failure of John to understand his role as the Elijah and his inability to carry out to the end the testimony to Jesus resulted in Israel, still waiting for Elijah, to reject Jesus as the Christ promised in scripture.
QUESTION: 4. What did the scripture mean when Jesus said there was no one greater born among women that John the Baptist?
ANSWER: It means that there was no prophet in history that had a grater role and position that John the Baptist. John was the prophet that stood in the position to link the people directly to the Christ. He was the only prophet that stood in a position to become a direct disciple of the Christ. But sadly, for him, John did not fulfill either of these roles and before his death expressed only doubt about Jesus (Matt. 11:3). Because John fell from such a lofty position, Jesus goes on to say..."yet he who is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he". What does least in the Kingdom mean? See Matt 5:19.
QUESTION: 5. Are you saying that when Jesus came into the world it was not clear that He would die until Israel rejected John?
ANSWER: When Jesus came into the world it was perfectly clear that if Israel had faith, the Kingdom would have been established, but if they did not have faith in Him, the King would have to suffer and die. What was not clear was whether or not the Chosen People would fulfill or not. God had given them the responsibility and it was their decision to make. John was the key figure in linking the people to Jesus in faith. When that was not accomplished, it became explicitly clear that Jesus must die and thus, Matt. 17:12 and Matt 16:21.
QUESTION: 6. You said that there was no following of Christ from John's preaching. After the resurrection of Christ, there were 120 followers under John's baptism for repentance. What about these? See Acts 1:5, 18:25, 19:1-7.
ANSWER: I said that no one except Andrew followed Jesus as a result of John's testimony of Jesus. Acts 1:5 merely makes the statement that "John baptized with water, but you (the Apostles) will baptize with the Holy Spirit". It doesn't say that the Apostles had been John's disciples or followed Jesus because of John's testimony (indeed we know that Jesus gathered His own disciples). You mention Acts 13:15, but it's not clear to me what point is made with regard to this issue. Acts 18:25 states that Apollos had received the baptism of John, but it does not say that it was John who taught Apollos about the Lord. Whoever it was that did teach Apollos did not teach him adequately enough, because we see that Priscilla and Aquila had to explain to him the way of God "more perfectly". Acts 19:1-7 states that Paul finds some of John's disciples, but "they had not even heard that there was a Holy Spirit" which again confirms the point, that though they had been under the tutelage of John, they never came to Jesus or had understood His role.
QUESTION: 7. "You do err in the scripture". How can you say that John the Baptist did not fulfill his mission, when the Word of God says in Acts 13:25 that John, indeed, did fulfill his mission!
ANSWER: Acts 13:25 is not a statement of quality, but rather of duration. "As John was fulfilling his mission" means that his mission was drawing to a close time-wise. His mission would be "accomplished" by testifying to Jesus, following Him, and leading his enormous foundation of disciples to likewise follow Jesus (as dictated by Luke 1:17). If John had "fulfilled" his mission in purpose, we would have never seen John's disciples comparing the standard of Jesus' disciples, negatively, with their own (Matt 9:14) which took place after John's initial statement of faith in Jesus. We would have never seen Jesus desperate prayer of Matt. 9:37, calling out for laborers. We would have never seen such a statement by John as in Matt. 11:3..."are you the one who was to come or shall we look for another?"
QUESTION: 8. Why didn't John the Baptist know that he was the Elijah who was to come?
ANSWER: It's not clear why he denied. We do not know if Zachariah told him and he did not believe, or if Zachariah lost faith and did not tell John. We only know that John was indeed the Elijah who was to come, the one that all of Israel was awaiting and he denied it.
QUESTION: 9. If John the Baptist indeed struggled with knowing who Jesus really was, why did John 1:29 say "Behold the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world" and further in Matt. 3:13-14..."But John forbade him saying, "I have need to be baptized of thee and thou comest to me?"
ANSWER: I did not say that at no time did John testify to Jesus. I said that John initially testified to Jesus, but he did not persevere to the end, falling from the lofty heights of "Behold the Lamb..." to Matt. 11:11. Remember, also, Judas initially expressed faith in Christ. The bottom line, Luke 1:17! John did not do it, he kept his disciples while Jesus was praying desperately that the harvest is great but the laborers are few.
QUESTION: 10. If John the Baptist did not fulfill the role of Elijah, who did?
ANSWER: Who made the people prepared for the Lord? Not John. He was supposed to, he was the Elijah, but he didn't accomplish the role as laid down by scripture (Luke 1:17). That foundation of people made ready for the Lord was fulfilled after the day of Pentecost centering on Peter. The disciples grew to over 5000, when they reached the right providential number (probably 7000 as God promised Elijah) Peter received the direction from God to begin the ministry to the Gentiles. The other significant event that followed is that Saul became Paul. From there the basic world foundation of the Church is established (the seven Church centers).
QUESTION: 11. Isaiah 40:2 and Malachi refer to John the Baptist as coming as a messenger to prepare the way for the Messiah. But Malachi 4:4-5 refers to Elijah literally. John the Baptist came in the spirit of a prophet just like Elijah was a prophet. Rev. 11 is the answer to Mal. 4:4-5.
ANSWER: That John the Baptist was the fulfillment of Malachi 4:4-5 is not only the view of the Divine Principle, virtually all Christian scholars hold this view, but it also happens to be the view that Jesus held. In Matt. 11:13-14 "For all the Prophets and Law prophesied until John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come". Also you will notice that Luke 1:17 links John coming in the spirit and power of Elijah with Malachi 4:5 by using the same terminology of Malachi 4:5 in describing John's future work..."he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children" (Luke 1:17). Isaiah 40:2 was rendered by John about himself, never by Jesus. Jesus never strayed from Malachi in describing John and referring to him as Elijah or the messenger of the covenant (Malachi 3:1).
QUESTION: 12. John's emotional attitude seems to be the determent for Jesus success or failure. Explain.
ANSWER: John fulfilling his mission or not would determine the victory of failure of the nation of Israel, that is , whether or not Israel would fulfill her destiny or not. Israel's destiny was to establish and be the central nation of the Kingdom of God on Earth. Malachi 4:4-5 indicates that if Israel does not heed Elijah (John the Baptist) God would strike the land with a curse. Jesus had to go the way of the cross to break that curse (Gal. 3:13). Thus, Jesus was victorious in the role that God placed before Him, however, had the Chosen People fulfilled their role to believe in Jesus, the Kingdom and not the cross would be the destiny that Jesus would have been called to. John the Baptist was instrumental in leading the nation to that providential breakdown. This is to be laid at the doorstep of man, not of Christ.
QUESTION: 13. John had one message and on mission. It took place before the Holy Ghost was poured out. If you judge him worthless, you have to judge the disciples worthless. John died before the day of the Pentecost.
ANSWER: John's mission is clearly stated in Luke 1:17 "...to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." He did not accomplish that mission and so Jesus had to gather His own disciples saying "...the harvest is great but the laborers a few." Matt. 9:37-38. It is not I who judges John, it is Jesus when He says John is the least in the Kingdom of Heaven (Matt. 11:11). For the meaning of "least in the Kingdom of Heaven" see Matt. 5:19. as far as your contention that dying before the day of Pentecost cost John a higher position in heaven than least, I could not agree. Notice that the benefits of salvation can be imputed retroactively (Hebrews 11). Notice also that John's name is conspicuously missing from this list of righteous saints who preceded Jesus.
QUESTION: 14. If you said John is Elijah, do you sustain the theory of reincarnation?
ANSWER: John is not the reincarnation of Elijah. He was born in the spirit and power of Elijah and was the fulfillment of Malachi 4:5. We do not believe in the theory of reincarnation. I recommend that you study the Divine Principle chapter on "Resurrection" under the section "The Theory of Reincarnation".
QUESTION: 15. Where does the scripture say that John was maintaining his following by his own volition when Jesus was claiming the messiahship?
ANSWER: Matt. 9:14 makes it clear. This was after his initial testimony to Jesus. In Matt. 11:2 John sends his disciples to Jesus with the question ..."are you the one or shall we look for another"? This was right before John was beheaded and he still has his disciples as late as this date.
QUESTION: 16. When John the Baptist died, Elijah's spirit continued to work with the messiah and was seen on the Mt. Transfiguration. Therefore, could it be possible that John had to die so this anointing could work with Christ more perfectly?
ANSWER: An interesting theory. Maybe the spirit of Elijah helped to gather the apostles and disciples of Jesus. However, there can be no mistaken that Jesus considered John to be the Elijah (even reaffirming it after the Mt. of Transfiguration experience).
QUESTION: 17. Are you saying that if John had fulfilled his mission there would have been no need for Jesus to choose 12 disciples? what is your explanation of John 17:6? Jesus stresses that the apostles were give to him by God. Are you saying that if John had fulfilled his mission this would not have been so? What would Jesus have done if John's mission was or had been fulfilled?
ANSWER: That God led the disciples and apostles to Jesus can be of no doubt. However, the reason those particular men and women had to be led in this way was because the people prepared for Christ (Luke 1:17) never came to Christ. As a result, Jesus witnessed and tried to replace the foundation that was to come over to him through John's testimony. It is why Jesus prayed that God would send more laborers, that the great harvest, that was Israel, could not be reaped and also why another nation had to be called to bring the fruits in their seasons.
If John had fulfilled his mission, Jesus would then have had the laborers to reap the harvest, that was the nation of Israel. That means He would have found faith in Israel, the lost sheep. On that condition of faith, the Kingdom of God could have been established on earth and in spirit and we would not need to wait 2000 years for the establishment of His Kingdom at His Second Coming.
QUESTION: 18. Do you believe that John the Baptist fulfilled his mission and did he go to heaven after his death?
ANSWER: I don't know where John went...God knows. Acts 13:25 is a statement of duration, not of quality. John's mission was clearly stated in Luke 1:17..."He is to make ready a people prepared for the Lord". Had John accomplished his mission, Jesus would have never had to say..."The harvest is great but the laborers are few...pray the Lord of the harvest will send unto His harvest laborers."
QUESTION: 19. Is Malachi 4:5 literal? If so, was John the resurrected Elijah?
ANSWER: John as Elijah does not mean that he was the literal prophet, for we know that Elijah appeared on the Mt. of Transfiguration (Sinai?) with Moses and Jesus. The return of Elijah means the role of Elijah will return. The role is titled by the name of the previous figure. Likewise, when Jesus said that He would return, He meant that His role would return.