In Mr. Lee´s book, Creation of Heaven and Earth, he introduces a teaching about how spirits work through flesh (pp. 437-442). One Shinchonji member brought this point up in an e-mail. He wrote, ¨Elijah came as a spirit. That spirit of Elijah entered John the Baptist and carried out his tasks together with John the Baptist (Lk 1:16-17). You must be hearing this for the first time."
It is true that most Christians would think this is strange as they hear this for the first time. But, why is this teaching important to Shinchonji?
Mr. Lee makes the point that God´s Spirit/the Spirit of Truth united to Jesus´ flesh and worked through him. This is important because, at the time of Revelation´s fulfillment, God´s Spirit/the Spirit of Truth and Jesus´ spirit unite to a final pastor/the advocate. The final pastor in Revelation is the flesh through whom Jesus works in the end. One of the examples Mr. Lee uses is the way Elijah´s spirit worked through the flesh of John the Baptist.
Mr. Lee writes, ¨The spirit of Elijah, who was prophesied to come in M. 3-4, came to John the Baptist (Mt 11:13-14, Mt. 17:10-13). Elijah worked as a spirit (Mt. 17:1-5) through the flesh of John the Baptist¨ (Creation of Heaven and Earth, p. 438).
Since this is a revelation from spirit entities (an angel, Jesus, and God) to Mr. Lee, it is important to test this with the written word, God´s safe voice. Was John the Baptist re-incarnated by Elijah´s spirit? Let´s go back to the scene in the Old Testament. What happened before Elijah was taken up to heaven?
Here's what God´s Word states in 2 Kings chapter 2:
9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, "Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?"
"Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit," Elisha replied.
10 "You have asked a difficult thing," Elijah said, "yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise not."
11 As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.
12 Elisha saw this and cried out, "My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!" And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them apart.
13 He picked up the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan.
14 Then he took the cloak that had fallen from him and struck the water with it. "Where now is the LORD, the God of Elijah?" he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over.
15 The company of the prophets from Jericho, who were watching, said, "The spirit of Elijah is resting on Elisha." And they went to meet him and bowed to the ground before him.
In this acccount, Elisha, Elijah´s successor, requests a double portion of Elijah`s spirit. What exactly does this mean? Obviously, God did not clone Elijah´s spirit and send two Elijah-spirits to indwell Elisha. This would be strange. In Christian thinking, what Elisha wanted was a double portion of ¨God´s anointing¨ that Elijah had in his ministry.
Thus, receiving ¨the spirit of Elijah¨ means acting "in the manner of," "in the authority of,” or “in the role of" Elijah´s ministry. Elisha received a double portion of the ¨power and authority¨ that Elijah had through the Holy Spirit. Since Elijah was only a man, he had no power in and of himself. His spirit would have been of little benefit to Elisha. It was only through God's Spirit that the prophet was empowered in his ministry.
Concerning John the Baptist, the Bible also teaches that John would come in the ¨spirit and power of Elijah¨ (Lk. 1:17). It does not refer to Elijah´s literal spirit. Rather, it is a reference to the power of the Holy Spirit displayed in the life of Elijah. Lk. 1:15 says that John would be indwelled by the ¨Holy Spirit¨ even before birth. Thus, in ¨the spirit and power of Elijah¨ is a reference to the same mighty work of the Holy Spirit in Elijah´s life.
¨He is never to take wine or other fermented drink , and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth....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¨ (Lk. 1:15b, 16).
John the Baptist came ¨in the spirit and power of¨ Elijah through his role and ministry. He was filled with power from the Holy Spirit from birth. However, he was not possessed by Elijah`s literal spirit, which would be a form of reincarnation.
Lastly, the flesh-spirit doctrine breaks down in Lk. 21:8 where Jesus says that no other flesh will be the expected return. Jesus himself is returning, not a different flesh with his spirit. In the written word, the Messiah´s flesh (body) was glorified. See other articles on this point. The Messiah is much more than a spirit. When Jesus left, he left as the first glorified man. According to Ac. 1:11, this ¨same Jesus¨ is the one returning, not a spirit-Jesus.
This is what we notice when we test the revealed voice with the written word.
Appendix: Why did Jesus say that John the Baptist was the Elijah to come? In Christian thinking, there are two possibilities.
One answer is because the Old Testament prophecy of Elijah was a typology. For example, God´s voice in the prophets uses ¨David¨ as a typology for the future, king (Messiah). In this way, Elijah was used as a typology of another prophet to come, like Elijah. John the Baptist fulfilled the prophecy of the coming Elijah, which is why Jesus said that Elijah had already come.
Another answer is that John the Baptist fulfills a ¨partially-yet to be fulfilled prophecy.¨ The Old Testament is full of these kinds of prophecies. See other internet articles on this point. John partially fullfilled the Elijah-prophecy, but the complete fulfillment is still to come. Some see this now/yet-to-be fulfilled prophecy in Jesus´ words in Mt. 17. ¨Elijah is indeed coming (referring to the future) and will restore all things (still to happen), but I tell you that Elijah already came (partially fullfilled by John) and they did not recognize him.¨
In Malachi´s prophecy, it was partially fulfilled by John the Baptist´s coming. However, the full fulfillment comes before the Day of the Lord - the last day when God judges every nation and destroys evil at the end of time. According to some Christians, Malachi 4:5 teaches that Elijah will appear at this time, not at the first coming.
In both possibilities, we see that the literal spirit of Elijah did not reincarnate John the Baptist. There is no indication that two human spirits lived in John´s body.