Luke 1:17, "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." There was a definite purpose to the coming of Elijah to the people of Israel, there was definite purpose to the appearance of John the Baptist; in time, history and place these men and many more of God's chosen prophets have provided the pronouncement of a need for change to take place in the hearts of people.
There have been statements made that this generation will not or would not recognize a prophet of God, whether that be Elijah, Elisha, Daniel or any other of the Old Testament men or women who served as Judges or Kings of Israel. This I believe is quite possibly a very true statement, but not for the reasons being given by the authors of the statement.
I do believe there may be some recognition problems with a Prophet among us, but, it is because of the fact that the hearts and minds have not been adequately prepared for the arrival of those Prophets. There is also the issue of the desensitizing which is happening because of so many false teachings and the value given to those teachings as being a prophetic voice. Then there is also the issue of the hardening of the hearts with regard to listening to the most fundamental of teachings and instruction, the value given to servitude and sacrifice and the lack of preparation of the heart for the Days of Elijah, when ...
...we note that there are certain character traits of these men;
-they possessed or more appropriately were possessed by God’s Spirit which dwelt in them
-they lived a life of continual self-denial, in New Testament language taking up their cross
-they had an ardent, fervent zeal to make Christ known
-they lived a life of fidelity and courage in rebuking vice by exposing the mind-set behind it and by raising to prominence a Christian or Godly mind-set
-they were the driving force behind a reformation and were instruments used by God for effectively communicating that among the people.
"Oh, may I join the choir invisible
Of those immortal dead who live again
In minds made better by their presence: live
In pulses stirred to generosity;
In deeds of daring rectitude; in scorn
For miserable aims that end with self,'
In thoughts sublime that pierce the night like stars,
And with their mild persistence urge man's search
To vaster issues."
Great men of history have been used to inspire people to greatness of effort and thought for their lives. These men were used to revive the patriarchal spirit of those saints and pioneers of faith who have gone before and have prepared hearts to receive the Lord Jesus.
The call has been and always will be to holiness. 1 Peter 1:16, "...because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy." Holiness is perfect deliverance from sin. Holiness must exhibit freedom from anger, malice, blasphemy, hypocrisy, envy, laziness, selfish desires, worldliness, deceit, contention, covetousness, or any evil desire or tendency in the heart. In holiness there is no doubt or fear, God is loved and trusted.
Holiness is not absolute perfection, it is the perfection derived from obedience of the heart, recognizing in humility the desperate state of man in relation to the perfect holiness of God and aided by the almighty power and boundless grace that only God can give.
The Christian life is warfare, and we must fight the good fight of faith. God requires me to love and serve Him with all my heart, God promises me that if I will return -to the Lord and obey His voice ... with all my heart, and with all my soul, that He will circumcise my heart ... to love Him with all my heart, and all my soul. He promises that He would "grant (me) that (I), (would) be delivered from the hand of (my) enemies, (and) might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of (my) life." Luke 1:74,75
That is what the leadership of the Church is called to do: to prepare the Church to live without fear; to prepare the Church to love and serve God; to prepare the Church to 'stand upon the promises'; to prepare the Church to be holy and righteous; to be prepared to receive. Leadership is about being aware of the hearts of the individuals; it is about making the individuals aware of their insufficiency, incompetence and ineptitude to appropriate the blessings of God without a contrite and broken spirit. It is about awakening a realization that without the fullness of God's grace and Spirit in their lives there lies no opportunity to experience the victory of salvation. Leadership is about stirring up a sense of dependence, creatureliness (understanding our life as being owned by God), gratitude, and unmerited existence without which life is just a living rebellion. Leadership is about building faith in light of the reality of personal inadequacy, human dependence, utter lowliness and the lostness of the soul and in that removing self-satisfaction and pride. Leadership is about bringing people to their knees in absolute poverty before a holy God. God is not the Author of the 'answer book' for the existential problems contained in 'The Mystery of Life". God is not the provider of the 'extra' wisdom we need to make the right decisions. God is not the buttress or bulwark of our independent philosophical conjecture. God is the pillager of our human self-reliance. God is not the signing authority, the power of attorney enabling the individual to continue as master of their own fate. The cross is the signature of God sealing the death warrant on all egotistic and pretentious attempts at relationship with God. Leadership is about bringing the authority of God in the matters of the life and soul of the Christian to the forefront and that which is divinely established and divinely guaranteed demands a bending submission in light of a divine revelation in time by which the Bible, the Cross and the Church are presented with the weight and force of an absolute and transcendant authority, God.