(Kevin Reeves www.theothersideoftheriver.com)
The Final Question
A Review of “The Final Quest” by Rick Joyner
By Kevin Reeves July 2001
“Error, indeed, is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced (ridiculous as the expression may seem) more true than truth itself.” Irenaeus
An interesting little book has been making the rounds of the Christian community for a few years now. Written by Rick Joyner, this volume, titled “The Final Quest” states of itself that it is a trance/vision/prophecy concerning the last days. Many previously unknown revelations are in this book, and it has taken the Christian writing market by storm. Despite Rick Joyne’s vocation as a prophetic voice in the Charismatic movement, the book has found its way across denominational lines with its message of personal holiness, the love of God, and following Christ.
But things are not always as they seem.
Due in large part to a variety of powerful movements within the Church during the 1990’s, Christianity itself is undergoing a dramatic redefinition. Despite its description for the pure doctrine of the gospel once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3), the word “orthodox” has taken on almost profane connotations. For a Christian to stand up and declare a simple faith in the written text of Scripture is to invite almost certain ridicule in some sectors of the believing community. It is becoming an increasingly common practice to openly denigrate adherence to the Scriptures alone, a tactic especially engaged in by Church leadership involved in what has come to be known as the “Third Wave”. The familiar mantra of “God is doing a new thing”, has effectively squelched sincere examination of certain doctrines making an impromptu appearance in the average congregation, and the peer pressure to “jump into the river”, no matter how muddied the theological waters, has proven an impetus hard to resist. No one wants to be thought unspiritual, and that is exactly the inference applied should a church member refuse to get with the program, even if the program is Biblically flawed.
“The Final Quest” has presented, perhaps for the first time in more than fifty years, an orderly dissertation in story form of a movement that rocked the Pentecostal world back in the late 1940’s. Known as “The Latter Rain”, it impacted church groups nationwide by its doctrines of :
Habitual use of personal, directive prophecy
Jesus coming “into” His Church instead of “for” His Church
Taking dominion of the kingdoms of the world
Overriding use of allegory when interpreting the Scriptures
“Impartation” theology—i.e. to pass along or “impart” a specific “anointing”
Denial of the rapture of believers at the return of Jesus Christ
Heavy involvement with mysticism
”Restoration” of the five-fold ministry, with strong emphasis on submission to a new breed of “apostles and prophets”
These few distinctions, all of which are contrary to the “orthodox” understanding of Biblical truth, barely scratch the surface of “Latter Rain” teachings, which has many adherents in varying degrees. This movement was soundly condemned in 1949 by the Assemblies of God and, due in large part to the bad reputation of aberrant doctrine and the spawning of numerous church splits, went underground. But it never fully disbanded, biding its time until its proponents could develop its doctrines slowly enough so that an appropriate mindset would form within congregational ranks. It is a movement whose time has come, and now lists such notables as Mike Bickle, Paul Cain, Morris Cerullo, Bob Jones (not of Bob Jones University), Earl Paulk and—you guessed it—Rick Joyner.
As the author of a 1980’s “prophecy” entitled, “The Harvest”, Rick Joyner proclaimed, “It was said of the Apostle Paul that he was turning the world upside down…it will be said of the apostles soon to be anointed that they have turned the world right side up. Nations will tremble at the mention of their name.”
Even a cursory reading of “The Final Quest” will reveal Joyner’s Latter Rain beliefs. A take-charge mentality, culminating in virtual immortality for a choice group of elite “overcomers”, is the main theme of the book. Joyner’s sequel, “The Call” is even more blatant, stating that a sinless group of “overcomers” will remove sin itself from the earth (Page 78 of “The Call”). A quick reference to 1 John 1:8 is in order.
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
Not to mention the fact that Christ’s prophecies in Matthew 24 concerning the end times dictate a decidedly different scenario.
“Then shall they deliver to tribulation and will kill you; and you will be hated by all nations on account of My name” (Matthew 24:9).
“The Final Quest” challenges basic Scriptures on manifold levels. To be quite candid, this is no unimportant book. It is radically altering the Biblical understanding of multitudes, substituting a solid Scriptural foundation with esoteric wisdom and mystical experience.
“To the law and to the testimony! If they speak not according to this word (the Scriptures), it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20 KJV).
With all this in mind, we can proceed into “The Final Quest”, preferably with an open Bible in our laps.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible.
Page 7—Joyner had a dream in 1997, then a “series of visions and prophetic experiences that were related to it.” He gave a condensed version of the first dream in The Morning Star Prophetic Bulletin and The Morning Star Journal, under the title, “The Hordes Of Hell Are Marching”. He later published parts 2 and 3, after his series of “prophetic experiences. Determined to write a book, he A…set about to fill in all that had been left out in the condensed versions”.
Question—How do you condense a vision from God? Is any of it not important enough to publish? How can you edit a vision?
Page 10-11—Speaks of different “levels” of prophetic revelation, speaking with authority about the subject, although the Scriptures never hint at differences or levels of divine inspiration. First is “impressions”. Second is a “…conscious sense of the presence of the Lord, or the anointing of the Holy Spirit, which gives special illumination to our minds.” Joyner notes that this state has often come in his writing and speaking. He states his belief that it was in this state that the apostles probably wrote the New Testament epistles. Despite the record of apostolic revelation, Joyner states that this “level” is one in which “…we can still be influenced by our prejudices, doctrines, etc.”
This entire sentence strikes at the heart of Scriptural inerrancy. Are the Scriptures inspired by God and perfect, or are they not (2 Timothy 3:16-17)? In the times Paul spoke of his own opinions, he said so quite plainly, so there would be no mistaking his words for the word of the Lord. Joyner would have us believe that, although we are told to adhere to the word of God and not stray from the Scriptures, some of them are colored with the perceptions of the human vessel who wrote them down. This is very dangerous, as it gives leeway to disregard certain passages by saying they are only the man’s opinion, and not God’s perfect word to His Church.
As far as the “levels” are concerned, to place one above the other in arbitrary order is at best guessing. I’ve personally known enough people that reported having a vision, only to have it proven false when compared to the Scriptures. A trance is not necessarily more spiritually exacting than an “impression”. It is preferable by far to have only the Bible and abide by Christ’s sure word without a trance/vision, then to have a tremendous spiritual experience without Scriptural support.
It is revealing that Joyner states that the greatest part of the “revelation” was “…received in some level of a trance.” Two things occur to me here: 1)since Joyner has already laid the groundwork for the supposed superiority of a trance, for him to claim having one very nearly places him above reproach of any kind, and 2)he now states that trances themselves have levels, claiming that he could interact with the physical world during the trance (like answering the telephone). He could even walk away from the trance at will, then sit down and pick up where it left off.
So, it seems that you can put a vision on hold while you answer the phone. During one particular episode of the vision, he actually left for a week and when he returned, the vision immediately picked up at the point at which he had interrupted it. Tell me any of the prophets in either the Old or New Testaments could do that!
Page 12-Joyner notes “emphatically” that neither his or any other kind of revelation should be used to establish doctrine. But this is precisely what he does throughout the book. Let’s face it—in his alleged encounters with angels, spirits of the dead, and the risen Lord Jesus Himself, he is told repeatedly to go back to earth with the knowledge that he received while in the “third heaven”. Any genuine man of God would want to implement knowledge or wisdom from heavenly spheres. The fact that he does this, and publishes what he learned in a volume that likewise teaches these doctrines to his readers, indicates quite clearly that he believes what he learned there, enough to allow his life to be guided by it. His sharing of the vision will only serve to influence the Christian world, as, in fact, it has already done over a wide spectrum. The bottom line here is, by saying, “The Lord said”, as Joyner does repeatedly throughout the book, he is lending the weight of heaven to his testimony. Like it or not, using such a phrase establishes doctrine, because doctrine dictates behavior. If the words of Jesus Christ Himself are contained in this book, then we are bound to live by them. That is doctrine, pure and simple.
Page 14-“At times I have questioned my own memory for certain details in this vision…” “Separate any chaff that may be present from the wheat.”
These statements should provoke a genuine alarm in the discerning reader. For a man to offer a vision/prophecy of this magnitude, market it to the reading public (and presumably make quite a lot of money in the process), promote specific, detailed conversations with Jesus, the spirits of departed saints, and angelic beings, and along with all this fanfare say that his memory may have failed him on certain points is, quite frankly, unbelievable. The questions that this should bring up for Christians is:
Which parts of the vision may be tainted by forgetfulness? Joyner himself does not appear to know for sure.
If he had forgotten some pieces of the vision, did he fill in from his own imagination what he believed the details should be?
Are any pieces of the vision unnecessary, that is, not really important if they have been forgotten?
If that is so, then why did the Lord give Joyner a vision/trance that included unnecessary details? Especially since the angels, the “Lord”, and the spirits of those in heaven continually told Joyner how important it was for him to take the messages they gave him back to the Church when the vision ended? “The apostle Paul” tells him this exact thing on page 134 by saying, “There are two things that we attained in our time (the apostolic era), that were lost very quickly by the Church, and they have not yet been recovered. You must recover them. You must recover the ministry and the message.” If Joyner doubted his own memory regarding certain points of the vision, how can we be certain he got the message right?
How could anyone forget any part of a vision like this? Remember, Joyner was taken up to the “third heaven”, spoke with the risen Christ face-to-face, and received wisdom from angels and the spirits of the departed. Would you have difficulty recalling a vision like this? Especially in the short space of time between receiving the “revelations” and writing them down?!
This leads to yet another upsetting inquiry—Is God able to make certain His servants get the full message right, and to remember a vision which He (God) had given to a man? If God cannot make certain of communicating to His people in exact precision, then He is not the God of the Bible. Not one prophecy recorded in the Scriptures is tainted with self. They are the very thoughts and words of God. The fact is that God is well able to make certain His message remains undiluted by human preferences, prejudices, and frailty, Joyner’s included. If Joyner cannot guarantee this, then the vision of “The Final Quest” cannot be of God.
One more thing that becomes painfully clear is that, saying one’s memory may be flawed is a convenient dodge when it comes to accountability. In a court of law, a man is judged according to his testimony. To state, “This actually happened”, then add a bit down the road, “Well, maybe not exactly like that”, effectively dismantles the person’s testimony. I would not do business with a person whose memory of financial affairs cannot be trusted. How much more would I avoid someone with a possibly flawed spiritual memory, when the course of my soul may rest on his testimony of God?
There is a great deal that could be said about the first part of the book, but to just touch on a few subjects…
Page 34 and 35-Joyner enters a lovely garden and sees the Tree of Life guarded by the cherubim. One of the guarding angels tells him, “Those who make it to this level, who know the Father’s love, can eat.”
Joyner did just that.
Here is an amazing thing. Joyner does what no man since the beginning of time had ever done—eaten of the fruit of the Tree of Life. I suppose this now makes him immortal. Remember the words of the LORD in Genesis 3:22:
“And the LORD God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever..’.”
And, as far as Joyner even getting close enough to the tree, verse 24 tells an entirely different story.
“So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden, He stationed the cherubim, and the flaming sword which turned every direction, to guard the way to the tree of life.”
The Cherubim were put there for the express purpose of keeping man away from the Tree of Life! Remember, Eden was not symbolic or allegorical. It was a real place in a real time, with real angels assigned with a real duty. No human being has ever been permitted to eat of the fruit, nor will be allowed until the reign of Christ on the earth ( Revelation 22:1-2).
Page 45—The angel “Wisdom”, who turns out to be “Jesus Christ” explains to Joyner the differences between the first, second and third heavens. Supposedly these are not places, but time periods, or epochs, ranging from the Fall of man to the Millennium. This is a convoluted interpretation. The third heaven in Scripture is equated, not with time, but with place. In 2 Corinthians 12:2-4, Paul is taken to a real place, “paradise”, the same place Jesus spoke of in Luke 23:43. The thief on the cross was going to a real place, not just a time frame, according to the very words of Christ. Joyner’s “angel” or “Jesus” misinterprets the word of God. Something is terribly wrong here.
Page 56—Joyner tells of being left in the middle of a group of angels, standing on the level of the mountain known as “Salvation”. He then states that as he strode past them, “… they bowed to one knee and showed me great respect.”
Joyner was supposedly wearing the “mantle” of humility, and that qualified him for the homage of the heavenly host. May I state for the record that it takes a massive ego to believe heavenly beings will bow to you. No angel in Scripture ever bowed to a man. They do so only to God
One angel goes on to tell Joyner that he and his company of end-time overcomers that, “You are the dreaded champions.” This scenario is echoed throughout the book, as the last days “army” becomes the focus of God’s power, more than in any other generation. Over and over, the focal point in the book has to do with the “overcomers”, rather than Christ. This is standard Latter Rain doctrine. Keep this in mind as you proceed through the book, because it is here that Joyner’s true Latter Rain beliefs come into the light of day.
Part III of the book really begins to come into blatant conflict with the Word of God.
Page 87— Standing amidst the great cloud of witnesses from generations past, Joyner says that he recognized an acquaintance he had known on earth (indicating again that he is not in a time, but a place that exists even now.)
Page 89—Joyner then gets into one of the most controversial portions of the book—speaking with and getting wisdom and revelation from the spirits of the dead. This is necromancy, condemned as abomination throughout the Scriptures. King Saul in I Samuel 28 sought out the counsel of the spirit of Samuel and was forfeit of his life on account of it.
This spirit Joyner was speaking with, his former acquaintance, told Joyner that he and the crowd he stood with were the “foolish virgins”, who, although they had received Christ as their Savior, had wasted their lives by living their own way.
Joyner answers, “The foolish virgins gnashed their teeth in the outer darkness.”
The spirit replies, “And that we did.”
This is a dangerous deviation from Scripture. Joyner here is confusing two things—the parable of the ten virgins and the parable of the talents, both found in Matthew 25, back to back. It is in the parable of the talents that the man is cast into outer darkness, after being bound hand and foot, there to weep and gnash his teeth. The outer darkness is never mentioned in connection with the virgins. Even if Joyner didn’t know the context of this Scripture, the spirit (if he were really in heaven) would have corrected Joyner. Secondly, Joyner and the spirit would have us believe that the outer darkness is only temporary. But, consistently in Scripture, the outer darkness is shown to be a place of eternal separation from God—i.e. hell. The entire context of the passages of both the talents and the virgins is eternal separation. Continue reading from verse 31, and the crux of the entire chapter is unavoidable. Jesus is speaking of separation, the foolish from the wise virgins, the men who use their talents from the one who does not, and the sheep from the goats. Verse 41 states emphatically, “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels…” Also, weeping and gnashing of teeth are always mentioned by Christ Himself in the context of eternal separation from God. See Matthew 8:12, Matthew 13:42, Matthew 13:50, Matthew 22:13, Matthew 24:51, Matthew 25:30, Luke 13:28.
In the parable of the virgins, Christ (the Bridegroom), shuts the door, and when the ten foolish virgins came back later, Christ says, “Truly I say to you, I do not know you.”
To claim that the outer darkness is a temporary punishment of grief for a wasted life, as this spirit does, contradicts the clear teaching of Scripture. No heavenly spirit could have said this to Joyner.
Page 90—This is perhaps the most dangerous part of the book, for it strikes at the heart of the salvation message. This same spirit continues to speak with Joyner, telling him that, after death, he had stood before the Judgement Seat of Christ and had all his sins paraded before him, of which he had not repented prior to his demise. The spirit then describes his version of the “outer darkness”, which entails a feeling of being “in the deepest dungeon of hell”, until his entire life had been gone over in the presence of Christ. Then, the spirit says, “…I said I was sorry and asked for the mercy of His cross…”
Here we have a man, a whole company in fact, who have had to repent after they had died. Brothers and sisters, this is not Biblical! It goes contrary to a host of Scriptures that speak of full and complete redemption in Christ, with no review of sins committed on earth. Just to name a few— Romans 3:24-28, Romans 4:5, 25, Romans 5:1, Ephesians 17, Ephesians 2:13-16, Colossians 1:13-14, 1 John 1:12, Revelation 1:5. The book of Hebrews speaks beautifully about our full redemption in Christ Jesus. It was written to disciples who were being impacted by the Old Testament Law, and who were wrongly being told they needed to add to the salvation purchased for them by the blood of the Son of God. Much of Hebrews was written to show that there was nothing they could do, for Christ had done it all, forever.
“So Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him”(Hebrews 9:28).
“Then He (Jesus) said, ‘Behold, I have come to do Thy will, O God.’ He takes away the first (covenant)in order to establish the second. By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: but He (Jesus), having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down on the right hand of God; waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us, for after saying, ‘This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days,’ says the LORD; ‘I will put my laws upon their heart, and upon their mind will I write them’, He then says, ‘and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more’. Now, where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin. Since therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from and evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:9-22).
It is impossible, from the standpoint of the Word of God, to make a case for repentance of sin after death. Hebrews 9:27 states this very thing. “And as it is appointed for men to die once, and after this comes judgement…”
Our sins are either fully forgiven this side of the grave or we bear the eternal brunt of them when we die.
Just one more thing. If this spirit had lived his life any way he wanted, Christian or no, he would have not entered into the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21 is written to Christians, and it warns them of the consequences of indulging their own whims.
Jesus said in Matthew 10:38-39: “And he who does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life shall lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake shall find it.”
If this spirit had lived his life his own way, he would never have made it to heaven in the first place.
Page 134 has “Paul” the apostle telling Joyner that he (Joyner) is the hope for those company of believers that “Paul” stands with in eternity. The Scriptures tell us that Christ alone is our hope (1 Timothy 1:1).
Page 155—Here is a very telling point—Joyner says to “Jesus”, “’Lord, please help me to remember this. Please do not let me forget what I am seeing here when I return’, I begged.”
“The Lord” answers, “That is why I am with you here, and I will be with you when you return.”
“Jesus” is telling Joyner that He will make certain Joyner recalls the vision of a man he knew on earth. But wouldn’t He also be able to see to it that Joyner would remember the entire episode of being caught up into the “third heaven”? So much for Joyner’s excuses for a poor memory on page 14.
There is much more, but the multiple contradictions in this volume when compared to Biblical truth are plain enough.
We are faced with an alarming prospect. We must either believe Joyner and take him at his word that he really did see Christ face to face, was translated to the third heaven, spoke with and gotten revelation from angels and the spirits of the departed, and was given a very precise message to take back to earth for the Church, or we do not believe him. There is no middle ground. A single error in a purported “revelation” is enough to cast a huge shadow of doubt on the entire thing. God does not offer mixture to His Church. In “The Final Quest”, Joyner, the angels, the spirits of the deceased, and even “Jesus” Himself conflict with the Word of God. If the Bible was given to us as the only written record of God’s thoughts and instructions to man, then we must go with it. No straddling of the fence is permitted.
Only one thing remains, a “final question”, if you will—If we would not believe an unpopular leader’s testimony because his revelation of “Jesus” contradicts the very Word of God, should we then lend credence to Rick Joyner’s little volume, when the testimony in his book does not match the Scriptural record?
Popularity is a shabby substitute for the truth.
Brethren, let us return to the primacy of the Word of God. The blessings of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you.
“Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21).
(Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from the New American Standard Bible. )