Theologian Wayne Gruedem makes a good case for the connection between the OT Prophets and the NT Apostles- the men who gave us the books of the the bible. He believes in the continuation of the gift of prophecy (but not infalliable - to be judged) but not the office of prophet.
Regardless, we must realize that many restorationist churches in the"Apostolic/Prophetic" teach that God is restoring the offices of the Apostles and Prophets to form the government of the end times church. So strongly do they feel about this that some churches are now sending out apostolic teams to other cities where they "mandate God" to "bestow apostolic keys." Seriously!
As we have discussed previously, the IHOP 24/7 prayer movement promotes the present-day office of Apostle. Its foundational prophets claim many heavenly visitations, audible messages from the Lord, and angelic visitations.
Many of these stories are contained in the 1988 recordings by Mike Bickle and Bob Jones called Visions and Revelations.
Bob Jones saw and described a vision in which, "The Holy Spirit took me to a place_this time it wasn't the Lord took me, it was the Holy Spirit. He took me to a place and I saw the Lord, high and lifted up, by some young men and he set upon the golden ark...and I looked and there were men that had hold of the ark and they had the ark upon their shoulders. And the government will be upon their single shoulders." Jones goes on to explain how, by way of allegory, the Lord showed him he would raise up 35 men, to be champions for Christ in the last days. "...They will reign and reveal to the world that they truly are the faithful and true leaders and the government that will be upon his single shoulder." Mike Bickle comments, "I think there'll be 35 like unto Paul...There would be 35 whom the Lord would separate in the highest way. The government rests on apostles and prophets."
Mike Bickle, speaking of a visit to Heaven by Bob Jones, "Paul was anxious to talk to the end-times apostles and prophets more than the end-times apostles and prophets would have been to talk to Paul. He (Paul) said because what they would do would do far more to the glory of God and the Saints in the New Testament would wait in line to greet the apostles from this generation."
In August of 1984 Mike Bickle had a visit to heaven to add to this body of knowledge.
"The Lord took my spirit out of my body... I don't know how it operates but I know your body is where its at but you're not there and you're somewhere else. And its not a dream and its not a vision, you're literally somewhere else...
I stood in this room and it had... clouds, it was a room only maybe 20 by 20 or 30. It was a little room. It had clouds in the bottom, on the top and the walls... (Bob Jones says "That's the courtroom")... I stood there, I was at the Lord's left hand, and I stood there, this was not a dream, this was as real as life here...I know it wasn't a dream or a vision...
I was standing there looking at the clouds all around and at the Lord's left hand and I could not look at him. There was something I could not look that way...I didn't want to look that way."
Bickle goes on to tell how the Lord sternly rebuked him in the realm of patience. At which point Bickle reports thinking his own carnal thoughts (not Godly thoughts) while in the "spirit before the Lord."
Bickle reports thinking "I'm not impatient" at which point Bickle and Jones start giggling. Bickle goes on to report that he thought (in response to the Lord's rebuke) "I don't agree with that" an in response the audience bursts into laughter.
After God finished rebuking Bickle, he starts falling "I start falling so rapidly. It takes 5 or 6 seconds. And I fall down to my bed. Right through the ceiling...I was going like 'ahhhhh'- I was coming down through the black sky - I was going 'ahhhh' - it wasn't funny at the time. And it's the most holy thing that ever happened to me but I guess it's humorous to you guys and uh, I come right through the ceiling, and I hit my bed and I look for like a half-a-second and I go right back up again and I go 'ahhhh,' I go straight back up again."
After Bickle returns to the courtroom a "whole line of" golden chariots appear. he saw men with those chariots and he believed those to be the 35 or so "super-apostles" that the Lord had previously told Bob Jones would be birthed out of his movement. A chariot appeared and "the Lord said 'get in it' and I knew intuitively, instantly it was an Apostolic ministry." The Lord was not calling me an apostle. He said He was thinking, ‘The days to come, if you’re faithful, you have an opportunity in the grace of God to fill an apostolic calling if you’re faithful to the full measure.’
And so the "apostles" today frequently speak of the heavenly visitations which give them the credentials to call themselves apostles. And the visits frequently contain information that they will base there movements on, information that sometimes is used in the formation of doctrine (in this case the doctrine of the restoration of the five-fold ministry.
Which brings up the question- are visitations to heaven a biblical practice? What should man's reaction to the presence of God be? We know that the bible cites a few examples. Paul states, in 2 Corinthians 12:2
" I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven. And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows— was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak."
John the Revelator, who was "in the Spirit" and saw Jesus, "fell at His feet like a dead man."
Isaiah, in the presence of God, said "Woe is me, I am undone!"
Paul, at Damascus Road, was struck blind for three days.
Unlike these examples, Mike Bickle was not only permitted to speak of things he saw in heaven, but he recounted them with great laughter. Bickle's story cited above starts at about 01:22:00 in file three of the Visions and Revelations series of 1988. Apparently Bickle, Jones and the audience found the entire story quite funny. This does not come through in the transcript above; actually hearing it is somewhat disturbing.
In Visions and Revelations, Mike Bickle states of Bob Jones:
"You know, I'm going to tell you something about Bob. Ever since that time in '74 when he was filled with the Holy Spirit he began to see the Technicolor visions and the Lord began to visit him. Since that time he has seen many, many times, five, ten visions and dreams a night. And when I first met him, I couldn't hardly comprehend that. I said, “Five or ten a night!” He said, “Oh, yes, all the time. Sometimes more, sometimes three or four.”
In this lengthy video, Bob Jones and Todd Bentley talk about some of these visits to heaven.
To this day Jones is revered as a great prophet at IHOP. It was those "visions and revelations" that form the foundation of IHOP, the basis for their vision and present day direction. They call it thier "prophetic history." And if we buy into the validity of the heavenly visitations of Bickle and Jones, we have to buy into the whole vision of IHOP - that it indeed is God's strategic plan for the end times. These are serious claims, and they need to be seriously considered.
Looking at Mike Bickle's claim to a heavenly visitation, it seems to be used to bolster his restorationism doctrine. More importantly, when he says "the Lord said 'get in it' and I knew intuitively, instantly it was an Apostolic ministry," it can be seen as self-affirming. Little difference between this and the prophet who proclaims "Thus saith the Lord, hear the words of my prophet."
Compare that self-serving message again with the scriptures cited above and see if you can see the difference.
The casual nature of these third-heaven visitations as promoted by the Apostolic/Prophetic movement today is a seriously disturbing phenomena. If you have the time you may also want to watch this video with Bob Jones and Bill Johnson's friend Todd Bentley. Bentley recalls a rather bizarre third-heaven experience which he had while Bill Johnson was preaching at a meeting on the west coast.
Regarding the foundations of what we know today as IHOP (was KCF) Derek Prince had this to say: "the material circulated by KCF contains many statements which have no basis in Scripture and are frequently contrary to Scripture." He called some of the revelations "absurd and even blasphemous," and warned that "much of the material is permeated by what I consider to be occult influence."
That was twenty years ago. Is anyone paying attention?
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