Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Perfectly Obedient Bride

Part 4: 
The PASSION of the PRESENCE & the Purpose of the Passion 

Read Part 1 
Read Part 2
Read Part 3

Jesus promises to manifest His presence to those who obey His commandments.
-Mike Bickle [1]

 Jesus promises to manifest God’s presence to those who obey His commandments… the Father loves everyone in the sense of valuing, caring for and pursuing them. However, He only loves the lifestyle, choices, sacrifices and fruit of those who pursue 100-fold obedience.
- Mike Bickle

Exhibit 1: IHOP is an international youth movement

Herescope has been running an article series about the International House of Prayer (IHOP) movement and its endtime teachings. In the previous articles we examined how IHOP’s Mike Bickle has been preparing his group to become an elite “Bride.” Bickle’s IHOP movement is founded upon his “Bridal Paradigm.” This is his unique allegorical interpretation of the Song of Solomon that is used as an eschatological roadmap.

This IHOP Bride is taught that she can become “mature” by practicing “100-Fold Obedience.”[3] In the current IHOP teaching, an endtime “mature” Bride is juxtaposed against the rest of Christian believers who, Bickle asserts, are merely the “daughters of Jerusalem,” i.e., less mature than this perfected Bride.[4] She believes she will play a a pivotal endtime role to walk out (or pray in) the judgments in the book of Revelation.[5] She must exhibit “100-Fold Obedience.” What does Bickle mean when he uses this term? How does this relate to the rest of his teachings?

Given Bickle’s recent acceptance into the mainstream evangelical world via leaders such as Francis Chan,[6] it behooves us to examine Bickle’s beliefs. This isn’t easy to do because Bickle has invented his own unique terminology. He appears to be teaching retooled Latter Rain/Manifest Sons of God doctrines to a new generation of youth. In this section of our article series we will examine his old teachings and compare them with what he is teaching now.

Exhibit 2: Call2All ad for training at IHOP

The Vision for an Endtime Elite Generation 
IHOP’s intense focus on this generation originated with some prophecies delivered in the 1980s by Mike Bickle and his associates who were called the “Kansas City Prophets.” They taught that a “New Breed” of “elect seed”[7] generation would arise as an endtime “Joel’s Army”[8] to fulfill a destiny of subduing and ruling the earth.

In an interview with Mike Bickle in 1988, fellow “Kansas City Prophet” Bob Jones related a vision he experienced. Based on this vision, Jones prophesied that the current generation back then was important, but that the next generation (their sons and daughters) would be unique. Here is what he believed that God showed him in the vision:

This will be the end generation that is foreknown and predestined to inherit all things…. 

You are to write into their minds – as they write into the children’s minds. You’re to bring them to a place to allow my Spirit to rule in their life where they can begin to set the church on the proper foundations – as they will. 

They’ll birth the church, but their children will attain levels of the Holy Spirit that they will not. Although their parents will reign over them and be the leaders of the last day church – their children will possess the Spirit without measure – for they are the best of all the generations that have ever been upon the face of the earth

And the best of all generations are those elected seeds that will glorify Christ in the last days. That’s the purpose so that Jesus in the last days has the seeds that will glorify Him above any generation that has ever been upon the face of the earth. 

They will move into things of the supernatural that no one has ever moved in before. Every miracle, sign and wonder that has ever been in the Bible – they’ll move in it consistently, they’ll move in the power that Christ did. Every sign and wonder that’s ever been will be many times in the last days

They themselves will be that generation that’s raised up to put death itself underneath their feet and to glorify Christ in every way. And the church that is raising up in the government will be the head and the covering for them. So that that glorious church might be revealed in the last days, because the Lord Jesus is worthy to be lifted up by a church that has reached the full maturity of the God-Man![9][bold added]

The endtime church can reach “the full maturity of the God-Man”? There is no Gospel of Jesus Christ here, just the idea that the church can become divinized. Note that Jones actually claimed that this special generation would “put death itself underneath their feet.” Likewise, the old Latter Rain/MSOG teachers believed that the endtime saints could attain immortality (the same lie Satan told Eve in Genesis 3:4). They also believed that they could conquer not only sin but also death itself (contra Romans 5:21 and 1 Cor. 15:25-27).

In this taped interview, Mike Bickle replied, not by refuting any of Jones’ vision, but by relating more of Jones’ vision. He described the formation of an end-time spiritual army:

The Lord came to Bob and said… “Put your hand in here.” He pulls it out and he sees this box full of draft notices for the end-time army. And he said the Lord told Him there was 300,000 enlistment notices that he was going to send out across the nations in this next generation. It wasn’t all going to be sent out then. 300,000 that would be the main leadership over one billion converts in the earth.[10][bold added]

Bickle stated the purpose of this elite 300,000 unit army—they will lead one billion. Jones then replied that God told him:

“I’ll cause 300,000 to bear a distinct anointing of leadership over the one billion…. I’m going to cause 300,000 like Gideon’s 300 in Israel. I’m going to have 300,000. That will be a small number for the nations of the earth. But they will have like that apostolic anointing and the signs and wonders of the early church will be on 300,000. The Earth will have it. The rest will move in the miraculous, but I will have 300,000 that will have a special measure of the Spirit like the leaders of the New Testament.” [11] [bold added]

These men believed that this elite 300,000 army of leaders would possess “a special measure of the Spirit.” These would be the “chosen generation”—the “one generation that will enter into that which is beyond all the others in power.” Bob Jones also claimed that God told him that this would be “the best of every blood line in the earth” and the “best of their seed”—“They will be superior… the elect generation.”[12] This vision became their foundational ideology and guiding force over the course of the next several decades as these men began to establish the house of prayer movement.

There was one more key element to the vision. It contained a theology about “maturity.” Jones made the amazing statement that

There will be maturity – what God is seeking. And He will be raising the saints up – to that level. First He will bring the five-fold [ministry], but there is a ministry after the five-fold called the Ministry of Perfection – the Melchisedek Priesthood

[Y]our children will be moving into the ministries of perfection… coming into that divine nature of Jesus Christ…. It is the last day generation…. [13][bold added]

Does the Bible teach that there will be an endtime special generation that has attained a superior level of “maturity” or “perfection”? (See 2 Tim. 3:1-5, 2 Thess. 2:3 and 1 Tim. 4:1.) What is this coming “Ministry of Perfection”? What is “ministries of perfection… coming into that divine nature of Jesus Christ”? Does this mean that they will “be like gods”?[14] What does Scripture say about this? Pastor Anton Bosch, refuting Jones’ vision, wrote:

Jones continues that they will: “Not having to come out of the wilderness, but being birthed natural into the Spirit… All their days movin’ with the Spirit” (sic).” He thus claims that these individuals will not be born sinners but will be born saved and be led by the Spirit all their lifetime. So what happened to the Scriptures that say: “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10) and “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and “the scripture hath concluded all under sin” (Galatians 3:22)?[15]

The old Latter Rain/MSOG theology taught that the last days church would become divine or “glorified,” actually incarnating the “glory” or “Presence” of Christ. Does the Bible teach that this level of “perfection” or “maturity” can be achieved by an elite force of specially trained endtime youth? Can they even go so far as to claim to be part of the Melchizedek Priesthood? Pastor Bosch refuted this also:

According to Jones “there is a ministry after the five-fold called the Ministry of Perfection, the Melchizedek Priesthood” and this new generation “will be moving into the ministries of perfection.” Yet the word says that “Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 6:20). So these people are going to replace Jesus who alone, and forever is the Priest after the order of Melchizedek?[16]

Actually, as we have written previously, the old Latter Rain/MSOG teachers believed that the church must fill the role of Jesus. In their view the church replaces Jesus, especially in the endtime judgment. So many of the Scriptures about Jesus Christ, the Son of God, are either ignored or twisted, or misapplied to the church. (See Romans 8:4; Hebrews 1:3, 8:1, 12:2, e.g.)

In his allegory of the Song of Solomon, Bickle develops an endtime scenario in which a “mature” Bride will become an “overcomer” who rules over the “weak and immature ones” referred to as the “daughters of Jerusalem.”[17] Is this teaching of Bickle’s based on Bob Jones’ vision of an elite corps of 300,000 who will rule over the 1 billion converts? Does Bickle’s allegory teach other things found in Jones’ original prophecy, albeit with updated and symbolic terminology?

One phrase in Bickle’s allegory sticks out as a key doctrine. Bickle teaches something he calls “100-Fold Obedience.” What does this phrase “100-Fold Obedience” mean? Below is an analysis.

Exhibit 3: Mike Bickle teaching 100-Fold Obedience

“100-Fold” = “100%”
“But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the Word,
and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth,
some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”

(Matthew 13:23) 
In the well-known parable of the sower Jesus Christ explains what happens when the seed of the Word is sown into people’s lives. Jesus interprets this parable for his disciples, and concludes with the explanatory words above. Here Jesus explains what happens to those who receive the Word into good ground. This is the verse that Mike Bickle focuses on in his teaching on Matthew 13 in his online talk titled “The Wisdom of Pursuing 100-Fold Obedience.”[18] Bickle says, “But within the group that responds right, there’s even three different categories in that group, and that’s what I want to draw attention to.”[19] He focuses on the hundredfold group and says this parable is about our obedience and our percentage of faithfulness:

The parable is about heart-faithfulness…. The Lord says, “Mike, I’m going to measure you by what percentage you’ve answered at the heart level of faithfulness.”[20][bold added]

Bickle interchanges his term “100-Fold Obedience” with the phrase “100% Obedience.” So “100-Fold” = “100%.” Bickle says that only those who pursue “100-Fold Obedience” will attain a 100% return. Below is a summary statement of his teaching from notes posted online:

Jesus used a familiar agricultural illustration to teach them how the Kingdom of God operates. It is parallel to a farmer who works for months to cultivate his fields that he might harvest the crops to sell in the marketplace. It was common for a farmer to discover that a portion of his field did not yield fruit that was good enough to sell in the market. His neglect in cultivating the land impacted how much return he had at the harvest. It was rare that one would yield fruit from 100% of the ground. It was a wonderful, but rare thing for a farmer to receive a 100-fold return on his labor in the field with no waste or loss of the potential fruitfulness of his land.[21][bold added] 

Bickle’s basic premise is that this Scripture has to do a “return” based on the percentage of obedience.[22] He teaches that when believers pursue 100% obedience in their Christian walk God will reward according to the “percentage” or “fold of return” that will “last and count on the last day.” Bickle’s eschatology of when and how the “last day” takes place can significantly alter the meaning and the timing of this reward.[23]

The “payback” is said to be in the measure of our faithfulness at the heart level. This is a reference to Bickle’s emphasis on passion, i.e., creating and maintaining a state of passionate emotional fervency which gives the Bride an edge over other believers.[24] In his allegory of the Song of Solomon, Bickle explains his view of an elite Bride who is 100% committed, in contrast to other lesser believers:

The virgins speak of the daughters of Jerusalem in the Son. They are genuine yet immature believers who seek Jesus throughout the Son but are never fully committed as the Bride is.[25][bold added]

Again Bickle interchanges “100-Fold” with “100%.” He claims that 100% pursuit of obedience will result in a 100-fold return (reward):

Jesus goal in this parable is to present the wisdom of pursing a lifestyle of 100% obedience. Because Jesus wanted the people to get a 100-fold return on the potential of what God gave them.[26] [bold added] 

He explains this is a heart-felt obedience that “the Lord will measure.” What does the Lord require? According to Bickle it is 100% perfection, based on his interpretation of Matthew 5:48 (“be perfect”). He qualifies this specifically with the statement, “…or in our context ‘be mature.’”[27] So mature = perfect. As we discussed earlier, “maturity” and “perfection” are connected. These two words have special meaning in the original Kansas City prophecy. Like a coach, Bickle urges, “Go for 100% obedience in every area of your life. Don’t go for part of the way. Go for 100%....”[28]

Although Bickle admits that he will never attain 100% obedience, he says he is concerned with pursuing it. And God will measure our “100% pursuit of obedience.” He says Jesus is not happy with those who come up short by 2%. Only 100% will please Him. Bickle asserts, “The 98% pursuit of obedience has a limited blessing on it. The last 2% is what positions us to live with a vibrant heart.”[29]

He even promises a double power for those who pursue it 100%.[30] He claims “there is very little power in the 95% obedience.” The “power is in the last 2%.”[31] Thus those who feel like they gave it the “old college try” may end up discouraged when they don’t reach the 100% mark. Anything short of 100% mark is deemed a failure. What are the measurement criteria, standards, or assessment mechanisms to determine when someone has hit the 100% mark? Scripture informs us,“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). So does anyone ever meet this mark? Can anyone honestly assert that they have attained 100% obedience? Or, is Bickle saying, like Bob Jone in his vision, that only this endtime generation will uniquely enabled to attain 100% obedience?

And what sort of added “power” is Bickle talking about? What is the purpose for this double power? In one of his IHOP teachings on “100-Fold Obedience” he explains his belief:

Power in our Christian life is found only in pursuing 100-fold obedience. There are powerful dynamics that occur in our heart when we soberly aim at walking in total obedience. The 98% pursuit of obedience has a limited blessing on it. The last 2% is what positions us to live with a vibrant heart…. The call to be perfect… is a key to living vibrant.[32][bold added] 

Another IHOP training document explains what is meant by this power. It seems to reflect the same eschatology promised in Bob Jones’ vision—more power to do “signs and wonders” and “no disease.” If there is “no disease” is he alleging that these “mature” ones can overcome the effects of the Fall? That’s what the Latter Rain/MSOG cult believed. Here is what is being taught:

The prophetic church will move in the highest degree of authority and unity at the end of the age while functioning as a witness to the nations, delivering the gospel of the kingdom with great signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth (particularly through the seal and trumpet judgments)…. 

His plan for this house is to give us a spirit of prayer… as well as a simultaneous impartation of authority for signs and wonders—“no disease known to man will stand before these people”. He will give us this according to His promise to the degree we are willing to turn to Him….[33] [bold added] 

Regarding this promise of being enabled to perform extraordinary signs and wonders, this was earlier prophesied in Bob Jones’ vision. Pastor Bosch commented on Jones' claim:

About the only Biblical statement Jones made during this discussion is: “Every sign and wonder that’s ever been will be many times in the last days.” (sic). This is confirmed in 2Thessalonians 2:9: “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders.”[34]

Fasting is presented as a means to gain mastery over the “100-Fold Obedience” requirement. Bickle connects the reason for delivering his message to a “21-day fast that is coming up… I want to gain the 100%... I have lost the fullness of that spark in my spirit….” Again he claims, “There is power on the heart” when one commits to 100% obedience.[35] IHOP over-emphasizes fasting, as was documented in the previous article in this series. Dr. Orrel Steinkamp notes how this call to fasting is a repeat of the old Latter Rain/MSOG teachings:

Who needs a cross and redemption if you qualify for ‘everything’ by fasting, etc. to gain the 100%? Fasting will do it. Sounds like [MSOG teacher] Bill Britton to me.[36]

There is significant eschatological deviation evident in Bickle’s interpretation of the verse “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14).[37] Bickle, commenting on these verses, says it means that only a few elite believers will be chosen, but not the rest of believers. So he takes this verse out of its context of salvation and uses it to create two categories of believers – the mature Bride (who is “chosen”) and the immature daughters (who are not one of the “chosen”). Bickle’s written commentary expands on the plain meaning of this verse by adding words to the text:

For many are called (invited by God), but few are chosen (found faithful by God) (Mt. 22:14). 

Many people are called (invited to inherit great things) yet only a few are chosen or esteemed by God as faithful or worthy of ruling with Jesus when He comes. Jesus taught that only a few will have a sufficient maturity in their obedience so as to receive ALL that God called (invited) them to in being in His Millennial government.[38][emphasis added] 

To reinforce this idea that being “chosen” makes the Bride fit for “ruling with Jesus,” Bickle states, “Our role in the kingdom age… is dynamically related to our faithfulness….”[39] Note that he says this is “when Jesus is glorified in His saints.” This is precisely the Latter Rain eschatology that teaches that Jesus returns via “Presence” Spirit, descending to “glorify” the endtime church with divinity. This is not talking about the literal Second Coming of the resurrected Jesus (Acts 1:11). To verify that this is what Bickle is teaching, observe how he inserts his own eschatological interpretation into the following Scripture verse (his comments are in the brackets):

When He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints… therefore we pray always for you that God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all (fullness of our calling as seen in the Millennial Kingdom) the good pleasure of His goodness…(2 Thes. 1:10-11) [40][italics added, bold in original] 

He reiterates with a discussion of a similar passage, Matthew 20:16b (“for many be called, but few chosen”), which he says means: “Many are invited, but only a few of them are commissioned to enter into what they are invited to.”[41] In the context of the overall teachings on the Bride, this means that only some are chosen for the elite position of the Bride in the endtimes. Thus, there is a high motivation for fasting, and to fulfill all of the other stringent IHOP requirements—the end goal is to become a “chosen” Bride who can rule and reign. The stakes are high. 100% effort is required.

The reason the Bickle’s Bride must be specially “chosen” is because he believes that she plays a role in ushering in judgment. She has a critical assignment “partnering with” Jesus for judgment. In Bickle’s teaching below, it is easy to spot the similarities with the eschatology that was taught by Bob Jones in his vision:

There is a clear picture throughout the book [of Revelation] of agreement in heaven and on earth as the purified, mature Bride interacts with the heavenly realm and a God stirred in His zeal to judge wickedness and reveal His delight in righteousness….  [bold added]

The interplay of the prophetic church participating in the government of God and His judgments through intercession in the ultimate concert of payer is vital for us to understand if we want to grasp the critical role of the Bride on the earth at the end of the age. The heavens shift and angels move in response to an anointed Bride united with the heart of Jesus partnering with Him to release judgment through prayer. “We agree with what You want to do, O judge of the earth!” [42][bold italics in original] 

Many of the pursuits of 100-fold obedience are commendable. The desire for moral excellency, for example. Bickle specifically tailored his taped message to a 20-something age group. He reminisced about his own early beginnings when he fervently desired to serve the Lord. He admits honestly that it is difficult and that he has failed. But his message is clear: to fail to attain this measure of excellence is to be less than the “chosen” one, the Bride. He sets a very high bar. Who can master it?

What effect does this type of teaching have on young people? To be promised that if they fulfill the onerous requirements of 100% obedience they will be commissioned as the elite Bride who will rule and reign on earth? This is heady stuff! It offers youth the intoxicating promise of exclusivity and spiritual superiority over all other believers on earth. To believe that one can attain a state of perfection, equipped with the supernatural ability to perform signs and wonders! This teaching must seem especially attractive to seeking youth. The spiritual formation[43] exercises and rituals that IHOP members endure are motivated by this promise of spiritual superiority.

The point must be made that “100-Fold Obedience” teaching an invented system of legalism. It is added works. It puts onerous requirements on youth that are not found in the “simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3), God’s grace in Scripture. Life in the flesh is still present after salvation, and we cannot attain a state sinless obedience or perfection (1 John 1:8-10). Believers can choose to walk by flesh or be led by the power of the Holy Spirit. But there is no biblical promise of an extra-powerful dose of an endtime Spirit that will make us 100% obedient, or give us the ability to overcome death. This is pie-in-the-sky utopian mysticism. But it is not what Scripture clearly teaches in Romans 7-9 and Galatians 3. A man-made system of legalistic requirements, no matter how ingenious or creative, enticing or promising of reward, is still works (Rom. 11:6; Gal 3:1-10).

One final obvious question remains. What is the measurement criteria for the attainment of 100% obedience and/or perfection?[44]

The Perfected Bride vs. the Immature Daughters 
In his exhaustive allegory of the book of Song of Solomon, IHOP founder Mike Bickle expounds on the idea that only the “mature” Bride will master a level of perfection he calls “100-Fold Obedience.” Bickle defines this “mature” Bride in terms of eschatology:

I define the Bride as the Church becoming mature in love for God and people. This has never happened. The Church in the Book of Acts was not fully mature. It had moments of glory in several cities. Before the Lord returns the worldwide Church will be mature or spotless and blameless…. 

The End-Time Church that survives the Great Tribulation has a unique honor in history being the only generation to walk blameless before Jesus returns…. 

The End-Time Church will enter into the measure of the stature of maturity that belongs to the fullness of Christ…. 

The Church throughout all history did not walk in maturity. The redeemed through history will praise God for the End-Time Church as it prevails in love while still on earth… God has brought to pass a people that are mature on the earth.[45][bold added]

Notice the similarity in this eschatology to the vision of Bob Jones—this is claiming that the church in the church age has never been “fully mature” before, but that some will become “spotless and blameless” in the last days as “the only generation to walk blameless before Jesus returns.” Bickle outlines a “4-fold progression” for the Bride to attain this elite level of maturity. Not surprisingly it requires “100-fold obedience”:
  • Stage #1: prayer with fasting for God’s strength to preserve in our pursuit of 100-fold obedience….
  • Stage #2: breakthrough of Jesus’ powerful presence….
  • Stage #3: new ability to perceive and comprehend God at a new level….
  • Stage #4: equip to fulfill God’s full purpose without being distracted….[46][bold added] 

In a discussion of Ephesians 3:17a, Bickle again adds some extra language to the verse, and then he adds an “unspoken premise” to the passage. In this interpretation can be seen the connection between “100-fold obedience” and the “presence”:

THAT Christ may dwell (release His presence) in your hearts (mind, emotions, will) through faith (confidence;) 

Paul’s main prayer is that the saints at Ephesus receive strength to embrace a life of obedience required before they experience deep encounters with God (sic) power and presence (Eph. 3:17) 

The unspoken premise in this passage is the previous teaching of Jesus revealing that God requires 100-fold obedience before the breakthrough of His presence in us…. 

We desperately need strength to walk in God’s requirement of 100-fold obedience. Jesus urged His disciples to pray for strength to overcome temptation. In other words, to receive strength to obey God.[47][bold added]

The message is clear: one can’t experience the “breakthrough” of “power and presence” without first attaining “100-fold obedience.”

Teaching this lesson backwards, Bickle then discusses verse 16 where Paul is praying that the church would “be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.” Again, Bickle says there is also an “unspoken premise in this passage”—that of “Jesus’ well known teaching that God requires 100-fold obedience before releasing the breakthrough of His presence in us.” Did Jesus actually teach this? This “unspoken premise” puts words in Jesus’ mouth that He didn’t say. The promised “strength to obey”is explained by Bickle as power “to equip our heart” for the “greater experiences of God’s presence…. Only as we pray and receive God’s strength can we live in the spirit of love and 100-fold obedience that is necessary for God’s abiding presence to rest on our hearts.”[48] Thus, his message is clear: Obey 100% and you get the “Presence.” Don’t obey and you forfeit the chance to be an elite Bride that will rule and reign on earth.

Keep in mind that this is not talking about the indwelling Holy Spirit promised to all believers. It is talking about a separate “Presence.” To document that Bickle is teaching about a separate infilling of a “Presence,” not the indwelling Holy Spirit that we receive upon salvation, examine carefully at how Bickle interprets the meaning of the Eph. 3:17 phrase, “That Christ may dwell in your hearts”:

Paul is showing us the possibilities of where God will bring a committed Christian in this age. Most Christians never touch this reality. 

Paul’s main idea in this verse centers around Jesus “dwelling in their hearts.” This speaks of Jesus “living in them” or manifesting His presence. This speaks of more than being forgiven of sins at the new birth. There is a vast difference between being a born again believer and having Christ dwelling in our heart…. 

Paul had earlier in this epistle established the idea of believers being the “God’s dwelling place in the Spirit.” This had not yet happened to the Ephesian Christians. 

Paul reveals that Jesus will dwell in their heart. In other words, Jesus will release His Presence in our heart…. We must not minimize this passage. We were not made for mediocrity in the Spirit. We seek to excel in the Spirit.[49][bold added] 

“Jesus ‘dwelling in their hearts’” is re-stated by Bickle as “manifesting His presence.” Is Bickle asserting that the born-again Ephesian Christians had not yet received the Holy Spirit? This runs completely counter to Ephesians 1:23 which describes the church as: “Which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all.” This verse cross-references to John’s statement that “And of His fulness have all we received, and grace for grace” (John 1:16).[50]

Or, rather, is Bickle saying that the Ephesians hadn’t received the manifestation of the “presence” of Jesus? If this is what he is saying, the implication is that most of the church age was the inferior, immature “daughters of Jerusalem” who hadn’t yet attained to the superiority of the elite endtime generation—precisely the two-tiered church that was taught in the vision of Bob Jones.

In fact, the Apostle Paul earlier refers to the Ephesians as “blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly placed in Christ” (vs. 3), “chosen… holy and without blame before Him in love” (vs. 4), “made… accepted in the Beloved” (vs. 6), and “In Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (vs. 7). Paul even informs the Ephesians that they have “obtained an inheritance” (vs. 11). So how can Bickle assert that the Ephesians weren’t “mature”? The only way he can do this is by relying upon his own definition and eschatology.

In order for the Bride in Bickle’s allegory to attain to a perfect “level” of “maturity,” she must walk in “100-fold obedience.” Bickle reiterates his belief that God is going to do a new thing, that “God is awakening in His Church to empower our obedience through all eternity.”[51]

But why the emphasis on “100-fold obedience”? Why is this so important for an endtime Bride? Probably because this Bride is also a “warring Bride.”[52] All newly recruited troops must go through the rigorous discipline of boot camp to learn to march in lockstep and follow the command-and-control authority structure without question.[53] The Bride in Bickle’s Song of Solomon allegory is described in a manner reminiscent of a military bootcamp:

Jesus reveals Himself as one who is safe to obey 100%. She believes that “100% obedience” is the only safe place in life…. 

A life of total commitment is foundational for all who are to be mature in ministry…. Initially, she refused His call to come to the mountains…. However, in this season she commits to go to the mountain. She is in only in the initial states of her obedience. Later she becomes mature

We can only fulfill our highest calling and destiny in this age and the age-to-come by walking in faithful obedience and with a history of diligently seeking God…. The Spirit calls us to diligence that we might enter into our fullness of authority in this age and the age-to-come…. 

Spiritual disciplines (prayer, fasting, meditation, etc.) are ordained by God as a necessary way to posture our heart to freely receive more grace…. The power is in the “bonfire of God’s presence….” 

God loves us all yet He entrusts a greater measure of power to the mature…. Our obedience positions us to walk in whatever that full measure is.[54] [emphasis added] 

Bickle even takes this military-style obedience a step further and claims, “An aspect of His inheritance involves the mandatory obedience of all creation.” He adds, “The Church as His Bride will be prepared in this age before the Second Coming.”[55] Lest the reader think this is pulled out of context, a few paragraphs later Bickle teaches:

Jesus is ready for action and deep partnership with the maiden. Therefore, He calls her to arise from her comfort and security to come away with Him to conquer the mountains of this fallen world. Jesus commissioned His Bride to work with Him as He brings the nations to obedience.[56]

The purpose of the passionate obedient Bride? Dominion. Note the reference to the “mountains,” a common theme in the Dominionism taught by IHOP and the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR).[57] Bickle touts a Bride who will “obey Him 100%.” He lists seven ways for the Bride to go into “deep” or “mature partnership” with the Lord. This means obeying “Jesus’ command to arise to join Him on the mountains.” Thus in Song of Solomon the phrase “leaping upon the mountains” in verse 2:8 is cast into a Dominionist mold where she must be “embracing new assignments that require a new measure of faith and obedience.”[58] There are many more references to the mountains in this allegory.

The Song of Solomon allegory concludes with the “mature” Bride who has been “filled with God’s fragrant Presence.” This is when “Jesus comes to take full possession of her life as His inheritance.” Eschatologically this is when she has “mature obedience” and is “perfect.” Bickle refers to the Catholic mystic, St. John of the Cross, and his allegory Dark Night of the Soul, as a model for when the Bride doesn’t especially feel the “presence.”[59] She is informed she must obey even when she can’t feel this “presence.”

The overcoming Bride is described as an army. Is Mike Bickle is still following the template of Bob Jones’ vision? Read for yourself. Below are some concluding statements in his Song of Solomon allegory:

There are always two extreme positions in the Body of Christ. Those who pursue Jesus with great fervency and those who do not....

Jesus brought division between the sincere and the insincere... The Lord will unify the Church after He purges it of compromise.

The daughters of Jerusalem represent believers who lack discernment of the various operations of the Spirit and the different seasons in God. 

The enemy wants to silence our voice.[60] [bold and italics added] 

Bickle presents a summary of this teaching:

Summary: the Bride’s 4-fold glory is seen in three progressive stages in the glory of God. First, she experiences the dawning of God’s light to bring salt and light to the culture…. Second, she shines forth as a beautiful moon in warfare and evangelism in this age. Third, she shines forth as the sun in the age-to-come. In all this she rules as God’s weapon in His government forever.[61]

The conclusion is inescapable. The IHOP movement appears to be re-teaching the old Bob Jones’ prophecy about an elite endtime generation that would be superior to all previous generations on earth. Mike Bickle has simply re-cast Jones’ vision into his own vision—his allegory of the Song of Solomon.

The most disturbing part of this vision—and there are many disturbing elements—is the false teaching that God is putting extra heavy-duty requirements upon this current generation of youth to become 100% obedient. The truth is that each believer is challenged in their own walk to obey God with their whole heart. This is nothing new. What IS new is that Bickle has promised this generation that 1) they can uniquely attain 100% obedience (or perfection), and 2) that they will be powerfully rewarded with superiority over all other believers on earth past, present and future. How sad that so many believe this message and devote their precious lives to attaining a fool's gold reward. What is missing from this message? The power can only be found in the Gospel of Salvation:

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live;
yet not I, but Christ liveth in me:
and the life which I now live in the flesh
I live by the faith of the Son of God,
Who loved me, and gave Himself for me.
(Gal. 2:20)

The Truth: 
Pastor Larry DeBruyn wrote several articles refuting these teachings of the IHOP and the NAR, especially their belief that they could attain divinity. He explained:

Yet we believers ought to rejoice in our union with Christ, a togetherness that, for reason of our being baptized in/with and by the Holy Spirit, is spiritual (1 Corinthians 12:13; See John 17:22-21). But while Christ’s dwelling in believers is spiritual, it is not substantial. It is a union and communion facilitated by the Holy Spirit Who sovereignly incorporates God’s presence, not essence, in us, this grandest of all unions being activated by faith in the atonement for sins by the Lord Jesus Christ. This hidden mystery (this musterion) then becomes, “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).[62]

Galatians 6:12-14 warns all believers of an ever-present threat of glorying in works, not in Jesus Christ.

 “As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”
(Gal. 6:12-14)

For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.(Matthew 11:30)

God’s Word tells us many times what God actually requires of us. It is full of love, mercy and grace:

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee,
but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

(Micah 6:8) 

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God,
and keep His commandments:
for this is the whole duty of man.

(Ecclesiastes 12:13) 

And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee,
but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all His ways,
and to love Him,
and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,
To keep the commandments of the LORD, and His statutes,
which I command thee this day for thy good?

(Deuteronomy 10:12-13) 

But without faith it is impossible to please Him:
for he that cometh to God must believe that He is,
and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.

(Hebrews 11:6) 

For by grace are ye saved through faith;
and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

(Eph. 2:8) 

But unto every one of us is given grace
according to the measure of the gift of Christ.

(Eph. 4:7) 

That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you,
and ye in Him,
according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

(2 Thess: 1:12) 

1. Mike Bickle, “How to Meditate on the Word,” Forerunner Christian Fellowship,” This is a commentary on John 14:21, which is slightly twisted here to state that “Jesus manifests His presence.” That’s not what the actual verse says: “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest (Strongs: G1718, disclose, make known) myself to him.” This same phrase is repeated in Mike Bickle’s teaching, “Walking in the Spirit: Feeding Our Spirit on God’s Word,” Forerunner Christian Fellowship, 
2. Mike Bickle, “Walking in the Spirit: Feeding Our Spirit on God’s Word,” Forerunner Christian Fellowship, Bold added. Underline removed. 
3. “Mature” is defined in IHOP documents as “100-Fold Obedience.” This “maturity” is a common theme in Bickle’s teachings, especially his “bridal paradigm” based on the Song of Solomon. See: “Studies in the Song of Solomon: Progression of Holy Passion (2007),” 
4. Mike Bickle, “Studies in the Son of Solomon: Progression of Holy Passion (2007),” GOD School with the Forerunner School of Ministry, 
5. This is described in our previous post, “Bridal Eschatology,” and is the topic of the article by Andrew Jackson, "Forerunner Eschatology," Christian Research Journal, Issue 32-04, or
6. See Part 1: 
7. See Herescope: 
8. See: 
9. Bob Jones & Mike Bickle interview, Kansas City Fellowship, transcribed from 1988 tape. Discernment Ministries has the original recording. More of this vision is reproduced in this Herescope post: For more context see the booklet Joel’s Army and also in the book Strange Fire Al Dager also writes about this history in his book Vengeance is Ours: The Church In Dominion (Sword, 1990). 
10. Bob Jones and Mike Bickle tape transcript, Ibid. 
11. Bob Jones and Mike Bickle tape transcript, Ibid. 
12. Bob Jones and Mike Bickle tape transcript, Ibid. 
13. Bob Jones and Mike Bickle tape transcript, Ibid.
14. There is a statement attributed to Mike Bickle, “God intends us to be like gods, he intends us to be like the Son of God.” This statement was obtained from his teaching “Glory and Dominion of Sonship, Part 2, cassette tape as cited by Bob Hunter, The Toronto Blessing.” Cited by Giovanni Chinnici, “An Autopsy of… Mike Bickle,” 
15. Pastor Anton Bosch wrote a brief refutation of this entire Bob Jones vision, which we posted at Herescope: 
16. Pastor Bosch, Ibid, 
17. Mike Bickle, “Studies in the Song of Solomon,” Ibid. 
18. Lest the reader think we exaggerate, this is fully explained by Mike Bickle in his online taped talk, a presentation about “100-Fold Obedience”: At mark 44:17 Bickle gives permission to copy this teaching. 
19. Mike Bickle, taped talk, Ibid. (11:30-11:45) 
20. Mike Bickle taped talk, Ibid. (20:00-20:40) 
21. Mike Bickle, “The Wisdom of Pursuing 100-fold Obedience,” 
22. Mike Bickle, taped talk, Ibid. (13:00-16:48) 
23. Mike Bickle, taped talk, Ibid. (17:08-17:48) 
24. Mike Bickle, taped talk, Ibid. (19:42-19:54) 
25. Mike Bickle, “Studies in the Son of Solomon,” Ibid. 
26. Mike Bickle, taped talk, Ibid. (22:08-22:27) 
27. Mike Bickle, “The Wisdom of Pursuing 100-fold Obedience,” Ibid. Bold added. 
28. Mike Bickle, taped talk, Ibid. (26:50-27:20) 
29. Mike Bickle, “Kingdom Ministry: Serving from a Bright and Vibrant Heart,” IHOP Pastor’s Conference (July 2007), 
30.  Mike Bickle, taped talk, Ibid. (31:05-31:55) 
31. Mike Bickle, taped talk, Ibid. (32:48-33:05) 
32. Bickle, “Kingdom Ministry,” Ibid. 
33. David Sliker, “Keeping Charge of His Sanctuary”—Invitation to Zeal for His House,” Forerunner Christian Fellowship, 
34. Pastor Bosch, Ibid, 
35. Mike Bickle, taped talk, Ibid. (33:35-35.20) 
36. Dr. Orrel Steinkamp, personal correspondence, 3/26/14. We are indebted to Dr. Steinkamp for his invaluable assistance in researching and writing this article.
37. Mike Bickle, taped talk, Ibid. (45:45-46:48) 
38. “100-Fold Obedience,” course notes, Ibid. 
39. Mike Bickle, taped talk, Ibid. (47:08-48:23) 
40. “100-Fold Obedience,” course notes, Ibid. 
41. Mike Bickle, taped talk, Ibid. (50:19-50:25) 
42. David Sliker, “Keeping Charge of His Sanctuary,” Ibid. 
43. Bickle actually uses this term. Mike Bickle, “Studies in the Son of Solomon,” Ibid. 
44. It is outside the scope of this report to analyze the similarities between Bickle’s “100-Fold Obedience” teaching and “sinless perfection” teachings. There are many similarities. 
45. Mike Bickle, “Studies in the Son of Solomon,” Ibid. 
46. Mike Bickle, “Praying for Strength unto Experiencing God’s Presence (Eph. 3:14-19),” Forerunner School of Ministry, 
47. Bickle, “Praying for Strength,” Ibid. The italics were removed in the brackets to emphasize the comments made by Bickle. 
48. Bickle, “Praying for Strength,” Ibid. Bold added. 
49. Bickle, “Praying for Strength,” Ibid. 
50. We are indebted to Matthew Henry’s Commentary on John 1: 16 for providing this cross-reference. 
51. Bickle, “Praying for Strength,” Ibid. Bold added. 
52. Mike Bickle, “Studies in the Son of Solomon,” Ibid. 
53. See the Discernment Newsletter on actual boot camps for youth, 
54. Mike Bickle, “Studies in the Son of Solomon,” Ibid. 
55. Mike Bickle, “Studies in the Son of Solomon,” Ibid. Bold added. 
56/ Mike Bickle, “Studies in the Son of Solomon,” Ibid. 
57. See Herescope posts such as: and and and and follow the many links to other similar articles. 
58. Mike Bickle, “Studies in the Son of Solomon,” Ibid. Bold added. 
59. Mike Bickle, “Studies in the Son of Solomon,” Ibid. Bold added. 
60. Mike Bickle, “Studies in the Son of Solomon,” Ibid. Bold added. 
61. Mike Bickle, “Studies in the Son of Solomon,” Ibid. Bold added. 
62. Pastor Larry DeBruyn, “On Theosis, Or Divinization,” Herescope, 2/25/11, See also his article “The Present of ‘His Presence,’” in which he explains the biblical view of the “presence.” Herescope, 12/31/13, 

Exhibit 1: From an article about IHOP in the publication Idea Spektrum: Nachrichten und Meinungen aus der evangelischen Welt, 1./2. Mai 2013, pp. 26-27. The photo is a collage of three. Above: The largest house of prayer is in Augsburg (city in Germany). Middle section: the team members of the prayer house there (mostly young people as you can see in the picture). Below: In January 2800 people came to the Conference center in Augsburg in order to pray.

Exhibit 2: An advertisement from Call2All, 3/26/14 announcing "new training facilities in the United States." This is a YWAM and IHOPKC partnership in training. See: and and 

Exhibit 3: Thanks to Pastor Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries for this graphic from Mike Bickle teaching on 100-Fold Obedience at:

Listen to two radio interviews on Stand Up For The Truth about earlier IHOP articles in this series about the Presence.
Part 1 Part 2