Mike Bickle has had a tremendous impact on the church in his generation. One that far outstrips what most of us could hope for. God called him at a very young age to be the pastor to the prophets of Kansas City. These Kansas City Prophets went on to shock the worldwide church with the divine word and power of God. Now that’s not to say that things were all right. There were definitely issues, but it is to say that God used this team to do something very significant in the life of the church. Then Mike taught on “Passion for Jesus” and the “Song of Solomon” and really helped a lot of people find the Love of God in a new and very significant way. Mike Bickle is a household word in the Charismatic movement.
In the past couple of years he’s started teaching on what he calls ‘Apostolic Premillennialism.’ Because few Charismatics have a well-defined eschatology, and because of Bickle’s enormous influence, Apostolic Premillennialism is making the rounds in the circles of the young radical types. Mike Bickle distinguishes this from other forms of pre-millennialism by it being more optimistic — more focused on the Apostolic character of the church that is supposed to be coming. Apostolic Premillennialism is really an attempt at systemizing the Spirit of what Bickle learned from his spiritual mentor, Paul Cain. Cain in turn, was passing on much of the eschatological emphasis of the Latter Rain.
One of the keys of the system is the role played by prayer. Intimacy with God is the key of the end time church. It is how the church will survive the tribulation. It is the oil in the lamp of the ten virgins. Intimacy is what you need and prayer is how you get it. Of course that’s true, but the eschatological signficance may be a bit overblown. Whenever we attach “end of the world” to our mission, it can get pretty trumped up. Many Charismatics are telling us we’re the Joshua generation. It seems like most generations in the last 100 years have thought and taught they were the last and final, super-significant generation. I want to be the Joshua generation, but I’m fine with being the Moses generation too. Or even the Abraham generation. I plan on reforming the church and proclaiming the truth to my death bed and teaching my sons to do likewise.
Mike Bickle’s entire focus has taken on a huge Eschatology focus. It’s one of the main components with a huge multi DVD “Omega Course” to work through it all. I don’t think that’s healthy. I think it’s eerily like John Alexander Dowie, and William Branham’s end — where they started to think they were Elijah’s. Or more possibily it’s like the turn into the ditch made by early Pentecostalism, when dispensationalism took hold and the power of God left the movement. Now I’m not one to say that eschatology is insignificant. These examples prove the opposite. My argument is that when eschatology takes undue focus, it’s because you have the wrong eschatology.
Apostolic Premillennialism suffers from the same problems as all Premillennialism systems: Double Vision. The idea of a future millenium of physical dominion followed by the devil unleashed raises too many issues, and moves our interest away from the present and into the future. Revelation becomes a book about a bunch of stuff that will happen at the end of the age, which we see as coming at any minute, but could be hundreds of years away. The millenium is a time when believers rule under Christ, but then there are the other unbelievers… what are they doing, and where did they come from? It’s double vision because the millennium is not future — it’s now. The application of Revelation, is not past or future, it’s now. The application of the parables is not future, it’s now. The reign of the church is not later, it’s now. Bickle has the right heart in the wrong system, and I fear that the system is taking over just like it did to another generations of radicals at the turn of the last century. R.A. Torrey was one great giant whose later years were lesser than the first because he embraced premillennialism, at least so thought John G. Lake.
What’s right about Apostolic Premillennialism is the part that came from the Latter Rain via Cain — that the church is increasing in glory, not just in size. The final church will be a glorious representation of Jesus and reflection of the apostolic church. The end of this age will be an Apostolic time. Yes.
There will be a great tribulation. But it is more continuous with our present time than we think. This entire church age has been one of tribulation. It’s only in the areas that Christ has to some degree conquered that the tribulation is lessened. Whenever the Gospel makes it’s first inroads, the persecution is always severe. There will be an antichrist figure and there will be a beast system. But that too has had much precedent in history. Hitler and the Nazi’s were a very good recent representation of the Anti-Christ and the beast system. Whatever happens at the end, will be categorically similar to what they did, not some completely different thing. The last days are not just in the future. The last days are the entire era since the Apostles until now.
Intimacy will be important in that kind of a time, and Apostolic power will mark the church. But let’s not put it into a premillennial framework. The Latter Rain helped move the Pentecostal church which had been dried up by premillennialism away from that, and now we’ve come full circle to a Latter Rain-ized premillennialism. We’ll get the same results. The reign of God’s people is now through the church. Not over governments but over the Spiritual powers of this world. We’re despoling the enemy’s kingdom wherever we go. That is what is important and that is what we have to stay focused on. That is the ruling and reigning church that God will usher into the end of history.