As many who read this blog know, it’s difficult to get a response from official sources at the International House of Prayer. Sometimes, however, I get responses on Twitter. Recently I got in a conversation with one Brandon, a.k.a. 1hundredfold, on Twitter. It started when I responded to an IHOP-KC tweet which read:
The Spirit wants to manifest His power through people who will not use it to draw attention to themselves. Jn. 3:29-30.
I asked, very simply:
What does that passage in John have to do with the Holy Spirit?
Brandon responded to me by mentioning 1 Corinthians 14:1, and how it should be done in the spirit of John 3:29-30. I asked how they were related, and things started to go back and forth, as subjects related to the forerunner movement began to be brought in.
Of course, with the word limitations of Twitter, it can get difficult having a detailed conversation. So, Brandon provided a response here, and I have written up my own below. I would encourage people read his in full before reading my responses, as I’ll be responding piecemeal. It’s somewhat brief and at times doesn’t go into as much detail as I may have liked, but I hope it would be edifying for those looking at this subject.
The first part deals with the Mark of the Beast (Revelation 13:11, 15-17):
This post assumes 3 Key points that if you do not agree, it will be hard for us to discuss John the Baptist.
1. Mark of the beast was not fulfilled historically. I cannot find, without having to suspend my faculties of logic and reason, these verses in history.
Rev 14:11 And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name. Revelation 16:2 The first angel went and poured out his bowl on the land, and ugly, festering sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped its image.
I would contend this has nothing to do with the topic of John the Baptist, and therefore it is ultimately irrelevant to the discussion, and therefore I don’t see too much of a point in responding to it.
2. 2nd Thes 3:5‘s Apostasy and man of sin have not yet happened.
concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. 3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed
It’s actually 2 Thessalonians 2:5, but that isn’t too big of a deal. In any case, whether it has happened or not, it is irrelevant to the subject at hand.
3. I do not want to stand before Jesus in heaven and say of Matthew 24:21 “I thought You were using prophetic hyperbole, I thought you were exaggerating.” Matt 24:21 “For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.
While this is leading down one deep rabbit hole, Matthew 24 is actually about the destruction of the Temple and the ultimate end of the old covenant with all its signs and shadows. This has been the interpretation of many learned men throughout Christian history. The notion that it foretold something in the far (or even near, for us) future did not come about until really the past 200 years or so, with the rise of Dispensationalism. If you had gone back in time and presented this mindset to any Church Father, they would have looked at you cross-eyed (in fact, much of the theology and scriptural teachings at IHOP-KC are foreign to Christian history).
And again, this isn’t related to the subject of John the Baptist.
The End Times
The seals trumpets and bowls are quite similar to the plagues of Egypt. Yet the children of Israel were protected. I believe the end-time tribulation will cause many to fall, yet their will be greater miracles and protection than through church history. Considering the damage and fatality, and Jesus’ warning for love to grow cold, it is wise to search this; God always sends messengers to warn and prepare before Judgment to give opportunity to repent.
Where was it foretold in the New Testament that men would warn and prepare for judgment? While it is true that God often sent messengers in the Old Testament to warn and prepare for judgment, where is the specific teaching regarding this? To try to apply a standard found in the Old Testament and immediately apply it in the new can be dangerous, similar to Mormons who go to the Old Testament and show the pattern of apostasy and revival to try to teach that, after the time of the apostles, the churches apostasied and now there’s a revival among the Mormon church.
The good news is that, for Christians and non-Christians today, they already have the warnings…and the warnings and calls for preparation are in Holy Writ. It is the preaching of God’s word, and not a special forerunner movement, that awakens the soul to repent and prepare for Christ. If Holy Writ is ignored, then those who choose to ignore it have no excuse before God, just as Abraham told the rich man regarding torment and punishment: “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them…If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead” (Lk 16:29, 31).
Here we are entering the realm of the IHOP-KC doctrine of the “forerunners.” To summarize for those unfamiliar with this movement: those who embrace the lifestyle of a “forerunner” serve a John the Baptist-like role, warning people and calling them to repent before the second coming of Christ – which IHOP-KC founder Mike Bickle believes will be in our present generation. Bickle, unfortunately, often argues for the forerunner movement with scripture rather than from scripture. What I mean by this is that he uses the strategy of citing verses for the sake of their wording or to make an analogy, rather than demonstrating the doctrine being directly taught from the passages themselves.
Bickle has to do this, because nowhere in the Bible is it foretold that “forerunners” will be raised up in the end times, or that there is a special group of Christians known as “forerunners” who function in the same vein that John the Baptist did. Instead, Mike Bickle has to allegorize scripture and look to mere examples. To quote from his 7 Commitments of a Forerunner book:
End-time forerunners can find inspiration and instruction from New Testament forerunners like John the Baptist, the first apostles, and the seventy disciples, who all announced the first coming of Jesus to their generation (Mt. 10:5-8; Lk. 9:1-2; 10:1).
John the Baptist functioned as a forerunner by announcing the coming of Jesus, as well as the glory and pressures that would result from it in that generation (Lk. 3:3-9, 16-18).
The apostles functioned as forerunners in two ways. First, they announced the first coming of Jesus to the cities of Israel (Lk. 9:1-6). Second, they proclaimed the second coming of Jesus and the worldwide glory and pressures that would result in that generation (Acts 3:19-21; 2 Pet. 3; 1. 4-5; 2 Thes. 1-2; Rev. 6-19). [pg. 5-6; Forerunner]
Here we see that Bickle inserts his theology into scripture by saying that the apostles functioned as forerunners. However, is such theology actually in scripture, or taught in scripture? Let’s see what the word of God has to say about John the Baptist and his function.
“Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me…” [Malachi 3:1a]
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” [Malachi 4:5-6]
As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’ Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.” [Matthew 11:7-14]
The words by Christ in the section from Matthew relate directly to the two prophecies regarding John the Baptist in the book of Malachi. Christ identifies John the Baptist as the fulfillment of Malachi 3:1a (which he himself quotes), and states “among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist” (v. 11). Why is this? Because John the Baptist was the fulfillment of the prophecy, and the one chosen to foretell the coming of the Messiah to his people. Yet why does Christ add “the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (v. 11)? This is because there is a shift in eras – the era of the Messiah, who has come. This is seen even clearer a few verses later with “all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John” (v. 13) – that is, all the Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament came to a hilt with John, and are now being fulfilled. Christ then concludes: “if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come” (v. 14), making a direct reference to Malachi 4:5-6. In other words, John the Baptist was the “Elijah” prophesied in Malachi, and he had fulfilled that role.
Let us look at another set of related verses in scripture:
A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.” [Isa 40:3]
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’” Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. [Matthew 3:1-4]
Here we have the prophecy in Isaiah of John the Baptist’s coming and his ministry, which Matthew explicitly spells out (and Mark and Luke likewise do in the parallel passages) as having been fulfilled in John the Baptist (v. 3). He adds that John wore a “garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist,” which was similar to how Elijah dressed (2 Kings 1:8), signifying silently that John the Baptist was likewise fulfilling the prophecy in Malachi 4:5.
What does all this tell us? No one else is a “forerunner” or an “Elijah” but John the Baptist. As Christ clearly says, all of that was fulfilled in John. Bickle says that we “function” like John the Baptist, but why should we strive to “function” like him if he served a specific role, and that role was prophesied regarding him and fulfilled in his ministry?
Bickle’s tactic here is nothing new to Christian history. The early proponents of monasticism – and those who support it today – turned to biblical examples and said many should “function” like them. They turn to Elijah’s lifestyle of living simply in the wilderness (never mind it was done in exile), or to John the Baptist’s similar lifestyle in the wilderness (never mind it was done in fulfillment of the Elijah prophecy), and encourage others to engage in this lifestyle for a kind of higher spirituality. In a similar fashion, Bickle will turn to the lifestyle of John the Baptist or the apostles, and try to find what goes along with his concept of what a forerunner is. The problem is, again, nowhere in scripture is the title of “forerunner” given to Christians, nowhere is it said anyone else other than John the Baptist fulfilled the roles prophesied in Malachi, and nowhere are those passages used by Bickle ever shown to be connected.
Part of the reason Bickle can’t present a solid foundation for the teaching of “forerunners” in scripture is because this is based not on clear exegesis or systematic theology, but personal revelation. In other words, Bickle claims that God personally revealed this end-time movement to him. This places the authority of Bickle’s ministry and movement not on scripture and its authority, but on his personal revelation and prophecy. I talk about this more in this post and this one.
Matt 25:6 Features a way to prepare for the return of Jesus that was identical to John the Baptists. Behold the Lamb!!
John the Baptist calls Israel to Behold Jesus 5 times. Matthew 25:6′s cry is to behold the Bridegroom Jesus.
At the risk of sounding like I’m straining gnats, John the Baptist actually only said “Behold” twice (Jn 1:29, 36). Only one other similar account is recorded in the Synoptics, with John telling the people to repent for the kingdom being at hand.
As for Matthew 25:6’s use of “behold,” it is in reference to the coming of the bridegroom, but that was not John did not say “behold” in his verse regarding the bridegroom. This is attempting to connect verses that really have nothing to do with one another, based on a single word.
Mal 3:1 speaks of preparing the way for both the 1st and 2nd Comings of Jesus, Malachi 3:2 on speaks of only the 2nd Coming:
“But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire And like launderers’ soap. Return to Me, and I will return to you,” Says the Lord of hosts (Mal 3:2).
There is absolutely no sign that there are two different comings spoken of in Malachi 3:1-2. I will present the full text here:
“Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap.” [Malachi 3:1-2]
Verse 1 (said to be about his first coming) speaks “behold, he is coming,” speaking of the messenger of the covenant – that is, Christ, who was the messenger of the covenant of grace. It then goes on into verse 2: “but who can endure the day of his coming?” Given the immediate context, and following the flow of thought from verse 1 into verse 2, the “day of his coming” can only refer to the day of the coming of Christ. Again, there is no change between one coming and another from verse 1 to verse 2.
John was in the wilderness led by the Lord, just as the Lord is calling many to the wilderness of fasting and ‘unplugging,’ to get free of the tentacles of our culture. If we can get in the wilderness and be shaped and prepared ourselves, we can then prepare others, to be burning and shining lamps like Isaiah 62:1 prophesies of us being in the end-times and like Gabriel said of John.
Here we are entering the dangerous realm of allegorizing and erroneous application, just as the monks of early Christianity would take the actions of Moses, Elijah, and others and apply it to people in their time. The fact is, why was John in the wilderness? Why did John live the way John lived? It was because his lifestyle was similar to Elijah, and hence he fulfilled the prophecy of the coming of Elijah before the Messiah. The clothes he wore, for example, matched those worn by Elijah (2 Ki 1:8).
Just as Joel 2 properly belongs to the final generation in context, yet Peter identifies a downpayment and dual-fulfillment at Pentecost, so in the same way Isaiah in Isaiah 40 prophesied of forerunners who would prepare the way for the Lord in the End-Times or at the time of Jesus’ Second Coming when all flesh (all nations) shall see Jesus’ glory together. The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God…5 The glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh (all nations) shall see it together (at Jesus’ Second Coming). (Isa. 40:3-5)
Joel 2 does not properly belong to the “final generation,” but rather to the generation to whom Peter was speaking, and, like Matthew 24, was a warning to the Jews of that generation of the coming destruction of the Temple and the judgment upon the Jewish nation. Mike Bickle has twisted the wording of Acts 2 to apply it to his theological presuppositions. I speak of this in greater detail in this post. I shall defer continued discussion on that there.
In regards to Isaiah 40:3-5, the word there for “flesh” can’t mean nations, as that is hardly how the word is ever used in the original Hebrew. In the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the translators even use the word σὰρξ, the Greek word for literal “flesh.” It is sometimes used in reference to mankind or living creatures, but in the context of the New Testament, such language is often said to speak of the inclusion of the Gentiles, rather than simply the Jews, who were considered to be “God’s people” on the earth.
Likewise, it was never applied for the end times, but the evangelist Luke applies it contemporarily to John’s present time, hence his wording “as it is written in the book of Isaiah the prophet” and the quotation followed (Lk 3:4-6). This was in reference to John’s contemporary actions, not something that was yet to be fulfilled. Some might contend that Luke does not say “only this,” but this is presuming there is a dual prophecy, and hence is begging the question. It is similar to Roman Catholics who, challenging the sola authority of scripture, will ask “Where in scripture does it say it’s the only authority, and there aren’t others?” This is likewise the old fallacy of proving a negative, ie., “You can’t prove he DIDN’T say there was a dual prophecy!”
When John said “I am Isaiah 40” he was claiming an end-time verse for himself and in a way, rightly so, yet he confuses the chapter for many students of Isaiah, leading them to fully assign it to him. Therefore we can view John’s model of forerunner, preparatory ministry for Jesus’ first coming as a model for own our in Jesus’ Second, crying as a voice from the wilderness the ministry of the midnight hour of Matt 25:6 comes from years of preparation.
When a New Testament author quotes a passage from the Old Testament and applies it to an incident in the new covenant, we must do it under the context the author himself applies it. As it stands, Luke and the other evangelists do not apply Isaiah 40 as an end-time verse, but as a verse for the contemporary time (see previous response).
We also have a case here of yet again erroneously applying scripture and allegorizing it. We are told that “we can view John’s model of a forerunner,” and yet the only forerunner foretold by scripture, as we’ve established, is John himself. Nowhere are other “forerunners” foretold, and the only way to find them is to invent the concept first (as Mike Bickle has) and then read it into scripture, just as the monastics and ascetics of early Christianity did.
Here we likewise see an erroneous application of Matthew 25:6 – namely, it doesn’t say we are to “cry as a voice from the wilderness the ministry of the midnight hour,” let alone that we must prepare to do so over many years. The Parable of the Ten Virgins, found in Matthew 25:1-13, serves, as a whole, to foretell the coming of Christ, and warns believers to be prepared. The false believers (the virgins who were not ready) are shut out, while the true believers (the virgins who were ready) are let in and made secure. The verse in question reads: “But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.'” Note, firstly, that this is a one-time event, not something that occurs every midnight. Note, secondly, that this is not said by believers, but is a generic call meant to symbolize the coming of Christ and the suddenness of it. Note, thirdly, that the point of the metaphor is that the coming is sudden – there is nothing here involving “years of preparation.”
We will proclaim the 2nd Coming of Jesus to our generation with the same intensity and even greater power, Isaiah 40 and Mal 3 give us the path to prepare the way. But we also lead them to the sermon on the mount, of which Jesus said is the lifestyle that will stand, a house founded on the rock, that will stand greatest storm of all History, the coming end-time flood (Matthew 7). In Matthew 24 Jesus said the end times will be like the Days of Noah. Forerunners lead others to prepare and build the ‘ark’ of their hearts by doing the wisdom of Matthew 25, getting oil or getting the Holy Spirit, cultivating wisdom and revelation (Eph 1;17) and the knowledge of God.
I don’t have much to say here, as it, again, mostly deals with IHOP-KC presuppositions that are read into the passages, especially the extra-scriptural concept of “forerunners.” I will note, however, that Ephesians 1:17 is wrongfully applied. The full context:
For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. [Ephesians 1:15-21]
Paul prays that the believers in Ephesus may have God give them the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him – but is this talking about special end-times revelation or prophecy? On the contrary, this entire section is one of Paul’s most notorious run-on sentences, and must be read in full. This wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God will have the eyes of their hearts enlightened, that they may know what is the hope to which he has called you – in other words, salvation. This is seen in the verses that follow, for Paul speaks of “the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe,” and the “working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead.” This is about knowledge of the Gospel, not simply a blanket knowledge of a higher being. Note too this isn’t something we “cultivate” – this is something God gives us. The active person here, according to Paul, is God.
29 He who has the Bride is the Bridegroom; but the friend of the Bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the Bridegroom’s voice…this joy of mine is fulfilled. (Jn. 3:29) John described what Jesus felt emotionally in saying “He who has the Bride is the Bridegroom”. To understand John, they had to know who He lived before.7 The marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. (Rev. 19:7) He that has the Bride – Jesus has a bride in His heart because God promised Him a prepared Bride at the end of natural history. He is the Bridegroom – He has tender love and burns with desire for His people.
Here we finally receive some touch upon John 3:29-30. While I don’t have too much to touch upon here, the real meat of the matter comes in the following section:
John described his ministry and lifestyle as a friend the Bridegroom who stands and hears Him.
1. The friend of the Bridegroom – the best man in a wedding does not seek to draw the bride’s attention and affections to himself but to prepare her to receive the embrace of the Bridegroom. Paul spoke of ministries who preached or showcased ‘themselves’ (2 Cor 4:5; Phil 2:19-21). Friends of the Bridegroom prepare people to receive Jesus’ embrace as the Bridegroom God empowering them to walk out the first commandment.
2. Who stands – diligent attentiveness to stand in God’s presence in prayer and the Word 18 For who has stood in the counsel of the LORD, and has perceived and heard His word? Who has marked His word and heard it? (Jer. 23:18)2 The seven angels who stand before God…to them were given 7 trumpets. (Rev. 8:2)
3. Who hears him – to respond with obedience regardless of the price
Let’s quickly see the context of this section of John 3:
Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification. And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.” [John 3:25-30]
We are told of “friends of the bridegroom”…but who is the friend of the bridegroom here? It’s John the Baptist, discussing his function as the messenger preluding the Messianic era (“I have been sent before him”) and the end of the Old Testament era (“He must increase, but I must decrease” – see also Mt 11:7-14, explained earlier).
We are likewise told that John here “described his ministry and lifestyle as a friend the Bridegroom.” Yet John is not speaking of his ministry and lifestyle (nowhere is it even mentioned), but his role in relation to Christ. Even if we were to contend that part of John’s role in relationship to Christ was his ministry and lifestyle, it is applied only to John, and not to us.
Now, our final bit:
John described the joyful emotional impact that hearing the Bridegroom’s voice had on him.
1. Because of the Bridegroom’s voice – growing in revelation of Jesus as a Bridegroom
2. Rejoices greatly…this joy of mine is fulfilled – empowered with joy by receiving the revelation of the Bridegroom even in the difficulty of a desert lifestyle
Referring back to the citation of the full context above, let’s examine these claims:
We are told that John felt joyful because of “growing in revelation of Jesus as a bridegroom.” No gradual revelation, however, is mentioned here. John appears to have full understanding of Christ’s role in this regard.
We are told that John is “empowered with joy” by this revelation, even in “the difficulty of a desert lifestyle.” Here, again, we find analogies being applied wrongfully, especially since the verses do not have John saying that he feels joyful despite his desert lifestyle (ignoring, for a moment, that many commentators contend whether or not John actually lived in an official “desert”).
As a final note, I’d like to bring up a serious issue: Mike Bickle and his organization are founded upon sand. They are founded upon the abuse of scripture, none too surprising given Mike Bickle is a proven false prophet and does not have a good track record when it comes to so-called “prophetic ministry.” His organization is putting a yoke upon the youth and elders alike with their lifestyles models and works. I would encourage the author of the former post, as well as anyone who reads this post, to review the facts for themselves. I have many posts on this blog that have reviewed the teachings at the organization and held them up to the light of scripture, and IHOP-KC has been found wanting. I exhort them to flee from this house of error, repent and put your faith in Christ if you haven’t already, truly, and enter into true knowledge and truth in God.
UPDATE MAY 8, 2013
The gentleman responded to me on Twitter upon receiving the link to this page. Unfortunately, his Tweets have all been deleted. This had happened before, and when I asked him about it, he said:
What I find curious, however, is that before all his latest Tweets were deleted, the only one deleted was the one linking to his full response (the link provided by me at the start of this post still works). Sometime later, the rest of the Tweets were deleted. Luckily, his deleted Tweets seemed to still show up on my iPad’s Twitter app, so I saved a screenshot of them and decided to use them here. His contention, upon reading this post, was:
As I told him on Twitter (none of my Tweets are deleted), this page was written in response to our initial conversation. I was working on it as him and I continued to go back and forth. For the sake of fairness, I decided to go ahead and provide a response to those Tweets. They are, in their fullness (read from the bottom up):
Let me respond to this bit by bit.
Firstly, while Jesus did say Elijah would restore all things, we need to understand to what this “restore all things” refers. Let’s first see the full context of the passage cited:
And they asked him, “Why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” And he said to them, “Elijah does come first to restore all things. And how is it written of the Son of Man that he should suffer many things and be treated with contempt? But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him.” [Mark 9:11-13]
It is strange that we are told that we are supposed to expect a dual prophecy with Elijah, when Christ himself says in verse 13 “Elijah has come.” The verb used here (ἔρχομαι) is Perfect Indicative Active – what does this mean? The indicative active tells us that it is going on, while the perfect tense tells us that the prophecy of Elijah has been fulfilled. In other words, nothing else is needed – the Elijah prophecy has literally been “perfectly” met. It does not require anything else, either in that day and age nor in the near future. This is seen even more clearly in Matthew’s parallel account:
“But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist. [Matthew 17:12-13]
Once again, Christ says that Elijah has already come, and that they (meaning the religious and secular leaders) did to him whatever they pleased. In a similar sense (and switching from passive tense to future tense), the Son of Man (Christ himself) will endure similar suffering. Then, to put the nail in the coffin, the evangelist Matthew records that the disciples “understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.” In other words, this entire discussion was in regards to John the Baptist. No one could read into this that there will be future “forerunners” in the style of Elijah and John the Baptist unless they committed eisegesis and ignored what the verses clearly say.
Some will then ask what Christ means when he says Elijah “does come first to restore all things”? The key is that the word “restore” here is being presumed to mean the end times, when in fact it merely means here to make things right. The verb here for restore (ἀποκαθίστημι) is the same used in verses such as Matthew 12:13, where it was said the man’s shriveled arm was restored (ἀποκαθίστημι) to its original state. It is likewise used in Mark 8:25, where it is said the blind man’s sight was restored (ἀποκαθίστημι). The word signifies a healing or a setting back in its proper place.
What then does it mean with John the Baptist, whom we are told was the perfect fulfillment of the prophecies regarding Elijah. In fact, the “restoring” Christ speaks of is taken directly from the Septuagint rendition of Malachi 4:5 (actually Malachi 4:6 in our Bibles), which speaks of Elijah “restoring the hearts of the Fathers” (ἀποκαταστήσει καρδίαν πατρὸς) to their children and vice versa. The truest sense of this restoration is what we see in John the Baptist’s ministry: namely, bringing people to a sense of repentance and preparing them for the Lord, returning and “restoring” them to a sense of repentance before the Messiah comes to the Jewish nation. It is just as it is seen in the words of the angel to John’s father, Zechariah:
“And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will 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 for the Lord a people prepared.” [Luke 1:16-17]
The “restoring all things,” therefore, which John the Baptist is said by Christ to have fulfilled completely, was restoring the hearts and minds of the Jewish people towards the coming of the Messiah, and bringing to them a message of repentance that would precede the coming of their Lord and the ultimate judgment upon the Jewish nation. This has been the interpretation of orthodox men throughout history, and never was it read in any different way until the coming of Mike Bickle and his private revelations from God.
Secondly, the passage from Acts 3:21 speaks of the restoration of all things (ἀποκαταστάσεως πάντων), similar to the words found in Mark 9:12 (ἀποκαθιστάνει πάντα). However, there is a grammatical difference here: Mark uses a verb that is in the Perfect Indicative Active tense; Peter uses the word in noun form, specifically the Genitive Feminine Singular, relating back to the “times” spoken of by Peter. Is there a difference between these two concepts? Let’s review the context of Acts 3:21:
“Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.” [Acts 3:19-21]
Speaking to the Jews, Peter speaks of the times of refreshing that may come upon those who repent (in other words, the peace and security of salvation), and then speaks of Christ in heaven until “the time for restoring all things.” What are these “all things,” however? Peter then qualifies these things with “about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.” Two “times” here are spoken of: a time (καιρός, or an opportune season) of refreshing, happening now; a time (χρόνος, or a specific season) of restoring all things foretold by the prophets, most likely to occur in the future.
What does this teach us? The biggest lesson is that two different restorations are being spoken of between Mark 9:12 and Acts 3:21. Christ spoke of the restoration of all things that the messenger of the Messiah would perform, while Peter is speaking of the restoration of all things of which the prophets foretold regarding the Messiah. We cannot connect the two restorations without ignoring the larger picture found in the individual passages.
Finally, we are told that the spirit of Elijah “has to be on a people related to the 2nd coming/restoration.” Where, however, are people mentioned in either verse? Christ does not speak of “people” in his discussions on John the Baptist, and Peter does not even speak of the “spirit of Elijah,” merely the “time of restoration.”
From this, we see, yet again, that the prophecies regarding “forerunners” and the like are isolated to John the Baptist, not to any special end-times movement that will arise. This movement has been constructed from the imaginations of men first and foremost, with God’s word adjusted and mishandled to fit into these imaginations. The use of scripture by IHOP-KC is, bluntly put, weak and feeble because it is founded upon erroneous application and eisegesis used by the organization’s founders. When you have to scripture jump and grab passages from here and there, ignoring the context of each, and read into verses concepts foreign to scripture itself, then we are not honoring God’s word. We are honoring, as we said, the dreams and visions of men over and against God’s word. Scripture has harsh word for those who do these things, and these words should be heeded…the last words here shall therefore go to the prophet Ezekiel.
“They have seen false visions and lying divinations. They say, ‘Declares the Lord,’ when the Lord has not sent them, and yet they expect him to fulfill their word…My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and who give lying divinations. They shall not be in the council of my people, nor be enrolled in the register of the house of Israel, nor shall they enter the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord God.” [Ezekiel 13:6, 9]