Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Doctrine of Divine Election

Dr. Couch, I understand there are some who want to make the doctrine of divine election and predestination a corporate act of God and not an individual act. In other words the church, as a body and as a unit, is elect but not individuals. What do you say?
   Often when election is mentioned in Scripture it is in a plural form. "All of those who are elect." A plural form is really a reference to individuals who happen to be bunched together! If election was some kind of corporate work of God only, the Bible would say something like (in the singular), the church (it or she) is elect. But this is not what the Bible does.

    God’s sovereignty is exemplified in Romans 9:6-13 with the choosing of Jacob over Esau. God’s election ("His choice," eklogos) was for Jacob as an individual over Esau (Rom. 9:11). Esau is an individual not some kind of corporate body!

    Two individuals in the NT are singled out as individuals who are elect, or chosen. One is the "elect" lady to whom John writes his second epistle (verse 1). The second is this lady’s sister who is also called "elect" (verse 13). The Greek word is the common word for election, eklatas. Some try to argue that this "elect lady" is a local assembly but this is very poor hermeneutics in my opinion. There is no cogent reason to interpret this phrase this way.

    Election is an individual work of God. This is supported by the divine drawing of the individual to Christ for salvation. It is not only a corporate drawing but an individual drawing since Christ uses the word "everyone" (singular) in the great election passage of John 6:35-45.

Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Doctrine of the Virgin Birth

Dr. Couch, thank you for your comments on the virgin birth. Do you have anymore points that reinforce this great doctrine? 
    In the genealogy of Matthew 1:1-17, there is an interesting point to be made from the Greek text about the idea of "being birthed." For example, the genealogy reads something like "To Abraham was born Isaac; …" (v. 2). The was born is an Aorist Active Indicative of the verb genao, to birth. This continues all the way down to verse 16 which says: "And to Jacob was born Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ." By whom is a feminine pronoun referring to Mary. "The Jacob" is the earthly father of Mary’s husband Joseph. The by whom points to Mary with the was born as an Aorist Passive Indicative of genao

    To put it simply: verses 2-16 tell us that each man mentioned is the physical father of the name that follows. "Abraham gave birth to Isaac." But the Voice changes from Active to Passive when it mentions the birth of Christ. He was born, birthed by Mary and not through Joseph. This is a "loud" and pointed confirmation of Christ’s virgin birth through Mary, with no physical father as the male agency.

    In writing this, Matthew knew exactly what he was doing. And of course he was superintended and guided by the Holy Spirit. This is the message God wanted us to receive.

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Monday, July 9, 2007

Was Christ Born Genetically From Mary?

Dr. Couch, I just heard of a Sunday school teacher who said that Christ was not born in a genetic sense from Mary. This seems dead wrong to me—what do you say? 
    It is wrong and it is virtually heresy! The church fathers wrestled over the nature of Christ for generations and they came up with the right approach, the biblical approach, concerning the human nature of Christ. They said He was "fully man and fully God." He was "the God/Man"! Of course His nature is a mystery to us. And of course He existed in the past as the eternal Son of God. He is constituted now, after His human birth, with both natures working together in His one person. And yet too, He is without sin. While we can only conjecture, it seems as if the sin nature is passed down through the man, i.e. Adam, and not through the woman. Thus, Christ has His humanity through Mary the virgin and His divine person came through the mysterious work of the Holy Spirit. 

    What is some of the evidence that tells us about His nature?
   The Bible speaks of Christ as "the Son of God," i.e. "the Son who is related to God." And it speaks of Him as "the Son of Man," i.e. "the Son who is related to mankind or humanity!
  1. The hypostatic union of His two natures works to explain Him in His present eternal existence, following His human birth through Mary. His two natures are brought together into a personal union which will continue forever. While often in the life of Christ, in what He did, as recorded in the Gospels, one could see coming forth His divine nature, or His human nature (however without sin), yet He was really just one person. Christ could perform divine miracles, move instantly from one location to another. But too, He could be tired, hungry, and desire for being alone for personal contemplation. However Christ is not schizophrenic. (More on His nature: See Phil. 2:6-11; John 1:1-14; Rom. 1:2-5; 9:5; 1 Tim. 3:16; Heb. 2:14; 1 John 1:1-3)
  2. The work of the Spirit in His birth. In Luke 1:35 we read: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you [Mary], and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God." Holy offspring is the Greek "to birth" (ginao) but it is in the Present Passive Participle, Neuter form. ("That birthing process that is being accomplished") Thus the point is that the Spirit is in the conception and birthing process. The "Holy offspring" is not Christ but the process, the happening, in Mary’s womb that will bring forth Jesus in human form, but again, without sin. But too, it is about the mysterious union of His eternal personality joined with human flesh. "Holy" would certainly imply that the results would be the birth of One who was sinless.
  3. That Christ was one hundred percent human is made clear in Scripture. Mary was "with child" (pregnant) (Luke 2:5). Christ was conceived in Mary’s womb and she would bear a Son (1:31). Mary was found "with child by the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 1:18). Jesus grew in Mary’s womb ("the days were completed for her to give birth") (Luke 1:6). Mary "gave birth to her first born son" (v. 7).
  4. Paul further comments: The Son of God "was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh" (Rom. 1:3), that is, Mary was a descendant of David.
  5. It was the Gnostic cult that first began to deny the full humanness of Christ. John
  6. seems to be addressing the coming incipient Gnosticism that was growing in his day. He writes: "Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh" (2 John 7). This verse reinforces the idea that Jesus was fully human, but again, without sin.
  7. In the prophecy of Psalm 16 about the death of Christ, it is made clear that the grave
  8. could not hold Him because He was "The Holy One" of God. Therefore His flesh would not undergo decay (v. 10).
  9. That the Lord was fully human but also sinless is made certain by many passages of
  10. Scripture. Paul writes: Christ "knew no sin" but was made sin on our behalf (2 Cor. 5:21). He was called the "Holy and Righteous One" (Acts 3:14). Also, He was a high priest "who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4:15), who was "holy, innocent, undefiled, separated fro sinners and exalted above the heavens" (7:26). As well, He "committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth"(1 Peter 2:22). And finally, "You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin" (1 John 3:5).
    To say that Christ had no genetic connection with His earthly mother, Mary, is ludicrous and heretical! That a Sunday school teacher would say this shows how limited is the theological education! 

Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch

Sunday, July 8, 2007

How Are We To Witness In The Work-Place?

Dr. Couch, how are we to witness in the work-place? 
   This is a good question. Obviously one cannot be obnoxious or pushy when talking with someone about spiritual issues. So wisdom is the order of the day. 

    Here are some guidelines:

  • Be down to earth and "normal" as you witness. You don’t have to bounce off the wall like a rubber ball to impress people with your spirituality. Remember, when someone gets emotional it means their arguments are weak!
  • Some companies do not allow any religious expression. And if this is the case, honor it or change jobs!
  • Look for openings such as with questions. Possibly give some meaningful literature or a tract, that is, if they accept it. Don’t push it down their throats.
  • Be ready for problems that a co-worker may have. Domestic, or with children. This gives a perfect opportunity to say something spiritual. Measure their response to what you say. If it brings about an opening, move in carefully. Invite them to church or share more material with them. However, don’t be churchy! Stay with spiritual issues or with the gospel of salvation if they are not born again.
  • Seek an opportunity from the company to allow you to have a Bible class in an office or meeting room once a week. But you control it! Often such classes are ruined by the pushy folks who want to shove their emotionalism or so-called Bible knowledge down people’s throats. Remember, they are like the Gnostics. "God told me! God showed me!" Do not have an open-ended Bible class. You teach—they listen! Such a class should not be a round-robin where everyone shares their ignorance! Do short studies with breaks and see where they then go.
  • A key passage on this issue of witnessing is Colossians 4:5-6:

    conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person. 
    Thanks for asking.
    Dr. Mal Couch

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Are All Races Equal?

Dr. Couch, are all races equal? I saw your article about immigration and I was wondering. 
    All humanity stands before God as sinful, but people groups can have specific sins that may be different from others. This has to do with what is happening with a group, or a nation, spiritually and morally. And, it has to do with how much biblical light they may have. But of course, each individual can experience grace and be saved, and become spiritually changed. Yet there are still tendencies that may mark a people who are out of the light of Scripture. 

    For example, the apostle Paul says of the Cretans, "One of [the Cretans], a prophet of their own, said, ‘Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.’ This testimony is true" (Titus 1:12-13). Groups of people may have problems, as a group, that are morally destructive. We are foolish to deny this reality. 

    Abraham made his servant swear that he would not get a bride for his son Isaac from among the Canaanites. He said, "I will make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I live" (Gen. 24:3).

    The Edomites who were descendants of Esau were forever cursed by the Lord because of Esau’s mistreatment of his brother Jacob. The Lord said, "Because of violence to your brother Jacob, you will be covered with shame, and you will be cut off forever" (Obadiah 10). While there is a family connection here with Jacob, in time, the Edomites were isolated and became, as a nation, a continual reproach and a cursed people for perpetuity.

    Each American must decide in his own conscience about the terrible problem of immigration. Each will have his own opinion, but if we misjudge, or do not use wisdom in the matter of quotas or limits, we WILL destroy ourselves from within. I personally believe we may have already passed the mark of "no return." And, I believe this will be a judgment from God.

    Why some are afraid to respond biblically on this issue is because they have become brainwashed. America was founded on a Judeo-Christian morality and ethic. The Bible was understood to be the lamp that guided our moral compass. Would you find it okay for thousands and thousands to come into this nation who worshipped pagan gods and became part of our culture? Is it alright for other religious groups to want us to destroy any vestige of Christianity in our public square?

    In my opinion the immigration issue, for Christians, is a spiritual issue. We had better chose, select, and discern, with the Bible in view. I am sure this is not popular to say that, but never mind! I think 1 Kings 18:21 has something to say on all of this. It reads:
Elijah came near to all the people and said, ‘How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.’ But the people did not answer him a word.
Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch

Friday, July 6, 2007

What About the Illegal Immigrant Crisis in America

Dr. Couch, I have not seen you say anything about the illegal immigrant crisis in America. What do you think? 
    Well, first we must get straight as to what we are talking about. The politically correct folks have changed some of the definitions and we need to go back to defining exactly what we are discussing.

    We are not talking about illegal immigrants. Nor are we discussing undocumented workers. We are dealing with criminal foreigners. To sneak into a country illegally makes them criminals. And I do not know of any nation on earth presently who would allow that criminal attack on their borders to continue, except in "close your eyes America"! 

    One argument to allow this is the reasoning that "After all, are we not all immigrants, and did not all of our early parents just walk into America, with its open borders, with no one stopping them?" This is a fallacious argument because "That was then, and this is now!" When people first started driving cars and flying airplanes, no licenses were required. But as time went on, not just anyone could do those things. You had to have a license! Our nation would be overrun if we simply had an open border—come one and come all!

    But what about the argument that they are coming to America just to make a living to feed their family? While we should have sympathy for all, this does not mean we can care for all and supply every person on the planet with sustenance. This will only happen when the King comes and He establishes the perfect Kingdom rule on earth! And besides, why can they not do what our founding fathers did—work themselves to the bone to provide for themselves, without government and social aid! They did not come to these shores for a handout but instead, "to hand out!" They trusted God, had a strong work ethic, pulled together, had morals that could be trusted and counted on. 

    I have always been known as the most tolerant and kind to people of different color and races. I accept everyone, and all are equal who are in America. But all races and all religions are not equal. We are watering down the Reformation founding peoples who came to these shores originally. They brought moral and industrious Calvinism to this continent. 

    So, if we want a different nation, with certain immoralities as baggage, and vast differences in culture, then so be it! But it will not be the same America. Be prepared to bury America as we know it!

    The founding peoples of America knew this well. An immigration flood began about 1882 and lasted until after World War I. Out of due fear president Harding signed into law the Quota Act of 1921 which laid quotas on immigration. The people in the U.S. overwhelmingly approved and Congress voted to accept it with 326 to 71 in the House and 62 to 6 in the Senate. Someone then must have known and seen something that we do not see today. By the way, the immigration quotas were limited to only 150,000 people per year.

    Those who break our laws, sneak into this country immorally and illegally, are but putting terrible drains on our economy. They accept the amenities provided by our nation but without legal citizenship.

    What bothers me the most is not simply the criminal illegals but the accepting attitudes toward the law breakers of our own population. Our people do not know how this nation began and what is required to maintain it morally and culturally. The judgment upon us is the illegals, yes, but more. The judgment coming is because we have not thanked God for the nation He gave us. And we do not understand the spiritual issues required to maintain it! We waffle on the laws we already have on the books on this issue. No one can step up to the plate and do the right thing. In my opinion the government leadership has not enforced the laws, and we the citizens, have done nothing to make it accountable!

Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Is Jealousy Always A Sin?

Dr. Couch, is jealousy always a sin? God is said in the OT to be jealous, so does that mean that a believer can be jealous and not sin? 
    In the NT the word jealous comes from the Greek words zeelou (noun) and zeeloo (verb). The OT word (and related words) comes from kah’nah

Both words must be interpreted by context. For example in the OT it is perfectly legitimate for a husband to be jealous (zealously protective) of his wife (Num. 5:14, 30), and, enthusiastic for His God (Num. 25:13). God can be zealously protective for Zion and the city of Jerusalem (Zech. 1:14; 8:2). But in the negative, sinful sense, the word can be translated to envy (Gen. 26:14; 30:1; 37:11).

    Concerning the Corinthians, Paul said he "was jealous for them with a godly jealously" (2 Cor. 11:2). Thus, he had a zeal, an enthusiasm, for the believers in that church. Of the legalistic, unbelieving Jews, it is said that they were moved with envy against how people were responding to Paul (Acts 17:5). James speaks of lusting after material things and says that such folks desire to have more (James 4:2). True love does not envy (1 Cor. 13:4) and it is okay to desire certain spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 14:1).

    All of the words in italics above come from the same Hebrew and Greek words! So the key is context. Example: It would be wrong to envy someone who just bought a new car, but it would not be wrong to be zealously protective over the safety of your wife.

I hope this helps. And thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Postponement of the Kingdom?

Dr. Couch, it seems as if there are many passages in the NT that indicate the postponement of the kingdom. They appear to show that after the church age, then God will clearly bring forth the Davidic kingdom, though I fully understand that the tribulation comes in between. What do you say on this? 
    You are absolutely right! Many non-dispensationalists argue that there is no postponement, but they are wrong! In Acts 3:17-26 Peter strongly hints at this postponement. He cites for the Jews the fact of Christ’s coming to die for sins. The prophets spoke of this suffering, this God has fulfilled (v. 18). The Jews then were to repent so that their sins would be wiped away (v. 19). 

    After the repentance then "times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord" (v. 19b). This is the kingdom. It begins when God sends "Jesus the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive UNTIL the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time" (v. 21). 

    Verse 21 is without a doubt speaking of a postponement!

    The same is happening in Acts 15:7-18. When it was explained to the apostles that God was now reaching the Gentiles with the gospel, James stands up before them and refers to Amos 9:11-12, which quotes from the Lord, "After these things I will return, and I will rebuild the tabernacle of David which has fallen, and I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, …" (v. 16a). Again, a postponement is in view. This makes sense from the text and by understanding that the Word of God is dispensational!

    Following Christ’s resurrection, and just before His ascension, the disciples asked: "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6). Christ answers: "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but NOW you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you ..." (vs. 7-8). Thus, the Lord is verifying the principle of The Postponement! 

Thanks for asking. 

Dr. Mal Couch

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Is Obadiah 15-21 About the Worldwide Tribulation?

Dr. Couch, Obadiah 15-21 seems to be about the worldwide tribulation and the coming kingdom. Am I right? 
    You are right on! This section starts out mentioning the great tribulation, the "Day of the Lord" that will fall upon "all the nations" (v. 15a). As the nations have been sinful so in like manner a retribution will fall upon them (v. 15b). As the nations have abused God’s holy mountain (Mount Zion in Jerusalem) by being drunk with lust over occupying and subverting it, so will they drink of God’s wrath and perish (v. 16).

    Mount Zion (in Jerusalem) will become a place of escape and a holy site when the Jews, a remnant of all of the children of Jacob, have complete control of it. (This may tell you who will end up finally with occupying that mountain!)

God will use "the house of Jacob" (descendants of all the tribes of Israel) as a judgment fire on the Arabic peoples surrounding the Holy Land. The children of Esau will become stubble, be consumed with fire, "So that there will be no survivor of the house of Esau" (v. 18).

    Besides the coming of Jesus the Messiah, the Deliverer, there will be additional warriors who deliver the Jewish people at the end of the tribulation. Obadiah closes with this idea and writes: "The deliverers will ascend Mount Zion to judge the mountain of Esau, and the kingdom will be the Lord’s" (v. 21). On this verse Unger writes:

   Obadiah concluded, as did so many of the Hebrew prophets, with a strong Messianic note centering on the promise of future blessing of regathered and restored Israel in the Kingdom promised to David (2 Sam. 7:8-15), a glorious theme that dominates Old Testament prophecy. 

Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch

Monday, July 2, 2007

Did The Muslims Aid the Protestants During the Reformation Against the Roman Catholics?

Dr. Couch, it has been stated that the Muslims aided the Protestants during the Reformation against the Roman Catholics. Is this true or not? As far as I know this view is a relatively new belief put out by some in the Replacement Theology camp. They seem to be taking now a pro-Muslim stance.
    I’m a pretty good historian, and church historian, but I do not recall that happening. If anyone reading this has any documentation, please send it to me. 

Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Is Psalm 122 a Millennial Psalm?

Dr. Couch, is Psalm 122 a millennial psalm?
    Yes, it appears to be. Merrill F. Unger believes it is also. Verse 1 says: "I will be glad when they say to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’" Prophetically, this is also what the nations will say in the millennial kingdom (Isa. 2:2-3; Jer. 50:5; Zech. 8:21-23; 14:16-21). 

    Verse 5 is interesting as well. There will be "thrones for judgment" ("seats for judging") set up, and as well, "thrones (seats) for the house of David." Unger comments:
    The plural "thrones" (seats) has in view the bench of judges whose authority
derives from the king (cf. Isa. 32:1). In the millennial Kingdom these seats will be occupied by co-rulers of the Messiah (Matt. 19:28), the Davidic-Messianic rule being one of David’s favorite themes (2 Sam. 7:11-13, 19, 25; Psalms 18:50; 21:4).
    Verse 6 is a wonderful verse for all of us looking for the kingdom reign of the Lord Jesus Christ on earth, over Israel, and over the entire world! It reads, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; ‘May they prosper who love you.’" 

Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Straw Man Arguments

Dr. Couch, many people like to set up a straw man for an argument against dispensationalism. Some use the argument that Jehovah Witnesses also believe in a future millennial kingdom. What do you think of such an "ad hominem" attack? 
    It is interesting that Webster defines the Latin phrase ad hominem as "Appealing to one’s prejudice, emotions, or special interests rather than to one’s reason." You picked a great phrase to describe how flakey the opposition can be! How silly to want to get rid of the biblical teaching on the millennial kingdom and the literal reign of Christ by the argument of guilt by association! The 1,000 year kingdom is part of the teaching of Christ and the disciples, and all of the OT prophets. 

    I never have a problem with people asking legitimate questions or who want to learn all that the Bible teaches, but I have a problem with those who oppose clear doctrine from some personal agenda or from the fact that they have just not spent the time to study thoroughly the Word of God. 

    We must remember that all heretical teachings always have a bit of truth mixed in with error. 

    Remember that the Bible IS dispensational! We who are dispensational do not impose our own man-made doctrinal framework over the Scriptures. But this is exactly what the Covenant guys do. They even admit that the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace are implied but not explicit in Scripture. From this they build a whole system that leads down the primrose path to false doctrine. 

Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch

Friday, June 29, 2007

Resurrection Passages in the Old Testament

Dr. Couch, I understand that there are but few resurrection passages in the OT? Is this true? 
    Well, not really. There are far more than you may think. Some are obscure and may be hard to discover at first. For example: Isaiah 57:1-2 and Hosea 6:2. 

    Isaiah 57:1 reads: “The righteous man perishes, and no man takes it to heart.” The righteous will be disregarded and repudiated by the world. Unger notes that the time frame here is the tribulation period when wickedness will abound (Matt. 24:9-12). Because of the excesses of the unfaithful watchmen in Israel (Isa. 56:10-12), many of the godly will perish in the violent persecutions under the apostate Jewish leaders, who will side with the Antichrist (Rev. 13:1-18). 

    “Devout men are taken away” (v. 1b) refers to the “men of covenant faithfulness” who will experience a violent death (Micah 7:2). The “righteous man is removed from evil” (v. 1c) refers to the calamitous divine judgments of the great tribulation which is about to burst upon the wicked at that time. This refers to their martyrdom and the fact that they die before all of the judgments climax toward the end of the period of wrath. 

    With the death of the righteous, “he [the righteous] enters into peace and they [all] rest on their beds” (v. 2a), i.e. “those who walked in [God’s?] upright way” (v. 2b). Unger points out that the “entering into peace” and “resting on their beds” shows they lie in calmness and peace with the certainty of awakening at the resurrection. This is virtually what is said to Daniel (Dan.12:1-2). 

    Hosea 6:2 reads: “[God] will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day that we may live before Him.” 

    Unger points out that the Lord will restore the Jewish believing remnant in every way: physically, politically and spiritually. This has to do with the surviving remnant who make it through the tribulation (Matt. 24:13; Rom. 11:26). There will also be the resurrection of the OT saints who come to enjoy the millennial reign of the Son of David (Isa. 26:19; Dan. 12:2). They will be here to participate in the messianic kingdom (Ezek. 37:1-14). 

    “In the third day He will raise us up.” Unger thinks this refers to the physical resurrection of the OT Jewish saints who die in the tribulation. The “third day” may point to the fact that Christ came forth from the grave on the third day (1 Cor. 15:4). “And we shall live,” or He will “revive us,” “make us alive.” The OT saints and the godly remnant of Israel will be brought back to earth in a resurrection. The purpose of God raising up His people is that they may live “in His sight” and enjoy His favor and fellowship as in ancient times. 

    Verses like this prove the reason Martha could say to Jesus, “I know that [Lazarus] will rise again in the resurrection on the last day” (John 11:24). 

Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch

Thursday, June 28, 2007

What is Going on in Psalm 120?

Dr. Couch, what is going on in Psalm 120, especially in verses 5-7? Could this have to do with some of the things going on in the Middle East with Israel even today?
There are many prophecies that more and more seem to apply to issues of today, that maybe we overlooked in the past. I believe this is possible with this Psalm, and Dr. Merrill F. Unger concurs. 

The Psalm may be about the Jews returning to Jerusalem from Babylon but there is more. Verses 5-7 seem to indicate a future time when the Jews would be surrounded and even overwhelmed by those in the pagan nations. Unger points out that the reference to "sojourning in Meshech" in verse 5a is a reference to possibly being scattered among the European nations. Meshech was a descendant of Japheth from which the Europeans derive (Gen. 10:21). Meshech is also part of the leadership that rises up with a surprise attack on the Jewish people who are living in the Holy Land—the famous Ezekiel 38-39, "The Coming Russian Invasion of Israel." (I believe we are coming near to this event right now!) 

Then there is the reference to Keder (v. 5b) who was a descendant of Ishmael who was a son of Abraham. The descendants of Ishmael were part of the larger body of Arabic peoples, who loved strife like their father (Gen. 16:12). And of course they have been in perpetual conflict, and even a state of hatred, with the descendants of Abraham-Isaac-and Jacob, who are the present day Jewish people of the Covenant!
The last two verses are interesting and sound very much like what is happening even today. "Too long has my soul had its dwelling with those who hate peace. I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war" (vv. 6-7). Unger writes:
How true this situation is today. The Jews are scattered throughout the world among the Gentiles, and the State of Israel is surrounded by overwhelming numbers of hostile Arabs (Ishmaelites), who plan their extinction.
In the Hebrew text the expression "I am for peace" is actually "I peace." Unger paraphrases this with the Jews sighing in this last verse: "My very nature is peace; but when I speak to foster peace, they breathe only war." There will be no peace in the Middle East until the Messiah, the Peacemaker, comes! 

Come quickly, Lord Jesus! 

Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

What About Animals?

Dr. Couch, there has been a lot in the news lately about treating animals right. What do you think?
    There are several verses of Scripture about treating your animals with kindness.

Deuteronomy 25:4 says, "You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing." That is, you shall not torture him with the munchy grain underfoot and not let him eat of it. That is, do not stop him from eating! Christ also added that, on the Sabbath, "Which one of you shall have … an ox fall into a well, and will not immediately pull him out?" No righteous man would leave his animal there to suffer for even one day! And as well, Proverbs 12:10 says, "A righteous man regards the life of his animal; but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel." The People’s Bible comments:
   "This verse might be rendered—a righteous man knows the feelings of his animals. He gives them credit for feelings; he does not look upon them as merely so much animated matter, but as standing in some relation to himself, and the more responsible his ownership the more considerate ought to be his treatment even of the animals he owns. ... Does God care for oxen? "Not a sparrow falls to the ground without your Father," Christ said. The lions roar and seek their meat from God, Job remarks. God cares for what He made."
    I once knew a man who belonged to a "fighting fundy" group, who thought himself extremely righteous and perfect in all ways. But he would capture poor wild animals in a cage, such as raccoons, and leave them there to suffer in the heat for days without food or water, waiting for the Animal Control people to come. While he fed his cats, he gave them no love nor removed the tortuous fleas. They were wild without human affection and finally wandered off for attention somewhere else. When my cats get hurt I do not want them to suffer and rush them to the Vet. They are gifts from God and I have a responsibility to them. That same feeling should be for people also. 

    Though all who belong to such a hard core fundamental group do not mistreat their animals this way, I have seen the coldness of so many of that ilk that I do not want to relate to their hypocrisy. I have found also that, generally speaking, they will not change. They judge everyone else but themselves! What disturbed me the most about this Christian was his legalism and self-righteousness. He would never call what he did to animals wrong. He was legalistic but could not (or did not want to) see his own sins of cruelty. He could never confess that he was sinning against God’s little creatures! But interestingly, in like manner, and apart from his own immediate family, he was also cold and icy to other people. He always appeared to be better than other believers. And he certainly isolated himself from the lost. They knew how he felt about them. 

    How one treats his animals is probably how he will treat other people. And the reverse is true also. Lack of feelings and the lack of ability to identify with others is the rule. Thus, there will be little mercy for man and animal. When you are around these folks, observe how they treat their dogs and cats! If you see cruelty and coldness run from such! How they treat their animals is more than likely how they will treat you. 

Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Do Older Dispensationalists Have A Different View of the Sermon on the Mount?

Dr. Couch, do older dispensationalists (such as Chafer, Scofield, Gaebelein) have a different view of the Sermon on the Mount than younger dispensationalists? 
   Not in substance, that I know of. But, by counting heads and taking tabulations as to who believes what, is not how I do theology. I do theology by CONTEXT, CONTEXT, and CONTEXT, and by OBSERVATION, OBSERVATION, and OBSERVATION! 

    The Bible IS dispensational. We do not make up dispensationalism as we go along! So let’s go to the Sermon on the Mount and do Observation! 

    First of all, the Sermon is about the Kingdom of Heaven, not about the church. When Christ mentions the Kingdom, the Jews had no other point of reference than the Davidic/Messianic Kingdom in which the Son of David, the Son of God, would rule over the world from Jerusalem. There is No other interpretation. The Jews fully understood this! 

    In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew we have the expressions: "Kingdom of Heaven (used six times), the "Kingdom" (used two times), and the "Kingdom of God" (used once), though Christ also spoke of "Your Kingdom" (God’s) and "The Kingdom is Yours." 

    But I am quick to point out that there are tremendous spiritual and practical applications for any dispensation. We do not isolate spiritual principles and say that certain things are only applicable to one age and not another, unless there is due cause to do so. Yet, here are some statements of the Lord that fit another era, the kingdom period, and not the church age:
  • "Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth" (5:5).
  • If you are angry with your brother you can be brought to judgment in the Rabbinical courts (5:22).
  • Do not be presenting an offering to the (temple) altar while your brother has a charge against you (5:23-24).
  • Do not make false vows, by heaven or earth, or "by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King (the Messiah)" (5:33-35).
    I could go on and on with additional points from the Sermon on the Mount but you get the idea. To again reiterate: there are dozens of wonderful principles here in the Sermon that can be applied to any dispensation. And the Sermon on the Mount is full of them but it does take some clear thinking and acute observation in order to avoid a misapplication. 

    On the Sermon, my old graduate Greek professor, Dr. Stanley Toussaint, writes in his commentary on Matthew:
   Not only are the crowds and disciples looking forward to the establishment of the kingdom, but the message of the sermon is also anticipatory. This aspect is indicated by the attitude of anticipation which pervades the entire discourse. It looks forward to a time when people shall enter the kingdom (5:20; 7:21). ... The sample prayer includes a request for the coming of the kingdom (6:10). (Behold the King, Kregel)
In my Classical Evangelical Hermeneutics (Kregel) I wrote:
The "kingdom of God" and "kingdom of heaven" both refer to the future Messianic reign of the Messiah. The only point of reference the Jews would have known is the messianic kingdom and the coming rule of peace that would last for one thousand years. Jesus presented Himself as the king who fulfilled the kingship role for that kingdom. He told neither His disciples nor the crowds that they were mistaken in their perceptions [about the earthly messianic kingdom].
    And in The Popular Bible Prophecy Commentary (gen. eds. Tim LaHaye, Ed Hindson, Harvest House) I wrote: 

When Jesus began His ministry, His message was the same as John the Baptist’s:
"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 4:17; cf. 3:2). This means "the kingdom that comes down from heaven." This undoubtedly refers to the messianic kingdom, the Davidic rule that will be based in Jerusalem but will have sovereignty over all the nations of the earth.
    The Sermon on the Mount is referring to this earthly messianic kingdom! 

Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch

Monday, June 25, 2007

What Will Happen to the Nations Surrounding Israel?

Dr. Couch, what is going to happen to the nations surrounding Israel who hate the Jews and want them destroyed? Even the lost world today knows that something will happen soon in the Middle East that will throw the world into terrible confusion and danger. So where is it all going with these antagonistic nations? 
   God is going to have the last say, and it’s all recorded in the prophetic Scriptures. For example, read Ezekiel 28:24-26. The passage will knock you over! 

    God makes it clear that He will "execute judgments upon all who scorn [the Jews], this is, those who live round about them" (v. 26). This will of course be at the end of the tribulation when the second coming takes place and Christ comes back to judge the nations (Matt. 25) and begins His earthly Davidic reign that will last for one thousand years! 

    Even though he usually interprets OT prophecies as if they are about the church age, amillennialist and allegorical guy, Charles Ellicott, has to fess up and admit the passage is about the return of the Jews to their promised land. He writes:
The course of God’s providence is very distinctly marked out in these verses of promise. The judgment upon Judah has already come, in the fall of their holy city and the captivity of the people. … Then comes the promise of the return, and the judgment of the ungodly enemies who have despised Judah (verse 26). This, too, shall be accomplished in its time, and then peace and prosperity shall return to Israel. The immediate point of this prophecy is the return of the Jews to their own land.
    When the day of the millennial blessing arrives "there will be no more for the house of Israel a prickling brier or a painful thorn from any [of the nations] round about them who scorned them; then they [those nations] will know that I am the Lord God" (v. 24). 

    God will then "gather the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered." His holiness will be visible "in the sight of the nations, they [the Jews] will live in their land which I gave to My servant Jacob" (v. 25). "They will live securely." 

    In remembering His covenant forever (the Abrahamic covenant) "He will make known to His people (the Jews) the power of His works, in giving them the heritage of the nations" (Psa. 111:5b-6). 

    On Ezekiel 28:24-26 Unger writes that the Jews will be regathered
at the end time for Kingdom blessing, converted Israel (Rom. 11:26) will live securely in the Holy Land (Jer. 23:6; Ezek. 34:25-28; 38:8) and prosper in the land (Jer. 32:15; Amos 9:13-14) when the Lord executes judgments upon their enemies.
    It is such a blessing to take the Word of God at face value and with a normal and literal interpretation. Preterism and amillennialism actually goes up in smoke when you do that! And it is so clear to see that the Lord has a distinct plan and purpose for Israel and then for the church! I feel sorry for those who are partially blinded as to what the entire Bible is teaching! 

Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch

Sunday, June 24, 2007

What Is Psalm 137 About?

Dr. Couch, Psalm 137 is a unique Psalm. It sounds so harsh! What is it about?
This Psalm is about the Jews weeping as they were taken into captivity to Babylon. They longed for the blessings of the Holy Land and of Jerusalem. However their sins had led to their captivity. In God’s sovereignty and providence, He will still someday bring punishment upon Babylon because of its hatred of the people of God. The Psalm is also called an imprecatory Psalm in that it calls for horrible punishment to fall upon the Babylonians. ("Imprecatory" means "To call down a curse") While the call for punishment and vengeance sounds harsh to our ears, we fail to realize that the Jews are God’s special people. The Lord is furious when they are mistreated—even though they are guilty of their own sins! 

During World War II, in order to stop the war, bring it to a completion, and inflict punishment, the allies ceased being polite! They fire bombed and saturated bombed Germany and Japan into submission. Since God is the Author of all of history, this was part of His providential punishment upon these two wayward and cruel nations.
This Psalm 137 reminds me of a documentary special I saw recently on Public Television. Thousands of Jews in modern Israel were gathered to listen to the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra perform. When they played pieces that were performed in the concentration camps of Europe, the audience fell absolutely silent! No one moved! 

When the Jews were returning to the Holy Land in 1947-1948 to re-establish the nation of Israel, even while combat was raging around them, they formed a classical orchestra to play, even though the bullets were flying. 

During World War II the guards of the Jewish prison camps made the Jews sing and play their instruments though they were about to be gassed! This is partly what is described in Psalm 137: 

When the Jews arrived in Babylon they sat down and wept, "When they remembered Zion" (v. 1). Their captors "demanded of us songs, and our tormentors demanded mirth, saying, ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion’" (v. 3). This was the demand of the Germans in the prison camps! 

The captive Jews who had arrived in Babylon responded: "How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land"? (v. 4). Then these famous two verses:
If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget her skill. May my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy. (vv. 5-6)
Then the psalmist goes on and cries out: "How blessed will be the one who repays you (Babylon) with the recompense with which you have repaid us" (v. 8). He follows up with the imprecatory verse, verse 9: "How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones against the rock." 

Dr. Merrill F. Unger on this terrible verse notes:
This verse in its horror is meant to highlight the awful divine judgment (vengeance) that will fall upon human lawlessness, especially in the Great Tribulation, manifested in one important facet in its hatred of God’s elect nation, Israel (Rev. 12:13-13:18; cf. Matt. 25:31-46).
Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Teaching Children in the Church Self-Esteem Messages

Dr. Couch, we visited a new church recently. The material being used for our youngsters seems to be about children self-esteem rather than about the Bible, or about Christ. We probably won’t go back. What is happening to the Sunday school literature? 
    It is going the way of the world. Not all of it of course but enough to make us terribly alarmed. This reminds me, I just got a “Christian” catalog with cups, T-shirts and other stuff. One T- shirt for kids reads: “I make God smile be just being me!” 

    Talking about self-centeredness and self-esteem! Where is the teaching that we are sinners and need the love of God through Christ to save us? Small children can understand why Jesus died for them—for their sins! Now we’re telling them they are okay before Him just like they are! That God loves us is true—through Christ. He makes it possible when we trust Him (even little kids) that we can become His child and then He becomes our Heavenly Father! You cannot have the love of God without the cross of Christ for sinners! 

    Few Christians are smart enough to see what is happening but you were and you made the right choice by saying you would not take your kids back to that church. 

Thanks for asking. 
 Dr. Mal Couch

Friday, June 22, 2007

What About Secular Psychology Invading the Church?

Dr. Couch, I guess you have noticed how secular psychology has so invaded the church, and our culture. What do you think? 
    You must be new to my website. I write often about this invasion, and about Political Correctness (PC) that drives our culture like a train engine! In all of this I have certain pet peeves though I really do not lose sleep over the devastating changes taking place. It is part of the destruction of our world! 

    For example: 

    The waitress comes up and says, “Hello, I’m your server.” I always have fun with her and say, “But I thought you were a girl! You are a waitress and the guy is a waiter!” At first she looks shocked! You see, they are now making issues, designations and descriptions neutral and breaking down the distinction between men and women. 

    Or, the little waitress will say, “What do you guys want?” My wife is not a guy; she is a gal! But better she is an older lady, a woman. Why don’t they say “What do you guys and gals want?” They make both genders “guys.” What happened to “Sir, what would you like?” Or, “Ma'am, what can I get you?” By the way, some Evangelical fema-nazis say “You should not call a grown woman a “girl.” That’s funny, in all the “old” movies the actors may say “What do you girls want to do?” How come there was no great offense in those days in saying that, but there is now? 

    The reason this is all happening is that this present generation gets so offended because it is so psychologically sensitive—it wears its feelings on its shoulders. Now the word “respect” is big. “He did not RESPECT me!” And, “I need my space.” 

    Also, what blows me away, is that men today call policemen to come out when they have been hit (“ASSAULTED”) by a woman or a wife. So what! Big deal! Where have all the men gone. Men have been made “equal” and feminized by the girls! 

    This sounds like I am nitpicking but I am not! WHOEVER controls the language, and the laws, controls the culture! Whoever can change the way people think, on so many issues, will change the nation! 

Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Does The Lord Have Humor?

Dr. Couch, so often it seems as if we forget that the Lord has humor in what He says in Scripture. Do you agree? 
    Yes, I certainly do! I just ran across Ezekiel 29:18-20 that to me has a spark of humor from the Lord. The background is the siege of the city of Tyre by king Nebuchadnezzar in 585-572 B.C. For thirteen years he built a roadway out to the island city and besieged it, but when his war was over he received no booty and his soldiers were not paid. The text says his army “labored hard against Tyre” with their heads bald and their shoulders rubbed bare. “But his army had no wages from Tyre” (v. 18). 

    But God made a recompense to Nebuchadnezzar. The Lord gave him Egypt and he carried away her wealth, and more: “it will be wages for his army” (v. 19). In God’s providence, and the fact that He is sovereign in all of history, He gave Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar, i.e. “the land of Egypt for his labor which he performed, because they (Nebuchadnezzar’s troops) acted for Me” (v. 20). Nebuchadnezzar and his army were the servants of Jehovah! 

    If the soldiers did not get paid one way, they would another way! God used Nebuchadnezzar and his forces to punish Egypt and his men got paid for all they did in trying to bring down Tyre, but Egypt as well! 

    To me, this is a ha, ha! 

Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

What About Preterism?

Dr. Couch, I keep hearing about Preterism. How can anyone hold to this absurd doctrine that says “the second coming took place in 70 AD”? 
    I would answer the same way I did about Pentecostal Oneness. Such false doctrine, crazy views, and idiotic ideas, are spawned or exacerbated by Satan. I am not saying that those who hold to such views as Christians are indwelt by him or his demons, but I am saying that they have been spiritually brainwashed and blinded so that they cannot see the plain words of Scripture! 

    To get it all straightened out, you need to get The End Times Controversy by general editors Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice (Harvest House). A bunch of us got together and wrote important chapters in this book on this false, almost heretical view. I wrote what I consider one of the most important chapters, chapter 12, entitled: “The War Over Words.” 

    I believe a lot who hold to Preterism and allegorical amillennialism do so as a reaction against biblical dispensationalism and premillennialism. Remember, dispensationalism is not a system forced on top of the Bible; the Bible is dispensational in its structure! By the way, some of the big guys on radio who hold the Preterist view have either poor theological training or no training at all. They shoot from the hip and “speaketh of that which they know-eth not of”! They are reactionaries who just want to be contrary. I believe too that this crazy, nutty view is a satanic brainwashing that blinds them to the issues of the return of the Lord. 

    Get the book! It will be one of the most important in your library. 

Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Have You Heard of the Pentecostal Oneness (Jesus Only) Denomination?

Dr. Couch, have you ever heard of the Pentecostal Oneness (Jesus Only) denomination?
    Yes, of course. And they are a heresy. They deny the Trinity and the Tri-Unity of God. They really have a silly view because there are dozens, if not hundreds of verses, which shows the three persons of the Trinity speaking to each other, and which support the basic concepts of this doctrine. By the way, some of the biggest TV pastors are Pentecostal Oneness (such as T. D. Jakes) but the ignorant Christians do not know that, nor do they care, because after all, this issue has to do with “doctrine” and who cares about that? 

    What the Pentecostal Oneness folks say is that Jesus speaks, then puts on the hat of the Father, and then puts on the hat of the Spirit! How stupid and evil to deny the clear verses of the Word of God! Remember, the doctrine of the Trinity says there is only One God, but three persons in the Godhead! We cannot comprehend this but the Scriptures are consistent on this from Genesis to Revelation. 

    Here are just a few verses that smash this heresy:
  • Matthew 28:19: “In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” Note: one name (singular) but three distinct persons separated by the definite articles.
  • John 14:16-17: The Son asks the Father who will send another Helper (the Holy Spirit) to be with you. Here each person in the Godhead is seen as separate from the other person. Many, many other verses support the Trinity, from the OT to the NT.
  • While the early church fathers had some aberrant views, over a period of time, they got the doctrine of the Trinity right! For this we should be grateful.
  • Probably the classic volume on the Trinity is The Trinity, by Edward Henry Bickersteth (Kregel). No one can deny the Trinity after going through the accumulated verses that so clearly point to this doctrinal truth. Remember that all error is either spawned by, or promoted by Satan. He is “is a liar, and the father of lies” (John 8:44). If you are confused, get Bickersteth’s book!
Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch

Monday, June 18, 2007

More On The Apostasy

Dr. Couch, it seems without a doubt our culture is lost. You have given so many verses that show how America is like what was happening in the OT with Judah. Do you have others? 
    I could give hundreds but my eyes yesterday fell on Ezekiel 16:44-50. Judah was into deep sexual sins (“Sodom is your sister,” v. 48), living in arrogance, having plenty to eat, carelessly at ease” (v. 49). They were unafraid of God, haughty, “and committed abominations before [the Lord]” (v. 50), i.e. they did not care what He thought of their sins, and they had no fear of consequences. And when they sinned they no longer knew how to blush with conviction (Jer. 6:15; 8:12). 

    I did not see it but someone told me about a 60 Minute documentary examining the attitudes of a younger generation born between 1980 and 1992. They are self-serving, spoiled, want their job at work to fit their own schedule, and do not know how to take directions. Companies are training their leaders how to deal with this new generation. (They cannot be criticized directly or they will bolt!) Wait until they get into power and let their immorality all hang out! We will really be doomed as a nation! Even mothers have been known to call up companies and say something like: “You gave my junior a lower score than he deserved on his job evaluation!” Poor baby! 

    We are coming into the apostasy! When Paul writes about it he says “in the last days difficult times will come, for men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy …” (2 Tim. 3:1-2). 

Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Fighting Fundies?

Dr. Couch, thank you for your comments some weeks ago about watching out for the fighting fundies. We just had a run in with them. They appear so pious, negative, and legalistic. I found that they ran from discussion and appeared to be very hard-hearted. And these folks cannot get fixed. They ran from another church to ours, and now they are gone to another. What is wrong with them? 
    I have had many confrontations with such as these. They generally have little humor, are controlling, can not discuss issues. They are extremely secretive and silent, and look like they just swallowed a can of worms! They have strange very narrow views which they label as being biblical but they truly are not. They are like the Pharisees of Christ’s day. They live by fear and they interpret wrongly many passages of the Bible. In doing this they think they are being spiritual. They do not know how to live by grace. And, they never confess being wrong. 

    They are sneaky and will kill a church if given an opportunity. Fairly recently I ran into some of these folks, and so have many pastors who read this website. They will work hard to split a church if things are not going their way. These fundies will abandon you with a heart-beat. Don’t put your trust in them. 

    The People’s Bible on Proverbs 8 and 10 have their number. The author of this commentary has them in his gun sight. He points out that their minds are made up and they will calculate when to strike. He adds that they are cerebral but have no heart or emotions. They are generally cold and icy. "They merely like to be contrary, contend, defend themselves intellectually but show little emotion or heart feelings." 

    Again, as I say, we have had a lot of pastors recently be attacked by such. After they have caused troubles, they pack their bags and sneak off into the night! Watch out! 

Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch

Saturday, June 16, 2007

What is the Relationship Between the New Covenant and the Land Covenant?

Dr. Couch, what is the relationship between the New Covenant and the Land Covenant? What are both covenants about? 
    The New Covenant was prophesied in Jeremiah 31:31-37. It is first and foremost with Israel though the church today shares in the benefits of it yet we do not fulfill it. It will be fulfilled in the kingdom in a specific manner with the Jews turning to the Lord. 

    The New Covenant is to be with "Israel and the house of Judah" (31:31). It contrasts and replaces the Mosaic Covenant, the Law (v. 32). God’s principles will be placed within and written on the heart of the Jews (v. 33). The New Covenant will bring about permanent forgiveness of sins (v. 34). The Jews will not be jettisoned from God’s program. There is no Replacement Theology (vv. 35-37). A remnant of the nation of Israel will be saved intact. The offspring of Israel will always be a nation before the Lord forever! (v. 36). 

    While the promise of a return to the Holy Land (the Land Covenant) has distinct features about it, still both the New Covenant and the Land Covenant, when discussing Israel, work in tandem together. (The land promises are never said to be for the church.) 

    In Ezekiel 11 God makes it clear He would scatter Israel "among the nations, and though I had scattered them among the countries, yet I was a sanctuary for them a little while in the countries where they had gone" (v. 16). Then the Lord promises, "I shall gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries among which you have been scattered, and I shall give you the land of Israel" (v. 17). As this is happening, the Lord promises to activate among the Jews the features of the New Covenant such as giving "them one heart, and putting a new spirit within them" (v. 19). This is exactly what is prophesied back in Jeremiah 31:33 concerning the New Covenant! 

    The Land promise (or Covenant) is directly connected to the "grand daddy" of the main biblical covenants, the Abrahamic Covenant! This is made clear in Psalm 105:8-11. There the Lord says He will
"remember His covenant forever, ... the covenant which He made with Abraham, and His oath to Isaac. Then He confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant, saying, ‘To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion of your inheritance’" (vv. 8-11).
    On Psalm 105 my godly Old Testament professor, Dr. Merrill F. Unger, writes in his commentary: "When Israel is regathered to the [Holy Land] she will be converted (Zech. 12:10-13:1), and established in Kingdom glory. God has made an unalterable law that Israel should be His elect people and should inherit Canaan (vv.11, 42). To ‘all generations’ of Jews the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 12:1-3) was confirmed by an oath to Isaac (26:3) and confirmed to Jacob. The Jewish people of course must accept the New Covenant by their trust in their Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He ratified the Covenant by His death, His blood shed on the cross (Luke 22:20).He is the One to whom the promises have been made and He must secure its benefits for Israel. 

    Luke records the angel Gabriel saying :

    "He [the Messiah] will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and
the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom will have no end" (Luke 1:32- 33).
    Some of the covenant guys take these verses in a mushy "spiritualized" way rather than take them as Mary did, as prophecy concerning the nation of Israel. I write in my Luke Commentary:
Some argue that this reign of the Messiah is not really over Israel, but over the church that has replaced the Jewish people in the plan of God. In other words, these promises are spiritualized or allegorized. The question is, How did Mary receive these promises? If verse 31 is referring to the Messiah’s literal and actual birth, then His reign, as promised in a literal sense in the Old Testament, must also come to pass in a literal and historic way (vv. 32-33). One cannot change an interpretative horse in the middle of a stream! Both His first coming (His birth up to His ascension), and His second coming to reign later, must be seen in the same light: literal history! (p. 28)
Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Influenced By Secular Philosophy?

Dr. Couch, my son is getting confused about his faith. He is being influenced by secular philosophy. What about the writings of Oz Guinness, William Lane Craig, and others? If he read their writings would they help? 
These men and others have written some good works. However, I have a three-step suggestion for you to consider. And this may help if your son is open to spiritual exploration. 

(1) Sit down with him and have him read Isaiah 53 out loud. Then ask him, "Who is Isaiah talking about?" He would have to answer, "Jesus Christ." Have him read a few more verses. "Who is this?" "It’s Christ!" would be his answer. Then you say, "But this chapter was written 700 years before He came!" I witnessed a young man come to the Lord in 30 seconds when he realized the detailed prophecy of the substitutionary death of Jesus predicted in Isaiah 53. 

(2) Ask your son to read the books of John and Romans. More people have come to Christ, and had their faith restored from reading these two volumes. The Word of God is powerful and penetrates deep into our soul (Heb. 4:12). 

(3) I would suggest you get the big volume Understanding the Times, by David Noebel, published by Harvest House. Dr. Noebel heads up Summit Ministries which is an apologetic school given over to preparing young Christians for facing the philosophies they will hear on the college campuses. Noebel goes through all of the philosophies that are prevalent in our culture and that are destroying faith and spiritual reason. He explains what they teach and then gives the biblical answers that refute their arguments. 

    Thanks for asking, and let me know what happens with your son.

    Dr. Mal Couch

Thoughts on Accreditation

Dr. Couch, why did Dr. John F. Walvoord, the president of Dallas Seminary, finally allow the school to become accredited around 1970? I thought he stood against it. By the way thank you for your historical work in getting the State of Texas off the backs of Christian Bible Colleges and Seminaries. I know you took a lot of criticism for that fight! 
    Early on Dr. Walvoord and Lewis S. Chafer (the president until 1952) did stand against accreditations. (Walvoord was Chafer’s assistant at that time.) They understood that such "secularized" intrusions were but traps that would in time control seminaries. Probably some of the "staff" influenced him in the 1970s that the school needed this to please the students whose degrees from Dallas were not being recognized. (Though hundreds of us hold "unaccredited degrees from the school and somehow it didn’t hurt us!) But Dallas would "experiment" with accreditation for a short period during the depression years.

    Dr. Walvoord told me when I was writing his biography that in October 1936 the seminary had filed for accreditation with the American Association of Theological Schools (AATS). At that time about sixty seminaries had formed this organization "to create some kind of theological conformity."

    Then, Chafer didn’t believe that Dallas, which was a very conservative school at that time, would be hindered from joining such an organization. The seminary began working hard "to modernize" itself as a prerequisite for such an organizational acceptance.
    In September 1936 The Christian Century magazine published an editorial on "What is Good Theological Education?" The article stated:
One of the first projects of [this] new association (the AATS) is the restudy of the theological curriculum. It is to be hoped that, where it has not already occurred, the traditional Bible-centered curriculum may be replaced by a plan of study more balanced and comprehensive and more relevant to the needs of contemporary life.
    By 1938, and after some thinking and prayer on the part of Chafer, Dallas Seminary was not going in that direction. The hiring of faculty out of the pool of its own alumni did not conform to the policies of most accrediting organizations. In other words, the AATS did not want schools to over-use their own faculty on their staff. So Dallas withdrew its application by the spring of 1944. 

    Walvoord added in his conversation with me, that Chafer then focused his attention to systematizing the theology of dispensationalism. He wanted to make theology clear to Dallas’ students. In some ways Chafer was pioneering new ground and Walvoord set out to help him. 

    Pastors need to learn from this. Keep your love of the Word of God and the Lord strong. Don’t be "impressed" by accreditations! Don’t be tugged and enticed by the world. Accreditations are humanistic approvals. We do not need this to be successful in the eyes of our Savior! Fly your spiritual plane straight! Don’t deviate from the flight plan!

Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Please Share What You Believe About 1 Thess. 5:4-11

Dr. Couch, you have an interesting interpretation on 1 Thessalonians 5:4-11. Would you share that? 
   Paul reminds believers that they will not go under the day of darkness, the day of the Lord, the "thief in the night" tribulation, the sudden birth pangs of that tribulation. From Jeremiah 30 we know that this birth pangs, the day of the Lord, is the entire tribulation, not just a part of it. The church saints will be raptured and removed from the wrath (v. 9) that is coming. 

    He writes in verses 4-5 that we are not in darkness, "that the day should overtake you like a thief." Believers will not be caught in the tribulation because of 4:17. There the apostle writes that we will be taken in clouds, into the meeting in the air. "The meeting" is "apantesis" and implies "a nonhostile meeting, a civic, public welcome to rulers upon their arrival in a city." (See my technical Greek commentary on 1 & 2 Thessalonians: The Hope of Christ’s Return, AMG Publishers.)

    We are sons of lights, sons of the day. "We are not of night nor of darkness." After writing this, Paul then makes an application as to what we should be doing right now. He says "So then …" (v. 6a). In Greek it is ara oun and on this I write in my commentary: "This is a conclusion, ‘introducing emphatically the necessary conclusion from the preceding statement.’"

    "We are not to sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober" (v. 6b). What does Paul mean by asleep? He is not talking about (1) physical sleep, or about (2) Christians who may be sinning. The apostle is saying (3) that because of the situation of the world, and the fact the times are critical, believers are to be awake as to what is happening in their culture, in their environment. Believers are not to piddle their time away as if completely out of it regarding the seriousness of their world (v. 7). They are to be defensive, having put on the "helmet of hope of salvation (deliverance)." This is prophetic. Most of the time when "hope" (elpis) is used it is eschatological. We are to be anticipating that Christ is coming to resurrect those who "have fallen asleep in Jesus" (4:14-15) and to take away suddenly those who are presently alive. "For God has not destined us for wrath (the seven year tribulation) but for obtaining salvation (deliverance) through (by means of) our Lord Jesus Christ" (5:9). We are already saved spiritually but this salvation (soterias) has to do with being rescued from the coming wrath. Notice that Paul writes "God has not destined (tithemi, Himself placed us) into the wrath that is coming …" So we are to live our lives a certain way. "Whether we are awake (as to what is happening) or asleep (brain dead), we may live together with Him" (v. 10). "Therefore encourage one another, and build up one another, just as you have been doing" (v. 11).

    I am 100% correct on this interpretation. The Expositor’s Bible agrees and says: "While it is impossible for the day of the Lord to catch Christians unprepared, it is possible for them to adopt the same life style as those who will be caught unawares. Paul urges his readers not to let this happen."

    Don’t be a Christian who is asleep and unaware as to what your Christian life is all about!

Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch