Friday, January 26, 2007

What Is Posttribulationalism?

Dr. Couch, what is posttribulationalism? 
    ANSWER:  It is downright stupid, that is what it is! Remember the old joke about the man who hated tigers so badly and had to go to India to shoot one to get his hatred out of his system? Well, there are a bunch of people who will do anything to violate the plain teaching of Scripture about the pretribulational rapture of the church! They just hate with a passion this clear teaching of the Word of God. They will come up with crazy views like the postrrib idea. 

    Posttribers go all over the board mixing Gospel passages with church passages, pulling a verse here and one there. They have no clue of what context-context-context means! For example, many use Christ’s words in John 16:33 to deny the pretribulational rapture. Christ said: “In the world you will have tribulation.” They blindly say, “See, the church is to go through the seven-year tribulation!” They use the “fishing” approach to Bible study, and, the dart board approach as well. They drop a hook into the water and pull up anything that will supposedly help them deny the pretrib view. Also, they blindly throw darts at the wall, and where they stick, that’s what they embrace! 

    If you want the right scope, you need my award-winning volume The Dictionary of Premillennial Theology (Kregel).

    Thanks for asking.

    Dr. Mal Couch

Thursday, January 25, 2007

What Other Systematic Theologies Do You Recommend?

Dr. Couch, I have been reading your book The Fundamentals for the 21st Century and my heart has been warmed. What other systematic theologies do you recommend? 
   ANSWER:  I have all of the Reformed systematic theologies and appreciate them except when they get o­nto eschatology, then I gag! They are into allegory and Covenant Theology that even Berkhof and Hodge admits is not in the Bible. But apart from eschatology they are good: Berkhof, Hodge, Strong, Reymond, Shedd, Calvin, Gill. 

    But the best to pull the entire Bible together would be Lewis S. Chafer’s Systematic Theology, and Ryrie’s Basic Bible, Theissen’s Lectures in Systematic Theology, Paul Enns Moody Handbook of Theology. These would be consistent in literal hermeneutics, no allegory, premillennial, dispensational. 

    Thanks for asking.

    Dr. Mal Couch,

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Would You Recommend George N. H. Peters’ "The Theocratic Kingdom"

Dr. Couch, would you recommend George N. H. Peters’ "The Theocratic Kingdom"? 
    ANSWER: This is the classic work that destroys amillennialism, so if amils do not want to be convinced please do not read his Theocratic Kingdom! 

    Peters (1825-1909) was an amil Lutheran pastor but he realized something was wrong with amil eschatology. He began to go to libraries (maybe a hundred before he finished) and read everything he could o­n prophecy. Being poor, he wrote down notes o­n paper sacks. He ended up with hundreds of "Propositions" in 2,100 pages, in three volumes. No o­ne can fight against his historical and doctrinal proof of premillennialism and literal interpretation of the prophetic Word. 

    Peters’ amil allegorizing pastor friends turned against him, being very ignorant of Bible prophecy and having sold out to allegorical interpretation. Peters was compelled to publish his work. In the introduction he wrote:
I am setting forth the Millenarian views of the ancient and modern believers and [hope to be] paving the way for a more strict and consistent interpretation of the kingdom, this itself would already be sufficient justification for its publication.
    Taking an advanced course on prophecy in graduate school I chose as my class project to summarize his hundreds and hundreds of Propositions. There is no question of the amil foolishness as exposed by Peters, who was surrounded by amils, and who was previously o­ne himself. Needless to say I got an A in the course! If you want to get the amillennial vs premillennial issue settled biblically you need Peters! It is presently published by Kregel. 

    Thanks for asking.

    Dr. Mal Couch

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

What About The Lost?

Dr. Couch, Do the lost go directly to hell or is there an intermediate place of waiting until the final judgment? 
   ANSWER: The final judgment of all of the lost for all dispensations takes place at the end of the millennial kingdom, as clearly indicated in Revelation 20:11-15. The unsaved are seen standing before the great white throne awaiting final sentencing. That the judge is the Lord Jesus seems clear from John 5:27 where Christ says all judgment is handed over to the Son. 

    Many passages of Scripture paint a terrible picture that indicates the lost are in a place of torment even now while waiting for the final judgment. God must punish sin. His holiness and righteous cannot tolerate a speck of evil. His mercy and grace are clearly seen in nature (Rom. 1), and in the offer of salvation in Christ (John 3:16), but the world repudiates both witnesses! 

    The Bible pictures the torents of hell in physical-like terms, though until the final judgment, hell presently would be more spiritual in nature. The lost are resurrected for the final judgment and therefore will be in their resurrected bodies in torment, for ever! Isaiah writes that the corpses of the lost, "those who have transgressed against Me," are continually "consumed." "For their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched; and they shall be an abhorrence to all humanity" (Isa. 66:24). Daniel says the lost are raised "to everlasting contempt" (Dan. 12:2). And Christ says of those who have died that even presently "the worm never dies" (Mark 9:48). Christ also said that the new life, and the punishment of the lost, are both eternal and forever and ever! (Matt. 25:46). 

    Thanks for asking.

    Dr. Mal Couch

Monday, January 22, 2007

Is The Figure of "Two Hundred Million" Horses and Horsemen of Revelation 9:16 Literal or Figurative?

Dr. Couch, is the figure of "two hundred million" horses and horsemen of Revelation 9:16 literal or figurative? 
    ANSWER: One of the key rules of hermeneutics is that one assumes something is literal unless proven or shown to be otherwise. At first glance there is no reason to believe that the figure is anything but literal. 

    In chapter 9 John has already set the precedence that these creatures coming forth from the pit, and from the area of the Euphrates river (v. 14), are demonic. However John uses illustrative language and what is called "comparative language" in the section, to say that the creatures "are something like ..." He had trouble describing the terrible-ness of these being. But indeed they are actual, literal, and certainly real. John is not simply giving to us some big "allegory" that is wayout from what is here taking place during the tribulation. 

    To show this comparative language John uses continually "like, as, as it were." He uses the two Greek words homoios and hos. Here in chapter 9 he uses these Greek words THIRTEEN TIMES! This is enough to tell us that what is happening is real but very hard for the apostle to describe because what he is seeing is so foreign to him! 

    Yet still, the figure two hundred million remains literal. This is the number of the demonic beings that come forth from the region of the Euphrates to torment men o­n earth during the tribulation. The text reads "And the arithmetic (Gk. arithmos) is diamuriades muriadon." 

    Thomas says on the number: "An exact number of two hundred million is intended." Seiss, the great Lutheran scholar who saw the light and became a premillennialist, says: "There are such things as supernatural horses. And here John beholds troops of horses of like unearthly order, but pertaining to an opposite realm, the infernal cavalry. As there are infernal locusts, so there are infernal horses; and as the former were let forth to overrun the world, in the tribulation that is coming, with their torments ..., so the latter are let forth to overrun the world with still more terrible inflictions." 

    Thanks for asking.

    Dr. Mal Couch

Sunday, January 21, 2007

What Is The Meaning of Matthew 21:43, "...the Kingdom of God will be taken from you..."?

Dr. Couch, we know the kingdom of God is promised to Israel, and since the church is not the "new Israel" nor the kingdom, what is the meaning of Matthew 21:43 that reads: "I say to you (the Pharisees), the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to another nation (ethnos) producing the fruit of it"? 
   ANSWER: In the NT the overwhelming use of the word ethnos is used in the plural and is generally translated "Gentiles," though sometimes "nations." Or, a few times in the singular "the heathen." Some wrongly have tried to use Peter's words in 1 Peter 2:9-10 to say in these verses he is calling the church "a new" kind of nation. But if o­ne examines closely this passage, this could not be. Peter is writing to Jewish Christians, those among the diaspora or who are residing as "the aliens," "the scattered" among the Gentile Greeks (1:1). Peter then applies Isaiah 61:4-6 and Deuteronomy 10:15 to these new Jewish Christians, because they are now, even in the church, recipients of the blessings of the new covenant. Peter writes
"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation (ethnos, singular), a people for God's own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you o­nce were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy."
    Peter's point is that their generation was rejected because they rejected their own Messiah, but these he is writing to have received mercy and accepted Christ as their Savior. While they are part of the body of Christ, they are also "fulfilled" or completed Jews, fulfilling the purpose God intended for this people, because they have accepted their Messiah! Since the Lord Jesus in Matthew 21:43 is talking about "the kingdom of God" (that is without question distinctly messianic and not the church) that will be taken away from that present generation of Jews and "give to a nation" that will produce fruit, He more than likely is talking about a future generation of Jews, a new and different nation, and not the generation that is standing before Him. This would be the Jews who enter the messianic kingdom when He returns to earth to rule and reign! The Pharisees got it! They knew He was talking about their rejection of Him (v. 45) and they realized that the people knew He was a predictive prophet (v. 46). Since the "kingdom of God" will be an earthly spiritual nation of the Jewish people on earth, the parallel to "kingdom of God" would be "another" nation "equal" to the kingdom of God! (If that makes sense!) It is admitted by all that this is an obscure and not-so-clear verse. And one of the most important rules of good hermeneutics is that you do not establish a doctrine by an obscure or difficult passage of Scripture. I do not have to "fight" over the meaning of Matthew 21:43 in order to uphold the ideal of a literal earthly kingdom yet to come. I have hundreds if not thousands of both OT and NT verses to show that this is yet future. And too, I take the clear meaning of these many, many verses to heart, while the amillennial allegorists have to put into the texts their allegorical interpretations. 

Prophecy scholar Dr. Walvoord writes on this verse: "This should not be construed as a turning away from Israel to the Gentiles." 

 Dr. Toussaint writes: "The 'kingdom of God' always refers to the future millennial kingdom o­n earth." 

 Dr. Gaebelein (a use-to-be allegorist) says: "The nation is Israel still, but [this passage is about] that believing remnant of the nation, living when the Lord comes.

    I hope this helps and thanks for asking.

   Dr. Mal Couch,

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Difference Between Humanism and Liberalism?

Dr. Couch, what is the difference between humanism and liberalism? 
    ANSWER: I guess I don’t see much of a difference. But this may help: Humanism puts man before God. Liberalism generally throws away all rules and guidelines, especially the Judeo-Christian guideline and makes new laws as it goes along. Both terms are bedfellows in my opinion! And they both function together. Before he died, the Christian philosopher, Francis A. Schaeffer, saw our day coming. In fact it was “already here” when he began to write his many works on the Bible, culture, and history. He understood exactly what was going on. In his book A Christian View of the West he wrote:
The humanists push for “freedom,” but having no Christian consensus to contain it, that “freedom” leads to chaos or to slavery under the state (or under an elite system). Humanism, with its lack of “any” final base for values or law, always leads to chaos. It then naturally leads to some form of authoritarianism to control the chaos. Having produced the sickness, humanism gives more of the same kind of medicine for a cure. With its mistaken concept of final reality, it has no intrinsic reason to be interested in the individual, the human being. Its natural interest is the two collectives, the state and society.
    There is no turning back the onward march of humanism, liberalism, self-aggrandizement, immorality, and socialism in America. We have cut the ties of the Christian base and now have nothing to go back to. Judeo-Christianity to a degree was in the past, respected and seen as a foundation of the American society. That is now gone. 

And the sewer pipe spews forth rebellion and revolt, all coming out from our secular universities. Our secular universities are anti-God, anti-Bible, anti-Right-and-Wrong! We are moving deep into both the social and “religious” apostasy that will then lead the world under the anger, and the wrath of God—the seven year tribulation period. But the Scriptures make it clear, believers in Christ will not be here! We are to be removed from the “wrath that is on its way” (1 Thess. 1:10)! 

   Thanks for asking.

   Mal Couch

Friday, January 19, 2007

Systematic way of Determining Dispensation Differences?

Dr. Couch, how does one determine which elements of a previous dispensation are still applicable in a subsequent dispensation? For example, Paul says that the dietary laws are no longer applicable in the age of grace. But the laws ordaining capital punishment from the OT are still in effect. Is there a systematic way of determining these differences? 
    ANSWER: Observation, observation, observation! There are certain things that continue through the Bible. For example, salvation is always by faith; example: Abraham. He was made righteous by his trust in what God said. God's mercy continues in all of the dispensations. Morality remains the same. 

    However, you mentioned capital punishment. Since we are no longer under the law should there be capital punishment? Remember capital punishment was initiated in Genesis 9:5-6 before the Mosaic law. o­ne who takes a life forfeits his life because man is made in the image of God (v. 6a). Therefore this principle remains; it is not tied to the Mosaic law that came along in Exodus 20-on. Too, Paul virtually repeats the issue of capital punishment when he says that the government "does not bare the sword in vain" (Rom. 13:4). The government is a minister of God, "an avenger to execute wrath o­n him who practices evil." 

    We discover the dispensations by observing how God, who is the author of history, makes big historic changes in the way He deals with humanity. Yet there are certain principles that continue o­n into the next dispensation. We simply observe what remains and what changes. 

    But remember too, the essence of dispensationalism is not simply historic dispensational distinctions we can all clearly see in biblical and earth history. The essence of dispensationalism is: (1) consistent literal interpretation from Genesis through Revelation, (2) progressive revelation whereby God "progressively" unfolds truth in the Bible, and, (3) Israel is not the church; there is a clear distinction between Israel and the church. 

   Thanks for asking.

   Dr. Mal Couch,

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Well-Known Seminary Caved?

Dr. Couch, I understand that a well-known seminary, that was premillennial, caved in to the Reformed position and became Covenant in its theological orientation. Is this so, and do you know anything about this? I am not in the covenant camp. 
   ANSWER: I have the same information as you, though I do not have any details as to what happened. I can tell you in general what I think may apply to this situation: 

    There is less and less genuine study of the Word of God in our seminaries and Bible schools. They are becoming more and more pedantic and less and less academic, though they are now big-time into theological philosophy and "academia" (not true academics)! 

   They are less and less textual and are moving away from solid hermeneutics and interpretation. They are also becoming anti-Semitic and turning against biblical prophecy. Let me simply summarize. I think some of the things I list below may fit the case you are asking about.
  1. The younger teachers love "academia." They like the big degrees and accreditations!
  2. They are postmodern and are rewriting the nature of Bible study.
  3. They no longer really believe in systematic theology.
  4. They are less and less truly biblically textual.
  5. They are enamored with Luther and Calvin and the Reformed mystique. It just "sounds" so sound!6. They are enamored with the "classical" nature of the Reformed movement.
  6. They have no regard for Israel and believe that the church has replaced the work of God with the Jewish people.
    Now do not get me wrong! We owe much to the past, and I love studying the Reformed greats, though they are way off base in eschatology, and too, they are terribly inconsistent in their hermeneutics. Many also have the attitude that if Calvin said it, it must be right. They study the Scriptures blindly without discernment and context. Many establish their theology and then go into the Bible to "confirm" what conclusions they have come to. 

    I was not trained that way. I was heavily trained in the biblical languages, and by textual analysis, I establish with a normal hermeneutic, my theology. 

    I believe this is why such schools as you are asking about have departed from premillennialism and turned to Covenant theology. Everytime a student goes to a "weak" school hermeneutically he comes out confused. And this is what is happening. But also the faculty and the governing boards are even more confused. 

    At one of the "big" seminaries close to me, the administration does not know it but more and more of the students, after they receive their diploma, jump ship into Covenant and begin to deny God's working with Israel. But too, the biblical education they received is less and less from what I received. 

    While Scofield is far from perfect, we are getting our students deeper into the Word of God and giving them sound interpretation so that they can defend the great doctrines of Scripture. This of course includes eschatology: the rapture, the tribulation, and the Messianic kingdom! 

    My answer is not on target as to what you asked, but I hope this helps. 

   Thanks for asking.

   Dr. Mal Couch

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Main Mission of the Church?

Dr. Couch, what do you think is the main mission of the church? Many “preachers” say it is evangelism, which is important, yet they tend to neglect the teaching of the Word of God. What do you think? 
    ANSWER:  By doing a concordance run on “doctrine,” “teaching,” even “preaching,” one finds that the key purpose of the churches, i.e. the work of the pastors, is to exegete and explain doctrine and biblical truth. Doctrine is like the atomic table of the elements in chemistry. If you do not know that table you cannot work chemistry! 

    The main problem is that many pastors are simpletons and do not study the Word. They do not know what their role is in the ministry. They are but reactionary and just “react” to the latest fad—they buy into it and embrace it! They embrace psychology, feel good devotionals, seeker friendly approaches, Rick Warren’s Forty Day Whatever! They are driven by adding numbers, focusing on false worship, building big buildings, etc. They call the first hour of the church service the “Worship Hour” instead of calling it the “Teaching Hour (with worship).” They have shortened their messages and use the Bible less and less. They want the flock to have “experiences”! They love ceremony, plays, rock music, etc. 

    They shun education (really really biblical education) and focus on Christian Ed, psychology, church management, etc. They love to have “staff” and build “worship” teams! They may talk about the Bible but they do not “teach” THE BIBLE! 

    One pastor of a so-called Bible church in the Metroplex area advertised a night in which the church would give away tickets to the Super Bowl football game. They thought this was “cool.” I thought it was an advertising gimmick and down right stupid! 

    Something must be wrong with the spiritual glasses of many pastors today. They cannot see clearly and what is biblical is apparently out of focus. What is sad is that they do not know they need another pair of spectacles! 

   Thanks for asking.

   Dr.  Mal Couch,

Monday, January 15, 2007

What Do You Think of the Wycliffe Bible Commentary?

Dr. Couch, what do you think of the Wycliffe Bible Commentary? 

    ANSWER: This was first published years ago by Moody Press. I think it is an outstanding one volume commentary. It would be about the same value, maybe a little less, than the Bible Knowledge Commentary. I have both and use them frequently. 

   Thanks for asking.

   Dr. Mal Couch

Sunday, January 14, 2007

What About the "Mid-Acts" Position of Some Dispensationalists?

Dr. Couch, do you have any articles on the "Mid-Acts" position of some dispensationalists? Several of my good friends are into this. They are aligned with Stam and Bullinger. Need I be concerned with this? 
    ANSWER: Doctrinal errors should always give us some concern. I am a pilot and if I am just a few degrees off my course, I can end up hundreds of miles from where I am going. This could be deadly when I am flying over water!
    I have found that when people are misaligned doctrinally, there is a reason for it. They have an axe to grind or an agenda they are pushing. 

    Again, I would suggest my book Dictionary of Premillennial Theology where there is an article o­n Hyper-dispensationalism, or what is sometimes called, Ultradispensationalism. In the book we say, "The weakness of ultradispensationalism is that it fails to recognize that the nature of a dispensation is based o­n what God does, not o­n human understanding of His purposes." 

    Dr. Charles Ryrie's book Dispensationalism also has a thorough chapter o­n the subject. Too, my book Handbook to the Book of Acts has o­ne of the most extensive treatments of the issue. 

   Thanks for asking.

   Dr. Mal Couch

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Does Dispensationalism Require Belief That The Ten Commandments Were Given to Only the Jewish People?

Dr. Couch, does dispensationalism require one to believe that the Ten Commandments were given to the Jewish people alone? How would you answer the charge of antinomianism that is often thrown at dispensationalists? 
    ANSWER:  First of all, the entire law, not just the Ten Commandments, were indeed given to Israel alone. Read your Bible! Don’t get mad at dispensationalists who can read! Remember, there are 613 commandments, not just ten. All of the moral principles that reflect the demands, and the character of God in the OT, are eternal in nature. While many are in the commandments, there are also many ceremonial laws that are no longer in effect. Every moral injunction however is carried over into the NT. Lust, murder, thievery, not loving our God, are still part of what Christians are to live by and honor today. 

    It is wooden-headed people who make such ludicrous charges against dispensationalism. They have not studied their own Bible, nor have they read what dispensationlism teaches. May I ask you, is the church today under the commandment of the Sabbath? Do we make animal sacrifice? Do we go up to Jerusalem o­nce a year for Passover? Well, we are not under the system of the Law, this is why we do not do those things. Since you don’t, you are a dispensationalist, and you understand the difference between the theocracy demands of the OT, and the fact that we are now under the dispensation of grace, not law. Please read what Paul says in Romans and Galatians about this issue, especially in Gal. 3:23-25. "But now that faith has come (the dispensation of grace) we are no longer under a tutor (the law)" (v. 25). I didn’t write this, Paul did! 

   Thanks for asking.

   Dr. Mal Couch

Friday, January 12, 2007

What Is Theology?

Dr. Couch, what is theology? 
    ANSWER: Technically the word means "the study about God." Some say this includes what is revealed in nature. I however disagree with this. Through the Word of God, Christians can see God’s handiwork in creation, but this is not the same thing as studying about Him, in nature. 

    The only source of theology as understood in the Judeo-Christian sense is what the Lord says about Himself, and His work in history, as found in both the Old and New Testaments. Some point out that Psalms 19:1 says: "The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands." 

    While the heavens tell of God’s glory, o­nly through the eyes of spiritual enlightenment and conversion can men understand such a passage. Theology then really comes from the Bible, and then it must be illumined by the Holy Spirit of the Lord (1 Cor. 2). 

    Today we have people defining theology as spiritual truth o­nly as it has meaning to the individual. This means that theology cannot be theology unless it is relevant to the human mind. This is a lie! God’s truth is truth; biblical theology is biblical theology, no matter that mankind is blind to receive it, or understand it. 

   Thanks for asking.

   Dr. Mal Couch

Thursday, January 11, 2007

How Do We Know Spiritual Life Is Eternal Life?

Dr. Couch, Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum points out that in some contexts, the word "eternal" may not mean "forever," such as the service of a slave to his master (Exod. 21:6), the Levitical priesthood (28:43), or the sacrificial system (29:28). How then do we know that the spiritual life is "eternal life"? 
   ANSWER: Interpreting by context makes all the difference in Bible interpretation and hermeneutics. The best way to understand this about salvation is that its "eternality" is open-ended with no hints of it stopping in the context. Also, we are given the righteousness of Christ to our account, and you can not "unrighteous" His righteousness! If one does a study of the word eternal in reference to salvation, this becomes a dead issue! 

    All those who want to argue for loss of salvation do so, not on the issue of the word "eternal," but from the standpoint that they do not understand the doctrine of total justification by faith. If they understood that, they would not believe that one can lose salvation. 

   Thanks for asking.

   Dr. Mal Couch

How Does Philippians 1:29 Explain Faith Being A Gift of God?

Dr. Couch, you referred to Philippians 1:29 as a verse that argues that faith is a gift of God. Would you explain? 
   ANSWER: This is an awesome passage. It reads: “For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” 

    The word granted is an English word that is too meek and mild in relation to what it actually means. In Greek the word is an aorist tense of the word charizomai. It is related to the Greek words charis (grace) and charisma (gift). It should better be translated “to gift to you,” or “to freely give.” It is not passive, as “granted” sounds in English, but it is an active word. God is gifting us for two things: TO “believe” and TO “suffer” for Christ’s sake. Both of these words are parallel present active infinitives playing off the main verb “to gift.” Is this “believing” simply meaning to be having a stronger faith for the Christian life or is it related to salvation belief? It has to do with salvation “belief.” The expression “in Him” always refers to saving faith not simply Christian walking faith! 

    The word “to gift” is in the aorist tense which makes it a very distinct action on God’s part. “He definitely gifted us to be believing in Him and to be suffering for His sake!”
    Most of the “giant” Bible teachers and grammarians agree with this interpretation:
  • "God granted to us the double proof of His favor." – Alford
  • "Salvation is of the Lord from the beginning to the end (Jonah 2:9). As objects of divine choice [election], believers know they will be in the eternal presence of God because of what Christ has done for them. All are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone (Eph. 2:8-9). The entire program of salvation is a gift from our loving God." – Gromacki (Philippians – From my new commentary series)
  • "Believing in Christ is not from one’s own power. It is a gift from God." – Poole
  • "Faith in Christ is here incidentally spoken of as a grant of divine grace." – Moule
  • "To you it has been graciously given by God to believe in Him." – O’Brien

    Founder of “old” Dallas Seminary, Lewis S. Chafer, taught that faith was clearly a gift of God. He wrote "Christ said: ‘All things are delivered unto Me of My Father; and no man knows the Son, but the Father; neither knows any man the Father, save the Son, and He to whosoever the Son will reveal Him’ (Matt. 11:27). Faith accordingly is declared to be ‘the gift of God’ (Eph. 2:8). Utter lack of faith is the condition of unregenerate men (1 Cor. 2:14) until God be revealed to them by the Son through the Spirit." - Systematic Theology, vol. 7 

   Stick to the Word of God. Do not listen to contrary voices. 

   Thanks for asking.

   Dr. Mal Couch

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Is Faith A Gift of God?

Dr. Couch, I understand that the Bible says that faith is a gift of God. Some of my friends do not believe this. What do you say? 
    I say what the Bible says. Both "saving" faith and faith "for Christian living" comes from God. 

    Before beginning to answer we must look at the issue of "Who is in charge" of this world, both in macro-management and micro-management? It is God! Whatever He has decreed will come to pass in every detail because He is at work. This world does not run on some kind of self-existence. He controls it and is bringing it to its conclusion. 

    Daniel said "And it is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings …" (Dan. 2:21). 

    After being restored, Nebuchadnezzar said "And all the inhabitants of the earth are as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?'" (4:35). 

    Now let's look at some passages on the giving of faith for the Christian life: 

    1 Corinthians 12:9. As those who are gifted in the body of Christ, some are given the gift of faith by the Spirit. This is not saving faith but a special dose of trust for some (but not all) for a specific reason: "To each one (individual) is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good" (v. 7). This gift of faith is given by God's sovereignty. "But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills" (v. 11), and, "God has placed the members, each one of them in the body [of Christ], just as He desired" (v. 18). So the question is: Who is in charge? 

    Now concerning the giving of faith for salvation: 

    Acts 13:48. "And as many as had been appointed to eternal life BELIEVED." The word appointed is a Perfect Passive Participle of the Greek word tasso. It could be translated: "And for those who have been progressively positioned, determined, classified, inscribed, enrolled in the past [with the action coming up to the present], these believed." Believed is an aorist tense of "pisteuo" and could be translated: "They definitely believed, began then to believe." 

    What caused the belief? It was the "positioning," the "appointment." This work started sometime in the past and came to fruition at some point in the present! 

    Most of the great commentators on Acts 13:48 of the past and the present agree that this passage is saying that salvation faith comes from God's appointment. For example:
  • John Polhill: "These Gentiles took an active role in believing, in committing themselves to Christ; but it was in response to God's Spirit moving in them, convicting them, appointing them for life. All salvation is ultimately only by the grace of God."
  • Mal Couch: In my Handbook to the Book of Acts I wrote: The verse "implies the sovereign work of God in salvation. The great Greek scholar J. A. Alexander believes it scandalous the ‘violent attempts which have been made to eliminate the doctrine of election and predestination from this verse.'"
  • C. K. Barrett: "Those believed who were appointed (the passive implies, by God) to do so."
  • F. F. Bruce: "The Gentiles who heard and believed the gospel—all in fact, who had been enrolled for eternal life in the records of heaven then believed (for this appears to be the sense of the words here used)."
  • Steven Ger (in my 21st Century Commentary series): "Luke uses the term ‘appointed' to reveal that God elects both Jew and Gentile according to His sovereign purpose. It is difficult to miss the doctrine of God's sovereign election in this verse."
    Philippians 1:29 and Ephesians 2:8 are equally compelling. The Word of God is clear: The full package of salvation, including faith, is from start to finish the work of God! 

   Thanks for asking.

   Dr. Mal Couch

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Dave Hunt's Book on Calvinism

Dr. Couch, what do you think of Dave Hunt’s book on Calvinism? Many Bible teachers endorsed it. 
    ANSWER:  Many Bible teachers, even published ones, are not really scholars when it comes to exegesis and knowledge about church history. So we don’t take a vote on doctrine as to who believes this or that. We must exegete carefully the biblical texts to find the truth. 

    Let’s play a little game for a moment. Let’s drop the word “Calvinism.” Now what do we see with careful exegesis of the Word of God? We see:

   (1) God being absolute sovereign. (2) God controlling His universe with His absolute providence. (3) We see total depravity of the human race, with “none seeking after God, no not one” (Rom. 3). (4) We see absolute predestination and election, i.e. no one gets saved unless they are sovereignly drawn by Christ and the Spirit of God. (5) And we see those who have come to Christ kept for eternity! 

    Textually, we do not see Limited Atonement, i.e. (Christ died only for the elect)! It is extremely doubtful if Calvin taught this false doctrine. And whether he did nor didn’t doesn’t matter. I can prove that Christ died for all. His sacrifice is sufficient for all but applied only to the elect. So then, I can be “Calvinistic” in essence but not in every detail as to what Calvin taught. Thus, if you want to throw away that dirty word (Calvinism), go ahead, but this above is what the Bible teaches and does not teach! 

    Your question about Calvinism is an indictment against our theological schools that used to be clear on the subject but are now in the dark. The big Evangelical seminaries, Bible colleges, and institutes, were mostly Calvinistic and did not mind teaching it in the classrooms. They are now turning liberal, however, and moving away from “basic” Calvinism (minus Limited Atonement). The rejection of basic Calvinism is a neon blinking sign of how we’ve moved away from strong and deep theology. The ignorance theologically today is gross! 

   Thanks for asking.

   Dr. Mal Couch

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Is Baptism Replacing Circumcision?

Dr. Couch, how does dispensationalism differ with the Reformed folks on infant baptism? And is baptism replacing circumcision? 
    ANSWER: The heart of dispensationalism is to take the Bible at face value, in its normal grammatical-historical sense. Dispensationalism believes in all the rules for solid hermeneutics but the Reformed people do not. They allegorize second coming prophetic passages, for the most part. Dispensationalists are consistent with the issues of "Progressive revelation, normal interpretation, and studying the Word of God by "context, context, context"! Depensationalism is not a system, it is "a way of life" in that you just take the Bible in its normal sense. Israel means Israel and not the church. Rapture means a "going up," not Christ "coming down" to reign. If you know up from down you are a dispensationalist. The church goes up in the rapture; Christ comes down to rule o­n the Davidic throne over Israel. Read what was told to Mary in Luke 1:30-33. Christ will be reigning over the house of David. The house of David is not the church! Anyone who thinks the house of David is the church is not reading their Bible. When the OT says God brings back the Jews to Jerusalem, this is not the gathering of the church! IT MEANS WHAT IT SAYS! Now to your questions: 

    Circumcision was a sign of the Abrahamic covenant, though it was also later after the time of Abraham included as part of the Law system. It was not a sign of salvation, as baptism is. Baptism does not replace circumcision because that would cut out 50% of the population being baptized, women! 

    As for infant baptism passages, you cannot find any! Read Acts 2:38-39 carefully. (This is what dispensationalists do!) The passage urges the Jews to do something actual and literal. "Repent (individually) each o­ne of you for the forgiveness of your sins." This is a conscious act. This "promise" of forgiveness "is for you and your children." The promise includes the action of the o­ne receiving forgiveness—repenting. You cannot foist that blessing of forgiveness over o­nto your children, your infants, unless they can consciously "repent." And they cannot! 

    About infant baptism you cannot use the story of Cornelius and his household. Peter said when in that house "everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins" (Acts 10:43). The Spirit fell o­n "all those who were listening to the message," not o­n the little infants who could not process that message. (1) those who believed, (2) received the Spirit, and (3) were baptized. 

    About infant baptism you cannot use the story of the jailer at Philippi. He asked Paul, "what must I do to be saved?" (Acts 16:30). Paul answered, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household" (v. 31). THERE IT IS! INFANT BAPTISM within the household! Keep reading. Paul and Silas preached the word of the Lord "to him together with all who were in his household." The word "was preached and heard" by the household. This would not be small infants who could not process the message! Note verse 34: "they" in the house rejoiced greatly, "having believed in God with his whole household." The Greek is saying "the whole household" believed along with the jailer. 

    Infant baptism will not fly! Unfortunately, the Reformed, following Luther and Calvin, just carried infant over from Catholicism, though in some ways, not with the same heavy punch as is in Romanism. It is unfortunate too, that they do not admit this. While I am most grateful of what these men did for us, I do not follow them blindly, as many Reformed people do. It is almost as if, "Since Calvin said it, it must be true." 

   Thanks for asking.

   Dr. Mal Couch

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Joseph's Lineage

Dr. Couch, I understand that Jeconiah (Coniah) was cursed and that none of his descendants could prosper sitting on the throne of David (Jer. 22:24, 28; 37:1). And yet he is found in Joseph’s lineage in Matthew 1:11. How do we explain this?
    ANSWER:  This is really simple. While it is true Jeconiah is in the line of Joseph, when it speaks of his lineage, the reference is to Jeconiah’s physical children being prospered while sitting on the throne of David and ruling in Judah (22:30). Joseph is in the line of Jeconiah and yet was only Christ’s “legal” father, i.e. Joseph could pass on the right to rule even through his “step son,” Jesus Christ. Jesus was a “natural” and physical son of Mary and also of the house of David, as was Joseph.

    Thus, Christ is “legally” of the promised messianic line through Joseph but the natural son of David, and of the messianic line, through Mary. 

    This entire story shows the great care God took to make prophetic prediction and yet to stay within the full framework of what had gone before! Our Bible is indeed inspired! 

   Thanks for asking.

   Dr. Mal Couch

Friday, January 5, 2007

Holocaust and Pogrom

Dr. Couch, what do the words holocaust and pogrom mean? 
    ANSWER:  Holocaust comes from the word “holo” which means “complete, whole, entire.” In the Middle English, and in Latin, the word is “holocaustrum.” The Septuagint Greek uses the word “holokauston” meaning to burn up completely and wholly. This Greek word is used in Exodus 10:25; 29:25. It refers to the burnt offerings on the altar. This word comes into current usage and refers to what happened to the Jews during World War II. Many thousands, if not millions, were consumed by the fires of Nazi hatred. And by the way, we now have evidence that the main reason for World War II was to get rid of European Jewry. The Germans were paranoid about the Jews. From start to finish, in the rise of Hitler, the purpose was to rid the world of Israel. This was top priority with Hitler and many, many Germans. 

    Pogrom is a Yiddish and a Russian word that described the persecution of the Jews in Russia around 1880-85. It speaks of the organized massacre of the Jews during that period, but also, of any other time in which there is a distinct effort to destroy and eliminate God’s chosen people. 

    The word comes from the Russian word “pogramit;” the word “gromit” means to destroy, devastate, and that comes from the idea of “thunder.” 

    These two words are applied only to what happened to the Jewish people. They are graphic and descriptive words that conjure up a terrible picture of destruction and satanic hatred. 

   Thanks for asking.

   Dr. Mal Couch

Thursday, January 4, 2007

New Thoughts About Progressive Dispensationalism

Dr. Couch, you have had some interesting answers to Progressive Dispensationalism in the past that I really appreciated. Any new thoughts about it? 
    ANSWER:  I understand from a reliable source that o­ne of the "creators" of this off-beat view has recanted his position that Christ is reigning on the throne of David in Psalm 110:1-4. All of us dispensationalists who translate from the Hebrew text knew this all along. This guy, by the way, graduated from a big liberal European University and was tainted in his biblical views. He is o­ne of the founders of this position. 

    By the way one of their most silly views is that the church does not have a "heavenly destiny," whatever that means. Again, remember that the PDs come to the Bible with their preconceived views and then try to substantiate them with Scripture. An old-line premillennialist and dispensationalist like me, goes to the text to Observe what the Bible says. I let it speak to me; I don’t speak to it first! 

    The Bible makes clear that the church indeed has a heavenly destiny. Read 1 Peter 1:4. God "has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, RESERVED IN HEAVEN FOR YOU." 

    End of argument! 

    Please stop following aberrant and dumb views from folks who just like "the new" for variety sake, and not for the sake of spiritual truth! Stay on the main highway and do not go onto the rocky, bumpy back road. I believe in ACADEMICS but they are into ACADEMIA! Beware! 

   Thanks for asking.

   Dr. Mal Couch

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Views on the New Covenant

Dr. Couch, what are your views on the new covenant? Is it the same as Miles Stanford? 
    ANSWER:  I am not sure of his views but I can tell you the views that I know are not biblical and the one that is biblical. 

    Some believe (1) the church picks up the new covenant forfeited by Israel. (2) Some believe the new covenant is now fulfilled by the church. The correct view is that (3) the new covenant (testament) was ratified by the blood of Christ (Luke 22:20) and that the church now benefits by it but does not fulfill it. The new covenant was promised to Israel in Jeremiah 31 starting with verse 31. It contrasts with and replaces the Law, the Mosaic covenant. 

    The new covenant was launched in Acts 2 and will not have to be launched again for Israel when the kingdom begins. Christ ratified the covenant for Israel but the Jews did not come on the stage and accept His sacrifice. 

    The apostle Paul makes it clear that for now the church is the beneficiary of the new covenant and is responsible for it. The church believers are the “deacons” of the new covenant. See 2 Corinthians 3:1-10. 

    Paul alludes to how we presently benefit by the new covenant in the 2 Corinthians 3 passage and at least two other references: He writes that true circumcision is “by the Spirit (the Initiator of the new covenant), not by the letter (of the Mosaic Law)” (Rom. 2:29). And he writes: “But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter (the Mosaic Law)” (7:6). In both of these passages Paul is alluding to the first reference of the new covenant found in Jeremiah 31. 

    I hope this helps.  Thanks for asking.

   Dr. Mal Couch

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Do Believers Have Power Over Sin?

Dr. Couch, do believers have power over sin? 
    The answer is clear, no, no and no! Our flesh can accomplish nothing! I overcome and mature by the power of the Holy Spirit working through me. The power is not innately mine, though that is the way some Charismatics present it. This is wrong! 

    Paul writes, “Be continually walking (present tense) ‘with’ the Spirit and you will NOT carry out the ‘cravings, greed’ of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). Paul then lists the works of the flesh in verses 19-21. This is all the human flesh can accomplish, strife, jealousy, dishonesty, etc. It is not capable of anything else! 

    The flesh has been crucified with Christ, its passions and desires (v. 24). So the fruit of the Spirit must come out, such as Paul describes in verses 22-23. He adds, “If we are living by means of the Spirit, let us also walk by means of the Spirit” (v. 25). 

    In my opinion it takes time to learn to walk with the Spirit so that what I do is really taking place by His power and ability, and not mine. This does not happen instantly! Lewis Sperry Chafer wrote: “The contention that one has no disposition to sin must be based upon a shocking lack of self-knowledge as to the motives and impulses of the heart, or such an assumption is made through failure to comprehend the true character of sin itself.” (Chafer, He That Is Spiritual, pp. 109-10) 

    Hope this helps and thanks for asking.

    Dr. Mal Couch

Monday, January 1, 2007

Dispensational Apologetics

Dr. Couch, I hear you talking about Dispensational Apologetics.  What is that? 
   ANSWER:    Basically, it refers tying the entire Bible together, including prophecy, the Abrahamic Covenant, God’s working presently with Israel, as we present the gospel. You cannot separate the complete plan of the Bible from the fact of the personal gospel of salvation in Christ. He is Israel’s King though he is not presently reigning on the earthly throne of David. Fulfilling prophecy, the Jews are now returning to the “Promised Land” in unbelief. This fact of history is currently happening right now. As I witness about Christ and about forgiveness of sins, the fact of His coming reign and kingship must be mentioned. 

    This is a new approach to traditional apologetics that generally in the past simply focused on the gospel. But I believe we have moved into a new stage. It is time to speak of Christ in witnessing as the Lamb and the Lion, His Salvation and His coming earthly Kingdom reign! The two go together; they are not to be separated. And, part of my new emphasis on apologetics is the fact that the church is right now moving rapidly into the apostasy as prophesied. The rapture of the church is next. 

   Thanks for asking,

   Mal Couch, Ph.D., Th.D.