Wednesday, February 28, 2007

What About Hurricane Rita and the Judgment of God?

Dr. Couch, you seem so certain about judgment falling on certain cities as San Francisco and New Orleans. What about hurricane Rita striking the Texas coast? 
    ANSWER: First of all, when judgment strikes a people, the righteous may also suffer. While judgment may be pinpointed on a certain evil city, all of America today is in an apostate condition. I believe in the absolute sovereignty of God. Storms do not happen by accident. So if a San Francisco, Los Angeles, or New Orleans (Big Easy) is hit, what would your answer be? Simply happening by accident? 

    Storms should humble everyone—the sinner who is lost, and the Christian! Job says "God makes the nations great, then destroys them; He enlarges the nations, then leads them away" (12:23). He "restrains the waters, and they dry up; and He sends them out, and they inundate the earth" (v. 15) He sends the lightning bolt, and with this it is said to mankind, "the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom" (28:26-28). (In my opinion America is being "led away" right now!) 

    God sends storms and "by these He judges people; and [by the storms] gives food "in abundance" (36:28-33); He sends storms to do "great things which we cannot comprehend" (37:5); He sends the "downpouring" and tells the rain, "Be strong!" (v. 6). And by this, every man cannot work because God "seals the hand of every man" (v. 7). When the storms come, the animals go into their dens (v. 8). "With moisture He loads the think cloud and disperses the cloud of His lightning" (v. 11). He commands the storms "That it may do whatever He commands it on the face of the inhabited earth," (1) "for correction," (2) "for the benefit of His world," (3) or "for lovingkindness, He causes it to happen" (vv. 12-13). Notice that Job said He sends the storms "for correction" (v. 13)! 

    Our Evangelical world today, for the most part, denies the absolute sovereignty of God. I do not! 

    Thanks for asking!

    Dr. Mal Couch

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

What Does the Term "Servant Leadership" Mean?

Dr. Couch, what does the term "servant leadership" mean when used to describe the role of a pastor-teacher in a local church? 
    ANSWER: You've got me! I've never heard that expression. This reminds me (maybe) of what was in vogue some years back called "The Shepherding" movement, where pastor-teachers became almost like gods, ruling the sheep with a heavy hand, i.e., extremely overbearing in controlling the flock. Even to the point of interferring in how they budget their own monies at home. Maybe this is not the same thing, hopefully! You might send me additional information on this and I'll address the question more specifically. 

    Peter speaks about the shepherds taking on their job "voluntarily" (ekousios) (1 Pet. 5:2). In my new NT commentary series, Dr. Robert Gromacki points out that this probably means "the Holy Spirit brought [these elders] to the place where they became willing [to serve] for the right reasons." 

    Shepherding should be a humbling task, not one acting like the straw boss to the poor folks in the congregation. 

    Thanks for asking!

    Dr. Mal Couch

Monday, February 26, 2007

What About Parachurch Ministries?

Dr. Couch, I'm involved with a parachurch ministry that takes the gospel and the Bible into elementary public schools. The organization goes on and states that it is not replacing the church, and that the church is the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15). My question is, is it true that only a church has the biblical authority for an evangelistic ministry? And, what about such parachurch ministries turning the children who become saved over to spiritually corrupt liberal churches?
    You have pointed out a problem that has not fully been addressed by many who are vitally concerned about reaching children for Christ, or even for that matter, an adult. 

    First, it must be noted that nowhere in the NT is it stated that the local church is responsible for evangelism, though it would not be wrong for churches to carry out evangelism in every way possible. Evangelism seemed to be the work of all of the believers of the early church era. 

    Second, parachurch ministries, in order to be accepted by "all" churches, even liberal churches, have said they would refer new converts to every congregation and assembly. This certainly does create a problem. After a child is won to Christ it would be madness to send him to a liberal church that denies the Scriptures in so many ways. 

    The right thing for the parachurch ministry to do would be to make sure that youngsters were sent only to a church that honored the Word of God. Obviously there is a problem in all of this that you are correctly pointing out. on the one hand, the gospel should go forth by whatever means, and by whatever voice. on the other hand, to send some one to an apostate congregation is wrong. The only right solution would be that the para organization should send those saved only to biblically based assemblies. They should make an effort to do this no matter what! 

    This was a great question that causes us all to ponder. 

    Thanks for asking!

    Dr. Mal Couch

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Confusion on the Qualifications for a Pastor and Deacon

Dr. Couch, there seems to be a lot of confusion on the qualifications for a pastor and deacon. There seems to be a lot of tradition involved in interpreting some of these issues. Do you have any suggestion? 
    ANSWER: Yes, my book Biblical Theology of the Church (Kregel) and my book Pastor's Manual for Doing Church, both deal with the qualifications and characteristics Paul wants in the elders and deacons. By the way, I prefer the term "characteristics" instead of qualifications. No one human being can come up to the qualifications the apostle lays down. I have never seen anyone in office who has done that. 

    The apostle Paul sets forth standards, but we know that he knows none will ever walk perfect. This is not to say we are sloppy with those standards. They stand as ideals for the church to consider strongly for leadership. You are right, by the way, in what you see in traditional interpretation on some of these matters. I have found it is almost impossible to get churches to move away from tradition to true biblical guidelines. They do not understand elder leadership (or they elect not to embrace it). They make the pastor a puppet of the board, or, he becomes the straw boss over the church and the board. Yet all of the biblical balance is in the Word of God, but it is just ignored! 

    Thanks for asking!

    Dr. Mal Couch

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Principles For Giving

Dr. Couch, when there is a financial need for a brother in the church, should finances be given from the church funds, are with what the congregation gives by a special appeal? Or, is it appropriate to give funds from both sources? 
    ANSWER: The principles for giving are found in 2 Corinthians 8-9. In those chapters we find there was a collection put together to help the poor in Jerusalem. It appears that there were pledges made that were then pooled and collected from the Corinthian church, to be taken to Judea and to Jerusalem. 

    In my opinion, the source does not matter, nor does it matter how the funds are put together. The main point is the generosity of the fellow believers towards those in need. While some pastors may disagree, I see no problem in an open appeal for helping someone. Let me correct this a little. I don't mean "open" in the sense of mentioning names publicly. An open appeal can be done quietly by telephone to different members, asking them to contribute. 

    I have always had a policy in church to not pull too much from the church treasury that cannot be reasonably replaced. I think we forget that the Bible expects us to pray, and then respond with wisdom, about such issues that may seem tough. But in my opinion, this is not that big of an issue. Help the brother in the quickest and best way possible. 

    Thanks for asking!

    Dr. Mal Couch

Friday, February 23, 2007

Qualifications of Both the Elder and the Deacon

Dr. Couch, I have a lot of questions about the issue of the qualifications of both the elder and the deacon. Can you shed light? 
    ANSWER: Rather than use the word "qualifications" I prefer the word "characteristics." For some reason the word "qualifications" seems to imply absolute perfection for these two offices, and this is certainly not true. The apostle Paul often had to chide these men in their failures. I believe Paul is saying that his lists help in determining whether these are the characteristics that these men possess for their office. 

    While there have been several books written about the elder and deacon, none come up to the details I provide in my book A Biblical Theology of the Church (Kregel). There are a lot of misunderstandings about these issues regarding what the Bible actually says. I analyze the verses and open them up grammatically in order to really ascertain from the Greek grammar what is being said. I also give some very important quotes from the early church fathers as to what these verses mean. 

    Thanks for asking!

    Dr. Mal Couch

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Did The Church Begin At Pentecost?

Dr. Couch, most Bible teachers say that the church began at Pentecost, but in Ephesians 5:25 Paul writes "Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it." Loved is in the past tense. If the church did not start until after Christ ascended, it seems that this must be talking about something else. What do you think? 
    ANSWER: Both the words "loved" and "gave" (Himself) are not in the past tense but in the aorist tense. While there are certain similarities in the two tenses (in some cases but not all), the point is simply that He "Did" these two things—He loved and He gave! 

    There is no conflict in the passage. Christ loved the church that would be forming by the work of the Holy Spirit shortly after His resurrection, more specifically after His ascension. The apostle Paul is simply applying the work of Christ to the soon-coming church. The church was not around until Pentecost. 

    Thanks for asking!

    Dr. Mal Couch

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

What About Landmark Baptist Churches? Are They Right?

Dr. Couch, the Landmark Baptist churches believe there is no universal church; they believe in local assemblies only. Also, they say the church began directly with John the Baptist. How do they defend these positions? 
    ANSWER:  They can’t! But they are so out of it in terms of interpretation that they don’t even know they are in the dark! The problem is they cannot read very well; too, they mix the dispensations all together, pulling some verses from here, and some from there, putting them all in one pot and stirring them up. John the Baptist came to herald the coming of Israel’s king and Messiah. This has nothing to do with the church age following Israel’s rejection of their king and the repudiation of the Davidic kingdom over which Christ is to reign. 

    Also, remember that such way out views show that those folks have an agenda. Always ask: what is your agenda? They have an ax to grind. They hold to something that is odd because they have certain legalistic fears. What do they do with 1 Cor. 1:2 where Paul says he is addressing the church in Corinth, "to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours." 

    All believers are included together. All are joined "in Christ Jesus" and are all saints "by calling," and as well, they are joined together all "in every place" who call upon Him. How could that be any more clear? What would they do with 12:12-13 where Paul says by one Spirit "we were all baptized into one body"? Paul was not a part of the local Corinthian assembly. How could he say that all were placed into "one body"? Is this the local Corinthian church "body," or the entire body of believers who are now part of the spiritual body of Christ? 

    I know some of these folks and I brought up to them these issues. They just looked at me as if they had gone brain dead. They didn’t say a word, nor could they answer me. They just did a lot of blinking, and never came back. I discovered by this that they held to some wooden-headed positions and had never considered the other side. But worse, they did not want to consider what the biblical text was actually saying. They had no hermeneutical skills or clear thinking abilities. 

    These kinds of folks, unless they are open to the Bible, you have to leave alone and just keep on truckin! They will not listen. For them to change their mind on some of these issues is abhorrent and causes them great inner trauma. It is as if they are about to lose their salvation. 

    Thanks for asking!

    Dr. Mal Couch

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Selling Jesus

Dr. Couch, have you ever hear of the book Selling Jesus by Douglas Webster? What do you think of it? 
    ANSWER:  The book was written in 1992 and in my opinion is still a classic as to what is happening in the evangelical church-world. (I have the book and often go back and read it again!) Webster was right on target as to how our pop Hollywood and Nashville culture would destroy our churches. Webster correctly wrote:
The church cannot afford to feed the insatiable appetite of culturally generated felt needs and remain faithful to its identity and mission. The temptation is strong for the church to prove its attractiveness in secularly defined, socially acceptable ways. But love demands a distinction between self-actualization [pure secular psychology] and Spirit-led confirmation. (p. 113)
    If you are in a hot-rock church, get out! It is in no way biblically based. The purpose of church is to teach the Word of God so that men can grow in spiritual maturity. Now many, if not most, of our pastors no longer know how to exegete the Word of God. They do not see that as the purpose of their ministry. I talk by email or phone to an average of four pastors and laymen a week who see their church "going down" because of the doctrinal confusion in the congregation. I would love to see a Christian publishing house reprint this volume. It is needed! 

    Thanks for asking!

    Dr. Mal Couch

Monday, February 19, 2007

Reasons Why Elders and Pastor Are Not Different Offices

Dr. Couch, I agree that the pastor should be one among equals with the church elders, but would you explain the reasons that an elder and pastor are not different offices? 
    ANSWER:   In the NT, and the NT alone, we find that there is a leadership group (plural) in the church that is given four titles. Or, to put it another way, they each are given four titles: pastor (shepherd), teacher, elder, overseer. Thus you have a board or group of men with each designated as: pastor/teacher/elder/overseer. This means we have four designations or four functions in the same person(s). 

    All of this is easy to prove from Scripture but the only problem is (1) people are not reading their Bibles, and (2) they are running on traditional denominational gas and not by what the Scriptures say. 

    For example, Paul summoned together the ELDERS (pl.) of Ephesus (Acts 20:17) and he called them also the OVERSEERS (pl.) (v. 28). (Overseer is "episcopos" and means "to over scope, overlook.) He then uses the verb SHEPHERD (to pastor) as what these men together are to do with the flock at Ephesus (v. 28). Paul uses the word PASTORS (shepherds) as a noun describing the church office only once (Eph. 4:11). There, he puts it this way: "PASTORS (AND, INDEED) TEACHERS." So PASTORS are to pastor by being TEACHERS! 

    Thus the four descriptions describing the same group of guys! 

    To further prove that the ELDERS and OVERSEERS are the same guys, all you have to do is notice that Paul describes their characteristics as church leaders in two lists, 1 Timothy 3:1-7, and Titus 1:5-9. Same list, but he begins 1 Timothy 3:1 by calling them the OVERSEERS, yet in Titus 1:5 he calls them the ELDERS! 

    To really get it biblically settled you need my two books Biblical Theology of the Church and Pastors’ Manual for Doing Church

    Thanks for asking!

    Dr. Mal Couch

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Lord's Supper Guidelines

Dr. Couch, how do you take 1 Corinthians 11 where Paul speaks about “examining yourself” and the issue of eating and drinking judgment on oneself? 
    ANSWER:  This is the section where Paul gives forth the guidelines on the Lord’s Supper. We all use Paul’s words, and this passage, as a reminder not to come to the communion table while walking about in sin. However, while there may be nothing wrong with that, the context of his statements really should be confined to the issue at hand. Many in the Corinthian congregation were coming to the table simply for a meal, and some were getting drunk. They were partaking in an “unworthy manner” (v. 27) and not remembering (v. 24) Christ’s sacrifice for their sins. I don’t see this same kind of behavior or problem in our churches today. 

    Two words are important in this section: “examine” yourselves (v. 28) and “judge” yourselves (v. 29) about the issue. Loss of salvation is not in the works here but God could take some of these believers home for so defiling the picture set forth in the communion table of why Christ died on the cross—to save us from our sins. Therefore the apostle writes: “Many are weak (sick, asthenia), some are sick (better, arrostos, physically weak), and a number die, i.e. fall asleep.” 

    We forget that the early church believers were coming out of raw paganism and many did not fully appreciate the great spiritual happening that took place with their salvation. 

They were arrogant, fool-hearty, still very immoral. While this entire passage and its lesson is sobering, we do not have going on today in our churches what was happening in those days. The word “examine” is in the Greek dokimazo and it is in the present tense. Paul is saying “be constantly examining or judging” what you are doing about this matter! 

    God is using Paul’s words here to reign in the churches who were still moving forward in understanding Christianity and what it was all about to live out one’s faith in a very personal way. 

    Thanks for asking!

    Dr. Mal Couch

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Did Adolf Hitler Plan To Take The Holy Land During World War 2?

Dr. Couch, did Adolf Hitler have plans to take the Holy Land during World War II? I know you are somewhat of an expert on that period of history. What do you think? 
    ANSWER:  Yes, the Germans would have taken the Holy Land and came very close to accomplishing that goal. The great German general, Erwin Rommel (known as the Desert Fox) was moving across North Africa with such an invasion in mind. His army made up of Germans and Italians moved east from Tripoli in order to take Alexandria, Egypt from the British. From there, Rommel planned to sweep northward and take the Suez Canal, and then march into the Holy Land, which was under the protection of England. 

    Meanwhile, from the north, German troops along with some Russian Ukrainian defecting divisions, were to move south from the Caucasus and take Palestine. The Germans were planning a pincer movement—divisions moving from the north and the south against the tiny land of Israel! This would give the Germans and the Italians complete control of the Mediterranean area which would soon strangle the Allied war efforts! 

    The Germans would then “liberate” the Arabs from the “tyranny” of the English who were drawing their oil from the Middle East for the war effort. Most of the Arab nations had pro-German sympathies. In fact the Arab religious leader, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, went to Berlin and met with Hitler concerning this plan. 

    In order to prevent all of this from happening, many Jewish young men joined up with the British and formed a “Jewish” Brigade to battle the Germans, with the promise that England would accelerate their plans to give them a Jewish State after the war. 

Unfortunately, only a few Englishman understood all of the prophetic implications of all of this. Winston Churchill had a small inkling, and so did the great British General Ord Wingate. Wingate was an Evangelical, prophecy believing premillennialist. He used to be a replacement guy, an allegorist and an amillennialist, who thought God was finished with the Jews! He saw the light by reading the Bible with its normal, literal interpretation. He became what I now am, a Zionist Goy (a Gentile who loves Israel, because God does)! 

    By God’s providence, Rommel was stopped before reaching Alexandria. He was somewhat of a “good guy” as the German generals went. Often in his letters to his wife he wrote about God’s (Gott) protection. And he was appalled to hear of the mistreatment of the Jews in the concentration camps. It was said of Rommel’s troops that no anti-Semitic statement was ever heard from the mouth of his soldiers. 

    Thanks for asking!

    Dr. Mal Couch

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Late Great Planet Earth

Dr. Couch, what do you think of the influence of Hal Lindsay’s best seller of the 1970s, The Late Great Planet Earth? 
   ANSWER:   I am sure I think of his book what the Lord thinks! Since I believe in God’s sovereignty, the Lord works in all our works that are done for His name sake. While the book is certainly not perfect, neither is anything you or I will ever do! However the book was translated in about a dozen languages, and at the last count, sold over twenty million (or even more) copies. I believe it was Time magazine that called that publication during the social revolution of the 1970s: "the handbook of the Jesus people movement." 

    I think it would be safe to say that millions of young people came to Christ because of the book’s message, which was: the prophesied coming tribulation followed by the dramatic return of Christ the Savior to earth to reign and rule! 

    Hal did pull a faux pas (a blunder) in the book, however. He wrongly calculated in the Bible a "generation" as being forty years from Matthew 24:34. Lindsay calculated that the nation of Israel came into being in 1948, and therefore, forty years later (1988) the tribulation events would take place! This was a big goof! The Covenant guys, the allegorists and preterists, loved this and have gone about crucifying Lindsay ever since. 

    Matthew 24:34 is an easy passage to explain but that is not the purpose of this question. 

    Always thank God when the truth goes forth, especially when that truth holds fast to the integrity of the entire message of Scripture. Hal’s book does that, but again as I wrote, 
imperfectly so! 

    Thanks for asking!

    Dr. Mal Couch

Thursday, February 15, 2007

What Are The Creatures in Revelation 5:13?

Dr. Couch, who or what are the creatures in Revelation 5:13? Are they angels, fallen angels, the unregenerate, or the saved? And, is the scene post-rapture? 
    ANSWER:   This entire section (5:8-14) is post-rapture. Verses 8-10 contain the “prayers of the saints” who have been gathered into heaven from “every tribe, and tongue and people and nation” (v. 9). These gathered in heaven constitute “a” kingdom not the millennial kingdom that takes place on earth in the future. This “kingdom” mentioned here in verse 10 is clearly the church which, when on earth, functioned as a priesthood to the Lord (1:6). 

    In what dispensation were people so universally gathered from around the world as referred to in verses 8-10? This is clearly the dispensation of the church saints, and in this passage, they (the church) are now in heaven praising the Lord! The church is never again seen on earth in Revelation from chapter 6 on. Poor Reformed Covenant guys just cannot answer that! 

    In 5:11-12 there is the chorus of the angelic hosts praising God and honoring Christ who is the Lamb, who saved from all the nations the great company of human beings, the saints who are mentioned. This scene has certain finality to it. The church has been gathered and is now residing in heaven, “rescued” just before the tribulation begins on earth in chapter 6. 

    Now coming to verses 13-14 and the words “every created thing”: The Greek word ktisma is a singular neuter noun with the neuter relative pronoun “o” following. Since the church in heaven is mentioned in verses 8-10, and the angels are mentioned in verses 11-12, what is now happening in verses 13-14? 

    I believe verses 13-14 constitute hyperbole, a poetic expression, a metaphor, an anthropomorphism of nature, as if nature is alive and praising God just like people and angels! Some commentators disagree but the neuter stands out so strongly in the Greek text, this is what I come to. 

    I trust this helps, and, thanks for asking!

    Dr. Mal Couch

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

How Were People Saved Pre-Abraham?

Dr. Couch, how were people saved pre-Abraham? He was saved by faith (Gen. 15:6) but nothing is said about those who came before.
    ANSWER:  You are absolutely correct. Nothing is given to us as to how specifically God saved the believing saints before Abraham. But it clearly seems certain they were saved by trusting whatever God put before them, in other words, not knowing all the plan of the Lord, they still trusted His revelations to them at that early moment in human history. Paul simply uses Abraham as the great example of faith, but also of justification by faith. Genesis 15:6 is so clear the apostle felt it really proved the point, especially to the Jews who were attempting to be justified by works. 

    Thanks for asking.

    Dr. Mal Couch

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Limited Atonement Among Traditional Dispensationalists

Dr. Couch, is there any theological reason for the rejection of Limited Atonement among traditional dispensationalists? 
    ANSWER:  Before answering I need to tell a true story. Some years ago I was in a Reformed pastor’s office. He said, "Yes, I have many dispensational friends. And you know, they are all textual." I answered back, "Well, isn’t that what being a pastor is all about? Going into the biblical text and sharing it with the congregation?" He went brain dead and didn’t say another word! 

    Since most solid, strong dispensational are "textual" they are better able to exegete the Scriptures, and guess what, Limited Atonement cannot be supported, no matter what Calvin said. In research I found most interesting that most of the old Calvinists I admire did not support the doctrine. They said what I say, "Christ’s sacrifice was sufficient for all the world, but applied only to the elect." The world could come to Christ, but Total Depravity kicks in. None will of themselves come to Him! Therefore He must elect those who will be His own from among "the all" who will not believe from within themselves. 

    Some years ago I had a friend who holds a Th.D. as I do, and who was toying with Limited Atonement. I said, "What do you do with 1 John 2:2?" "He Himself is a propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world."

    Seems pretty simple to me. In five minutes he had changed his mind. The Calvinist William Hendriksen, whom I admire, who writes, "Of all men God is the Savior, but of some men, namely, believers, he is the Savior in a deeper, more glorious sense than he is of others. This clearly implies that when he is called the Savior of all men, this cannot mean that he imparts to all everlasting life, as he does to believers." (His Thessalonian commentary, p. 154) 

    Calvinist Ellicott writes, "Christ’s redemption was offered for the whole of mankind, from Adam to the last man. Who lay hold of the redemption must be determined on other considerations [such as by the doctrine of election]." (Commentary, 8:476) And even Calvin in his commentary on 1 Timothy 2:1-6 said, "Paul demonstrates that God has at heart the salvation of all, because he invites all to the knowledge of the truth." (21:54) 

    The Calvinist Kistemaker writes, "We can say that the atoning death of Christ is sufficient for all people but efficient for all true believers." (2 Corinthians commentary, p. 288) 

    Thanks for asking.

    Dr. Mal Couch

Monday, February 12, 2007

Can There Be 'Carnal' Christians?

Dr. Couch, do the Scriptures teach that there can be "carnal" Christians? And, is it possible to be "carnally saved"? 
    ANSWER: The Bible clearly states that there are three categories of mankind. Paul refers to the (1) natural man (psukikos, soulish) who operates only from the center of himself, from the core of his soul and from nothing else (1 Cor. 2:14). Then there is the (2) spiritual man (pneumatikos, spiritual) who is born again and who has the work of the Holy Spirit as central in his life. He is filled (controlled) by the Spirit for daily living. He wants to operate by what the Spirit of God says, and not what his flesh dictates. Then there is (3) the fleshly, carnal man (sarkikos, carnal) who is the Christian who operates by putting his flesh front and center—by what he can see, touch, hear, say, and where he can go. He then grieves and smothers the work of God’s Spirit in his life. 

    I am not sure what you mean when you speak of being "carnally saved." I believe when one accepts Christ, and places all of his sins at the cross, that this is the lowest moment for any human being. He then is most "spiritual" and empty of himself. Unfortunately, many Christians then get up off of their knees and start walking carnal rather than relying on the Spirit of God, and Scripture, in guiding them. 

    Thanks for asking,

    Dr. Mal Couch

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Regenerated Faith/Unlimited Atonement

Dr. Couch, I saw where you said you leaned toward regeneration coming before faith. I find this issue confusing especially from some of the blogs that are out there. I am thinking of James White and Ergun Caner. How does this coincide with unlimited atonement? 
    ANSWER:  To repeat again, I find at least two verses that need to be examined with the idea that regeneration comes before faith. One is Titus 3:5. “He saved us by the washing of the again birth (born again, regeneration) and the renewing (remaking) of the Holy Spirit.” The “again birth” in Greek is actually palinggevesia translated as “regeneration.” 

While faith by God’s sovereignty is in the mix of the salvation process, Paul does not bring it up here in this verse. He just goes straight to the theological work of what “being born again” means. I also fall back on 2 Thessalonians 2:13 where Paul shows that we are chosen by God FROM THE BEGINNING FOR SALVATION “by means of” sanctification by the Spirit and “by means of” FAITH IN THE TRUTH. 

The sanctification of the Spirit would be the new birth (being born again) and the faith is our response brought about by God’s sovereignty. I do not understand what you mean about “unlimited atonement.” I do not see the relationship of that with the issue of the order of regeneration and faith. I do not see the connection. I must be brain dead on this issue but I just don’t understand the big deal! 

    Thanks for asking.

    Dr. Mal Couch

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Regeneration in the Old Testament

Dr. Couch, in dispensationalism it is taught that there is a "difference" between Israel and the church, but I don’t hear much about regeneration in the Old Testament. Can you help? 
    ANSWER:  It is a cloudy issue concerning regeneration for the OT saints. As with Abraham we know he was justified, or legally acquitted by his faith in the fact that God would be giving him an uncountable number of children (Gen. 15:6). Paul picks up on this and over and over says that belief is what now saves, though the object of that faith is Christ, whereas with Abraham it was simply trusting in God’s word. 

    The OT predicted that God would, under the New Covenant (in contrast to the Mosaic Covenant), give birth spiritually to the Jewish people as they enter the land under the millennial reign of Christ. This "new birth" is regeneration and it is unique to the New Covenant. Ezekiel says "They will come to life" (Ezek. 37:9), will be spiritually washed (36:25), have the Lord’s Spirit placed within them (v. 27), and "you will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers" (v. 28). Regeneration, or the new birth, is again described for Israel in the land like this: "I will put My Spirit within you, and you will come to life [the new birth], and I will place you in your own land" (37:14). 

    [Can you believe the foolish Reformed folks take the above verses allegorically and say this is about the church! However, some like Ellicott understand rightly that these verses are to be taken literally. He says: "Therefore the promise for Israel of earthly restoration must yet be made, and must in due time be literally fulfilled."] 

    The church now benefits from the New Covenant that was ratified by the death of Christ, though originally meant for Israel first (Luke 22:20). The church does not fulfill the New Covenant, but instead, simply benefits by the death of Christ for sins. 

    Paul gives one of the most important verses about regeneration in Titus 3:5. From the Greek he writes:
He saved us, not on the basis of works which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by means of the again birth (regeneration) and the again making (remaking) done by the Holy Spirit.
    This is virtually what is written in Ezekiel. 

    To further answer your question, dispensationalists do not propagate the differences between Israel and the church. The Bible does, and all dispensationalists do is "observe" carefully what the text indicates! 

    Thanks for asking.

    Dr. Mal Couch

Friday, February 9, 2007

Good Works Don't Save

Dr. Couch, I heard a pastor on the radio say: "You cannot get saved and not have your life changed. You cannot get saved and not do good works." The point he seemed to be making was not, that one must do good works to be saved, but that without a doubt, it is for certain that one will absolutely do good works as a proof of one’s salvation. How does this line up with 2 Corinthians 13:5? What do you think? 

    ANSWER:    Fruit will be produced by the believer in Christ. Good works will follow salvation, but the apostle Paul also warns of deep carnality that can and will come forth from the child of God. Maturity is a process and does not happen all at once. Everyone matures and changes at a different pace, and in regard to individual sins in the life that need to be purged. one cannot make a blanket statement as to the issue of good works. 

    2 Corinthians 13:5 reads: "Examine yourselves, whether you are in the faith; prove your own selves." Paul is not saying that they should examine themselves as to their salvation as proven by their works. No one is saved by works. The context goes back to verse 3 that says: "Since you seek a proof of Christ speaking in me …" Paul’s point in verse 5 is that they have to believe Paul because Christ is speaking through him. Do they, or do they not believe the gospel the apostle is teaching? There is little doubt that Paul accepted the fact that there were unsaved people in the Corinthian congregation. He is not asking for them to "examine themselves" as to good works that supposedly would automatically come forth with their faith; he is asking whether they have trusted the gospel at all, because he, Paul, is speaking "for Christ" the truth about salvation. 

    If the pastor you mentioned is saying that good works are automatic, and will always and instantly come forth as an absolute proof of salvation, then he is dead wrong, and he has not read the rest of the New Testament about carnality! 

    Thanks for asking.

    Dr. Mal Couch

Thursday, February 8, 2007

The Transfiguration in the Gospels

Dr. Couch, I am having trouble reconciling the transfiguration in the Gospels. Matthew and Mark both state that “after six days” while Luke simply says “about eight days after …” What do you say? 
    ANSWER:  I think in your email you got the answer. Luke is including the day that Jesus predicted His death, and Luke also would be including the actual day of the transfiguration. This is good thinking! But note too that Luke said “about eight days …” He could be rounding off the number and not be writing specifically! The word “about” is the key! Look carefully at Mark 9:1. It is clear that what Christ said in this verse starts the counting. Mark 9:2 says “And six days later …” 

    I have never found the Word of God truly contradictory though there can be occasions when we do not know all the details of what is happening. 

    Thanks for asking.

    Dr. Mal Couch

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Does the Bible Condemn Polygamy?

Dr. Couch, does the Bible condemn polygamy? 
    ANSWER:  By the command that one man should marry one woman makes it clear that polygamy is unacceptable. Also, in every case I can think of, polygamy was destructive to the children involved. This is true of Abraham, David, Solomon, etc. By that fact alone, it is easy to say that polygamy was wrong. 

    In the story of Abraham, God made it clear that Ishmael who was born to the handmaiden Hagar would not be his legal heir. The Lord punctuated this fact when He spoke to Abraham about offering up Isaac. God said: “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love …” (Gen. 22:2). Though Hagar was a mistress of Abraham, Ishmael did not count in God’s plan for the passing down of the Abrahamic Covenant to later generations. 

    Thanks for asking.

    Dr. Mal Couch,

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

John Piper Mystical?

Dr. Couch, I understand John Piper has gone mystical. Have you heard about this?
   ANSWER:  Yes, I have. Piper sent out a short article on his recent charismatic-like experience. 

    Piper has made some meaningful contributions in his writings for the body of Christ, even though he is an allegorist (amillennialist), and a Covenant guy. Unfortunately, because of his Covenant position and allegorical interpretation he would deny the clear biblical doctrines of the rapture of the church, the seven-year tribulation, and the earthly millennial reign of Christ, the son of David. 

    His article is entitled "The Morning I Heard the Voice of God." This "wonderful experience" happened to him in the early morning of March 19, 2007 at a Minnesota retreat grounds. Well over thirty times he focuses on God’s speaking directly to him. Over and over again he kept using the pronouns "I," and "me" which highlighted the moving experience he was having in this encounter. This "experience" was more about something missing in Piper’s life rather than about some new revelation in regard to the greatness of God. 

    On one hand Piper glories in the fact that he had this direct voice revelation. However his article is full of contradictions and even conflicting points. He argues for the fact that now in this age God is speaking directly to people, and yet he then tries to verify that God only speaks through the written Word! It is as if Piper is exalting in his experience, catches himself, and comes back down to earth to verify that, no, God really only speaks through His written revelation. 

    In the article Piper writes that he "heard the words in my head just as clearly" as if when one has a conversation "across your consciousness." "God actually spoke to me," he adds, "There is no doubt that it was God." From this "absolute self-authenticating ring of truth, I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that God still speaks today." What does Piper mean by "self-authenticating"? By writing this, no one can check and balance what Piper experienced. 

    Piper adds that that morning he "couldn’t sleep for some reason." He then adds that "God moved me out of bed." Was God simply using his sleeplessness for an opportunity to speak to him, or was the revelation planned and executed by His providence? 

    While praying and musing, God said, "Come and see what I have done." Piper adds that "in his mind" these were the very words of God. God was speaking to him with absolute authority and self-evidencing reality. He adds, "God was near." Ironically, God did not show Piper anything in visible form, though he said the Lord said "come and see." 

    What message did Piper get? The Lord simply quoted Psalm 66:5-7 which reads: "I turned the sea into dry land; they passed through the river on foot. There they rejoiced in Me …" Piper adds that he was being taken back several thousand years when God dried up the Red Sea and the Jordan River. "I was transported by his word back into history to those great deeds. This is what he meant by ‘come and see.’" 

    So the Lord give Piper some special revelation, a quoting of Bible passages, that he could have read at any time, and all of us have the privilege to read for ourselves! With all due respect, what is the big deal! The "big deal" is that Piper could be privy to an "experience," a feeling, a sense that he was important with the Lord. For some reason he needs such an experience. He is having trouble it seems in trusting what the Lord has already revealed in His recorded Word! 

Piper then adds what I consider many self-serving and arrogant phrases in his testimony.

  • "This was a holy moment in Minnesota."
  • "God Almighty had come down and was giving me the stillness and the openness and the willingness to hear his very voice." [Whatever this means!]
  • "This was breathtaking." "At least a warning."
  • "This is glorious."
  • "The very words of God in my head."
  • "God still speaks in the twenty-first century."
  • "I heard his very words. He spoke personally to me."
  • "It filled me with a fresh sense of God’s reality."
  • "It strengthened my faith."
  • "He cares for me."
    "Why else would God come and tell me these things?" he asks. The Word of God was apparently not sufficient for John Piper. We know God cares for us and strengthens our faith through His established written Word, and by the illumination of His Holy Spirit. Some super-duper experience is not necessary! 

    Piper then does something strange in his article. The final three paragraphs seem to confirm that he holds to the authority of the written Word, sola scriptura, if you will! To substantiate this point he closes his article with, "Still hearing his voice in the Bible." By the strange contradiction Piper may be trying to say, "Yes, we have the written revelation, but I now believe also that God comes and gives direct experiential revelation to us individually." Piper is advocating a "both-and" in this testimonial. Whatever the case, Piper apparently needed to claim that God spoke directly to his soul, audibly! 

Three things stand out in Piper’s article. (1) He has opened the door for many in the Covenant theological movement to follow his lead in having charismatic experiences. (2) What God said to him was already recorded in the verses the Lord quoted. Why then did He need to reveal some so-called new message above His written Word? (3) Just ever so little, Piper moved the written Word of God down a notch from its certain and exalted position as our only revelation of what He wants us to know. This will not bode well for the body of Christ that has respected Piper throughout the years! 

    Thanks for asking.

    Dr. Mal Couch

Monday, February 5, 2007

Regeneration Before Saving Faith, After, or Simultaneous?

Dr. Couch, does regeneration come before saving faith, after, or is it simultaneous? 
    ANSWER:  This is an old debate that I am not sure we can all solve. Since we are chosen for salvation from eternity past, the issue is moot as far as I am concerned. I "lean" however toward the fact that regeneration may come first. Because we are conscious beings, we will speak forth our faith in Christ, though sovereignly moved to do so by the Holy Spirit. In Titus 3:5-7 Paul mentions the order of salvation but does not address the issue of the words of trust and faith that will come out of our hearts and minds. 

    From the Greek text the passage could read:
He saved us, not on the basis of deed which we have done by righteousness, but according to His mercy by means of the washing that takes place by the "again birth" (palingenesia) even the "again newing, remaking" (anakainosis) done by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that being legally acquitted by His grace we might be made heirs according to the anticipation of eternal life.
    Thanks for asking.

    Dr. Mal Couch,

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Hatred Against Premillennialism

Dr. Couch, I just read a review of your wonderful and helpful Handbook of Revelation (Kregel) in which the reviewer blasts premillennialism and pretribulationalism. He says such works are influenced by the Left Behind series, and by Hal Lindsey. Why is there such hatred against the premillennialism of the early church? 
    ANSWER: This is a question that is hard to understand. There is one thing I have noted about the Preterists and the Amils, and that is, it is impossible for them to exegete both OT and NT prophecies. They are long on criticism, and short on exegesis and biblical explanation. 

    They are also foolish to think we get our eschatology from the Left Behind series, Hal Lindsey, John Darby, C. I. Scofield, or any other Bible teacher of the past. (I personally have never read anything from Darby.) We get our eschatology from sound, consistent exegesis, and detailed observation, of the biblical texts. Church history shows that in the past 175 years there began a growing return back to premillennialism by some of the greatest scholars of both England and America. Many were carefully observing that the church had to do something about what the Bible said about the regathering of the nation of Israel. No longer could the argument simply be that the church replaces Israel, or that God is finished with the Jews. The great OT passages about the return of the Jews to the land, the great tribulation, and the literal coming of the Messiah, could no longer be ignored. 

    Reformed folks are stuck in a time-warp with the great Reformers, in regard to eschatology. I admire these men and we all owe them a great debt of gratitude. But while they espoused literal interpretation, they did not apply their own principles of literalness to prophecy. Their inconsistency is glaring! And yet in other areas of theology they are basically biblical (except in their made-up and un-biblical Covenant theology!). 

    Thanks for asking.

    Dr. Mal Couch

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Is 1 John 2:28 a Rapture Passage?

Dr. Couch, is 1 John 2:28 a rapture passage? I have some who deny that it is. What do you think? 
    ANSWER: From the Greek text the passage reads:

And now, children, be continually [daily] sticking with [Christ], in order that when He should appear, we might be possessing a confidence [fearlessness, boldness, certainty] and we should not shrink back from Him in the coming [of] Him.
    This is clearly a rapture passage because it addresses those who were alive at that time (circa. 90-95 AD) when "old" John did all of his writing. 

    Though John's days were short, he still saw Christ's coming for His own possibly in his short life-time. He speaks of "we" have confidence when He comes! This means it could have happened in John's life. 

    Rapture passages always have a certain immediacy to the audience to whom the letter is written. It always addresses "we," "you," or "us," as is done here. 

    1 John 3:2 is also clearly a rapture passage. The construction "when He appears" is the same construction as in 2:28, giving a clear sign that both verses are rapture passages. According to the great Greek grammarians Dana & Mantey, the "when He appears" should better read "whenever He appears," as if taking any uncertainty away from the construction of the verse. Another Greek scholar (A. T. Robertson) says about "not shrink away from Him," could better read: "Not shrink away from His face." 

    The bema judgment seems to take place shortly after the rapture of the church. The "shrink away in shame" appears to connect to what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:10 about being recompensed for what we do "whether good or bad." 

    Those who do not hold to the rapture of the church really do not understand what all is happening in all of these verses. In 3:2-3 John adds: "When He appears, we shall be like Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure." The hope of the rapure, truly believed and embraced, has a practical application to change the life of the believer. 

    Thanks for asking.

    Dr. Mal Couch

Friday, February 2, 2007

Heavenly Destiny For The Church?

Dr. Couch, I'm confused. I believe you advocate a "heavenly destiny" for the church. However, both the church and Israel will be on earth during the millennial reign. Also, you advocate seven years in heaven followed by the same 1000 years of earthly reign. Why do you consider your position a "heavenly destiny" when the church will spend 993 more years on earth after such a short stay in heaven? Wouldn't that identify the church's destiny as "earthly"? 
    ANSWER: The order is: (1) the church is in heaven for the seven year tribulation that takes place on earth, and (2) the church comes back with Christ to be in His presence for the 1000 millennial reign. I don’t get the 993 year thing! All of this seems so easy and so biblical! I must be missing something in translation! Or, there is an agenda to avoid the obvious. The agenda is to soften the truth of the doctrine of the rapture by the Progressive Dispensationalists (PDs), and bring confusion on this issue. I know for a fact that at the "big" seminary in the Dallas/Ft Worth area the students are getting terribly confused and cannot defend biblically some most clear and obvious doctrines of the Bible, much less the simple facts of the rapture of the church. 

    To make it simple: (1) the church’s key destiny is heaven at the rapture, and despite the poor reading ability of some PDs, heaven is called glory! (2) the church will be in the kingdom but is certainly not seen as the "key" people. That is Israel, and not the church! 

    The PDs try to get rid of the church’s heavenly-destiny and even try to say that heaven is not called glory. While it is true that the word "doxa" can be applied to several areas or issues, it still is used to describe in many places, heaven! They are WRONG! And don’t forget, they have "reasons" to change doctrine. Be aware!
  1. "I press toward the goal for the prize of the UPWARD CALLING of Christ" (Phil. 3:14).
  2. "Our CITIZENSHIP is IN heaven from which we wait for a Savior" (3:20).
  3. "God shall supply your needs according to His riches IN GLORY IN CHRIST" (4:19).
  4. "God made known the mystery [of salvation], which is Christ in you, the HOPE OF GLORY" (Col. 1:27). Christ is the Hope, of what? "Concerning glory!" The great John Eadie, one of the giant Greek scholars, says about this verse: "The Christian’s treasure is in heaven."
  5. "The hope laid up for you IN HEAVEN" (1:5).
  6. "Absent from the body, … to be at HOME (IN HEAVEN) with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8).
  7. "A house (new body), not made with hands, eternal IN THE HEAVENS" (5:1).
  8. "We shall be caught up (the rapture) together with them (the resurrected) in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord" (1 Thess. 4:17).
    I just got through reading, once again, Progressive Dispensationalism by Blaising and Bock, and I find dozens of verses that do not say what they claim, like: "The eschatological Zion is said to be in heaven at the present time (Gal. 4; Phil. 3:20)." (p. 266) These verses do not say that! 

    Remember, they have an agenda! When PD began, one of the proponents said that they as dispensationalists wanted to soften the dispensational teaching and give a compromise view more compatible with covenant theology. one of the proponents said that in eschatology, he puts the doctrine of the rapture way down the list in importance. And remember too, that PD is softening present love of, and support for, Israel. At that "big" school the understanding of, and the teaching of premillennial prophecy, has almost died. And more and more students there, unknown to the leadership, are jumping ship to amillennialism. 

    Thanks for asking.

    Dr. Mal Couch

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Should We Use The Expression 'Palestinian Covenant' Today?

Dr. Couch, someone has said that we should not use the expression “the Palestinian Covenant” today, that it implies something the Bible is not saying about the Land of Israel. What do you say? 
    ANSWER: My good friend Dr. Tom McCall has reminded us all that we should be using the expression “The Land Covenant” or “The Holy Land Covenant” and not the Palestinian Covenant. Today, people wrongly identify the word “Palestinian” with the Arabic and nomadic peoples who never owned the land. They were simply squatters on the Land. And, for hundreds of years the Land was controlled by the Turks until the British defeated them in 1917 and took over the Land as a protectorate. The title deed to the Holy Land is eternal and it belongs to the Jewish people not the Arabs. 

    Inadvertently, we all in the past innocently used the expression “Palestinian Covenant,” but this is wrong. The word Palestinian comes from the word the Romans used to describe the Holy Land, Palistia, after the ancient people who inhabited that area—the Palistines.
    Premillennialists should call this Land what it is called in Scripture—“The Holy Land,” “The Beautiful Land,” “God’s Land,” and “The Land of Israel.” By these expressions it is clear from the Word of God that the Land belongs to the Jews by title deed in perpetuity and not to the Arabs. The Arabs and Muslims held the Land until the rightful owners, the Jews, came home, as it was prophesied in Scripture. 

    The Holy Land Covenant says that the Land was given to Abraham and his children forever! That promise and that Covenant has not been changed or annulled. With the Jews back in the Land, after being scattered worldwide for almost two thousand years, I do not understand how the Reformed guys, the amillennial allegorists get away with denying this prophesied truth. Such ignorance and blindness amazes me! Notice the silence from the Reformed crowd. They have nothing to say about present events in the Middle East, about the return of the Jews to the Holy Land. They truly have a form of Anti-Semitism in their thinking. 

    Thanks for asking.

    Dr. Mal Couch