Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Doctrine of Divine Election

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

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

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

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

Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Doctrine of the Virgin Birth

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

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

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

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Monday, July 9, 2007

Was Christ Born Genetically From Mary?

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

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

Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch

Sunday, July 8, 2007

How Are We To Witness In The Work-Place?

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

    Here are some guidelines:

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

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

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Are All Races Equal?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Mal Couch

Friday, July 6, 2007

What About the Illegal Immigrant Crisis in America

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Is Jealousy Always A Sin?

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

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

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

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

I hope this helps. And thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Postponement of the Kingdom?

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

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

    Verse 21 is without a doubt speaking of a postponement!

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

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

Thanks for asking. 

Dr. Mal Couch

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Is Obadiah 15-21 About the Worldwide Tribulation?

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch

Monday, July 2, 2007

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

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

Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Is Psalm 122 a Millennial Psalm?

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

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

Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch