Friday, May 23, 2008

What About The Lord's Army in Joel 2:11?

Dr. Couch, on Joel 2:11 it says that the verse is about The Lord's Army, yet most dispensational commentators state that it is some kind of destructive, diabolical force. What do you say?

ANSWER: I am not sure which dispensationalists you are reading. All the ones I checked say clearly that this is about the Lord's Army. The dispensational Bible Knowledge Commentary, Unger's OT Commentary, and the Popular Bible Prophecy Commentary all agree. These are the latest dispensational works. In the Popular volume, Dr. Fruchtenbaum writes on Joel 2:11: "God is able to execute His word, and He will execute it during the great and terrible Day of the Lord." Unger adds, "His intervention in God's invasion against His people will be a somber spectacle of the greatness and awesomeness of the Day of the Lord (v. 31; Joel 1:15; 3:14), and "who can abide (endure) it? (Ezek. 22:14; cf. Matt. 24:13)."

I cannot imagine a conflict over this passage. It seems quite clear in meaning and in context.

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

What Is Going On In Proverbs 17:13?

Dr. Couch, what is going on in Proverbs 17:13 which reads in the NAS: “He who returns evil for good, evil will not depart from his house.”

ANSWER: The verb returns is the Hebrew word shuv which is a Participle in the Hiphil verb form. This intensifies the meaning. “He who is characterized as definitely going about rewarding that which is good with evil, the evil will not leave from his house.”

The rabbis say: “This man arouses the contempt of his fellows, so that when he is in trouble nobody comes to his aid.” And, sin comes back upon him. The one practicing sin has the fruit of sin returning to him. On the word evil Unger writes “Evil can be translated ‘trouble, misfortune, adversity,’ and it shall not depart from his house.”

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Friday, May 16, 2008

What About Jeremiah 30:8-15?

Dr. Couch, you have said many times that one can see similarities in the OT that clearly describe America today. Have you seen Jeremiah 30:8-15?
ANSWER: Yes, indeed, I have. This entire section is awesome. The context is Israel's alliance with Egypt in order to find safety and protection. Jeremiah is told to write on a tablet "before the people" what is coming. It would "serve in the time to come as a witness forever" (v. 8). In other words what God says will last forever and stands as a warning continually.

As with America today, the people failed to listen to what the Lord said in a warning. They were so self-absorbed that they refused to listen. He said, "This is a rebellious people, false sons, sons who refuse to listen to the instruction of the Lord" (v. 9). As with many in America the Jews were into themselves and did not want to hear what God had to say. They said to their seers and prophets: "You must not see visions for us, … You must not prophesy to us what is right. Speak to us pleasant words. Prophesy illusions" (v. 10). To the prophets they said, "Get out of the way, turn aside from
the path, let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel" (v. 11).

God, the Holy One of Israel, then answered further "This iniquity will be to you, like a breach about to fall, a bulge in a high wall whose collapse comes suddenly in an instant. And whose collapse is like the smashing of a potter's jar; so ruthlessly shattered" (vv. 13-14). He added, "Only in repentance and [spiritual] rest shall you be saved. In quietness and trust is your strength. But you were not willing" (v. 15).

America is dancing and laughing all the way to the edge of the pit! Entertainment, fun and games, self-serving pleasure is what keeps our nation going. It is going to come to an end! This nation will have served its purpose. It has been most blessed of the Lord but its days are numbered!

While America is just one nation among many nations, it will someday be judged. However, because God has made promises to Israel, that nation shall be, as it were, brought back from the dead! On verse 17 Unger writes in his great commentary that I had reprinted: "'For I will restore you to health … and will heal you of your wounds.' This great promise will be fulfilled in the salvation of the Israelite remnant during the Great Tribulation (Ezek. 37:20-28; Rev. 7:1-8) and their establishment in the Davidic-Messianic Kingdom (20:4-6). No longer will Zion be called an outcast (Isa. 11:12; 56:8; Jer. 33:24), one spiritually put away as a wife divorced by her husband (Isa. 62:4), but one restored to the Lord and one in whom He will delight in His grace."

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Thursday, May 15, 2008

What is the Postponement Theory?

Dr. Couch, what is the Postponement Theory?

ANSWER: I have written on this before, and in my Classical Evangelical Hermeneutics (Kregel), I have an entire chapter on the subject. The Postponement Theory says that because Israel rejected their Messiah, the kingdom has been postponed to another future time, and God is working now with the church age. Some have objected to this idea feeling that it represents the Lord somehow changing His mind, or being caught off guard as to His plans and purposes.

But this objection misses the point. God knows all things and He knew Israel would reject Christ. However it appears the Lord changed His mind and went to plan B by establishing the dispensation of the church. But this is not true. The church was always in the mind of God though it is not anywhere revealed in the OT. God is someday, and I believe soon, going to cease His work with the church. It will be raptured out of here with the seven year tribulation will follow. Then the kingdom will arrive, be established, and will then last for one thousand years!

The offer and presentation of the kingdom to the Jews was a real offer though God knew the nation in the larger sense would reject it. Because Christ was the promised King, the Lord could rightly say "Behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst" (Luke 17:21). Because the Jews were in the act of rejecting that earthly reign of the Messiah, Christ told them the day would come when they would look for it but it would not be here (v. 22). Then Jesus said to the Pharisees, "But first [the Messiah] must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation" (v. 25). The word first (proton) implies a second. In other words Christ must "first" go to the cross before the kingdom (the second thing) of heaven will arrive, the millennial reign! The writer of Hebrews picks this idea up and writes: So Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him (Heb. 9:28).

This is a powerful premillennial verse. The church age comes in between Christ's first and second coming. The first coming was to deal with the issue of sin which the second coming will not have to deal with. His second coming has to do with His earthly reign!

The idea of the postponement seems certain in Acts 1:6-8. The disciples asked the risen Lord, "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" (v. 6). He answered: "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you …" (vv. 7-8). In other words the kingdom is now postponed and the church age is inserted at this time into history!

James seems to reinforce this idea when speaking at the Jerusalem Council. He said "God first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name" (Acts 15:14). This would be the church age. But then James adds, "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, …" (vv.15-on). In conclusion Pentecost writes:

John the Baptist had preached that the kingdom of heaven was near (Matt. 3:2).

Christ had preached the same message as He began His ministry (4:17), and during His ministry Jesus had offered Israel a kingdom that would be established if the nation would receive Him as Savior-Sovereign. But the nation had rejected Him and the kingdom had to be postponed. Christ had previously taught that the generation of His day would not see the kingdom (Luke 17:22), because the kingdom would be postponed indefinitely to some future time. The Lord's words did not nullify the genuine offer of the kingdom in Hid day, nor deny the concept of a literal kingdom in a future day. Rather, this parable was designed to teach the truth concerning postponement of the kingdom.

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

What Did Christ Mean Regarding Matthew 24:35?

Dr. Couch, what did Christ mean when He said the coming of the Son of God to earth to reign: "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only" (Matt. 24:36)? Does not Christ, being very God, know every thing the Father knows?

ANSWER: This is a good question. The word know here is the Greek word oido in the Aorist Tense form and not the normal word "to know" which is ginosko. The difference between the two words can be significant. Oido has the force of "to pay attention to," "to observe," "to inspect," "to examine," and/or "to scrutinize."

While the Lord Jesus would certainly know the day and hour of His return to earth, in an informational way, the point is this is not something He dwells on. It is in the prerogative of the Father as to when He comes back to reign. The heavenly Father has the plan in mind when the Messiah comes to establish His kingdom. This is not in the purview of the Son in that the authority for the timing of that event is with the Father. While the Son has the knowledge of when He comes back, the Father focuses on the working out of that coming.

It may be an overstatement to say the Son does not pay attention to the when of His coming. He has His work cut out for Him and is being obedient unto the Father as He walks the path to the death on the cross!

I believe this is the proper answer to what is going on in this passage.

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Monday, May 12, 2008

What is Happening To This Generation?

Dr. Couch, what is happening in our culture that is so destructive to this generation?

The seduction of television, freedom, and affluence are taking its toll on both men and women. Young men can be just flat out evil and young women can be silly temptresses! Women want to be in the company of men so they will sell themselves short to achieve that. They want to be sailors but then end up going to bed with the crew and getting pregnant. When the navy first deployed women on a ship almost all of them were coming back pregnant.

I saw a documentary the other day interviewing a girl soldier. She said she was proud to be defending her country. With all due respect that is not her role. Her main function is to be the keeper of the morality and the nurturer of the children. The men are to defend the nation! But young women have been brainwashed to believing they must "do" rather than "be." Our culture feeds this and our military lies to us. They say they keep women out of combat but this is not so. The women are stationed on all warships except subs. Can you imagine the chaos if the ship is sinking and mothers and wives are drowning as the vessel dives to the bottom? The military is slowly putting women in combat aircraft and equipping them with weapons in Iraq. The social agenda in our country is alive and well!

And young Christian women are following the feminist agenda in this country. The care of husband, children, and home, are no longer at the top of the list. They are unbiblical in setting their priorities. And their future husbands have also bought into the lies. They think it is okay for their wives to leave their homes and be deployed on a ship for nine months without seeing their children.

Paul says the supreme task of a woman is to pour her life into her children. Recent statistics prove the Bible right. Over forty percent of women, Christians and nonChristians, say they would rather stay home and raise the children rather than be in the work place. But they are driven on by the secular propaganda of feminism!

Paul also wants the young women to love their husbands and their children, be subject to their husbands, and be exemplary home makers (Titus 2:4-5). The problem is that evil young men give off the wrong signals, and most young girls follow their illicit leads.

Unfortunately in some ways things have not changed. In an 1882 book of essays and poems, Mary Lathrop wrote a piece entitled "To Our Girls." She noted that a pastor in a prominent church told her he had officiated at forty weddings and that all the brides were running risks with their choice of a husband but one! She added that young men of evil habits often did not marry their own moral kind but reached for a pure, sweet woman, who was somewhat blinded by his claims of love. Sadly, years later, they realized they had chosen wrongly.

The difference between then and now is that immoral young men do not hide their evilness. It is displayed openly and the women join them in their sins even before they are married. The proof is in the pudding. Almost half of the young people in America of both genders have a sexual disease.

Lathrop concluded as to what she witnessed: She saw young bright girls, at the height of their womanhood, give themselves into the keeping of men who, in base associations, had learned to undervalue all that belongs of worth.

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Salvation in the Old Testament

Dr. Couch, if the OT saints are not “in Christ” and are part of the church, then how are they saved?

Good question but it’s really easy to explain. Every Bible teacher worth his salt agrees that Romans 3:25 is saying that the death of Christ is covering the sins of the saints of the past—in former dispensations before the church age. It reads: Christ is displayed as a propitiation (a place of mercy), demonstrating “His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed.”

In his Word Pictures A. T. Robertson writes on this verse: The sins spoken of are “The sins before the coming of Christ (Heb. 9:15). … In this sense Christ tasted death for every man (Heb. 2:9).”

Charles Hodge adds: “The words, ‘that are past,’ seems distinctly to refer to the times before the advent of Christ. … (Heb. 9:15) ‘He is the Mediator for the redemption of sins that were under the first testament (the OT).’ … God has set forth Jesus Christ as a propitiatory sacrifice, to vindicate his righteousness or justice, on account of the remission of the sins committed under the former dispensation (the Law).”

Lenski goes further: “God passed over the sins of these Old Testament believers. … God pardoned their sins. … What took away the sins of the Old Testament saints was Christ’s blood. … The final reckoning with the sins of the Old Testament believers was, as it were, postponed until the true mercy seat was set forth. In this way the Old Testament saints had their ‘remission,’ it was in the form of a ‘passing over.’”

That the Messiah, the Suffering Servant, would do this for the OT believers was prophesied in Isaiah 53:12. He would “justify the many.”

Kroll rightly concludes in his Romans commentary: “The righteousness of God is declared by atoning for present and future sins as well as past sins. Therefore God is the justifier of any man or woman—past, present, or future—who places his or her faith in the blood of Jesus Christ.”

Yet the Bible is careful not to place OT saints into the body of Christ. They are never said to “be in Christ,” be part of “the body of Christ,” and they are never said to be “in the church.” The church is a unique dispensation in which believers of this present period have a special and different relationship with Christ than ever before. When the church saints are resurrected and the rapture of the living church saints takes place, there will be those who believe during the tribulation. They are “tribulation saints” but they are never seen as part of the body of Christ or labeled as those “in the church.”

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Saturday, May 10, 2008

National Data Bank for DNA?

Dr. Couch, have you heard what President Bush did concerning a national data bank for DNA?

ANSWER: Yes, I did. He signed in a law to take the DNA of all newborns. This would empower the Federal government to begin screening the DNA of all babies born in the U.S. within six months. The bill is described as a "national contingency plan" and entitled The Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act of 2007, which was previously approved by both the House and Senate.

Many doctors are alarmed because it will give power to the government to look at records of people without permission. In a dangerous world one could argue for the necessity of such a program but on the other hand, this certainly sounds like Big Brother by which an evil administration, i.e. that of the antichrist, could have total control of a population. It would force people to cooperate with authorities or they would not be able eat or have jobs. Collecting DNA may not be the same as the mark of the Beast, but it does sound like a form of control by which the entire world's population is tied to the dictatorship of the Beast. Revelation 13:17 says: "He provides that no one should be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name."

We are now in an interlocking one world system in which the entire globe is interconnected. This will increase, leading up to the revived Roman Empire, governed by the Beast, who will by the world's consent exercise mastery over all nations. Some kind of international crisis will bring this about. The book of Revelation is full of "universal" statements that shows the unity of world society during that period. It is said of the Harlot that when she is at the height of her authority, "ALL the nations will be deceived by her sorcery" (Rev. 18:23)."ALL the kings of the earth, who have committed acts of immorality with her …" (v. 9). With the seventh bowl of wrath poured out there will come a great earthquake "such as has not been since man came upon the earth, so great an earthquake was it, and so mighty" (16:18). "And ALL who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain" (13:8).

The world is growing darker in every way—not brighter! Many pastors are lulling their flock to sleep by not teaching the full council of God! This now is also the day of evangelism in which the gospel should go forth with more clarity than ever! "Come quickly, Lord Jesus!"

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Monday, May 5, 2008

What Essential Doctrines Are Necessary for Fellowship and Joint Ministry?

Dr. Couch, does Scripture help us to determine what the essential doctrines are for fellowship and for joint ministry with another church?

I believe the many verses that discuss heresy and error could be put together to form a guide to whom one should fellowship with. I think there are several layers of relationships to take note of that come from Scripture. (1) I can be glad for any true believer who is my brother in Christ. (2) While any true believer may be my spiritual brother, still, he may be destroying a large part of the Bible by his denial of certain doctrines. This would include those in the Reformed faith who deny the proven doctrines of the apostasy, the rapture of the church, the seven year tribulation period, and the bodily return of Jesus the Messiah who will reign on the throne of David for 1000 years in Jerusalem. (3) And then there are the believers who may outright hold to way, way out beliefs.

I could not see my church having joint ministries with any who deny the fundamentals of the Word of God. I may have a certain kind of accepting fellowship with them on a personal level but I could not share ministries with them. However, no one has ever called me an isolationist or legalist when it comes to these issues. I may write in very strong words against those who continue to give false interpretations against clear doctrinal issues but I do not have a fighting fundy mentality.

I believe a church should adopt a strong biblical doctrinal statement such as we have with Scofield Ministries. (You can click on it from the front page.) I wrote that some years ago and it has stood the test of time for a long while. Anyone reading it may feel free to use it however they wish.

A few years ago I got involved with a man who had come out of the Funda____ Bap_____ group. I thought I had him pegged right, and I thought he had disavowed some of the attitudes of that group, but when we began to do ministry together his narrowness and legalism came through. When he left our group, sure enough, he went right back to that persuasion. He lied about the fact that that had been his orientation. In fact, I caught him in over five lies on various issues. I find it interesting that he virtually claimed to walk sinless in his Christian life but he could tell fibs at the drop of a hat!

The Christian life is tricky in that groups and individuals can be deceptive and can look at the Bible in such a restrictive way. If they become embedded within a church they will set about to destroy that assembly or certainly try to take it over. They may doctrinally be in agreement but their attitude and their legalism can take a church down! Such folks I would avoid when it comes to sharing ministry.

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch