Sunday, May 31, 2009

What is Going On in Our Country?

Dr. Couch, what is going on in our country?

ANSWER:  It is the apostasy, but it's happening not only here but worldwide. Specifically, in America, one of the things taking place is the splintering or shattering of our national cohesion. We are being split racially. Our laws will now be watered down by racial segments. The laws once governing this land were Reformation, European in nature. Now they will be seen through the glasses of a Latin, or even a Muslim orientation. There will be no turning back! The direction is set.

   All that is taking place has spiritual and theological overtones. Most in our Evangelical churches do not comprehend the nature of the changes we're experiencing. Our new President, Barack Hussein Obama, recently said this is not a Christian nation but a mixture of religions. In one sense, he is right, in that our country was not established as a theocracy. But in the larger picture, he is wrong, and is very ignorant of history. The founding Fathers saw the Bible as the foundation, or the base, upon which our Constitution would rest.

   Many believe Benjamin Franklin was not a Christian. The jury is still out on that question. I believe that it is possible that over the years he returned to the faith of his parents, and trusted Christ as his Savior. But it is clear that during the Federal Convention of 1787 he realized that the Congress needed to call upon God daily in order to secure His blessings on the nation. He said:

   "In this situation of the convention, groping, as it were, in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understanding? In the beginning of the context with Great Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this hall for divine protection. Our prayers were heard, and they were graciously answered. … Have we now forgotten that powerful Friend? Or do we imagine that we no longer need His assistance? I have lived, sir, a long time; and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth,--that God governs in the affairs of men. And, if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured, sir, in the sacred writings, that 'except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.' I firmly believe this; and I also believe that, without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel."

   I am presently writing a book on the spiritual founding of America. "This Great Nation".  Look for it in our bookstore.

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch

Saturday, May 23, 2009

John 12:39-41 and God's Absolute Sovereignty

Dr. Couch, you often write about the absolute sovereignty of God found in Scripture. Is John 12:39-41 also a sovereignty passage?

ANSWER: Yes, indeed! John quotes Isaiah 53:1 to show that Israel was judicially blinded and would not trust in their own Messiah. For God "has blinded their eyes, and He hardened their heart; lest they see with their eyes, and perceive with their heart, and be converted, and I heal them." John then adds that Isaiah saw the glory of God, and he spoke of Him. Some say that John is saying Isaiah saw the glory of Christ, Israel's Messiah, and thus spoke of Him! Many in Israel were blinded because of wanting the approval of men. Nevertheless, the blinding is a judicial work of God. People do not come to the Lord just by accident. Their sinful depravity keeps them from accepting Him. The Holy Spirit must do His sovereign work or no one would be saved!

You cannot escape the sovereignty of God in the Bible. He is in charge of His creation. And because of total depravity, no one will come to the Lord apart from His absolute sovereign work.

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Friday, May 22, 2009

Did Tongues Disappear With The Completion of the NT Canon?

Dr. Couch, the charismatics, who are generally ignorant about the Greek text, in 1 Corinthians 13:10, take the "perfect" to by the coming of Christ. Thus they say that tongues will not disappear until Christ returns. I understand that you take the perfect to be referring to the completion of the NT canon. Can you explain?

ANSWER: One of the arguments against my position is that the passage does not refer to the NT canon, thus I have to insert that idea in the text. But those who hold that it is referring to Christ's return also insert their idea into the context of the passage. They argue that I am going to my theology (that tongues are no longer with us) in my view. But they are also doing the same thing—inserting their view that it is referring to the second coming of Jesus!

I argue from two points: (1) the coming of this "perfect" is replacing the "partial" mentioned in the passage. We know that the canon of Scripture was not complete when Paul wrote 1 Corinthians. (2) I have evidence from church history that sometime after the canon was complete (circa. 90 AD, with the book of Revelation) that many of the key church fathers said that tongues had ceased.

Does it make sense to say that Christ's coming will cause the "partial" to go away, whatever the partial is? But we can say that for sure we only had part of the canon of Scripture—it was not complete when Paul wrote!

The word "partial" is a neuter word (meros). The verb says that in the future "it will be made ineffective, powerless, abolished." The word is "katargeo", and it is a Future Passive Indicative in form. "The partial will be acted upon in the future and it will be abolished."

Interestingly, in the Greek lexicon (Balz & Schneider) the word meros here has to do with "eschatology (prophecy) and [future] history."

Church history confirms what I say, and so does Balz & Schneider!

Iranaeus (120-202) in his work "Against Heresy" says: "These Corinthians who were 'mature' received the Spirit of God and spoke 'in all languages' (not jibberish). We do not hear of the brothers in the church now speak in these languages."

Chrysostom (345-407) said: "This entire passage (1 Cor. 13) is obscure; but the obscurity is by our own ignorance of the facts referred to and by their cessation, being such as then used to occur but now no longer take place."

Eusebius (126-180) Against Montanus the heretic. "He raved and babbled in a sort of frenzy and ecstasy strange things which was not the custom of the church handed down by tradition from the beginning. Some of those who heard were indignant and they rebuked him as one that was possessed. He stirred up two women and filled them with the false spirit, so that they talked wildly and unreasonably and strangely."

Augustine (354-430). "In the earliest time, the HS fell upon them that believe; and they spoke with tongues (languages) which they had not learned as the Spirit gave them utterance. These were signs adapted for the time to show the gospel of God was to run through all languages over the whole earth. That thing was done for a sign and it passed away."

In my opinion, the argument is over about tongues. This shows the value of church history in that it can explain sometimes what is happening in a biblical text.

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Acts 2:38 and Salvation

Dr. Couch, is Acts 2:38 saying that baptism produces salvation?

ANSWER: Oh, heavens no! But you need some Greek to understand grammatically what's going on in the verse. Ger, in our commentary series from AMG, gets it right. He writes:

"Peter is not saying that the physical act of baptism results in forgiveness of sin, but rather, that baptism is the closely related physical sign of the spiritual reality of repentance, which results in forgiveness.

"Repentance is linked with the forgiveness of sin based upon grammatical agreement in both gender and number (both are second person plural). The 'eis' indicates that forgiveness of sin is the result of repentance. This makes the command to be baptized (third person singular) a parenthetical idea. The verse could then be paraphrased as follows, 'Repent for the forgiveness of your sins, and be baptized.' Peter only associates repentance or belief with the forgiveness of sin, making no mention of baptism as a condition of forgiveness (3:19; 5:31; 10:43)."

Be careful of legalists and those who do by study by fear! They are usually very ignorant and try to put a legalistic spin on verses in Scripture. They always move to the extreme and have no sense of how doctrine and truth really work in the Word of God. Such folks avoid!

I hope this helps. Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Monday, May 18, 2009

Deception in the Last Days

Dr. Couch, you speak often about deception that will come in the last days. What does the word mean?

ANSWER: In Greek the word is "apatee" meaning "to cheat, mislead, entice" with the idea of seduction. In my commentary on Thessalonians I write "It stood as a sign of the end times with all its destructive consequences. When the seven year tribulation begins, with the church gone in the rapture, this seduction will grow worse as the kingdom of the Antichrist becomes darkened and then starts to disintegrate."

Paul first used the word in prophecy in 2 Thessalonians 2:10 and shows that this is what the Antichrist will do ("deceive") with the generation that follows him. I believe verses 10-12 could begin even now, before the rapture of the church. In other words, the departure of the lost, moving deeper into evil, could begin even before the church is taken away. It will grow worse as the Antichrist captures the minds of the lost. Paul goes on and says men will be deceived "because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. And for this reason, God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false." The result: "They will be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness."

There is the apostasy of the church before the rapture, and also an apostasy of the world, in that men will gallop deeper into sin and deception even just before the seven year tribulation starts. I believe both could be happening right now.

Some have asked me, "But is not the rapture imminent, in that it could happen at any time, with nothing taking place before?" Dr. Couch, are you saying that the apostasy must come before the rapture?"

There is a little phrase that we often miss when discussing the "difficult times that will come" (2 Tim. 3:1). In these verses (3:1-9) Paul is talking about a kind of departure that will happen with the lost, "in the last days …" (v. 1). His description is about the lost who will morally turn worse and worse in their actions. (Read the verses.) Then the apostle says, "And avoid such men as these." While on one hand, the world will fall deeper into sin and an apostasy, some men were already around in Paul's days, who were living the way he describes before the "last days."

Paul did not know God's timetable. Paul was not certain—God had not given him all the information as to the "when" of these events.

Then how can we know we're into the final days before the rapture? Because of the (1) universal nature of all that is now happening, that is, the explosion of evil, and because (2) the Jews are back in the land in preparation for the seven year tribulation!

I believe we are now rapidly moving into the apostasy of the church, and the deepening immorality of the world! The next event will be the rapture of the church!

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Monday, May 4, 2009

Satan Cast Out of Heaven Twice?

Dr. Couch, is Satan cast out of heaven two times? We have his fall given in Isaiah 14:12-16, and in Ezekiel 28:11-17.

ANSWER:  Though these passages are at first speaking to and about the kings of Babylon and Tyre, as the verses go on, it seems they are talking about the powerful and evil personality behind these monarchs, Lucifer. So these passages would be describing Satan being cast out of heaven, and then, some believe that Revelation 12 is talking about another time when he was cast from heaven in eternity past, before the tribulation. Revelation 12 was addressing his original fall described in Isaiah and Ezekiel.

   It makes sense to me to see Revelation 12 as looking back when Satan was in eternity past cast from the presence of God. Well, what about Job 1? How could Satan come before the Lord in glory if he has been previously thrown out of heaven? I think we have to understand that Satan was cast from heaven in the sense that he has no longer fellowship with God. He still could come before Him and speak with the Lord, and make accusation against Job as the chapter indicates.

   Revelation 12 is just a rehearsal of that original fall. The chapter goes on and describes the fact that now, that is in the tribulation, he is pursuing the woman, who clearly is the nation of Israel. He is working overtime attempting to destroy the Jewish people during that seven year period of wrath on earth.

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Is The Book of Romans Written to Unbelievers Too?

Dr. Couch, it seems as if the book of Romans is written to believers, but then chapter 2 appears to be addressing the unbelievers. Is this true?

ANSWER:  Yes, you have it correct. The book in the larger sense is addressed to those who have trusted Christ but Paul has several segments that are aimed at the lost. There is nothing wrong with this. We just have to observe carefully when he makes the shift in context. Notice in 2:3 he writes "O man" and then reminds humanity in general of the wrath that they will have to face from the righteous judgment of God (v. 5). 2:17-29 is aimed at the Jews. Paul begins here by writing "But if you bear the name 'Jew' …" (v. 17). In 3:9-20 the apostle puts all of humanity, both Jew and Gentile, under sin and condemned. Only Christ, and justification by faith, can get us out of the mess of sin!

   As Paul gets into chapter 3 he starts applying the salvation process to his readers and shows that by faith we are saved and have a new position in Christ. I would say then that the rest of the book goes back and is aimed at his audience, the believers who are residing in Rome.

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch