Friday, July 31, 2009

Man Leave Family to Pray and Blames God

Dr. Couch, I heard the other day of a fellow who believes God speaks with him, and told him to travel the earth and go about praying over everything. He leaves his wife and children and just travels! What do you think?

ANSWER: Don't be fooled by pious activities. In a certain reverse way, this is what the monks of the Middle Ages did. They hid themselves away and simply prayed night and day. First of all, God does not speak to this man. It is either indigestion or the influence of demons. God has given us all the revelation He has for us, for all of us! We need no more messages than what we have in Scripture. Notice how our flesh responds when we hear of such piety! "Oh, he must be so holy and Godly"! In my opinion, "What a waste of time!" He could instead be giving a clear message of salvation in plain language to a dying world that needs clarity about spiritual things.

   In Paul's criticism of those who gibbered in tongues, he said, "If a harp, flute, or bugle does not produce a clear sound … it is like speaking into the air!" (1 Cor. 14:7-9). "So also you, unless you utter by the tongue speech that is clear, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air" (v. 9). If you think God is directly speaking to you and giving you messages, it's probably because of the bowl of chili you had last night! In a sense, what Paul says fits somewhat as to what this fellow is doing. He's going nowhere! (I wonder if charismatics have read these verses?)

   Don't be fooled by foolish foolishness!

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Calendar and the Flood

Dr. Couch, the 360 days calendar seems to be used in Genesis, Daniel, and Revelation. How does this fit in the length of days in the story of the Flood?

ANSWER: Yes, you pointed out that the Bible (and the ancients) used the lunar calendar rather than the solar year calculations. I'm not sure what problem you are having with this. In adding up the days for the length of the Flood we come up with the following for the length of the time period: 371 days. I do not see any conflicts or problems concerning the Flood days in Genesis. Maybe I'm missing something!

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

No Longer Can Sin

Dr. Couch, I'm told by some legalistic Christians that believers no longer can sin. This does not seem correct from the biblical standpoint or from experience. How do you answer?

ANSWER:  I answer by Scripture! I find it fascinating how many Christians do not read their Bible and therefore do not know what it says. For example, if I asked some of those folks who have never read their Bible, can believers practice idolatry? most would answer no! Again, they have not read what the Word of God says.

   In Ephesians Paul writes about Christians being liars: "Be laying aside falsehood, speak truth" (v. 25). He adds "Do not give the devil an opportunity …" (v. 27). "Let the thief stop stealing" (v. 28), and "Let no unwholesome (spoiled fish) word come from your mouth" (v. 29). "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit" (v. 30), and "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you" (v. 31). "Be kind to one another" (v. 32).

   "Walk in love (5:2), and "do not let immorality or any impurity or greed even be named among you" (v. 3). "There must be no filthiness and silly talk" among you (v. 4). Here's the biggy: "Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret" (vv. 11-12). Concerning idolatry further: Paul says to believers, "Flee idolatry" (1 Cor. 10:14), and "Don't be an idolater" (v. 7)). In 1 John 5:21 we read "Keep from idols."

   How stupid for believers to say they do not sin! How blind they are to their own actions!

   The problem is that few believers have been taught by their lazy pastors to understand the difference between POSITIONAL and EXPERIENTIAL Truth! In our Position, we are saints in Christ, but in our walk in time, in our Experience, we can sin, and in fact DO SIN! Of course believers are not supposed to sin but the reality is that we do!

   Ephesians 5:8 explains this clearly. Paul writes "For then in the past you were DARKNESS, but now LIGHT in the Lord; be continually walking as children of light." Paul does not write that we were IN Darkness but that we WERE DARKNESS! Now, we are not simply In the Light but we are LIGHT! This is a statement about our old and our new POSITION in Christ. Now, we are to be walking about in our EXPERIENCE in Christ, as children of Light! 

   Go to a church where you are taught the Word of God. Stop listening to sermonettes for Christian-ettes! Start being taught by teachers who know their stuff!

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Conflict with Genesis 22 and Galatians 3

Dr. Couch, what is going on in Genesis 22:17 in connection with Galatians 3:16? There seems to be a conflict. Can you explain.

ANSWER:  Here is a case that shows why I spent three years studying graduate Hebrew and took about thirty hours in graduate Greek courses. If one does not know the original languages one cannot be an engineer of the Scriptures, and that is the calling of those of us who wish to be exegetes. In the KJV and in the Hebrew-English version of the OT, Genesis 22:17 is translated correctly. The pronoun "his" is correct. It is masculine possessive singular. "Your seed shall posses the gate of HIS enemies. But in the NAS, and some other translations, the pronoun is incorrectly translated "THEIR enemies." In actuality, the word is a masculine possessive singular, but some translators wrongly thought that the force of the context should call for it to be translated as a plural and not a singular. They must have translated the verse in the Hebrew at 3 am and were too sleepy to notice that when Paul refers to Genesis 22:17 in Galatians 3:16 he rightly translates it as a singular.

   Here is what is happening in the passage: It should read "Your seed (singular) shall possess the gate of HIS enemies." This is a way of saying that the SEED here is the Messiah and should be translated as a singular possessive. The expression about possessing the gate of His enemies is a way of saying that He would be victorious!
   Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Paul saw what was going on. In Galatians 3:16 he points out that Seed should be singular, thus God did not say "And to seeds" as referring to many seeds (plural), but rather to one (with the singular possessive pronoun). "And to your seed" that is, to Christ. Christ is the One who secures the promises made to Abraham by His obedience unto death. So to speak, He is the victorious General who takes possession of the gate of His enemies! He conquers death and evil!

   If we do not have men who know the original languages we will have more and more translation problems that will finally destroy doctrinal sharpness! For example, I cannot prove the doctrine of the Trinity without knowing the original biblical languages! In more and more schools the languages are being set aside. Men are learning less and less in seminaries. I have a friend who is a graduate of one of the big schools who has admitted "I really can't do quality language exegesis! I did not get enough biblical language in my masters and doctoral program!" This was not the case with me. I was blessed with a bunch of language courses. I took extra exegetical classes in order to be able to translate properly!

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

Monday, July 27, 2009

Passing Over the Sins Previously Committed

Dr. Couch, what is going on in Romans 3:25 where Paul speaks of God "passing over the sins previously committed"?

ANSWER:  When I translated Romans entirely some years ago I caught what was happening in the verse. And then found recently it was also fully explained by Kenneth Wuest in his Word Studies. "Passed over" is the Greek word "paresis" and it is used in the NT only here. The meaning is "to let go, release," in the sense of "letting go unpunished/overlooking." Balz & Schneider say "in the juridical aspect, it concerns the forgiveness of all sins of the believing OT sinner that occurred before Christ" went to the cross.

   In other words, God did not condemn those in the OT for their sins. He was waiting for the death of Christ, in order to apply His death to them for their salvation. Christ's work on the cross goes back say, to Abraham, and to other believers in the OT, and it goes forward to us. All OT saints, and us as well, are saved on the basis of Christ's work.

   Wuest puts it this way: "It was the passing by of sin before the Cross. It looked forward to the satisfaction of the broken law at the Cross. It makes no difference with God whether He saves sinners before or after the Cross. The Cross is an eternal fact in the reckoning of God. God's righteousness is maintained!"

   The final line in the verse further confirms this. "God passed over the sins which had been previously done!" Paul uses a Perfect Tense in Greek. "The sins which had been done in the past with the results coming up to the present, up to the work of the cross right now!" In a certain sense, God was waiting for the death of His Son in order to finish the work of salvation, based on His work at the Cross! This is a wonderful idea and it tells us how the OT saints were saved!

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Sign of the Apostasy

Dr. Couch, where I live we have no Bible churches, so my family is attending a SBC! Our pastors all come from SBC seminaries where they have only been taught how to run a church and "preach." The preaching we receive from them is simply oration containing baby-step advice on how to live, some of it biblical and some of it not so biblical! It is certainly not exegetical.
   The SS is even worse. Each quarter when I open the new SS book (put out by Lifeway), I shudder to see what lightweight material they are putting out. More often than not it is written by women with no theological training at all—they have for the most part simply been SS teachers. Is this a sign of the apostasy?

ANSWER:  Thank you for your email letter: I am amazed how those trained at SBC schools think they are getting solid Bible courses. They are not! They get big doses of pablum with no meat or vegetables. But they brag that they are "Bap…" and have no idea what they are missing in understanding the Bible. Unfortunately, independent seminaries, and seminaries that used to give good teaching, are also moving toward the lightweight stuff. Doctrine and exegesis is out and simple how-to stuff is in! I find it most disturbing that the material is being written by women. Men are to be the theological leaders in Bible studies. Apparently, no men are available to write and lead, or this denomination is going Politically Correct (PC) in assigning women "elders" to write.

   Many in the denominational churches are just playing church. But I would agree with you that, putting it all together as to what is happening in our churches, we are moving rapidly toward the apostasy of the church. Looking at all the passages of Scripture, the apostasy, as Paul puts it, is a departure from THE Truth and from THE Faith!

   In my opinion, there is no turning back. The course has been set. And what the Word of God says about "the departure" from the truth is coming to pass. I wish I had some suggestions for you. I keep praying that men such as you will attempt to band together with other like-minded folks to begin a home-church that has a strong and virile doctrinal statement, and that calls upon soundly trained men to exegete the Scriptures for those who are spiritually hungry.

   By the way, I get letters like this almost on a weekly basis. People are in deep trouble!

   Thank you for your email.
   Dr. Mal Couch    

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Fear of God

Dr. Couch, I have heard some say that Christians should not fear God. Is this true?

ANSWER:  In my opinion this attitude is absolutely wrong! There are times when the word "phobos" (NT Greek) and "yee-r-ah" (OT Hebrew) can often mean reverence or respect, yet about half of the verses are referring to a Godly "quake" kind of fear of the Lord. This does not mean that one can lose his salvation but it does mean that God will spank those whom He loves and who have a rebellious heart towards Him. And that discipline can be painful!

   The most well-known verse in the OT is Proverbs 1:7: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." The idea of quake" fear is used more than once. It is used in Exod. 20:20; Deut. 2:25; Job 28:28; Psa. 119:38; Prov. 1:7; 9:10. Prov. 19:23 says: "The fear of the Lord tends to life."

   When the Lord struck down Sapphira in Acts 5:11 the text says: "And great fear came upon the whole church, and upon all who heard of these things." This is not speaking about reverence but about fear for messing with God.

   We may debate as to which verse is speaking about fear or about respect/reverence but there is no doubt that the idea of "fear" is a legitimate emotion for believers who play spiritual or moral games with the Lord! I think there is something wrong with a Christian who says "I don't fear God!" What would you think of a son who said "I don't fear my father! I can do anything I want and he will not punish me!"

   I believe a Christian who does not fear God does not respect Him! And they are showing that deep down they have a contrary spirit—even a spirit that is challenging the Lord. Without fear a believer will go on doing just what he wants. He is one who is spoiled and believes he can do anything and will not have to answer for it!

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Is the Law still in Force?

Dr. Couch, I believe the Bible is clear that the Mosaic Law ended with Christ's death, but Matthew 5:17-18 troubles me. Is the Law still in force?

ANSWER:  In these verses Christ said that He did not come to "abolish" the Law but instead, to fulfill it. He said not one part of it would pass away "until all is accomplished." "Abolish" is the Greek word "to destroy, to pull or tear down." It is an Aorist Infinitive and could be translated "to reach a point to tear [the Law] down." The word "fulfill" is "plaraoo" and it is also an Aorist Infinitive. "I came to complete the Law." He then adds that not one small part of the Law will pass away until "all of it should come about" (an Aorist Subjunctive).

   Many believe that the Lord was indicating that He, by His life, would fulfill or keep the Law. What part of the Law? Probably not the Civil or Ceremonial part of it but the moral principles of the Law. Christ lived a perfect and complete life, with no sin, because He is the holy Son of God!

   The NT says two things: (1) the Law would someday cease and be replaced by the New Covenant, and, (2) we would no longer be under the Law. That (1) the New Covenant would replace the Mosaic Law was stated in Jeremiah 31:31-32. "I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel (Northern Kingdom) and with the house of Judah (Southern Kingdom), not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, …" With the new covenant the Jews will receive permanent forgiveness of sin (not so under the Mosaic covenant), and "their sins I will remember no more" (v. 34). Hebrews 8:6-13 picks up on this and says that the new covenant will replace the Law. "When God said 'A new covenant,' He had made the first covenant (the Law) obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear" (v. 13).

   Paul then adds that (2) we are no longer under the Law which was a tutor to us to bring us to Christ. "We are no longer under a tutor" (Gal. 3:25). He also says: "You are no longer under law, but under grace" (Rom. 6:14). "We have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit (the new covenant) and not in oldness of the letter (of the Law)" (7:6).

   We are now justified not by law-keeping but by faith. "We maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law" (3:28), thus we do not nullify the Law through our faith but instead "we establish the Law" (v. 31). Finally, "by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in God's sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin" (3:20). In place of law, we are "being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus" (v. 24).

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

Monday, July 20, 2009

No Bible because Christ is Sufficient

Dr. Couch, some folks say we do not have to study the Scriptures because after all, Jesus fulfilled the OT, so we do not have to go back and study the Bible passages because Christ has fulfilled many of the prophecies of the Word of God! We just look at Him, because this is sufficient for us today. How do you answer?

ANSWER:  We are still commanded, as the Greek text states: "Be zealous, take pains, to stand yourself, approved by testing [with] God as an artisan, a craftsman, who does not need to be ashamed, to cut apart accurately the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15). The reference to "the word of truth" is mainly referring to the OT prophecies!

   Wuest has some great notes: "Study means 'to make haste, to exert one's self, endeavor. Paul is saying—I wish to know that you are hurrying on the making of it.' "Put to the test for the purpose of approving, and finding that the person or thing meets the specifications laid down, to put one's approval upon that person or thing." "Rightly dividing  or cutting straight, to hold a straight course, to make straight, to handle rightly," the word of truth.

   Note these verses: John 5:46; Luke 22:37; 24:26-35; Acts 10:43; 28:23; 26:22-23. Yes, it is true He fulfills the OT prophecies, but so what? We are still commanded to glean from the Word of God all that it says about Him, and about so many other great doctrines that are laid out for us.

   What are the elders supposed to do? Note Titus 1:9 and 2:11-15. Also, 2 Timothy 2:1-2. Too: 1 Timothy 5:17.

   Believers are not to be kept uninformed or kept in the dark about Bible prophecy and the plan of God. Paul tells the Romans: "I do not want you, brothers, to be 'ignorant' of the mystery of the hardening of the heart of the Jews, because from Israel (from Zion) will come the Deliverer" (Rom. 11:25-32). "Ignorant" means in Greek "to be unknowing" (agnoein). It is a Present Infinitive. "I don't want you to be right now unknowing!" Paul then reminds his readers of the prophecy of Isaiah 59:20-21. He wants his audience to know what that great prophecy is saying.

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Obama Czars

Dr. Couch, who are the Barack Hussein Obama Czars and what is there purpose in the new Washington D.C.?

ANSWER:  The word Czar and Kaiser come from the Latin word Caesar that means "king, emperor." Obama has appointed dozens of czars in order to directly carry out his orders. This way, he bypasses even his own cabinet, the will of Congress, and the laws made by Congress. This has never happened before in American government! Washington is becoming more evil. Like a cloud, darkness is coming over the center of government. A storm will soon destroy what has been built in our nation. The President is becoming a dictator who is answering to no one. This is why he is rushing to put his orders in place, trying to get his agendas passed before the whistle is blown on his dictatorship!

   Many conservative African-American pastors have stated publicly on television that they are afraid of what he is doing to America. It seems he is attempting to de-centralize our government and form new power sources that put the country into a socialistic framework. For certain, he wants to be answerable to no one!

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Will the New Earth and New Heaven be Blown Apart By Fire?

Dr. Couch, will the earth be restored to its sinless state, as it was before the fall? Will the new earth and new heaven also be blown apart by fire as mentioned by Peter?

ANSWER:  We have a preview of the final stage of world history. The Bible tells us God will "create a new heavens and a new earth," for "the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind" (Isa. 65:17). When the new heavens and new earth come into being, the old life, and the dysfunctional sinful universe will be forgotten!

   As for believers, we shall, as Peter says, "lay aside this earthly dwelling" (2 Pet. 1:13-14). This was explained to him by the Lord in regard to his new body, but of course, the same thing will happen to all those in Christ, not simply just to Peter!

   Revelation 21 gives us a full panorama of information about the new heaven and the new earth. Sin will be eradicated as indicated in verse 4. "He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first [of these] things [will] have passed away." Christ will be "making all things new" (v. 5). The nations will walk in the light of the new Jerusalem (21:23-27). There will be nothing "unclean" (v. 27a) and there will be no "one who practices abominations and lying" (v. 27b). Evil, and those who practice evil, will be excluded from the new state of the "renovated" universe (22:6-17).

   Before the new state is inaugurated "the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up" (2 Pet. 3:10, 12). Because this present system will be destroyed, we are not to cling to it as if it is to last forever. We should look carefully at ourselves, and examine our present attitudes, as to "what sort of people we ought to be in holy conduct and godliness" (v. 11).   
   I hope this helps. Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch

Friday, July 17, 2009

Borrowing Money

Dr. Couch, should churches borrow money for building during these tight times? And should they ever borrow for various projects?

ANSWER:  The Bible is not against borrowing but it can be risky and must be done carefully. The Bible is against usury, that is, it is against excessive charging of interest. I would certainly be against borrowing large sums, especially with what is now happening in our nation.

   I believe many churches are on an ego trip. They feel they have to build new buildings in order to be viable. I do not believe that! Churches should operate within their means and not go beyond what they are capable of handling. To have a huge mortgage in today's climate would be foolish!

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch

Thursday, July 16, 2009

John the Baptist Replaces Elijah

Dr. Couch, does John the Baptist "replace" the coming of Elijah? Elijah is supposed to come before the arrival of the Messiah to establish the earthly Davidic Kingdom. The amillennialists say that John fulfills the prediction of Elijah, and therefore, the Kingdom has come already!

ANSWER:  Of course, they are wrong, and they do not read carefully. There are two predictions about the arrival of heralds (1) to announce the first coming of Christ, and (2) to announce His second coming. Isaiah 40:3-5 and Malachi 3:1-3 announce the coming of John the Baptist. Isaiah 40:3-5 is directly applied to John in Luke 3:4-6. He is the voice "in the wilderness."

   The Angel of the Lord made it clear to John's father, Zecharias, that John came in the "spirit and power" of Elijah (Luke 1:17). That is, John came announcing the first coming of Christ, with the same spirit and purpose that Elijah will have when he comes to announce the Lord's second coming.

   Malachi 4:5-6 tells Israel that Elijah will come to announce Christ's second coming. The passage reads "Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. And he will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children, …" Here, the "great and terrible day" is not the Tribulation period, but is describing the judgment brought on the Gentiles, and upon Israel, when the Messiah arrives to establish the kingdom. He comes with fury and judges the wayward Gentiles and the rebellious Jews.

   The Jewish people, and Christ's disciples, understood that there was no confusion about the coming of John the Baptist (to announce the Lord's first coming) and the arrival of Elijah (to announce the Lord's second coming). Matthew 16:28-17:13 is an important section of verses on this issue:

   Christ told His disciples that the Son of Man, the Messiah, would someday come in His messianic, Davidic Kingdom (16:28). This is the one thousand year reign of Christ! Then Jesus was transfigured before Peter, James, and John, that is, He suddenly appeared in His glorified form, as He will be seen, when the Kingdom arrives and is established. Elijah and Moses appear with the Lord and began talking to Him. Moses was used of God to establish the nation of Israel following the liberation of the Jews from Egypt. Elijah announces the Lord's first coming.

   Christ's disciples said to Him, "Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?" (v. 10), that is, come first to establish the earthly Kingdom rule. Christ then confirmed: "Elijah is coming and will restore all things" (v. 11). The "restore all things" refers to Malachi 4:5-6. But then Christ added, "But I say to you, that Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him …" (v. 12). With these words, "The disciples understood that He had spoken to them about John the Baptist" (v. 13).

   To clarify what Christ is saying, one must look carefully at Matthew 17:11. Jesus uses the Present Tense, and the Future Tense: "Elijah IS COMING and He WILL RESTORE all things." Was John the Baptist coming back "to restore in the future all things?" No, the disciples understood that John was a type of Elijah who signaled the Lord's First Coming, as Elijah would signal the Lord's Second Coming. The transfiguration of Christ was a presentation and preview of His future appearance as "the Son of Man (strong messianic term)" who will someday come to inaugurate His earthly one thousand year Davidic Kingdom (16:28).

   The disciples were not confused. They got it. We are the ones who are confused because we are not reading carefully enough! Unger well explains:

   "Just as God sent John the Baptist to be the Messiahs' herald at His first advent, so He will send before Christ's second advent 'Elijah the prophet,' … as a great prophetic witness in Elijah's 'official, not his personal capacity,' in the sense that John the Baptist was an Elijah in spirit (Luke 1:16-17)."

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

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Not Supposed to Interpret the Bible

Dr. Couch, I have a man in my Bible class who believes one is not supposed to take the time to interpret the Bible, all one has to do is "renew" the mind and it'll all come to you in understanding. How do you answer this?

ANSWER:  You really need my Classical Evangelical Hermeneutic book that spells out all the steps of interpretation, and that explains the important words that shed light on Bible study. The man you are referring to is wooden-headed and down right ignorant. I don't know what to do with these kinds of folks. Sometimes such as these are not worth trying to help because they have made up their minds! He is not attending your class in order to learn but to teach. He wants to hear himself expound what he thinks he knows. He wants to put you down and wow the class with his smarts! He is immature as a baby! He wants all the attention and thinks you are ignorant!

   Below is a list of passages that spell out what we are to do in our search to understand the Word of God. We don't simply sit on our ignorance. We have to sweat in order to pursue what the Lord is saying in His Word. We could have no comprehension if the Spirit was not aiding us in fathoming the depth of the Bible, but there is still the human element and the process that we must go through in order to, from the conscious level, grasp what the Scriptures are telling us.

   The Greek word "hermeneuo" is used in many of these verses. It is from this word that we get "hermeneutics."
   Luke 24:27
   John 1:38, 41; 9:7 
   Acts 9:36; 17:11
   1 Timothy 4:13
   2 Timothy 2:15; 3:10
   Hebrews 7:2
   Be careful of what I call those who have a "purest" mentality. They are really very foolish and do not know the Bible as they may claim. They have some kind of legalistic agenda. They bury their heads in the sand and ignore all that the Word of God is saying. I have very little patience with this kind of personality. Do not let him control your class. Make it clear to him by telephone that you do not want him to interrupt the study, and if he plans to do just that, you will ask him to not attend.

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Book of Hebrews

Dr. Couch, I appreciate your comments on the book of Hebrews but many commentaries don't seem to have it right in understanding the book. How do you answer?

ANSWER:  I agree! The author who has it right is Kenneth Wuest. He says what I have said for years but did not know of his views until fairly recently. We both hold that the book of Hebrews was handed over to the church to use as a polemic and as an apologetic book to convince the Jews of what Christ was all about. In other words, the main thrust is to convince the Jews of Christ and Christianity.

   Now I was influenced by no one except from my own study. I translated the entire book under the great New Testament scholar, Dr. Lewis Johnson. Hebrews is tough Greek but it's rich for advanced graduate language students. One of the problems Bible students have is that of false assumptions! They assume that every letter in the NT is written to the church believers, but this is not the case of Hebrews. But again, I want to be clear, the book was handed over to the church, though the message was aimed at the Jews who were "considering" the person of Christ as being their Messiah and Savior!

   I don't know how anyone could read Hebrews 3 and misunderstand the focus of the argument of the book! The chapter speaks of the Jews in the wilderness who had "the unbelieving heart" and went astray in their heart (vv. 10-11). When they heard God in the wilderness, they refused to believe but instead "hardened the hearts and provoked God" (v. 15). Note 3:18-19: "And to whom did God swear that they should not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? And so we see that they were not able to enter [God's rest] because of DISOBEDIENCE" (v. 18). That's about as plain as can be! The word "disobedient" in Greek is "apeitheo," and is one of the strongest words for disbelief! It is an Aorist Participle with the force of: "They were characterized distinctly as disobedient!" It can be translated "not to comply with, not to allow one to be persuaded, to refuse to believe, to be un-persuaded, to be un-compliant."

   But the last word in verse 19 is also very telling! It is "apistian" which means simply "unbelieving." The "a" is the negative in Greek, coupled with "pistian" which means "to believe." The Greek is strong as made clear even in the English translation. "'They were not able, not capable, to go into' God's rest …" 4:1 then carries the idea on. The "us" is the collective body of Jews who had the full revelation about Christ but were refusing to believe that He was truly the Promised One from the OT prophecies! The Jewish people were "to fear" lest while the promise was there, they would refuse to take hold of it. Some did believe (v. 3) but not all!

   I hope this helps. You need to get Wuest's set entitled "Word Studies in the Greek New Testament" published by Eerdmans.

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch   

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Difference Between Elders and Deacons

Dr. Couch, I attend a church that only has deacons and no elders. What's the difference?

ANSWER:  Many churches have seen the biblical light and realize that the Word of God says that a church should have both. This problem highlights two issues. People (1) are not reading their Bible, and (2) tradition has a stronger hold on church leadership than looking carefully at Scripture. I know of many churches that have gone to elder leadership when they simply opened their Bible. Rather than give you the long answer here, I suggest you order from me my book Biblical Theology of the Church.

   Unfortunately, even when a church has elders, the elders can walk about carnal and do stupid things. I know of this at first hand! Power or authority can go to their head and they can destroy what is good in their church. But supposedly, by following God's directive on the issue, the church should be in a better position to be biblical.

   Another problem is that elders are not very trained. They should (but don't) really know their Bible. I have seen many who were "led" by the nose by their wives! Or, they are just passive when it comes to making tough decisions. "Duh, what shall we do?" One of my old professors, Dr. J. Vernon McGee, told of the passivity of elders. He said he was playing golf with one when it started to rain. The elder just stuck his hand out and said, "Uhhh, what shall we do?" Dr. McGee answered, "Well, what about getting out of the rain?" The old saying, "Some don't have the brains to get out of the rain!"

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch

Friday, July 10, 2009

Abundant Life

Dr. Couch, what does “abundant life” mean in John 10:10?

ANSWER: Christ is talking about the blessings He will bring to His sheep. He then says: “I came that [My sheep] might have life, and might have it abundantly.” The word “might” is a present subjunctive in Greek. It explains what Christ is doing with His own. It could read: “… that they might be having life and might be having it more abundantly.” The word “abundant” in Greek can be translated: “something further, somewhat more, superior, extraordinary, surpassing, uncommon, remarkable,” and “excellent.”

Jesus is not talking about physical life but about spiritual life. Even the unbeliever has physical life! He is discussing a depth of life that comes from the salvation experience with Him.

The old classical Greek scholar Alford says: “Christ is not merely a door to pass through, but actively, abundantly, to bestow abundance of life.” Or, “to have a surplus” of life, the quality of life.” – Nicoll

As one studies the Word of God, the person of Christ comes more into sharp focus. Who He is, and what He has done for us, impacts our hearts and minds. As the old song says, “What a Savior!”

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Sunday, July 5, 2009

More Teaching on the Trinity

Dr. Couch, thank you for the information on the Trinity. We need more teaching on this!

ANSWER: Thank you. I have several other passages that need to be considered.

Hebrew 13:8 reads: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever." In Greek, the word "yesterday" is "exthes" that means "time past." It is an unusual word! The word "today" is also an unusual term, "sameron," and it means "this day," or "what happened today." The verse ends with "even into the forevers!" Or, into the ages!

Hebrews 1:5 is one of the most important verses on the eternality of the Son of God! The verse says four very important things about His relationship with the Father. I will be giving the Greek grammar in this translation.

(1) "A Son of Mine, YOU are continually existing as!" [You always have been a Son!]
(2) "I ('Ego' personal pronoun) this day (the day of Christ's birth) have [in time] birthed YOU!"
(3) "I ('Ego' personal pronoun) shall continually exist to HIM a Father."
(4) "And HE shall continually exist to Me a Son!"

Alford quotes the great Greek grammarians of the past to show that they all took Hebrews 1:5 as reflecting the eternal-ness of Christ the Son of God. Alford says: "The passage refers to the eternal generation of the Son," of "His eternity." The great exegete Owen also takes the same view—the eternal generation of Christ." "The former verses represent to us the Son of God as standing in this relation to the Father before the worlds were made." "It is natural then to suppose that this verse is to be refer[ing] to a time prior to the event of Christ's incarnation." The great Ellicott points out that the verse stresses "the eternal Now" of the Sonship of Christ. He always IS the Son of God!"

Thank you for your comments. I hope this helps.
Dr. Mal Couch

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Verses on the Preexistence of Christ

Dr. Couch, what are some other verses that show the preexistence of Christ?

ANSWER: I left out some of the most important ones, such as John 13:3; 16:27-28, 30; 17:16, 18, 21, 23, 24, 25.

They read:

John 13:3: "He (Christ) had come forth from God, and was going back to God."
John 16:27: "I came forth from the Father."
16:28: I came forth from the Father, and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again, and going to the Father."
16:30: "You (the Son) came from God."
17:16: "I am not of this world."
17:18: "You (Father) did send Me into the world."
17:21: "You (Father) are in Me, and I in You, … You did send Me."
17:23: "You did send Me."
17:24: "You did love ME before the foundation of the world."
17:25: "These (the disciples) have known that You did send Me."

The Pentecostal Oneness people fail to take these verses into account. Especially, John 13:3 and 16:28. Christ returns to the Father, making it clear that He preexisted and then returned to Him at the ascension.

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Beginning of the Millennial Reign

Dr. Couch, when does the millennial reign of the Lord begin?

ANSWER: The kingdom begins at the end of the tribulation period. We read in Revelation 19:11-16 where John writes, "I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat upon it is called Faithful and True; and in righteousness He judges and wages war. This fits perfectly with Zechariah 14. The verses add that He is wearing "many diadems" (v. 12). Verse 16 adds, "On His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, 'KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.'"

The Lord will gather the nations against Jerusalem (Zech. 14:2), "Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations …" (v. 3). "And on that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem …" (v. 4). "Then the Lord, my God (Christ, the Messiah), will come and all the holy ones with Him" (v. 5). "For it will be a unique day …" (v. 7). Then finally we read: "And the Lord will be KING over all the earth; in that day the Lord will be the One, and His name One" (v. 9). The Hebrew means that "He will be the solitary One, one only of its kind, incomparable one."

This means that in the kingdom age He will be known and worshipped as the one and only Lord, the absolutely unique and incomparable One, the Savior-Redeemer! (Unger)

On Revelation 19 you have to read carefully to spot the allegorical and amillennial thinking of Ellicott in his commentary. He says of verses 11-16 that Christ "is King of life, King of human hearts …" By this Ellicott is allegorizing, making His reign some kind of syrupy non-literal rule! Boy, what awful interpretation.

Ellicott gets worse on Zechariah 14: He says where it speaks of Jerusalem and of the Messiah's feet touching the Mt. of Olives: "Compelled by the lack of any historical fulfillment and guided by the highly figurative language of the whole chapter we decide to interpret it entirely by a figurative sense." On His feet touching the Mt. of Olives: "The language is, of course, figurative." Where Jerusalem is mentioned, Ellicott says "The language is, of course, figurative, and denotes the religious prominence of Jerusalem." Amil sickness, sickness, sickness!

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch