Friday, October 30, 2009

Who Owns the Holy Land

Dr. Couch, who owns the Holy Land?

ANSWER:  This is simple—it belongs to the Lord, who in turn, gave it to His people, Israel. In His sovereignty, He can do with it as He pleases. He answers to no one! "Who do we think we are?" And, "Who is in charge?" God is in charge! He can do with the lost world as He wishes.

   We are told who owns the Land in Judges 11. The nations surrounding Israel complained, the people of Moab and Ammon. They said: "Israel took away my land when they came up from Egypt, ... now return it peaceably" (v. 13). But through Jephthah God answered: "The Lord, the God of Israel, gave Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they defeated them; so Israel possessed all the land of the Amorites. ... Since now the Lord, the God of Israel, drove out the Amorites from before His people Israel, are you then to possess it?" (vv. 21-23). "So whatever the Lord our God has driven out before us, we will possess it" (v. 24).

   God is in heaven but is He not the ruler "over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand so that no one can stand before You!" (2 Chron. 20:6). "Did you not, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and give it to the descendants of Abraham You friend FOREVER?" (v. 7). Note the word FOREVER!

   The land belongs to Israel and not to the Arabs or the Palestinians.

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch
(Oct., 09)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Israel Fulfills the New Covenant

Dr. Couch, you have made me a believer in regard to the fact that the church benefits from the New covenant today, but we do not "fulfill" it as Israel will in the kingdom. Why do people resist this idea? I'm specifically referring to the quoting of Joel 2 in Acts 2, and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit.

ANSWER:  Mainly because they do not read their Bible; they do not have good interpretive skills! This is why I wrote one of the few books available today on hermeneutics: Classical Evangelical Hermeneutics (Kregel).

   I will only have space here to summarize:

   (1) For Israel, the New covenant is prophesied in Jeremiah 31:31-on. (2) It will be activated by the work of the Spirit, as prophesied in Joel 2:28-29. (3) Christ said that His sacrifice would ratify the New covenant. (Luke 22:20): "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood." (4) The New covenant is then "launched" at Pentecost (Acts 2:16-21), but it is not fulfilled by the church, though the church will benefit and represent the New covenant during the church dispensation.

   There are three places in Paul's letters that show the church has a connection with the New covenant presently but the verses never say we fulfill it now. It will be fulfilled when applied to Israel during the dispensation of the Kingdom.

   Paul speaks to the Jews in Romans 2:17-29 and argues that, for them, to be a believing Jew today, their circumcision is spiritual and their Jewish-ness is inward. Then he adds, "by the Spirit, not by the letter [of the Mosaic law]; the Jews' praise is not from men, but from God." Here Paul compares the New covenant with the Law and points out that it has replaced the "letter of the Law" as prophesied in Jeremiah 31. There Jeremiah said that the New covenant will replace the Mosaic covenant. "The New covenant will not be like "My 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, My covenant which they broke ..."

   Paul speaks of the New covenant again in Romans 7:6: "We serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter [of the law]." The Holy Spirit mentioned in both 2:29 and 7:6 is the Activator of the New covenant today in the church age. Paul mentions the New covenant again in 2 Corinthians 3:3 where he says the church saints are a letter of Christ "written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts ..." Here, Paul is again comparing the work of the Spirit, who is the Activator of the New covenant, with the Mosaic law. He adds that we are now "servants of a New covenant, not of the letter [of the law] but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life" (v. 6).

   It is important to look carefully at what Peter says about the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:16. He (1) does not say the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost fulfills Joel 2 [as the amillennialists would say], nor (2) does he say that it is simply an "illustration" of the work of the Spirit, as mentioned in Joel 2 [as some dispensational buddies of mine would say]. But instead, in quoting Joel 2:28-29, he says "But this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel."

   One must know Greek in order to fully understand what is going on here. Peter writes: "This IS 'that which has been written'". The IS is the common "TO BE" verb (estin). And "which has been written" is a Perfect Passive Participle, Neuter, Nominative. In Greek (and in English) on both sides of the TO BE verb you have the Nominative case. Thus, this which [is now going on—the outpouring of the Holy Spirit] has been written (ereo) is simply the same thing as mentioned in Joel 2!

   Peter had ways to say that Joel 2 was an illustrative of the outpouring of the Spirit; and he had ways of saying that Joel 2 was being fulfilled here in Acts 2, but Peter did not say either one of these things!

   The only sound conclusion is that the church presently is benefiting from the outpouring of the Spirit, and of the New covenant, but the church is not fulfilling the New covenant! That will happen with Israel when the Kingdom arrives and the Jews are back in the Land! At that time, for them, the New covenant will be fulfilled!

   This is complicated to write, so I hope it makes sense. Many of my friends are now seeing the issue this way, and I think this is correct.

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch
(Oct., 09)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Positional Truth, Experiential Truth, and Sanctification

Dr. Couch, you have convinced me about the two facets of the Christian life, concerning Positional Truth, and Experiential Truth. How does this work out with the doctrine of sanctification?

ANSWER:  Believers Positionally are "sanctified" in Christ, and they are urged to "Be holy as He is holy" which would have to do with our Experience in time. The word "sanctify" is related to the Greek word "holy" (hagios). We are positionally "holy" in Christ. Paul writes "to the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified (made holy) in Christ Jesus, saints (holy ones in position) by calling, with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours" (1 Cor. 1:2).

   Concerning our daily Christian walk, our Experience in time, Peter says "But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy'" (1 Pet. 1:15-16). And, "... what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness" (2 Pet. 3:11).

   Both aspects are made clear in these verses: Our Position in Christ, and our Experience (or Walk) with Christ!

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch
(Oct., 09)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Tree of Life and Removal of Names in the Book.

Dr. Couch, I am confused on the issue of the Tree of Life and the removal of the names of those who add or take away what is written in the book of Revelation. Can you help me?

ANSWER:  I have the most complete answer to this issue of any source in my Handbook to the Book of Revelation (Kregel). I have discovered the secret of what is going on in 22:18-19 for all those who are interested.

   The book has a great endorsement from Dr. John F. Walvoord before he passed away in 2002. He said "It is an outstanding contribution to the literature on this important book of the Bible." This is not a commentary per se but it is more of a theology of Revelation. Others joined me in producing the volume, such as Dr. Larry Crutchfield, Dr. Harold Foos, and Dr. Robert Lightner.

   I tie together a lot of Scriptures that help us understand the issue of the Tree of Life and those who deny the writing of Revelation. Also, I have a lot of rabbinical quotes that show they studied the book of Revelation and basically saw the premillennial stamp on the book. This will shock our covenant and amillennial friends. Those of us who take Revelation basically literal are in good company with the orthodox Rabbis who also take prophecy literal! For example, by their calculations the orthodox Rabbis saw and agreed with the fact that the tribulation would be a seven year event, by their correct figuring of Daniel's Seventy Weeks in Daniel 7. They also held to the 1000 year millennial Kingdom. Every one reading this needs the Handbook!

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Dr. Couch, have you heard the expression "Pan-millennialism"?

ANSWER:  Yes, I have. It is put forth by lazy pastors and Bible teachers who do not study the Scriptures well, and then remain in ignorance about what prophecy is all about. I find it interesting that the Word of God is basically very clear about the major doctrines of the Bible, but when it comes to eschatology, the Lord gets sloppy and does not make prophecy understandable.

   Of course, the problem is not with the Lord; the problem is pastors who do not pay the price of good study habits in order to know what the Bible is teaching on the subject. Their phony and silly answer to what the Scripture teach about prophecy is: "I believe in Pan-millennialism. It'll all pan out in the end!" That answer is juvenile and down right stupid! I would be ashamed to be a Bible teacher and come up with that excuse for my laziness in studying the Word of God!

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch
(Oct., 09)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

God's Master Plan

Dr. Couch, the covenant theologians say that God's master plan is about salvation almost exclusively. Whereas dispensationalists see many issues in the Scriptures are honored with glory, not simply salvation. Is this right?

ANSWER:  It is true that God's work in salvation, and in the Church, does indeed bring Him glory. But all of history has many conclusions that give Him honor, along with the issue of salvation. Dispensationalists can point to many, many things whereby God will be glorified, even more than the issue of salvation.

   Charles Ryrie points out in his book Dispensationalism, that the founder of covenant theology, Cocceius, "makes the three covenants of this system, the basis, and background, and substance of all God's dealings with man for his redemption." In other words, redemption, and salvation, is the main, if not the exclusive, work of God in history. While salvation is certainly important, God's plan has more to it whereby He receives glory! Below is a list:

  •    The Law given by Moses "came with glory" (2 Cor. 3:7).
  •    Moses' face shown with glory when he descended from the mountain (2 Cor. 3:7b).
  •    The gospel itself gives the light of "the glory of Christ" (2 Cor. 4:4).
  •    The grace of the gospel causes the "giving of thanks to abound to God's glory (v. 15).
  •     Paul's tribulations bring to the believer glory (Eph. 3:13).
  •     Because of the Church, Christ receives glory (v. 21).
  •     The Father receives glory (Phil. 4:20).
  •     We all with appear with Christ in glory (Col. 1:27; 3:4).
  •     Moses received glory (Heb. 3:3).
  •     Christ will receive glory in His future appearing (1 Pet. 1:7).
  •     In the tribulation period, the angelic beings will receive glory (Rev. 4:9).
  •     God as Creator will receive glory (v. 11).
  •     Because of His messianic, Kingly position, with power and riches, Christ will receive glory (Rev. 5:12, 13; 7:12; 11:13; 14:7).
  •     The rulers entering the new earth will bring in their glory (Rev. 21:24).
  •     The word of God is glorious (Acts 13:48).
  •     After Babylon the Harlot is destroyed God receives glory (Rev. 18:1).
  •     Because of God's power and wrath in the tribulation, the heavenly temple is filled  with smoke "from the glory of God" (15:5-8).

   God's plan of history brings Him glory, even above the issue of human salvation!

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch
(Oct., 09)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Contradiction between Paul and Peter Regarding God's Sovereignty

Dr. Couch, is there a contradiction between what Paul says in Acts 17:31 and what Peter says in 2 Peter 3:12, about God's sovereign plan in history, and our hastening the "coming day of God"?

ANSWER:  Good question. And this is where only a student of the Greek text can give a definitive answer. The apostle Paul says God has a plan, "He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, ... raising Him from the dead" (Acts 17:31). God is in charge of when the day of judgment will come. It is an exact moment in His eternal decree of all things! But then the English in 2 Peter 3:12 reads: "... looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, ..." This sounds as if we can hasten the coming of the day of final judgment. Is this right?

   No, it is not! Both "looking for" and "hastening" are Present Active Participles in the Greek text, but more, the word "hastening" is not a good translation in this context of the word speudo. The "looking for" is better translated "expecting" and the word "hastening" is better translated "earnestly desiring." As translated "hastening" it sounds as if we are causing the day of God to come quickly. Instead, the point is that we are "earnestly desiring" that it will arrive soon.

   A problem like this is why I spent some 35 college and graduate hours in Greek, with some of the best Greek teachers in America, so that I could know exactly what the biblical text was saying! After I came to my conclusion I checked out the great old Greek scholar A. T. Robertson, and, he translates the verse the same way. We are not causing the coming of the day of God, we are anticipating its arrival!

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch
(Oct., 09)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Application of Scripture

Dr. Couch, there are many verses of Scripture, especially in the OT, that seem to apply to today. What do you think about Jeremiah 12:14-17?

ANSWER:  While not directly applied to us now, these verses certainly have a secondary application to what is going on in the Middle East. There is a frightening principle that the nations surrounding Israel need to observe carefully.

   The Lord calls Israel's neighbors "My wicked neighbors" (v. 14). Though God's people, the Jews, have been promised an "inheritance with which I have endowed My people Israel" (v. 14a), they are presently in spiritual rebellion, and will be until they put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.

   When Israel's enemies turn against the Jews in the seven year tribulation, the Lord will "uproot them [the enemies of the Jews] from their land and will uproot the house of Judah from among them" (v. 14b). Notice that a judgment will fall upon Israel's wicked neighbors, and upon the Jews as well!

   The uprooting of the Jews took place in 70 AD, but God still promises: "I will bring them back, each one to his inheritance and each one to his land" (v. 15).

   On these verses the Jewish Rabbis write: "Although these nations are God's instruments for the execution of His purposes, they will be punished by exile for destroying Israel, because 'benefit is brought through the instrumentality of the virtuous, while hurt is brought through the instrumentality of the evil.' Their exile will only be temporary if they repent, but permanent if they persist in their evil ways."

   And, "My people will be restored to their land, thus they will! In the future there will be a state of unity and peace, it will be a Messianic forecast of the peace and friendship which will one day in the future reign among all peoples."

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch   

Monday, October 19, 2009

Loud Music in Church

Dr. Couch, what about loud music in the worship service at church?

There is a difference between "loud music" and "strong music" that is, beautiful music in its composure and presentation. As a teenager, I sang in the choir at church, and each year we presented in concert George Frideric Hendel's Messiah. Now that is strong, forceful, and overpowering music! But it is not "loud" in the discordant sense.

   They deny the truth, but younger people like just plain old loud, noisy, ear-splitting music, that in no way can be classified as meaningful. Some argue, "But that is what speaks to us! I say: Garbage! That is what they like but in no way is it edifying.

   I have three rules that I believe are right and correct when evaluating music. And to a degree, the same rules, adjusted, can be applied to art.

   They are: (1) is the music theologically correct? (2) can you understand the words? (3) can you hum the tune, and repeat the words in the shower? If so, the music is coming up and out of your soul. And it is repeatable! If these three rules are violated, then, in my opinion, it is not good music!

   I do not automatically reject contemporary music. Common sense lets us know if it is a good piece of music or not. But unfortunately, most contemporary music does not come up to the standards I have just alluded to. "But Dr. Couch, that is your opinion!" No, it is common sense. Some younger people like the loud, discordant music because, they would argue, it is part of their musical scene, and, it is not accepted by older people, therefore, it is good!

   Try to follow what is being sung in most contemporary pieces of music, and then listen to Amazing Grace! End of discussion!

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch
(Oct. 2009)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Catholic Pontiff

Dr. Couch, does the idea of the Catholic Pontiff come from Babylonian theology?

ANSWER:  Yes, and in fact, the idea has a lot of connections with paganism throughout the ancient world. The word pontiff is assigned to the Pope. The origin of pontiff comes from the Latin word pontifex which means "path-maker" or bridge[builder]. The idea is that the Pope builds a bridge to God for the people.

   The origin goes back to Babylonian theology. The Pope is the head of the College of Cardinals. He is the "Pontifex Maximus" or "Sovereign Pontiff." The idea of the Pope is framed on the model of the grand original Council of Pontiffs at Babylon.

   For a thousand years the Pope was invested with the title, which had had attached to it the power of the keys of Janus and Cybele. He is the possessor of these very keys bestowed on Peter, in Catholic theology. Much of this goes back to the Babylonians and their worship of the Goddess Mother and her Son. In Egypt, the Mother and Child were worshipped under the names of Isis and Osiris. In Asia, as Cybele and Deoius. In pagan Rome, as Fortuna and Jupiter, In Greece, as the Great Mother with the babe at her breast.

   Both Janus and Cybele each bore a key, the ensign to their spiritual authority. These two keys are emblazoned on the arms of the Pope's garment representing his power wielded over the Church. Thus, Peter alone had the power of the keys, as well as his successor. For more, see Alexander Hislop's work, The Two Babylons.

   Unfortunately, most Catholics do not know the theology of their own Church!  Most of it is raw paganism!

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch

Friday, October 16, 2009

Greek Word "Glory"

Dr. Couch, does the Greek word "glory" (doxa) refer to heaven or simply the glory of the person of Christ, or of God, etc.?

ANSWER:  Some try to claim that the word is never used of heaven but this is not so. They seem to do this in order to avoid the idea that the church goes "into glory, heaven" at the time of the rapture, thus making the church a heavenly people. Yet, there is no question that the church saints also will come back with Christ for the blessed period of the millennial reign on earth. We are given a certain amount of "co-reigning" and authority when He returns.

   The word "glory" is sometimes used to describe certain characteristics of God and of Christ. For example, Christ will sit on the throne of His glory (Matt. 19:28), and He will come in the glory of His Father (Mark 8:38), and will finally "enter into His glory" (Luke 21:26). God the Father is assigned glory (John 11:40), Israel is seen in her glory (Rom. 9:4), and too, the church has its glory (1 Cor. 2:7; Eph. 3:21). A woman is the glory of her husband (11:7), the celestial bodies have their glory (15:40), such as the sun (v. 41). The gospel is said to be glorious (2 Cor. 4:4).

   But the word glory is still often used to describe heaven: "Christ in us is the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27), and we shall appear with Him IN glory (3:4). As well, we are to be received "up into glory" (1 Tim. 3:16), and "many sons are to be brought unto glory" (Heb. 2:10). Finally, Peter says we have "been called unto His eternal glory" (1 Pet. 5:10).

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch
(Oct., 09)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

War Concerning the Teaching of Dispensationlism

Dr. Couch, there seems to a war brewing over the teaching of prophecy among Evangelicals, especially concerning the teaching of dispensationlism. The argument is that we dispensationalists are overdoing it. How do we answer?

ANSWER:  The majority of verses in the Bible have to do with prophecy, prophecy already fulfilled and more to be filled in the future. But we are in good biblical company! The Bible gives us the encouragement to teach about end time events. For example:

  •    Paul commended the Thessalonians as to how they were "serving a living and true God, and were waiting for His Son from heaven" (1 Thess. 1:9-10).
  •    About the return of the Lord in the rapture of the church, Paul says he does not want the church "to be uninformed, ignorant (without hope) about the coming of the Lord" (4:13).
  •    Paul reminded the Thessalonians that when he had been with them previously, he taught them about the coming of the Anti-Christ (2 Thess. 2:5).
  •    He says in 2 Timothy 3:1 "But realize (know) this, that in the last days difficult times will come."
  •    The apostle told Titus that he should be "looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus" (Titus 2:13).

   The opponents against biblical prophecy are wrong; we are right! I could go on and on with many more verses of Scripture. The passages above are just the start of what Paul says about the importance of eschatology! Don't let them fool you! Study your Bible; this is what the opposition does not want you to do!

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch
(Oct., 09)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Shepherds, Pastors, and Teachers

Dr. Couch, are the shepherds (pastors) the same as the teachers in Ephesians 4:11?

ANSWER:  Yes, indeed. The charismatics are dead wrong by trying to make these two separate gifts, or gifted men given to the church. Paul writes:  "And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as PASTORS (Shepherds) EVEN TEACHERS."

   The reason there is confusion and mistranslation is that pastors today are so ignorant, and few today can work the grammar of the Greek text. So the church is becoming more and more ignorant about what the Bible is truly teaching!

   The grammar is saying "pastors EVEN, INDEED, THAT IS, TEACHERS!" So then, how does a pastor pastor? By teaching! Most pastors are foolish and do not study nor do they teach from the pulpit. They emote, devote, promote, and do not exegete the Word of God line by line. They haven't been trained that way; they don't think that way; nor do they know that this is what they are supposed to do from the pulpit.

   One of the greatest grammarians concurs with me grammatically—Dr. Kenneth Wuest. He says almost line by line what I have been saying, though I only learned recently that grammatically this is what he has always taught!

   He says in his Greek commentary on Ephesians:

   "Paul only mentions four individuals (not five) in verse 11. The student of the English Bible could never know that the words, 'pastors' and 'teachers,' are in a construction in the Greek text called Granville Sharp's rule which is stated as follows: 'When two nouns are in the same case, connected by the word "kai" (and), the first noun having the definite article, the second noun without the article refers to the same person or thing to which the first noun refers and is a further description of it.' Not knowing this rule, the pastor would fail to see that Paul was only referring to one individual when he spoke of pastors and teachers. Thus, he would miss the important truth that God's ideal pastor is a teaching pastor, one who specializes in expository sermons, one whose ministry is a teaching ministry."

   Wuest and I have been yelling in the dark. Few are getting it or listening to what Paul is saying here. This is why most pastors are ending up being cheer leaders, CEOs, psychologists, advertising agents, etc., giving puny sermonettes for weak-minded and simple christianettes!

   Satan just loves it! Because the full explanation of the Word of God is not going forth, nor are the pastors able to explain it!  

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch
(Oct., 09)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Apostasy in the Old Testament

Dr. Couch, is apostasy mentioned in the OT?

ANSWER:  Yes it is, especially mentioned in passages dealing with the future kingdom blessing: like Hosea 14:4-7. The difference with the apostasy in the OT and apostasy in the NT, is that apostasy in the OT is particularly dealing with the falling away of Israel as a nation. In the NT it is about individuals who have a form of godliness but are really not saved. And, there is no restoration for those who fall away in the NT context. But God will restore the nation of Israel. The Jews will be regathered for the kingdom, as mentioned in Hosea 14.

   Hosea 14:1 begins: "Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity." Then Israel, "return to the Lord, receive us graciously, that we may present the fruit of our lips" before the Lord (v. 2).

   God then says, "I will heal their apostasy, I will love them freely, for My anger has turned away from them" (v. 4). "Love them freely" is a reference to the Freewill Offerings, although the Jewish people have not earned God's love. Yet, He is prepared to let them have His love as a gift!

   The Hebrew word "apostasy" is "meshuva" and means "departure, faithlessness, defection." It is related to other Hebrew words that mean "deception, desolate," as referring to a "desolate desert land." Those in apostasy are like the dry desert, spiritually speaking!

   In Hosea 14:5, God says He will be like the dew to Israel that waters the dry land. The Rabbis say, when the messianic Davidic kingdom is established, Israel will blossom like the lily and take root like the cedars of Lebanon. Israel will have beauty like the olive tree (v. 5). With blessing, the Jews will move out of the shadows and "will again raise grain" in the sunlight, and will be prosperous (v. 7).

   The Lord urges the Jews to be wise: they must "understand these things" (v. 9). Because "the ways of the Lord are right, and the righteous [Jews will] walk in them" (v. 9).

   PRAY FOR ISRAEL! God is beginning to work again with the Jewish people; the entire world is moving toward the times prophesied in Scripture! On this Hosea 14 passage, the Rabbis write:

   "With a desperate call God is urging Israel to repentance. Israel is pleaded with in this chapter to give up the folly of wandering from the Lord. Let the people learn from their hard experiences to trust in Him; assurance of forgiveness is held out to them. Dew is essential for the growth of vegetation. The Divine Grace will enable Israel to flourish."

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch
(Oct. 2009)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Matthew 7 and Salvation

Dr. Couch, I have heard some say that Matthew 7:13-27 is about the church; they make a case for belief not being enough to enter the kingdom—only those who do the will of the Father will enter. It seems this section is dealing with false prophets. Aren't these the predominant ones during the time of Christ who claimed to prophesy, etc. And, who were the ones doing this stuff in Israel at the time of Christ?

ANSWER:  I won't be able to deal with this entire section in this short answer. It is important to say here that there are many spiritual principles in this section (Matthew 5-7: The Sermon on the Mount). So I will simply point out some observations that would tell us this is not first for the church; it has to do with what was happening with the nation of Israel as Christ began His ministry. And the passage is more than simply about false teachers.
 Note the following:

(1) The entire section has to do with the presentation of the millennial kingdom, here called "The kingdom of heaven" (5:3; 10, 19, 20; 6:10, 33; 7:21). (2) The church is made up of Jews and Gentiles but in this section, Christ compares the Jews with the Gentiles (5:47; 6:7, 32). (3) The Lord speaks of the synagogue in this section (6:2, 5), and (4) The giving of alms, which was a distinct Jewish practice (6:2, 3).

Note 6:2: the church is not even around! "When you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues ..." 5:20 is a distinct Jewish passage that cannot be understood unless one sees that the verse is aimed at the thinking of the Jews. "I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes (Jewish) and Pharisees (very Jewish), you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven."

   Those who try to make a direct application of the Sermon on the Mount to the church have no understanding of history. There is no question but that the "kingdom of heaven, kingdom of God" is a description of the messianic kingdom! In no way is this used to describe the church age! If this is settled in one's mind, this section of verses makes definite sense. Again, while there are many principles that we can embrace in the Sermon on the Mount, it is not directed to the church age. We can have secondary application in some things the Lord says, but not direct application!

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch

Friday, October 2, 2009

What is Going on in Revelation 21:24-27

Dr. Couch, what is going on in Revelation 21:24-27? What does it mean that the nations are walking by the light of the new, eternal city of Jerusalem in the eternal state? And what about the kings of the earth who bring their glory into the new Jerusalem?

ANSWER:  This is all hyperbolic language used by John to describe the importance of the new Jerusalem in the period of the eternal state. The people of the nations, and their rulers (their kings), are being honored as they enjoy the new Jerusalem. On earth presently, kings and rulers are given special honor as world heads of state. That will continue in the period of eternity. There is no question that the people of the nations, and the kings described here, are all saved and redeemed! They are believers who are then enjoying the blessings of salvation, but too, there are certain things in eternity, that are still honored in the blessed period of redemption. Kings who were believers and faithful servants during history will still be recognized in glory!

   What throws us is that the language is somewhat similar to what we would say today. This tells us that some things will continue in this new state, this new situation, during eternity! Hindson adds: "God's servants shall reign forever and ever" (22:5). Do not imagine heaven to be a place of inactivity or lazy self-indulgence. We who are even now positionally seated with Christ in 'heavenly places' are destined [to be] joint-heirs with Him (Eph. 1:3, 20; 2:6)."

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch
(Oct. 2009