Saturday, January 30, 2010

Why Pray when God is Sovereign?

Dr. Couch, why pray if God is sovereign?

ANSWER: Don't you imagine that this same question was asked a thousand times by the prophets and apostles of old! We forget that God "ordains both the ends and the means" to accomplish His purposes. And He uses human agents, though He is actually working within us, as His agents, to fulfill His plans.

Paul writes "For it is God who is working in you, both to the willing and the doing for His good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13). "Working" is a Present Participle with the idea: "He is continually and progressively working (producing energy) in us" for His purposes. "To be willing" and "To be working" are both Present Infinitives. "God" is emphatic in the verse. "IT IS GOD who is doing these things ..." We can never reconcile God's sovereignty and man's responsibility, but the Bible speaks of both. God is 100% sovereign and we are 100% responsible. I can't understand this! Yet, one does not cancel out the other. Both are true and are operative in life. We must take the Word of God at face value. It is consistent in what it teaches even though we may not be able to reconcile it all.

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch
(Jan., 10)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Homosexuality and the Natural Function

Dr. Couch, I have noticed that Paul, when writing about homosexuality, in Romans 1:26-27, speaks of the issue of the "natural function" that the homosexuals go against. What does this mean?

ANSWER: When Paul speaks of the "natural" he is speaking about that which is normal, right, or correct. In regard to sin, it is only in these passages where Paul writes that the sin of homosexuality is actually going against what is natural. The Greek word "phusikos" means "natural" and is used in Romans 26 and 27. The word "phusis" is translated as "nature" and is used also in verse 26 with the preposition "para" as "against nature."

Homosexuality is against nature; no other sin is so described. In a very broad sense, Paul says that we all, before salvation, were "by nature the children of wrath" (Eph. 2:3). Yet he still focuses down on this sin and writes that those who practice such are going against what is really abnormal!

The apostle uses two words in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 to describe sodomy. He uses the word "effeminate" which means "soft" and is describing the male who plays the part of the women in the homosexual relationship. And he uses the word "homosexuality" which here is the Greek word that means "man-bed," referring to the man who takes another man to bed.

The grace of God can save any sinner because Paul goes on and writes "And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in (by) the Spirit of our God" (v. 11). All that Paul says on the subject shows that homosexuals are not just "made" that way, they are actually going against what God made naturally when they give in to this sin.

Since the laws in early America had their orientation from Scripture, until lately on the law books, homosexuality was called sodomy, in reference to this sin that is described so clearly in Genesis. But now the laws have been changed, and God is adding a penalty to the sin by the scourge of AIDS. While AIDS can spread to the innocent woman or child, it is still known as the homosexual sin. The black population, and those living in Africa, is virtually being self-destroyed with the promiscuity of sex, both by what is natural sex (though will multiple partners), and by homosexuality. It costs billions of dollars now to fight AIDS, though it is almost a lost cause. Millions are dying because of sin. The foolishness of mankind who lives by "degrading passions" (Rom. 1:26) and by the "depraved mind" (v. 28).

Dr. Mal Couch
(Jan., 10)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Dr. Couch, how do the Preterists do this?

ANSWER:  I have a preterist friend who says that Matthew 23:39 and Revelation 6:16 are "essentially" the same. Where it says "Blessed is He," it actually means "Cursed are we." What do you have on Preterism?

You need to get the book "The End Times Controversy" edited by Dr. Tim LaHaye and Dr. Tomas Ice. I wrote a very important chapter in the book, entitled: The War Over Words. The entire book puts Preterism to bed! Everything you would want to know about the subject is dealt with in this volume. (2003, Harvest House)

   Preterism is so way out that it cannot get any traction! It just won't fly! I need not take more time to discuss the issue here—you need to get the book!

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch
(Jan., 10)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Intermediate Period or Kingdom of Heaven?

Dr. Couch, some say that Matthew 13, and the parables of the kingdom, is about the intermediate period between Christ's ascension until the rapture of the church. But I understand you and some other well-thinking Bible scholars point out that Matthew 13 is really about the Kingdom of Heaven and not about anything going on now in the church age. Is this right?

ANSWER:  I have argued for years that if we keep our hermeneutics straight, we will not say these parables are having anything to do with the true church age. I am right, and those who take another view "have the right to be wrong!" Matthew 13 is about the kingdom of heaven, not about the church age. So says also the great Dr. William Pettingill who taught years ago at Moody Bible Institute, where I also taught after leaving graduate school.

   On Matthew 13 Dr. Pettingill wrote: "It ought to be noted here that the Church is not in view in all this, nor is the Church Dispensation the 'Age' so often referred to. It is the Jewish Age, which has been interrupted by the parenthetical Church Dispensation. The Jewish Age is not yet finished, nor will it be until the Church is removed from the earth."
   Matthew 13 is telling us about the preview of things to come in setting up the kingdom period, that is, the Millennial Age, "the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 13 is about a false spiritual period that unfortunately is sometimes labeled "Christian." Sometimes the present days are labeled "Christian civilization, Christian institutions, Christian countries, Christian governments, or simply Christendom."

   But actually, Matthew 13 is pointing toward the coming kingdom of heaven, and that is what this chapter is mainly about!

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch (Jan., 10)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Unity of Christ and the Father while on the Cross

Dr. Couch, it seems the unity or immutability of God is destroyed by the so-called separation of Christ from the Father when He was on the cross. Most Bible teachers seem to just give the usual standard answer and do not work the biblical text on giving the right answer. I know you work the languages, so I'm asking you what the passage (Matt. 27:46) is really saying from the Hebrew and Greek languages. What do you think?

ANSWER:  The passage reads, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" Christ is quoting Psalm 22:1. The Hebrew word for "forsaken" in Psalm 22:1 is A'Zav with the meaning of "to abandon, to take away one's favor," with the idea: "To come up to someone, see a need, and walk away from that need." In Greek the word "forsake" is egkataleipo. It is in an Aorist form and carries the idea "to desert," to "leave one in straits, to leave one helpless, to leave one behind."

   The persons in the Trinity did not cut ties when Christ died, and took upon Himself our sins, but the heavenly Father left the Son to face the pain of crucifixion, left Him in the circumstances of the death He was facing. The Father and Son were not breaking their Trinity relationship. They, along with the Holy Spirit, remained as joined as the three persons in the Godhead: Father, Son, and Spirit. They have an eternal relationship that cannot be broken.

   The incarnation of Christ is a mystery and it is difficult to understand what happened in Christ's death on the cross. It cannot be said that God died, so His death is indeed difficult to explain! Some argue that only the physical of the Lord actually died. And even with that, we know that Christ did not undergo decay in His body. This is made clear from Psalm 22:10: "Neither will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay." As deity the Lord did not "disappear." For He said prophetically "My flesh also will dwell securely. For You will not abandon My soul to Sheol [to the grave]" (vv. 9b-10a).

   Psalm 22:11 seems to say that Christ, in His death, remained conscience just as we will when we pass. "In Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever." In other words, the Lord remained in His relationship, with joy and comfort, with the heavenly Father when He physically died! A lot of this is a mystery but what I've written seems to make sense biblically.

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch  

Friday, January 15, 2010

Amillennialists and Matthew 8:10-12

Dr. Couch, what do amillennialists do with Matthew 8:10-12?

ANSWER:  They cough, sputter, gag, change the subject, and head out to go to the grocery store! They cannot answer this passage!

   Christ is talking about the faith of a Gentile, the centurion at Capernaum. He says "I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel" (v. 10b). Then He adds: "Many [Gentiles] shall come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom shall be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (vv. 11-12).

   There is no way this (the kingdom of heaven) can be interpreted as the present church age. The "sons of the kingdom" are the Jews who, when the millennial kingdom is established, they reject the Lord, and are cast into outer darkness. Believing Gentiles enter the millennial kingdom. They have trusted Christ during the seven year tribulation period.

   It is a proven fact that "the kingdom of heaven, of God" was to the Jews the millennial government of Christ. I have many historical books written by Jewish scholars who make it clear that these expressions were used by the Jews of Christ's day to describe the same. We cannot tamper with, or fudge, on historical evidence! Unfortunately, many of the amils are not good researchers. They have not looked carefully into Jewish history. (I was required three and a half years of church history courses!) This history throws light on the period of the Gospels, and as well, on church history issues. Remember, we must study the Bible in its grammatical/historical, social and customary manner. Without this, we are limited in our hermeneutical grasp of what is happening in the Scriptures. You need my Hermeneutics book! "Classical Evangelical Hermeneutics" (Kregel).

   By the way, I heard the other day of the gross ignorance of a Lutheran pastor who said, "Dispensationalism was started by John Darby who then wrote the Scofield Reference Bible." What a terrible lack of training in church history! But that is part of the misunderstanding that we have to deal with!

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Translation of Joel 3:21

Dr. Couch, what is going on in the translation of Joel 3:21? There is a different word used: "I will acquit," or "I will pardon," or "I will avenge." Which word should be used?

ANSWER:  The Rabbis translate this as "I will hold as innocent their blood that I have not held as innocent." The point of the passage is that God has not avenged the Jews because of all the terrible treatment they experienced from the Egyptians and the Edomites, as mentioned in verse 19. But He will someday!

   Unger prefers "avenged" and says about this word NaCHaT: "The Lord had not cleansed. Their bloodguilt, which I have not pardoned, I will pardon." "Zion will have come into salvation and fellowship with her Redeemer [in the future kingdom], and her Redeemer will make His dwelling place with her."

   In the Hebrew this verb is a Piel form and should be translated "I will definitely, intensely avenge" Israel. God is going to do this someday when Israel is being blessed in the kingdom with the Messiah reigning! We are getting closer to this great Day! He is coming soon.

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch
(Jan., 10)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Liberal Agenda Regarding Satan

Dr. Couch, I've heard that some Bible versions have changed the name Lucifer to "the morning star." Is this not a liberal ploy to tamper with the Bible and remove one of the names of Satan?

ANSWER:  While I don't agree with the use of Inclusive Language in some of the modern versions, the issue of this name of Satan is not a liberal move. I happen to know almost all of the translators of our newer Bible versions, and most of these men came from conservative, Evangelical seminaries. Here's how the new translations came about:

1. Each translator came up with a new translation from the Hebrew text of the OT. 2. Then a committee of strong conservative, Evangelical, reliable scholars, came together and worked through the material. 3. No one was telling them (from a liberal perspective) what to write. There were checks and balances going on in the final version.

The name Lucifer in the older versions is actually a Latin word that comes from the Hebrew of the passage of Isaiah 14:12. The NASB reads "O star of the morning, son of the dawn!" The older versions used Lucifer which means "the light bearer." The old, reliable and conservative Hebrew scholar (one of my Hebrew teachers), Dr. Merrill F. Unger, says:

"Lucifer ("helel") "daystar, shining one", and "son of the morning" (shahar). Lucifer is a Latin word meaning "lightbearer." The title truly belongs to Christ in Rev. 22:16, "the bright and morning star," by virtue of His being the Creator. But the sinless angels of light, His first creatures—including the greatest of them, who later became Satan—were also called "morning stars" (Job 38:7), because they were resplendent, unfallen creatures of light."

Unger adds: "How Lucifer (the daystar or the shining one) became Satan (the opposer of God) and how he fell and was cut down to the ground are revealed in verses 13-14. The five "I wills" follow ..."

   Words can have several expressions and meanings, and to use them, is not about liberalism. It is the translators attempting to give us the clearest meanings of the words.

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch
(Jan., 10)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Kindred Spirit

Dr. Couch, what does "kindred spirit" mean?

ANSWER:  The expression is found in Philippians 2:20 where Paul says about Timothy, "For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for the welfare [of the Philippian assembly except Timothy]." This is a powerful thought in the Greek text. It actually is translated "iso psuche," or "like soul (or spirit)." Paul then adds, "For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus" (v. 21). All of those Paul was working with had no interest in the problems or issues of the Philippian church. They were selfish and cared little of the needs of that congregation.

   Gromacki says "The term literally means "equal soul." Just as Jesus Christ was equal to the Father in deity (2:6), so Timothy was equal to Paul in the characteristics of unity, humility, and concern for others. ... Paul and Timothy shared the mind of Christ, thought the same things, and had the same spiritual goals."

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch (1-10)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Strongholds and the Christian Life

Dr. Couch, what are the "strongholds" in our lives? And is it accurate to describe these in understanding how the Christian life works?

ANSWER:  The expression comes from 2 Corinthians 10:3-5. In the NAS it reads "for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh; but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations, and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God."

   The charismatics use this passage and say the strongholds have to do with the flesh. While this is true they often do not get to the solution. What Paul is concerned about are the "lofty things" that come against knowing God. This is how we defeat the tug of the flesh. Dan Mitchell in our commentary series writes: "If Paul did not possess divine authority, he could not possess divine power. The real war in which we are engaged today is the war of ideas." The charismatics often do not see the Word of God as the final answer to the pull of the flesh. They hold on to some kind of "power" they think that have within themselves and therefore, they remain defeated. It is the study of God's Word that liberates—the knowledge of (or about) God! The charismatics have "an irrational system, which is beyond the capacity of reason to discover or to fathom to its depth," says the great Greek scholar Nicoll. They work from emotion and not from the objective knowledge of Scripture, and thus fly off in all directions—to mysticism.

   Hope this helps.
   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch (1-10)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Significance of Japheth

Dr. Couch, what is the significance of Japheth as mentioned in Genesis 9:27? Does this name have any significance with what is happening with the nations today?

ANSWER:  You have some keen insights about history! Yes, this is an important passage about the nations. Japheth in Hebrew means "May he have space." Japheth was the father of the European peoples, the Indo-European nations. The sons of Japheth would "be enlarged" or blessed by God in that they will "dwell in the tents of Shem." Shem is the distant father of the Jewish people, the Shemites, or Semites.

   Genesis 10 that follows immediately after 9:27 is called by the Rabbis, "a Messianic document." It lists all the nations of the world, all that come from Noah's three sons, Ham, Shem, and Japheth. The Japhethites, the Europeans have been most blessed by the Jewish people, i.e., through Christianity and by the blessings that were bestowed upon Europe by the Jews themselves.

   Unger has said that verse 27 shows that "Jehovah was the peculiar property of the Shemites. The Japhetic line is predicted to enjoy not only expansion of temporal possessions, but spiritual blessings as well. Christianity has had great outreach upon the Japhetic peoples of Europe and America."

   Are cultures equal? Yes and no! All peoples are sinners and need the saving grace of Christ, but all peoples have not been equally blessed by the Lord with salvation. It's a fact of history that the Europeans have been most blessed by Israel and the Savior the Lord Jesus Christ. America was founded by Reformation followers and by Europeans who came to these shores driven by spiritual issues. Other cultures have not been so blessed. In fact, other cultures may pull down America because their heritage is not the same. But it also must be said, in reference to America, the Europeans have allowed the cultural degeneration of others to weaken morally this nation. While in one sense we can understand how we have been weakened, we have thrown away our own blessings and heritage ourselves.

   The prophecy by Noah in Genesis 9:27 is a large and broad prediction. But it has still dictated the direction of history. Now, there is "no place to hide." The moral and spiritual protection of any culture is over! The nations are now polluted, something that was in a sense foretold in early Genesis. Much more could be written on this issue, but I hope that this helps.

   -- Dr. Mal Couch (1-10)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Abomination of Desolation and the Issue of Antiochus

Dr. Couch, is there confusion about Matthew 24:15 and the Abomination of Desolation, and the issue of Antiochus in Daniel 9:27, 11:31, and 12:11?

ANSWER:  Not really if one reads carefully and slowly, and looks closely to the contexts. Remember the rules: context, context, context, and, observe, observe, observe! Even the amillennialists basically agree on this issue. Daniel 9:27 and 12:11 has to do with the future when the antichrist enters the temple and proclaims himself as God. This is repeated in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-5. However, even amil. Ellicott gets it straight, though he becomes somewhat confused on 12:11 in regard to Antiochus.

   Ellicott gets 2 Thess. 2:3-on correct and assigns it to the antichrist.

   For those who want to get it all straight, you need Dr. Paul Benware's great commentary on Daniel "Things to Come" which Scofield produced.

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch