Saturday, February 27, 2010

Apostasy and Signs of the Rapture

Dr. Couch, you have convinced me that we are now in the period of the apostasy of the church, but if so, does this not take away the idea that there are no signs for the rapture of the church?

ANSWER:  Not in my opinion because of what Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 2:3-7. He speaks of the apostasy coming before the revelation of the "man of lawlessness" (v. 3). This is of course referring to the antichrist, and remember, he comes at the very beginning of the tribulation, the start of the Day of the Lord, the Wrath of God. But Paul goes on and writes that "the mystery of lawlessness is already here" (v. 7). He does not say that the tribulation is here or that the man of lawlessness has arrived. He gives no thought that the seven year tribulation has begun. In other words, apostasy has been around for some time but even Paul did not know if that apostasy is the final stage of the "rebellion." He did not know if THE prophesied apostasy of the last days had started! I believe we can say it is now here!

   If you want the most thorough study of the rapture of the church, you need to read my "Biblical Study of the Rapture" of the church in my award winning volume "Dictionary of Premillennial Theology." That chapter has been so appreciated it has been included, and re-published in national publications, in three other volumes of Bible study. The book, by the way, was given the Silver Medallion Award from the Christian Booksellers Association in 1996.

   A key to Paul's argument for the coming of the rapture for the church saints is the fact that in almost every rapture passage he uses the pronouns "You, We, Us." In other words, Paul is telling us that the rapture will come to remove the church saints to glory. It could have happened in Paul's day, and it could have taken place at any time while he was alive! That is why he is including himself (We, Us) in his argument.

   We are nearing the time of the End, the time for the rapture. And, we are now entering the period of the apostasy, that takes place before the rapture. All indicators would let us know that. Yet, we cannot be dogmatic about the time frame.

   I always wonder why people want to argue over this issue of the rapture, and my conclusion is that they are frightened rabbits. They do not want to be at the end of all things! So they come up with arguments to try to get rid of the rapture for our generation. The Bible is plain on the subject. And the Greek text makes the subject even more understandable, but most objectors are not good scholars!

   By the way, Paul is so dogmatic about the fact that the rapture has to do with this dispensation of the church, he uses the technical expression: of those "in Jesus" (1 Thess. 4:14) and "in Christ" (v. 16). In introducing the idea of the rapture he writes "For this we say to YOU by the word of the Lord, that WE who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, ..." (v. 15). That is as plain as vanilla pudding!

   Putting world events together, and looking at the fact that we are moving into the predicted apostasy, I believe I could come up with about 100 arguments that would show how close we are to (1) the advent of the rapture, (2) the seven year tribulation, and (3) the return of Christ to reign over the throne of David from Jerusalem. That would really help folks get it all together as to what is happening even in our day!

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

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Sick Will be Healed

Dr. Couch, what about James 5:15-16!  Some say that this guarantees that the sick will be healed. What do you say?

ANSWER:  The final focus of these two verses has to do with sin, though the sickness is certainly mentioned. Many believe James is focusing on that fact that the sin brought about the illness and the confession is what brings restitution and recovery.

   The great Greek scholar A. T. Robertson believes this and writes: "Supposing that the sick one has committed sins as many sick people have, ... it shall be forgiven him." "His sickness has been healed, but not without change of heart and turning to God through Christ." However, he adds, "Much is assumed here that IS NOT EXPRESSED." "Confession of sin to God is already assumed. ... Confession to the pastor without confessing to God is with little benefit."

   Davids adds: "Verse 15 connects the possibility of sin to the illness. Such a concept was not unknown in the NT. And it was well known in Judaism. The Perfect Tense ("is he has committed ...") indicates POSSIBILITY, showing that the person has not been forgiven and so is in a state of guilt. The person would do well to follow the rabbinic advice and examine himself. Should sin be the cause, the healing for which the elders pray will not end with the body. There are two promises: one for the body and one for the soul."

   The great John Gill points out how Jewish this passage is. He writes: "The Jews have had formerly a great notion of prayer; the power of prayer, they say, is strong; and extol it above all other services. It is better than good works, or than offerings and sacrifice, and particularly the prayer of a righteous man, says Rabbi Eliazar. The prayer of a righteous man is like a shovel; the sense is that the shovel turns the corn on the floor from one corner to the other. Prayer turns holy blessings from God from wrath to mercy."

   Verse 15 seems clearly to be connecting prayer and illness together. This is important in understanding the passage.

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

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Dr. Couch, is tithing for the NT believers today?

ANSWER:  Tithing was commanded for the Jewish people. The tithe was to be taken to the "storehouse" which was located in the Temple grounds. There was a series of "tithes" so that actually, the Jews gave more than a simple ten percent of their income. The tithe was given for food for the house of the Lord. Much of the tithe was used to feed the priests. To not give the tithe was "robbing the whole nation" of Israel (Mal. 3:9).

   If the tithe was given from the right heart attitude the giver was blessed. It was a distinct element in Israel's faith and a continual reminder that the Israelites were the Lord's people and that they belonged to Him as their Creator and Redeemer. This is of course true of us today but the body of Christ is distinct from the nation of Israel. And, the Lord looks at us in a more personal way than how He responded to Israel.

   The tithe was part of the Mosaic Law and binding, this is not the case of the NT saints. The NT saints are not under the Law of Moses, nor is the local church the counterpart of "the storehouse." Unger points out that in this church age, giving is not done by Law but through grace, under the direction of the Holy Spirit. The believer today is to give "as the Lord has prospered," and that could be more than a 10%, or under dire cases, it may be less than a 10%.

   A tithe, or 10%, may be a good guideline for giving today, such giving is not under the guidance of the principle of the tithe. For example, I could brag if I gave only a tithe, and I could feel that I had done my duty and did not need to do more. I could argue about how spiritual I was because I had given a tithe! To get all of this straight you need to study 2 Corinthians 8:16-9:15. This gives for us today the principle for NT giving.

   Since most believers today do not understand the dispensational nature of the Word of God, they remain confused about this issue. They mix OT and NT together and come up with misleading directives concerning tithing. 

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

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Attribute of God - Righteousness

Dr. Couch, is righteousness an attribute of God? I've heard some say it is not.

ANSWER:  The word righteousness in Greek is the word dikaiosunee and it means "to be just, faultless, guiltless, perfect." The Bible makes it clear that all three persons of the Trinity are righteousness. God is called "the righteousness Father" (John 17:25). Christ is the Just (the righteousness One) (Acts 7:52).

   By faith, we are "made, counted, or receive by imputation, the righteousness of God. We do not become little gods, and we do not in a technical sense, share in the attribute of God's righteousness, though we are "declared" righteous. While this is in some way hard to understand, this makes us guiltless or faultless so that we can then enter the throne room of God with His perfection imputed to us.

   We are "justified, made righteous by" Christ's blood (Rom. 5:9). "God imputed to us righteousness not by works" (Rom. 4:6). Righteousness is given to us as a free gift, resulting in justification (righteousness) (5:16) "and the gift of righteousness" which comes through Christ (v. 17). We are "justified (made righteousness) by faith in Christ (Gal. 2:16-17). Christ is referred to in Romans 4:5: "Believe in Him who justifies (makes righteousness) the ungodly." God then justifies and Christ justified; both persons in the Trinity makes imparts, imputes righteousness! Galatians 2:17 says we are made righteousness by Christ. Christ's act of righteousness on the cross results in justification of life to all men who trust Him (Rom. 5:18).

   God sees His righteousness and the righteousness of His Son accounted, imputed to us, this is not the same thing in saying that we now have His attribute of righteousness. We are seen legally acquitted by that righteousness but we don't take on His attribute as part of us.

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

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Who is Christ Referring to in Matthew 21:43?

Dr. Couch, what nation is Christ speaking about in Matthew 21:43? Some say this is the church; some say it is referring to the Jews of another generation. What do you say?

ANSWER:  The passage reads: "I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you (the Jews of that generation), and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it."

   We interpret by observation, observation, observation.

   And we observe that Christ is speaking about the "kingdom of God." We know by an undisputed fact that every time "the kingdom of God" and "the kingdom of heaven" is mentioned it is referring to the millennial kingdom of Christ that is yet to come. And that millennial kingdom is the messianic rule of the Son of David sitting on His throne in Jerusalem.

   In the verse before (v. 42) Jesus quotes Psalm 118:22 about "the stone which the builders rejected." Those verses in Psalm 118 are talking about Israel and about the "festival sacrifices" and the altar where sacrifices are offered. There is nothing here about the church!

   Matthew 21:43 ties into Psalm 118 and Christ starts the verse with "Therefore ..." He is drawing a conclusion about how "The builders," the Jews in Christ's day are to someday be replaced by that other nation. Those who argue that this "nation" is the church quote 1 Peter 2:9-10 and Romans 10:19 and claim that in these passages the church is called "a nation." The Romans passage where "nation" and "people" are mentioned is a quote from Deuteronomy 32:21. This could certainly be a reference to the Gentiles but that is a long stretch to the idea of the church. The church is "the called out" ones (mainly but not exclusively) Gentiles. And to say that God will make Israel jealous by the Gentiles coming to the Lord is still not calling this group of Gentiles the church!

   In 1 Peter, the apostle Peter is writing to one segment of the church, the Jews, to those who "are aliens" (or strangers), the Jews who are in the Diaspora (the scattered ones), the Jews who were driven from the Holy Land (1:1). In 1 Peter 2:9 Peter calls these believing Jews "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession." He is compiling several OT passages about the nation of Israel. He says of them that they "were not a people, but now you are the people of God" (v. 10). Now, as Jews, they are "to keep their behavior excellent among the Gentiles" (v. 11). This puts those Peter is writing to in opposition to the Gentile believers, members of the church.

   To conclude: Peter is not saying this nation is the church! Neither is Christ saying that in Matthew 21:43!

   So the other nation is a later generation of Jews to whom the kingdom of God will be given. Again, the "kingdom of God" is always the Jewish messianic future kingdom; it never is the church!

   When interpreting the Bible, keep the lines straight. Don't mix concepts together in order to make a preconceived point. Let the Bible speak for itself.

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

Monday, February 15, 2010

Saints of the Highest One

Dr. Couch, who are the saints of the Highest One in Daniel 7:22 who "take possession of the kingdom"?

ANSWER:  This is made clear in verse 18. The Highest One is the Messiah, and the saints would be the saved Jews who take possession of the fifth Kingdom, which is His Kingdom here on earth. The saints are the saved Jewish remnant that will pass through the Great Tribulation. They take ("receive") the promises made to Israel in connection with it. This would also include the resurrected Israelites (Dan. 12:2), the Jews who are the believing Jews of all generations. Unger adds: "It is significant that the designation of God as the 'Most High, possessor of heaven and earth' (Gen. 14:18-22) is employed of the time that the Messiah will come to make good that title in His Kingdom rule."

   The one thousand year temporal reign of Christ will merge into the eternal state when Christ, after His reign on the earth, will deliver up "the kingdom to God, even the Father. ... that God may be all in all" (1 Cor. 15:24-28).

   The Jewish Rabbis understand Daniel 7 more than one thinks they do. They write on His "coming with the clouds of heaven": "If Israel is worthy, the Messiah will come riding the clouds; if not, He will come in the guise of a poor man riding an ass." Actually, He came first on the donkey, and His second coming will be in the clouds!

   And, the Rabbis write, on "The Son of Man" mentioned in verse 13: "According to verse 27 it refers to the regenerated people of Israel. Rabbinical exegesis applies it to the Messiah." Verse 27 reads: "Then, the sovereignty, the dominion, and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him."

   The Rabbis speak of the "regenerated people," and that is exactly what Christ says. He mentions the "regeneration" that takes place "when the Son of Man(kind) will sit on His glorious throne" (Matt. 19:28). Here, Christ is speaking of the "regenerated" nation of Israel when the Kingdom begins and He is ruling over the Jewish people.

   In so many places, the theology of the orthodox Jews is the same as our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ!

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

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Salvation by Relationship or Faith?

Dr. Couch, is it accurate to say that salvation depends on a person's "relationship" with Christ when the Bible states that a person is saved by faith/belief?

ANSWER: Sometimes we throw the word "relationship" around too freely. Sometimes we simply mean that one who has trusted Christ now has a relationship with Him, after belief! Generally, we use the word "relationship" in regard to one's walk and fellowship with Christ, after we've trusted Him for salvation and eternal life.

We are not saved by our relationship with Him. We are saved by trusting, having faith, in what He did for us at the cross. I must believe and embrace the fact that the Lord died for my sins. In a sense, I place myself on the cross with Him, or to put it another way, I see Him taking my place under the wrath of God, for my sins. Now a baby Christian may not see all of the nuances in regard to salvation when he first believes. But as he goes forward in the Christian walk, it becomes more and more understandable as to what He did for the individual.

This is why the doctrine of Assurance is important. John the apostle writes: "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life" (1 John 5:13). We cannot figure everything out; that is why we need His Assurance that we are saved because of our simple faith in Him.

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

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Elders Praying for the Sick

Dr. Couch, should the elders be called in at all times to pray for the sick, as mentioned in James 5:13-16?

ANSWER: Prayer for the sick can be offered by anyone and at all times. There is no restriction on praying. But this passage is very Jewish and has specifically a Jewish audience in mind. Nevertheless, it is a valid passage, though it is not required in order for one to get well. There are several things to note in the passage: First, the one who is sick calls for the elders. The anointing with oil is ceremonial. The oil itself does nothing. It is simply signifying that the sick person is to be especially attended to in his illness. The work "sick" is the Greek word "asthenia" which also carries the idea of "weakness." Any weakness can be presented to the Lord, not just sickness.

It is the prayer of faith (v. 15) that restores this one. The "ceremony," if you will, of the elders coming and anointing, is not what raises up this person. It is possible that this entire section is about more than simply one being ill. James adds, "If he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him" (v. 15b). So the gathering of the elders could be specifically be about sin that is also in the life of the one calling for such help.

James then presents a larger principle in verse 16, and that is confession of sins that could be the cause of the failing of the believer. And, James makes prayer interactive. We are to be praying for one another, so that we may be healed (v. 16b). Then the apostle sets forth another principle, and that is, "The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much" (v. 16c). That the praying here is especially Jewish is found in James' illustration of the intercession of Elijah in verses 17-18. He "prayed earnestly" and God honored his requests.

Verse 19 seems to be capping off James' argument, even about prayer. He writes" "If any among you strays from the truth, and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins." This is not about the loss of salvation for the believer but it is about a temporal judgment that may fall upon one who has been flirting with sin. The book of James is strong medicine, coming from the Jewish respect for the Law. There is no monkey business in this book. James hits many issues head-on throughout the chapters.

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

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Cursed for Studying Daniel's Seventy Weeks

Dr. Couch, I heard someone say that the Jewish Rabbis placed a curse on anyone who studied Daniel's Seventy Weeks in Daniel 9. Is this true?

ANSWER: I'm not sure about the curse part, but I understand that the Rabbis forbid rabbinical students from studying that chapter because it is so obvious in regard to the dating of the coming of the Messiah. And the dating points to the period of the birth of Christ. Remember, the Jews are in blindness and spiritual darkness. God judicially blinded them (Acts 28) because of their rejection of the Lord. We would expect that from the Jews who are in denial! I am not sure if we can substantiate this as a fact.

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

Friday, February 5, 2010

Application of the Parables

Dr. Couch, you have said that the parables of Matthew 13 have nothing to do with the church today. Does this mean that the parables of the sower, and the wheat and tares, apply strictly to Israel and the Jews?

ANSWER: All of the parables in Matthew 13 have to do with Israel. It is said ten times in the chapter that Christ is teaching about "the kingdom of heaven," or simply "the kingdom." Now is the "kingdom of heaven" the church? It is not. All of Jewish history tells us that "the kingdom of heaven" and "the kingdom of God" are two descriptions of the messianic reign of Christ on earth; the Davidic rule of the Lord during the millennium. This in no way can be the church age!

I believe the best treatment of this issue is found in my Classic Evangelical Hermeneutics book (Kregel), chapter 17. There, I deal with each parable and explain that Christ is speaking about things not revealed about the kingdom in the OT. I will not take the space here to repeat what I explain in detail in my book, except simply to give the three views about Matthew 13.

(1) The Allegorical/Amillennial view. Ellicott says of this: "The interpretation of the parable lies almost on the surface. Here again the sower is the Son of Man; but the seed in this case is not so much the "word," as the Christian society, the Church."

(2) New Program of the kingdom: "This view is held by the premillennialist J. Dwight Pentecost and others who claim that there is an added dimension to the kingdom not revealed in the OT. The kingdom would be seen in a new spiritual form, specifically including the church age."

(3) To reveal new truths concerning the messianic kingdom: But not including anything about the church age! Toussaint writes: "This view states that the King is giving new revelation concerning the kingdom promised to the Jews. The truths relate to the time of the establishing of the kingdom, the preparation for it, and other such material which had never before been revealed. This approach is best."

And I agree! This third view fits the context, and the words of Christ in the chapter.

I hope this helps.

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

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Rapture Doctrine Taught to the Disciples

Dr. Couch, how could the rapture doctrine be in John 14:3 when the Lord was speaking to the disciples? He said He was coming again to receive them to Himself, but they would all died by or before 70 AD.

ANSWER: Christ at this point was speaking to the disciples as part of the church age that would begin at Pentecost. Nowhere in the NT, nor in the words of Christ, is a timeframe given as to when the rapture would take place.

All of the disciples would die by or before 70 AD, except John who died sometime around 90-95 AD. So the coming to get them had to refer to their bodily resurrection when they would receive a new body and be taken home with the Lord. Their souls and spirits had already gone home at the point of death. Then Christ would bring their souls and spirits back with Him and unite them with their new bodies. This is all explained in detail in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

In that 1 Thessalonian 4 passage, Paul writes: (1) for those who have fallen asleep IN JESUS, He will bring back with Him (v. 14). That which He would bring back with Him would have to be their souls and spirits. (2) then, those who are "alive and remain" will be caught up together in the resurrection for the church saints, that is, those who previously "had fallen asleep" in Him (v. 15).

The resurrected, and those still alive (could be us today!), will be "caught up together to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord" that is, in the new resurrected body.

When the disciples died, their souls and spirits would go home to be with the Lord, and their physical bodies would be placed in the ground. When Christ then "would come for them," He means He would come to resurrect them from the earth, they would be given their new bodies, and go home to be with Him in the "mon'e," the private apartments that He had prepared for them—for their new bodies in glory.

The problem we have with the John 14:1-3 passage is all the details are not spelled out here as they will be later in Paul's epistles. Now it all makes sense, when we tie it all together.

I hope this helps. Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch (Feb., 10)

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Promised Land

Dr. Couch, in Paul Benware's book Understanding End Time Prophecy he shows the extent of the land promised to Abraham ending up near Mt. Hermon to the north. Is there a problem with this?

ANSWER: The map is on page 58 of his text. On pages 59-60 Dr. Benware explains that this is the part of the land that would be taken by Joshua and the immediate generation, though the extent of the land goes all the way over to the Euphrates River as mentioned in Genesis 15:18. It is in the millennial kingdom that the Jews will completely occupy that territory promises by the Lord. There it is stated that makes it all clear: "To you and your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt (either the Nile or a Wadi called El Arish) as far as the great river, the river Euphrastes."

There is no contradiction here. One thing we have to keep in mind when we read ancient manuscripts, the people who lived closest to those promises and those events, never saw what we sometimes consider contradictions. So they must have known something that we do not! They comprehend the contexts sometimes better than we do who are farther away from what is going on.

We are the ones who have a problem, those nearer the facts understand what is going on.

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