Friday, April 23, 2010

Christian Music

Dr. Couch, some time ago you gave your opinion about Christian music today. Could you repeat that?

ANSWER: I'll try though I'm up to my ears writing books presently that I think need to be done. But I believe Colossians 3:16-17 is an important verse that settles the issue of what kind of music churches should be promoting in their assemblies.

   Paul starts off with a general statement that "the word of Christ richly dwell within" us. He then says that the word should be coupled with "all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another ..." In other words believers should be aware of what the word of Christ is doing for the believers. We are to "admonish one another with psalms and hymns and SPIRITUAL songs, singing with thanksgiving in your hearts to God."

   Songs are to be used "to admonish." This is the Greek word "noutheteo" which means "to establish, place the mind" in a proper position. This is in the Present Tense which means that such admonishing with spiritual songs should be the standard continually practice that needs to be always carried out this way!

   The word "mind" ("nous") is in the word. In other words, we are to be in the good sense "brain-washed" by "spiritual" music. "Spiritual songs" means songs that are controlled or influenced by the Holy Spirit. Every time the word "spiritual" is used it has to do with such an influence of God's Spirit.

   Therefore you cannot have junk music being sung!

   I really don't think it is that difficult to know whether music is influenced by the flesh or by the Spirit of God! The modern, hot-rock music is meant to please the ears of a younger crowd who like and want fleshly songs rather than songs that have to do with something spiritual and that which is solid!

   Good spiritual music should also inspire thanksgiving in the "hearts" (emotions) toward God. We are speaking to Him! Paul adds that whatever we do (including singing) we are to be "giving thanks" through Christ "unto God the Father." Twice God is to be considered in what we do, especially in the issue of singing solid spiritual songs.

   Here is my little list that I think is important when considering music:

1.Can I understand the words? 2.Do the words conform to the Word of God—are they doctrinally solid? 3.Can I hummm the words and tune in the shower? In other words, do they stick to my soul and allow me to repeat them over and over again?

 I personally believe most younger people are in rebellion with the churches and with the Lord. They want to imitate the world, and sound like the culture. They squint their eyes when singing, go up and down like a roller coaster, warble like a bird, and sing tunes that no one can repeat or share with others. The words cannot be understood, and I think that this is a strategy which they carry out in order to be "contemporary"!

Garbage either is or it is not. It does not take a rocket scientist to know what is spiritual, right or wrong in music. The Spirit of God is either with the music or He is not!

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

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Law of God

Dr. Couch, what is the "law of God" in which Joshua wrote his final words, as mentioned in Joshua 24:26?

ANSWER:  There are different opinions on what this is. Some believe Joshua wrote (1) additional words to the Pentateuch, the Law of Moses. Others hold that (2) it was a different scroll of information that Joshua wrote that was simply added alongside of the Law, a separate document all together.

   The word book in Hebrew is the word "Sa'pher meaning the scroll. This was a particular scroll called "the law of God." Unger takes the first view but I take the second view because this is how the Rabbis interpret the statement, and I believe they are correct.

   Joshua is very serious about what he wrote. He apparently took it as inspired of the Lord, though it only served for a period of time and then was discarded. Joshua takes several verses to describe what he did in the writing of this scroll.

   Joshua made a binding covenant with the people. What he wrote he turned into an agreement, a statute and an ordinance that day in Shechem (v. 25). By this he established his authority over the people as their new leader in place of Moses. Some believe that Joshua simply renewed the covenant which God had first made with Israel at Sinai, but I am not sure that what he wrote is simply a repeat of the Sinaitic agreement. What Joshua did here seems to be something that is additional, going forward with the people in a new step as they fortify the land they were entering.

   On this "law of God" the Rabbis say:

   "This cannot mean that Joshua added this as an appendix to the Pentateuch and included it therein; firstly because the Books of Moses were too sacred to be tampered with, and secondly, because the words are not to be found there. It may indicate that he wrote them on a scroll which he deposited in the same place together with 'the book of the Law of God.' This makes sense if we read it correctly as 'in a book of the law of God.' Thus, 'it became a book of the law of God.' These words of Joshua then were simply placed alongside of the Torah of Moses as something additional but not formally attached or tied to the Pentateuch."

   Joshua then took "a great stone" and set it under the oak that was by the sanctuary of the Lord (v. 26b). It was a common practice to set up a stone to commemorate an event of importance (cf. Gen. 28:18; Exod. 24:4). Joshua commemorated the crossing of the Jordan in this manner (4:3). Joshua here is declaring that this place was "a sanctuary of (for) the Lord." This became a place where the Lord would commune with Joshua and the people. Remember, a geographical place had not been established yet for the people to formally worship. The stone was set up "under an oak (tree)" that too became a sacred location. Joshua spoke to the people in order to confirm their inheritance.

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

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Angel said to Daniel

Dr. Couch, what does Daniel 12:9 mean when the angel said to Daniel: "Go your way, Daniel, for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end time"?

ANSWER:  The point is that the book of Daniel, especially the Seventy Week prophecy given at the end of the book, will not be fully understood until the end times. The Jewish Rabbis say: "Until final predetermined time. Do not pry into what is presently beyond human understanding. And, none of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand."

   But as for Daniel, he is to go his way "to the end, then you will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at the end of the age" (v. 13). Not only Daniel, but all the righteous will be resurrected when the Kingdom arrives for Israel.

   Unger adds: "Daniel was told that the revelation he had received would not be fully comprehended until its consummation at the time of the end of Israel's woes and the dawn of the Kingdom age (cf. v. 4). Verse 10 says 'Many shall be purified and made white and tested.' The Great Tribulation thus accomplishing one of its chief purposes in God's economy, namely, to prepare a nucleus of Israel for the Kingdom."

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

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Verses Used by Amillenialists

Dr. Couch, what are some of the verses the amillennialists use to claim that the Abrahamic covenant is almost exclusively about spiritual descendants with no physical promises given to the physical descendants of Abraham?

ANSWER:  They use Matthew 5:5; Galatians 3:29; Romans 4:13-15, and Revelation 21-22. On:

(1) Matthew 5:5. This passage is to the Jews in regard to the "kingdom of heaven" which we know by Jewish history is the messianic Kingdom. The promises have to do with spiritual blessings, and physical blessings (the land) that will be given to Abraham's physical seed, Israel, in the Kingdom. The Jews will then "own" the world. First of all, it only has to do with those who are "gentile". If they have certain spiritual and emotional qualities, they will be blessed by the things of the earth, and then only in the Kingdom. This section even closes by saying that those Jews who are persecuted "for the sake of righteousness," theirs "is the Kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:10). All of the good things about that Millennial Kingdom will belong to them. The amils will do anything to broaden their point so that they can say these verses "indicate that the blessisngs promised to Abraham pertains not so much to his physical descendants but to his spiritual descendants through faith in Christ." Christ gave these Beatitudes (Matt. 5:1-11) in offering the Kingdom to Israel. This is not aimed at Abraham's spiritual seed!

(2) Galatians 3:29. Paul says in Romans 4:16 that we are "of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all." We are Abraham's seed by faith in Christ not by our physical relationship to him (Rom. 3:29). I am therefore a son of God by faith and "an heir through God" (Rom. 4:6-7). Galatians 3:29 says "if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, heirs according to promise." The only thing this has to do with us is salvation as Paul explains in Galatians 3:6-9. "By faith I am a son of Abraham" (v. 7). And Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, 'All the nations are blessed in you (Abraham).' So then, those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham the believer" (vv. 8-9). The physical seed receives both the land promises and the spiritual promises but the spiritual seed (the Gentiles) receive the spiritual promises. We read in the OT, to Abraham, "To your seed I have given this land" (Gen. 15:18). Read Genesis 17:6-8. To Abraham's seed Isaac it was said: "For to you and to your descendants I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath which I swore to your father Abraham. I will give your descendants all the nations of the earth [they shall be] blessed" (26:3-5). And Joseph said to his brothers "God shall bring you up from this land (Egypt) to the land (the Holy Land) which He
promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob" (Gen. 50:24). That's not me!

(3) Romans 4:13-15. All this passage says is that Abraham's descendants would be heir of the world, not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith. By context, this has to do with his physical seed not his spiritual seed. It was the Jews who were trapped in Law keeping not the pagan Gentiles. This is true in that the Kingdom is worldwide. Christ will reign from shore to shore in the Millennium. And of course the church will be there but this is not a spiritual promise but the physical promise from the verses above and many, many more!

   When studying the Bible keep the lines straight. Don't wrongly mix the various parts that should not be mixed.

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

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Meaning of Luke 16:14-17

Dr. Couch, what is going on in Luke 16:14-17? I know you wrote a nationally published commentary on Luke, so you have some idea of what the Lord is talking about.

ANSWER:  Christ is speaking to the Pharisees because He knew they were lovers of money. Before men, they were trying to justify themselves and yet God the Father knew their hearts. Before John the Baptist began proclaiming the gospel (good news) of the coming Messianic Kingdom (the kingdom of God), the Pharisees bragged in their Law-keeping. But then some of them saw the benefit of following after the kingdom, whereby the rigors of the Law were eased. While the preaching and the offer of the Kingdom was the new message, the Lord reminded them that the Law was still around, for "It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail" (v. 17).

   The millennial Kingdom at that point would be rejected and the belief in the simple gospel would be proclaimed after the crucifixion of Christ, and yet it too would be spurned. But the Jews, especially the Pharisees, could not escape the Law! This does not mean that they were to be saved by "Law-keeping." I wrote in my commentary:

    But God knew their hearts (v. 15a). What men esteem, God detests (v. 15b). He then added that since the coming of John the Baptist, everyone was trying to force his way into the kingdom of God (v. 16), "but it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail" (v. 17). Many of the Jews wanted the benefits of the kingdom proclaimed by John and the Lord Jesus, but the rigors of the Law and its conviction about the nature of sin were being ignored. God was examining hearts, and the judgment of the Law was standing.

   Everything Jesus was teaching was being scoffed at (v. 14). People want the easy route and do not want to live by the truth. The legalists of Christ day would pretend to keep the Law but in the long run they would reject both the Kingdom offer and the simple way of faith in the gospel.

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

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Classes of Believers

Dr. Couch, is not 1 Peter 4:11 speaking about two classes of believers in the church, or two levels of workers in the congregation?

ANSWER:  Yes, that seems to be what is happening here. There are not different levels of rewards being mentioned but of work taking place in the assembly. This is a great passage of Scripture that reads: "Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterance of God; whoever serves, let him do so as by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."

   First are those "who speak" or teach "the utterances of God." This would include the speakers, the elders and/or pastors. Then there are those who serve "by the strength which God supplies," so "that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ."

   Some have great abilities in teaching and others in serving in the assembly. This makes for a perfect balance of believers. Both classes are carrying out what the Lord wishes to take place. You need workers and you need those who give biblical instruction and direction from God's Word.

   Thank for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch
(Apr., 10)  

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Psalm 69

Dr. Couch, is Psalm 69:35-36 a messianic kingdom passage?

ANSWER:  Yes, indeed! The verses speak of God saving Zion, which is a reference to the city of Jerusalem, and/or the nation of Israel itself. He will build up the cities of Judah, "that the Jews may dwell there and possess it." This is a picture of prosperity and safety for the Jewish people. It shows the finality of God's blessings upon the nation, which will be at peace when the Messiah is reigning.

   The seed of the Lord's servants will inherit the city, "and those who love His name will dwell in it." I generally come to a conclusion about a passage after studying it or translating it from the Hebrew or Greek. After I looked at the verses I checked Unger who says the same thing. He writes "Universal praise is to rise up to Him in the Kingdom age, for God will save Zion (Psalm 51:18; Zech. 12:1-5; Rom. 11:26-35) and build the cities of Judah. That 'the humble and the poor, the delivered godly remnant, will dwell there (permanently), and have it in possession, as well as their descendants (Isa. 65:9-10)."

   The orthodox Jewish Rabbis certainly hold the same thing. We're in good company with them. They say, this has to do with the "coming redemption of Zion (cf. Isa. 44:23)." For the Lord "will redeem us for the sake of His lovingkindness."

   It is not sad that the poor amill Covenant guys never see the blessings of the kingdom mentioned in the Word of God? They remain in their ignorance distorting the Scriptures and missing all of the great messianic truths of His Word!

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

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Greek Case System

Dr. Couch, when did the eight noun case system in Greek fall out of favor and give way to the six case system? And what does this have to do with studying Greek?

ANSWER:  This has nothing to do with the study of Greek. When I was taking beginning Greek fifty years ago in college, the six case system was used by some Greek textbooks. The textbook I was using had the eight case system. (No big deal!) I can translate just as well with the six system as I can with the eight system. I prefer the eight because that was what I learned Greek with, but in reality it does not mean that much. The eight case system is a little clearer in my opinion. We create a system of learning Greek as we analyze the language. In fact, that is what we do as we deal with all languages. All languages are made clear by our study.

   I can learn any language because I understand the basic principles that govern how all languages work. I had more Greek in college and graduate school hours than anyone you will speak with. And I translate every week verses in Hebrew and in Greek. I love the study of the biblical languages. The study of the biblical languages gives to us our systematic theology. I am now working on a Messianic Systematic Theology using comments and helps from the orthodox Jews scholars. It is thrilling to see how both the OT and the NT reveals to us the revelation of the Lord.

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

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Two Set of Ten Commandments

Dr. Couch, when Moses went back up on the mountain, did he not receive a completely new set of stones with new ten commandments on them? Why the two? And are they not different?

ANSWER:  The people in their gross sins "broke" the Ten Commandments previously given to them from the Lord, delivered by Moses. Moses then "shattered the first set of tablets at the foot of the mountain" (Exod. 32:19). He went back up and remained for "forty days" and "he wrote on the [new] tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments" (34:28). He then came "down from the mountain" with the new tablets in his hand (v. 29). There is no indication that the Commands on the new tablets were any different than before.

   You asked, "Is there any comparison between the two sets?" And the answer is No! The breaking of the tablets is symbolic that the people by their sins destroyed the commandments. The people were "prone to evil" (32:22); they had "committed a great sin" (v. 30). They had "sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play" (v. 6).

   The Lord told Moses "I have seen this people, and behold, they are an obstinate people. Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them, and that I may destroy them; ..." (vv. 9-10). But Moses interceded with them before God and they were spared.

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

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Jewish Bankers

Dr. Couch, it seems that there is a larger number of Jews who are involved in banking that are controlling our world economy. Is this true?

ANSWER:  The Jewish people have always put a premium on education, and because of this, they are involved in industries and businesses that have profound influence on the world of big business. And, the Jewish people are sinners like all people of the world. It would be natural then that some are involved in shady business dealings but there is no indication that this has anything to do with end time prophecy. Nor are there any verses of Scripture that speaks to this problem in the events now going on in Bible prophecy.

   Many Jews are denying the Lord Jesus who bought them by His death on the cross, but there are many who will come to Him as the tribulation begins. Many will be martyred during that period, and many will enter the kingdom when the Lord establishes His rule on the earth.

   I am a student of history and I can vouch for the fact that the world has been more blessed by the Jews than cursed by them through the generations. They have benefited the world far beyond their numbers. Many of my recent books show this as a fact. I document how blessed we have been by them, even though they have not all trusted in Christ. The Lord's Word still stands—God will bless those who bless them and curse those who curse them! (Gen. 12:1-3). And, they are blessed in the Lord's viewpoint even though they are presently lost. In fact the apostle Paul says that presently they are "beloved for the sake of the [Jewish] fathers" by the Lord, though they are enemies for the sake of the gospel (Rom. 11:28). God's promises to return His dealing with them is irrevocable and will not change (v. 29). We, the Gentiles, "have been shown mercy because of their disobedience" (v. 30). "A partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in (is complete); and thus all Israel will be saved; just as it is written ..." (vv. 25-26).

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

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Things Take Place

Dr. Couch, I know you have had a lot of Greek and so I'm asking a Greek question about the phrase "... things take place ..." in Matthew 24:34. What is happening here?

ANSWER:  I have taught both undergraduate and graduate Greek. I have had about 40 hours of the language. My masters thesis at Wheaton Graduate School, for my MA, was in Greek. And I have nationally published by AMG a Greek commentary on 1 & 2 Thessalonians.

   The verb you are referring to is "ginomai" and it is a deponent verb meaning "to become, to originate," thus translated in the Active Voice not the Middle/Passive Voice. In the Matthew passage it is in the Aorist Subjunctive form and should be translated "this generation will not pass away, that sees 'all these things that should come about (should take place),' concerning the tribulation, etc., etc. ..."

   Christ is not talking about the destruction of the temple in 70 AD, He is referring to the "all these things" of the seven year period of tribulation, or the wrath of God. "This generation" is not the generation that is standing before Him as He is talking. It is a far future generation that is caught in the "tribulation of those days" (v. 29).

   There is much confusion on this passage because of the poor scholarship and misleading influence of preterism. The folks reading the passage just wants it to say what they want it to say!

   I hope this helps.
   Dr. Mal Couch
(Apr., 10)