Saturday, July 31, 2010

Understanding the Dispensational Controversy

Dr. Couch, are you familiar with the book "Understanding the Dispensational Controversy" by Kerry Trahan?

ANSWER:  No, I am not. But I am not sure I would be interested because "there is no controversy!" Now I know how that sounds—rather dumb on my part! But what most do not realize is that the Bible IS dispensational. There is no such thing as a dispensational theology that is distinct from other theologies. Since the Bible is dispensational that is the way it must be studied! Those who do not see the various divisions of Scripture and the dispensational flow of the Word of God are just not reading their Bible properly. "It Is Dispensational!"

   To approach the Bible as the Covenant guys do, they have to allegorize passages of Scripture at some point along the way. To let the Word speak for itself means that you will come out with a dispensational framework.

   But thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch (7/10)

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Story of Phinehas

Dr. Couch, what is going on in the story of Phinehas as given in Numbers 25:1-13?

ANSWER:  Phinehas was a second generation descendant from Aaron the high priest (v. 7). His name means "dark-skinned." An Israelite was having relations with a Midianite woman in his tent. Phinehas the priest took a spear and went in and ran both of them through. This became a dire and sober warning to the people of Israel not to interact with the pagan people of the land.

   Because of his tenacity, Phinehas with given a "covenant of peace" and his family would be perpetual priests. Phinehas, being jealous for his God, had "made an atonement for the sons of Israel" (v. 13). The "covenant of peace" is not a formal covenant but it became an agreement between God and Phinehas for ever. As well, "it shall be for him and his descendants after him, a covenant of a perpetual priesthood" (v. 13a).

   This act of Phinehas became a sign of his salvation. The wording is the same as the faith of Abraham that caused God to see him as declared righteous, or saved by his trust. "And God reckoned (or accounted) Abraham's faith unto him for righteousness" (Gen. 15:6).

   This is given to us in Psalms 106:30-31 which reads: "Phinehas stood up and interposed (interceded for Israel); and so the plague (against the people) was stopped (or stayed). And it was reckoned to [Phinehas] for righteousness, to all generations forever." In other words, all generations would speak of the act of trust shown by Phinehas. He would be considered righteous just as Abraham.

   The Jewish orthodox Rabbis comment on Phinehas:

   "With the covenant of peace God is saying that 'He is assuring him of My friendly attitude toward him' (Rabbi Rashi). The word 'covenant' is here used, not in the sense of a compact between two persons, but as an unconditional promise on God's part. In addition to the Divine blessing with which Phinehas' action was rewarded, it received the grateful admiration of succeeding ages. In Psalm 106, we read that his zeal 'was counted unto him for righteousness, unto all generations for ever.'"

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch (7-10)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mixing the Mosaic Covenant with the New Covenant

Dr. Couch, is there a mixing between the Mosaic covenant (the Law) with the New covenant? It seems that is the case in Deuteronomy 30, especially verse 6, where it is mentioned that someday God would "circumcise their hearts and the hearts of your descendants to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul in order that you may live."

ANSWER:  Verse 6 is a preview of the coming of the New covenant, but this is not a mixing of the two covenants. Moses gives to Israel an order of what God is doing with the nation. (1) When God is finished bringing the blessing and the cursing on Israel (v. 1), (2) Then Israel will return to the Lord and obey Him with all their hearts. (3) Then they will return to the land (v. 5), and (4) God will circumcise their heart to love Him (v. 6). (5) God will afflict their enemies (v. 7), and (6) They shall prosper (v. 9). This will happen (7) WHEN they obey the Lord their God, keep His statutes, and turn to Him with all their heart and soul (v. 10).

   Actually, there is a contrast between the Mosaic covenant and the New covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-37). The New covenant "is not like the covenant (the Mosaic covenant) which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke ..." (v. 32).

   The New covenant replaced the "old" covenant, the Mosaic covenant, as mentioned by the writer of Hebrews who said: "When God speaks of the New covenant, He has made the first (the Mosaic) obsolete (palaioo, paleontology, to make old) and growing old [and it is] ready to disappear" (Heb. 8:13). 

   The apostle Paul makes it clear we are no longer under the law. "The law was our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor (under the law)" (Gal. 3:24-25). And, "by the works of the law no flesh will be justified in [God's] sight ..." (Rom. 3:20).

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch (7-10)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Suppress Prophecy

Dr. Couch, are Christians saved who seem to suppress prophecy?

ANSWER:  Yes, of course. Why would they not be? Salvation is not dependent on one's interpretative skills. But they are certainly blinded by what the Bible is teaching. You asked, why do they undermine normal interpretation. I believe Satan works overtime in fooling people as to the message of the Word of God. This does not mean they are not saved, it just means that they are being fooled. You also asked, do they deliberately suppress prophecy like unbelievers suppress all Scripture?

   The unbeliever often denies the entire scope of the Bible, especially about personal faith in Christ for salvation. The amillennialist denies the coming kingdom reign of Christ. They have been brainwashed. And they are cutting out of their thinking almost half of the Scriptures. Premillennialists believe the Bible as it was written and as Christ taught it. To be premillennial means one knows that the Word of God is teaching that the Lord comes "before" His millennial reign. This is what the pious Jews believed. There is no question about this issue.

   You also asked, how can a born again believer deny the normal interpretation of Scripture? Again, being born again has nothing to do with what they believe about prophecy.

Thanks for asking,
Dr. Mal Couch (7/10)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Apostles and Prophets in the OT Economy

Dr. Couch, it seems to me the "apostles and prophets" in Ephesians 2:20 has to do with the apostles and prophets in the OT economy. How would you answer?

ANSWER:  Remember we determine doctrine by "observation" of the context, and by the Greek grammar of the sentence. This issue is settled by the grammar of the passage. In the commentary written by Dr. John Witmer and myself, we point out (p. 150) that prophets are listed following apostles, church prophets are in view (cf. 3:5; 4:11; 1 Cor. 12:10, 28-29). Verses 19-20 say "We no longer are strangers (the church saints) and aliens, but you are fellow citizens ... having been built UPON the foundation of the apostles and prophets, ..." The same is repeated in 3:5. "What was (in the past) not made known to the sons of men, revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit." And, to the church He had given "some as apostles, and some as prophets, ..." (4:11). And to the church "God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets ..." (1 Cor. 12:28).

   It is important to note that in 2:19-20 we have one proposition: "foundation OF the apostles and [EVEN] prophets." This virtually makes the two offices equal, that is, the same thing. So also in 3:5: "His HOLY apostles and [even] prophets." Though the offices are separated in 1 Corinthians 12:28 and in Ephesians 4:11.

   The greatest commentary on Ephesians ever written is by Dr. Harold Hoehner (he took 20 years to finish it). He taught Greek that long at Dallas Seminary. He writes: "First, there is only one article for both nouns. ... The one article may indicate that 'groups more or less distinct are treated as one for the purpose in hand.'"

   The old Greek scholar Armitage Robinson writes: "Paul is not taking us back from the New Covenant (which he is writing about here in Ephesians 2) to the Old—not speaking of Old Testament prophets in the past—when he says that the apostles and prophets are the foundation of the new House of God."

   Even amillennialist Charles Hodge gets it right. He writes: "The prophets here mentioned are those of the new dispensation [of the church], is evident—first from the position of the terms. It would more naturally be prophets and apostles if the Old Testament prophets had been intended. ... The statement here made that the apostles and prophets are, or have laid, the foundation of that house of which the Gentiles are a part, is more obviously true of the New (Covenant), than of the Old Testament prophets. ... The apostle-prophets—or apostles who are prophets. ... Both apostles and prophets belong to the class of Christian teachers [not of the Old Testament]."

   Finally, the Bible Knowledge Commentary (BKC) (old Dallas Seminary) says "The 'prophets' are of the New Testament era, not the Old Testament. 'Prophets' follows the word 'apostles' here and in 3:5 and 4:11. These men received the revelation of the mystery of the church in the present Age, which had been hidden in days past, that is, in Old Testament times (3:5)."

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch (7-10)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

God walking with people in the Garden

Dr. Couch, Genesis 3:8 says that the Lord walked in the garden in the "cool of the day." Was this in the morning or evening? And, did God have a body like human beings?

ANSWER:  The Rabbis note that for the Orient, the cool of the day would be towards evening when a cooling breeze was blowing (See Song of Songs, 2:17). Having made 23 trips to Israel and the Middle East I can concur that it really turns cool at that time of day; in fact, it turns downright cold! Many times I've stood on the ramparts and the walls on the south side of Jerusalem and felt the cool winds blowing off the desert. Great feeling! I could also look south and see in the distance the lights of Bethlehem. I'm sure David did the same thing when he was king!

   In the Genesis rabbinical commentary, the Rabbis add: "It was this evening wind that carried to Adam and Eve the sound which heralded the approach of God." The apostle John notes: "No one has seen God at any time, [except] the only born God, who is on the bosom of the Father, He has explained (exegeted) Him" (John 1:18). No one has seen God the Father; only the Son, God the Son, He has "explained" and shown forth Him!

   God does not have a body; He is a Spirit. This verse is also speaking of an anthropomorphism, in that the second person of the Trinity, Christ, was in His pre-incarnate body. He is the only one of the Godhead who took upon Himself a human body, a physical appearance.

   This was a good question. Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch (7-10)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

2 Timothy 4:1

Dr. Couch, what is going on in 2 Timothy 4:1 and the issue about the "His appearance and His kingdom"? Is His "appearance" the rapture, and is the "kingdom" the messianic reign taught about so often in the OT? And what about the "and" ("kai") between "appearance" and "His kingdom"?

ANSWER:  You sent me a lot of information about the use of the "and" which I don't think is important in understanding the passage. The context is more important here.

   I do not think this passage is about the rapture of the church but about Christ's return in order to judge both those who are alive and those who have died. "Appearance" is a noun and is the word "epiphaneia." As the Lexicon says this is about "the advent of Christ" and not the rapture. He comes to earth to judge and rule!

   The "by" is not a stated preposition but is embedded in the nouns "by" His appearance, and "by" His kingdom. These are genitive/ablatives in Greek grammar.

   2 Timothy 4:1 fits perfectly with Matthew 25:31-46. There the King comes to sit on His throne and judge the sheep and the goats. The righteous Jews and Gentiles will inherit the kingdom "prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (v. 34).

   I believe the passage is really simple. Let's not complicate it. Thanks for asking.

   Dr. Mal Couch (7-10)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Wickedness on the Earth

Dr. Couch, sometimes it seems as if the wicked will prevail on this earth. But what does the Scriptures say about this? I cannot help but think of our present President! What do you think? And by the way, do you see a lot of false pride in our leader?

ANSWER;  God allows things to happen for specific reasons. For example, I love Psalm 17. It reminds us that God will have the last word! David pleads with the Lord and says: "Keep me [O God] as the apple of the eye; hide me in the shadow of Your wings" (v. 8). Without the Lord's protection the "wicked will despoil me" (v. 9a), and "My deadly enemies will surround me. ... Because they close their unfeeling heart; and with their mouth they speak proudly" (vv. 9b-10).

   When the lost go about they have no perspective as to what life is all about. They just go about with their eyes cast "down to the ground" (v. 11). They do not look up and know what is happening all about them. They are blinded to the reality of living! And they certainly know nothing about the Lord. They think they are smart but in reality, they are not!

   They love to harm and rule over the Godly. They are "like a lion that is eager to tear; and as a young lion lurking in hiding places" (v. 12). They for the moment look so majestic and at peace but this is not so! They are quick to pounce on the righteous.

   The psalmist David then pleads with the Lord: "Arise, O Lord, confront him, bring him low; deliver my soul from the wicked with Your sword" (v. 13).

   The lost, the men of this world, have their portion only in this life (v. 14). With God's goodness and His treasure, they fill their stomachs (v. 14b). They live out their life and have children, but they leave their abundance to their next generation, "their babes" (v. 14b). But then David, a righteous and Godly man, pleads: "As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake" from the sleep of going home (v. 15).

   On David's Psalm 17 Unger writes: "David calls upon the Lord to hear his righteous cause, to attend unto his cry, to give an ear to his prayer, to let God's eyes see things that are equitable. Though David was not perfect yet he still walked in obedience to the Word of God, "the Word of Your lips (Psa. 119:9) that is, that which came from the mouth and the heart of the Lord! David's steps must hold fast to God's steps and His path.

   By the way, the "apple" of God's eye is actually in Hebrew "the little man, that is the pupil" of the eye. When you look closely at someone's pupil, you see looking back at you "a little man." The Word of God has humor!

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch (7-10)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Our Inheritance

Dr. Couch, is our inheritance in salvation something we now have or is it only an inheritance that we finally get when we go home to heaven?

ANSWER:   In Ephesians 1:14 we are told the Holy Spirit presently (Present Tense) is the "earnest" or Guarantor of our inheritance. He IS (Present Tense of the "to be" verb) right now the Earnest of our redemption. He will be so until our final redemption comes about, and takes place.

   In Ephesians 1:18 Paul says he wants the eyes of the believer to "be enlightened" to the fact of knowing "the riches of the glory of God's inheritance (for) the saints." Paul uses a Perfect Tense with the words "enlightened" and "may know." He wants for the child of God this enlightenment and knowledge to have begun in the past and then come up to the present in his experiential knowledge.  "I want you to have gone through a process of enlightenment, and to have gone through the process of learning (knowing) ..."

   While there is a present awareness of our inheritance, there is also a future inheritance that will bring to fulfillment and completion our salvation. The writer of Hebrews in 1:14 says "the angels are ministering spirits ... for the sake of those who are 'to be inheriting' salvation."

   "To be inheriting" is a Present Infinitive. We are going forward in "inheriting" salvation that will be brought to completion in the future. While this is a Present Infinitive it has a future component to it. This inheritance is presently going forward and will be completed with our salvation in the future.

   Even though "inheritance" is a Present Infinitive it has a "resultant" thought to it, or a future thought behind it. And the translators caught this and translate the Present Infinitive in the NASB in a future sense. "For the sake of those who WILL INHERIT salvation [in the future] ..."

    In my commentary series, Ger in Hebrews caught this future idea in the inheritance in Hebrews 1:14, with the Present Tense, when he wrote "the ministering spirits, the angels, are still hard at work on behalf of those who WILL INHERIT salvation (the ultimate salvation in the future), the Son is pictured as seated and at rest, awaiting His FUTURE reign following the Father's final conquest of the Son's enemies." 

   Conclusion: In timing, we now have a Present Tense in our inheritance but we also have a future component of completion. Our inheritance will be fulfilled and brought to completion someday in the future when we're in glory! We have the inheritance now and it will be consummated in the future!

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch (7/10)