Monday, November 29, 2010

Jewish People in Christ's day and the rapture

Dr. Couch, I have two questions: The Jews who accepted Christ when He was ministering, as shown in the Gospels, would they have become part of the church and then been raptured if that event had taken place? And, I was disappointed to hear you say that the book of John was written to the Gentiles. I understood it was written to the Jews with information for Christians today. What do you say?

ANSWER:  All of those who came to Christ during His ministry on earth were placed into His spiritual body, the body of Christ, thus they became part of the church at Pentecost with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. And yes, of course, they would have been raptured.

   You said you were disappointed that I said the book of John was written for Gentiles, and not for the Jews. You need not listen to me but study for yourself what the book of John shows us. First of all, I have translated the entire book of John in Greek, and in graduate school had several courses on that book. You won't find any other scholars who have had that much exposure and study in John. So I know what I'm talking about, but as I say, study the book yourself.

   The way we know it was written to Gentiles is because of the many passages where words are translated for a Gentile audience to understand. For example:

   "The Law was given through Moses ..." (John 1:17) The Jews knew this; Gentiles may not have.

   "The word Rabbi means Teacher ..." (1:38).
   "Messiah (Maschioch) is translated as the Christ (Christos) ..." (1:41).
   "Cephas which is translated as Peter ..." (1:42).
   "Siloam which is translated as Sent ..." (9:7).
   "In Hebrew, Rabboni which means Teacher ..." (20:16).
   "The ravine of Kidron, where there was a garden ..." (18:1). Most Jews knew this.

   The Greek word "translate" is a word that means "to expound, explain, interpret, to translate from a foreign tongue." It comes from the Greek word "Hermes" who was the god of language, speech, writing, and eloquence. The word was transferred into the Greek language meaning to "interpret."

   Because the book was aimed at the Gentiles does not mean that the Jews were excluded from reading it. They were not. Also, remember that old John in his late life was the pastor of the church at Ephesus, thus it would make sense that he would write a book that his Gentile audience could understand.

   I studied the book of John in Greek at the university 51 years ago, and then again (in Greek) 49 years ago. Then I took it in English Bible in graduate school about 50 years ago. I've been around the block with the book of John!

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch (10/11)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Witness to Homosexuals

Dr. Couch, how do we witness to homosexuals and how should we balance truth with love?

ANSWER:  We witness to them just like we witness to anyone. Sin is sin! When we accept Christ, whoever we are, we are saying that we believe that Christ died for all of our sins, no matter what they are. But if we say, "I trust in Christ that He died for all of my sins, but not this or that sin, which I am going to hold on to," then we are not believing that He died for all of them! We cannot pick or choose which sins He went to the cross for.  

   Then I believe that person is not saved. Everyone I have ever met says that they believe He died for all of their sins, not just some and not others. I have never heard anyone say anything else!

  However, all of us can then fall into sins later that we confessed when we got saved. And that is another matter. When I confessed Christ as my Savior that confession included all my sins that I had committed or that I would ever commit. When becoming a Christian I could not hold back on certain sins. Christians can and do sin. But when becoming a believer I did not hold back certain sins of convenience or deny that Christ died for certain ones that I wanted to hold on to.

   I hope this answer helps. Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch (10/11)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Death in the Millennium

Dr. Couch, I have several questions: What about death in the millennium? And, what about the Zadok priests not being able to marry a widow of a priest who has died? (Could this be referring to the widow's husband who dies during the tribulation?) Too, the priests of Zadok are not supposed to touch a dead body in the kingdom. Does this mean that there will be no death in the kingdom, as some say, death only with the Gentiles and not the believing Jews?

ANSWER:  As you noted, some say that death comes only for the Gentiles in the kingdom and not the Jews. The question: if this "saved" Gentiles or "unsaved" Gentiles? The passage we go to is Isaiah 65:17-23. There it says that concerning the Jews that an infant [who is sick] will live more than a few days (v. 20). And an "old man who [will live beyond his] days, for the youth will die at the age of one hundred" (v. 20b). And, "the one who does not reach the age of one hundred shall be thought accursed" (v. 20c).

   There is a textual problem in verse 20. Some texts read: "But the sinner who does not reach the age of one hundred." "The sinner" is not in all the Hebrew texts. It is not in the NAS.

   However, Unger notes: "'Accursed' shall be considered under the curse of sin, which is death. This passage clearly reveals that the curse will not be completely removed, for death will not be destroyed or sin removed till after the Millennium (1 Cor. 15:26; Rev. 20:11-15), precluding the sinless, curseless eternal state (21:8, 27: 22:15)."

   The teacher you quoted often reaches too far and goes sometimes to the extreme!

    Unger again writes: "The priest is not to marry a widow or a divorcee, but an unmarried woman or the widow of a priest. Strict sanctity of life for ministry for God in the kingdom temple will be stressed in accord with all other details of the Temple's construction and the ministry of its personnel in the coming age of righteousness and worldwide peace (Isa. 11:9; cf. 2:3)."

   Ezekiel 44:25 says that the priests of Zadok are not to touch a dead body during the millennium. One teacher says this is talking about the death of a Gentile only. I do not hold to this view because of what I mentioned above. There is still death in the kingdom for all because death is not eradicated until the eternal state. The teacher you mentioned is trying to use Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Isaiah 65:19 to say that there will be death only for Gentiles and not the Jews, but again, I think this is a too far reach to make a point that does not need to be made! Death will be curbed but not eradicated.

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch (10/11)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Frequency of Taking Communion

Dr. Couch, what is the frequency of taking communion?

ANSWER: The main passage dealing with this is found in 1 Corinthians 11:17-34. While the early church took communion once a week there was no frequency commanded in the NT. Because it was abused probably proves that they were taking communion too often and it became commonplace. Communion was not efficacious for salvation. It was a memorial or a "remembrance," so Christ said (vv. 24-25; Matt. 26:26-28).

A command was given for taking the Lord's supper but the frequency was not stated. Note: "As often as you eat this bread ..." (v. 26), and, "When you come together to eat ..." (v. 33).

The Corinthian church made the communion a time just to eat or have a banquet. They abused the Lord's table. Paul said they came to eat "for the worse" and not for the better (v. 17). They were supposed to be eating and drinking in their own houses before they came to church and partook in the communion. The communion became simply a meal time for many. Paul said because of this, "you despise the church of God, and shame those who have nothing," that is, because some were poor and had no food to eat with everyone else (v. 22). Thus, Paul said, "I could not praise you" (v. 22). He adds that the church was defaming the communion table and were not showing respect to Christ's sacrifice when they came together. Many simply had an orgy (vv. 27-32), "becoming drunk" (v. 21). The church was taking the communion as a supper and in an "unworthy manner" becoming guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord (v. 27).

This is not a problem today in our churches but thinking that the Lord's table somehow adds to salvation is a problem.

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch (11/10)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Revelation 22:15

Dr. Couch, I recently heard of a strange view of Revelation 22:15 that says "the dogs and the sorcerers and immoral persons" out side the new city of Jerusalem has to do with carnal believers who are not allowed inside the new city and its gates. I know of "good guys" who hold to this view.

ANSWER: The verse reads: "Outside [the eternal city of Jerusalem] are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying."

As you well pointed out no Bible scholar worth his salt would hold to the view that this has to do with believers. While we take the Bible literally, it still has illustrations and metaphors to get across these literal concepts.

I point out in my "Handbook to Revelation" that 21:27 is a key to understanding what is going on in 22:15. 21:27 reads: "Nothing unclean and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into [the new, eternal city of Jerusalem], but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life." This is called "a future of emphatic negation."

22:15 is also a form of hyperbole as well as a metaphor. The lost are in hell. But the point is that nothing sinful, unclean, or evil, even if it were not confined to hell, shall ever enter the new Jerusalem. This is a form of exaggeration in order to get across a point.

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch (11/10)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Redeemed in the Old Testament

Dr. Couch, what does it mean in the OT to be redeemed?

ANSWER:  Great question! The word in Hebrew is ga'al and it means to buy back as a field or a farm that had been sold. This is well illustrated in Leviticus 25:25. In redeeming an individual blood is always required. The OT gives us pictures of the redemption that Christ would accomplish for us when He went to the cross.

   The NT word is "lutroo." It can be translated "ransom" or "redeem," with the idea of purchasing a slave out of the market place. Or, out of the market place of sin. Jesus gave His life "as a ransom for many" (Matt. 20:28). Christ "having obtained eternal redemption for us" (Heb. 9:12).

   Titus 2:14 is a great passage on the subject: Christ "gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession." The question: is this a positional or experiential redemption? It is a positional redemption in that we now have a new position with Him because of what He did for us. We in our daily experiences can still sin and do wrong, but we are thoroughly and eternally redeemed positionally before Him.

   "Redeem" ("lutroo") is the word that refers to giving a ransom, especially for the release of prisoners of war, slaves, and debtors. Lutroo is the price of release for the liberation of a prisoner. Generally, the release is determined by law or the "right of the sovereign." Jesus actually gave Himself as the ransom price. He was willing to pay the debt of our sins before the sovereign God.

   Christ made it clear to His disciples that "the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a "ransom" for many (Matt. 20:28; Mark 10:45). Peter also alludes to Isaiah 53 and adds that the Lord's "redemption" of us was not "with perishable things like silver or gold … but with the precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ (1 Pet. 1:18-19).

   The writer of Hebrews concludes that Christ "entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption … who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God" (9:12-14). Redemption is one of the greatest doctrines that secures our eternal salvation. Without it, there is no eternal life with Christ.

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch (11/10)

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Providence of God

Dr. Couch, someone has said that Psalm 104 is a great psalm on the Providence of God in His world. Do you agree?

ANSWER:  Absolutely. This is a great poetic passage but it is certainly true and real as to how the Lord manages His world. The chapter says:

   God unfolds His world like a curtain (v. 2) and builds it up like a great house (v. 3). The foundation of the earth is gravity and He has established the world upon that foundation (v. 5). He caused the hills to rise (v. 8) and causes by gravity the springs to flow between the mountains (v. 10). No, the passage does not mention gravity but that is what is implied and what we can see today.

   The Lord causes the grass to grow to feed the animals (v. 14) and for the vegetation for the labor of mankind (v. 14b). By this Providence He "may bring forth food from the earth" because of the water He provides (v. 14c). Because of the tilt of the earth, the Lord produces wine "that He may sustain man's heart" (v. 15). The trees drink their fill of water (v. 16); He made the moon for their seasons (v. 19) and darkness in order to allow "the young lions to prowl about" (v. 20).

   The entire system of the earth's living system comes about by God's wisdom. His many works—He has made them all (v. 24). He "made the sea, great and broad, in which are swarms without number. Animals both small and great" (v. 25).

   "The glory of the Lord endures forever" (v. 31). Therefore "Let my meditation be pleasing to Him; as for me, I shall be glad in the Lord" (v. 34).

   What great truths pour off the pages of Psalm 104!

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch (11/10)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Conversion and Born Again

Dr. Couch, what is the difference between conversion and being born again?

ANSWER:  In Webster's Dictionary the popular use of the word "conversion" has to do with turning from one religion to another.

   But the biblical word ("strepho, epistrepho") simply means to "turn around,
turn back." Some think it means "to repent" ("metanoeo") but actually the two words are used together in Acts 3:19 by Peter. "Repent therefore and return ("be converted") that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord."

   The simple word "strepho" is used only one time as "conversion," and that is in Matthew 18:3: "Except you be converted, and become as children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."
   With "epistrepho" ("to turn, be converted") we find the word specifically used in Acts 3:19; 9:35; 11:21; 26:20, and, in 2 Cor. 3:16, 1 Thess. 1:9, James 5:20; 1 Peter 2:25.

   Conversion is not synonymous with "repent" (metanoeo," "with the mind," or "change the mind"), though it may seem similar. Conversion appears to have the idea of "to change one's physical direction while repent appears to have the idea of "changing the thinking process." Since both words are used in Acts 3:19 they may be working together in the spiritual renewal process.

   "To be born again" implies there are two births. One is physical and the other is spiritual. When we are converted and believe in Christ we become another creature, a new creature. "Born again" is from two words ("gennao" and "again"). The word "again" is "anothen" and means "from the first," "over again," "from above" (from heaven). Key passages are John 3:3 and 3:6. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." John 3:3: "Unless one should be born again ..."

   In John 3 the Passive Voice is used often with "born again." The action is coming upon the individual from an external source. It is something that happens to one by the Holy Spirit. Can a child "birth" itself out of the womb? Of course not! So we have the external work of the Spirit done upon us from above.   

   Often Catholics or Jews speak of a conversion in which they mean that one changes religion. It is very mechanical and generally is not referring to that which is spiritual. God's Spirit is working within us, and this is very important when we are trying to understand what the Bible is saying.

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch (11/10)

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Dr. Couch, when did incest stop in the Bible? Is there a verse that would tell us?

ANSWER:  Intermarriage between siblings is not stated but it is implied in the early chapters of Genesis. This would be the only way the race could begin to perpetuate itself. Abraham married a half-sister, Sarah, who had the same father as Abraham (Gen. 11:20-25:10).

   Lot's daughters got their father drunk and both had sex with him for the reason "that we may preserve our family through our father" (19:34). Not only was their reasoning sinful but the consequences were as well. Their children were named Moab ("from the father") and Ben-ammi ("son of my people"), Ben-ammi's children were the Ammonites (vv. 37-38).

   Abraham's family had been pagans in Ur so the marriage between him and Sarah was wrong but there was no prohibition about it known by Abraham.

   Incest was especially destructive among the Canaanites and the Egyptians, and was by the Law in Leviticus 18, prohibited among the Israelites. It was banned between mother, stepmother, sister, half-sister, daughter-in-law, granddaughter, and aunt by blood.

   Why was it allowed at the first of the human race? Apparently it was not as emotionally destructive at first but later it would be a twisted and perverted practice that would destroy relationships. Sexual emotional issues are powerful, and only immoral habits would follow. When incest is practiced to the extreme, it can produce physically harmed offspring. Where it is practiced today it virtually destroys the culture that has no prohibitions against it.

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch (11/10)

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Seven Churches and Time Periods

Dr. Couch, do you believe that the seven churches in Revelation represent time-periods of church history?

ANSWER:  This was a common view of Bible teachers some generations ago but there is no evidence, in history, or in the context of the book of Revelation, that this would be the case. Having taught graduate church history for decades I don't see these churches lining up with history. However it is true that the problems of these congregations can be found throughout church history, and even today in various assemblies. I have to put an explanation to that, however. Many things they were fighting cannot be found in churches today!

   One of the rules of hermeneutics is that, if these churches have prophetic significance for the outline of church history there would have to be some kind of indication in the passages that would tell you that this is the case. And there are no such indications in the verses. The critics would say that we are just guessing, which indeed we would be doing! This is interpreting by eisegesis, that is, be putting an idea into the text rather than letting the text speak to you (exegesis).

   I do not fault those who hold to the "historic-church" view of Revelation 2-3 but I don't hold to that position.

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch  (11/10)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Choosing Your Church Membership

Dr. Couch, why do believers stay in churches that do not fully teach the Word of God when they have an opportunity to attend a Bible teaching church down the street?

ANSWER: The answer is complicated because of the nature of people. A lot of people stay in their Baptist church because that is their tradition and they are not looking for the right thing when it comes to selecting a church. They want to be in a "busy bee" church with a lot of activity. Or, they like the music and entertainment over against the teaching of the Word. They remain in a church because this is where grandma went, they like the people, the pastor is a good guy, they have a lot of supers and feeding, they like the social environment, they can be the big dog in a little kennel, etc.

Generally, tradition is the main reason. They feel comfy there and do not evaluate what is really going on in the church. In other words, teaching is the last issue on the list, over against some of the things I've listed above.

Most people have no idea how to evaluate a church doctrinally. Doctrine is the last on the list of how they look at a church. I know some people who returned to a Baptist church that does not teach the doctrines of the rapture of the church, the seven year tribulation, or the coming kingdom reign of Christ. These are not important issues to them.

The Bible Knowledge Commentary makes an excellent point about 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 and those in the church who have fallen asleep. Paul is not referring to sin per se, but to the fact that the believer is asleep in regard to the important issue of the return of Christ and His earthly reign. They just don't care about or believe in His coming back to establish the Davidic kingdom is an urgent subject. They have spiritual lethargy, They are not watchful and soberly waiting for the Lord's return. They are not self-disciplined, they are passive and just marking time. They think they are "spiritual" but they are not!

They go in and out of the church, having little response as to what is taking place around them. They are not spiritually awake!

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch (11/10)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Dr. Couch, it seems that Americans are too unthankful. Do you agree?

ANSWER: Paul reminds Timothy that marriage and food is given to us by God, created by Him, therefore we should gratefully share our bounty, that is, we who are "those who believe and know the truth" (1 Tim. 4:3). "Men," refers to the world and the lost, and here in this verse, are those who forbid marriage. The Greek is stronger. "Forbid" is "kaluo" and means "to prevent, hinder, restrain, deny, clip, lop off." This is happening in America now.

Over 50% of people are just living together without marriage. 50% of all children born in this country are from unwed couples. The results of this promiscuity, this sleeping around, is that 50% of young people have some form of venereal diseases. Many of these diseases are incurable.

Paul adds that "everything created by God is good and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude" (v. 4). Nicoll adds:

"Paul does not merely desire to vindicate the use of some of God's creatures for them that believe, but the use of all of God's creatures, so far as they are not physically injurious. 'God saw every thing that He made, and behold, it was very good'" (Gen. 1:31).

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch (11/10)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Talmud and Midrash

Dr. Couch, what is the Talmud and the Midrash?

ANSWER: The body of Hebrew laws, civil and canonical, is based on the Torah, the Law of Moses, or the Pentateuch, the first five books of our Bible—Genesis through Deuteronomy. The Talmud is like a commentary based on the learned opinions and decisions of Jewish teachers from around 300 BC until 500 AD. The word "Talmud" means "teaching" or "doctrine."

The Talmud is divided into two parts: (1) the Mishnah meaning "the repetition or explanation." This is a collection or digest of "oral laws" traditions and explanations of OT Scripture. (2) the Gemara, meaning "the supplement", a further commentary on the preceding part, the Mishnah.

The Midrash is also a formal doctrinal and "preaching" exposition of the Hebrew Scriptures written in Hebrew or Aramaic (which is a language related to Hebrew). The Midrash is a commentary not simply a translation. The Midrash is a further expansion of the Law of Moses.

I believe commentaries on the Old and New Testaments are helpful in giving us an understanding of the Bible. But they do not become the Bible itself! Commentaries are simply "helps" that we do not take as authoritative. But the Jews begin to see these writings as having absolute authority as if they were the Word of God itself!

The Midrash flourished from about 100 BC to 300 AD. This was at first an oral writing but was then turned into permanent written form. These were the earliest synagogue readings or "sermons" that were quoted and read to the common people in their assemblies.

Unfortunately, the people moved farther and farther away from reading the OT Scriptures themselves to simply reading these commentaries and avoiding the OT manuscripts specifically. In other words, the commentaries became authoritative and the writings of the prophets who wrote under the guidance of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit began to be ignored. This specifically has happened also in Catholicism. What the Church Fathers say has more weight than the prophets or the apostles!

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch (11/10)

Christ the King

Dr. Couch, is Christ the "king" over the church, as might be hinted at in Revelation 1:6?

ANSWER: This passages says that the church believers are "a kingdom, priests to [Christ's] God and Father." We are "a" kingdom but not "the" kingdom, i.e., the Millennial earthly reign of Christ over the nation of Israel! As priests, we represent God to others, and others to God. But this does not make Christ our King as He will be when He rules and reigns over the kingdom of His earthly father David.

This idea leads some to say "He is king in our hearts," a concept the Bible does not bring forth. I have practiced in my interpretative life to try to speak only where the Bible speaks and not to make a leap to something that it does not put forward. Where the Bible speaks, I speak; where it does not speak, I don't speak!

Over domestic relations Christ is the head of the husband, and the husband is the head of the woman (1 Cor. 11:3). Christ is said in several places to be Head of "all things" (Co. 2:10; Eph. 1:22) and He is head of the church (4:15; Col. 1:18). But the Bible does not say He is the king over the church. The idea of a king has a specific picture in mind. It implies a certain kingship rule that is not seen in the idea of "the body of Christ" with Him as its Head!

I care less what the Covenant theologians think; I am not out to impress or to placate them. I am not out to compromise with them on their view of the kingdom. I will not do what they do, and that is, leap to an idea where the Word of God does not leap!

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch (11/10)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Audience of the Book of Hebrews

Dr. Couch, to whom was the book of Hebrews written? Was it to Christian Jews who were about to go back to Judaism, or to Jews who had not believed at all?

ANSWER:  I've pondered this for years but came up with the conclusion long ago that the book was written to unsaved Jews who admired Christ, and thought He was a good prophet, but who had not trusted Him as their Savior and Messiah. Some of the early church fathers thought the same. And, one of the greatest Greek teachers of the past century agreed, Dr. Kenneth Wuest. He wrote:

   "These Jews,while making a profession, had no faith, and under the pressure of persecution, were in danger of renouncing the intellectual assent which they gave to the NT and then be returning to the first Testament, the law. The writer exhorts the first century Jew to enter, not the Holy of Holies of the temple on earth, but the Holy of Holies of heaven. These unsaved Jews were under the stress of persecution, and in danger of renouncing their 'profession' and returning to the abrogated sacrifices of the Levitical system."

   Wuest said much more but space is limited here. Just read the book carefully and notice the warning passages, that warn about having no faith at all. They were then urged to "trust" in Christ because they had not done so from the beginning. Put all preconceived notions aside and just read the text. After translating the entire book in graduate school, I realized that my position was correct. But many just can't get out of their minds that the book was addressing Christians. While it is true that the book was turned over to believers to use as a witnessing tool, and as an evangelic writing, the main thrust was aimed at the unbelieving Jews!

   There are some Jewish Christians who are well-known today who are not critical in their studies and who hold that the book was written to believing Jews who were about to fall back into the law. But there is not one verse that would say that. The author of Hebrews points out that he was with those Jews who had faith in Christ and was not with the unbelievers. He says "But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul" (10:39). He also says "Take care, brother (Jews), lest there should be in any one of you an evil, UNBELIEVING heart, in falling away from the living God" (3:12). The OT saints were an example of not having faith. They "hardened their hearts" (3:15). They were those to whom God swore that they should "not enter His rest, but to those who were DISOBEDIENT (DISBELIEVING)" (vv. 18-19).

   "So we see that they were not able to enter 'God's rest' because of UNBELIEF" (v. 19). Finally, the "word that they heard did not profit them, because it was not united BY FAITH in those who heard" (4:1-2). Read all of 3:7-4:8.

   Thanks for asking, and be sure and THINK before you make a statement about the book of Hebrews!
   Dr. Mal Couch (11/10)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Church of Christ

Dr. Couch, what is the Church of Christ?

ANSWER:  While they deny they are a denomination, they are a denomination! They used to be called the Campbell-ites, from the founder Alexander Campbell (1788-1866). Each Church of Christ may have different doctrinal ideas but generally, they hold to five points for salvation. (1) You must believe in Christ, (2) Be baptized in the Church of Christ, (3) Repent, (4) Confess, and (5) Join their church.

   Their creed is: "Where the Scriptures speak we speak, and where the Scriptures are silent we are silent." While this may sound good, they really do not hold to that. And too, they can be very wooden-headed. For example, since the NT does not speak of music in the church, they do not believe in using musical instruments. One could argue, the NT does not speak of using electricity in the church, so therefore, we should not use electricity.

   The Church of Christ are famous for splits and counter-splits. They pick on each other. They push doctrines up against the wall and fight and fuss over minor points.

   My main complaints are about their un-biblical view of salvation, and their un-biblical view of the return of Christ. They are amillennial in prophecy and "almost" do not believe in studying the OT, though that may be a bit unfair. Because of their "tight" view on salvation they would say that those who are not Church of Christ are not saved.

   They are unable to discuss doctrine because they believe that such is un-biblical. Because of their false view of baptism, they can easily be defeated in a discussion by taking them to 1 Corinthians 1:12-17. Some years ago, I took a Church of Christ guy to this passage and after he read the verses, he got literally physically sick and just walked out of the room. They cannot answer what Paul is saying in these verses.

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch (11/10)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Satan's Fall and the Age of the Earth

Dr. Couch, when did Satan fall? And is the earth older than 6,000 years?

ANSWER:  Almost all evangelical scholars believe that Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 speak about the fall of Satan in compressed, abbreviated, poetic language. His fall was an actual event but it is condensed in these OT passages. No date is assigned but it certainly could have been before the creation of the universe, eons before the world was made, or shortly before that time. However, the repercussions touched the earth and the residences of the earth.

   After Satan had tempted Eve by using the serpent, he then remained on earth to tempt the human species. He was "cut down to the earth (Isa. 14:12) and he "weakened the nations" (v. 12b). Those who saw his activities said "Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms?" (v. 16). The answer is of course, Yes!

   In Ezekiel 28 it is said that Satan was "in Eden, the garden of God" (v. 13). When he was in heaven, before his fall, he was clothed with splendid attire (vv. 13-14). He was an "anointed cherub (angel) and a created being" (v. 15). After his rebellion he was cast to the earth and he influenced rulers (v. 17). He  lives out "a multitude of iniquities in unrighteousness" (v. 18). He is known be the peoples of the earth, who then "are appalled" at him. His time is limited and he "will soon be no more" (v. 19).

   Every theology of pagan religions speaks of Satan. He is not unknown among men!

   As to the date of the earth, almost every evangelical scholar has a different age, though most would say that earth is early in its creation. One argument is that there are gaps in the genealogies in Genesis. (This is not the Gap theory!) To try to be specific in dating the age of the earth is a tall order! But again, I would simply point out that no one can be dogmatic on this issue. The earth is certainly young!

   Thank you for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch   (11/10)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Tolerance and Truth

Dr. Couch, tolerance seems to be the word for today. No one can speak the truth with strong conviction as the apostle Paul in the NT. What do you say?

ANSWER:  Paul comes out swinging with strong words in his epistles against sin and its consequences. For example, in 1 Timothy 1, he makes it clear that evil is thoroughly evil and must be addressed. He says that the law was righteous but it was given for those who were unrighteous and rebellious (1:9). He adds, the law was "for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers and mothers, for murderers, and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted."

   Paul is saying that the gospel, and its indictment against the sins he has just listed, is to be applied to the culture and the society, not just for the acceptance within the church. These are sins that the gospel and the Word of God speaks against. Whether the culture likes it or not, these are sins that must be spoken against first by the Bible, and then by believers who are living in this world.

   We presently have congressmen and judges in high places who are homosexuals and we should be able to speak out against them with the authority of the law of Scripture, that seems to be what Paul is saying in these passages.

   We have been far too silent and passive. And I believe that we are all too afraid to address head-on the sinful state of our society. We have become quiet and do not have the ability to be vocal when the time arises.

   Because of this silence, we will pay the price of seeing our nation sink deeper and deeper into the abyss of evil.

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch (11/10)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Resurrection and the Rapture

Dr. Couch, someone has said the word "resurrection" in Philippians 3:11 may refer to the rapture of the church. What do you say?

ANSWER:  This word "resurrection" here is used only one time in the NT. It is a tri-pound Greek word "out-up-stand" or "out-resurrection." This could not refer to the rapture for several reasons. First it follows Paul's discussion of Christ's resurrection from the grave in verse 10. "That I might know Him, the power of His resurrection ..."

   While it is true that the resurrection of church saints takes place at around the same time as the rapture, they are two distinct happenings. Paul writes: when the trumpet sounds "the dead in Christ shall rise first and then we who are alive shall be caught up (raptured) together with them" (1 Thess. 4:16-17). The rapture is not a resurrection though, for the church, they will happen nearly at the same time, when the trumpet sounds.

   Also, in Philippians 3:11 Paul speaks of "the resurrection from the dead." The rapture does not take us from "the dead." We are alive when it happens!

   The apostle Paul often makes tri-pound or compound new words for emphasis. And this is what he does here in 3:11. But too, it comes right after Paul's discussion of Christ's resurrection in verse 10.

   Nicoll writes "The Resurrection is the apostle's goal, for it will mean perfect, unbroken knowledge of Christ and fellowship with Him."

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch (11/10)