Sunday, January 30, 2011

Baptism and Regeneration

Dr. Couch, is the baptism of the Holy Spirit and regeneration the same?

ANSWER: No, but they both happen instantly upon salvation. Baptism of the Spirit has to do only with the church and not with Israel. The OT saints are not said to be baptism into Christ or His body. This does a cleansing work (baptism) on the believer and imparts the gifts of the Spirit. The key passage is 1 Cor. 12:12-27, and on.

Note some of the phrases: "One body, many members," "God has composed the body." "Should be no division in the body." "You are Christ's body and individual members of it." "God has appointed in the church ..."

Regeneration is mainly found in Titus 3:5. Spirit baptism and regeneration are two different works. From the Greek: "He has saved us according to His mercy by the washing of the 'again birth,' the "rebirth." The word "generation" is in the word "again-birth [genesia]" and the other word is "again making," renewing, or "remaking" done by the Holy Spirit. The Greek word here is "the up-newing". The word "new" is in this second word.

From genesia we get the English word "to generate."

When the rapture takes place only those "in Christ" are taken up, not the OT saints. In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 we have actually two doctrines mentioned. (1) the fact that when Christ comes He has with Him the souls and spirits of "those who have fallen asleep 'in Jesus'" (v. 14), the church saints. And they receive their new bodies to return with Him back to glory. And when the rapture trumpet sounds the "dead in Christ" shall rise first (v. 16). "We who are alive," the church saints who have not died, shall be caught up (harpazo, raptured) in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we (the church saints) shall always be with the Lord (v. 17).

Thanks for asking.
—Dr. Mal Couch (2/11)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Power and Wisdom

Dr. Couch, I have two questions on 1 Corinthians 2:1-4: Do we have the same power and wisdom Paul spoke of in these verses? Paul said that he did not go to the Corinthians with persuasive human wisdom but with the power of the Spirit and of God. Is the "we" in verse 6 all and any believer who went to Corinth with Paul, or is he referring to the other apostles as well? Do all believers have apostolic wisdom or is this only for the apostles?

ANSWER: All believers can have wisdom but apostolic authority and wisdom is something else.

Many argue that we today, have that same Spirit guided wisdom and can give revelation just as the apostles did, as well as Paul. But the inspiration of Scripture comes from the writings of the apostles, including Paul, and not the average believer, though the Spirit is certainly working with us in giving forth truth, but we have to be careful, we are not writing-inspired apostles. Spiritual revelation was only given to the apostles and not us today.

The Corinthian church knew that Paul was referring to the other apostles. We can show verses that substantiate this.

Paul asks the Corinthians were they the first to receive the word of God, or had it come to them only? (14:16). It went to many people before it arrived in the Corinthian church. Anyone who does not recognize that Paul was giving to them "the Lord's commandment" (v. 37) is not recognized by the Lord (v. 38). He has an apostolic mission as a writing disciple—something that others do not have.

Because Paul was a late-comer he says that he was "the least of an apostle" since he had persecuted the church of the Lord (15:9). But the Lord still appeared unto him as one with authority (v. 8). By God's grace "he is what he is" (v. 10a). In fact, he labored even more than the other apostles and disciples (v. 10). With God-given authority, "the grace of God was given to him" to be a writing apostle (v. 10b). He adds, "Whether then it was I (alone) or they (the other apostles), we preach[ed] and so you believed" (v. 11). They believed because Paul was using his authority and giving them what the Lord wished him to say!

By putting himself forward, and boasting, Paul had "become foolish" being compelled by the Corinthians to defend his position (2 Cor. 12:11a). He was not "inferior to the most eminent apostles, even though "he was a nobody" (v. 11b). The signs of a true apostle were performed before the Corinthians through Paul "with all patience, by signs and wonders and miracles" (v. 12). The "true apostles" were the big apostles; this is not referring to us!

Paul had made three trips to the Corinthian church (13:1a) and others confirmed his authority, "Every fact is to be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witness" (v. 1b). It was Christ who was speaking in Paul (13:3). Paul was weak in his ministry in the eyes of the Corinthians but "mighty" in helping them grow up (v. 3b). God's power, was directed toward the Corinthians, through Paul (v. 4b). Paul was writing to the Corinthians, though absent from them, "in accordance with the authority which the Lord gave him, for building up [the church] and not for tearing [it] down" (v. 10).

Thanks for asking,
Dr. Mal Couch (1/11)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Positional Sins

Dr. Couch, what is this "forgiving men their transgressions" in Matthew 6:14 all about? Can we forgive men of their Positional sins so that they can go to heaven?

ANSWER: The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) mainly has to do with how the Jews related to each other. It is not about them possessing authority to forgive men of their sins so that they can go to heaven. The Beatitudes (vv. 3-12) that begin chapter 5 start out dealing mainly with how people treat each other. Note the down-to-earth exhortations: "Make friends quickly with your opponent at law" (5:25). "You shall love your neighbor" (5:43). "Beware of PRACTICING your righteousness before men" (6:1). "When you give alms" (6:3). "When you pray" (6:6). Christ's discussion is about PRACTICING righteousness in the Walk!

Then 6:14-15: "For if you forgive men for their transgressions [in their Walk], your heavenly Father will also forgive you [in your Walk]. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions [in your walk]."

This has to do with sin between men in their relationships, not about forgiveness for receiving salvation. Compare Luke 17:3-4. Forgiving comes by repentance or confession. This restores fellowship or the relationship. This is similar to 1 John 1:9. In the walk confession and forgiveness restores our fellowship. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteousness to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" in our Christian walk. The walk is implied, and is clear, in the context: "IF WE SAY THAT WE HAVE NOT SINNED (in the Christian walk), we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us." This is not about our POSITION in Christ but about our WALK (EXPERIENCE) with Christ.

The same in Matthew 6:14. The passage is about the issue of fellowship with each other. By the way, note Luke 17:3-4 again. "If the brother SINS." And "If he SINS against you ..." Then IF HE REPENTS of that sin against you, you are to forgive him!

Anyone who thinks Matthew 6:14 is about getting to heaven they are confused over the salvation POSITION and the Christian living WALK in the spiritual life.

In his Matthew commentary, my old Greek teacher, Dr. Stanley Toussaint, well explained what is going on in the Sermon on the Mount: "Judicial forgiveness is not in view (Acts 10:43) but fellowship (1 John 1:5-9). It is impossible for one to be in fellowship with God as long as he harbors ill will in his heart."

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch (1/11)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Christ on the Throne

Dr. Couch, is Christ presently seated on His throne, and, what about "His authority" as mentioned in Matthew 28:18?

ANSWER: No. He is on His Father's throne as mentioned in Psalm 110:1-2. Christ said in Revelation 3:21: "I have sat down with My Father on His throne." Christ's throne is the earthly, Davidic throne, on which He will sit when His second coming takes place. He told His disciples: "When the Son of Man (the Messiah) comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will SIT ON HIS GLORIOUS THRONE. And the Nations will be gathered before Him, … Then the King will say to those on His right ... Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from before the foundation of the world" (Matt. 25:31-34).

Notice also, that Christ will receive from His Father "the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob (Israel) forever; and His kingdom will have no end" (Luke 1:32-33).

All of this is future and yet to take place.

In Matthew 28:18, "Authority" is a bad translation. The Greek word "exousia" is better translated as "power" with "authority" a lesser meaning. Verse 19 better reads: "Having gone then, you disciple all the nations ..." By Christ's power they will be going, and then, they will create disciples 'from' all the nations."

Christ is exercising His power as the sovereign Son of the Father but this is not about His reigning on the throne of His earthly father David. His present power will be activated to do a specific job, and that is, to create disciples.

Christ presently is not using His power to make all things perfect and right. He has not totally subdued sin, or the work of Satan. Satan is still "the god of this world" (2 Cor. 4:4) and he is the ruler of this world (John 12:31) as well as, the "whole world lies with the evil one" (1 John 5:19).

For Jesus to have such power does not mean He is exercising it, though He will someday. The demons are still active, and so is Satan, and so are the forces of evil in the nations. Nicoll seems to have it right when he says about Matthew 28:18-19: "But so far as earth is concerned, the dominion is only a matter of right or theory, but it is to be worked out in time. The commission to the Apostles arises out of the power claimed, that is, all power has been given to "Me on earth, go you disciples therefore and make the power a reality, make disciples of all the nations."

In any form or fashion Christ is not on His throne in part or in whole! He is carrying history forward but He is not subduing everything, though the power has been given, it is not being exercised! That will happen later. The power that Christ has is about the creation of disciples throughout the world in this dispensation.

Thanks for asking,
Dr. Mal Couch (1/11)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Sanctified by the Law of Moses

Dr. Couch, would we say that the Jews in the Old Testament were sanctified by the Law of Moses, if they kept it?

ANSWER:  I don't think so. Looking up all the words for "sanctification" in the OT, we do not find that idea mentioned. The Lord says the seventh day of the week is to be sanctified, He is sanctified in Israel, the sons of Israel would be sanctified, but the work of the Law in sanctifying Israel is not mentioned.

   In Hebrew, the word "sanctify" and its related words, is Ko'desh. It means "to be holy," "to set something aside," thus making it unique or special.

   In the NT there is Positional Sanctification that takes place when one accepts Christ as Savior. And then there is Progressive Sanctification, in both the OT and the NT, that is, we are to become more and more sanctified as we grow or mature. This was to be true for both the Jews in the OT and for the Christians in the NT.

   The OT Jews were told "Be sanctified" or "Be holy; for I am holy" (Lev. 11:44), and for Christians in the NT (and quoting Leviticus 11:44), we read "Be holy, for I am holy" (1 Pet. 1:15-16).

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch  (1/11)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Progressively Sanctified

Dr. Couch, how were the OT believers progressively sanctified?

ANSWER:  To be sanctified means "to be holy." The Hebrew word is Ko'desh and all its variants have to do with being holy, to sanctify, or to be sanctified. The main Hebrew verses are in Leviticus 11:44; 19:2 which say "Be holy; for I am holy." In the context of 11:44 it has to do with staying clean from eating unclean animals. The verse before says "Do not render yourselves detestable" by eating unclean things. The reason is that it is God who brought the Jews "up from the land of Egypt, … thus you shall be holy for I am holy" (v. 45). Further, this is part of the Mosaic law. In other words, they were to keep the law in order to be clean or holy. Verse 46 says "This is the law regarding the animal and the bird, ..."

   Verse 44 then is used by Peter to tell church saints that they are to be holy. Peter writes "As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy'" (1 Pet. 1:14-16).

   Peter applies the Leviticus 11 passage on being holy and not eating unclean things to the believer to remind them to be morally holy in all things. If I said that this was progressive holiness for the OT saints, I meant it in the sense that no one can become instantly holy in their spiritual walk. We progressively walk toward holiness, and so did the OT saints. And even with this, no one becomes holy all at once, in fact, no one becomes completely holy in the spiritual walk. We grow in holiness, and so did the OT saints, but no one becomes completely perfect or holy in this life.

   There were OT saints, or holy ones. "As for the holy ones (Ko'deshim) that are in the earth ..." (Psa. 16:3). There are saints in the dispensation of the law, saints in the church dispensation, and there are tribulation saints, those who are saved during the tribulation (Rev. 13:7). While all of these are sanctified or seen as holy, they are not of the same dispensation.

   All believers are saints Positionally, and all saints are growing and learning to Walk in holiness Progressively. Position and Walk are different. Our POSITION before God is established because we are in Christ; our walk is PROGRESSIVE because we are growing in time.

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch  (1/11)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Salvation During the Tribulation

Dr. Couch, will people have an opportunity to be saved during the tribulation?

ANSWER:  Yes, indeed, during every dispensation there is an opportunity to be saved. See Revelation 14:6-7. This may be the last chance for the lost to accept the gospel. In verse 6 it sounds like there is "another" gospel besides the one we all know about. But actually, the Greek text simply reads "having gospel (that is) eternal (gospel) to preach to those who live on the earth ..." The gospel of Christ is characterized as a gospel that lasts forever. It is eternal! And people are saved only by it no matter what dispensation they live in.

   Notice the gospel will be preached to the entire earth, "to every nation and tribe and tongue and people." To believe is to "fear God, and give Him glory." "Judgment is coming, thus belief is to fear Him and worship Him. Notice how God is classified as the Creator, He "made the heaven and the earth, and sea and springs of water." While technically, the gospel is about the death and resurrection of Christ for sinners, the gospel encompasses a total presentation of the God who saves men. He made men as well, and, He is to be feared and worshiped.

   Actually John wrote that "the hour of judgment came" (Aorist Tense, not a Perfect Tense). At the point of Revelation 14, it had already arrived, it was time for human judgment to begin. Men could not escape judgment, it had come upon the human race.

   Thanks for asking.
   Dr. Mal Couch  (1/11)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Adding Words to Verses

Dr. Couch, is there not confusion when words are added to verses, even to make those verses more clear? Does this not confuse people who are trying to figure out what the Bible is saying? They may think that someone is tampering with the Bible.

ANSWER:  This points to the fact that pastors, and all Bible teachers, are teachers of the Word when they truly know the Bible from the Hebrew and Greek text. It must be remembered that when we read a Bible translation that it has limitations. The Greek (or Hebrew) grammar expands the meaning. There are tenses, moods, cases, grammar, voices, persons, and number. And if the teacher does not expand these elements and show to the reader how they work in translation, the student is short-changed and does not get precisely what the Bible is saying. That is why when I was coming up in the ranks no one who was going to be a pastor, or a Bible teacher, failed to study Hebrew and Greek in order to fully understand what the Bible verses were saying.

   To expand Bible verses according to the grammar is important. No one would dare enter the pulpit unless he had those skills. Those skills are now dying and being forgotten. The layman has to be told that he must trust the scholar to some degree or he will not get the full picture of what a passage is teaching and saying by the Holy Spirit.

   Laymen can get pretty far down the road by purchasing good commentaries and Bible reference material.

   We really do the same thing when it comes to science. Behind the working of your car are the engineers and scientists who designed and put the car together on the basis of science, otherwise, you don't have a car! You trust that scientist when you turn the key on. Science has made the car work. The same with Bible study, in fact, theology used to be called "the Queen of the Sciences" because so much scientific study goes into Bible study: History, geography, word origins, grammar, sociology, etc.

   Here is an illustration that may get the point across: the translation of John 3:16: "For thus, loved the God the world (culture), for this reason, the Son, the only born One, He gave, in order that whoever, the one who is believing into Him, should himself not be destroyed, but that he might possess life eternal."

   When I decided to go into the ministry I was told that my bachelors degree should be Social Science because it would give me these disciplines as a background for Bible study. And this was right. Those disciplines helped me immensely.

   I hope this helps.
   Thank you, Dr. Mal Couch (1/11)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Justification and Being Born Again

Dr. Couch, what is the difference between Justification and being born again? Or is there a difference?


"Justification" is a legal term that shows God has done something to the believer that makes him acquitted, declared righteous, that satisfies His divine requirement. Being "born again" has to do with spiritually becoming a child of God.

The Greek words "righteous, righteousness, just, justification, justify" all come from the one word "to legally acquit" (dikaios). These Greek words are all related to the Hebrew word "tsadeek" as found in Genesis 15:6. "Abraham believed God and "it was reckoned," "accounted," "declared to" him for "righteousness."

In other words, the Lord declared Abraham as righteous in His divine mind, or divine declaration. Abraham then was seen as righteous in the eyes of God. My illustration below helps me understand what God does when He declares one righteous:

If you put a million dollars in my bank account, it could be said that I now have a million dollars applied to my account! But I didn't earn it; it was applied to me; or reckoned, account to me; I did not work for it, but I am now seen as a millionaire. If you looked at my bank account you would see me as a millionaire though I did not earn it (I could not work for it) but it is now seen as mine by God's declaration!

We do not earn righteousness by works; it is the righteousness of God that comes through Christ and is given to us in His divine purpose. God now sees me as righteous!
The apostle Paul said that Abraham's faith was "counted, imputed to him for righteousness" (Rom. 4: 3, 5).

And "God imputed, accounted righteousness to him without works" (v. 9).

And "not by works of righteousness are we saved" (Titus 3:5).

"Righteousness comes by faith [not by works]" (Heb. 11:7).

"Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness" (James 2:23).


"To be born again" means "to be again birthed." By this, I become a child of God and I am related to Him by faith. There are two classes of people in the world. Those born of God by faith and those who are the children of the devil (1 John 3:10). By faith, we are now sons of God (v. 2).

God has exercised His power whereby we become children of God (John 1:12). Before, we were by nature children of wrath (that is, due wrath) (Eph. 2:3). We are now "followers of God, as dear children (5:1), and we are to walk as children of light (v. 8).

Both expressions, (1) to be made righteous, and (2) to be born again, work together in Titus 3:5, though they are separate ideas. The verse reads:

"He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done (in, by means of) righteousness (or righteous acts), but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration (again generating, again birthing, new birth) and renewing (again newing, remaking) of the Holy Spirit."

The expression "children of God," or "child of God" comes from the Greek word "teknon" which is a masculine word. It is sometimes translated as "son" or as "children, child" of God. Take your choice.

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch (1/11)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

How are the Jews Saved?

Dr. Couch, I heard of a view that says the Jews were saved by being obedient to the Law, and that they were saved when they were brought out of Egypt; they acted in a way worthy of their high calling of Law-keeping! How are the Jews saved?

ANSWER: They are saved by personal faith just as Gentiles. There is a national redemption in that the nation was to keep the Law as a whole but in the final analysis, they each must believe in what God said to them, trusting Him, in order to be justified. "Abraham believed God and (his belief) was counted to him as righteousness" (Gen. 15:6). All Jews afterwards were saved in the same way.

We could probably go to hundreds of verses that would show Jews are saved by faith but here are a few. For example Acts 15 and the Jerusalem Council Peter said: "God made no distinction between us (Jews) and them (the Gentiles), cleansing their hearts by faith. … But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, IN THE SAME WAY AS THEY ALSO ARE" (vv. 9, 11).

See also Romans 10:1-14 which is written to the Jews. "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. … But the righteousness based on faith speaks thus, ..." (vv. 4, 6). "The Scripture says, 'Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed" (v. 11).

"Salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Gentile" (Rom. 1:16).

"He saved us not on the basis of works which we have done (by means) of righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of the 'again birthing' and the 'remaking' done by the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5). This is applicable not only for Gentiles but for Jews also!

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch (1/11)