Monday, February 28, 2011

Filling of the Spirit

Dr. Couch, what is the filling of the Spirit in Ephesians 5:18?

Good question. The Greek word is "plaroo" and it means to "fill," or to have control. This is the only place where this word is used in regard to believers after Acts, and after the church had matured. It is a Present Passive Imperative (command) and could be translated: "You be daily (continually) controlled by the Spirit." We are to allow His control to come upon us continually! With the command we know that we are to have some awareness of what the Spirit is doing with us. We are to be conscious of His activity with our heart and soul.

I did not know it but Dr. Harold Hoehner, a good friend of mine who died a few years ago, wrote in his classic Ephesian commentary this:

"The Spirit of God directs and empowers a believer to live a life pleasing to God and His will. Those who live under the control of their flesh will not please God and God does not control their lives. … This is the Spirit's activities realized in and through us. Believers are commanded to be filled by the Spirit so that they will understand the will of the Lord and allow God's control of their lives rather than succumbing to the desires of the flesh. If believers were only filled with wisdom, the influence would be impersonal; however, the filling by the Spirit adds God's personal presence, influence, and enablement to walk wisely, all of which are beneficial to believers and pleasing to God. … To be filled by the Spirit enables the Spirit to have all of the believer: The wise walk, therefore, is one that is characterized by the Holy Spirit's control."

What is the difference of the filling of the Spirit in the book of Acts?

First of all the Greek word for filling in Acts is different but still the same, if that makes sense! It is the word "pimplemi" that is distinctly related to "plaroo." "pimplemi" is used only by Dr. Luke in the Gospel of Luke and Acts. It is like a classical Greek word but all scholars realize that it is virtually just like "plaroo".

The first reference to "pimplemi" is found in Acts 2:4, 4:8, 4:31, 9:17, 13:9. In Acts 2:4 we read that the disciples "were filled, controlled with the Holy Spirit." They were "filled, filled up, controlled" (Aorist Passive Indicative). The action of the Spirit came sovereignly upon them. They were not commanded to be controlled like believers are today, as found in Ephesians 5:18.

Peter then was "controlled" by the Spirit (Acts 4:8) and began to speak. It is an Aorist Passive Participle. This is another sovereign work of the Spirit. Peter does not ask for it, it just happened to him. "The action of the Holy Spirit came suddenly upon him" and he began to speak. The Participle ties the action of the Spirit closely together with Peter speaking. "Peter was characterized as having begun to speak ..."

In Acts 4:31 we read the disciples were "filled, controlled by the Holy Spirit, and began to speak the word of God with boldness." This to is an Aorist Passive Indicative. "They were suddenly controlled by the (sovereign work of the) Spirit" and by this control they began to speak! Nicoll notes that they were controlled that they might speak with boldness. Their prayer was immediately answered. They proceeded to speak (the Past Tense) also implying that they continued to speak. They were filled, controlled with the Holy Spirit who was actually working in the apostles!

In Acts 9:17 Ananias laid his hands on Paul and said he was doing so in order that Paul would "regain his sight, and then be filled (controlled) with the Holy Spirit." The Spirit took over in a sovereign way and "Immediately the scales fell from Paul's eyes … and he began to immediately proclaim Jesus" (vv. 18, 20). This is an Aorist Passive Subjunctive. "That you should be immediately controlled by the Spirit ..."

In 13:9-10 we read that "Paul was controlled by the Spirit and said ..." Again, a sovereign work. This is another Aorist Passive Participle. The force of the Participle: "Paul was characterized as one who was suddenly controlled by the Spirit ..."

I hope this helps. Thanks for asking.
—Dr. Mal Couch (2/11)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

"Spirit of the Holy Gods"

Dr. Couch, is Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4:8-9 speaking of the Holy Spirit or of the "spirit of the holy gods" when he refers to the ability of Daniel to give to him the interpretation of his dream?

ANSWER: The Aramaic is virtually the same as the Hebrew wording. The phrase reads: "Ruach Elahin Kede'Shen." I have always held what the Jewish Rabbis and Dr. Merrill F. Unger have stated about this phrase that is used several times in Daniel. The Rabbis say that Nebuchadnezzar was speaking a polytheistic expression that would be natural for one coming out of paganism as he was so doing. The idea that God was Spirit was known to the pagan world, though distorted by their sinfulness. The American Indians believed in the Great White Spirit! This would tell us that all religions, with distortion, go back to early Genesis. The Spirit of God is mentioned in the first few verses of the story of Creation.

Unger writes: "The difficulty of the passage lies in the fact that Nebuchadnezzar spoke like a pagan who had acquired some notions of the one true God, but whose spiritual history was still in the formative stages. So he employed the epithet 'holy,' which belongs solely to God."

Isaiah uttered his great words: "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of the armies (Hosts), the whole earth is full of His glory" (Isa. 6:3).

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

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Women Bible Teachers

Dr. Couch, can you explain the popularity, and the seeming endorsement by pastors and churches, of women Bible teachers? They seem to have a "body wide ministry." Is there any scriptural support for this?

ANSWER: There is not a problem of women teaching women the Word of God and giving practical biblical guidelines for living the Christian walk. But to be quite frank, I sense that the women teachers that are so popular like to show off their talent. While they attract women to their ministry, I feel that they often also enjoy the fact that some men tune in and like their expositions of Scripture.

Older women have a place in teaching younger women. Paul writes that they can "encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the Word of God may not be dishonored" (Titus 2:4-5). This ministry would set the pattern for what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:4-5). The woman can pray and prophesy, and it would be obvious that this would be with women, and not with men or in a mixed group. "Prophesying" would be teaching in this context, not foretelling of future events that are coming. In this 1 Corinthians 11 context, Paul still puts the woman teacher under the authority of the man or of her husband. She is not to operate alone in her ministry.

Paul adds, "I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet ('unemotional')" (1 Tim. 2:12).

The liberal feminists try to say that the above verses are cultural and not applicable for us today, but this is not so. Looking at the passages closely we find that he is not arguing from the standpoint of culture but from the position of biblical doctrine. These verses stand as guidelines for women today. Women are more emotional and not as objective as men. God wants male leadership in the churches and not feminize the congregations.

Finally, women can teach women, and they should! We can respect this, though I think that there is a not of showmanship going on with the popular women teachers that are seen on TV today.

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

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Palestinian Covenant

Dr. Couch, what is the Palestinian Covenant and is it unconditional? And what does unconditional mean?

ANSWER: Let's back in to these questions. To be unconditional means that there are no human or Jewish conditions to be fulfilled for that covenant to be valid. The Palestinian Covenant is an extension of the Abrahamic Covenant that has three main parts. Promises to Abraham and his descendants concerning (1) a land, (2) a Seed, and (3) a blessing. The Abrahamic Covenant is unconditional in that to fulfill the covenant is not dependent on the faithfulness of Abraham. God will sovereignly bring the covenant to its completion. It is not based on human faithfulness, though the Jews will be believing in the Lord and be faithful to Him when the covenant is finalized in the Kingdom.

The key verses on the Abraham Covenant are found in Genesis 12:1-3. God told Abraham,

"Go to the land which I will show you, and I will make you a great nation (a great Seed), and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."

Deuteronomy 28-30 lets us know that the Abraham Covenant is unconditional and that it will be ultimately fulfilled by the Lord in order to establish the promised Kingdom. Deuteronomy 30:1-9 tells us that God is going to bring the Jews back to their land and that the Jews will obey Him "with all their heart and soul according to all that I command you today, you and your sons" (v. 2). The Lord will do "this and that" in a very sovereign way. Verse 10 is a bad translation. It reads "If you obey the Lord your God to keep His commandments ..." But the "If" is the Hebrew word "key" that should better be translated "When." That is, this will all happen "When they obey the Lord" as performed in a sovereign way by the Lord in the hearts of the Jewish people. In fact, in the side notes of the NAS it says the verse should be translated "For you will obey the Lord ..."

And Unger writes: "The divine redemptive program is not to be frustrated. God's grace will provide a remnant to fulfill the promises of restoration. Israel's disobedience and failure will not avail to overthrow God's purposes of grace."

In his classic work "Things To Come" by J. Dwight Pentecost, we see that this Covenant is unconditional and certain to be fulfilled. Pentecost writes:

"The Palestinian Covenant must be unconditional. It is called by God an eternal covenant in Ezekiel 16:60. This covenant has the guarantee of God that He will will effect the necessary conversion which is essential to its fulfillment. Romans 11:26-27; Hosea 2:14-23; Deuteronomy 30:6, Ezekiel 11:16-21 all make this clear. This conversion is viewed in Scripture as a sovereign act of God and must be acknowledged to be certain because of His integrity.

"From the original statement of the provisions of this covenant, it is easy to see that, on the basis of a literal fulfillment, Israel must be converted as a nation, must be regathered from her world-wide dispersion, must be installed in her land, which she is made to possess, must witness the judgment of her enemies, and must receive the material blessings vouchsafed to her. Since these things have never been fulfilled, and an eternal and unconditional covenant demands a fulfillment, we must provide for just such a program in our outline of future events."

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

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Atonement in the New Testament

Dr. Couch, I understand the word "Atonement" is not used in the NT. Is this correct?

ANSWER: The word is used in the KJV but this is incorrect. The word is used in the OT in many places. In Hebrew the word is "kipper" meaning "to tent, to pitch a tent, spread over, put a cover over." God covers the sins of Israel until Christ comes in order to complete the work of redemption. Our English word "to cover" comes from this word. Sometimes it is translated "reconciliation."

The Day of Atonement comes in the Fall. God forgave for another year Israel's sins. The word is first used in Exodus 29:36. Aaron was to offer a sacrifice as an atonement for a sin offering and he was to purify the altar and make it holy, "consecrate" it. The altar was to be seen as holy because upon it the animal sacrifice was to be offered. The offering represented the death of Christ for the sins of Israel. But of course, they did not see this at that time! To make an atonement here is in the Piel Intensive form and could be translated "For a sin offering, Aaron shall distinctly (intensely) make a 'covering, atonement' for the altar and make it holy ..."

The Jewish people were not to simply make a covering with little thought about it. This was a very important issue with God, Aaron, and Moses!

There is a grammatical surprise in the way "kippur" (atonement) is used in the OT. It is almost always used in what is called the Piel verb form. This makes the action very intense and definite. "An atonement, reconciliation was definitely made ..."

The Lord is very serious about an atonement, covering being carried out. This is an important subject with Him. If Israel's sins as a nation, or as an individual were not covered, God could not bless nor deal with them.

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

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Choosing Elders

Dr. Couch, are elders voted on by the congregation or are they appointed by other elders, or the apostles, in the case of the establishing of the NT churches?

ANSWER: Elders are not to be voted on in churches. That is a congregational system that is not biblical. Sheep do not vote on their shepherds; that does not make sense. Some wrongly use Acts 14:23 to try to prove that elders were voted on but this won't fly!

It is the account of Paul and Barnabas who "appointed" elders "in every church, having prayed with fasting, ..." The Greek word is Cheirotoneo that has the word "Hand" ("cheiro") in it, thus leading some to say, "Well, this is the holding up the hand to vote." But those who say that miss the point of how words change and adjust in usage. While the word once meant to raise the hand, we have only two men, Paul and Barnabas, who were deciding on the elders. It would be ludicrous to think that Paul counted 1, 2, 3, and said, "Now Barnabas, raise your hand and vote!" Because two men were doing the selection they were not voting in the normal sense. In fact, the NAS correctly translates the word "to appoint" with the idea of discussing the issue and "selecting" who the elders were to be.

Voting was confined only to wealthy people of the city-states and the Roman senates. The common people did not vote as we would normally think.

So this word changed in meaning by usage. Paul and Barnabas did not vote on elders. They discussed the issue and then appointed those they felt were qualified. This is what is to be done today. Elders select elders. The sheep do not have anything to do with this process. Voting causes competition and division. The selection of wise men by wise men is the biblical way to go!

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

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Gospel of the Kingdom

Dr. Couch, what is the gospel of the kingdom mentioned in Matthew 24:14?

Answer: It is the "good news" about the coming kingdom of Christ that would be preached during the terrible period of the tribulation. We know this by the context of 24:4-28. This is not what the apostles were proclaiming. While the tribulation is bad, it will be the most productive period of evangelism ever! The gospel of the kingdom is about the fact that the Messiah is both the Savior and the coming King. Salvation is embedded in that message but the focus is about the fact that His coming will counter the kingdom of the antiChrist. Note that the gospel of the kingdom will be preached "for a witness to all the nations and then the end shall come" (Matt. 24:14). This may not happen now because the dispensation of the church age could end at any time be the rapture of the church!

We know from Acts that the disciples were proclaiming the gospel of personal salvation. See Acts 15 and look at what was happening at the Jerusalem Council. "Conversion of the Gentiles" (v. 3) and the fact that the Jews, the Pharisees, were believing in Christ as their Savior (v. 5). The Jews and the Gentiles were having their hearts "cleansed by faith" (v. 9). "Signs and wonders were being performed among the Gentiles" (v. 12). But after this, someday the Lord would return "and rebuild the tabernacle of David which had fallen," i.e. the kingdom (v. 16).

This coming kingdom would be announced during the tribulation as the "gospel of the kingdom" mentioned in Matthew.

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

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Is James 5 Referencing the Rapture?

Dr. Couch, is James 5:7-9 a rapture passage?

ANSWER: Yes, it is, for a number of reasons that I will explain below. Some have said it could not be a rapture passage because the word "rapture" is not in the verses. This is true but that is not a good argument. In fact the word we translate as "rapture" is only used one time in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 and there it is translated as "to be caught up." The Greek word is harpazo that means to "snatch away," or "to jerk away." But the doctrine is actually taught in about 13 or more other passages of Scripture.

The same is true about the phrase "the second coming" in regard to Christ's return, His coming down to reign in Israel as the Davidic King. That expression "the second coming" is used only one time in Hebrews 9:28 where it says that the Lord will "appear a second time" for deliverance. But hundreds of other passages tell us of His second coming to reign on earth.

James 5:7 speaks of the "coming of the Lord." James then goes on and speaks about the farmer who waits for the produce of the soil. The believers are to be patient and strengthen the heart "for the coming of the Lord is 'certain, guaranteed and in the hand, sure'" (eggus) (v. 8). Believers then are not to complain against each other because "the Judge (the Lord) is standing right at the door" (v. 9), and we could be judged for speaking against our fellow believer when He arrives.

The outstanding teacher on the rapture, Dr. John F. Walvoord, holds that this James passage is a rapture teaching. Since James was one of the earliest NT books, this is probably the first teaching on the subject.

Why is this a rapture passage?

Because believers in the church dispensation are warned that Christ is the Judge who presently standing right now at the door. If He came today, and I was mistreating a fellow believer, they "I will be judged when He walks in!" If I judge myself then I will not be judged. The Bema Judgment is for rewards whether we have done good or bad works. Paul writes: "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ that each one will be recompensed for his deeds in the body according to what he has done whether good or bad" (2 Cor. 5:10).

Could this James 5:7-9 be a second coming passage? No, because those of us who are now in the church dispensation could see this take place, that is, His coming as Judge. There are two events that must take place before Christ's coming to rule in Jerusalem. (1) the rapture itself, and (2) the seven year tribulation, or the wrath of God on the earth after the church has gone to glory. Coming as Judge here in James has to do with the church and not His judgment upon the world.

This coming here in James is imminent for us, the present believers of the church dispensation. In that sense, we are not waiting for the second coming. We are waiting for the rapture "coming."

Dr. Paul Benware writes on the James passage and the rapture: "As the New Testament passages on the rapture were written; no signs were given that must be fulfilled. A normal reading of a number of Scripture passages leads to the conclusion that the writers of the New Testament believed in imminency. From James 5:7-9 Christ could return at any moment. … Therefore, in verse 8 James is declaring that the Lord Jesus 'has drawn near,' indicating that He may well appear at any moment. The verb "standing" in verse 9 is better translated 'has taken a stand.' The picture James paints is that of the Lord Jesus standing right a the door with His hand on the knob, ready to fling the door open at any moment and appear to us. The opening of this door may not be soon, but it is certainly seen as an imminent event. And because the Judge could appear at any moment, these believers are to live correctly."
—Dr. Mal Couch (2/11)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Audience of Romans 7-11

Dr. Couch, is Paul writing to the Jews in Romans 7:1-11:12, and therefore, should the passage be read exclusively to the Jews?

ANSWER: No, not at all. He speaks about the Jews in this section in the third person, "they." He is addressing Gentile believers. He says in 11:13, "I am speaking to you who are Gentiles, inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry." And in 10:1 he says "My prayer to God for THEM (the Jews) is for their salvation."

He uses the illustration of God's election with the Jews but he also says "Who are you, O MAN, WHO answers back to God ..." (9:20). Election is personal and includes both Jews and Gentiles. Paul writes "Just as He chose (elected, "called out") us in Him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will" (Eph. 1:4-5).

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

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Views on the Tribulation

Dr. Couch, what are some of the views about the seven year tribulation?

ANSWER: There are a bunch of wrong views and then there is the right view, as taught by the orthodox Jews and Christ. And that is, the Messiah comes at the end of the tribulation to establish His earthly one thousand year kingdom Davidic rule on earth. The others are all wrong!

Reading the OT and the Gospels, one can see that the tribulation is an event that will fall upon the world and upon the nation of Israel. The church is never mentioned as going through this horrible period of worldwide wrath. Let's look at some of the views:

Postmillennial Tribulation: The church goes through the tribulation at the end the millennium. The church is the millennium or the kingdom. Walvoord notes: "It is a characteristic of postmillennialism that it does not attempt a literal interpretation of the Tribulation." And, he notes: "As illustrated in the writings of Charles Hodge, the postmil view considers the Tribulation a final stage of trouble for the church just preceding the grand climax of the triumph of the gospel, which is the kingdom."

Amillennial interpretation of the Tribulation. This view does not differ essentially from the postmil view, though it has a different theological context. The present age is regarded as the predicted millennium. The tribulation is said to precede the millennium. The tribulation is already past. Berkhof holds to a future tribulation, placing the fulfillment of Scripture dealing with the tribulation after the millennium.

Premillennial view of the tribulation. This is the correct view and it is consistent with literal interpretation. It is what the OT teaches and the Gospels also. This is what the orthodox Jews have taught throughout the last two thousand years. This is what dispensationalists realized the Bible was teaching when they saw the errors of amillennialism. This is so easy to defend it is not funny!

I have found through the years, however, that there are just a bunch of naysayers who want to deny the most truthful of views. They want to deny premillennialism and the pretribulational rapture of the church. Why? They just want to, though they really cannot defend their view! They hold to what I call the smorgasbord approach to doctrine! They come into the restaurant and see all the good food on the table, but over in the corner is a slop bucket. They gravitate to it rather than the roast beef and salad. They always go toward that which is not right, or is downright dumb! It seems to be automatic in their gene pool! I cannot figure it out!

Satan sees a weakness in the church. He brainwashes many teachers to gravitate to error. They are inspired by him, though they are not indwelt by him.

—Dr. Mal Couch (2/11)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Believers and Satan

Dr. Couch, can believers be possessed by Satan?

ANSWER: No, they cannot. Also, remember, he is not omni-present, that is, he is not everywhere, though he certainly may send his spiritual lackeys, the demons, to do his biding and mislead the believing community. Paul, James and Peter speak in many places about such deception.

1 Peter 5:8. Peter told the Christians to be sober and alert because their "adversary, the devil" prowled about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." The word "adversary" is the Greek word "antidikos" meaning "the opponent in court." How can he so devour? First, the word devour means "to swallow, overwhelm." William Baker ties this to Romans 12:3 where Paul points out that many Christians, by their false pride, can lose "sound judgment" in the spiritual life. This means that Satan can worm his way into the life of believers and sell them on false views, like charismatic beliefs.

James 4:7. How can Satan trap believers? He can do this if they have not submitted themselves to God in full and complete trust. Therefore James say, "Resist the devil and he will flee from you." What would he be doing that was causing the believer to be weak? James does not say, but certainly this would include certain false beliefs, or misplaced doctrines. "To resist" Satan means that he is influencing the Christian in doctrinal issues or in doing things that are wrong. In verse 8 James addresses the issue of having dirty hands, but also of being "double-minded" or "double-souled." This would more than likely have to do with what the Christian is thinking in terms of doctrine or beliefs.

Hebrews 13:9. Though the writer of Hebrews does not speak of Satan in this verse, he does say: "Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace ..." This could be translated as "by different colored and foreign (alien) doctrines." The writer then adds, "for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace ..." The heart or the emotions are being sidetracked. While charismania is not in view here, any strange and different teaching is! And this could certainly include the strange views of the charismatic folks.

On Hebrews 13:9 Nicoll writes: "These teachings were 'various,' inasmuch as they laid stress now on one aspect, now on another of doctrine. They were 'foreign' both as being novel and as being irreconcilable with pure Christian truth." Again, one cannot help but think of charismatic false doctrine! The BKC says this passage is speaking about those who hawked "strange teachings and tended to idealize these beliefs by their wilderness [wild] experiences."

Ephesians 4:14. Believers are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming. Notice "every wind of doctrine" no matter what that doctrine or doctrines might be about!

On this verse the BKC well says: "blown here and there (whirled around, like in a violent swinging that makes one dizzy) by every gust of wind of teaching, by trickery (dice-playing)." And "moving toward a system of error. False teachers cause this kind of confusion regarding the truth in order to try to bring believers into their erroneous schemes." This is exactly what takes place in the charismatic teaching!

Galatians 5:20. The charismatic movement can also inspire "disputes, dissensions, factions." Satan would have to be behind this kind of confusion. He loves to split churches and bring about false belief systems. These last three words imply "quarreling, selfish ambition, and heretical sects." The charismatic movement often spawns what the BKC calls "self-aggrandizing" in attitude, working to get ahead at other's expense. There is a competition in the charismatic movement. "I am better than you," or "I know more than you." Satan certainly loves to fan such attitudes!

Acts 20:17-31. The Ephesian elders were going to depart doctrinally someday in the future, according to Paul's thinking. He warned the elders of this happening in their group. He said that "among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them" (v. 30). Notice that this would happen between elders, and the purpose was to cause some of them to be drawn away to higher teaching! "Perverse things" is a Perfect Passive Participle verb. The word "diastrepho" refers to a "twisted teaching," as with a misshapen potter's wheel, or a wheel that is "twisted, crooked."

With the Perfect Tense the idea is that this teaching took a period in which it came up to being twisted and distorted. It did not happen at once. This would absolutely be applicable to the charismatic teachings.

While Satan is not mentioned in all of the above verses he certainly likes to fan false beliefs. He does not sleep when it comes to confusing and sidetracking the doctrines of the believers in Christ.

—Dr. Mal Couch (2/11)