Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Simply Sleeping After Death

Dr. Couch, how do we demonstrate from the OT that when we die we do not simply sleep, as some Rabbis say? I understand that most Jews do not hold to the view that people are simply asleep when they die.

ANSWER: In both the OT and the NT the passages speak of being asleep when one dies. However, remember Luke 16 and the death of the wealthy man who went into torment, and the poor man who when he died resided on Abraham's bosom. You say, but that passage is in the NT. No, not really. The Gospels are still in, and part of, the OT. The NT dispensation of the church does not begin until Acts 2 and Pentecost. So whatever Christ said was still part of the dispensation of the Law, the OT.

Luke 16 makes it clear that both the lost (the unbelieving wealthy man) and the poor man (the believer) were awake and aware of their existence though they had died. The idea of "being asleep" comes from what the body looks like at death. It appears to be asleep—eyes closed and still. But the soul and spirit is very conscious and awake!

Mark 9:48 says with death "their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched." Everyone admits that this is making a statement of the pain of death for the lost and consciousness. The torment of judgment goes on and on! This actually is quoting Isaiah 66:24. "They shall go forth and look on the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me. For their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched; and they shall be an abhorrence to all mankind."

Though the passage is in poetic form, the Rabbis say on "their fire": "The fire of Gehenna which will purge their souls." This would be most correct. There is a spiritual judgment going on that transcends the physical, though the passage speaks of the physical because it is difficult for us to fully grasp the spiritual elements in the passage.

I hope this helps.
Thanks for asking.
—Dr. Mal Couch (3/11)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Jewish Commentaries on Daniel's Seventy Weeks

Dr. Couch, what do the Jewish commentaries say about Daniel's Seventy-Weeks in Daniel 9:24-on?

ANSWER: As you know I have all of the Jewish Soncino commentaries on the OT. I'm the only guy who has them that I know of. Generally, I appreciate what they say but often they try to get rid of messianic statements, but not always.

How sick do you want to get? On this Daniel 9 passage the Rabbis go nuts in order to rid the passage of leading to the coming of Christ, however, in a weak moment, they say: "On 'everlasting righteousness' in v. 24, they say "Commentators interpret this as an allusion to the Messianic era."

But then they go on and go crazy. On v. 26 they write (after the threescore ...") This brings the period down to the Maccabean age. According to another calculation, its terminus is the destruction of the Second Temple."

And on "an anointed one," they write "Some authorities see a reference to king Agrippa who lived at the time when the Second Temple was destroyed. Others think of Onias III who was High Priest until deposed by Antiochus Epiphanes in 175 BC; he was assassinated four years later."

On "war" in v. 26 they say "The final war against Gog and Magog which will herald the coming of the Messiah (Ezek. 38-on), or the war of Antiochus against the saints."

On "firm covenant" in v. 27 they write "If the prince is Antiochus, the allusion will be to the co-operation he obtained from the apostate hellenizers among the Jews; if to Vespasian, ..."

On "wing of detestable things" in v. 27 they say "This is one of the most baffling passages in the book. The Jewish commentators take wing as a figure of speech signifying an elevated position and render: 'upon an elevated position among detestable things, an image which causes appallment ."

On v. 25 on "to restore and to build Jerusalem" they write "The Hebrew verb is commonly used of bringing back captivities, hence it probably refers here not to the city but its exiled inhabitants." (But the passage just mentioned Jerusalem!!!!)

On "one anointed" they say "Probably Cyrus is intended, but explained by others as Zerubbabel or Jeshua the son of Jozadak, the first High Priest after the return from captivity."

In other words, the Rabbis on Daniel are all over the place. For the most part they try to escape a messianic reading. THEIR INTERPRETATIONS MAKE NO SENSE!

Thanks for asking,
Dr. Mal Couch (3/11)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Prophesy in the Dispensation of the Church

Dr. Couch, I've heard you say that in the NT there is no one who prophesied except the apostles and also Agabus (Acts 11:28). But is this true?

Yes, this is true, but I was talking about the dispensation of the church. There are those who were under the dispensation of the law, mentioned in Acts 1, who were able to give prophetic utterances, such as Zacharias (Luke 1:67), Simeon (2:25) and Anna (v. 36). Of Simeon it was said "The Holy Spirit was upon him" (v. 25).

But you cannot find the average Christian, once you get into the dispensation of the church, who prophesied into the future. There were prophets who were "teaching" prophets but not giving prophecy into the future.

Remember, the key to understanding the Bible has to do with OBSERVATION! We observe what the text is saying. We don't come to the Bible with our preconceived ideas; we let the Bible speak to us—we do not tell it what to say!

Key words for Bible study are: OBSERVATION, INTERPRETATION, and APPLICATION. And, the word CONTEXT is also most important. If we do not interpret by Context we will get terribly confused!

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch (3/11)

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Letter to Dr. Couch

Dear Dr. Couch,

I believe you said it correctly about Japan. I was actually making my own observations in mind because I spent about 4 years in Japan on and off when I was working for a Japanese company in Manila. When I was there I visited 2 Christian churches and spoke to one Japanese missionary who mentioned that there is less than 1% Christians of the total population. And yes they worship nature wherever and whenever they travel around Japan. At times in traveling and visiting great gardens in Japan I can always see someone stopping and praying in front of trees, big rocks and of course their temples.

There is another thing I believe why this catastrophe hit Japan. In many occasions of traveling around Japan there were not many missionary activities and there is a basic failure of Christians there to evangelize the Japanese people. I believe this earthquake and tsunami is God's action to shake their foundation so that they may once again turn to God.

Here is Australia I noticed the same judgment of God in the areas hit by severe flooding. Australia is becoming more atheistic. Our Prime Minister is a self-confessed atheist. Also there is a basic failure of Christians in Australia to evangelize Australia because of the growing apostasy and ecumenism of many Christian churches. I think from observing these events God is doing His thing to make Himself known. God has to break the pattern of rejection of Christ!

The increase in pattern of catastrophic events around the world is very telling of the times & season in which we live these days.

Yours in Christ,
AB (3/11)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Discipleship Ministry

Dr. Couch, many are into a disciple ministry as a work to mature believers. What do you think?

Very often this becomes something that is very intent and time consuming. While one-on-one is an ideal for maturing Christians, the epistles do not mention this as necessary. Also, it can become artificial in that it forces people to commit so many hours each week. And if it's artificial it won't work! People must be reaching forward, led by the Holy Spirit, in seeking to mature as believers. A study of the word is very important.

As a verb "matheetuo" is used only four times in the NT, and there it is translated as "to teach, instruct." Three times it is used in the Gospels and only once in the book of Acts (14:21). I am often asked about Matthew 28:19-20. What is it saying in the Greek text?

"Having gone (Aorist, Active, Participle, Deponent) then, you teach (Aorist, Active, Imperative) all the nations, baptizing (Present, Active, Participle) them in the [one] name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, instructing them to be keeping all things which I command you ..."

"Having gone" assumes the going as having already taken place and is certainly part of the commission. To teach and make learners is not optional but commanded (Walvoord, Couch). This is why at church I don't preach but teach!

The noun for "learner" "matheetees" (or those who are taught) is used 30 times in the book of Acts but never in the church epistles.

"Manthano" is a related word used 25 times in the NT. It means "to learn by practice, or doing." My MA thesis was on this word at Wheaton Graduate School.

The noun "mateetees" is defined as "a learner, a pupil, one who follows the teaching of another." I think this is more descriptive than the word "disciple." As I teach each Sunday and Monday night, people are learning, they are as a group, a bunch of folks who are learning what the Bible is saying. This is now, however, a group of disciples as we often try to claim. The Spirit of God then brings forward those who want more of His Word. This is not an artificial happening but something that is guided by God's Spirit. On Matthew 28:19-20 we have these comments: "A disciple is one committed to the one who is teaching him" (Morris).

Thanks for asking,
Dr. Mal Couch (3/11)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Dispensational Theologians

Dr. Couch, we hear a lot about Covenant theologians. But who are the Dispensational theologians you respect today?

ANSWER: Without a doubt, Walvoord, Ryrie, Scofield, Pentecost. And those of us in the PreTrib Study Group can be trusted, such as myself, Hindson, Ice, Stallard, Benware. All of the great Bible schools, Bible colleges, etc. were all dispensational, such as Moody, Dallas, and Philadelphia (and many others). Many of the great Dispensational scholars of the past are listed in my Award Winning book "Dictionary of Premillennial Theology."

Many of the current dispensational theologians of the day have written in my book, "Gathering Storm". As well, you need to read my "Fundamentals for the Twenty-First Century" (Kregel). Chapters are also written by these outstanding men.

Some of the greatest names of the dispensationalists of the past, and their histories, are in my "Dictionary." You will find it a fascinating book!

The most well-known Covenant guys are: Hodge, Shedd, Berkhof, Strong, A.A. Hodge, Reymond, etc. I have these volumes, plus many others but they do not have our books. Therefore, they are downright ignorant of what the Bible actually teaches.

If you have read my "Classical Evangelical Hermeneutics" volume you will see that Hodge and Berkhof actually fudge on the Bible. Part of the Covenant Theology comes from outside of the Bible, and they even admit to that fact!

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch (3/11)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Salvation of the Jews

Dr. Couch, how were the Jews saved in the OT?

ANSWER: Genesis 15:6 tells us Abraham was saved by faith, or his belief in God. "Abraham believed in the Lord; and He reckoned (accounted, applied) it to him as righteousness." It was prophesied for Israel that the day would come when they would be "legally acquitted, justified" by the Messiah, and that He would "bear their iniquities" (Isa. 53:11). He would do this by pouring Himself out "to death, and would be numbered (considered) with the transgressors" (v. 12). He would substitute for the sinner. "He Himself will bear the sin of many, and intercede for the transgressors."

The object of salvation would be (1) what God had said, and then, (2) on the work of the Messiah for the sinner. Zacharias prophesied that the Messiah would "accomplish redemption for His people" (Luke 1:69). He would give to His people "the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins" (v. 77). This was prophesied when the Jewish people were still under the dispensation of Law, and of course, it would carry over into the dispensation of Grace.

Thus, salvation was based on what God said, and it would be based on what the Messiah would do in His death. This would apply throughout history even though the Jews could not at the moment see this work in its full manifestation in ages past.

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch (3/11)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Luke 16 and Hell

Dr. Couch, is Luke 16:19-31 is a good illustration of hell today? Or, is punishment different today under the dispensation of the church age? What do you say?

ANSWER: Since Christ mentions the name of the poor man Lazarus, this story is not simply a parable but a true happening that explained to those in the dispensation of the Law that there is bliss for the believer and suffering for the unbeliever after death. However, now there are some differences in regard to what happens to the saved and the lost at death.

Lazarus, though a poor man was experiencing the blessings of a believer by being placed with father Abraham after his death. He is on Abraham's bosom after his death (v. 22), resting on his chest, meaning that he was being comforted by Abraham the faithful one. But the rich man was buried and was suffering in the grave "being in torment" asking for mercy, experiencing the suffering of the flames "in agony" (vv. 23-24). This story is in poetic form in the fact that we know he was not simply suffering physical torment but actual spiritual suffering. The physical actually turns to dust.

The wealthy man wanted the Lord to send a warning to his five living brothers so that they would not "come to this place" (v. 28). But Abraham said "They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them" (v. 29). "They will repent if someone comes to speak to them from the dead," the rich man said (v. 30). Abraham answers "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead" (v. 31).

Apparently, the saved and the lost, before the death of Christ, were allowed to experience blessings (for the saved) and pain (for the lost). Christ's work was not completed and finished for the issue of dying for sin. However, after His death, burial, and crucifixion, the saved then go directly into the presence of the Lord, and the lost go directly into hell—the place of punishment—even though there was some experience of this, to a degree, prior to the work of the Lord on the cross.

I wrote in my Luke Commentary: There are certain things that can apply now to the issue of death which we can find in this story. (1) There is consciousness after death, (2) there is bliss for the righteous and torment for the wicked, (3) there is regret for what is done in life, (4) great spiritual consequences follow after death, (5) the die is cast in this life, with no "second chance" in view, and, (6) the witness of the prophets (and later the writings of the apostles) is sufficient so that one can know the truth. However, the hardness of the hearts of the lost is so great that even the witness of one coming forth from the dead will not persuade those who are spiritually resisting.

I added: Most scholars believe that the death of the Lord Jesus atoned for the sins of all the righteous who lived before the crucifixion and had a saving trust in God. This belief comes from Romans 3:25. Jesus as a propitiation (a place of satisfaction with God concerning sin), demonstrated "His righteousness, because of the forbearance of God (who then) passed over the sins previously committed." That is, there was a waiting period in which God passed over sins until Christ completed His work for sin on the cross. On this side of the death of Christ, when a believe dies, he goes directly into the presence of God. As the apostle Paul writes, "I … prefer (now) rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord" (2 Cor. 5:8).

At the very end of time, Revelation pictures in heaven "myriads and thousands of thousands praising the Lamb who is worthy to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing" (5:11-12). And the lost, after being judged at the Great White Throne are seen as being "thrown into the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire" (20:14-15). Matthew 25:46 can be applied to all the unrighteous and the righteous. "And these (the lost) will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous (saved) into eternal life."

I hope this helps. Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch (3/11)

Monday, March 14, 2011

The New American Bible (NAB)

Dr. Couch, there is a new edition of the New American Bible (NAB) that was co-edited by Catholics. Should we be afraid of this version?

ANSWER: I don't think so, but remember, that is why men of the “old school” like myself, took years and years of Hebrew and Greek so that we could be the “watchers” of the translations and call out an alarm if we see the translators messing with the text. This has rarely happened because translators know that there are language scholars looking over their shoulders.

Two changes are mentioned in the report about the new edition of this Bible. One is that they changed the word “holocaust” in Leviticus 6:23 to “burnt offering.” They did this because of the association of the word holocaust with the killing of the 6 million Jews in World War II. That terrible event is called “the holocaust.” But actually, the word “holocaust” is the better word.

The NAS Bible properly translates the Hebrew “burned entirely” which is the best translation of the word. The Rabbis in the Greek translation of the OT, in the Septuagint (LXX), used the word “holocaustosai” or “holocaust.” Or, “burnt entirely” thus “burnt offering.” To leave the word in the English “holocaust” would have been fine.

Then in Isaiah 7:14 they translated the Hebrew word Almah “young woman” instead of virgin as it is in most versions. Actually, “young woman” is the better translation. Technically speaking, the word Bethulah is the closest word for virgin in Hebrew. However, the Rabbis who translated the Greek Septuagint (written about 300+ BC) felt that the word had a strong connotation for “virgin” and translated the word from the Greek “parthenos” or “virgin.”

In other words, the Rabbis felt that this was the intention of Isaiah in this verse, to flag the fact that the Messiah's mother would be a virgin and by a miracle give birth to the Son of God. The word Almah has many connotations to it. It implies (1) a young woman of marriageable age, (2) a teenager, (3) a veiled one unmarried girl, who indeed (4) was technically a virgin.

Dr. Luke also pointed out in his Gospel that Mary was a virgin. He writes that the angel Gabriel came to a “virgin (parthenos) engaged to Joseph” (Luke 1:27). And Mary confessed that she “knew not a man” (v. 34). The English says that she uttered the words “since I am a virgin.” But this is a free translation from the Greek text that actually reads “since a man I know not.” [For a complete treatment on this see my commentary on Luke in the 21st Century Commentary Set.]

We don't want to be paranoid but we do want to be cautious. Error can slip into your churches very easily. This is why we need men who can check these changes out and give an okay on what is happening to us theologically.

—Dr. Mal Couch (3/11)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Hidden Bible Codes

Dr. Couch, I know of some Bible teachers who believe in what they call the "hidden Bible codes." Is this heresy?

ANSWER: I know some of these brothers personally and I think it is unfortunate that they take this view. The problem is God has revealed to us His revelations in full without any hidden messages or methods needed to find out what the truth is. This means that some people are "in" on secret truth and some are "out" in knowing what God has revealed. This makes them special and gives them an "up" on the rest of us.

If God is giving us His truth why would He then give a secret code in order to unlock what He has to say? It does not make sense! The book of Acts says the Bereans searched the Scriptures daily in order to confirm the truth of the gospel (Acts 17:11). They used inductive reasoning and searching and did not employ some secret key to try to understand the Word of God. Paul says the Thessalonians "received from us the word of God's message, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God" (1 Thess. 2:13). Again, no secret code was needed.

Some people like to be sensationalists and mystics in interpreting the Bible. Don't fall for it. God spoke to us in plain language!

Is the "code" view heresy? No, maybe not, but it is certainly wrong and terribly misleading!

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Church and The Sabbath

Dr. Couch, is the church under the Sabbath?

ANSWER: No it is not. The early church met on the first day of the week which was Sunday. "And on the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, …" (Acts 20:7). Nine of the ten commandments are moral and spiritual in nature. They are eternal principles that reflect eternal values. They are repeated (but not as the Ten Commandments as a law system) throughout the NT. The Sabbath, while extremely important to the OT economy, is not repeated as an imperative for the NT church age and dispensation. We are not under the Sabbath commandment. Since it is a day of body and spiritual rest, we have transferred those qualities to Sunday, and there is nothing wrong in doing that. But as a heavy moral imperative, we are not under the law, any part of it, including the Sabbath.

It is important to add however, we are not now antinomian. We have the law of Christ, to love one another, and we have all of the moral commands stated in the NT epistles that are incumbent for believers to live by today.

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Luke: Jew or Gentile?

Dr. Couch, was Luke a Jew or a Gentile?

ANSWER: Harrison in his excellent volume on the introduction to the NT books says that without a doubt he was a Gentile. Though he gives circumstantial evidence, the evidence seems clearly to point that way, though we may not be able to be overly dogmatic on the issue.

After he had made a list of "circumcised" fellow workers, Paul in Colossians 4:14 includes Luke who seems to be in that same list. Luke, the author of Acts, says in 1:19 that the Jews mentioned the "field of blood" near Jerusalem "in their own language." Luke seems to have been free of persecution that was put upon Christian Jews. He must have been seen in a different light by the Gentile antagonists of the gospel. This would possibly show that Luke was a Gentile. Luke is so Hellenistic in his language and thought forms that more than likely he was a Greek.

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Dr. Couch, a well known Bible teacher whom you know says he sees no problem with cremation. What do you say?

ANSWER: Even in far ancient times the Hindus of India were cremating their dead. Cremation has pagan origins. On the other hand, the Bible pictures the body being respected even in death, if possible. When Sarah died in Hebron, Abraham bargained with the sons of Heth for a burial place. He purchased a cave at Machpelah (Gen. 23:19) for her burial and the site became a family burial plot for several generations.

He told the sons of Heth "give me a burial site among you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight" (v. 4). They replied "bury your dead in the choicest of our graves; none of us will refuse you his grave for burying your dead" (v. 6). Even they understood the importance of burial and respected Abraham's wish. The place of Sarah's burial was to be an honored place. It was by the city gates for all to see, facing Hebron (v. 19). All the way up to the NT proper burial was the accepted method for laying the righteous to rest.

Christ was given a most prominent burial site—the tomb of a wealthy man located near the outer walls of Jerusalem.

While there is no command against cremation there are some important principles to note in the Bible, both in the OT and in the NT. The body is to be respected. It would only be right in my opinion to follow the continual example throughout Scripture.

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Monday, March 7, 2011

Truth Today

Dr. Couch, what has happened to truth in today's world?

ANSWER: The core of all truth is spiritual and it comes from the Bible. God's Word is truth itself and the Lord says He is the Way and the Truth and that men must come to God through Him (John 14:6). He is also the Light of the world, and without Him, as clearly revealed in Scripture, the world gropes in spiritual darkness (9:5). The Way and the Light are being further erased from our culture. The Bible is being rapidly buried from sight, and thus Christ is being forgotten! There is no return in my view; and, we are sinking further into the apostasy of the church. This is impacting every aspect of life: political, social, domestic, educationally, and of course morally and spiritually!

The Lord has made Himself available to the lost but they must come to Him by way of Truth (Psa. 145:18). Truth comes only through the Lord (146:6). He keeps or maintains the standard of Truth personally. His truth is reflected only in Scripture!

Human beings cannot claim glory nor do they know what truth is apart from revelation! Glory belongs to Him and His name. He alone reflects true mercy and truth (115:1). A good synonym for truth is reality. We cannot know reality, what is true and right, apart from divine knowledge given only in the Bible.

We human beings will fade away because we are like grass (Isa. 40:8). "The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God stands forever."

We are seeing the death of truth in the American culture. We are seeing it in choice of our elected officials by people who do not understand reality. Few are able to discern today. The judges and leaders are blind and the people do not know the difference.

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Essential Doctrines

Dr. Couch, does Scripture help us to determine what the essential doctrines are for fellowship and for joint ministry with another church?

ANSWER: I believe the many verses that discuss heresy and error could be put together to form a guide to whom one should fellowship with. I think there are several layers of relationships to take note of that come from Scripture. (1) I can be glad for any true believer who is my brother in Christ. (2) While any true believer may be my spiritual brother, still, he may be destroying a large part of the Bible by his denial of certain doctrines. This would include those in the Reformed faith who deny the proven doctrines of the apostasy, the rapture of the church, the seven year tribulation period, and the bodily return of Jesus the Messiah who will reign on the throne of David for 1000 years in Jerusalem. (3) And then there are the believers who may outright hold to way, way out beliefs.

I could not see my church having joint ministries with any who deny the fundamentals of the Word of God. I may have a certain kind of accepting fellowship with them on a personal level but I could not share ministries with them. However, no one has ever called me an isolationist or legalist when it comes to these issues. I may write in very strong words against those who continue to give false interpretations against clear doctrinal issues but I do not have a fighting fundy mentality.

I believe a church should adopt a strong biblical doctrinal statement such as we have with Scofield Ministries. I wrote that some years ago and it has stood the test of time for a long while. Anyone reading it may feel free to use it however they wish.

A few years ago I got involved with a man who had come out of the Funda____ Bap_____ group. I thought I had him pegged right, and I thought he had disavowed some of the attitudes of that group, but when we began to do ministry together his narrowness and legalism came through. When he left our group, sure enough, he went right back to that persuasion. He lied about the fact that that had been his orientation. In fact, I caught him in over five lies on various issues. I find it interesting that he virtually claimed to walk sinless in his Christian life but he could tell fibs at the drop of a hat!

The Christian life is tricky in that groups and individuals can be deceptive and can look at the Bible in such a restrictive way. If they become embedded within a church they will set about to destroy that assembly or certainly try to take it over. They may doctrinally be in agreement but their attitude and their legalism can take a church down! Such folks I would avoid when it comes to sharing ministry.

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Old Testament Saints and Salvation

Dr. Couch, if the OT saints are not “in Christ” and are part of the church, then how are they saved?

ANSWER: Good question but it’s really easy to explain. Every Bible teacher worth his salt agrees that Romans 3:25 is saying that the death of Christ is covering the sins of the saints of the past—in former dispensations before the church age. It reads: Christ is displayed as a propitiation (a place of mercy), demonstrating “His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed.”

In his Word Pictures A. T. Robertson writes on this verse: The sins spoken of are “The sins before the coming of Christ (Heb. 9:15). … In this sense Christ tasted death for every man (Heb. 2:9).”

Charles Hodge adds: “The words, ‘that are past,’ seems distinctly to refer to the times before the advent of Christ. … (Heb. 9:15) ‘He is the Mediator for the redemption of sins that were under the first testament (the OT).’ … God has set forth Jesus Christ as a propitiatory sacrifice, to vindicate his righteousness or justice, on account of the remission of the sins committed under the former dispensation (the Law).”

Lenski goes further: “God passed over the sins of these Old Testament believers. … God pardoned their sins. … What took away the sins of the Old Testament saints was Christ’s blood. … The final reckoning with the sins of the Old Testament believers was, as it were, postponed until the true mercy seat was set forth. In this way the Old Testament saints had their ‘remission,’ it was in the form of a ‘passing over.’”

That the Messiah, the Suffering Servant, would do this for the OT believers was prophesied in Isaiah 53:12. He would “justify the many.”

Kroll rightly concludes in his Romans commentary: “The righteousness of God is declared by atoning for present and future sins as well as past sins. Therefore God is the justifier of any man or woman—past, present, or future—who places his or her faith in the blood of Jesus Christ.”

Yet the Bible is careful not to place OT saints into the body of Christ. They are never said to “be in Christ,” be part of “the body of Christ,” and they are never said to be “in the church.” The church is a unique dispensation in which believers of this present period have a special and different relationship with Christ than ever before. When the church saints are resurrected and the rapture of the living church saints takes place, there will be those who believe during the tribulation. They are “tribulation saints” but they are never seen as part of the body of Christ or labeled as those “in the church.”

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Friday, March 4, 2011


Dr. Couch, what is the significance of circumcision to the Jews? Why were the servants in Abraham's house circumcised? Some use this issue to say that Gentiles should be circumcised and that it proves that the church is part of the covenant from the beginning.

ANSWER: Circumcision was a token or a sign of the Covenant God made with Abraham (Gen. 17:11) but too, the blessing of the Covenant spilled over to all who were in the household of the Jews, such as servants, whether they were Jewish or Gentiles. That is "All that is born in your house, or bought with money of any foreigner (Gentile)" (vv. 12-13). "They must needs be circumcised" (v. 13).

The Rabbis noted "Slaves reared in the patriarch's home had a feeling of attachment to their masters." This included even the child of a slave. The Rabbis noted that the Covenant extended its blessing to those who were touched by the Jews, such as the servants.

But it is a stretch to say that this becomes a type of the church being a part of the covenant automatically. The church is blessed by the New Covenant that is an extension of the Blessing aspect of the Abrahamic Covenant. But this is not because of circumcision. Those in the church today must believe in Christ. The church is not automatically a part of the Covenant. But you cannot go the opposite direction and extend the church back to the Abrahamic Covenant, thus creating one big people of faith, as some of the Covenant guys would like to do.

The blessing of the Abrahamic Covenant is not automatic. Abraham had to believe what God said in order to be justified himself (15:6).

Circumcision had two big purposes. It gave to those who were circumcised a health factor by the cutting away of the foreskin. This protected both the husband and his wife in intercourse. That cleanliness factor became a picture of cleansing in salvation, making the recipient seen as holy in God's sight. Physical circumcision is not ordered in the New Testament but there is a spiritual circumcision mentioned in Col. 2:9-13.

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch (3/11)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Wrath of God

Dr. Couch, I agree with you that we are into the apostasy as prophesied in Scripture. Can you give some verses as to why, and upon whom, the wrath of God (the tribulation), will fall?

ANSWER It will certainly not fall upon those in Christ, the church saints. They will be raptured away from the coming storm of tribulation that will last for seven years. The apostle Paul reminds us that the wrath of God is continually being revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress, press down, the truth by the process of unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18).

In other words, the warning is always there, a continual reminder that this wrath is due humanity for its terrible sins! This is the judgment of God that is sure to come (2:2). This wrath of God is certain to come upon the sons of disobedience (Eph. 5:6; Col. 3:6).

The birth pangs of Jeremiah 30:6 is the seven year tribulation. It will come upon Israel as a purging, and also upon the evil Gentile nations of the world that will be utterly destroyed. Jeremiah writes:

"I will destroy completely the nations where I have scattered you, only I will not destroy you completely. But I will chasten you justly, and will be no means leave you unpunished" (v. 11). "Therefore all who devour you shall be devoured; and all your adversaries, every one of them, shall go into captivity" (v. 16).

We are getting close to the wrath of God that will fall upon a certain generation that will have turned away from God as no generation ever has. We are that generation! But the church will be spared by being taken away from the earth quickly to meet the Lord in the air.

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch (3/11)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Memory of All of our Sins

Dr. Couch, I heard my pastor say that we will be reminded in heaven of all of our sins. We will see in glory the sins that Christ forgave us. Is this right?

ANSWER There are two things we need to consider when talking about our sins of the past. Positionally, God has forgiven us all our sins at the cross of Christ. We are justified and there are no charges against us. But in the Christian walk we sinned and we shall receive rewards for our good deeds and we will be reminded of the sins we committed as we walked through the Christian Experience in this life. Concerning the Bema Seat judgment we read:

"We shall all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he had done, where GOOD or BAD" (2 Cor. 5:10). BAD is the Greek word "kakos" which is often translated as "Evil." So it is clear that we will be reminded of those sins we committed during our Christian life. The "recompense" is the reward or "demerit" that we shall receive at the Bema! This will not be pleasant but it does not take away our salvation. It will be a reminder of what we did in the Christian walk.

The Bible does not speak of demerits so I am stepping out on a limb when I say this. But we will be recompensed by the "deeds done in the body," whatever that will be proven to be! Thus, we "know the fear of the Lord" when we stand before Him at this judgment. Our Walk will be "made manifest to God" (v. 11) in our conscience as we appear before the Lord in heaven. The fear is not about the loss of salvation. Our salvation is secure in Christ, and indeed, all of our sins were Positionally forgiven at the cross. These verses have to do with the judgment of what we did while believers here on earth, but loss of salvation is not an issue.

Most Bible teachers have not handled this subject, and it is only recently that I began to look at what Paul was saying about the Christian life and the sins that we commit as believers. But to review: all our sins are forgiven and taken care of at the cross, there is no doubt about this.

A final reminder: "Why do you judge your brother? Why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God. … For every knee shall bow to Me, ..." (Rom. 14:10-11). "So then, each one of us shall give account of himself to God" (v. 12).

James adds: "The coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not complain, brothers, against one another, that you yourselves may not be judged. Behold, the Judge is standing right at the door (to take us home in the rapture) for the Bema judgment (James 5:9). If He came right now we will go into the judgment of the Bema and some of that judgment will not be pleasant!

To live our lives right now is a serious matter. We are to be responsible in the Christian Experience!

Thanks for asking.
—Dr. Mal Couch (3/11)