Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Is Gog the Anti-Christ?

Dr. Couch, could Gog be the anti-christ in Ezekiel 38?

ANSWER: No, not really. First, he is only over the land of Magog (and he is also the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal) and not the entire world, or the Roman empire, as all believe he will be, from what is said in Revelation. The description of him does not match up with Revelation 13 or any other thing describing him in Revelation. In Ezekiel 38 his description is too limited. The event of Gog and Magog is confined and is not universal as played out in Revelation.
Thanks for asking.
--Dr. Mal Couch (9/11)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

"The Rest of Her Seed"

Dr. Couch, who are 'the rest of her seed' in Revelation 12:17? Are these the church saints?

ANSWER: No. At this point, remember the world is deep into the tribulation. The church saints have been raptured. The "her" is not the church, "she" is Israel that Satan is trying to destroy. Remember context, context, context!

The Jewish people keep God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus as well. Thomas says rightly "this sequence says rather plainly that 'the rest of her seed' is none other than the 144,000." He adds, "The rest of her seed as the 144,000 Israaelites who were sealed in chapter 7. These have the distinction of being active witnesses throughout the world during the last three and one half years before Christ returns."

Thanks for asking.
--Dr. Mal Couch (9/11)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Sin Nature

Dr. Couch, do we still have the tug of the sin nature in the Christian life?

ANSWER: There is a lot of confusion on this issue. While POSITIONALLY the old man was crucified with Christ we still wrestle with sin in the life. Romans 7:14, 17, 20, 21 are good verses that tell us we have a struggle even as Christians with sin. Paul writes: "I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin" and "sin which indwells in me," "sin which dwells in me" and "evil is present in me." This is not about our past position, it is about the present Christian and spiritual walk.

We read in Romans 6:6 that the "old self (old man) was crucified with Him." This is positionally truth. But then Paul adds that in our walk we should "no longer be slaves to sin" (6:6). Positionally, "we died with Christ (v. 8) and we now are "to live to God" (v. 10).

Therefore, in the walk we are "to consider, reckon" ourselves "alive to God in Christ Jesus" (v. 11). With a Present Imperative we are to "not allow sin to reign, rule in our mortal body that we should obey its lusts," again, in the walk. "We are not to be presenting the members of our body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness, but (instead) be presenting ourselves to God as those alive from the dead and our members as instruments of righteousness to God" (v. 13).

Those who have problems with the differences between POSITIONAL and EXPERIENTIAL truth get all of this confused. It really is very simply. For example, Paul says we are now "in the heavenlies" ("heavenly places") in God's viewpoint, that is, POSITIONALLY, we are there, in glory! (Because God is not bound by time!) But in our time-walk, in the daily experience, we are still living out the Christian life on earth.

May this help in our understanding in the struggle in the Christian life.

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch (9/11)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Is the Sermon on the Mount for today?

Dr. Couch, I understand that some think that the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) is not applicable to the church age today. Is this true, and, what do you think?

ANSWER: In the Bible there are first and secondary applications in various chapters. A question: is the Law in the OT seen with a first application to us today, or a secondary application? Are we under the Law, or was the Law for the Jewish people during their existence in OT times?

All would answer that the Law was for the Jews during the dispensation of the Law. Yet, there are great spiritual principles in the Law for us today, but not with direction application. I can learn many great principles from the Law as I read it but we are not under the Law in a direct way now in this church age.

The same is true with the Sermon on the Mount. For example we read in Matthew 5:3 of the "poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Do the poor today receive blessings by being under the kingdom of heaven? Of course not, the kingdom of heaven is the messianic kingdom that is yet to come, when Christ returns as Israel's Messiah! This was anticipated by the Jews, but the kingdom of heaven is not the church today.

Do you think that 5:20 is about us today, those now living in the church age? It reads: "Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven." Do you think that is for the church presently? Of course not!

Are we guilty of fiery hell (5:22) if we say to a brother RACA? This is extremely Jewish and must be understood in regard to the Jews who were then under the Law.

Do we stand and pray in the synagogue as mentioned in 6:5. No, we do not. Do we "seek first His kingdom and His righteousness" as the Jews? To a certain extent yes but in another sense we do not (6:33).

Again, while there are certain spiritual lessons in the Sermon on the Mount for us today, these verses are not first for the church dispensation. They were for the Jews who were looking for the messianic rule of the Messiah over Israel in the Holy Land. First application would be for Israel and the Jews; second application would be for us, but interpreted with caution.

When we read our newspaper we apply the same principles of interpretation. I know that the first page of my newspaper is about "hard" news and is not the advertising section of the paper. I know that it is not the editorial section, nor the want-ad section. When I read my newspaper I read it with sound "hermeneutics." I apply the various sections in the proper way. I don't simply apply every paragraph directly to me, from every sentence, with a broad stroke of the brush! I do the same when reading and applying the Bible to every situation.

Common sense is needed when reading the Scriptures!

I hope this helps. Thanks for asking. --Dr. Mal Couch (9/11)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Reformed Theology and Dispensationalism

Dr. Couch, Thanks for your ministry. I was introduced to you and your bible teaching by a student at Tyndale seminary about eight years ago when I was a new christian. Your books and sermons have really helped give me a foundation in dispensational premillenialism when many of my younger christian friends were were headed into reformed theology. While I was reading Ryrie, Couch, Lahaye and Lutzer, they were reading Sproul, Berkhof, and Kenneth Gentry. It seems that the popular and "in" thing is to head in the reformed direction. Have you heard of the "young restless and reformed" movement that is going on? John Macarthur, R.C. Sproul and some other notable pastors and theologians are encouraging it. To be very honest it seems that the men I know that are involved in this sort of thing are doing it just because it is popular and sort of noble to be "reformed." What do you think about this?

When I have talked to reformed guys about dispensationalism, and read blogs from guys like Kenneth Gentry, they will often accuse dispensationalism of being a new heresy that developed in the 19th century. People i know have jumped on this bandwagon. Oddly enough they dont want to actually talk about the biblical text they just want to bolster thier arguments with the names and opinions of their favorite theologians and bible teachers. How would you deal with this. Thanks for your ministry, and thanks for providing your bible lessons free on your website they are the epitome of great bible exposition and clear teaching.

ANSWER: Unfortunately, there is a war going on between hard core Reformed guys and dispensationalists. The dispensationalists are right. The Bible is "Dispensational," and that can be proven all the way back to the early church. While being dispensational is not exactly being premillennial, the two are very close together. All dispensationalists are premillennial! The early church was clearly premillennial and so were the orthodox Jews. Christ and the disciples were. They made it clear that the church and Israel were not the same nor were they inter-linked.
What is happening is not a textual war but a philosophical skirmish. The Reformed guys just don't like dispensationalism. I want to thank you for your great letter.

 --Dr. Mal Couch (9/11)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Resurrection and Rapture in Philippians 3:11

Dr. Couch, could the word "resurrection" (ex-anastasis) in Philippians 3:11 actually be about the rapture rather than the resurrection, as it is now translated?

ANSWER: You are correct in that this is the only place where this word is used in the NT. Technically, it translates "out-up-stand." It would be doubtful that it would be translated as "rapture." The verse concludes:

"That I may arrive at (attain to a thing, may become a partaker of) the out-up-stand along with the dead ones."

The word is clearly a compound and it is most unusual. Paul really wants to stress the resurrection. If the word was about the rapture it would include that thought, but here, he only touches on the resurrection of the "dead ones." If the rapture does not happen before he dies, he will join the righteous dead when they are brought back alive.

Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch (9/11)