Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Books on Premillennial Theology

Dr. Couch, I'm convinced. From much that you've been writing I see the error of amillennialism and covenant theology. Where can I read more on how all that heresy began?

ANSWER: I suggest three sources, or study the teaching of three individuals in church history. (1) Philo, (2) Origen, and (3) Augustine. They are the ones who influenced the church the most by their writings on allegorical interpretation.

The sources would be Bernard Ramm in his book Protestant Biblical Interpretation. Read pages 24-38. Read also on Catholic Allegorism (pp. 38-45). Also study the section on the Syrian School of Antioch (pp. 48-50). Antioch was most influenced by the early prophets and probably Paul as mentioned in the book of Acts. They maintained and taught the literal approach to Scripture for generations. Ramm writes "The result of these principles [developed in Antioch] was some of the finest exegetical literature of ancient times." And the literal interpretative school at Antioch, especially in "The commentary of Theodore [of Mopsuestia] on the minor epistles of Paul is the first and almost the last exegetical work produced in the ancient Church which will bear any comparison with modern commentaries."

Check out the three names of the men mentioned above in my Dictionary of Premillennial Theology (Kregel). I also wrote a chapter on the Antiochian School as well.

Read also what I wrote on these men in my interpretation book Classical Evangelical Hermeneutics (Kregel). The allegory and destructive hermeneutics of these men greatly influenced Catholic and then Reformation thinking in their spiritualizing especially biblical prophecy. I really do not think most allegory and amillennial guys know the origin of their own system. They are great quoters but terrible interpreters. They are unable to think textually and biblically.

I quote Trigg who shows the foolishness of Origen in his interpretation on Matthew 24 and the issue of the return of Christ. Trigg points out that Origen, on the two men laboring in the field, believes this "represents good and bad influences on a person's will." How dumb!
And I quote on Origen the great church historian and Lutheran amillennialist, Philip Schaff, when he has to admit that "His allegorical interpretation is ingenious, but often runs far away from the text and degenerates into the merest caprice." I conclude in my book, "amillennialists continue to utilize a system of interpretation that is textually and historically at odds with the normal reading [even] understood by the early church."

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Monday, December 19, 2011

Baptism in the Bible

Dr. Couch, where did baptism come from?

ANSWER: The idea of “the washing” comes from the washings from the OT. The water did not actually spiritually cleanse one, but it was a picture of such a cleansing. There are two words used in the OT context. The Greek word used in the LXX was baptizomai and the related word bapto. The baptismal work of the Holy Spirit is prophesied in Ezekiel 36:25. This is tied in to the coming of the New Covenant that was made for Israel, based on the death and the sacrifice of Christ. The New Covenant would replace the Law Covenant. See Jeremiah 31-on.

Ezekiel 36:25-27 is tied together: “I will sprinkle (“slosh” zarach) clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols” (v. 25). Physical water does not make one spiritually clean. The verses go on and say, “And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes …” (v. 27). “And you will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers …” (v. 28). The great Jewish/Christian scholar Dr. Charles Feinberg (who was one of my profs in grad school) writes: Ezekiel 36:25 “is a parallel to Jeremiah 31:31-34. … This is the coming of the Holy Spirit upon Israel in the future. … The gift of the Spirit is frequently connected with the coming of the new economy (dispensation) for Israel (see 39:29; Isa. 44:3; 59:21; Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:16 f.).”

This is the spiritual baptism carried out by the Holy Spirit as mentioned by Christ. It launches the New Covenant that was first for Israel but would be applied to the church. The church does not fulfill the New Covenant but presently benefits from it. Israel under the dispensation of the kingdom will in the future fulfill the New Covenant when the Jewish people come to Christ in the land. We are not now in the kingdom! The New Covenant was ratified by Christ’s death and launched at Pentecost, and will be fulfilled when Israel is back in the land and trusting in their Messiah!

Keep the dispensational lines straight and the Bible will all come together. Mix up the dispensations and you have chaos, and, you’ll get rid of Israel and certainly not understand how the Word of God goes together! Only dispensationalists have it right. The covenant guys have it all wrong and they allegorize and spiritualize the great prophecies of Scripture. They are into replacement theology and get rid of Israel just like the Catholic Church does.

Thus, the idea of a washing comes from the OT. But that washing is symbolic of the washing of the Holy Spirit, a baptism! This is what truly saves one, based on faith in Christ. Water baptism does not save! It is but the sign of the spiritual work and the spiritual reality carried out by the spiritual washing, and the union that follows with Christ, all done by the work of the Spirit.

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Baptism and the Washing Away of Sin

Dr. Couch, Acts 22:16 seems to say that water baptism “washes” away our sins. How do you answer?

ANSWER: To understand 22:16 you have to start with 3:19. 3:19 reads, speaking to the nation of Israel: “Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away (blotted out, ‘exaleipho’), …” Repent and return are both Second person Plurals, Aorist Imperatives. Or, “All of you repent and all of you return [back to God] [with the result that] your sins will be blotted out (wiped away).” “Wiped away” is an Aorist Passive Infinitive. Or, “Your sins will be acted upon, blotted away, by God”—“They are to be acted upon by the Lord. He will cause them to be gone!” This is based on their repentance and their returning to God! Of course the message they are to believe in is the fact that “Christ should suffer” [for you], and this “He has thus fulfilled” (v. 18).

This idea then is picked up and applied to Paul here in 22:16. Ananias tells Paul that “it was appointed for him to know God’s will, and to hear an utterance from His mouth. Because he was to be a witness for Him to all men of what he has seen and heard” (v. 15).

22:16 reads from the Greek: “Having gotten up, you are to be baptized yourself, and yourself have your sins washed away, and called yourself upon His name.” All of these verbs show parallel action going on at once. The Middle Voice is used continually, “yourself.” They are all Aorist Tenses. It is all happening at once. 3:19 certainly clarifies what is happening in 22:16. Baptism alone could not be saving Paul or any Israelite, and no other passage would give that idea.

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Matthew 24:40-42 and the Rapture

Dr. Couch, is the rapture in Matthew 24:40-42? Many of the well-known dispensationalists think so.

ANSWER: Heavens no, it is not! I know all the men you mentioned, and I knew the two that have passed on. Remember, they have (and had) a right to be wrong! (By the way, we're talking about the "one taken, one left" verses.)

The clear proof that this is not the rapture is that it is repeated in Luke 17:36-37. There, the disciples asked the Lord, "But where [are they taken] Lord?" He then gives a chilling answer: "Where the body is, there also will the vulture be gathered" (v. 37). In other words, these taken will be the unfaithful servants who will be taken out, when the King comes, and executed. This is what Christ says in the Matthew context. He says in the context of that statement: The unfaithful servant will be taken "and shall [be] cut in pieces and assigned to a place with the hypocrites; weeping shall be there and the gnashing of teeth" (v. 51). THAT IS NOT THE BLESSED RAPTURE!

Besides, after Christ had said in Matthew 40-41 "One taken and one left," He then added in verse 42, "Therefore be on the alert for you do not know which day your Lord is coming." The "you be on alert" is not the church but the Jews who are living when He returns as king. He is coming back here in this context as "The Son of Man" (v. 44) which is a messianic title about His kingship. It is found in Daniel 7. This "one taken, one left" statement is about His return as king, it is not about His headship over the church, nor about His coming for His church. Keep the lines straight. Use good OBSERVATION, OBSERVATION, OBSERVATION!

The one left is the faithful servant who was anticipating the coming of the king; the one taken is the one taken before Him and judged because he did not believe that his Lord was going to come back. That is the case today of many Jews. They are not expecting the coming of their own Messiah! Christ is not discussing the church; He is discussing the kingdom and His return as king, not His return to gather away the church saints!

(Boy, that is so easy! What is wrong out there in the church hinter-land?)

Sloppy interpretation always amazes me!

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Friday, December 16, 2011

Post-Tribulation and the Rapture

Dr. Couch, it seems as if the post-tribers are against the rapture doctrine because they say that Psalm 110:1 teaches that Christ remains in heaven until His enemies are subdued and then He comes back to earth again. What do you say?

ANSWER: They practice what I call "wooden-headed" interpretation. The Psalm 110 passage has to do completely with the issue of His coming to earth to reign. They cannot prove by the passage that He never leaves heaven to gather upwards His church saints in order to get them out of the way for the tribulation. They have a problem, I don't! All of the rapture passages are clear. (Look in the archives in this website. I have an exegesis on almost all of the rapture passages!)

God gathers His own up to Himself. And again, don't mix dispensations. Psalm 110 has to do with His coming millennial kingdom reign. The rapture issue has to do with the church.

The post-tribers have to answer what it means when Paul says "Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them (the resurrected) in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord" (1 Thess. 4:17). I can read! And I know the difference between up and down. He does not come down to reign. We go up to meet Him in the air. We take the Bible verses where we find them. We OBSERVE, OBSERVE, OBSERVE!

The reason we go up is obvious from 5:9. Paul writes, "For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." The church does not go through the wrath. And the wrath is the entire seven year period, not just the last half. We know this from Jeremiah 30:6-7. The "Birth Pangs" (v. 6) refer to "that day." And "that day" is "great" in a singular sense (v. 7). The church does not go through part, any part of, the tribulation. We are rescued from all of it! This is further explained in 1 Thessalonians 1:10: "Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come," all of it!

Only premillennialists practice good hermeneutics and sound observation. The other guys get very sloppy! And remember, when you work so hard to deny the obvious, you have a hidden agenda. What is their agenda? Usually, it is that they just don't like the doctrine of the rapture, and, they just don't like dispensationalism, though they really can't tell you why.

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Magi

Dr. Couch, who were the magi? Were they "three kings of Orient"? Were they three races, as sometimes pictured?

ANSWER: We have really fouled up the magi story! First of all, we do not know that they were "three" in number; that idea comes from the fact that they brought three precious items to the baby Jesus—gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matt. 2:11). (This is a fascinating story in itself!) If anything in regard to their race, they would have been Babylonian for that is where we get the idea for the magi.

The Greek word magos in the text is plural—magoi. The word means "the great ones." The term is related to the words "majestic, magnanimous." It is referring to the astronomers, astrologers of Babylon. They probably came from Shushan, the royal city of Babylon, or, possibly from Ur.

How did they know they were seeking the King of Israel, and what was the star they saw, while they were residing in the east? More than likely they had read the cryptic prophecy in Numbers 24:17 which says: "I see him, but not right now, I behold him, but he is not near. A star shall come forth from Jacob, and a scepter shall rise from Israel, and shall crush the head of Moab." (The people of Moab were the most violent enemies of Israel at that time.)

From their vantage point, looking west, they saw the star standing over Israel. This was a miracle star that God put in the heavens to announce the arrival of His Messiah, the anointed Ruler of the world!

How did the magi find this passage? We must remember that they were astronomer/astrologers who belonged to that school in Babylon. We must also remember that Daniel (over 400 years before) was made the dean of that university when he was ruling in Babylon. We read, "King Nebuchadnezzar … promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts, and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and … over all the wise men of Babylon" (Dan. 2:48). More than likely then, Daniel placed in their library the Torah scrolls of Moses. Since these men saw the star over the vicinity of Israel, they went into the library and found the Jewish scrolls and began to read through them. When they found the passage, and put together the vision of the star, they calculated that the Messiah (the King) was born. I believe they continued to read and discovered that the One being born was the Son of God. They truly believed in Him and came to worship Him with a genuine faith and trust, not simply doing a political homage to the birth of a politician.

On Numbers 24:17 Unger writes: "The 'Scepter' envisions the Lord coming to rule the earth as absolute King and Lord (Rev. 19:16). The 'Scepter' is owned first in Zion and extends to the ends of the earth when Shiloh comes (Gen. 49:10)."

Jesus did not come to reign in our hearts! He will someday be the King ruling over Israel and over the entire world in a literal, historic way, not in some allegorical, "spiritualized" way, as the covenant guys see it. King Herod got it right. He knew that the Messiah could replace him as ruler. Even a pagan king understood literal language over what some allegorical theologians wrongly teach today!

Thanks for asking.
Dr. Mal Couch