Difficult Passages Articles

Q: Was Mohammed Prophesied in the Bible?

By Clark Moghadam

I came across the claim that Muhammad and other religious people like Buddha were referenced in the Bible, and I was hoping you could give me your thoughts. I compiled all the reasons why they believe this. I am not theologically knowledgeable enough to comprehend this, but it has been bugging me.

The Bible mentions Muhammad as the “offspring of Ishmael,” “sons of Dumah,” or “Machmad.” In Song of Solomon 5:16, the word “lovely” is said to be mentioning Muhammad. The reason for this is that the Hebrew word that’s translated into English as “lovely” is “Mahmad.” This is a description of a man, and he is said to be delightful at the end of the description.


Can Christians Lose Their Salvation?

By Adam Lloyd Johnson, Ph.D.

Most Christians will struggle, at least once, with the issue of losing their salvation. For some people this struggle becomes a lifelong trial of frustration and anxiety. Some protestant denominations, including Methodists and Lutherans, teach that it is possible to lose your salvation. But other denominations, such as Presbyterians and Baptists, teach that once you become a Christian, you can never lose your salvation. So who has the final say in such matters? We should always look to God and His Word as our first and final authority. He has given us His instructions in the Bible, and we’re responsible to study it diligently so we know the truth.


Defending the Protestant Position of Salvation by Faith Alone

This is a serious issue because one of the most important things a person should know is how he can become a Christian. When someone becomes a Christian, they are saved from the punishment of hell that we all deserve, forgiven, reconciled back to God, and welcomed into heaven to spend eternity loving God and loving others. If the Catholic position on faith and works is incorrect, then they aren’t telling people the correct way to become a Christian. In fact, if Protestants are right that someone is saved by faith alone apart from works, then adding works to salvation is a serious mistake. Paul even wrote that “[y]ou have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace” (Gal. 5:4).


If Life Ends at Death, Then Eat, Drink, and Be Merry, for Tomorrow We Die

By Adam Lloyd Johnson, Ph.D.

The book of Ecclesiastes is notoriously difficult to interpret. In this article I share my best attempt at understanding and explaining what this book is about. Many have argued that the main message of Ecclesiastes is that we shouldn’t look for meaning and purpose in this world or in this mortal life. While that might be a valid application of the truths found in Ecclesiastes, I don’t think that is its primary message. It seems to me that the main purpose of Ecclesiastes is to teach the following conditional: If life ends at death, then life, and the toil of this life, is vanity because it’s fleeting, futile, meaningless, and absurd.


Election: God’s Right to Choose

By Adam Lloyd Johnson, Ph.D.

How does God choose who will be saved and who won’t? Historically there have been two major positions; today most call these two positions Calvinism and Arminianism, but they’ve gone by other names throughout history. There are other positions, but these two are the most common. Calvinists generally put more emphasis on God’s sovereignty to choose who will be saved, and Arminians put more emphasis on our responsibility to choose to trust in Christ. For some denominations, this issue is one of their distinctives; most all Presbyterians are Calvinists, and most all Methodists are Arminians. But other denominations are different; for example, Southern Baptists don’t hold this issue as one of their distinctives.


Q: What Does It Mean When the Bible Says God “Changed His Mind”?

By Adam Lloyd Johnson, Ph.D.

1 Samuel 15:29 says that God “will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind.” What is strange, then, is that several times the Bible also says, “God changed His mind”! Some say this is a contradiction, and I could see their point if different Biblical authors were always saying these two things in two different books.

However, the writer of 1 Samuel says both of these things in the very same chapter. 1 Samuel 15:11 says God regretted (changed His mind about) making Saul king.


Q: What Did Jesus Mean in Matthew 7:6 When He Said, “Don’t Give to the Dogs What is Holy”?

By Adam Lloyd Johnson, Ph.D.

The context is important here; read Matthew 7:1-6. Jesus is explaining how not to be like the Pharisees. The Pharisees arrogantly went around pointing out everything people did wrong. Yeah, they were the life of the party, as you can imagine.

Well, Jesus was teaching that we shouldn’t be like that. Jesus does not say we should never judge others; that would be ludicrous. When someone murders, we must step in and say “hey, that is wrong.” It’s not that we shouldn’t judge, but that we shouldn’t judge like the Pharisees did, arrogantly just to exult themselves over other people.


Seventy Weeks of Years

A Commentary on Daniel 9:24-27

By Adam Lloyd Johnson, Ph.D.

Translation of Daniel 9:24-27

24 Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place.

25 So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.


Q: What Does it Mean that Jesus Will “Baptize with Fire” in Matthew 3:11?

By Adam Lloyd Johnson, Ph.D.

In Matthew 3:11, John the Baptist says that he will baptize with the water but that Jesus will come and baptize with fire. What does he mean when he says Jesus will “baptize with fire”?

This baptism with fire is mentioned only in Matthew 3:11 and Luke 3:16. In both instances it is immediately surrounded by these statements from John the Baptist, here taken from Matthew 3:7-12:

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?


Q: What Does it Mean in Acts 10:4 that Cornelius’ Prayers Served as a “Memorial” to God?

By Adam Lloyd Johnson, Ph.D.

In the Old Testament, God commanded His people to perform many different types of offerings. There were burnt offerings, grain offerings, peace offerings, sin offerings, and guilt offerings. See Leviticus chapters 1-7 for the details of these different offerings that the Israelites were supposed to perform in their worship of God.

As far as I know, there wasn’t a specific “memorial offering.” Instead, many of the offerings, or portions of them, were to serve as memorials (see Leviticus 6:15). A memorial is anything that serves as a reminder to people or to God. We celebrate Memorial Day in America as a way to remember those that have fought for our country.