Difficult Passages

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.

The Heart of God: Romans 9-11

This seven-part series examines three of the most difficult and debated chapters in Paul's epistle to the Romans, and through them seeks to discover the true heart of God.

Like God, Paul Takes No Pleasure in the Death of the Wicked

Romans 9:1-5

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.