Questions Blog

How do we know we've really forgiven someone?

First of all, this is a really meaty question and there's a lot to it. It's also worth acknowledging that you can answer it 'academically' and give all the Biblical theory or you answer it 'situationally' and work out why in life we can find it so hard to forgive. It's also hard to do this question justice without all the context.

Why did God let the devil torment Job?

This is a great question, one that really will resonate with many people and a really hard one to answer. There never will really be a full answer to this question.

I think what is really helpful in coming to an better grasp of this question is what the answer isn't and where we mustn't go.

It's really important to make sure that we don't deny God when coming to the issue of suffering. We've got to hold to who God is and what he is like. We mustn't fall into the trap of denying God.

Why were only the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and the Levites mentioned in the book of Ezra? What happened to the other tribes?

Historically, Judah, Benjamin and some Levites (the priestly tribe who were never allotted a section of land but were the priests to the other tribes so lived among them on their land and were supported by them) made up the Southern Kingdom called Judah.

I've just had the Jehovah's Witnesses round, I was polite but feel there is a better way to spread the gospel with them. Any advice?

The first thing to know about the JW's and any Christian deviant cult/sect (Mormons, Christadelphians...) is they have a persecution mentality. This means if you slam a door in their face they're pretty happy, if you set the dogs on them they're really happy and if you chase them down the street screaming at them whilst throwing large heavy objects they are ecstatic. So being polite, welcoming, inviting them in for a cup of tea and biscuit is what they're not expecting, especially from Christians.

Does the devil act independently?

Put simply, no, the devil (or Satan) does not act independently – he is not outside of God’s sovereign control. There are three points to make here which will make this clearer.

Firstly, God is in complete control of everything, and has absolute power over Satan. We see this most clearly in the first two chapters of the book of Job. Satan is unable to do anything to Job without God’s permission, and nor can he do anything to us without God’s permission.

Will more books be added to the canon?

One of the requirements for being included in the canon is that the author is either an apostle (most of the New Testament) or working closely with an apostle in putting their book together (Mark, Luke, Acts). This is because Jesus promised the apostles that he would open their minds so that they could remember all that had happened, and so that they could understand and explain the Old Testament to people.

There seem to be lots of books which would fit with the three tests that were mentioned when deciding whether a book is canon, for example J. I. Packer’s Knowing God. Should they be classed as part of scripture, too?

The simple answer is, no they shouldn’t. The three tests given were not meant to be exhaustive and to be used on any book, but just for those we have in the Bible now. There have been many, many books written over the years which are extremely helpful in the Christian life, and do cause us to know and love the Lord Jesus more, while fitting with what scripture says, and being internally consistent.

On QI the other day, it was made clear that the census described at the beginning of Luke’s gospel could not have happened. How does this fit with the Bible being inerrant?

The two assertions made on QI was that there were (a) no censuses of the whole Roman empire and (b) no censuses which required people to return to their home town. However, there are two main pieces of evidence to suggest that these assertions are false.