First of all, we have to know where the statement: “the Bible has contradictions” comes from. When someone believes that the Bible has a contradiction, they have been convinced by a demon as we see this concept originate from Satan who back in the Garden of Eden contradicted God’s Word to Eve to make her fall into sin. That’s where “the Bible has contradictions” originated from. Below you will see this.
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.”
2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. 3 But about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘You must not eat it or touch it, or you will die.’”
4 “No! You will not die,” the serpent said to the woman.
The way I deal with so-called contradictions is by:
1. Reading the passage in its full context.
2. Seeing how the author of the Book is using the word or phrase in the immediate context.
3. Comparing the two seemingly contradicting passages like the two below:
2 If Abraham was justified by works, he has something to brag about—but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness.
James 2:21, 24
21 Wasn’t Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?
24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.
What do we do with these two passages? Since that passage with quoted from the Old Testament, the first step is to go where the original quote was taken from to see in that context what the passage means which is found in Genesis 15:4-6 which says, 4 Now the word of the Lord came to him: “This one will not be your heir; instead, one who comes from your own body will be your heir.” 5 He took him outside and said, “Look at the sky and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then He said to him, “Your offspring will be that numerous.”
6 Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness.
Now it is clear that the meaning of the passage in Genesis which both Paul and James use is referring to faith alone in God is what saves because Abraham believed God, he knew that He would keep His promise to him that’s why when God told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac (to test his faith) he went to do it without any hesitation. God stopped him and provided a ram to be sacrificed in place of his son which was a foreshadow of Jesus Christ on the cross, showing that Abraham had true saving faith in God. That type of faith which is not only believing but having complete trust that it will happen just as God has said was credited to him for righteousness.
The next step would be to know why James seems like he is saying faith plus works equals salvation while Paul on the other hand, agrees with the meaning in Genesis.
It will become clearer when we read it in the full context which is found in James 2:14-17 which says, “14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can his faith save him?
15 If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself.”
We see here that James was dealing with Christians who didn’t want to do anything for the Lord and his question to them was how in the world can you show people that you are born again and love them if you don’t show it? Basically, real faith will produce works meaning that works are a by-product of a saving faith in Jesus Christ. Those who have the Holy Spirit will do God’s will and produce fruit according to Philippians 2:13 which says, “13 For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.”
James and Paul are saying the same thing, Paul is dealing with Christians who want to earn their salvation through their works and James is dealing with Christians who don’t want to do anything for the Lord. Both are using the same text to prove that faith alone saves but saving faith has to produce works for the Lord showing that you are truly a new person in Christ and delight in doing His will.
For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.
The Bible does not contain contradictions, all we have to do is apply certain rules so you won’t be swayed by the enemy in believing that the Bible cannot be relied upon because of contradictions. Read the passage in its full context, use references to get a clearer understanding and you will define words and verses with the surrounding passages. Without rules in interpretation, you will intentionally or unintentionally twist the meaning of passages.