Does the Bible Contradict Itself? (Romans 4)

Is the Bible ever wrong? Though the vast majority of Christians would emphatically answer, “no!”, theologians have been grappling with a particular “contradiction” for years.

In Romans four, Paul spends the entire chapter explaining that people are saved, not through their works, but through faith alone. In fact, according to Paul, our works are less than nothing. However, James 2:17, states plainly, “Faith without works is dead!” So, which is it?

Martin Luther was so flustered by this entire situation that he asserted that James must not have actually been divinely inspired.

The view that we will take here is that all of scripture is divinely inspired, without error and does not contradict itself. When it seems as though it does, we will dig deeper until we find the truth that we have previously missed.

Here is how I see it: grace and works are not mutually exclusive. When God saves us, it is completely His grace. We can’t earn it, we can’t add to it. All we can do is accept it as the free gift that it is. This is why when the jailor asked, “What must I do to be saved?” in Acts 16, the answer was: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.”

However, salvation will change us. Second Corinthians 5:17 tells us that after we make Jesus Lord of our lives, we are new creations. Jesus told Nicodemus that the change is so radical that it is as if we are born again. When a rich young ruler came to Jesus asking how to be right with God, Jesus told him to give everything that he had to the poor. His action wouldn’t save him, but it would prove what was in his heart.

Our faith in the completed work of Jesus on the cross to forgive our sins and justify us before God takes no work on our part. However, the good works that God intended us to do before we were even born (Ephesians 2:10) will make it obvious that we have put our faith in Him.

We are so glad to have you in Bible study with us! If you miss a devotion, you can find them archived at

Reading Plan–Week Twenty-Five

Day One–Romans 4
Day Two–Romans 5
Day Three–Romans 6
Day Four–Romans 7
Day Five–Romans 8