We will show the most important doctrine of the Bible is in question, that of the way to salvation. Jesus, and later James, taught a salvation by works, while Paul taught a salvation by faith alone. Since the most important doctrine of the Bible is in question, we can ignore the rest. As the judge will tell you, if a witness lies about part of his testimony, you can ignore the rest of it as unreliable. Since the Bible is in contradiction here, we need look no further and can ignore the rest of its testimony.
Prosecution Exhibit “A” - Matthew 5:17, James 2:14, Romans 3:28, Galatians 2:16, Ephesians 2:8
In the Gospels, Jesus teaches salvation comes by works - He says to enter the kingdom of heaven, your righteousness must exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. The scribes and Pharisees were the most religious people of the day, and meticulously followed the law of Moses as contained in the Old Testament. Jesus means we must follow the law better than they did in order to get to heaven. Obviously this means salvation is by works.
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-20 KJV)
But not only Jesus, but later in the book of James, James teaches salvation by works also.
What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? (James 2:14 KJV)
But compare this to the writings of Paul, who clearly teaches salvation by faith alone.
Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. (Romans 3:28 KJV)
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. (Galatians 2:16 KJV)
Salvation is the most important doctrine in the Bible. If it can’t be consistent, what reason is there to continue? Throw out this archaic book as inconsistent and out of date.
This is not a contradiction. Salvation is by faith alone, as Paul teaches. Jesus (we’ll get to James in a minute) teaches salvation comes by faith alone.
And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:40)
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. (John 6:47)
Jesus teaches salvation by faith alone. If we look at the crucifixion of Jesus, we note He was crucified between two thieves. The crowd (and the two thieves) mock Jesus, and say “He saved others, but can’t save Himself”. One of the thieves joins in the mocking of Jesus. But as all three hang there, an interesting thing happens to one of them.
But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. (Luke 23:40-42 KJV)
And what was Jesus response to this request?
And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:43 KJV)
What work had this man done to deserve salvation? He was being executed by Rome for his crimes! Can we say his righteousness exceeded the Pharisees? It doesn’t appear so. Yet Jesus says this criminal was saved
- not by works, but by faith in who Jesus is.
The prosecution simply misunderstands Jesus in the previously cited verses. Far from teaching salvation comes from works, this passage confirms works are insufficient for salvation. As the prosecution points out, the Pharisees were the most religious people alive at that time. They strived, in fact, they lived to keep the law of Moses. But as Paul points out, works cannot save you. If we take what Paul said as true, the prosecution would have you believe Jesus’ statement (and James’ also) must be false. But that shows his misunderstanding of this passage. If salvation came by works, the Pharisees would be saved, since they were the most religious people alive (as the prosecution points out). But Jesus doesn’t say the Pharisees are saved, only to be saved your righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees. Jesus never refers to the Pharisees as saved; He had extremely harsh words for the Pharisees.
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. (John 8:44 KJV)
So the most religious people alive are not saved; so the question is, how can I be saved? If the righteousness of the Pharisees is insufficient, how can I exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees, who spent day and night following the law of Moses? By having the righteousness of God. Man by himself can never be righteous. But Paul talks about a concept in Romans chapter four where we can have God’s righteousness imputed to us, giving us the example of how Abraham’s faith was accounted to him as righteousness by God
Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. (Romans 4:23-25 KJV)
By faith in Jesus Christ, our righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees, who clearly rejected Jesus teaching, Messiahship and Lordship.
The prosecution also makes a big deal from James’ statement that faith without works cannot save. This issue can best be illustrated with an example. Suppose I tell you I love my dog. But each day I go home, I take a baseball bat and beat him with it. Would you say my statement of faith is true? I don’t think so. In that situation, my works (beating my dog each day) do not match with my statements. James is saying the same thing about people who profess to be Christians. If their actions do not demonstrate a true Christian nature, can their statement alone save them? No. They were never Christians in the first place. Christianity is not an outward profession only, or following a list of rules as the Pharisees did, it is a condition of the heart. If your heart is right, your outward actions will be in line with your profession. James in no way teaches salvation by works, he teaches works will be the evidence of your salvation.
So the most important doctrine - salvation - is consistent through the Bible.
Defense exhibit “A” - proving the Bible is the Word of God.
Although we could continue to demonstrate other “errors” in the Bible don’t exist, perhaps it would be more constructive to show evidence of the Bible being the Word of God - it was written by someone with knowledge beyond human comprehension. What if this book gives us scientific knowledge we only recently have discovered ourselves? Would that be evidence this book comes from someone beyond human wisdom? It turns out we find some of the most advanced scientific concepts in the Bible. (The Bible: An Extraterrestrial Message page 12-14)
First, the Bible says time and the universe had a beginning. Until recently, many thought the universe was infinitely old. But we have recently discovered the universe is expanding, and an expanding universe presents a problem - if the universe is infinitely old and is expanding it must expand and contract in a cycle forever, since it cannot expand forever (blowing up a balloon until it breaks is a crude example of the principle involved). We now know the universe is expanding only - the theories of the universe expanding and contracting forever have been disproved. An expanding universe implies it had a beginning; it has not existed forever. Einstein himself stubbornly rejected the idea of a beginning for the universe, and wanted to prove it was infinitely old. But the big bang theory shows Einstein was wrong.
Einstein tried to avoid such a beginning by creating and holding onto his cosmological “fudge factor” in his equations until 1931, when Hubble’s astronomical observations caused him to grudgingly accept “the necessity for a beginning”. We have already seen how Hoyle dislikes the idea because, as he puts it, “The big bang theory requires a recent origin of the universe that openly invites the concept of creation”. Barry Parker sums up the feelings of most cosmologists: “If we accept the big bang theory, and most cosmologists now do, then a ‘creation’ of some sort is forced upon us” (Herren, Fred “Show Me God” page 107-108)
But the idea the universe is not infinitely old is long-standing news to people who read the Bible.
In the beginningGod created the heaven and the earth. (Genesis 1:1 KJV)
Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness; In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began; (Titus 1:1-2)
There was a point when the universe didn’t exist - the Bible says so, and science recently discovered the same truth. Also, as already mentioned, the universe is expanding - another scientific discovery we find in the Bible, as it speaks of God as the one who stretches out the heavens.
Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavenslike a curtain: (Psalms 104:1-2 KJV)
Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: (Isaiah 42:5)
Another relatively (few hundred years) new discovery is the world is round, not flat. As Columbus found out in 1492, most thought the earth was flat - but not the Bible.
It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in: (Isaiah 40:22 KJV)
You may think these are just coincidence, but they just “happen” to agree with very recent discoveries in science. But there is more. We find the laws of thermodynamics in the Bible. One of the laws of thermodynamics is called entropy and is firmly established in science. Basically, it means things tend to go from order to disorder or chaos; any parent is familiar with this concept. “Clean your room” is often heard as a parent speaks to their children. And why? If the child starts out with a clean room, it tends to become messy later! That is the idea behind entropy. Entropy says the universe is winding down (this is one of the reasons the expanding and contracting idea for the universe doesn’t work). It also means at some point the universe will cease to exist. This is recent knowledge for man, but not for the Bible.
Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished. (Isaiah 51:6 KJV)
Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. (Matthew 24:35 KJV)
The Bible has the answers to questions science will never answer - How did the universe begin? How will it end? Even the big bang cannot explain the beginnings of the universe, for it soon runs head on into the planck time problem, where time units smaller than 10-43 seconds don’t exist. Simply put, we can never understand what happened at time t=0 in the universe; it is unknowable. (Note: if you understand a little about quantum mechanics, you understand the previous statement and its implications, if you don’t it’s not a problem - for the core arguments here do not rely on understanding quantum physics).
Internationally respected astronomer (and self-confessed agnostic) Robert Jastrow admits that scientists have been “traumatized” by coming up against a problem that must forever remain beyond them” [the idea of how the universe came into existence] … Jastrow concludes his book [God and the Astronomers] “For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.” (Herren, Fred “Show Me God” page 121-122)
The Bible provides the answers.