Biblical Contradictions and Confusion: How Are People Saved?

Biblical Contradictions and Confusion: How Are People Saved? June 29, 2020

Photo by DJ Paine on Unsplash

By Tim Zeak

How is a person saved?

Paul says in Gal 2:16 & Rom 3:20 that salvation is by faith alone. James 2:21–24 states that it is by works. Acts 2:21 & Rom 10:13 say to just call on the name of the Lord and you will be saved, HOWEVER, Matt 7:21 states that not everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Matt 25:34–46 teaches that heaven is obtained only by helping the poor and needy and without doing those things one is eternally condemned.

Rom 8:29–30 & Rom 9:15–16 makes it very clear that salvation is only the result of election and predestination by God regardless of what anyone does. Yet, in the same book, we are instructed in Rom 10:9 that we actually must confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord AND believe in our heart that God has raised Him from the dead. (Is it possible to sincerely believe in something if you see no evidence for it?)

Mark 16:16 declares you must be baptized, but then in 1Cor 1:14 we hear the great missionary Paul thanking God that he didn’t baptize any of them, except for one or two. Rom 2:13 teaches that you must keep the law. Then we have Matt 10:22 & Mark 13:13 saying that only those who endure to the end will be saved. Phil 2:12 warns the reader to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling while John 3:16 says all you need to do is believe. James 2:14 makes it clear that faith alone is of no value while Gal 5:4 says you are damned if you do not use faith alone.

Luke 21:19 teaches it is only by standing firm while 1Chron 28:9 claims that all we have to do is seek Him, yet Rev 20:11–13 says no no no, we will be judged according to our works. But Matt 7:2 says we will be judged according to how we judge others. In John 3:5 Jesus states very clearly that in order to be saved, you must be born of water and of the Spirit. What does that even mean, especially when we hear the same Jesus in Matt 19:16–17 just as clearly state that we must keep the commandments? Heb 9:28 says even in sin, if we eagerly await His second coming, He will give us salvation. We hear in Acts 10:35 that in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.

For women to be saved (or at least preserved), please read 1Tim 2:15 which I quote…”But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.” This verse immediately follows the one who blames the woman for making Adam sin which immediately follows the one that commands women not to speak in church and never to have authority over a man. If anyone is still confused about what they need to do to have eternal life, we conclude with the very words that John quotes Jesus as saying in John 6:53–54 “So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

Now, out of all those various teachings about how to be saved, and for a minute, let’s assume that one of them is true…and you are lucky enough to pick the right one…you still only have a 50/50 chance of salvation because there are numerous scriptures that teach you can never lose your salvation while numerous others teach that you can… since everyone sins many times every day. Just a few of the sins are selfishness, gluttons, worry, anger, racism, greed, slander, gossip, lust, not giving all your money away, unkindness, not being kind to the poor, not praying without ceasing, working on the Sabbath, and many more which are specifically warned against in the Bible, a number of which are classified as abominations. What hope is there for anyone if any unconfessed sin at death results in hell as some verses teach? There is just no way to read the Bible and understand what it teaches about salvation without contradictions and mass confusion.

If a perfect God inspired the Bible, is it possible for there to be any mistakes or confusion in it? If the most important thing possible is your eternal destiny, should not the requirement(s) for salvation be crystal clear so that everyone can understand it? How then, can 1 Cor 14:33 state that God is not the author of confusion? There are hundreds of Christian denominations differentiating themselves from all others in the world and not only are there major disagreements of how one can be saved, but also major controversies about each of the following doctrines:

What is the proper form of baptism (sprinkled or full immersion); the words to be used in baptism (in the name of Jesus only or in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost); should babies be baptized or only those who understand and accepts the Gospel; the Eucharist or communion (should real wine or Welch’s grape juice be used) and regardless, does it or does it not turn into the actual and literal flesh and blood of Jesus and if so when; are babies saved if they die (despite no scriptural support that they are); can women teach or even talk in church; are black people fully human?

What is marriage (one man one woman, or 700 wives with 300 concubines or multiple wives as in the Old Testament or captured young virgin slave girls that we see being forced to marry in Old Testament scripture…see Deut 21:10–13); is speaking in tongues of God or of the devil; are demons and witches real or should witches be burned at the stake as is commanded by the Bible to do; does the Bible contain any myths or analogies or is every story literally true; the age of the earth (some say 6000 years, others say 4,500,000,000 years); evolution; end of time…(pre-rapture, post-rapture or no rapture).

Is hell literal, is hell eternal, if so will there be outer darkness or red hot fires; should you just whip a disobedient child or stone it to death; divorce and remarriage (many teach it is a sin for an abused wife to even leave an abusive husband…if so, should she count it as joy to be beaten or can she at least call the police); are movies and dances sinful; is drinking permitted; how about smoking or even coffee drinking; how short can a skirt be; can women wear slacks; can men wear long hair, and many others including are Mormons even Christians? (Franklin Graham said no until a Republican Mormon ran for president).

Oh how the Bible so quickly changes to say whatever the preacher wants it to say. And they all use verses from the Bible in support of each of their stated doctrines. Hundreds of denomination and not any two of them agree on everything. If you are confused about any of this, 1Cor 14:33 suggests that something is wrong with you.

Of course, nothing is wrong with you. If the Bible and Christianity seem confusing and contradictory, that’s because they are.

About Tim Zeak
Born and "raised" in Indiana, Tim now lives in Florida and is very happily retired. He was a full-blooded evangelical fundamentalist for many years. Now he's a "true-blue" and happy atheist, trying to make life a little better for all. You can read more about the author here.
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