Satan has sought to undermine the authority of the Word of God since the beginning. He whispered to Eve, “hath God said…?” suggesting God was withholding something from our first parents. But more often than not his attacks are far more subtle. There are some, for example, would have us believe the Scriptures contradict themselves; therefore they cannot be trusted. This is nothing more than an attempt to cast a shadow of doubt upon the veracity of God’s Word.
Despite their claims, God never contradicts Himself because He is omniscient! He knows the end from the beginning; how could He possibly contradict Himself? When we’re confronted with an alleged contradiction, the problem isn’t with the Word of God; rather, it’s with our understanding of the Scriptures. Most times there is a simple solution to the problem.
The problem of faith vs. works1 is often thought of as a glaring contradiction:
“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law” (Romans 3.28).
“Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (James 2.24).
These two statements are opposed. Reconciling or harmonizing them cannot be done without considerable twisting of the Scriptures. So how are they untwisted? By rightly dividing your bible.
In this case above, we must first ask ourselves to whom is this written. In James 1:1, we are told that James is writing “to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad.” And because salvation in the Old Testament involved faith and works. James wrote from this perspective. Conversely, the ascended, glorified Lord revealed to Paul a gospel He had kept hidden, that required faith alone for salvation. Both James and Paul were correct. But each must be understood in its proper context and timeframe.
James does not contradict Paul. When James wrote, faith and works were required for salvation. In addition, the book of James will again be doctrine during the time of Jacob’s Trouble (the Tribulation). For us, the Body of Christ in this the age of Grace, we are to use the epistles of Paul as doctrine and follow his pattern as he followed Christ.
So while this purported contradiction is easily resolved, this is not always necessarily the case. In those areas where we are unable to adequately address a discrepancy, we must patiently wait upon the Lord for additional light, which may not be given until eternity. source
1 See this study for more on Faith vs. Works in James