It is not uncommon to hear churches describe themselves as “Bible believing.” It is usually said to distinguish themselves from other churches which have very little regard for the authority of the Bible. And we certainly agree it is a good thing to be Bible believing. However, the question is not only: Do you believe the Bible, but what else do you believe?
What if two explicit statements of scripture seem to contradict each other? Which do we believe? The problem is with us, not the scriptures. The scriptures do not really contradict each other. It is only our opinion of one or the other passage that is contradictory. Sometimes people have such a strong opinion based on one statement of scripture that they reject another explicit statement of scripture.
A common example of this: the Bible says, “By grace are ye saved through faith…not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) Some people conclude that if salvation is “by grace through faith” and “not of works” then baptism cannot be essential to salvation. The problem is the Bible does not say that baptism is not essential. But rather the Bible connects the two. Jesus himself said. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” (Mark 16:16) The apostle Peter said, “Repent, and be baptized…for the remission of sins.” (Acts 2:38) The apostle Paul affirmed that we are “baptized into Christ.” (Romans 6:3; Galatians 3:27) And the apostle Peter wrote explicitly, “Baptism does also now save us.” (1 Peter 3:21)
We should never form an opinion from one passage that contradicts another. We should believe both and let time help us come to an understanding of why the passages are not contradictory. The real believer will trust that both statements of scripture are true; then, in time, he may come to understand how.