By faith
2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.
NASB  Romans 4:2

By works
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar?
NASB  James 2:21

SAB Contradiction 2

SAB Contradiction

“Was Abraham justified by faith or by works?” At the first glance it seems that we have a clear contradiction. But many things are not what they seem and SAB walked into the trap. Atheists usually have a very limited notion of the wealth of conceptions in the Christian faith, which often results in unarranged misconceptions for them. They like to give the faith a bad odor with the trick: either … or …, instead of: both … and … which is the Christian rule. Yes, Abraham was justified by faith and by works.

Justification by faith

(Paul) “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) A Christian is saved by grace and by grace only; not as a result of works. So he can never proudly state: I have saved myself; but it was the grace of my Lord Jesus Christ who accepted a sinner like me. This justification of faith has exclusively to do with the spiritual, invisible world. 

Justification by works

(Jesus) “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24-25) Being saved, a Christian has still a lot to do in this world. Jesus gave a lot of instructions for practical life. That means: activities, doing a lot. Also in this case there is no room for boasting, as it is the rock that provides security for the house (Christian life) to not fall in disorder. This justification by works has exclusively to do with the practical, visible world. These works don't provide justification before God, and strangely enough these works are in need of God’s ongoing justification as they are never perfect.


I am sorry to say it, but SAB is lacking in a proper understanding of the essentials of the Christian faith. It is not: either … or …, but: both … and …; both justification by faith and justification by works. They are both necessary. It is impossible to call this a Biblical Contradiction, as SAB does.

No Bible Contradiction

Additional Remark I

James says (2:21-23): “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected [better: accomplished, finished]; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘and Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,’ and he was called the friend of God.”
When Abraham got the promise of a son, he could only believe, as it was impossible that he and Sara would get a child in a natural way (justification by faith). After the birth of Isaac he received the command to sacrifice him, but in the earlier promise it was said that the son to be born would be his heir (Genesis 15:4). And so Abraham knew that he would return with Isaac alive after the offering. Abraham knew that Isaac was chosen to inherit from him. So the belief of Abraham that he received through the promise was decisive for him when he was about to do a ‘work’, i.e. to offer his son (justification by faith and work).

Additional Remark II

Luther in Schalmaldic Articles (How one becomes justified in the sight of God and About good works):
“Such a faith, i.e. becoming new and forgiveness of sins, is followed then by good works … We also say: ‘If good works don’t follow, the faith is false and not right.’” 
(Present author) We can substitute the word ‘fruit’ for ‘works’ in some places to get a clear understanding of the relationship between faith and works. If there is no ‘fruit’ (works), then we question the quality or value of the ‘tree’ (the faith)? Just as Jesus said: “…for the tree is known by its fruit.” (Matthew 12:33)