Why Is Christianity Different From Other Religions?

Introduction

What makes Christianity different from other religions is a great question which needs to be answered.

I remember playing golf with a group of men one time and when one of them found out I was a Christian, he started cursing and swearing at any opportunity he could get.

He obviously did it to get some kind of reaction from me, but I didn’t give him one. Cursing and swearing is something I grew up hearing and doing myself before I became a Christian, so to a degree his language didn’t surprise me.

As we went around the golf course, he approached me and proudly said, ‘Just to let you know I’m an atheist!’ So, I replied and said, ‘Well, just to let you know, I’m a Christian.’ He said, ‘I know you are, and I hate religion because it has caused so many wars in the world, there are paedophiles who abuse children and get away with it, I hate religion!’

Well, I shook his hand and told him ‘I hate religion too and yes you are right, there have been many terrible things done in the name of religion.’ I could tell he was looking to get into some kind of debate with me, but he was somewhat surprised that I agreed with him.

The reason for sharing that story is to remind us that real religion is about looking after widows and orphans in their distress, James 1:27. Real religion is about people taking care of their own families, including their parents and grandparents, 1 Timothy 5:4.

The emphasis is not on being religious but on being in a relationship with God, His Son and the Holy Spirit, Psalm 145:18-19 / Acts 2:38 / Ephesians 1:13 / Revelation 3:20; because religion does not change anyone, the church does not change anyone.

External things do not change anyone, but God, through His Word changes us from the inside out, Ezekiel 36:26 / Romans 8:29 / Romans 12:2 / 2 Corinthians 3:18.

What is the difference between a Christian and a moral humanitarian?

A Christian might say, “Well I’m a Christian and so I keep the Ten Commandments.” We need to understand that many people keep the Ten Commandments. The only difference is that people who are not Christians do not believe that God wrote them.

Again, a Christian may say, “But yes, because I’m a Christian I do many good deeds for people.” Well, again we need to understand that many secular people in the world do a lot of good deeds for people.

Now all those things are important, Christians should be moral, Romans 13:8-10 / Matthew 7:12, and we should do good things, Matthew 5:16 / Hebrews 13:16.

But what is the difference between you and a moral humanitarian?

The answer is simply this, as Christians we bear witness to our Lord Jesus Christ. According to Acts 1:8 witnessing is something we are, not something we do.

Jesus did not say, “You will do witnessing.” He said, “You will be witnesses.” It is what you will be. Jesus promised, “He would make us fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19. In other words, he did not just say, “If you follow me, I’ll change your priorities.” He said, “If you follow me, I’ll change your identity.” “I will change, who you are.”

Let’s ask this question, what is the difference between other religions and Christianity?

In Judaism, if a person wants to make it to heaven, they have to be righteous (obey all the Torah i.e. the law of Moses), this includes having to practice deeds of lovingkindness to others.

In Buddhism, if a person wants to attain nirvana, the place of perfect peace and happiness, they have to walk the eightfold path.

In Islam, if a person wants to get to heaven, they have to perform the five pillars, or other good works so that their good deeds outweigh their bad deeds in the final judgment.

In Hinduism, if a person wants to achieve moksha, which is freedom from the reincarnation cycle, they need to be released from the cycle of death and rebirth by achieving one or more of the four paths that are described in Hinduism. These paths or yoga are devotion, knowledge or intellect, selfless service and meditation.

What is the difference between other religions and Christianity?

We need to understand that every religion in the world says, “You could be saved”, but that is not what makes Christianity special and different.

That is not what makes our gospel good news. What makes our gospel good news, is that the Christian faith is the only religion in the world that says, “You could be saved by grace and not by works.” Ephesians 2:8 / Titus 3:5.

People need to know that about God because most people don’t. Most people do not know that works and morality have nothing to do with working for salvation.

People need to know about God through the lens of the cross. And when we understand the cross, we see that the love of God was expressed, the holiness of God was upheld, and the justice of God was satisfied.

If we are honest with ourselves, we will admit that most of us cannot explain every mystery in the Bible. Most of us cannot explain all the millennial theories. Most of us have little knowledge concerning minor prophecy, but we need to be able to explain what the cross was about.

We need to be able to explain to our friends that God has made an offer in Christ Jesus that no other religion in the world can match.

Now there are many ways we can do this, we can explain it using the words, “DO” and “DONE”. Most of the religious theories of how people get to heaven are summed up in the word “DO.”, they just have a different list of things which they need to do.

But the Christian religion is summed up in the word “DONE”. Jesus said, “It is finished,” on the cross, John 19:30. In other words, Christianity is the only religion in the world which says a person can be saved based on what Someone else has done and not based on what we have to do.

Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying here, God’s love for mankind is unconditional, Matthew 5:45 / John 3:16 / Romans 8:31-39, but salvation is conditional, John 3:17-18.

When we speak of grace, we must remember that grace in and of itself cannot save anyone, grace puts us in a position to be saved. Grace gives us the choice as to whether we want to be saved or not, grace points us in the direction of salvation and for that to happen we need to look to Jesus and do what He says.

Yes, faith is important, John 11:25-26 / Romans 1:16 / 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, and recognising our sinfulness and need for salvation is important, 1 Timothy 1:15. And yes, repentance is important, Acts 3:19 / Acts 17:30 / 2 Corinthians 7:10, and confession is important, Matthew 10:33-35 / Romans 10:9.

And yes, baptism is important, Matthew 28:19-20 / Mark 16:16 / Acts 2:38 / Romans 6:3-7, and confessing our sins, 1 John 1:6-10, and remaining faithful and obedient to Him all the days of our lives are important, Revelation 2:10.

All these things are important for salvation, but they are not works of merit, but choices people have to make to receive salvation.

If I were to tell you I had a brand-new house built for you in London, it’s my free gift to you but in order for you to own it, you must go to London. But as you make your way to London, you must get on three trains, one bus and a taxi, or I can’t give you this gift. Now imagine you accepted my free gift and you got on three trains, one bus and a taxi to London.

Did you earn or work for that gift? No, it was my free gift to give. Did you have to do anything to receive that gift? Yes, you had to get on three trains, one bus and a taxi to London. Would I have given you the free gift if you only used two trains, one bus and a taxi? No! Why? Because my instructions were for you to use three trains, one bus and a taxi.

My point is this, salvation is free but we must do something to receive it. The choice to obey them would not have been given to us if God’s grace didn’t appear in the first place, that is Christ Jesus coming to die for everyone, Titus 2:11-14.

What makes Christianity different from other religions is the fact that its basis for salvation is built upon the grace of God, not the merits of our work, Romans 8:1-4.

Christians worship God, do good deeds, and live a life which pleases God, not because they HAVE to, but because they WANT to. The apostle Paul did not tell us to, work FOR our salvation, or work TOWARDS our salvation, he tells us to work OUT our salvation, Philippians 2:12.

Christians do everything God wants them to do, not FOR salvation, but BECAUSE OF their salvation, Ephesians 2:8-9 / 1 Corinthians 1:18 / Romans 5:9 / 1 John 5:13.

Christians do everything God wants them to do, not for salvation, but because they are motivated by His love for us, John 13:33-35 / 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 / Ephesians 4:32 / 1 John 4:19.

The whole process of salvation begins and ends with grace. If Christ did not come, there would be no basis for faith, never mind the promise of salvation, Acts 4:12 / Titus 2:11-14.

I love what the frontman of U2 Bono says concerning God’s grace. He says the following.

“I love the idea of the Sacrificial Lamb. I love the idea that God says: Look, you cretins, there are certain results to the way we are, to selfishness, and there’s a mortality as part of your very sinful nature, and, let’s face it, you’re not living a very good life, are you? There are consequences to actions. The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That’s the point. It should keep us humbled. It’s not our own good works that get us through the gates of heaven.”

John Lennox, a Christian apologist, and professor of mathematics at Oxford University tells a story of a time he had completed speaking at a Christian conference in Hungary. As he left the train station, he was strongly led to sit next to two professional men. As the train passed a cemetery filled with crosses one man asked, “Are there Christians in this country?” Lennox said, “Yes, there are many. I’ve been with them all week!”

Since they had a long train ride, they asked him to tell them the difference between Christianity and their religion. Lennox drew a wiggly line on the dusty train floor and attempted to sketch the general contours of religion. He said every religion has some of the same features. First, there is an initiation, a birth, or a confession at the beginning.

Then there is a time of learning from a spiritual leader and or sacred books. After this, there is effort and progress, often mixed with failure, in applying religious learning to life. Finally, the end of religion involves some future judgement, a final exam, or a scale of justice to see if you win acceptance and achieve your goal.

As he explained these things he drew a door, scholarly hats, a scale, and a final door. The men agreed that their religion and all religions have these features in common. Lennox then said, “Well then, I am not religious.”

The men protested, “But you said you were a Christian.” Lennox said, “The Christian message is very different. It does not consist of a merit-based acceptance by God at the final judgment. Christianity teaches something utterly radical at this point. It tells us that we can be accepted at the beginning of the path, a step of commitment to a person, Jesus Christ, which involves believing that He is God incarnate, who has come into the world to give his life as a ransom for our sins, which alienate us from God.” In other words, in Christianity, full acceptance is at the beginning because Jesus has finished the work of salvation on the cross.

Lennox then drew a cross in the beginning doorway and explained, “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” John 5:24.

After further explanation there was silence in the carriage for a long time until the one man turned to John and said, “I guess it all depends on who Jesus Christ really is?”

That is the question everyone must answer for themselves, who is Jesus? Matthew 16:13-20.

Charles Spurgeon once said, ‘Whatever God is, Christ is. The very likeness of God, the very Godhead of Godhead, the very Deity of Deity is in Christ Jesus.’

Conclusion

What is the difference between other religions and Christianity?

Christianity is the only religion where God is born as a man and becomes fully human, John 1:1-3 / John 1:14 / Colossians 2:9 / Hebrews 1:3.

Christianity is the only religion that teaches that God came to us because He loves us so much, John 3:16-17 / Romans 5:8.

Christianity is the only religion that has a leader who died and came back to life, Matthew 28:6.

Christianity is the only religion that declares that a person can be saved because of what Someone else has done, John 19:30.

No one can ever do enough good works to get to heaven, but Jesus did plenty on Calvary, Jesus did enough on the cross. So that Christians do not have to stand before God who is saying, ‘Well, I’m not sure if you have done enough’. His Son did plenty plus, that is, everything needed for us.

Christians are not going to heaven because they are so good here, they are going to heaven because Jesus was so good there.

Christians are not going to heaven because they perform well here, they are going to heaven because He performed like no man could on Calvary. It’s all about Christ and what He did for us on the cross.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1

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