To my dear friend, and now sister in Christ, Susan
Once a group of theologians were sitting in a conference room discussing what, if any difference, existed between Christianity and other religions. Many ideas were proposed but no one could quite put their finger on what made Christianity unique. Then, C.S. Lewis, the professor of Medieval and Renaissance Literature in a great British university walked into the room. Lewis had been an atheist for most of his adult life but his conversations with J.R.R. Tolkien, author of Lord of the Rings, had convinced him of the truth of the Gospel many years before.
Lewis asked, “What’s all the rumpus about?”
Someone replied, “We are discussing what makes Christianity unique? We can’t quite put our finger on it. What do you think?”
And Lewis replied, “That’s easy. It’s grace!”
The others sat still for a while and then one by one gave their assent. Lewis had quickly identified the core component of Christianity’s uniqueness – the grace of God. Every religion is an effort by man to find God, to please God, and to make amends for bad things. It is man’s effort. Christianity is just the opposite – it is about God seeking after man and what he has done to restore sinful, weak humans to himself. This concept of God’s work to save us is called the grace of God. Grace is the personal work of God to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves and to do what we will never deserve to have done for us because of our sin. All of that is wrapped up in the one little word – grace. Religion is man’s efforts. Christianity is God’s efforts.
But there are other important attributes of Christianity that are unique.
- Most religions in the world are a variation of Greek philosophy which teach that matter (the physical part of creation) is eternal, in chaos, and is something to be escaped. Biblical teaching is that matter is not eternal but was created by God. When he created it, it was good. It became corrupted when mankind rebelled against God, but God’s purpose is to restore creation to its original, pristine state of goodness and perfection.
- Most religions in the world do not have a historical narrative. They deal with mythological beings in other worlds. Biblical teaching is that history is important – the history of nations, families, communities, and our personal history. God interacts with this world and is very interested and concerned with what happens on this planet. God’s ultimate goal is not to help people escape a fallen world. His ultimate goal is to restore what was lost. The bible does not present itself as myth. It presents itself as history with real events happening in real places.
- Jesus never came saying, “I will show you the path of enlightenment and inner illumination by which you can find your true self, your true divinity, and can be reunited with the divine.” If he had said that, no one would have paid any attention to him in his nation. Instead, he came with the message of the restoration of all things (this is why we call our video – The Renewal of All Things) – the restoration of people to God, to one another, the healing of the image of God, and the healing of earth.
- Jesus always claimed to be more than a teacher and a prophet. He was a teacher and prophet, but far more. He claimed to be the Anointed One prophesied by the prophets of Israel who would restore all things. One of these prophecies calls him “Mighty God” (Isaiah 9:6) and Jesus claimed to be this Mighty God (see the Gospel of John).
- Teachers of other religions never claimed to be sinless, never said they would offer themselves as a sacrifice for the sins of the world, and never said they would rise again from the dead in three days after they were executed. Jesus staked everything on this. He claimed to be the sinless anointed one. He said his death would be a ransom payment to rescue us from sin, and that it would all be proven by the resurrection.
What every person must do is to verify if these things are so. They must examine the historically verifiable documents of ancient history which we call the Bible, and especially the New Testament to see if this is what is really being said. Then, once they see that this is, indeed, what the New Testament is teaching, they must then ask themselves – was Jesus lying, was he deluded, or was he telling the truth? When people discover he was telling the truth they must call upon him and ask the living, resurrected Jesus to be their Lord and then spread that good news to others in the world.
It is crucial for everyone to learn the big difference. In Changing the Stories of the World I share how we must change people’s stories and the world’s stories by presenting the unique message of the Bible. Get a copy of this important book today and learn how you can change the stories of the world.