Alan unpacks the unique reality of Christianity, as compared to other world religions, as the only means of salvation.
How is Christianity different from other religions? Well, Christianity is unique in that it puts all of the work of salvation, of getting into heaven, onto God instead of man. Every religion in the world is about what man can do to qualify to get into heaven.
To get into heaven, for example, in Judaism you have to be righteous and you have to engage in deeds of lovingkindness to others. To attain nirvana in Buddhism, for example, you have to walk the eightfold path. To get into heaven in Islam, you have to perform the five pillars, or other good works so that your good deeds outweigh your bad deeds in the final judgment. To achieve moksha in Hinduism, and to be able to be released from the cycle of death and rebirth, you have to follow one or more of the four paths that are described in Hinduism.
You see, in every other religion, the work and the responsibility is on you. But Christianity is the only religion where God is the One who does the work to qualify man to enter into heaven. Now of course, God’s standard is perfection and God realizes that no person can live a perfect life. No one can do everything right all of the time. We’re weak. We’re flawed. And even on our best day we falter. So earning the right to salvation is going to be impossible.
And that’s why God needs to do the work. And that’s what God did. He realized that no one can live according to His perfect standard of behavior, and therefore, no one qualifies to enter into heaven. So God decides to do it Himself. He takes on the form of humanity, in the Person of Jesus Christ, and He lived the perfect life, a life that none of us could live. That perfection, that righteousness, of Jesus is what is imputed to us. It’s placed on us. So, when God looks at us, He doesn’t see the filthy wretches that we are, but He sees the perfect righteousness of Jesus. And based on that, what God did, it grants us the right to enter into eternity.
So that to me is what makes Christianity unique from other religions. Every other religion is about man trying to do good works to get up to God, or to obtain salvation. But Christianity is about God coming down to save man.