“For it is by grace you have been saved, though faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” - Ephesians 2:8-9
During a British conference on the various religions of the world, scholars were debating what belief, if any, was totally unique to the Christian faith. Was it incarnation? The gods of other religions supposedly appear in human form. Was it resurrection? Other religions at least tell of some people returning from the dead. The debate went on until C.S. Lewis walked into the room. They looked at him and said, “Dr. Lewis, what is the one thing that is totally unique to the Christian faith?” Dr. Lewis answered, “That is easy. It is grace.”
Christianity is the only faith that says that salvation (meaning being right with God) is a gift you receive by God’s grace and not by works. Buddhists say you save yourself by ceasing all desire. Hindus say you save yourself by detaching yourself from your ego and trying to live in unity with the divine force of the universe. Islam says you save yourself by living a life of good deeds and hoping the good outweighs the bad. Orthodox Judaism says you save yourself through repentance, prayer, and obeying the law.
Every other religion says if you need a savior, you are that savior. Christianity agrees that you need a savior. However, not only are you not that savior, you are unable to ever be that savior. The Bible says that God has done for you what you cannot do for yourself – He has given you a Savior, Jesus Christ. While other religions offer a path to work your way up to God, Christianity says that God came down to you.
The key principle of Christianity is not performance, but acceptance. When you accept what God has done for you through Jesus Christ on the cross, God will accept you. He will do more than tolerate you…He will adopt you as His own child (Romans 8:15). This is the earth-shattering truth about Christianity. There is no way to deserve heaven, and yet by the grace of God Christ has made a way for us. Christianity is not a religion; it is a relationship.
We all stand now on the edge of eternity. One day we are all going to die. We will all have to walk through the door of death to what waits on the other side. An empty tomb guarantees that you can cross safely into the presence of the God who created you and loves you. And by His side sits the One who gave His life for you and rose from the dead to give you new life.
Father, Thank You for the gift of grace. I know my own works could never be enough to earn Your favor. Thank You for doing for me what I could never do for myself.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.