Question: What makes Christianity so special?
That’s actually a great question and I believe it is asked because of the way things are in the Christian church. Let me explain.
We do understand and know that Jesus told us the Christian church was not necessarily going to be the “biggest” around. We understand that as we consider Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Because of this and other passages we know that the Christian church is going to be relatively small in the world.
I believe that is true. I believe that even of the many denominations of the Christian church in today’s world few of them teach and preach the real truth of Christianity. Most churches today have gotten away from the “gospel” of Jesus and in reality teach just another form of “salvation by works.” In other words, getting to heaven is about what you do and accomplish or what you don’t do and accomplish. In many of these churches you will find that the preaching and teaching is all centered on things like how you can live better, be happier, be a better husband, wife, child or church member, the list of course goes on and on. In other words it is your living, your life, your obedience and finally your works that determine whether or not you are saved.
It is because the Christian church of today is filled with “work righteous” preaching that many people have lost the specialness of Christianity. They see no difference between the Christian church that teaches “do this and do that” to be saved and other churches of the world that basically teach the same idea of “do this and do that” in order to get to heaven or achieve a higher plain of existence. And in truth when the message of the church is works then there really isn’t any difference between Christianity and the other religions of the world.
You see, years ago I learned a simple truth about religion. Despite all the different kinds of religion that can be found in the world the real truth is that there are only TWO religions. There is the religion of work righteousness: what I must do and be in order to be saved (and bear in mind each faith has its own set of do’s and don’ts maybe even its own idea of saved). There is also the message of salvation by grace through faith. The second one is the Christian message.
The Christian message says in a nutshell, “Mankind could not, did not and will not get to heaven on its own. So God the Father, in perfect love, sent His Son to get us there.”
The world and man are full of sin. I don’t just mean that we make mistakes and disobey God I also am talking about our very nature. Adam and Eve by their disobedience to God brought sin into our lives, not just a “little flaw” that causes some difficulty in our life walk but rather a serious eternal disease that separates mankind from the perfect and holy God. By nature we hate God and oppose him. By nature we consider God our enemy and can’t even see the awesomeness of his love. Yes, we are spiritually blind, lost and damned because of this original sin. God from the moment sin entered the world promised, expanded the promises and then fulfilled his promise of sending a Savior who would do it all for us.
That’s the message of Jesus. Jesus came and died for our sins. Jesus came and on behalf of His Father, paid the price for each and every soul of the world. Jesus did absolutely everything for us. Salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus.
Now here is where people get mixed up. They want to preach that in order to be saved you must “repent” and then God will forgive your sins. I say, “No!” I preach that because of God’s gracious gift of Jesus and the gift of eternal life in Jesus given to us we repent. That’s right, we repent BECAUSE of the victory of forgiveness that is already ours in Jesus.
Now, like the Apostle Paul, I don’t preach that you can do whatever you want. The true Christian is lead by the Holy Spirit to works of service to the glory of God. Not to get salvation but because he already has salvation in Jesus!
There is of course much more to be said. For instance, if we deny sin we make Jesus a liar and reject his gift (1 Jn 1:8-10). If we declare what God has forbidden as our right and privilege again we reject the gift of Jesus (1 Co. 6:9-11). Let just say for now that true faith has a different attitude in this world.
What I can say is that the message of Christianity is special. It is the message of how God seeing and knowing our lost condition, sent His Son to change our status from lost to his children. God has done it all. No works are required. No works are acceptable to Him. Jesus gives us sure and certain forgiveness and eternal life. Jesus clothes us with His righteousness so that we are reconciled to God. Our Savior has done it all for us simply because He so loved us. Not works but pure grace. There is the difference that makes Christianity special.