There are only two religions in this world, the true one and the false one; the one of faith and the one of works; the one of God’s grace and the one of human effort; in other words–Christianity and everything else.
The false one takes many forms, be it Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, various Pagan systems … but they all function essentially the same in each variation. It starts with a religious experience, followed by the effort of doing morally good deeds and following religious practices in the hopes of gaining the promised reward.
Take Islam for instance, once a Muslim finds faith in their unitarian god, they are required to fulfill the five pillars of Islam which are Shahadah: sincerely reciting the Muslim profession of faith, Salat: performing ritual prayers in the proper way five times each day, Zakat: paying an alms (or charity) tax to benefit the poor and the needy, Sawm: fasting during the month of Ramadan and Hajj: pilgrimage to Mecca. Yet despite all their pious works, in the end, they have no guarantee of heaven or even the promise of it.
Proverbs 30:4, “Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in his fists? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name? Surely you know!”
John 3:13, “No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.”
Christianity is true because it was divinely revealed to us by God himself. God entered into His creation to reveal Himself to us via the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ. It is this revelation that makes Christianity unique among world religions. False religions claim that man ascended to or received heaven’s teachings, but only Christianity has God coming down to us and teaching us directly. That He walked the earth is a historically accepted fact though many dispute the divine nature of Jesus.
It is those teachings directly revealed to us that make Christianity true. There are no contradictions in orthodox, biblical Christian belief. It is flawless and perfect, it destroys through its truth all false worldviews, be they religious or ideological.
2 Corinthians 10:5, “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”
All false beliefs have contained within a contradiction that proves it false; but the Word of God, from which we derive the teachings of Jesus, is without error or contradiction.
“God, who is Himself Truth and speaks truth only, has inspired Holy Scripture in order thereby to reveal Himself to lost mankind through Jesus Christ as Creator and Lord, Redeemer and Judge. Holy Scripture is God’s witness to Himself.”- Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy
Christianity is not a religion of works but of faith. What this means is that we are totally dependent on Jesus Christ and His works which He did for us. Since we cannot obey perfectly the laws laid down by God, it was necessary for Christ to do it for us. His righteous life is credited to us when we accept Him as Lord and savior and our sins are laid on Him. Thus we are rendered holy and without sin in the sight of God.
Isaiah 53:4-5, “Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.”
While false religion has its followers doing moral works to get some reward, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ causes, as a side effect, moral works. The indwelling Holy Spirit causes a progressive sanctification that morally purifies us and changes us more and more into the image of Jesus Christ. That is why we start to think and act like Him upon accepting Him as Lord and savior. The moral deeds we do are a result of God working in us and not our own efforts. All of this is by the grace of God, which is a free gift for everyone who believes, it does not need to be earned but simply received.
And that is the biggest difference between the true and false religions. The false ones need to work for their reward, while the promise of eternal life in the presence of the Father is a free gift that does not need to be earned. Jesus’ work on the cross earned us forgiveness. All we need to do is believe and ask for it.
What does your religion require? What works are you performing to earn God’s favor? What does it mean to you that God’s gift of salvation is free through Christ?