The unique character of the Christian religion

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There are many different religions in the world, but it is easy to divide them all into two groups.

The German-British scientist, Max Mueller, once said:

"In the discharge of my duties for forty years as professor of Sanskrit in the University of Oxford I have devoted as much time as any man living to the study of the sacred books of the East, and I found the one key-note - the one diapason, so to speak, of all these so-called sacred books, whether it be the Veda of the Brahmans, the Puranas of Siva and Vishnu, the Koran of the Mohammedans, the Zend-Avesta of the Parses, the Tripitaka of the Buddhists, - the one refrain through all - salvation by works. They all say that salvation must be purchased, must be bought with a price, and that the sole price, the sole purchase-money, must be our own works and deservings. Our own Holy Bible, our sacred Book of the East, is from beginning to end a protest against this doctrine. Good works are indeed enjoined upon us in that sacred Book of the East; but they are only the outcome of a grateful heart - they are only a thank offering, the fruits of our faith. They are never the ransom-money for the true disciples of Christ. Let us not shut our eyes to what is excellent and true and of good report in these sacred books, but let us teach Hindus, Buddhists, Mohammedans, that there is only one sacred Book of the East that can be their mainstay in that awful hour when they pass all alone into the unseen world. It is the sacred Book which contains that faithful saying, worthy to be received of all men, women and children, and not merely of us Christians, that Jesus came into the world to save sinners."

Thus spoke a scientist, who was thoroughly acquainted with the Bible as well as with other "sacred" books.

The Christian faith is a message that tells us of the salvation accomplished by God. The Christian faith is not an announcement of a bill that is due, but it can more properly be compared to a bill that has been stamped paid in our behalf. We have been redeemed with the precious blood and innocent suffering of Christ. "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast" (Eph. 2:8,9).

The Christian faith is unique in this respect, that it brings us the grace of God as a free gift without our merit. As such a faith, the Christian faith, as it spread, made other faiths unnecessary without having to prove itself better than the pagan religions. Some accepted God's gift, others rejected it.

The Bible warns us about despising God's grace: "How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?" (Hebr. 2:3). Everything has been done for our salvation. Christ's sacrifice is sufficient. "While we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly" (Rom. 5:6).