THE QUEST: My Quest
There are a lot of religions... Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Toaism, Mormon, Catholic and... Christianity. I once was on a quest. I spent over 30 years searching for god. My thought was that if I could learn what all religions had in common, that would be universal truth. So I studied them all. I bought the books, watched the videos, talked with practitioners of various religions... and I learned a lot. But, there was always one outlier. One religion that did not fit with the rest.
Do not murder is a universal belief, except that different religions define murder differently. In Islam it is not only acceptable, but you get extra credit for murdering infidels, and killing yourself in the process gets you immediate entrance into paradise. For secularists, abortion (murdering a baby in the womb) is perfectly fine. So "do not murder" is not a universal belief.
You'd think that raping a nine year old girl would be universally considered evil, but it is not. Again, just change the definition so that selling a nine year old girl to be the "wife" of a fifty year old man is acceptable, and it's not rape anymore... at least in some religions.
What Do Religions Have In Common?
I did find one thing that all religions have in common... except one religion. It is the belief that we are rewarded for being good. In most religions that reward is in heaven. As Islams states, if your good deeds outweigh your bad deeds, you go to paradise. Or in Hinduism and Buddhism, if you live a good life, you will reincarnate into something better than you were in this life. In Catholicism, you need to be a good Catholic... go to mass, be baptized.. do all seven sacraments so that grace is conferred on you.
The one outlier was Christianity. Every religion says there are things you need to do... except Christianity. The Bible says there is nothing you can do. You are dead in your sins, and what can a dead man do? Nothing. They are dead. So God does it all. It is through God's grace, and His grace ALONE, that anyone is saved from the consequences of sin.
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast. - Ephesians 2:8-9
God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was granted to us in Christ Jesus from all eternity. - 2 Timothy 1:9
He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we did in righteousness, but in accordance with His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit. - Titus 3:5
All religions, except one, are self-centered. They all point to what we do to save ourselves. We get at least some of the glory, because we did what was necessary to be saved. We like that. We like getting part of, or even all of the credit. That is normal human nature. We are self-centered beings.
Christianity is different. God does it all. We get none of the credit.
Human Created Religion vs. God
In my quest I started asking questions such as, what would a human-created religion look like? What characteristics would it have? On the other hand, a religion that flows out of the true God, what would that be like?
My conclusions? Human-created religions would be human focused. Yes, they might require things like obedience to a higher power, giving gifts to that power, and worshiping that power, but in the end our focus would still be on us. We would get some sort of credit for doing those things. On the other hand, a religion that was based on the true creator God would be 100% focused on God. It would be about God, not us.
What did I observe? Christianity stood out as unique. In my quest I was looking at things backwards, trying to find God in all religions. Instead, I found all religions are based on human desires to become like god, except for one. Which religion was on the outside? Christianity.
What Is Unique About Christianity?
#1 - Other religions require people to do certain "good" things in order to gain entrance into heaven (or be reincarnated into a higher level). Christianity is the only religion that recognizes the reality that no one is good enough. There is nothing you can do to save yourself. Going to church, getting baptized, helping other people... they make no difference. We cannot work our way to God through our own efforts. God reaches out and brings those whom He choses into His Kingdom.
#2 - There is nothing we can do to appease God. Other religions have many "must do" things that placate, calm, or in other ways please god (or the gods). In Christianity the relationship with God is very different. It is like a family relationship, and there are no "must do" things. Instead, Christians want to do those things that please God. "Must do" has been replaced with "want to do."
#3 - Christianity is based on real history. History that, for the most part, had real, human eye-witnesses.
Will Knowing All This Make Someone A Christian?
This brings us to another unique aspect of Christianity. There is nothing I can do or say that will result in anyone else becoming a Christian. There is nothing you can do to make yourself a Christian. Saying a prayer will not make someone a Christian. Going to church, getting baptized, taking communion, and doing good things for others... none of that contributes anything to making someone a Christian.
There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among mankind by which we must be saved. - Acts 4:12
For the wages of sin is death, but the gracious gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 6:23
For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all... - 1 Timothy 2:5-6a
Only Jesus can save you... the answer is ALWAYS JESUS!