What Makes Christianity Different?
In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not understood it. John 1:4,5
For more than 70 years my father-in-law, Dr. Guy Duffield, was a Bible teacher, author, and minister. In his lifetime he wrote books on preaching, on doctrine, and on the practical Christian life. When he was well into his 80s and living in a retirement facility, a young woman from Lebanon who worked where Dr. Duffield resided met him and showed great interest in the fact that he believed that the Bible is a supernatural book.
Knowing essentially nothing about the Bible, the young woman asked him to explain in simple terms why this book is different. Patiently, Dr. Duffield tried to answer her questions, then she put a question to him he really didn’t expect. “In all of your years preaching the Gospel,” she began, “what is the greatest single revelation or truth that you have ever confronted?”
In his years teaching and preaching, he’d answered lots of questions, but this one caused him to stop and think. “What is the greatest revelation I have ever had?” he thought.
Finally, he began, “It is the fact that Christianity is God’s revelation of Himself, to us while religion is the record of the men of the world searching for God.” Actually, it is this fact which separates Christianity from Buddhism, Islam, Shintoism and the rest of the religions of the world. It is upon this that the truth of Christianity hinges, as well.
The first four books of the New Testament are often referred to as “the four gospels.” But actually, there are not four gospels—there is but one Gospel, recorded by four men. The Greek word for gospel comes from two words which mean, “Good news!” That word was first used to describe the message when two armies had been engaged in battle, and when one of them triumphed, a runner was sent back with the “good news” of the victory.
“Good news” or “the Gospel” was not only the term used to describe the first four books of the New Testament, but essentially to describe what Christianity is about. God sent His son to our world to identify with our pain and suffering, and to die in our stead to bring us back into fellowship with the Father.
Anyone who has made a study of comparative religions immediately notices that the motivation behind God’s sending His son, according to the Bible, is that He loved the world; but other religions uniformly describe God as one who is angry, who must be satisfied by offerings, often including blood which must be shed to assuage His anger and retribution.
Another distinguishing characteristic of Christianity is that faith in God becomes personal and intimate, a relationship with a living person—not a stone deity at whose feet we lay flowers or burn incense. “I know whom I have believed,” wrote Paul.
The Gospel centers in a person. His name is Jesus Christ. At the age of 30 He began His ministry, teaching, healing the sick, and on occasion, even raising individuals from the dead. He said things which no mortal could ever say and be sane, such as, “I am the bread which came from heaven.” “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” “I am the good shepherd.” And so forth. He clearly asserted that He was God, the unique Son of the Father who created the world, and He told His disciples very clearly that He would be put to death, but on the third day, He would rise again.
Friend, the good news is your life can be different. Read the Gospels. Yes, read the Gospel.
Resource reading: 1 John 2:28-3:3