"To enjoy thee is life eternal, and to enjoy is to know. Keep me in the freedom of experiencing thy salvation continually." - Valley of Vision
Last year, my husband and I had some Muslim friends over for dinner. We had spent the entire semester getting to know them through a ministry that our church is involved in that helps them learn English. As eager young students in America for the first time, they loved hearing about all things USA, even our religion. Of course, that meant that we also would hear about their religion, which we happily obliged. We were intrigued as they talked about the many facets of Islam, many of which I had never heard before. But one statement really stayed with me, and still is with me today:
"At the end of your life you can only hope that you have done enough good for Allah to allow you into heaven."
That sobered me. In that moment it hit me--they have no assurance of their own salvation. They have no way of knowing whether or not they will spend eternity in heaven or hell. They are strictly at the mercy of a god who reserves the right to turn them away if he thinks they aren't good enough.
Christianity is the only religion that promises the exact opposite. Yes, it gives us the condemnation that we are utterly sinful and unable to save ourselves. But it also delivers good news. Someone else paid the penalty for us. And not just anyone, it was God himself.
Micah 7:18 tells us that God blots out our transgressions. This is true freedom, not that we can save ourselves, but that our gracious and merciful God saves us from ourselves. We are free because of Christ's atoning blood.
What our friends are blinded to is the reality that no amount of good will ever be enough. And yet, deep down I think they know that. They are constantly hoping and working to do enough good, all the while wondering if it will ever be enough. They are in bondage to their own quest for good works. God tells us that we are free because of Christ's good work. We can rest in his goodness and know that it saves and sanctifies us and will one day carry us to glory.
The different between Christianity and all other religions is that Christianity promises that you are free in Christ. Only by the Savior's precious blood can you be truly free, free at last.