Christianity is not a religion. It is a relationship. Many people call themselves Christians these days, but that does not make it so. These people believe that simply following the moral teachings of Christ is what makes them a Christian. Nothing could be farther from the truth. For example, suppose I went down to the Army surplus store and bought a soldier’s uniform. I could dress up in fatigues, helment, carry a rifle and act the part, and call myself a soldier. Would that make me one? Of course not. I have to become a soldier by signing up with a recruiter. Many people act the same way when talking about Christianity. They believe that if they try their best to live a good life according to the teachings of Christianity, that automatically makes them a Christian.
Acts 11:26 tells us that the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. The disciples were believers. They believed that Jesus Christ was the Son of God and died to pay for the sins of the world. Jesus Himself said in John 3, that a person has to be born again in order to even see the Kingdom of Heaven. It is not our actions which make us a Christian, but whether we believe that Jesus died for our sins.
In Corinthians 15, the apostle Paul tells us it is this believing the Gospel (good news about Jesus) that saves us:
Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received , and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved , if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.
It is when we believe in the Christ as our Savior that we are born again- this time into God’s family. Thus Christianity is a relationship we have to God through our faith in Jesus Christ as the payment for our sins. I John 5:1 tells us that whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God. The word “Christ” is simply the Greek word which is the translation for the Hebrew word “Messiah” which means “the annointed one”. Jesus was anointed by God the Father to be the satisfaction for the payment of the sins of the entire world.
The Bible teaches in numerous passages that trying to work your way to Heaven based on living a moral life is doomed to failure. Sadly many people will stand before God at the final judgement hoping to get into Heaven based on their good works in life, only to hear God’s response:
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (Matt 7: 22, 23).
With the exception of Christianity, all other religions in the world have one thing in common. That is the belief that people have to work to gain Heaven. (For whatever type of Heaven a particular religion teaches.) Christianity is different from all the rest in that good works will not get you to Heaven or even help you get into Heaven.
In Christianity, all the work necessary to gain our entrance into Heaven has already been done by Jesus Christ. We simply accept that to come into full possession of it. D.L. Moody, the great evangelist of the 19th century was talking to a train engineer one day. the engineer was a religious man from a different religion. Moody told him:
There is not much difference between your religion and mine…just two little letters.
The train engineer looked at him and asked for an explanation.
Moody replied, “You spell your religion ‘do’. In other words, you believe that if you do enough you’ll go to Heaven. My religion, on the other hand, is spelled “done”. Christ has done all that is necessary for me to go to Heaven.”
And there is all the difference in the world in those two little letters.