Christianity does not leave loose ends. The plan of redemption goes full circle. God is holy and our sin separates us from Him. God’s justice demands a price to be paid, the price of death by the shedding of blood. God’s grace allows a substitute to pay the price for us. In the Old Testament times this was achieved by sacrificing animals. Not any animal, but animals that met God’s specifications, they had to be first born, male and without blemishes. God accepted the sacrifice of the animal as payment for the price of sin of men. But because an animal cannot sin (it is a-moral) this sacrifice had to be repeated again and again, every time a new sin was committed.
Then God’s love dispatched Jesus, His Son, to earth to pay that price with His blood. Jesus was – like the Old Testament sacrificial animals – first born, male and without blemishes. But above all He was also without sin by His own choice. That made Him the perfect (and only) sacrificial lam who’s blood was sufficient for all past, present and future sins. By accepting Jesus’ payment by faith for our sins, we can be reconciled to God during this lifetime as well as after our deaths, when this reconciliation is fully realized.
This plan of redemption is what the Bible is all about. It is unveiled and unfolded throughout the early history of man. It starts in Genesis with the story of Adam and Eve and their sin. It follows the patriarchs, the Mosaic law and the people of Israel. The New Testament explains Jesus’ life and sacrifice. It leaves no open ending. If we accept the gift of Jesus by faith, we can be assured of our salvation. If not, we can be assured of our damnation. It’s as simple as that.
Other religions do not offer a similar complete plan.
Hinduism claims that one needs only “improve” through numerous cycles of reincarnation. Yet the believer will never know with any certainty how successful he or she is in achieving that objective. One never knows upon death if the soul will have reached Moksha, or if another cycle of rebirth, life, and death is required.
The situation with Buddhism is similar. When is one truly free of suffering? How do you measure that, and how do you know? You die, and then what? Do you disappear into Nirvana or be reborn as a human being or as some other organism. Like Hinduism, it seems to leave many questions unanswered.
The Muslim believes that after death he or she will face the judgment of Allah. And the believer will be judged on the account of his life as an obedient and submissive Muslim and the balance of his good and bad deeds. “Then those whose balance [of good deeds] is heavy, – they will be successful. But those whose balance is light, will be those who have lost their souls, in Hell will they abide” (Surah 23:102-3). However, when are there enough good deeds to outweigh the bad deeds? How does this economy or scale work? When will you reach a point in life that you can die with the certainty that you will enter heaven? Muslims will always face that question with uncertainty. The Qur’an hints that the believer can be confident of his or her eternal destiny, but there is no guarantee. Even Mohammed himself was uncertain of his own salvation. So Muslims strive mightily to reach paradise, but they continually live with the fear that Allah will judge their arrogance and send them to hell. Only Muslims martyred in a jihad have certainty of heaven.
Only Christianity, through God’s grace by faith in Christ’s sacrifice, gives a guaranteed path to salvation.