What separates Christianity from every other religion in the world? The answer is grace. “By grace you are saved through faith, and this is not your own doing. It is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
If you ask a Muslim, “Where will you go when you die?” he might say, “Paradise. I read the Qu’ran, I pay alms, I pray five times a day, I’ve made the pilgrimage. I am a righteous man.”
If you ask a Jew, he might say, “We really do not know,” where we will go when we die. “But if there is a life after this one, and a reward for what we do, then surely it will be dependent upon the kind of life we have lived” (quote from Rabbi Howard Jaffe).
A Buddhist might say he hopes to achieve Nirvana by following the eight-fold path, or being a good person. A Hindu strives to break the cycle of reincarnation and attain Moksha by being a good person. Even an atheist believes he should be a good person.
But ask a Christian, “Where will you go when you die?” he will say heaven. How does he know? He will say, “I was born in sin (Psalm 51:5). The intention of my heart has been evil from my youth (Genesis 8:21). I have rebelled against a holy God, and for this I deserve death (Romans 6:23).”
Wait, all these other guys say they’ll be rewarded for their good. How can the Christian say he will get to heaven when he says he is not good? Because he knows no one gets to heaven on their own merit, but on the merit of Jesus Christ the righteous.
“All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus… to be received by faith” (Romans 3:23-25), when we understand the text.