I grew up a Christian, but while I was in college, I was challenged from many different angles about my faith. Professors assumed that few of us believed in Jesus. Students were eager to check out non-Christian religions. There were campus groups from various Christian backgrounds, but also Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Baha’i, Jews, etc. I was exposed to many different viewpoints.
But as I compared all of these other religions to Jesus Christ, I kept coming to one important distinction: Jesus was the only one to say that being saved from death or judgment was a gift from God. As I studied other religions, as other people told me about their beliefs, it always seemed to end up being about what a person did, about doing enough good things or the right things. With Jesus, He kept saying that there was nothing I could do to save myself, that I would keep doing wrong things. With Jesus, my only hope for a life after this one is that He would give me a new life—not based on my actions, simply based on His love. We call this the graciousness of God. One of God’s characteristics is to be gracious (to give free gifts, without charge).
In other words, “grace” means “gift.”
It was that love and grace that convinced me that Jesus was the truth. Jesus couldn’t be made up, couldn’t be man-made, because no one would ever make up such a thing. No one would make up a religion where God says that all people have done something wrong, they can’t do anything to make up for it, so God Himself will take the punishment and give people eternal life as a free gift. If you were going to make up a religion, you’d at least have some requirement of people. But Jesus teaches that it isn’t about what we do; it’s about what He does. It’s about Jesus dying as a punishment for our sins on the cross; it’s about Jesus conquering death, rising again to give us that same victory. Eternal life is a gift.
So then I am convinced that Jesus is truly the Son of God, our Savior, the Way to eternal life. I am convinced that Jesus isn’t man-made. Any religion that talks about doing enough good things or it being about getting myself right, that sounds man-made. Jesus coming and giving me a free gift? That sounds like the Word of Truth, the words of a loving God who is beyond our comprehension and imagination.