Guatama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, is his final teaching to his disciples said this:
“Behold, O monks, this is my last advice to you: Work hard to gain your own salvation.”
Others have translated this sentence in this way:
“Strive without ceasing to earn your salvation”
Compare that with the final words of Jesus, who, as he hung on the cross, surrounded by his mother and a few of his closest disciples, said with his final breath:
“It is finished.”
The word he used: Tetelesti, is the word that a painter would use when he put the final touch on a work of art. It is the word you would use, when you make the final payment on your loan. It is a word which conveys a sense of satisfaction with an accomplishment.
Jesus was saying: “It is accomplished! What I came here to do: it’s done!” The implication is that there is nothing that needs to be added to it. He did it.
The thing which sets Christianity apart from all other religions and philosophies in the world, is that Christianity is about good news, not good advice.
Good advice says: here are some principles. If you follow them well enough, you will be saved.
Good news says: here is something that has been done for you, on your behalf, and as a result, you will be saved.
In Buddhism or Islam, for example, you are not saved by anything that Buddha or Mohammad did for you, you are saved by your own works; salvation comes by following the teachings or adhering to the pillars of the religion.
In Christianity, however, you are not saved by following the teachings of Jesus; you are saved by what Jesus did for you in His life, death and resurrection. In Christianity, you are not saved by your works, but by the work of God, in Christ, on your behalf.
In Christianity, you are not saved by following the teachings of Jesus; you are saved by what Jesus did for you in His life, death and resurrection.
Christianity is unique in that it says that your salvation is inextricably tied to historical events, which either happened or didn’t. If they didn’t happen, then we are wasting our time, Paul the Apostle argues in 1 Corinthians 15. And yet, all of the historical and anecdotal evidence points to the fact that they did indeed happen.
The gospel is good news, not good advice!
(For the rest of the message I taught on this subject at White Fields Church, click here.)