What Makes Christianity Different | Reflections
For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
There are, after all, only two kinds of religion in all the world. Every false religion ever devised by mankind or by Satan is a religion of human merit.
Pagan religion, humanism, animism, and even false Christianity all fall into this category. They focus on what people must do to attain righteousness or please the deity.
Biblical Christianity alone is the religion of divine accomplishment. Other religions say, “Do this.” Christianity says, “It is done” (cf. John 19:30).
Other religions require that the devout person supply some kind of merit to atone for sin, appease deity, or otherwise attain the goal of acceptability. Scripture says Christ’s merit is supplied on behalf of the believing sinner.
The Pharisees in Paul’s day had turned Judaism into a religion of human achievements. Paul’s own life before salvation was one long and futile effort to please God through personal merit. He had been steeped in the Pharisaic tradition, “a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee” (Acts 23:6; see also Phil. 3:5–6).
Paul understood the religious culture of his day as well as anyone. He knew that the Pharisees revered Abraham as the father of their religion (John 8:39). So he singled him out to prove that justification before God is by faith in what God has accomplished.
By appealing to the Old Testament Scriptures, Paul was showing that Judaism had moved away from the most basic truths affirmed by all believing Jews since Abraham himself. Abraham did not practice the Pharisees’ religion of merit.
How does it change your perspective to know that salvation depends on God’s actions rather than yours?
The Gospel According to the Apostles, 99–100
John MacArthur is a profound teacher of the word of God, a zealous preacher of Christian doctrine, a renowned writer and speaker, and Pastor and Teacher at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California