here’s a story told about C.S. Lewis attending a conference on comparative religions. Several people were debating what was unique about Christianity. After numerous suggestions were rejected, Lewis interjected. “What’s unique about Christianity? Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace.”1
Whether the story is historically accurate or not does not negate the truth that grace distinguishes the gospel from other faiths. God’s free gift of salvation, based on Jesus’s atoning sacrifice on the cross, stands out as unparalleled in the world of religions.
This is worth deep reflection and appreciation. It also poses a challenge in communicating this rare concept to outsiders. In this article, I hope to examine the reality of the grace of the gospel and offer suggestions for communicating it to people who may not know what we’re talking about.
Here’s another way we can think about grace: Some religions can be spelled “D-O. Do this, do that.” Other religions can be spelled “D-O-N’-T. Don’t do this. Don’t do that.” Christianity can be spelled “D-O-N-E. It’s all be done for you. Now receive it.”
If you want to dig further, you can explore the differences between the indicative and the imperative statements in the Bible. The indicatives “indicate” things that are true. The imperatives give us commands to obey. In other religions, the imperatives come before the indicatives. In the gospel, the imperatives come after the indicatives.
(I’ve been told that, technically speaking, there are a few rare Buddhist sects that have a kind of grace-based enlightenment. Their faiths are not based on what you do. They are based on grace. Fair enough. If you find yourself witnessing to a follower of one of these obscure Buddhist sects, you’ll need different tactics than my suggestions here.)
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