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Q What are the similarities and differences between Judaism and Christianity? What are the similarities and differences between Christianity and Islam? 

 
 
A It’s a little difficult to discuss the similarities and differences between Christianity and any other belief-system simply because of time. But a summary might help. Christianity is really an extension of what became Judaism. Or, in other words, they had a common beginning. In the progress of God’s revelation to man, He chose the Jewish people to reveal Himself through. This was not because they were particular worthy (after all, the Bible says we are all unworthy of God’s attention). In fact, God chose them because they were relatively insignificant so that He could show His power through them. God always works through those who are weak so that the world can understand His might. Throughout what is known as the Old Testament of the Bible God predicted He would send a redeemer, a messiah to Israel and the world. This promise was realized in Jesus Christ (the word Christ means ‘chosen one’ or ‘messiah’). 

In the times before Christ Jews dealt with God through the Mosaic law which, of course, had been given through Moses. It involved a system of sacrifices which were to picture the ultimate sacrifice of Christ on the cross. When Jesus came and offered Himself as the promised Messiah, most of the Jews rejected Him. So now Judaism continues the Old Testament Law but without the sacrificial system since the Temple was destroyed in A.D. 70 by the Romans. Christianity, on the other hand, sees Christ as having fulfilled the Law and presented the final sacrifice for mankind. 

The Bible says in John 3:16  "For God loved the world so much that He gave His unique Son, so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” All mankind stands condemned by God for sin and must be punished. That’s God’s condemnation. But God provided a way out in Christ dying on the cross and being resurrected. That’s God’s love and grace. Christ’s died as a substitute to take the penalty for anyone who wants to come to Him in faith: "He who believes [trusts] in the Son has everlasting life; but he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him (John 3:36 NKJV)."

As far as Islam is concerned, I am not an expert by any means. There seem  to be a number of factual and interpretation issues between Islam and Christianity. These include, for instance, the authenticity of the Bible and the historicity of the crucifixion. About all I can address is one major issue: works vs. faith in salvation. Muslims teach that believers must purify themselves on earth in an attempt to gain paradise after death. Thus mankind’s good deeds and bad are recorded in heaven and all we can do is do our best to help others and obey the Koran and hope in God’s justice at the Judgment.

Biblical Christianity, however, teaches that no works of righteousness can aid us in attaining salvation. The Apostle Paul said, “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us...”(Titus 3:5 NKJV). And “But to him who does not work but believes on Him who declares the ungodly righteous, his faith is counted for righteousness...”(Rom. 4:5). In fact, Biblical Christianity differs from all the world’s religions in this respect. That would be a difference between Christianity and Judaism, as well. 

And why is there this difference in whether we can work our way to heaven? Man (generically speaking) wants to earn what he gains and glory in his achievement. But God wants us to glorify Him and thank Him for salvation as a gift. That we don’t have any cause to boast. This is, of course, why I believe that Biblical Christianity is the only way to God, because of its uniqueness in glorifying God instead of mankind.

 

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