During a British conference on comparative religions, experts from around the world debated what belief, if any, was unique to Christianity.
They began eliminating possibilities. Incarnation? Other religions had different versions of gods appearing in human form. Resurrection? Again, other religions had accounts of return from death.
This debate went on for some time until C.S. Lewis wandered into the room. “What’s the rumpus about?”
he asked, and heard in reply that his colleagues were discussing Christianity’s unique contribution among world religions. Lewis responded, “Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace” (Yancey 1997, 11).
Salvation: Describes how God takes guilty sinners and declares them righteous because of what Jesus has done for them.
Grace: Is God’s unmerited favor toward us because we are in Christ. Completely apart from anything we do to try merit it, God gives salvation as a gift to those who receive it by faith
Ephesians 2:5-9 (NASB)
“5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together [b]with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Paul wrote this to remind the Christians in Ephesus of the salvation they already had in Christ. In fact, as the tense of the Greek verb used here indicates, they were written to remind believers of how to (stay saved). That salvation was being sustained by grace.
Salvation is God’s free gift which was given to us (by grace) through Faith, not by works, from beginning to end.
So when someone asks us what is so special about Christianity – the answer is
“It is God’s grace”.