Mainstream Christianity is distinctive from all other religions.
Most religions, including Christianity, offer viewpoints and explanations for life's questions. But the "believability" for the non-Judeo/Christian groups is based entirely on the philosophical appeal to each individual. Other than this there is nothing supernatural to connect these other groups to a Supreme Benefactor.
If there were a Supreme Benefactor who enables people to seek Him and offers wise answers to life's questions we would expect there to be some supernatural event that would show to anyone, in any language, any culture, with any level of intelligence, the ultimate answer to life's questions. It would instill not only emotional commitment but offer intellectual reasons for believing. There is such an event and it reveals what God offers and what He asks of us.
32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed.
33 When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals--one on his right, the other on his left.
34 Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
(Would you expect a Supreme Benefactor to hold everyone accountable to the same extent, even if they were ignorant of His priciples?)
35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One."
(He claimed to be the savior of mankind, from God.)
36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar
37 and said, "If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself."
(He claimed to be a king.)
38 There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
(Everyone was aware of Jesus' claim)
39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!"
(One common skeptical challenges is: if there is such a Supreme Benefactor, why does He not stop evil and the suffering we see)
40 But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence?
(But one criminal, reasoned . . . )
41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong."
(They both were guilty of crimes, both deserved punishment but they both knew that this Jesus was innocent of all crimes. Yet Jesus willingly went along with the trial and did not defend himself. Why?)
42 Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. "
(This criminal knew he was going to die soon, he had nothing to lose. He did not worry about his ego, his pride. No other path offerred any hope. He knew this Jesus was innocent of all charges, had saved others from death and suffering, claimed to be a savior and a king of humankind. While one criminal could not give up his pride and preferred to ridicule Jesus, the other expressed his belief. He believed:
2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb,
3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.
5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead?
6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee:
7 `The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.'"
8 Then they remembered his words.
Death poses the ultimate problem for everyone in every culture, every
language. This event gives the final proof of the answer. Unlike other
religions, the founder of Christianity taught the ultimate in self-sacrifice
and that such is the path to individual salvation. If you were to start
a religion, which would make a better world, a religion that teaches self-centeredness
or self-sacrifice? But since we all wish to live and resist suicide and
try to live, what could possibly convince people to make the ultimate sacrifice?