Many religions have a soteriology, which is a method of salvation. Most beliefs teach that we must work for it. Some religions have no salvation or hope of release from suffering, they just take life as it is. There are many methods of salvation using natural works to generate good karma or good character points with God. It’s like climbing a mountain to reach God or deliverance from the struggles of life, but while climbing the climber faces an eruption, an avalanche, a thunderstorm, and mountain lions, so it’s humanly impossible. In contrast, in Christianity Jesus (the Messiah) ascends the metaphorical mountain himself for us. He walks through fire and magma unburned (Dan 3:1-30), parts the wall of snow and ice (Ex 14:15-31, Josh 3:9-17) even walks on rushing water (Mark 6:45-56), quiets the storm (Mark 4:35-41) and shuts the lion’s mouths (Dan 6:1-28). He reaches the top for us and moved the mountain (Mark 11:22-24) by mediating a new covenant where our sin is covered by his sacrifice, so we are saved from its effects including death. In other words, we can’t save ourselves so we must trust God for it.
Paul says this in Philippians 3:2-4 and 8-9. Philippians 3:2 Watch out for those dogs, those people who do evil, those mutilators who say you must be circumcised to be saved. 3 For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort, 4 though I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could. Indeed, if others have a reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more!
In verse 7 he continues, “7 I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. 8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake, I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ 9 and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.”
For Orthodox Jews, it’s about being a descendant of Abraham and following the law until the messiah comes. No heaven, just Sheol until the messiah comes to raise the righteous dead and start a new Kingdom. For Islam it is similar but following the Quran and salvation itself is unknown because Allah is unknowable and there is no guaranteed way to be saved. In Islam, the only ones guaranteed heaven are those that die in jihad, for everyone else they have no idea and won’t know until they die.
Vedic religions like Hindu, Buddhist, and Jainist are all about achieving salvation by either building good karma to achieve moksha or liberation from the cycle of samsara, or reincarnation (Hindus and Jainists), or following the eightfold path to nirvana which is freedom from samsara (Buddhist). New age paganism is all about being a good person and it usually borrows from Vedic religions but sometimes applies Abrahamic ideas of the afterlife when convenient. Some new age religions are like Buddhism and Jainism in that they don’t believe in an afterlife or even god, but believe we become energy in the universe, while others worship various deities. In some beliefs, there is no good or bad but all things are necessary for balance, (like the force in star wars), these ideas are in some Chinese religions as well as some tribal religions of Africa and the Americas. So there’s no salvation just life.
Jesus Christ is the only one where God promises to save people from the corruption caused by sin in their hearts and resurrect them after death to eternal life. As well as offering mercy in face of judgment against all evil, because we can’t save ourselves. We must repent to God and receive the gift of the holy spirit which is what helps us overcome sin, and God’s holy spirit is only available to those who received Jesus as Lord (John 14:15-17, Rom 8:5-11). In John 6:63 Jesus says the spirit alone gives eternal life and human effort accomplishes nothing, and his words are spirit and life.
God’s view on the worthlessness of good deeds compared to the humility of repentance is on display in Ezekiel 18:23-24. Ezekiel 18:23 “Do you think that I like to see wicked people die? says the Sovereign Lord. Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live. 24 However, if righteous people turn from their righteous behavior and start doing sinful things and acting like other sinners, should they be allowed to live? No, of course not! All their righteous acts will be forgotten, and they will die for their sins.”
Other religions teach that you must work for your own salvation from your failures and corruption by yourself. Christianity teaches that God made it so that you can receive salvation and walk with him to escape from sin. Essentially we don’t need to reach God by struggling alone to prove our righteousness, we simply come to God and he walks with us and teaches us.
Gal 5:16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. 17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. 18 But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses. 19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. 22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!