The religion of men
With only one exception, every religion that has ever existed in this world maintains that the way to salvation is through good works. Their view of what constitutes salvation may differ (some may see it as a right relationship with God; or attaining to ones "higher self;" or a positive relationship with the universe; or access to heaven and bliss); however, the underlying way in which they all aim to obtain salvation is always the same – through their own dead works.
These religions all maintain that the exercise of the will; the performance of good works; the abstention from evil deeds; the improvement of character, thought and conduct; and/or the performance of certain religious rituals, observances, and other duties are all necessary factors in initiating their salvation, and often, in preserving their salvation.
The specific works at issue will vary from religion to religion, as will their opinions on what constitutes necessary moral reform, religious observance and duty, etc. However, if you strip away the specifics of these things, the core foundation is always the will and work of man. Likewise, the books they deem holy will vary; as will the names of their religious "holy men;" and even the names of their god or gods. Nonetheless, the works they have in view; their "holy" books and men; and their false gods will always point them back to self – and what they must think, say, or do to get right with the divine.
As a result, we see:
Talmudists (modern-day followers of the Jewish religion) attempting to keep the Old Testament law and otherwise working and exercising their fallen will in an attempt to get saved;
Arminians, Romanists, and all other so-called "free-will christians" going about "making a decision for Christ;" "accepting Jesus into their heart," "saying the sinners prayer," and otherwise working and exercising their fallen will in an attempt to get saved;
Muslims keeping the Islamic/Sharia law, performing the Hajj, praying towards Mecca, and otherwise working and exercising their fallen will in an attempt to get saved;
Hindus/Buddhist/Taoist etc., performing various rituals, observances, acts of self-denial, acts of obedience to their moral codes, and the exercising of their fallen will to reach their desired religious ends; and
Every other religionist likewise implementing their own rules, belief systems, acts of obedience, and manifestations of will-worship, that they deem necessary to reach their desired religious end.
The Religion of God
As stated above, there is one exception and that exception is Christianity. True, biblical, Christianity is the only religion that states that your best efforts at moral reform and religious observance, if aimed at forming the basis of your salvation, serves only to further distance you from God. God's word declares that exercises of the will and moral and religious activity (collectively known as works of the law) only serve to bring you closer to the pit of hell if you believe that these things can do anything to initiate, preserve, or improve upon salvation. The true Gospel (as opposed to the free-will counterfeits that abound in our day) declares that the Lord Jesus Christ completed all that was necessary for the salvation of His people. He performed all the work required to satisfy the divine law, justice, and wrath of God. He left nothing undone, no aspect of a sinner's salvation depends on something that they must do (as if to make up for something that the Lord Jesus Christ could not, would not, or otherwise did not do to obtain full pardon for His people).
True Christianity is not an "Ivory Soap" religion; it isn't 99.44% God's work, and 0.56% percent our own. Salvation is either all of God, as in one-hundred percent, or it is a damnable lie that cannot save anyone. Thus, any attempt to add ones own works into God's plan of salvation (whether the works be mental, verbal, or physical), is tantamount to attempting to steal the glory due to Christ and Him alone. It is tantamount to declaring Christ's blood common, impotent, and insufficient for the cause. Finally, it is tantamount to declaring the Lord Jesus Christ a liar, and declaring that the work wasn't really finished when Jesus declared "It is Finished."
By Curt Wildy