God-saves or do-it-my-way? God-salvation or self-salvation, which will it be? Perhaps we might say “grace” or “pay-your-own-way?” How is there even a choice? Christ or Muhammad? Son of God or son of Quraysh?
The Bible teaches that sin is universal (Isaiah 53:6). All sin, and everyone falls short of God’s standard of righteousness (Romans 3:23). Mankind’s sinfulness acts as a separator between man and God (Isaiah 59:2), a barrier that removes humanity from God, and renders relationship with holy God, impossible. Hence, humanity is “out-of-relationship” with God, and in need of being reconciled. Atonement is the doctrine whereby God and mankind are made “at-one-ment,” that is, God and mankind are reconciled, and the nature of this new reconciled relationship is eternal and without end.
Since all have sinned and fallen short of God’s standard of righteousness, humanity cannot make amends for acts of sinfulness, nor can humanity’s righteous acts “offset” unrighteous acts. Isaiah 64:6 puts it this way: “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like filthy garments.” Man’s best efforts at righteousness are likened to filthy rags. How then can humanity ever make amends for unrighteous acts if our righteous acts are likened to filthy rags? Likewise, how then can “filthy rags” offset unrighteous acts? Quite the opposite occurs. Mankind is dismally separated from God and can do nothing to make things right. It is as if humankind has an incurable illness; an illness that will keep him eternally separated from a holy God.