Book Excerpt 2 from A Brief History of Why: The Meaning of Jesus Christ
By: Donald W. Jones & Christopher Anton
The Bible contains the history of the relationship between God and humans. It calls human action that fails to meet God's standards sin.
But your iniquities have separated you and your God,
and your sins have hidden his face from you,
so that he will not hear. -Isaiah 59:2
In the New Testament the Greek word most often translated into the English word “sin” is ἁμαρτία [hamartia / ham-ar-tee-ah/]. Harmartia was a Greek archery term that means “missing the mark”. As humans we all miss the mark. “Likes attract and opposites repel” is an old human adage that explains relationships. Consider how much your best friend is like you. When we humans miss the mark, we become less like God. Therefore the relationship becomes distant. So how do we as humans become more like God in order to restore the relationship? The answer is obvious. Become more like God.
Paul wrote the epistle to the Romans in about 57-59 AD. It is considered by many to be a mini-course in the basic tenants of Christian belief. In Romans Paul states that everyone can ascertain the existence of God by observing the natural world in its many faceted complexity. He also says that we all have an inner conscientiousness of God's laws inside of us, written in our hearts. Humans periodically choose not to acknowledge God and fail to give God proper reverence and thanks. Throughout history it can be noted that people fail to obey God's precepts, and think in egocentric ways. This typically results in a harsh reality check. Human self reliance is not adequate to establish or maintain a righteous or worthwhile life. Our attempts are futile and result in many forms of idolatry, addiction, and self centered existence based on ethical relativism in attempt to bypass morality as prescribed by God.
In order to help humankind return to a correct relationship with the LORD, God chose the children of Israel and taught them His law. The children of Israel did not obey. God even gave them a system of ritual sacrifices to enable them to restore their relationship with God. The people became enamored with the system instead of the spiritual purpose behind the law, an example of humankind missing the mark. These attempts illustrate to us that we are not capable of living in perfection. God had a plan to take action in order to heal the human condition. He used the basics of the ritual temple system which was already established to make a sacrifice on a permanent scale to enable humankind to enter and remain in a relationship with Him. God sacrificed His own Son, and in doing so fulfilled a contract with us. This was the culmination of God's plan which began at the original sin. Our choice is only to accept the offer. If we believe in, have faith in, and accept the truth of Jesus Christ, and are baptized, then that alone is enough. This is called salvation by faith.