Religious believers understand the meaning of their lives in the light of the way in which they are related to God. Life is significant because it is lived in the presence of God, and ultimate bliss consists in being in the right relation with God. Through sin, however, our relationship with God has been drastically disrupted. The fundamental religious issue which we all have to face, therefore, is how this relationship can be restored. How can we attain ultimate bliss by being reconciled with God? Basically, this is the issue with which the doctrine of atonement has to deal:
The English word ‘atonement’ is derived from the words ‘at-one-ment’, to make two parties at one, to reconcile two parties one to another. It means essentially reconciliation… In current usage, the phrase ‘to atone for’ means the undertaking of a course of action designed to undo the consequences of a wrong act with a view to the restoration of the relationship broken by the wrong act.