This short account has deep theological implications. The recipient of God’s love and mercy ought to show evidence of change in thought and behaviour. In other words, the sinner has to repent.
We tend to emphasise God’s love and mercy towards sinners. The need for sinners to bear fruits that befit repentance—personal responsibility—is often not emphasised to the same degree.
- "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works" (Titus 2:11-14).
- "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me" (Luke 9:23).
- "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world" (1 John 2:15-16).
- "Do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each one according to his deeds" (Romans 2:4-6).
- "He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again" (2 Corinthians 5:15).
If we think that, once we have received God’s grace, we can afford to be complacent, merely rest on the imputed righteousness of Christ, happily go on our way and do nothing, why are there so many references to active faith?
- Work out your faith with fear and trembling: Philippians 2:12-13
- Keep striving: Philippians 3:12-14
- Run the race with discipline so we won’t be disqualified: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
- Bear fruits that befit repentance and don’t rest on your spiritual laurels: Luke 3:8
- Narrow and hard is the way to life: Matthew 7: 13-14
- Holiness requires effort; confirm your election: 2 Peter 1: 5-8, 10