What is the place of personal repentance and obedience in a Trinitarian, Christ-centered Theology? If all are included already in God's love and life, why repent or behave?
In his epistles we see Paul address this through a very carefully crafted Christ-centered logic that has to do with our union with Jesus. His "Christ-o-logic" as it pertains to the individual, unfolds in three progressive steps:
- First Paul declares that in Jesus, we belong. This is the gospel declaration: we are included, through Jesus, in God’s love and life. God has done this for us (and, indeed for all humanity), quite apart from any work or merit of our own. It’s a gift of God’s grace.
- Second Paul invites us to believe. This is the gospel invitation to repentance and belief (trust). This too is God’s gifts to us. We believe in Jesus, because we belong to Jesus (and notice that belonging precedes belief).
- Third Paul exhorts us to become. This is the gospel response of Christ-centered living—our now active participation with Jesus in his love and life—his relating to God and to other humans.