What must we do to receive the gracious love and forgiveness of God?

First of all, we must see ourselves as we are and realize our need. A big part of this is the realization that we have sinned, and that our sin is separating us from God, from our best selves, and from others. With an awareness, then, that God is a loving Father who hurts because we are separated from Him and that our sins are offenses against Him, we are sorry, deeply sorry. We repent—that is, we turn around; we decide to return to the Father and accept the grace that he offers. That grace is accepted by faith, faith that Jesus is indeed our Savior; that is God’s gift of love to us for justification, reconciliation, and liberation. We receive the gift, and it is that: our salvation is a gift; we receive it in faith.