not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit…. (
Is your salvation real? Can your claim stand the scrutiny of eternity? It is a most important issue. That some salvation professions are spurious is evident. Jesus, for instance spoke of tares sown among the wheat—those who appeared much like converts, but were counterfeits (
Matt.13:24-30). They would be virtually indistinguishable—particularly,
at first. The end of the age would bring
the great separation. I went through all
the motions when I was young—prayed the prayer, walked the aisle, submitted to
baptism, attended the church, but I was lost!
When I hit those teenage years what I was on the inside, manifested
itself on the outside. Still, all that
time, I was going to church, and believed in my head all that the Bible
said. Indeed, there were times I
trembled in fear for the possibility of being consigned to hell. Thankfully, my life here and my destiny
hereafter was changed at the age of eighteen.
Paul tells us what real salvation is in the third chapter of Titus.
It involves real REPENTANCE (v.3). Real salvation begins by seeing ourselves the way we truly are—sinners condemned before a holy God. This brings conviction, confession, and conversion. Repentance is a change of mind leading to a change of direction. Paul speaks of how we were. If the way we were is still the way we are, there is no repentance!
This repentance leads to real RECEPTION (v.4). Not only do we see ourselves as we are, but we see Jesus as He is—the kind and loving Savior sent by God. A drowning man is desperate for someone to save him—and when we know we are sinking deep in sin, then we are eager to extend a hand of faith to Jesus whose nail-scarred hand reaches down to us! John tell us that to receive Jesus is to be really saved (
Repentance and reception leads to real REGENERATION (v.5-6). Did you notice in the previous reference in John’s Gospel that it is set in context of the new birth? Paul echoes that here. Our first generation is physical—the result of the flesh—and accordingly we are sinners by nature and this is reinforced by deliberate choice. The regeneration is spiritual—the renewal of the Spirit—and we become saints by virtue of our new nature and that reinforced by godly conduct. It isn’t that we sinners, “clean up our act,” rather that God washes us—from the inside out! God gives grace to persevere if it is real salvation. We stay true to Him—and if we stray, He will chasten us—but, should we walk away forever, we only show we were never regenerate (see
1 John 2:19).
This repentance from sin, reception of the Savior, and regeneration in the Spirit is our response to real REDEMPTION (v.7). I do not want you to miss the point—our righteous actions are the fruit of real salvation, and not the root of it! Even the faith to believe is a gift from God. It is all of grace that we are redeemed. Christ did for us what we could never do for ourselves! Becoming a child of God, grants us an inheritance in heaven from our Father God. This is the real hope we have of eternal life with Him.