But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 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. (Titus 3:4-5)
The first two words of Titus 3 are, “remind them,” and I see many things to remember in the chapter. I see that we should remember how to live (Titus 3:1-2) and that we should remember what we were before Jesus changed our life (Titus 3:3).
Now in Titus 3:4-5, I see something else really important to remember: the great salvation God brings to His people as they put their trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
It all began when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared. When we were in the place described by Titus 3:3 (foolish, disobedient, deceived, and so on), we didn’t rescue ourselves. We were rescued by the kindness and the love of God. He reached out to us long before we reached out to Him.
We didn’t earn His rescue in any way. It was not by works of righteousness which we have done. Our salvation isn’t based on any works of righteousness which we have done. Think of it:
– By itself, response to an altar call does not save.
– By itself, saying the sinner’s prayer does not save.
– By itself, baptism does not save.
– By itself, church attendance does not save.
– By itself, giving does not save.
– By itself, reading the Bible does not save.
Each of these may be wonderful works of righteousness, but by themselves they do not save us. Instead, according to His mercy He saved us. If God had not worked in us first by His mercy, none of these would have any effect.
We can say it simply: He saved us. This is the essence and distinctive of the gospel. We can notice the emphasis: of God… not by works… His mercy… He saved us… of the Holy Spirit. God is always the initiator, and we receive from Him before we give anything back.
So, respond to such a loving, gracious, giving God by trusting Him; surrendering your past, present, and future to Him; loving Him; praising Him; and receiving the great gift given to you according to His mercy.
Remember what you used to be, and have faith that the God who has begun a good work in you will complete it unto the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).