We finish this week by looking at three results salvation produces within us. We are washed of our sins by the blood of Jesus, and then we are kept clean by the washing of the Word. We experience rebirth by the working of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. Then we are renewed by the Holy Spirit through a revelation of Jesus Christ. We are changed; the old has gone and the new has come!
In my talk yesterday I focused on the words of Paul in the first part of Titus chapter 3 verse 5:
“He saved us, not because of righteous things we have done, but because of His mercy.”
My talk centered around those three brief words of measureless significance: “He saved us.”
I explained that salvation is God’s all-inclusive word for every blessing that was obtained for us through the death of Jesus on our behalf. In particular it includes four things. First, salvation from sin—its power, its guilt, its defilement. Second, salvation from sickness or healing. Third, salvation from demonic power—deliverance from the power of Satan and of evil spirits. And forth, it also includes protection and preservation throughout life. Salvation is an ongoing process in our lives.
Today I’m going to move on to the second half of that verse, Titus chapter 3 verse 5. And I’m going to share with you three results that salvation produces within us—washing, rebirth, renewal.
Let me read the entire verse, and then focus on the second part. Titus 3:5:
“He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”
Note those three words that occur in succession there in the second half of that verse—washing, rebirth, and renewal. All three are included in God’s salvation. Let’s look briefly at what’s implied by each one.
First of all, washing or cleansing. We’re reminded again of David’s prayer in Psalm 51 verse 2 that we’ve looked at previously in these studies. David cried:
“Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.”
Every person who’s confronted with the reality of his sin must at sometime or another come face to face with his need of cleansing, and with the fact that he cannot cleanse himself. This is provided for us through Jesus in the New Testament, and God in the New Testament reveals two great agents of cleansing from sin.
The first is the blood of Jesus. And this is stated so clearly in First John chapter 1 verses 7 and 9:
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us [or cleanses us] from every sin. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
So God undertakes to purify us from every sin and from all unrighteousness. The only requirement is that we confess our sins, and that we continue thereafter to walk in the light. And the great agent of cleansing, the supernatural agent that only God can apply, is the blood of Jesus His Son.
The second agent of cleansing in the New Testament is the Word of God—the Scripture. In Ephesians chapter 5 verses 25 through 27 we find these words:
“Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. To make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”
There the great cleansing agent is the Word of God compared to cleansing sanctifying water. And through that agent of His Word, Christ cleanses and sanctifies His church. He presents her without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish—holy and blameless. Let me just express it briefly this way—Christ redeemed the church with His blood that He might thereafter cleanse and sanctify the church with His Word, with clean water of His Word. And the result is that you and I through these two agents can become holy and blameless.
Then let’s look at the second of the three words there in the second half of Titus 3:5—the word “rebirth.” Paul speaks of washing of rebirth and renewal. Let’s look at that word “rebirth” for a moment. Again there are two agents. The first is the Holy Spirit. The second is the Word of God.
Let’s look at what Jesus says about rebirth by the power of the Holy Spirit in John chapter 3 verses 7 and 8:
“You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ [Notice there are no options left—you must be born again. It is essential. And then Jesus illustrates it by the analogy of the wind. The wind being a picture of the Holy Spirit.] The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
There we have the phrase “born of the Spirit.” The Spirit is like the wind. It’s invisible, but it moves. And where it moves in the heart of a repentant sinner, it produces a new birth. We are born of the Spirit.
The other great agent of rebirth is the Word of God. And it is Peter who speaks about this in his first epistle chapter 1 verse 23. 1 Peter 1:23, speaking to Christians, he says:
“For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable through the living and enduring word of God.”
So there the agent of rebirth is the Word of God which is compared to a seed—divine, eternal, incorruptible. One of the principals in the Word of God is “as is the seed, so is the life that comes out of it.” The seed of God’s Word is divine, eternal, incorruptible. The life it produces through rebirth in us corresponds. It’s eternal, divine, and incorruptible. It takes the two combined—the Word of God received as seed by faith into the heart, and the Spirit of God, causing the seed to germinate and bring forth a new life.
The third great result that is produced in our hearts and lives by God’s salvation is renewal. We’ve looked at the first two—washing, rebirth. Now we’ll look at renewal. Once again we can turn back to David’s prayer in Psalm 51 verse 10. This is what David cried out for:
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
Here again, every person who’s truly confronted with the reality of the sins he has committed must come to the same place of longing for a new start. That’s why my messages this week have that title—A New Beginning. That’s what David cried out for. That’s what you and I cry out for. That’s what we all need, and it’s what God offers us. He offers us washing, rebirth, and renewal.
And again, this is another aspect of the work of the Holy Spirit. In Psalm 104 verse 30 the Psalmist speaks about this renewing work of the Holy Spirit in creation at large. He says in Psalm 104 verse 30 to God:
“When you send your Spirit, they are created, [that’s all created things] and you renew the face of the earth.”
The great re-creating, renewing agent of God everywhere in the universe is the Holy Spirit. Only the Holy Spirit can produce true renewal and true re-creation. And specifically in human lives the Holy Spirit produces this renewal—this re-creation—through the revelation of the resurrected Christ.
We’ll turn back to a passage that we looked at rather in detail last week just to see how it fits in again with the teaching of Paul here in Titus chapter 3. The passage was 2 Corinthians 5:17 which says this:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
You see, the Holy Spirit produces renewal. He produces a new creation. But He does it in a specific way through the revelation of Jesus Christ. You can read the Gospels and know about Jesus as a historical person, but you can only know Jesus as the eternal, ever living, divine, Son of God through the revelation of the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit brings that revelation to you, you can never stay the same. You can be baptized, christened, confirmed, join the church, turn over a new leaf, and still be the same kind of person at the end of it all. But when you meet Jesus through the Holy Spirit, you cannot stay the same. You don’t have to make a big effort to change. It’s impossible to stay the same. Let me leave those words with you:
“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
That’s a new beginning.