The Purpose of Salvation

Salvation is for the purpose of making us heirs of eternal life. “So that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Tit. 3:7). Note the conjunction, “so that” (hina), which indicates purpose. The purpose of our justification is so that “we might become heirs.” This is the main verb, the main point of this last clause. God saved us so that we shall become heirs of the hope of eternal life.

Paul wrote, “In hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began” (Tit. 1:2). In one sense, we have received eternal life. But in another sense, we still hope of eternal life. We have eternal life, but we are not yet living the eternal life. We will still die. It is an eschatological tension. We have received eternal life already, but we don’t live it yet. When Jesus comes, our hope of eternal life will become a reality.

But our hope of eternal life is sure to happen. “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life” (Rom. 6:22). We have a sure hope—eternal life. We will become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Conclusion

Paul repeats his exhortation for us to devote ourselves to doing good work to others. “Be ready for every good work . . . those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works” (Tit. 3:1, 8). Be ready to do every good work; live the new life.

We were once ungodly, slaves to sin, hated and hating others. But when the kindness and love of God appeared, He saved us. God has transformed us from the old life to live the new life. Devote yourselves therefore to doing good things to others.

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Salvation is Justification by the Grace of God

Sixth, salvation is justification by the grace of God. “So that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Tit. 3:7). The verb “being justified” (dikaioo) means “be acquitted, be pronounced and treated as righteous, in theological language be justified = receive the divine gift of δικαιοσύνη.” (Gingrich) It refers to “imputed righteousness, as God’s judging and saving activity in relation to persons justify, declare righteous, put right with (himself) (RO 3.24).” (Friberg) To be justified is to receive the righteousness of God. It is to be declared righteous by God. That is justification.

God declares us righteous not because we are righteous for we are not. We are unworthy sinners. There is nothing good that we have done or will do that can make God justify us. God declares us righteous not on the basis of our own righteousness. It is not even because we are more righteous than the others for we are all equally unrighteous before God.

Rather, God declares us righteous by His own mercy and grace. God declares us righteous by giving us His righteousness in Christ. When we trusted Christ as Savior, God saved us by imputing His righteousness to us in Christ. Thus, salvation is solely based on the character of God and totally, on the work of God.

One day, I made a left turn in downtown Cebu near Colon. But it was a “No Left Turn” road. I didn’t see the sign. A traffic enforcer flagged me. He said, “No left turn.” I replied, “Sorry, sir, I didn’t see the sign. But I’ve no excuse. I was wrong. I made a left turn. Now, can you forgive me and not give me a ticket?” He looked at me for a moment and say, “Okay. You can go now.”

I did something wrong. I admitted my wrong. I asked for forgiveness. The man forgave me. He cleared me. He did not make a record in his ticket book.

But God did something better than that. When we trusted Christ as Savior, God forgave our sin. Yet God did not only clear our sin. He declared us righteous.

The verb is passive participle, “being justified” (ESV, NASB) or “having been justified” (NKJV, NIV, NRSV). The passive voice speaks of another person doing the action. It means that God was the one who justified us. God saved us by justifying us, declaring us righteous in Christ.

The verb is also an aorist participle, “having been justified.” The aorist tense refers to point-action or one-time action. At one point in time, God justified us. God justified us when He saved us. God saved us when we trusted Christ as our Lord and Savior.

This justifying act of God, Paul wrote, is “by his grace” (Tit. 3:7). In v. 5, God saved us by “his own mercy.” Thus, salvation is only by the mercy and grace of God. Justification is by grace alone. Salvation is justification by grace alone.

Salvation then is a comprehensive act of God. God saved us by washing us, by regeneration, by renewal of the Spirit, by the pouring of the Spirit, and by the justifying act of God. Salvation is solely, totally, and completely, the work of God.

Salvation is By the Renewal of the Holy Spirit

Fourth, salvation is by the renewal of the Holy Spirit. “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Tit. 3:5). The noun “renewal” (anakainosis) refers to “the action by which a person becomes spiritually new and different.” (Friberg) It refers to the work of the Spirit in giving new life and a new nature to every believer at the moment of regeneration. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17). When you are regenerated, you are renewed. You are made new spiritually, with the new life and new nature of the Spirit. Thus, the experience of regeneration is the same as renewal. Regeneration and renewal of the Spirit are one and the same.

Pentecostals/Charismatics think that regeneration and renewal are separate experiences. Regeneration is conversion, they say, and renewal is empowerment of the Spirit. But the Greek does not support that interpretation. Paul uses only one preposition, “by” (dia), for both nouns—“by regeneration and renewal.” The context is about salvation, regeneration, and justification, and not empowerment.

Most likely, the two words, regeneration and renewal, describe one and the same event—washing. (Knight; Marshall) It is like a coin with two sides. The washing is one coin having two sides—regeneration and renewal. It is like a pair of reading glasses. The cleansing is one pair of glasses having two lens—regeneration and renewal. The washing is described as regeneration and renewal of the Spirit.

The washing of regeneration and renewal is “of the Holy Spirit.” (Tit. 3:5). The Spirit is the divine agent of the washing of regeneration and renewal. Have you been washed of your sin? Have you been born again? Have you been renewed with new life and a new nature? Then you have tasted the work of the Holy Spirit.

God saved us by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Spirit.

Salvation is By the Washing of Regeneration

Third, salvation is by the washing of regeneration. “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration” (v. 5). Paul is talking of salvation as the spiritual work of God in our hearts. Regeneration and renewal of the Spirit happen inside of us. Thus, salvation is a spiritual and individual experience, and not a group experience.

The word “washing” (loutron) means “bath.” (Gingrich) Since the work of the Spirit is spiritual, it should mean, “spiritual washing” or “spiritual baptism.” It is not physical baptism, since the Spirit does not wash physically. Rather, it is spiritual baptism—the baptism of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13). Thus, salvation refers to the baptism of the Spirit, wherein we are washed by the Spirit in regeneration through spiritual baptism. In this sense, spiritual baptism is salvation.

Paul wrote, “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11; cf. 1 Pet. 3:21). Note the aorist tense in all the verbs—washed, sanctified, justified—indicating point action in the past, at the moment of conversion to Christ. Washing here means spiritual cleansing of sin at the moment of regeneration; hence, “the washing of regeneration.”

In the “the washing of regeneration,” the genitive case can mean washing coming from regeneration. The genitive can also mean washing characterized by regeneration. This spiritual cleansing has the quality of regeneration and renewal. Thus, the washing of regeneration is the cleansing/baptizing of the Spirit of a believer at the moment of regeneration.

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again’ (John 3:1-7).

Jesus is talking about regeneration—the work of God in making us to be born again. The noun “regeneration” (paliggenesia) is from “πάλιν (again) and γένεσις (birth); regeneration; . . .(2) as spiritual and moral renewal of an individual new birth, regeneration (TI 3.5).” (Friberg) But the word “genesis” simply means “beginning.” Regeneration thus means “new beginning.”

What is the message of Paul? In v. 3, Paul is saying, “We were once slaves to sin.” In v. 5, he is saying, “We are now made new, with a new beginning, a new rebirth—a regeneration.”

Salvation is By God’s Own Mercy and Grace Alone

Second, salvation is based on God’s own mercy. “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy” (Tit. 3:5). The preposition “according” is in the accusative case—“according to, in accordance with” or “on the basis of.” (Gingrich) God saved us according to, in accordance with, and on the basis of God’s own mercy alone. Literally, in the Greek, it reads, “according to the mercy of himself” (kata to autou eleos), which is translated “his own mercy” (ESV). This mercy comes from God. God extends this mercy toward us sinners. Then in v. 7, Paul says that we are justified “by his grace.” Hence, there is no other basis for our salvation from sin, except the mercy and grace of God. God saved us not by our own works but only on the basis of God’s own mercy and grace.

Some people believe that if they will do good things, God will have mercy on them and forgive them. But salvation is not based on our works plus God’s mercy. Some believe that if they will do good works and the church will grant them forgiveness, then God might forgive them. But salvation is not based on our works plus the church’s works.

We are saved from our sins only by the mercy and grace of God, and not by our works of righteousness, religion, or religiosity.

Salvation is based only, solely, and exclusively on God’s mercy. That’s what God’s Word says. Which will you believe—the word of your religion or the Word of God? We believe only God’s Word, the final authority for what is true. God saved us not by our works but by God’s own mercy alone.

The Procedure of Salvation

In Tit. 3:4-7, Paul states the means of salvation. He gives a definition of salvation also. First, salvation is not based on the works we have done. “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness” (Tit. 3:5). In the Greek, the words “not by works” (ouk ek ergon) are at the beginning of the sentence, indicating emphasis. It reads, “Not by works in righteousness that we had done.” Paul stresses that salvation is not on the basis of our works. “A person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified” (Gal. 3:16, emphasis added).

I grew up thinking that I must go to church so God will forgive me my sins. I committed many sins during the week. I wanted God to forgive me. So I went to church every Sunday. I followed all the motions of the mass. I thought that if I went to church and did good things, God will somehow forgive me.

I grew up in a religion that teaches that salvation from sin requires many things. It requires grace from God and faith. Then I must do good works. I must be baptized. I must take the sacraments. I must pay indulgences. I must obey the commandments. It doesn’t end there. After I die, I go to a place where my soul needs to be purged. I have to be cleansed there. To be cleansed, somebody has to pay masses for me.[1] It’s not free. You must pay for it. What if you are poor? You cannot afford to pay for more masses. It is really a tiring and costly process. It makes a man-made religious organization get richer and richer.

But thank God that the basis of our salvation is not on our works done “in righteousness.” Righteousness means the life that follows God’s law (Acts 10:35). Paul said that we are not saved by the works that we have done in doing what is right.

What works have you done in righteousness? “Pastor, I help the poor.” That’s good. But you cannot be saved by your righteous act of helping the poor. “Pastor, I go to church.” But you cannot be saved by your righteous act of going to church. “Pastor, I pray every day.” But you cannot be saved by your righteous act of praying every day. God saved us not by works done in righteousness.

[1] Matt Slick, “Attaining Salvation in Roman Catholicism,” Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry. Cited May 21, 2017. Online: https://carm.org/catholic-salvation-attain

When the Kindness and Love of God Appeared

When did the kindness and love of God appear? Whenever Paul uses the word “appearance” in the Pastoral Epistles, he refers to Christ’s appearing on earth (2 Thess. 2:8; 1 Tim. 6:14; 2 Tim. 1:10; 4:1, 8; Tit. 2:13).

“Who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher” (2 Tim. 1:9-12, emphasis added).

Notice two things here. One, God’s grace appeared through “the appearing of our Savior.” Two, God’s grace appeared “through the gospel.” The kindness and love of God appeared through the appearing of Christ in history and through the gospel. When Jesus came in history, the kindness of God appeared. That is the historical appearance of Christ. When we heard the gospel, the love of God appeared to us. That is the personal experience of Christ.

Paul wrote, “When the goodness of God appeared, he saved us.” The reference is to “us,” those who are saved. Thus, Paul is talking of the kindness of God that appeared when we heard the gospel, when we trusted Christ, when we tasted salvation, when he saved us. The kindness and love of God appeared to us when He saved us through the gospel.

The point of salvation then is when God saved us at the appearance of God’s kindness and love to us through the gospel.

A Comprehensive Salvation

(Part 10 of the Sermon Series, “How We Can Impact Our World for Christ.”)

We started in Tit. 2:1 about “How We Should Live for Christ.” We end it today in Tit. 3:3-8 about “Why We Should Live for Christ.” In vv. 3-8, Paul explained the reason for godly living. We were slaves to sin once, but God saved us in order to do good works.

Paul then gave a summary explanation about how God saved us in vv. 4-7. I call it a “comprehensive salvation.” In one stroke, Paul gives a definitive statement about the work of God in our salvation.

We note three things about this comprehensive salvation—(1) The Point of Salvation (v. 4); (2) The Procedure of Salvation (vv. 5-7); and (3) The Purpose of Salvation (v. 8).

The Point of Salvation

The point of salvation is when the goodness and love of God appeared to us through the gospel. “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us” (Tit. 3:4-5). The “goodness” of God (chrestotes) refers to His “kindness, generosity.” (Gingrich) (Eph. 2:7) The words “loving kindness” is actually only one word in the Greek, philanthropia, “love for humanity, kindness, generosity.” (Gingrich); “love of mankind, affection for people.” (Louw-Nida) It comes from two root words—philos meaning “love and affection” (HELPS Word Studies) and anthropos meaning “mankind.” In the NKJV and NASB, it is translated only as “love.”

Note two things. Paul uses the word philos for the love of God toward us, not agape.[1] God’s love is philos love—love and affection for people. Also, the noun philanthropia refers to God’s love for humankind in general, and not just for the elect. “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people” (Tit. 2:11, emphasis added). God’s love appeared to the world when He gave His Son (John 3:16). God’s love is for everyone in the world, including every sinner.

Paul said, “When the goodness and loving kindness of God appeared, he saved us” (vv. 4-5). God showed His kindness and love to us by saving us from our sins. That is the nature of the kindness and love of God. It is a saving love.

Our God is not a God who just sits on His throne loving people while doing nothing to save them from their sins. Our God is not a God who merely watches us from a distance, oblivious to the pain of this world. God so loved the world that He gave His Son, Jesus Christ. Whoever believes in Him shall be saved from sin and death. God’s love is a saving love.

[1] In Tit. 2:2, he used agape, “love,” for older men. But in the next breath, in Tit. 2:4, he used philandrous, “love their husbands” for young women. Then in Tit. 3:4, he used philanthropia, “loving kindness,” for God. Thus, in Titus, Paul exchanges the word philos and agape, using philos for God and agape for people. Divine love is not necessarily agape love.

But God Saved Us By His Mercy To Do Good Works

Paul wrote, “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures . . . But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us (Tit. 3:4-5, emphasis added). Paul gives the reason for godly conduct. We were slaves to sin once. But we are now saved from sin by the mercy of God.

The conjunction “but” indicates a strong reversal. We were going this sinful way, this foolish, disobedient way. But then the kindness and love of God appeared through the gospel. We responded to the gospel in repentance and faith in Christ. We turned around and trusted Christ. God then saved us from our sins.

Do you like to sing the song, “Amazing Grace”?

The author of this famous hymn was John Newton. His Christian mother taught him God’s Word. But after she died when Newton was 7, he went on to live a life of sin.

Newton lost his first job because of “unsettled behavior and impatience of restraint.” He deserted the Royal Navy. He was caught, flogged, and imprisoned. He then became a sailor of a slave trading ship. One day out at sea, the ship went through a terrible storm.

Newton had been reading Thomas a Kempis’s The Imitation of Christ, and was struck by a line about the “uncertain continuance of life.” He also recalled the passage in Proverbs, “Because I have called and ye have refused . . . I also will laugh at your calamity.” He converted during the storm.” He became a captain of slave ships, hoping to control the abuses of the slave trade, promoting the life of God to people on board. Eventually, he quit his slave trading job and became a pastor of an Anglican church.[1]

In his famous song, Newton wrote, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, Was blind but now I see.”

When did you turn from your sin and trusted Christ as Savior? That’s when the God’s kindness appeared to you and saved you from your sin.

God saved us by His own mercy and grace alone. “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Tit. 3:5). The Holy Spirit worked a new birth in us. He gave us a new development, a new nature, and a new spirit in us. God saved us when the Spirit gave us new life.

Thus, the reason for godly living is that we were once slaves to sin; but we are now saved by God’s mercy. God saved us by giving us the new life of the Spirit. Being transformed by the Spirit, we should now live the godly life and do good works to others.

[1] “John Newton: Reformed Slave Trader,” Christianity Today. Cited May 13, 2017. Online: http://www.christianitytoday. com/history/people/pastorsandpreachers/john-newton.html.

The Sinful Attitudes of Malice and Envy

Fifth, we were “passing our days in malice and envy” (v. 3). The noun “malice” (kakia) means “dislike, ill will, hatefulness (TI 3.3), opposite κοινωνία (fellowship).” (Friberg) It refers to “a feeling of hostility and strong dislike, with a possible implication of desiring to do harm—‘hateful feeling.’” (Louw-Nida) Malice is hateful feeling toward others—the opposite of loving fellowship. Paul wrote, “But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice [kakia], slander, and obscene talk from your mouth” (Col. 3:8).

The noun “envy” (phthonos) means “in a negative sense envy, jealousy over the good success of another (MT 27.18).” (Friberg) Malice and envy are connected. Malice is hateful feeling while envy is its manifestation. (Ellicott) We were once living in malice and envy, writes Paul.

Sixth, we were once “hated by others” (v. 3). The Greek is stugetos—“loathsome; despicable.” (BAGD) Have you watched the movie, “Despicable Me”? That’s what the word “hated” means—“despicable” (NRSV). We were once despicable and detestable—hated by others.

The NKJV and NASB have “hateful”; and the ESV, “hated.” It can mean “hated” by others—in the passive sense. It can mean “hateful” of others—in the active sense. I think the translation—“hated by others” in the passive sense, fits the meaning of the term “despicable” and the context of being “detestable” (Tit. 1:16).

Have you behaved in a way that caused others to hate you? We once caused others to hate us. We were once despicable and detestable that people hated us.

Seventh, we were once “hating one another” (v. 3). Paul uses a different but synonymous word for “hating”—miseo. It means “to dislike strongly, with the implication of aversion and hostility—‘to hate, to detest.’” (Louw-Nida) We were hated by others. Then we responded in kind, hating others also. We were hated by others and hating others. Paul seems to say, “We received hate and we gave hate.” This is a mark of spiritual darkness (1 John 2:9).

This how we lived once, Paul said. We were slaves to our sinful nature and our sinful ways.