Bible Facts column
By Ian Kurylyk
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour.”(Titus 3:5-6)
Notice the words in the heart of this passage, "he saved us." If we pay close attention to this testimony of Paul and the earliest Christians we will be enabled to understand what real salvation from sin is.
The very first thing we learn is that it is "not by works of righteousness which we have done." In simple terms, we do not and cannot earn salvation. We cannot work our way to heaven.
It is sobering to realize how far systems of religious thought can stray from this plain Bible statement. How many law-abiding, religious people are trusting the very thing Scripture tells us won't get us to heaven.
This Scripture passage teaches us, rather, that salvation is "according to his mercy." Being spared the punishment we deserve for our sins by God's mercy is very different from the idea of getting to heaven because we are good enough. If we go to God and ask for what we deserve we will be in big trouble. The justice of God revealed to us in the Bible is a fearful thing.
Because the Saviour voluntarily endured the punishment we deserve, we can go to God for salvation. But it is for those who acknowledge their guilt. That is how mercy is received.
The next truth about salvation is that it is "by the washing of regeneration." The word "washing" indicates that sin has a defiling, corrupting effect upon all of us. We stand unclean in the sight of God, unfit for heaven. Salvation provides the washing we need.
Most honest people know they need some cleaning up, but stop short of what God requires. Attempts are made to change the lifestyle by self-reformation; consciences are salved by self-worth or guilt counselling; religious ordinances and ceremonies are applied.
But God's salvation is the washing of regeneration. In salvation God's Spirit makes a person brand new on the inside. Regeneration is a new (spiritual) birth. That is the washing needed.
All this is given through the one who died for our sins and rose again.
For those who trust Him, salvation is "shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour."
Ian Kurylyk is pastor at Summerside Fundamental Baptist Church.