Tom Hayes


Titus 3:3-7

Years ago, a man, who was not a Christian, asked me about a sign by the road which read, "Jesus Saves." His question was, "Just what does that mean?" At that point in my life, I didn't feel that I explained it to him very well. And, I don't pretend to be able to fully explain this vast subject now. However, using these Bible verses (Titus 3:3-7), I would like to make much of the God Who saves sinners.

The word "salvation" in our English Bible comes from the Greek word soteria, and explains why Bible students sometimes refer to The Doctrine Of Salvation as The Doctrine Of Soteriology. In one form or another, the term is always associated with deliverance. From this perspective, we can say, "Jesus Saves!" He alone saves! "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).

The Epistle of Paul to Titus is commonly accepted as one of the Apostle's last epistles. Earlier, Paul had sent Titus to the island of Crete to help organize the young churches (see 1:5). Now, he writes a letter of further instruction to encourage Titus in his difficult ministry. From all indications, the people were very unruly and undisciplined, and needed to be confronted with strong biblical truth.

Intermingled in his final message is the message that God is a God Who saves sinners! The doctrine of salvation is emphasized from several perspectives. It is interesting that Paul refers to both God, the Father, and God, the Son, by the name "Saviour" in six different texts (see 1:3, 4; 2:10, 13; 3:4, 6). But for now, let's devote our attention to this cluster of verses.

1. The Divine Pursuit

The entire passage of Scripture magnifies the mercy, grace, and love of God in our salvation. Without question, it was not what we did, but what God did in our behalf that brought salvation. We did not pursue Him, but in divine kindness, He pursued us and saved us by His grace. With the Apostle, we can testify, "the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man" has "appeared" (3:4, 5).

A. He Pursued Us With Favor

The word "kindness" (3:4) is the word for "gracious" or "good." In this text, then, we conclude that God showed favor or goodness to us. He was favorable toward us, appearing in kindness, goodness, or graciousness. Thank God! Instead of turning His back on us, He turned His face toward us! To use Jesus' words, "God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved" (John 3:17).

B. He Pursued Us In Friendship

The Bible tells us that "A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly" (Prov. 18:24). But, this is true about God, too, isn't it? God has shown Himself friendly in our behalf. By nature, we were separated from Him; we were His enemies. In our unrighteousness, we opposed His righteousness. Yet, God did not leave us to ourselves. In His great "love" (3:4), He appeared to us in Christ and pursued us as a reconciling Friend.

C. He Pursued Us With Forgiveness

The word "mercy" (3:5) means that God has withheld from us what we deserved. We are saved because God has chosen to withhold His judgment from us. In mercy, He has granted us forgiveness and salvation. And, now, as James writes, "Mercy rejoiceth against judgment" (Jam. 2:13). When Noah and his family were inside the ark, mercy rejoiced against the judgment waters of the flood. For those in Christ, mercy rejoices against all future judgment!

2. The Delivering Process

One of the vital features in the doctrine of salvation is the biblical truth of regeneration. Jesus talked to Nicodemus about being "born again" and being "born of the Spirit" (John 3:3,6). Other than this, very little is said about regeneration in the four Gospels. But, here we are given some insight into this important aspect of salvation. In mercy God has "saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost" (3:5).

A. The Activity Of Regeneration

The word "regeneration" (3:5) conveys the idea of "impartation of, or origination of new life; making new; enlivening." In this light, sinners are considered to be spiritually dead until God quickens and makes them alive unto Himself. We could never be saved "by works of righteousness which we have done" (3:5). But, through His mercy, God does regenerate sinners! He does make new people out of us!

B. The Agent Of Regeneration

A legitimate question at this time might be, "How does God regenerate us?" This delivering process is carried out by the Person and ministry of the Holy Spirit, or as stated in the text, by the "renewing of the Holy Ghost" (3:5). No preacher, church, or personal worker can make someone new. The Holy Spirit, Who is "the Spirit of life" (Rom. 8:2), alone can perform this enlivening operation.

C. The Author Of Regeneration

Without question, this spiritual life originates with God, the Father. Furthermore, it is produced and made effective in us by God, the Holy Spirit. But, in every facet, regeneration is based on the work of God, the Son, or "through Jesus Christ our Saviour" (3:6). By the miraculous birth, sinless life, substitutionary death, victorious resurrection, and heavenly enthronement of Jesus, God has "shed," or poured out "on us abundantly," the blessings of salvation (3:6).

3. The Developing Plan

Not only is our salvation rooted in the work of three Persons - - the triune Godhead, but it is related to three tenses - - past, present, and future. When we came to Christ, we were saved from the penalty of sin. We are presently being saved from the power of sin. And, thank God, we shall ultimately be saved from the presence of sin. This is the message of the phrase, "That being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life" (3:7).

A. In The Past Tense

The word "justified" (3:7), which means "to declare one righteous," indicates that our past sins no longer condemn us. The fact that, prior to divine intervention, we were "sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another" (3:3), only magnifies the wonderful "grace" (3:7) which has justified us! The slate has not just been cleaned! In Christ, it has been thrown away!

B. In The Present Tense

While we rejoice in God's justifying grace, we must realize that justification cannot be separated from sanctification. In justification, God declares us righteous in Christ! But, in sanctification, He enables us to be righteous in our practical experience. The grace that justifies also sanctifies! The grace that appears also teaches! (see 2:11, 12). The grace that makes us acceptable with God, continues to make our lives acceptable manifestations of His life!

C. In The Future Tense

Paul goes on to explain that the grace that justifies and sanctifies also glorifies. "That being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life" (3:7). As I have heard Rev. Henry Vegter say on many occasions, "The prospects are great in Jesus Christ!" In God's great saving purposes, we are given heirship, hope, and eternal life. What a future is ours! And, it's all because of the God Who saves sinners!

As a teenage boy, my swimming was usually confined to the shallow water. On one occasion, however, some of us went beyond the roped-off area and on to the dock. We took turns diving or jumping into the water. I had never done anything like that before, but it looked like so much fun. My first jump was successful, but, on my second turn, I began swallowing water and thrashing around. I have always felt that I would have drowned had not one of my buddies dove in under me and pushed me back up. He saved my life.

In a similar way, I was struggling in the pond of sin. I had some thoughts about doing better and getting out of that mess. Yet, I only seemed to get in worse shape. Praise His name, the God Who saves sinners reached farther down than I could reach up. I can now say with the Apostle Paul and other believers, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us." Hallelujah! What a Savior! Amen.