The Eternal Wonder of Three Simple Words
Titus 3:4-6 —
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 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, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior
Three words. That’s what we should take away from this passage. Three simple words that form the grand slam summary of what it means that God’s goodness and loving kindness have appeared. Three words: He saved us.
Here’s the Point
This is where Paul is aiming to draw our attention. The conjunction “but” in verse 4 is setting up an action to contrast with the fact that we used to be “foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures” (verse 3). This is who we used to be, until the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared.
God showed up in grace. This isn’t a new line, it’s a new act. The box of our condemnation was invaded with the light of God’s glory. The radiance of his majesty has beamed forth onto the stage of history in the person of Jesus Christ and things are not the same anymore. God came. And God saved us.
What Verb Do We Expect?
What verb should connect “God” and “us”? He is the subject. We’re the object. What action should we expect?
God: the one true God, the Sovereign of all things, holy beyond our comprehension, righteous in unapproachable purity. And then us: creatures with malice against our Maker, valuing our goods more than our God, serving our cravings instead of our Creator.
That God would save us. Save. Not disintegrate. Not damn. Not punish. But save. He saved us. He saved us. We cannot fathom the wonder here. This is his action towards us: He saved us.
How Did This Happen?
It wasn’t out of our merit. We didn’t earn this favor. There is no work of righteousness we have to show in explanation. It is according to his own mercy. It is his work, his goodness, his love. This is what I mean: it was by the initiating and renewing work of the Holy Spirit. It’s a trinitarian drama. The Spirit was poured out on us through Jesus. Jesus, who suffered in our place every fearful verb that we deserve instead of “save.” All by mercy. God has saved us.