I recently enjoyed a morning hike to a waterfall in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. As I hiked closer to the stream, the rushing of the water drowned out all the other noises of the forest. I could no longer hear the birds singing to one another. I sat down to take in my surroundings and a passage that I had just studied came to mind, a reminder from the LORD of His work in me.
Titus 3:5-7: He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Regeneration and Renewing
The pouring down of that waterfall helped me ponder the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. This passage in Titus is one of two New Testament occurrences of the word “regeneration.” The original audience would have pictured water baptism, which is the outward sign pointing to the inward reality of the Spirit’s washing, and of our cleansed conscience (Hebrews 9:8-14). In Old Testament sacrifices, the sprinkling of the blood symbolized cleansing; water now symbolizes the cleansing that is ours in Christ.
The Spirit does the work of regeneration. As He does, the voices surrounding us urging us to just try harder, or the accusatory voices using the Law to conjure up old guilt, begin to fade away. The Spirit washing us by regeneration is the beginning of our new life, the beginning of His rich work in us.
In addition to regeneration is the Spirit’s work of renewal where He makes all things new. He doesn’t patch us up, fix what is broken, or strengthen us to remake ourselves; rather, He makes us anew, born again. He takes Christ’s work on the cross and applies it to each of us so that we might have abundant life and growth in Him (see Colossians 3:10)….