Thursday, August 25, 2016

3 Truths on Regeneration from Titus 3

black-and-white, dawn, mountainsOur church recently finished a short series through the book of Titus (sermons here). In our concluding message we talked about good works and the reason we do them. One of the reasons we do them is because we have been transformed by the power of God! Paul explains how that happens in Titus 3:5:

[God our Savior] 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

This passage is an important text for the doctrine of regeneration. We see the word there in our text: ‘washing of regeneration’.This word ‘regeneration’ literally means ‘to be born again.’ (Remember Jesus’s teaching to Nicodemus in John 3?).

So, what I want to do today is look at 3 Truths about Regeneration from this text:

I.   It is the Main Event

I don’t want to downplay other aspects of salvation at all! But, what I mean here is that without regeneration, without being born again, nothing else matters for the individual. In other words, you can try and be a good person. You can try and come to church. You can try and give more money in the offering plate. You can try to be baptized 153 times.

But at the end of the day, the question for you is this: Are you born again? Because if not, then in your heart you don’t really love God or the things of God. You are still in a state of disobedience and sin. You’re still in the state of Titus 3:3

foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures…
Actually, this explains a lot about the state of Christianity in the Bible Belt. This is why so many professing Christians don’t go to church, they don’t read their bibles, they don’t live separate from the world. Why? Because they haven’t really been born again! There is no desire to do the things of God because they still have a heart of stone.

II.   It is Monergistic

Now that’s a fun word isn’t it? But here’s what it means. It means that regeneration is not a work of you and God, but a work of God in you! (See also for example, 1 Peter 1:3).

In the original language the text of Titus 3:5 is emphatic that it is not our works that bring about regeneration. It’s not because we are ‘baptized’ or even because we have a thought originate within ourselves ‘Hey, I think I’ll be born again today!’ By the way, this is why Paul uses the words ‘washing’ and ‘poured out’. Not because Baptism is what regenerates us but because it is a beautiful picture of how God sends the Holy Spirit to us. God promised in Ezekiel 36:25-27 that He would cleanse us spiritually, and this text shows us that He does so through His Holy Spirit whom He poured out on us richly, not through baptism, but through Jesus Christ our Savior! (Titus 3:6)

Regeneration is possible because of the finished work of Christ. The way a person is born again is only through the heralding of the gospel – the good news of Jesus’ life, death, & resurrection for our sins! A person doesn’t walk down the sidewalk and say “I think I’ll be born again today.” No, the gospel is proclaimed either during a preaching time, or over coffee, or as you’re text messaging back and forth. And it is only through the gospel that God ‘turns on the lights’ so a person sees their wretchedness and their need for Christ and so they can close with Him in faith and repentance by grace alone (see Titus 3:7).

So, regeneration is God’s Work. However, this doesn’t mean it’s separated from a response of faith and repentance on our part. We are never told to discern the Spirit’s working. What are we told to do? Repent and believe the gospel! So, the Holy Spirit’s work is the new birth, but it is still the command of God to every person on the planet to repent and believe the gospel. What I mean is don’t say ‘I can’t be born again because the Spirit’s not working in me.’ You are not told to discern that!
I want to pause here and just issue a call to come to Christ. If you are reading this and saying ‘I want to be born again, I don’t understand how that works, what do I need to do, can God save me?’


I just want to issue a simple call: Come to Christ. See His finished work. See the goodness and loving kindness of God displayed in Christ’s bearing our sin. See His offer of mercy even now. Repent of your sin and believe the gospel. Will you have Him today?

III.   It is a Massive Overhaul

Regeneration changes us. It takes us from being foolish, disobedient, et al,  to being ready for every good work. It changes our desires, it changes our hopes, it changes our priorities.

You’re still feeling the effects of your first birth, aren’t you? If you’re reading this you are! So too with your second birth. If you've been born again, you haven't quite gotten over it!

The beauty of the gospel is not merely that God forgives sinners, which is wonderful news! But it is also that He actually changes us to want to serve Him joyfully and to be a people for Christ’s own possession who are zealous for good works (Titus 2:14).

There is a lot of talk today about people being 'born this way' or 'born that way' as an excuse for living in rebellion against God. The truth of the matter is that we are all born sinners and we are all in need of a new birth. And when we are born again by the power of the Holy Spirit, we are changed. It is a massive overhaul of all we once were and trapped in our old little kingdoms, to being transferred to the Kingdom of Light. This is not to imply that we are perfect, but by the grace of God, we are no longer who we once were (Titus 3:3). 

In Titus 3:8, Paul exhorts Titus to insist on these things. A healthy understanding of regeneration is vital to a church being ready for every good work. Why?

1)     It helps us appreciate God’s unfathomable grace - We who were disobedient and slaves to various passions. We who were deserving of hell and wrath, God has made us alive with Christ!

2)     It reminds us where good works come from – GOD! (Phil. 2:12-13)

3)     It compels us to show grace to others - Sometimes we who’ve received such grace are the first to fail to show it to others. Do not be that way!

4)     It encourages us about the power of God – If God brought us from death to life, can He not also equip us to carry out good works for His glory?

Some people say it doesn’t really matter how God saves, just that He saves. Well, praise the Lord that He does save! Hallelujah! What a Savior! But, let us also remember that the Bible does show us how God saves and furthermore Scriptures shows us that it is important for us to believe rightly about salvation. Regeneration is not the full encompassment of the word ‘salvation’ used in the Bible, but it is an important and vital aspect of salvation, and one the church would do well to understand rightly to the praise of His glorious grace!

Have you been born again? If not, will you look to Christ today as your only suitable and all sufficient savior? Will you rest in His finished work on the cross when He bore the wrath of God for sin for all those who would trust Him by faith? 

No comments:

Post a Comment