Titus 3:3-6. 3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 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, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
There are no three greater words in the scriptures than these: He saved us.
Have you ever been saved? I have. Once, as a young child, I was pushed into the deep end of a pool without knowing how to swim. I can remember literally sinking to the bottom assuming that my short life was over. But someone jumped into the pool and saved me. Another time, as an adult, I choked on a piece of candy in a meeting. I couldn’t breathe. Thankfully another pastor grabbed me and gave me the Heimlich maneuver until that candy culprit was dislodged from my throat.
What both these stories have in common is my own complete and utter helplessness in that moment. I had no idea how to save myself in both situations. I was completely reliant on someone else to rescue me from my fate.
I wonder how aware we are as Christians of exactly what happened when Jesus saved us. Many Christians will say, “I’ve been saved.” Or, “I was saved when I was six years old.” But do we actually know what we’re saying? Are we aware of what it means to be completely incapable of saving ourselves? Completely dependent upon another for rescue. I wonder how many of us still think that somehow we helped God, or that somehow we were helped by God. Neither is true. Just like I didn’t help Heimlich myself, nor did my rescuer dive into the pool and help me learn how to swim from underwater so that I could swim back up to the surface.
But here’s how my salvation stories are different from what God did for me. When I was rescued in that pool, I was seen as an innocent child. And when I was rescued from that diabolical candy (I still don’t eat sour patch kids anymore), I was seen as a friend and co-pastor. But God saved me according to his own mercy. God saved us when we were still sinners. Still enemies. Foolish, disobedient, lustful, malicious, envious, haters. We were a complete mess. Literally, we were all contributing to the destruction of all humanity and all creation. Imagine the worst person you know drowning. Would you jump in the water? Imagine the most despicable human being choking. Would you watch them die?
God set out on a full blown rescue mission. He left Heaven and came to Earth. He dove in. He appeared. God’s goodness and lovingkindness came to us, manifested in the person of Jesus Christ our Savior. And not because of any works of righteousness that we had done. We had not given him a single good reason to let us live. Not a single credit on our account. Not a single “pros” on God’s cosmic “pro-con” list about us. Even our “good deeds” were self-centered, self-glorifying, self-appeasing “filth” and “rubbish.” There is none righteous, no not one. None seek after God.
If you’ve never embraced the depths of your own sin (verse 3), the depths of your opposition to God before Christ (Romans 3), then you will continue to struggle to embrace the mercy, and goodness, and lovingkindness of God our savior. You will continue to believe, that even now, in your salvation, you are helping God out. That you are Heimliching yourself after God showed you how. That you just needed a little boost and now “thanks God, I’ve got this.”
Maybe it’s time to regain our perspective. He saved us. And not because we’re good. But because he alone is good. Maybe it’s time to remember that God loves us because he loves us. Not because we are so lovable. Maybe it’s time to shift our focus away from our actions toward God and back on his action toward us.
And oh what good and loving action took place toward us in Christ. We were not only rescued, we were regenerated and renewed. Just when you thought there couldn’t be any better news than simply “He saved us,” there’s more! We weren’t just rescued from the external consequences of sin – death. We were saved from our own internal sin producing, hate creating, anti-God foolishness, and made alive from the inside out. Washed by the Spirit. Through Jesus Christ our Savior. We weren’t just rescued from drowning; God has taught us how to swim. How to live. How to be wise rather than a fool. How to obey rather than disobey. How to be free rather than a slave to our passions. How to encourage rather than envy. How to love rather than hate. He has taught us his goodness and lovingkindness in the appearing of Christ and the abiding of Christ in us. He has taught us “to live is Christ.”
Have you been saved by God through Christ?
You in Christ
Hw might you renew your gratitude for your salvation today?
Christ in you
Can you see the evidence of God’s Spirit poured into you?
Playlist: He Saved Us.