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. (Titus 3:4–6)
There are three simple words to see in this passage — three simple, glorious, profound, life-changing words. They make up the entire summary of God’s goodness and unending mercy toward us. They are three words we should never forget: “He saved us.”
God Came Down
God’s salvation is where Paul is aiming to point us. The conjunction “but” in verse 4 sets up God’s action as a contrast to the fact that we used to be “foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures” (Titus 3:3). This is who we used to be, lost and on our own, until the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared.
God showed up in grace. He invaded our darkness and condemnation with the light of his glory and grace. The radiance of his majesty broke through time and space, nestling itself within the pages of history, fulfilling the longed-for hopes of many and silencing the naysaying doubts of the skeptics.
God became a man, in person of Jesus Christ, and he walked in our shoes on this earth. And therefore, things are not the same anymore. God came, and God saved us.
What Should He Do?
What verb should connect “God” and “us” in verse 4? “God” is the subject. “Us” is the object. Think about this. God — the one true God, the Sovereign over all things, holy beyond our comprehension, righteous in unapproachable purity. And then us — ridiculous creatures enraged against him for no reason, valuing stuff more than God’s sufficiency, serving our sinful cravings instead of our holy Creator.
What action might we expect that God to do toward us humans?
It shouldn’t be salvation. But it was.
Never the Same
That God would save us! Save us — not disintegrate us, not damn us, not punish us. But save us. We cannot fathom the wonder here. He took us in. He welcomed us into his sea of grace. We cried out that we needed him, and he was there. He will always be there. And we will never be the same.
We didn’t deserve this. We didn’t earn this. There is no work of righteousness of our own we have to show as an explanation for this kind of love. It is according to God’s own mercy. It is his work, his goodness, his love — all made clear in the death of Jesus Christ in our place.
We only have life because his life was laid down, because the righteousness of Christ has become our own, because his holiness is our holiness. We were dead in our sins, having no hope. But God saved us — he saved us in Jesus Christ.
Where would we be without this Savior? Where would we be without his unending mercy? Where? God has saved us.