“[God] 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” (Titus 3:5)
My power washer often enables me to accomplish the things on my To Do list. It makes a long neglected cement patio look brand new. Its jet of water clears the cobwebs off the gutters on the third story of the house or the algae growing on the siding on the shady side that never sees the sunlight. Old paint on a deck disappears in an instant under the power of the washer’s blast. If I’m not careful, it will blast a hole right threw a deck board. It’s a great machine, but it’s an understatement to say it’s also noisy! It seems the more powerful the machine, the noisier it is.
I was privileged to join other central Arkansas community leaders on the 413th Airlift Wing’s public relations tour. Sitting right next to him in the fuselage of the C-130, even with my firing range ear protectors on, I could not hear my friend, Pastor Kevin Conger, talking to me, as we flew from Little Rock Air Force Base to New Mexico. The crew could only communicate through intercom headsets. The C-130, the workhorse of the Air Force, is as one retired Air Force Pilot told me, “man’s greatest invention for converting fuel to noise.”
The pastor quietly speaks only a few words, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” as he pours water on the child. There is no need to shout. God’s Word is powerful and effective to accomplish that for which He sends it. Quiet, yes; powerless, no. Holy Baptism is God’s almighty power at work to save sinners and bestow eternal life.
St. Paul told Titus, “[God] 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” (Titus 3:5 ESV). This “washing of regeneration” of which Paul speaks is the baptism. “Re-generation” speaks of power; power to wash away the stains of sin and create new life. With re-generating power, the Holy Spirit raises those who are dead in trespasses and sin to new life in Jesus Christ. His re-generating power enlightens the heart and soul of the one whom He raised up so that he believes in Jesus and receives all the gifts Jesus earned for him in His perfect life, His death on the cross, and His glorious resurrection. With the renewing power of the washing of regeneration the baptized child of God is declared holy in God’s sight and he is empowered to live a new life, doing holy things, loving God and loving his neighbor.
Saved purely by grace, dying to sin through daily repentance and rising to new life each day through faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, in the power of his baptism, the Christian quietly and cheerfully goes about doing the things on his “To Do” list; the things the heavenly Father wants him to do.