“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.” Titus 3:4–5
Ecclesiastes says that timing is everything. Choosing the wrong time or failing to respond at the right time can create chaos and destruction. However, a timely response can glorify God and bring great blessings. When Adam and Eve rebelled in the garden, a timely and just response on God’s part would have been to destroy them and start all over again. But God used man’s wicked choice as an opportunity for an amazing display of his glory and grace. Because we expect that criminals will be punished when they’re finally caught, the gospel legitimately stuns us when God shows his goodness and loving kindness by punishing his Son Jesus for our sins in our place on the cross.
Religion prefers to keep the reins of salvation in the hands of men, offering works they have done in righteousness instead of Christ crucified. But the offerings of this moralistic gospel come from hearts at war with God. This is why our salvation must flow entirely from its source in God’s mercy toward man. When the Holy Spirit regenerates our hearts, we can repent of our sin and relax in God’s forgiveness. Jesus then indwells us by the power of the Holy Spirit, renewing our lives so we can offer ourselves as living sacrifices acceptable to God our Savior.
For the religious, it is the time for repentance.
For the repentant, it is the time for renewal.
For the renewed, it is the time to walk in good works because of Jesus’ righteousness working powerfully in us and through us.