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Written by Bill Bradford
“...not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:5-6).
God saves us through a process that takes time. It takes a lifetime -- from the time we are called and respond with repentance. We are initially cleansed or washed from our past sins. We are washed from our past sins when we are baptized. The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “And such were some of you. But you were washed...” (1Cor. 6:11). Paul had noted their past life, and had listed some of the sinful behavior in which some of them had been involved. He said they were washed, past tense. There is the mistaken idea that when you accept Christ or are baptized that you are “saved” at that point. God has to wash us clean through the blood of Christ before He can start the process of “being saved”.
We have to be cleansed of our past sins, through repentance and the washing of baptism before we can go further. But the saving process continues -- as Paul said to Titus -- by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit. The washing and cleansing of our lives must continue to the end.
This is one of the reasons we must have the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, as it dwells in us, regenerates us, renews us in God’s mind and His way of life.
The presence of God’s power delivers to us regenerative power to where we grow more and more in God’s ways and thoughts. “Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:6-9).
The Holy Spirit is the only way we can attain to God’s ways and thoughts.
“You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; And You renew the face of the earth” (Psa. 104:30). If God can replenish the face of the earth through His Spirit as He began to do in Gen. 1:3, then certainly He can create in us a clean heart. David was convinced. Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me (Psa. 51:10) David prayed after his adulterous and murderous behavior. He understood that his sins had to be forgiven, but he equally understood that his heart had to be cleansed also from the ghastly impurities that lodged in his thinking. He knew he had to be purged. Renew a steadfast spirit within me (a spirit that is ever faithful to God).
The world is in the “bondage of corruption” and this is the environment in which we live. How much do we want to have that faithful Spirit - a genuine, humble, but powerful Spirit that does not allow the corruption of this world to enter the mind? If it does enter, is the Holy Spirit sufficiently strong in our mind to overcome that corruption? That He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word” (Eph 5:26).
God’s Word and His Spirit are the two great convicting agents. Do we pursue the process of having our heart cleansed with the washing of pure water? Do we let the Word sink deep within to purge and purify? Let’s not give up on this.
In this Bible lesson we examine the process by which our lives can be turned to God — the process of conversion. We will learn what Peter meant when he exhorted his countrymen, "Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out ..." (Acts 3:19). We examine how, beginning with repentance, new converts can turn from a life of sin to become servants of the living God.
In this booklet we will examine the Bible's teaching on conversion—it is not just a one-time event. Instead the Scriptures reveal that it is a process. The process begins with God's calling, followed by the key steps of repentance, baptism and the receiving of the Holy Spirit, finally climaxing with the return of Jesus Christ — when the dead in Christ are resurrected to immortality and given eternal life — the ultimate transformation!
Are you desiring a closer relationship with God? If so, where do you start? What tools can you use to grow spiritually and build that all-important relationship with your Creator? This important study aid will set you on the right path. Read and begin implementing these important elements today!
Have you ever considered how much the Easter holiday just doesn’t add up? Start with the timing: Jesus said He would be in the tomb three days and three nights. But do the math—a Good Friday crucifixion to a resurrection on Sunday morning is at most only one day and small parts of two others, plus two nights. Also, John’s Gospel tells us Jesus was already resurrected before sunrise, so we can’t count that part of a day. Does the Bible offer a solution? Yes, and when we understand it, everything adds up perfectly! But that’s not all that doesn’t add up about the Easter holiday. What do rabbits, colored eggs and sunrise religious services have to do with Jesus Christ’s resurrection? Discover the fascinating historical truth about all this and much more in this issue of Beyond Today!