Tag Archives: salvation

The Forgotten Third: Developing a Relationship with God the Holy Spirit — What Do We Learn from TITUS about the Holy Spirit?

There are two ways of approaching the doctrines of the Scriptures. One way is to collect all the data throughout the Bible into logical categories (called “systematic theology”). The other way is to work through individual books of the Bible, collecting the data on a particular subject (this is called “biblical theology,” although the term is used in other ways in less than conservative circles). When we ask, what does the epistle of Titus say about God the Holy Spirit, we are taking a kind of biblical theology approach. Our conviction in these posts is that, while some believers overemphasize the Spirit, others overlook Him. We want to do neither, but long to have a balanced view of the Third Member of the Trinity.

What do we find when we unit-read (read straight through at one sitting) the epistle of Titus? We find that there is precious little reference to the Spirit of God in Titus! But here’s the one reference that we do have —

Ch. 3 – 3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

Okay. This has got to be one of my favorite New Testament texts. Let’s make several observations:

1. The Spirit of God is intimately involved in moving us from the category of being lost to the category of being found, from darkness to light, from being filthy in our sins to being washed through the rebirth and renewal that the Spirit provides!

2. HOW did He save us? The text says, “through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit” (v. 5). Jesus makes it quite clear in John 3 that being “born again” is a sovereign work of the Spirit. Here His work is described as a washing and a renewal. Do you feel washed and renewed?

3. And the Spirit of God is described almost as water from God. We read of “the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior” (v. 6).  This “pouring out” was done generously! Aren’t you thankful for the generosity of the Father and the Son in pouring out the Spirit upon us?

4. This pouring out of the Spirit upon us seems to be equated with “having been justified by his grace” in verse 7. That’s salvation, my friends. And we are not to simply enjoy the Spirit’s action in our lives — we are devote ourselves to doing what is good (v. 8). Are you planning on being devoted today? (to be continued)











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Posted by on October 11, 2019 in The Holy Spirit


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Time for Another Great Quote from J.I. Packer: Today’s “Gospel”?

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Posted by on July 23, 2019 in gospel


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A Michael Horton Quote — A Personal Relationship with God?

“The gospel of submission, commitment, decision, and victorious living is not good news about what God has achieved but a demand to save ourselves with God’s help. Besides the fact that Scripture never refers to the gospel as having a personal relationship with Jesus nor defines faith as a decision to ask Jesus to come into our heart, this concept of salvation fails to realize that everyone has a personal relationship with God already: either as a condemned criminal standing before a righteous judge or as a justified coheir with Christ and adopted child of the Father.”
― Michael S. Horton (the J. Gresham Machen Professor of Theology and Apologetics at Westminster Seminary California)

Do you agree or disagree with Dr. Horton?


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Colossal Truths from the Letter to the Colossians! Pictures of Our Salvation!

As we continue looking at prominent themes in the epistle to the Colossians, we move on to Chapter 2. There we read —

13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

Do we think too much about our personal salvation? Or too little? This paragraph focuses on what it means to be right with God through the Lord Jesus. Notice the several images Paul uses:

1. Circumcision/Uncircumcision: This is a painful image for guys, but a powerful sign for the Jewish nation. Paul uses this picture to speak of spiritual circumcision and how we needed Christ to do that internal work in us (note in verse 11 that we were circumcised by Christ!). Before conversion we were DEAD in our sins and in the uncircumcision of our flesh.

2. Life/Death: We were spiritually dead before God made us alive with Christ. Do most people recognize that they are spiritual corpses before salvation? No life in them. No ability to do anything good to save themselves. Just waiting for the funeral service. And notice that we have been “made alive with Christ.” We have been raised up with Him!

3. Forgiven/the Debt Cancelled: We read that “He forgave us all our sins.” Not just the big ones. All our sins! And He cancelled the bill! He not only took the bill away, He nailed it to the cross! What an amazing statement! Jesus did some nailing of His own when He was on the cross.

4.Disarming the Powers and Authorities: The area of “spiritual warfare” (how we relate to the demonic world) seems to be a prominent focus in Colossians. We know that the devil and his minions are the enemies of the believer. What has Christ done about that? He has disarmed them. He has also “made a public spectacle of them” and has triumphed “over them by the cross.” This dimension of reality — of angels and demons — may not be overt to us, but it is real and Christ has won!

If we could only look behind the scenes, if we could only have a bit of God’s perspective on how lost we were before Christ saved us, we would appreciate our salvation so much more. We were not in a spiritually-neutral position before God. But Christ’s redemptive work changed all that!

Savor those truths today — and perhaps share with someone else what an incredible gift salvation is!


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Posted by on May 29, 2019 in salvation


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Colossal Truths from the Letter to the Colossians! From Aliens to Allies! (1:21-23)

We are thinking about major themes which the Apostle Paul emphasizes in this incredible letter. We’ve seen his great emphasis on the labor of prayer and the truth that one can never over-worship the Lord Jesus. But we can’t leave Colossians 1 without noticing Paul’s great description of our salvation:

21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant. (Ch. 1)

I’ve been an alien. Not an Area 51-UFO-kind of alien, but a “resident alien” in Canada before we became dual citizens. How does one move from being an alien of God to being a friend of God? The answer, of course, is God’s reconciling work through the Lord Jesus! Please note that it was through “Christ’s physical body through death” that our reconciliation was accomplished. And His goal? Not just to save us, but to present us holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation!


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Posted by on May 23, 2019 in salvation


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Some Thoughts on the Book “What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian?” (Post #22): Chapter 21- “A Final Question”

The last chapter of Martin Thielen’s book What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian? is entitled”A Final Question” and is subtitled Do Mainline Christians Believe in Getting Saved? This is a critical question! He answers his question in the affirmative — mainline churches, he says, believe in getting saved.

He suggests that people can get saved two different ways: (1) by a sudden affirming of faith in Jesus, and (2) by a gradual justification. He makes three affirmations about salvation: (1) Salvation is a lifelong process; (2) We are saved by God’s grace; and (3) Salvation requires a human response. Thielen speaks about God’s prevenient grace (“grace that goes before”). Calling it God’s “preceding” or “preparing” grace, he means that God works in us to gradually (or, in the case of some, suddenly) bring one to faith. [I don’t have a major problem with the Wesleyan concept of prevenient grace (I think John 1:9 fits here: “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.“), having taught a course on Wesleyan theology a few years ago.]

MY RESPONSE: There is much that Thielen says in this chapter that I can affirm, but some that he, unfortunately, misses. He speaks, for example, of gradual justification (a concept I don’t see in the Scriptures). And what really troubles me is a complete lack of reference to the essential of repentance in conversion. Instead, he uses expressions like “affirming faith in Jesus” or “accepting God’s pardon.”

He took me by surprise at the end of the chapter by providing an invitation to those who aren’t sure of their salvation to pray a certain prayer. Here’s that prayer: “Dear God, thank you for loving me and offering me salvation. I joyfully accept your forgiveness and grace. The best I know how, I affirm faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and I accept him as my Savior. Thank you for adopting me as your child. Help me faithfully to follow you for the rest of my life. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Perhaps you don’t find that prayer troubling, but what about repentance? What about a sorrow for one’s sins? Now, some in the mainline camp (and even some Evangelicals) argue that repentance is not a requirement for salvation. I would invite any who hold that view to do a study of the following passages: Mt. 3:2; 11:20; 21:32; Lk. 5:32; 13:3&5; 15:7&10; 24:47; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 5:31; 11:18; 17:30; 20:21 (repentance and faith); Rom. 2:4; 2 Cor. 7:10; 2 Tim. 2:25; Heb. 6:1; 2 Pe. 3:9.

In his conclusion, Thielen invites readers to join themselves to mainline churches, not warning readers that such churches have often denied the  fundamentals of the faith.

I want to thank you, dear blog-reader, for sticking with me in my review of this book. Please feel free to leave a comment or two below.











Posted by on March 15, 2019 in salvation


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The SIN of Boredom! (A Personal Post)

This is one of our five grandsons, Jeremiah. His mother takes a lot of pictures. And he was done. Finished. Didn’t want to pose for any more photos. Bored with it all.

Little did he suspect that his grandfather would use his picture as an illustration of boredom — the sin of our times.

I guess we all get a bit bored from time to time. But a constant state of boredom (which is definitely not Jeremiah’s situation) is spiritually criminal. There is so much to learn in God’s Word! Let’s show the world that we are NOT bored and that the greatest thing that has ever happened to us is salvation in Jesus!


Posted by on February 28, 2019 in boredom


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