“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, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior… This is a trustworthy saying.”
- Titus 3:5-6, 8
“This is a trustworthy saying,” says Paul to Titus. You can trust this. What I’m saying to you is worth your time and energy. It’s reliable. You can depend on this. Over and above anything else that you try to comfort yourself with, this is actually what matters most.
He saved us.
Pause on that phrase for just a moment. Go back and re-read it a few times, maybe a dozen times. Say it to yourself as you brush your teeth, as you get into your car, as you pause for your lunch break.
He saved us. He saved us. He saved us.
Think about it. What have you been saved from? Why did you need saving? Why did Jesus need to die? And why would He do that for you? Stop simply reading these questions (I know you’re all doing it) and actually pause and try to answer them.
He saved us. For Paul, this is the most beautiful, trustworthy, admirable truth that he’s ever been privileged to know. And it had literally nothing to do with us.
“He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.”
The more I read through Paul’s writings, the more I see this refrain coming up over and over, just in different words and different contexts. There is nothing more encouraging that Titus would need to hear.
The gospel message—as the letter of James outlines—is as essential to your own existence as remembering the shape and contours of your own face. The color of your eyes, the shape of your nose, the outline of your mouth and cheekbones.
The message that Jesus has saved us is meant to be as near-and-dear to us as our own face. Because to forget these truths would be like a sort of spiritual amnesia. To forget what’s been done for us would be like forgetting our own reflection.
One of my grandfathers suffered with dementia near the end of his life—not so much that he was forgetting his own face, but certainly to a point that he was forgetting the names and faces of others, even his own children. It was horribly discouraging at times, especially for my grandmother; yet there were always illuminative moments of recollection.
For instance, when it was clear that my grandfather was near to closing this life’s chapter, my grandmother would play old hymns for him—choir music on CD’s in the background—because he would remember the words. A tune would ignite the music files in his mind, and it was a moment of sacred remembrance. Similarly, she would read Scripture to him, and he would find peace in the familiarity of certain passages.
Dementia is a tragic illness that can dramatically interfere with our daily routines. Yet losing our scriptural memory, losing our spiritual memory, is equally—if not more—tragic. It’s why Paul never ceased to remind his fellow workers about the bare essentials.
You have been saved. Everything else you think and do flows out of that key truth. And don't forget, this was not of your own doing; it was the grace of God.
Paul tells Titus that he is to “stress these things” so that all of his brothers and sisters in the faith can be devoted to what is good. This is trustworthy. This is reliable. This is the truth of our existence and the source of our joy.
When I was at Regent, a professor once shared the story of finding his father’s old Bible years after he’d passed on into glory. And inside of the front cover, on the first page, was a little note saying the following:
“This Bible belongs to Robert Long Jr. May I never—in any sense of the word—lose it.”
May we, too, never lose the beautiful truths of what Christ has done.
Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for paving the way for us to live in the freedom of your salvation. We regret that oftentimes we do not stop to ponder what You have done, and we ask that Your Holy Spirit would carve the gospel truth into our hearts that we may always remember. We know that You are able, and we ask that You will. For Your sake and glory, amen.