and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe
all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to
the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19-20).
January 21, 2018
1) The "Washing of Regeneration" (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes
The "Washing of Regeneration"
Though there are certain conditions that one must meet in
order to be saved, which we might refer to as the steps that lead to
salvation, yet Paul pointed out to Titus that even after meeting
those requirements, our redemption has not been earned, deserved, or
merited. For “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we
have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the
washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit” (Titus
So one should not wrongfully think of this passage to mean that
there are no deeds one must do to be forgiven and become a Christian
-- such as the need to hear God's word whereby faith comes (Rom.
10:17), to repent of sins (Luke 13:5), to acknowledge faith in
Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38), and to be baptized in water for
sins to be forgiven (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; 1 Pet.
3:21); but, rather, that it means that even after carrying out these
demands, salvation is still not earned. And how could one
actually think otherwise! We are talking about the forgiveness
that leads to eternal life in heaven's endless glory and
bliss. How could we ever imagine doing anything to deserve
that -- and even if we had a million years to strive each day to
serve the Lord faithfully! How much we each need God's mercy,
His grace, and His forgiveness in our lives! For without that,
who can be saved?
In this passage, we also see that salvation is obtained “by the
washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.” What
element comes to mind when we think of "washing"? Is it not
water? So here we see water in connection with
“regeneration.” But what does "regeneration” mean?
According to the Random House Webster’s College Dictionary, one of
its definitions is a “spiritual rebirth.” So in the very
phrase “washing of regeneration,” we are made to think of being born
again and having that spiritual rebirth through water. And
this actually parallels with what Jesus taught Nicodemus concerning
the need to be “born again” (John 3:3) — to be “born of water and
the Spirit” in order to enter the kingdom of God (v. 5).
The Spirit's involvement, therefore, is also another parallel in
John 3:5 and Titus 3:5. For while Jesus speaks of the need to
be "born of water and the Spirit," Paul refers to "the washing of
regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit." The Holy Spirit
has revealed the need to be baptized and of the other requirements
toward becoming a Christian and living as one; and when an alien
sinner submits to the Spirit's instructions, he or she will then
become a Christian, "a new creature" in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17)
-- one who is born again.
So to be “born again” is to be "regenerated," to have that
"spiritual rebirth." And Jesus and Paul both show the need for
water and the Spirit for that to occur.
Some might not realize, that in the meaning of the Greek word for
"baptize" (baptizo) there is no indication of even one drop of
water! For the Greek word simply means to “immerse” or
“submerge,” as Thayer defines it. And one could be immersed in
various things. How about a big tub of olive oil, a wooden vat
of grape juice, or a large oak cask of maple syrup? Immersion
would be possible in any of these.
But when we look to the Scriptures we see what element was used to
do the immersing — and it was always water.
This can be seen in the reason John the Baptist baptized in Aenon
near Salem – “because there was much water there” (Jn. 3: 23). And
what did the Ethiopian eunuch say after having heard Philip preach
about Jesus? “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?”
(Acts 8:36). Also, Peter said concerning those Gentiles at
Cornelius’ house, “Surely no one can refuse the water for these to
be baptized…” (Acts 10:47). In 1 Peter 3:21, Peter also shows
that it was real “water” that was to be used in baptism; and this
was the element that the penitent believer was to be “buried” in,
after confessing faith in Christ (Acts 8:36-38), so that he could
then be raised up to “walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:3-4).
So the way the Bible shows the water in connection with salvation
(in "being born of water and the Spirit") is in baptism — and not
just by drinking a glass of water or pouring it on someone’s
head. For as we just noted, one is to be “immersed” or
“submerged” in it.
If the Greek word "baptizo" had been translated -- instead of
transliterated (in which the Greek letters are converted to their
English equivalents and the word is Anglicized) -- everyone would
clearly see that it does not mean to pour or to sprinkle (as some
administer it today); but, instead, it means to immerse. For
in a translation, the meaning of the word is given. Of course,
even if one did not know the meaning of the word "baptism," the
passages that liken it to a burial indicate immersion (cf. Rom.
6:3,4; Col. 2:12). For to be buried is to be completely
We mention this element for baptism being water because some people
might be of the mistaken opinion that baptism is just a spiritual
thing — apart from any water.
There are also those today who wrongly assume that folks are to
receive the same baptism of the Holy Spirit that the apostles
had. So they might believe in a plurality of baptisms for our
But notice what Paul states in Ephesians 4:5. Here, among
various things that there is just one of — such as one body, one
Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one God and Father — Paul
also includes “one baptism.”
So which one is it? What is the one baptism that is to
continue on? Is it Holy Spirit baptism? Is it water
The Ephesian letter was written about A.D. 60 to 62. But
Peter’s first epistle was written about A.D. 64 to 65. And
notice what he declares in 1 Peter 3:21: “Baptism, which corresponds
to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but
as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection
of Jesus Christ” (ESV).
Peter shows that it is not by merely getting clean in the water that
one is saved, but through baptism one is making his appeal to God
for that good conscience. And we, therefore, also see in this
that the one baptism that is to continue on is the water baptism
The Holy Spirit baptism was a promise to the apostles. They
had a special measure of it. We don’t find in the Scriptures
of penitent believers being commanded to be baptized in the Holy
Spirit, but we do see that they were commanded to be baptized in
It is true that Christians are commanded to be “filled with the
Spirit,” but that is not the same as receiving the baptism of the
Holy Spirit. For notice in Ephesians 5:18-19, pertaining to the
instruction of spiritual songs that Christians are to participate
in, Paul begins that by exhorting them to “be filled with the
Spirit” (v. 18). But then in the parallel of Colossians 3:16,
which also speaks of the spiritual songs the saints are to engage
in, Paul begins that section by saying, “Let the word of Christ
richly dwell within you…” It is, therefore, through that means
(of having God's word in our hearts) that we are filled with God’s
Spirit today and will develop the fruit of that Spirit.
In view of these scriptures, the Bible does refer to a literal water
that is to be used in baptism, just as it is a literal fruit of the
vine and a literal unleavened bread that make up the two elements
used in the Lord's Supper. Though the bread and grape juice
are not the real body and blood of the Lord, respectively – nor do
they become that through "transubstantiation,” as Catholicism
teaches – yet that in no way minimizes the importance of the
observance, in which one could actually “eat and drink damnation
unto himself” if he makes a common meal out of it (1 Cor. 11:23-30,
The water of baptism does not literally wash away sins as in a
likened manner to dirt being scrubbed off by a good washing; but by
so submitting to baptism -- along with believing in Christ,
repenting of sin, and acknowledging one's faith in Christ – one is
responding to God's plan of salvation; and by meeting those
conditions, the Lord’s atonement will then be applied to that
This has been likened to the healing of Naaman the leper who was
instructed to dip himself seven times into the Jordan River in order
to be healed of his leprosy (2 Kings 5:1-14). It was not the
water itself that brought the cure. Rather, it was God who did
so when Naaman met the conditions which the Lord had commanded.
The same is also so with the water of baptism and being forgiven of
sin. For it is part of what God has commanded in His plan of
salvation; and when we submit to those things for the washing of
regeneration, our forgiveness then takes place in the mind of God;
we become His children — and He chooses to remember those sins no
more (Heb. 8:12; Heb. 10: 17).
(All Scripture from the NASB, unless otherwise indicated.)
News & Notes
Jason Thornton was in the hospital recently, due to a heart
attack. He writes: "Never in a million years would I have
thought that I would have had a heart attack at 42. Luckily it was
caught in plenty of time with no damage to the heart -- just weak on
the right side, which will heal in due time." Jason was also given a
stent to help out. Let us be keeping him in prayer.
We are glad that they recently discovered the specific type of
infection that Charles Crosby has been having in his knee.
Let us pray that the new medication will now heal him speedily and
Since his double lung transplant last April, Gary Cradick
has been back in the hospital several times for a few days or a week
or more each time. He had often not felt well and depleted of
energy, but now is starting to feel a bit better for the most
part. Also, after 8.5 months of using the feeding tube, he now
no longer needs it, is eating food again, and acquiring a better
appetite. But on a sad note, his oldest brother Lynn passed
away the morning of New Year's Eve. He was only 67 and had been
well-liked by many. Gary had also lost his younger brother
David back in 2013 who was only 54 and was known as Kidd Kraddick on
his nationally syndicated radio show and was also a television
Frankie Hadley is now back home, following her recent stay in
a nursing home.
It still hasn’t even been a month since Frederick Farmsworth
Crosby and Lola Blevins passed away. Let us continue
to remember their loved ones in prayer. Also, those with poor
health or other ailments: Cedell Fletcher, Meadern Anderson, Jim
Lively, Mary Rogers, Belinda Medlock, James Green, Bennie Medlock,
A.J. & Pat Joyner, Shirley Davis, Judy Daugherty, Misty
Thornton, Michelle Rittenhouse, Rachael Gerbing, Jarvis Williams,
and Mary Vandevander in the nursing home.
WordPress version of this bulletin:
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes
(Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24;
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of
sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord;
for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m.
& 5 p.m. (worship)
Tuesday: 7 p.m. (Ladies’ Bible class)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 614-8593
(Gospel Observer website with pictures in WordPress)
(Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but
back to March 1990)