But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared,
(a) The kindness of God was demonstrated on the cross (Tit. 3:4). Yet God plans to continue revealing his kindness to us today, tomorrow and forever more (1 Cor. 2:9, Eph. 2:7).
(b) His love for mankind. God’s love for all of us is revealed through his Son Jesus (John 3:16, Rom. 5:8).
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,
(a) He saved us on account of his mercy and grace. You are not saved because you are a good person, but because God is a good Father.
(b) Deeds which we have done in righteousness. Jesus drew a line between our righteousness and God’s righteousness (see entry for Matt. 6:33). God’s righteousness is sometimes referred to as the righteousness of faith or faith righteousness (Rom. 4:13). Faith righteousness can be distinguished from works righteousness which is based on our own efforts. The righteousness of the law (Rom. 10:4-5, Php. 3:6, 9) is an example of works righteousness. See entry for Righteousness.
(c) According to His mercy. Mercy is one facet of God’s grace (Heb. 4:16). Mercy is how grace appears to the needy. Just as we are saved by grace (Eph. 2:5), we are saved by mercy. Just as we are forgiven by grace (Eph. 1:7), we are forgiven by mercy (Matt. 18:33, Luke 1:77-78, Heb. 8:12). See entry for Mercy.
so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
(a) Justified by His grace. No one is justified or made right with God by doing good works or keeping the law (see entry for Rom. 3:20). Rather, our justification comes to us as a gift of grace (Rom. 3:24) that is received by faith (Rom. 3:28, 5:1, Gal. 3:24).
(b) The hope of eternal life suggests that eternal life or salvation is not a done-deal. “You might get eternal life, you might not. Hope for the best.” That is not what Paul is saying here. Our hope is not based on the brittle promises of man, but on a God who cannot lie (Tit. 1:2). Since our hope is in God (1 Pet. 1:21), we can be sure that this hope will never disappoint us (Rom. 5:5). See entry for 2 Tim. 1:9.
(c) Eternal life is living forever in union with Jesus; see entry for John 3:15.
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