Washing of Regeneration and Renewing of the Holy Spirit

A response to Tilley's first question may be seen by clicking here.

Dear Kenneth,

Wow! Thank you for such a prompt response... You are free to use my name on the webpage, I don't mind that. Also, I hate to take your time, but there is one other lingering question that I have. Ephesians 5:26 clearly alludes to water baptism. But what about 1 John 5:8 with its context? Does that prove clearly that water is a necessity in God's divine plan of salvation? Many of my Baptist friends deny that water is part of the plan, and call it the "baptism of the holy spirit". I thought that maybe if I could somehow get an explanation for the three "testifiers" in 1 John, that would assist in my teaching them. Any thoughts are appreciated.

Serving the Prince of Peace, Tilley Duthie


Tilley, I believe that in understanding how Christ's words have power to accomplish His will it would be appropriate to hear what God said through Isaiah:

HO, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Isaiah 55:1

For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower,

So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. Isaiah 55:11

A non-biblical commentator understood this perfectly and wrote:

Blessed then are the ministers of that draught who are entrusted with that water of His: They have assuaged the dry lips, and they that had fainted they have raised up" Odes of Solomon, Ode 6:12-13

He hath filled me with words of truth; that I may speak the same Ode 12:1 and like the flow of waters flows truth from my mouth, and my lips show forth His fruit. Odes of Solomon, Ode 12:2

And He has caused His knowledge to abound in me, because the mouth of the Lord is the true Word, and the door of His light; Odes of Solomon, Ode 12:3

and the Most High hath given it to His words, which are the interpreters of His own beauty, and the repeaters of His praise, and confessors of His counsel, and the heralds of his thoughts, and the chasteners of His servants." Odes of Solomon, Ode 12: 4

To say "Holy Spirit" in once sense is to say "God." However, "Spirit" conveyed to us is the Mind of Christ (Spirit) living within our mind or spirit. Spoken "Word" was capable of creating the universe and it is capable of imparting the mind or nature of God to believers. Look at a few assorted passages:

Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. John 6:68

This is the same life which Jesus defined as spirit:

It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you they are spirit, and they are life. John 6:63

The Holy Spirit does not deal with human flesh: the Holy Spirit speaks to our spirit. How? Through the Words of Christ which are that spirit or Mind of Christ.

The words of the man Jesus Christ were the words of God:

He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Fathers which sent me. John 14:24

The passage you ask about is:

That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, Ephesians 5:26

Mankind cannot be renewed or "revived" by a revival of human philosophy or human opinion chopping up the Spirit Words of Christ. Rather, renewing of the mind must result in repentance. Repentance means that you suddenly understand that you are physically moving in the wrong direction and turn about.

Paul understood the danger of not "facing" the world but "turning" to face toward God by renewing or regenerating the mind:

And be not conformed to this world: but ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2

Now, there is a decision to turn and the actual act of turning. Many people understand that they are headed in the wrong direction but they do not act upon it. Jesus explained how baptism is proof that one has turned toward God.

He that believeth (received a new mind) and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. Mark 16:16

Baptists insist that Jesus should have said: "He that is not baptized shall be damned" if that was what He meant.
However, the second act is totally immaterial to the unbeliever. If we do not believe and decide to turn then we will not be baptized. We cannot demand that the Incarnate God of the universe be legalistic and state the obvious fact that one who doesn't feel the need to turn will not turn.

When people obviously already believe and asked "what comes next?" Peter obeyed Jesus and said:

Then Peter said unto them, Repent (change your direction), and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Acts 2:38

Now, Peter did not say: "But if you are not baptized you will not receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." No rules of grammar make it necessary.

The promise that Christ will save us was given in the great commission and was based upon hearing, believing, repenting, confessing or "calling upon the name of Jesus Christ" Whose name we take in baptism. All of this is consumated in literal burial in water to further confess our dependance upon His sacrifice. Oh, Yes, this is salvation by becoming a believer but a believer is one who has identified with Christ in baptism. Paul identified this in different ways to different people. To the Ephesians, Paul said:

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Titus 3:5

It will help to compare Ephesians and Titus:

That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration,

by the word, Ephesians 5:26
and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Titus 3:5


The Romans were washed by water and word when they heard and obeyed the gospel message:

WHAT shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? Ro 6:1

God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Ro 6:2
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into (in connection with) Jesus Christ were
baptized into his death? Ro 6:3

Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Ro 6:4

This had not changed one bit when Paul wrote to Titus which we restate:

But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Tit 3:4
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the

.........washing of REgeneration,

.........and REnewing of the Holy Ghost; Tit 3:5

Washing of regeneration is baptism:

Loutron {g3067} loo-tron'; from 3068; a bath, i.e. (fig.) baptism: - washing.

Renewing is like remodelling. Renewing of the Holy Spirit is the same as the gift of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:38. This does not mean the Spirit "person" as a personal gift is poured out upon us or in us. It means that the Spirit message of God is allowed to penetrate into our spirit being and change it. Our belief and obedience is the witness of the Spirit that we are the children of God. By analogy, if a corn seed germinates and produces two ears of corn, this is a testimony that the seed had been planted.

Paul, to the Hebrews, restated this. We can approach God with confidence and the witness of the Spirit only when our hearts or "spirits" are cleared of an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. The witness of the Word in our hearts does its assuring work only when the Spirit in those words are obeyed by faith:

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith,
.........having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience,
.........and our bodies washed with pure water. Herews 10:22

The Old Testament washing was sprinkling water upon the body but the New Testament sprinkling is on the heart or inner person. God does this work when we have our bodies washed in water.

Peter says it in another way: baptism has no spiritual value in removing the dirt. Rather, the "bath" is the time and place where we request or appeal to God for a clear conscience based upon the merit and pattern of Christ's death, burial and resurrection:

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 clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 1 Peter 3:21

An appeal to God is a REQUEST for A holy spirit or A good conscience, consiousness or a co-perception.

First John

Again, to understand your text, it will help to look at the context:

WHOSOEVER believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God:
and every one that
loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. 1 John 5:1

One who believeth is one who has obeyed whatever that belief system demands. We understand Acts 2:38 and following verses to show that those who were baptized were numbered among the believers. Second, this verse also says that one who loveth Him is begotten by Him. We do not understand this to mean:

Salvation by Love Only! 

This is not simple belief that Jesus was the Christ. Rather, to believe is to put one's trust in Christ. To trust Jesus we are told to get into Christ. In the first example of the Great Commission, Luke tells us that a believer, in the saved sense, is a baptized believer who trusts Christ rather than a theologian:

Then they that gladly received (believed) his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. Acts 2:41

And all that believed were together, and had all things common; Acts 2:44

"Faith only" in the sense of believe never hand any value. Rather, John makes it clear that live is based upon our willingness to obey whatever Jesus tells us to do. As a believer is a baptized believer, love of God is keeping His commandments:

By this we know that we love the children of God,
.........when we love God,
.........and keep his commandments. 1 John 5:2

We are not saved by
love only but love leads to the obedience of God's commandments.
.........In the same way, we are not saved by faith only but faith leads us to obedience or it simply is not faith. For this is the love of .........God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. 1 John 5:3

For whatsoever
is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 1 John 5:4

Jesus give the commandment that those who have simple faith and repent must confess Christ by obeying a form of His own death, burial and resurrection:

Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? 1 John 5:5
This is he that
came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood.
And it is the
Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. 1 John 5:6

In this sense, the Spirit is not a third member of the God "family." Rather, Spirit is the truth which Christ, the Word-Incarnate had revealed. We can have this witness only when we obey what the Spirit of Christ says through the Word.

The purifying act of the Word is in believing that its testimony is true. This belief is based upon the fact that Jesus "came" or was accompanied by water baptism "to fulfill all righteousness."

He was baptized because this was His supernatural sign that He obeyed His own patterns for our human nature.

He died and shed his blood because this was the accompanying sign of prophecy.

He was buried but then resurrected. The verity of Christ Who "breathed" upon the Apostles as the Flesh-Incarnate Holy Spirit, gave His resurrection as the "sign of Jonah." His resurrection proved that He was God-incarnate because a dead man without blood came to life.

Belief in that testimony and obeying its pattern leads one to a resurrection life. None of the versions say that Jesus was born of water and blood. In fact amniotic fluid is not water. The Living bible paraphrases verse 6 and 7:

And we know he is, because God said so with a voice from heaven when Jesus was baptized, and again as he was facing death - yes, not only at his baptism but also as he faced death. And the Holy Spirit, forever truthful, says it too. So we have these three witnesses:

the voice of the Holy Spirit in our hearts,
the
voice from heaven at Christ's baptism, and
the
voice before he died. And they all say the same thing: that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 1 John 5:6, 7LIV

Jesus "came" by water and blood: He was not born of water and blood. For instance,

Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. Matthew 2:2

Come means "to come or go." or accompany, or enter or grow. It does not mean "be born." "Born" in this passage is tikto which means "produce from a seed, be delivered from a mother."

Therefore, the saving power of Jesus Christ was not that, as a child, He was born by his mother who bore all of the pain. Rather, He came to the point of saving mankind as He voluntarily submitted Himself to a subordinate for baptism, suffered and shed all of His blood and was still alive in the Spirit to bear witness when the human body of Jesus was resurrected.

Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not names. Rather, they are the "offices" or ways which God reveals Himself to humanity which is body, soul and spirit.

For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. 1 John 5:7

Because God is One God, the image of Father, Son or Word and Holy Spirit are not three but they are one God. That is in heaven or in the invisible spirit realm.

And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. 1 John 5:8

"The first is the baptism of Jesus, the Son of God, in and by which he assumed his office as Savior of the world, for which God had sent him. The second is his sacrificial death on the cross where he shed his expiating blood." Lenski

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 1 John 1:7

The third witness is the knowledge given the apostles of the Spirit. This was first-hand knowledge and the knowledge that Christ the Spirit would bring to their remembrance.

We are internally sprinkled clean when we have our body washed in water accepting the singular name of Jesus as the image of an invisible God we are discipling ourselves to.

Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. 1 John 4:13
Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been
given to me. Mt.28:18

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name (Name is singular: Jesus) of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Mt 28:19

and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Mt 28:20

Blood witnessed when Peter preached and said:

Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." Acts 2:36

Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized (Water), every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.

And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38

For a washing in water to have value it must be based upon accepting the blood of Jesus as the sprinkling or purging power.

The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us

(not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the request for a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: 1 Peter 3:21

In baptism we have our own "vessel" washed in pure water and God sanctifies our spirit to make it suitable for His use. That is, God "sprinkles" Christ's "blood" or the merit of His blood on our spirit which is that which serves Him.

Paul also connected the Gift of the Spirit to Baptism and Crossing the Red Sea.

The blood of Christ was shed in type when the lamb was slain.

After the literal "Passover", Paul says of the passage through the Red Sea:

They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 1 Cor 10:2
They all
ate the same spiritual food 1 Cor 10:3
and
drank the same spiritual drink;
.........for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them,
.........and that rock was Christ. 1 Cor 10:4

Becoming Co-Perceivers with the Mind of Christ, the Holy Spirit

A clear conscience is what Walter Scott called A holy spirit made holy by Christ Himself. Therefore, our baptism is a witness that we have asked Christ for a clear conscience or a holy spirit.

Any Bible believer knows the spiritual high of having a "clear conscience" promised only by turning to Christ in baptism. This does not mean "preacher-absolved guilt from sin." Rather, it means to be able to understand the Word when we read it and grasp the 'mystery' which Christ was hidden from the foundation of the world in parables.

I speak the truth in Christ--I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit Rom 9:1

Here, the holy spirit is Paul's spirit made holy or set aside by Christ the Spirit.

As Christ told the other apostles that He would guide them, He also told Paul that the "blinders" of his own spirit would be removed. Conscience means:

Suneidesis ((g4893) soon-i'-day-sis; from a prol. form of 4894; co-perception, i.e. moral consciousness; - conscience.

Suneido (g4894) soon-i'-do; from 4862 and 1492; to see completely; used (like its prim.) only in two past tenses, respectively mean. to understand or become aware, and to be conscious or (clandestinely) informed of: - consider, know, be privy, be ware of.

Mandaeands Sabians Iraq Christians

"Sabian" is a word derived from the Aramaic-Mandic verb "Saba" which means "baptised" or "dyed", "immersed in water". "dMandaeans" is derived from "menda" which means in the mandiac language "knowledge".

Thus, "Mandaean Sabians" means those who are baptised and who know the religion of God.

Whenever this happened, such as in the case of Paul, He answered: "I am Jesus."

And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. 1 John 4:14

Again, we quote John:

This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood.

And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. 1 John 5:6

Because Christ as Spirit is invisible He still testifies or bears witness through His Word. If His saying it once was not enough then a direct "feeling" that Christ is talking to you will certainly give no assurance that you are spiritual. Jesus said:

It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. John 6:63

If Jesus went through the process of water and blood then we must follow Him. Before the blood has value we have to identify with the act by which even the Incarnate God of the Universe identified Himself. That was in baptism.

For thouse looking for the so-called baptism of the Holy Spirit as a person separated from Jesus Christ confering some public demonstration of supernatural power, it might come as a surprise to know that Jesus is the way and the truth:

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6

Furthermore, He is the Holy Spirit or the Spirit of Truth. Jesus said:

If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. John 14:7

Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. John 14:10

Jesus promised to return as the Comforter and the witness of the Scripture is a powerful comfort:

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. Romans 15:4

Jesus is the truth, the comforter, the Spirit:

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; John 14:16

Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. John 14:17

I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. John 14:18

Our conclusion must be that the baptism which Christ designed to mark the beginning of our Christian walk is not the baptism of a separated Holy Spirit but the baptism into Himself.

To witness is to give evidence, bear record, testify or to give a truth which we can believe. In this sense, Jesus said that "Spirit" is given to mankind through His Words (John 6:63). The water baptism is still a witness to us that He did it to fulfill all righteousness. His shed blood and resurrection is our witness and confession that He was fully God. This testimony of God is available to us through the Word:

If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. 1 John 5:9

He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. 1 John 5:10

Pisteuo (g4110) pist-yoo'-o; from 4102; to have faith (in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing), i.e. credit; by impl. to entrust (espec. one's spiritual well-being to Christ): - believe (-r), commit (to trust), put in trust with.

The way to testify to our faith is in baptism: to reject it is to reject the counsel of God for our lives:

And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. Luke 7:29
But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against (
for) themselves, being not baptized of him. Luke 7:30

If we do not believe that He had the power to put power in our act of baptism where He sprinkles our heart then
we make God a liar.

In Acts 2 those who were baptized were called believers who had all things in common. They were not called believers when they intellectually confessed and asked Peter: "What must we do." He told them that belief was not good enough. They must repent and be baptized before their guilt would be removed. We know that we are in Christ from the witness of God's record and the witness of our own heart that we have obeyed Him

And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 1 John 5:11

If life is in the Son, we must ask: "Where are we told how to get into Christ?" Paul told the Galatians:

For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Galatians 3:27

It is important to our continuing faith that we are assured of what we believe. John did not say that God will give you a supernatural sign to prove that you have been chosen to be saved. Rather, he said that the evidence is in the written record made more powerful by our trust in the name of Jesus Christ alone:

These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God: that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. 1 John 5:13.

These are not total answers but perhaps a contribution to having a broader view of baptism. Again, we need to remember that to say that "baptism does not save; the blood of Christ saves" also means that "Faith-only does not save; the blood of Christ saves." Those who practice baptism are no further from the spiritual meaning of salvation than those who reject baptism as necessary. In both cases, the fact is that Christ does all of the saving as surely as it is a fact that when we die we do not have the power to resurrect our own lives. However, obeying the clear commands of Christ -- which no translation refutes as do theologians -- is is so intimately bound up in faith that they cannot any more separated than can body and spirit.

Ken Sublett

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