There is a lot packed into that passage and I won't even pretend to cover all that is there. Just a couple things I thought were cool:
- The entire Trinity is involved in our salvation. 1) God saved us 2) through the washing and renewal by the Holy Spirit 3) poured out generously through Jesus Christ. While Jesus often is the main one talked about when it comes to salvation, for by no other name are men saved, it was certainly a "team effort".
- "He saved us" is repeated twice. The reason? "Because of his mercy" and "so that we might become heirs". That is, children in position to receive an inheritance. Elsewhere we read that we are in fact "co-heirs with Christ" (Rom. 8:17). It is simply astounding how great a gift that is, and how little and seldom we consider it.
- "Not because of righteous things we have done" I know we may be verging on redundancy, but it bears repeating because it is easy to slip back into a moralistic mindset. Our salvation does not hinge on our performance and it never did. All the commands you have read during this entire New Testament Challenge a written under the assumption that the readers are believers and that they are motivated by love for Jesus and honor for our Lord. By all means, obey and strive for perfection. But let it be out of love, not fear. Let it be for joy, not to avoid guilt.