TODAY’S READING: TITUS, PHILEMON
“In hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior.” (Titus 1.2-3)
Paul, as usual, starts this his letter to Titus with a statement that he is a servant of God and apostle of Jesus.
Why is Paul a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus?
“In hope of eternal life.”
We to get very focused on the hope of eternal life for ourselves. But, Paul was not hoping for eternal life for a few select individuals. For Paul, the “hope of eternal life,” was a hope for the restoration of all creation.
“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” (Romans 8.19-25)
The creation is waiting and groaning to be set free from its bondage to death. Therefore, for the creation to be set free from its bondage to death means that the creation would have eternal life, which is “the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” For, the Spirit is life where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.
The creation was originally created with eternal life, God’s life. This is why God said
- “And God saw that the light was good.” (Genesis 1.4)
- “And God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1.10)
- “And God saw that it was good.” Genesis 1.12)
- “And God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1.18)
- “And God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1.21)
- “And God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1.25)
- “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” (Genesis 1.31)
Seven times God said that what he made was good. Seven symbolizes spiritual perfection.
So, God originally made his creation good, spiritually perfect, with eternal life. This is not eternal life in the sense of life that goes on forever, but eternal life in the sense of God’s very own life. The life of God was in creation.
But, the fall of man resulted in the loss of eternal life for the entire creation. Therefore, the whole creation is eagerly waiting and groaning inwardly for the sons of God to appear, for eternal life, God’s life, to come to mankind so that the whole creation can be restored to its original state.
Why is the creation, including you and me, eagerly waiting and groaning inwardly for this restoration?
Because “God, who never lies, promised before the ages began.” God promised eternal life, his very own life, for his entire creation before time even began. God’s plan has always been that everything he made would have his own life in it.
Can God keep this promise of eternal life for all creation, everything ever created?
Romans 4.21 says that Abraham “fully convinced that God was able to to what he had promised.”
Hebrews 10.23 says, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”
When will God make good on this promise of eternal life for all creation, everything ever created?
He already has.
“And at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching.”
A more literal, and perhaps better, translation of this would be, “and in his own time manifested his word in preaching.”
What is Paul referring to here?
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1.1)
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1.14)
The word of God is a person, Jesus. The word of God was manifested, made visible, when he took on flesh.
Notice that John says, “In the beginning…” In wasn’t by accident that he started his gospel with the same words as Genesis. John is telling us about the new creation, the restoration of creation back to eternal life, God’s life, through the manifestation of “his word.”
When Paul says “his word,” he is not talking about the Bible. God did manifest eternal life in the Bible. In John 5.39-40, Jesus said, “You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.”
The eternal life, God’s life, was manifested in “his word,” Jesus Christ. Therefore, John 1.4 says, “In him was life.” Therefore, 1 John 5.11 says, “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”
The fulfillment of God’s promise of eternal life has begun. But, it is not complete. Hence, Paul is still a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus “in hope of eternal life.” But, we can be sure of the complete fulfillment of God’s promise.
According to 1 Corinthians 1.22, God “has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”
Further, “For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened – not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.”
We are in our earthly tents of bodies. Therefore, we groan, just like all of creation is groaning, for eternal life, God’s life. We groan for what is mortal, our present bodies of that corrupt and die, to be swallowed up by life, God’s life. God has prepared and promised this very thing to us and creation. And, God has given the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of that his promise, the fulfillment of which has begun, will be completely fulfilled.
“In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1.13-14)
We heard the word of truth and believed in him. See how the word of truth is called him. The word of truth is Jesus. When we heard the word of truth and believed in him, Jesus, we were sealed with the Holy Spirit. The Holy is a guarantee of our inheritance. And, our inheritance is eternal life.
Our inheritance was promised by God even before time began.
And, if eternal life was promised before time began, before creation was begun, then there is nothing that we can do to alter that promise. We can make this promise be fulfilled. Nor, can we stop this promise from being fulfilled.
We are simply to serve God in hope that he will restore all creation to eternal life.