The study of Titus presents two words that are worthy of careful consideration. The first word is the word elect, in Titus 1:1. “Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth, which is after godliness” (Titus 1:1).
In seventeen passages in the Bible, the doctrine is established, that God has an elect people of His own choosing.
The selection of this group of people is not based on anything other than the sovereign choice of God to have mercy on whom He would have mercy.
That does not mean the choice of God was capricious, or arbitrary. Nothing that God does is arbitrary.
As Albert Einstein noted, “God does not play dice with the universe.” This was not a religious statement, but an affirmation of the mathematical laws of nature, which Einstein did believe in. In 1954, Einstein wrote in a letter, “I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.”
Despite his personal position, Einstein spoke the truth, just as the heathen Pharaoh Necho once spoke the truth to the good king Josiah of Judah about an impending battle (2 Chron. 35:21).
Everything that God does is according to a purposed plan. God works all things after the counsel of His own will (Eph. 1:11).
“Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Tim. 1:17).
The doctrine of election is not designed to stir up religious controversy, or debate. The subject is non-debatable, and non-negotiable, for the Scripture is plain. God has an elect people. The elect of God consists of every man, woman, and child, of every age, in every class in society, in every nation of the earth, that has been regenerated by the Holy Ghost. This is taught in Revelation 7:9, 10, and Titus 3:5. On the isle of Patmos, John wrote, “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; 10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb” (Rev. 7:9, 10).
Who were in this great multitude which no man could number? Those who testify to being saved,
“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). To be renewed by the Holy Ghost is another way of saying the elect have been born again. This rebirth is the work of the triune God. Salvation is according to His mercy. He saved us. It is the Holy Spirit that renews the soul.
How does God effect this new birth? In part, through the preaching of the Gospel. “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Rom. 10:15). While the gospel is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone that believeth (Rom. 1:16, NIV), the one who believes is the one renewed by the Holy Spirit.
Herein is a great mystery.
“I know not why God’s wondrous grace
To me He hath made known,
Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love
Redeemed me for His own.
But “I know Whom I have believed
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.”
I know not how this saving faith
To me He did impart,
Nor how believing in His word
Wrought peace within my heart.
I know not how the Spirit moves,
Convincing men of sin,
Revealing Jesus through the Word,
Creating faith in Him.
I know not what of good or ill
May be reserved for me,
Of weary ways or golden days,
Before His face I see.
I know not when my Lord may come,
At night or noon-day fair,
Nor if I’ll walk the vale with Him,
Or “meet Him in the air.”
—Daniel W. Whittle, 1883
Setting aside for the moment, precisely how the Holy Spirit renews a person, another concern needs to be addressed, for there are anxious souls asking, “Am I numbered among the elect?” “Have I been renewed by the Holy Spirit?” “How can I have assurance of my salvation?” There are reasons why people lack assurance of salvation. They are worthy of being briefly noted.
People often lack assurance because they cannot remember, or point to a specific time when they received Christ. Some doubt, or wonder if they were ever really saved. There is a specific point in time when salvation occurs—the point when regeneration takes place. The issue for people is to know if they now really trust in the person and work of Christ.
People often lack assurance because they question the procedure they went through when they accepted Christ. Many evangelists and preachers emphasize the need for some form of public confession of faith, like going forward at the end of a service, or raising your hand. If people receive Christ privately, they may wonder if they should have made a public confession, or prayed a different prayer.
People often lack assurance because of struggles they have with certain sins. They wonder if a true believer would have these kinds of problems. The real problem is ignorance of man’s sinful nature, the spiritual warfare we are in, God’s means of deliverance, and the need to grow and mature in Christ.
People often lack assurance because they have erroneously been taught that they should look to themselves and their works, as the primary proof of their salvation. This is a major issue today. (ABCS for Christian Growth—Laying the Foundation, O Bible.org, on the web)
We do not want to dismiss the necessity of spiritual fruit too quickly. Jesus said that false prophets are like wolves in sheep’s clothing. How can they be identified?
“Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matt 7:16-20).
One of the greatest sets of false prophets found in the Church today, are those who teach that the Lordship of Christ can be separated from salvation. The result of bad theology is the Doctrine of Easy Believism. Because a person has been baptized, or said the Sinner’s Prayer as a child, teenager, or young adult, they falsely believe they are secure and can live a careless life free of spiritual fruit.
No Bible studies.
No holy conversations.
No support of widows, orphans, and others in need.
No love for Jesus.
No singing the songs of the saints.
No giving of thanks before a meal.
No keeping of the Sabbath.
The Bible says, such souls are still dead in tresspasses and sin because they have believed the wolves who came to them in sheep’s skin telling them to ONLY believe.
The book of James teaches that faith without works is dead. There is a spurious faith just as real as there is authentic faith, leading to sanctification, and good works, which God has ordained shall be made manifest in the elect. “But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: 14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 2:13, 14).
The conclusion of the matter is this.
While good works are important, and are a sign of salvation, spiritual works are not to be the primary proof of one’s election and regeneration.
The primary reason in having assurance of salvation, is a doctrinal understanding, and faith in the finished work of Christ.
“My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ the solid rock I stand,
all other ground is sinking sand;
all other ground is sinking sand.
His oath, his covenant, his blood
supports me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
he then is all my hope and stay.”
–Edward Mote (1797 – 1814)
If you would have assurance of salvation, then study the Oath, which the God who cannot lie, has sworn to honor.
If you would have assurance of salvation, then claim the Covenant He has promised to make with you.
If you would have assurance of salvation, then study the doctrine of the blood of Christ.
If you would have assurance of salvation, then study the promises that are given by Jesus Himself.
Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).
Jesus said, “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (John 11:25, 26)
Do you believe Jesus?
Do you believe His objective Word?
If you do, then rejoice. You are numbered among the elect of God. You have been renewed by the Holy Ghost. Your faith will manifest itself in the life you live, the Cross you bear, the disciple you become, and the good spiritual fruit you bear.