Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde?

Paul wrote a letter to Titus, who was not only a believer, Paul called him a true son in the spirit.  Furthermore the letter is written to a believer who was left in Crete to further the gospel of Christ in the church that was there.  So hopefully we can all agree this letter was written to confessing believers.

I am an advocate of the belief that scripture teaches we have a hope of salvation, and that we as believers are not saved, but look forward to the day we receive salvation.  Therefore no truly backslidden Christian can loose their salvation because they never received it in the first place.  What they have done is left the faith that could have saved them.

Those who find this teaching in error are happy to point out many scriptures and doctrines of the church saying we are saved once we believe.  One such verse is

he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,[1]

So what was Paul telling Titus and the church, was he telling them they are saved, going against his own doctrine of the hope held out in the gospel?  Worse yet, it appears that Paul was a mad man.  If we hold to the dogma that we as Christians have obtained salvation already, in light of the above verse from Paul, then what schism in Paul’s personality has caused him to pen?:

so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.[2]

It only took Paul two verses to loose him mind after declaring the doctrine of salvation, saying we are saved, to saying we have become heirs of eternal life.  So what is it?  Have we received eternal life at conversion or do we now hope for it?  Or should we throw out the writings of Paul because he is a mad man.  Maybe we should declare there was more that one Paul who wrote this letter, like some more learned men do for other passages of the Bible.

Or is it there is a gospel we have not understood in scripture?  Is it possible maybe we have missed what the writers of our gospel have been telling us for 2000 years?  Could it be that we are saved into a hope just as Paul taught?

For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?[3]

Could it be as Paul has said, that we have a hope, because we have heard in the gospel what is stored up for us in heaven?  Or are we to conclude that Paul was the original Doctor Jeckle – Mr. Hyde?  Or should we wonder in awe at the gospel that Paul is preaching?  How can he say we are saved twice in one verse and then say two verses later we have a hope?  For the church to teach that we believers have come to salvation and posses our eternal life when we believed the message, is not the gospel of Paul.  We will find it is not The Gospel According to the Gospel at all.  Think on it.

[1] Titus 3:5

[2] Titus 3:7

[3] Romans 8:24

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