“Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God's elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness--a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time” (Titus 1:1-2, NIV).
The hope of what promised when? The hope of “eternal life” promised before “the beginning of time.” The beginning of--what? Time! Time had a beginning? That’s certainly an interesting concept, which leads to a number or questions, such as: What was there and what was going on before even time existed? It’s a bit like asking, "What’s north of the North Pole?"
Nevertheless, Paul’s words are very interesting in light of Big Bang cosmogony. This theory does teach that billions of years ago, matter, space and time were created at once. That is, time itself had a beginning. It once did not exist. And, according to Paul, it was then—before its beginning, before time itself—that God promised us the hope of eternal life. Whenever exactly that was, who knows; we can be sure, though, that it was long ago.
The point is not to debate the pros and cons of Big Bang cosmogony, but rather to reveal the great hope that is given us in this verse. If any text showed that salvation cannot be by works, this is it. If we were promised “eternal life” before time began, then that promise must be based on something other than our works, because the promise was given before we even existed to have any works!
Talk about salvation by grace. God offered it to us, even before time began. The only question for us, then—is do we, by faith, accept it?