Chercher sa foi

Prédications

in englishThe grace of God has appeared to all men

(Titus 2:11-3:8)

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Service of Christmas 2015
Preaching from Pastor Marc Pernot

Paul the Apostle has sent Titus to churches all across the Roman Empire to help them improve. In Corinth or in Crete, he sometimes comes across a temporary touchy situation, with lots of lies, stabs in the back, abusing petty minds…Paul advises to come back to basics: the beautiful things Jesus brought to mankind. We should be able to hear something about the Christmas Gospel there.

The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men!

This is the Christmas Gospel. This is a major innovation indeed; it may even be what in Christ’s teaching is specific compared to his religion, Judaism, but also compared to major religions such as Islam and Buddhism, or the Greek philosophies.

“Grace” is a way of being, a way of functioning. This is a specific way of looking at God, what He gives and what He expects. It teaches us a specific way of being in connection with each other and looking at our own life.

The large impact of the novelty brought by Christ appears well in the verb translated with “appeared” (“grace has appeared”): the verb “epiphaino” (ἐπιφαίνω, which has given the English word Epiphany) means “to light up around”. Our text insists twice (2:11, 3:4); it explains that God’s grace, which lights life up so, is “the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man”, literally God’s “philanthropy”. This is one of God’s quality, there is nothing we can do, neither can He, actually. He is this way. This way God “brings salvation […] to all men”. You did hear “to all men”, unconditionally. This is like a light that lights up our theology, our understanding of salvation, our way of being, our ethics, our understanding of what is right.

But what is the point in praying, in bothering attending church, or acting right instead of doing evil, if God’s goodness saves each and everyone? We try to act the best we can just because this is “good and profitable unto men”, the passage concludes. What better reason to do good, what happier, more exciting way of living, than acting right just because it is good and profitable? As a result, human life does not look like a chore anymore; instead, one lives and acts looking for the chance to make a good and profitable gesture.

But even before teaching how to put such goodness at the heart of our life, the first thing the grace of God teaches is finding enough courage, strength and wisdom to find out what is rotten in our way of living. In the Gospels likewise, before the grace of God appeared in Christ, John the Baptist incited to embark on a new life. A bath works the same; it removes what is rotten in our lives, our theology, our way of being.

From now on, the point is not to fear God but, in the light of grace, to make the difference between good and rotten, then, thanks to Him, to love what is good and find what is rotten unpleasant. The rest belongs to God, to His active grace. That is why this bath is called “the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit”. The power for change comes from God like this, like an immersion in youth and renewed enthusiasm for good.

The grace of God, Paul says, teaches us how to live. The verb “to teach” Paul uses (παιδεύω) has given the English “pedagogy”, teaching children. This meaning gives us a flavor of God’s kindness to us and His tireless patience. He is the Master like those fantastic professors some of us had the opportunity to meet, who succeed in arousing the best in their pupils. It is up to us to catch the virus of God’s good pedagogy.

That is how God saves us in Christ, using this wonderful expression of His goodness, His philanthropy. This clarifies much the Christian theology of salvation, in particular concerning the real value of the idea according to which Christ would have given his life (to whom?) as the price for freeing us from damnation. Nothing is further from grace that this idea of morbid bargaining. Grace is exactly at the opposite of counting misdeeds, sufferings and merits. This theory comes from the erroneous translation of some Hebraic notions. Some versions of the Bible would rather be corrected, by replacing “Christ redeemed us” by “Christ freed us”, by replacing Christ “expiatory victim” by Christ “sign of God’s forgiveness”, and so on.

But beyond theology, our whole life benefits from the teaching of this great grace. We can work and place this source of goodness at the heart of our humanity according to three trends: wisdom, justice and piety.

Above all, may this Gospel of God’s grace not be a pillow of laziness to us! It would be such a rotten shallow answer to God’s way of being so beautiful, so profitable, so prolific and so happy.

Amen

Merci à Florence pour la traduction !

Vous pouvez réagir en envoyant un mail au pasteur Marc Pernot.

Lecture de la Bible

Tite 2:11-3:8

La grâce de Dieu, source de salut pour tous les hommes, a été manifestée.

12 Elle nous enseigne à renoncer à l'impiété, aux désirs de ce monde, et à vivre dans le siècle présent d'une manière sensée, juste et pieuse,13 en attendant la bienheureuse espérance et la manifestation de la gloire de notre grand Dieu et Sauveur, le Christ-Jésus. 14 Il s'est donné lui-même pour nous, afin de nous racheter de toute iniquité, et de se faire un peuple qui lui appartienne, purifié par lui et zélé pour les œuvres bonnes.

15 Ainsi dois-tu parler, exhorter et reprendre avec une pleine autorité. Que personne ne te méprise.

1 Rappelle-leur d'être soumis aux gouvernements et aux autorités, d'obéir, d'être prêts à toute œuvre bonne, 2 de ne médire de personne, d'être paisibles, conciliants, pleins de douceur envers tous les hommes.

3 Car nous aussi, nous étions autrefois insensés, désobéissants, égarés, asservis à toute espèce de désirs et de passions, vivant dans la méchanceté et dans l'envie, odieux et nous haïssant les uns les autres.

4 Mais lorsque la bonté de Dieu, notre Sauveur, et son amour pour les hommes, ont été manifestés, 5 il nous a sauvés — non parce que nous aurions fait des œuvres de justice, mais en vertu de sa propre miséricorde — par le bain de la régénération et le renouveau du Saint-Esprit ; 6 il l'a répandu sur nous avec abondance par Jésus-Christ notre Sauveur, 7afin que, justifiés par sa grâce, nous devenions héritiers dans l'espérance de la vie éternelle.

8 Cette parole est certaine, et je veux que tu insistes là-dessus, afin que ceux qui ont foi en Dieu s'appliquent à exceller dans les œuvres bonnes. Voilà qui est beau et utile aux humains !

(Cf. Traduction Colombe)

 

Vidéo de la partie centrale du culte (prédication à 22:32)

(début de la prédication à 22:32)

film réalisé bénévolement par Soo-Hyun Pernot