Ephesians 2:1-7. And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
“If you understand those two words— ‘but God’ —they will save your soul. If you recall them daily and live by them, they will transform your life completely.” – James Montgomery Boice.
How many times today will you say the word BUT? And how many times will it be followed by something negative?
“I’d like to spend more time with him BUT I’m so busy.”
“I want to be kinder BUT I’m just so frustrated.”
“I’d like to be more involved at church BUT I’m not qualified.”
“I know I should talk to her about it BUT I hate confrontation.”
“I know I should forgive BUT he hasn’t apologized yet.”
“It’s probably bad for me BUT I deserve it – don’t I?”
“This sin is destroying me BUT there’s no way for me to stop.”
BUT – this is likely the most dangerous word in our vocabulary. It allows all our excuses. It keeps us stuck as victims. It prevents movement and growth. It labels us. Paralyzes us. And ultimately destroys us.
BUT GOD – these are likely the two most glorious words in the Bible but that are often lacking from our vocabulary. These two words are the story of God. And they are found all over scripture:
The whole earth was flooded BUT GOD remembered Noah and the waters receded (Gen. 8:1).
Brothers perpetrated evil against Joseph BUT GOD meant it for good (Gen. 50:20).
The Israelites were slaves in Egypt BUT GOD loved them and kept his promise to them (Deut. 7:7-8).
Saul sought to kill David BUT GOD did not give him into his hand (2 Sam. 23:14).
Our flesh may fail BUT GOD is our strength and portion forever (Psalm 73:26).
It is hard for the rich to get to Heaven BUT with GOD all things are possible (Matt. 19:26).
Jesus was crucified on a cross BUT GOD raised him from the dead (Acts 13:29-30).
BUT GOD is the gospel. It’s the climax of God’s story and our story in Christ. Our whole existence hinges on these two little words. The bridge between the before and the after.
We were dead in our trespasses BUT GOD made us alive.
We were the children of wrath BUT GOD was kind to us in Christ Jesus.
We were following the enemy BUT GOD seated us next to Christ.
We lived for our own selfish passions BUT GOD gave us a passion for his good work.
“To live is Christ” is the great culmination of BUT GOD. Two of the greatest words in all of scripture. Two words that saved our lives. Two words that empower us to live in the new life of Jesus our Savior. No one BUT GOD could bring to us so great a salvation. So let us rejoice in these two greatest of words. Let us find transformation by their power. And peace by their grace.