It is one of my favorite phrases to say.
It is in the Bible, in various forms, at least a hundred times or more.
I know that through my own power, there are a lot of things that are impossible for me. Every time I see a Bible verse that has “but God” in it I know that there is some awesomely Good News following it.
Being in ministry, I have heard countless times that people can’t come to God because:
- But I have too much baggage
- But my sins, you just don’t know how bad I’ve been
- But I’m not clean from drugs or alcohol
- But I have feelings of anger and bitterness toward someone
When I hear people say this, I remember when I used to say those things. I have baggage. I have sin. I used to drink. I have definitely held feelings of anger and bitterness.
God has taken away the baggage. God has taken the sin. God has taken the “me” that used to get drunk. God has taken the feelings of anger and bitterness!
From time to time Satan will bring up all those feelings, sins, and baggage and cause me to question.
That is sin, to want to go back to where God delivered you from (remember the Israelites in the desert?)
Those times are short-lived and lead to more spiritual growth on my part because I choose to trust God every step of the way.
If you want Christians to dance and shout in the sanctuary, tell them that we will be playing Hillsong or Vineyard or Bethel music today. If the pastor gets up in front of the congregation and tells them that they are no longer dead in their sin, the congregation will sit there. Quietly.
You would think that saying something like,
Ephesians 2:1-9 – And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 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— 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. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
You would think that would bring the congregation to their feet!
You once were dead but now you are alive!!!
Christian, that is better than ANY praise song out there! That is better than any guitar solo that can be played. That is better than any long-held high note that the singer can do. That is better than any new lighting trick or new sound compression.
The first century Christians understood this!
So, Fred, how was your day today?
Well, pastor, my car broke down and I had to walk to my dentist to get a root canal. BUT GOD…pulled me from the depth of hell, where I would have died without Him for eternity and gave me eternal life!
If we go further in Ephesians 2, we learn that,
Ephesians 2:12 – remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
We were strangers!
We had no hope!
Let’s look at verses 3 and 7 together…
We were children of wrath BUT GOD promises eternal kindness
Now let’s look at verses 2 and 6 together…
We were enslaved to the prince of the air BUT GOD raised us up and freed us to be seated with Christ
Now let’s look at verse 1 and 5-6 together….
We were dead in our sins BUT GOD made us alive in Christ
Let’s look elsewhere in Scripture.
Genesis 50:20 – As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
Joseph’s brothers had done evil to him, BUT GOD meant it for good.
Acts 10:28 – And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean.
Peter said that it is unclean for Jews to hang out with Gentiles, BUT GOD brings us all into unity.
Psalm 49:14-15 – Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol; death shall be their shepherd, and the upright shall rule over them in the morning. Their form shall be consumed in Sheol, with no place to dwell. But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me.
The writer said he was on his way to Sheol, BUT GOD ransomed his soul.
Acts 13:29-30 – And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead
Jesus was put into a tomb, BUT GOD raised Him from the dead.
Romans 5:7-8 – For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
People don’t typically die for other, BUT GOD showed His love to us in that when we were still His enemies He died for us.
1 Corinthians 1:26-27 – For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong
People will think you are crazy because of this calling God has given you, BUT GOD will use the foolish of the world to shame the wise.
1 Corinthians 3:6-7 – I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.
We can plant. We can water the garden. BUT GOD makes it grow.
1 Corinthians 10:13 – No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
We will be tempted, BUT GOD is faithful and will provide us a way of escape.
Any time you look at a “but God” statement in the Bible you will find that good comes after it.
You may be reading this and saying that those phrases are for people who already love God. You might be thinking that God doesn’t want anything to do with you because of your sin or your shame.
BUT GOD wants you!
BUT GOD loves you!
BUT GOD desires you and to have a relationship with you.
It is as simple as reaching out today. If you would like to know how, please comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to help you figure out the “but God” moment in your life.