But God

But God August 17, 2018

Two of the most beautiful words in the Bible are “but God.”

The Walking Dead

No, this is not about the endless series you see far too often on cable.  It’s about “but God!” Every time I read a verse that says “but God,” it is fantastically good news that follows. There are dozens and dozens of verses that have “but God” in both the Old and New Testaments. When people are convicted so badly that they feel they can’t be forgiven, I remind them about myself and other sinners, who but for God, would have had no hope, but salvation is not like boarding an airline and where you can have too much baggage, but sometimes people feel they have too many sins to overcome and too much to have forgiven, even by God. I can reassure them that holiness is not the way to Jesus. I can point them to Ephesians 2, where the Apostle Paul wrote, “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” (Eph 2:1-5).

Once we were dead in sin, but God made us alive!

Once we were captive to Satan, but God set us free!

Once we were children of wrath, but God has now not appointed us unto wrath.

Made Alive

The Bible teaches that we were dead in sins (Eph 2:1), and just as dead men can’t raise themselves to new life, as in the case of Lazarus who needed Jesus’ help, neither can we resurrect ourselves after we die… but then we read, “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” (Eph 2:4-6). Look at this!

We were dead in sin, but God “made us alive together with Christ.”

We were held captive by the prince of this world and following his way, and enslaved to the course of this world (Eph 2:2-3), but God raised us up with Christ and made us sit with Him in the heavenly places. We were the children of wrath and deserved God’s judgment, but instead of pouring out His wrath on us, we will spend eternity with Him, as He shows the immeasurable riches of his kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:7).

No More Separation

The Apostle Paul wrote that “neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:38-39), so Paul wanted to remind the church at Ephesus to “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” (Eph 2:12). What changed? It was Jesus that changed us, and Jesus brought with Him the words, “but God.”

We were dead in our sins, but God made us alive with Christ.

We were captive to the prince of the power of the air and enslaved to the course of this world, but God raised us up with

Christ and made us sit with Him in the heavenly places.

We were children of wrath, deserving of His judgment, but now, God will spend eternity showing us the immeasurable riches of his kindness toward us because of Jesus Christ.

But for God

We were children of wrath, but God promises us His endless kindness.

We were enslaved to the spirit of this age, but God freed us to sit with Christ.

We were dead in sins, but God made us alive, together with Christ.

Brothers and sisters, this is good news!

Lest we confine these precious words, “but God,” to New Testament Scriptures, let’s examine a few like Genesis 50:20, which says, “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.” The Sons of Korah wrote, “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” (Psalm 49:14-15).

But God

I cannot possibly include all of the “but God’s” in the Bible, but significant ones include Acts 13:29-30 where it says, “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.” The Apostle Paul wrote, “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” (Rom 5:7-8). A few others include:

1 Corinthians 1:26-27

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standard, 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.

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.

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.

Conclusion

We cannot deliver ourselves from the wrath of God and eternal death. We can’t think that holiness is the way to Jesus, because Jesus is the way to holiness. Do a word search for the words “but God” in your Bible and you’ll see how the impossible becomes possible. The dead are made alive. The captives are set free. And the wrath that was our due, shifted to the Son of God Who gave His life as a ransom for us (Mark 10:45). For us, it was impossible, but for God, all things are possible (Matt 19:26). Thankfully, what we cannot do, God can.

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.

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  • pud

    But what about the 3 words …”But which god”? Here’s a tiny tiny sample of “gods” all “believed” in as rabidly (well maybe not as rabidly as you…you’re crazy) but all believed in as if they were real.

    Abira
    Abzu
    Adroa
    Ahone
    Ahura Mazda
    Aiomun-Kondi
    Akongo
    Alatangana
    Amotken
    Anansi
    Anguta
    Anulap
    Aramazd
    Atua Fafine
    Atua I Raropuka
    Atum
    Awonawilona
    Bagadjimbiri
    Baiame
    Batara Kala
    Bathala
    Brahma
    Bunjil
    Cagn
    Cautantowwit
    Cghene
    Chaotroquin
    Chiminigagua
    Chirakan-Ixmucane
    Cocijo
    Coyote (mythology)

    OH I KNEW IT WAS COMING!! “We cannot deliver ourselves from the wrath of God and eternal death.” The terrorist tactics!! “BELIEVE” stupidity or ELSE! DEATH, DOOM, BLOOD, SUFFERING FOR ETERNITY!! OH NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

    And don’t forget to “love” this “god” that has sent billions and billions to their firey eternal doom!

    “And the wrath that was our due, shifted to the Son of God Who gave His life as a ransom for us” RANSOM!! appease the terrorist or else! OH, let’s do it in the most STUPID RIDICULOUS way possible!

    Let’s have this terrorist “god” impregnate a virgin with himself so he can grow up as a sacrifice of himself to himself to fix the problem he himself set up! BHWAAAA!

    To be a “chirstian” YOU! MUST! BE! THIS! STUPID!

  • Carlos Santiago

    Those a interesting to see. This brought to mind. Psalm 119:105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Have a blessed weekend!

    • Jack Wellman

      Well said Mr. Santiago. I had not thought of that one. Thank you sir.

  • pud

    The abject sickness and depraved nature of those who make their living lying to children!

    Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania detailed how priests often used religious rituals, symbols of the faith and the threat of eternity in hell to groom, molest and rape children.

    Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro called it the “weaponization of faith.”

    Some of the examples cited in the report, released Tuesday, of how over 300 “predator priests,” dating back to the 1940s, used the children’s own religious faith and trust in them as religious leaders to victimize and silence them:

    ___

    CONFESSION, AND CROSSES

    One priest tied up a victim with rope in the confessional in a “praying position.” When the victim refused to perform sex, the angered priest used a 7-inch crucifix to sexually assault him.

    Another victim said a priest used a metal cross to beat him.

    At a parish rectory, four priests made a boy strip and pose as Jesus on the cross while they took photos.

    “He stated that all of them giggled and stated that the pictures would be used as a reference for new religious statues for the parishes,” the grand jury wrote. Two of those priests later did jail time for sexually assaulting two altar boys.

    ___

    GOD’S WISHES

    One priest told a boy he was fondling that it was OK because the priest was “an instrument of God.”

    Another was quoted as telling altar boys they should serve naked beneath their cassocks “because God did not want any man-made clothes to be worn next to their skin during Mass,” the jury wrote.

    When a bishop asked the Vatican to remove a priest who used physical force and threats to abuse children, the bishop noted the priest “invoked the name of God to justify his actions against his victims while using their faith and the priesthood to manipulate them and secure their silence.” Parishioners were never told why he was removed in 2006.

    __

    HEAVEN AND DAMNATION

    Threats of eternal damnation were not uncommon, the grand jury found.

    Priests told children they would “go to hell” if they told anyone what happened and “nobody would believe a lying child over a man of God’s word.”

    In one church, a priest told a boy who confided he had been gang-raped as a 7-year-old that he had to provide sex to get to heaven. He would then be molested for three years before the priest was transferred.

    __

    PRIVACY OF THE CHURCH

    Predator priests used any opportunity they could to molest children while they had them alone, taking advantage of the privacy of church facilities.

    Several priests used hypnosis during counseling sessions to manipulate their victims.

    Helping a priest grade papers in his rectory somehow became a session of nude weightlifting.

    One boy was abused when he went to collect his report card from school.

    ___

    REACTION TO THE FINDINGS

    “Predators in every diocese weaponized the Catholic faith and used it as a tool of their abuse,” the attorney general said.

    While expressing sorrow over what happened, church leaders said most of the offenses occurred sometime in the past, and note that major reforms were adopted starting in 2002 to safeguard children.

    Terence McKiernan, president of the watchdog group BishopAccountability.org, said the ritualization of abuse was a fundamental part of how children were sexually exploited.

    .”Even when the Catholic rituals and doctrines are not specifically mobilized by the priest, they are in play,” he said.

    The grand jurors pointedly wrote that the investigation was not an attack on the faith, noting many are Catholics themselves.

    “People of all faiths and of no faith want their children to be safe,” the grand jurors wrote. “But we were presented with a conspicuous concentration of child sex abuse cases that have come from the church.”

    ___

    OUTCOME OF INVESTIGATION

    Because of time limits on the prosecution of old cases, only two of the priests have been charged with crimes as a result of the grand jury investigation, though a number were prosecuted in years past. Over 100 have died, and many others have retired.

    Shapiro said the investigation is continuing. His office got more than 150 calls and emails within a day of the report’s release, from other people with stories of abuse.

  • Barrie Beaumont

    A beautiful and meaningful article once more.

    • Jack Wellman

      Thank you for the encouragement.

    • pud

      No it isn’t…it’s hogswallop for the stupid and gullible