I would argue that these are the two sweetest words in all of Scripture. Yep, I know that’s a bold claim. After all, all Scripture is absolutely precious. Every word is from God, breathed out by him for our joy and so that we might know him.
But there’s something especially sweet about the words “But God”. They sum up the glory of salvation in an incredibly succinct, yet powerful way.
Let me explain more of what I mean.
Dead In Our Trespasses
In order to understand why the words “But God” are so sweet, we must first understand how dire our condition was apart from God.
Ephesians 2:1-3 paints a bleak picture of what we are like before God works in our lives.
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.
What an awful, hopeless picture. We weren’t just sort of dead in our trespasses and sins. We weren’t mostly dead with some hope of bringing ourselves back to life. We were completely and totally dead with no hope of ever having spiritual life.
And we also were actively following Satan and doing the things that pleased him rather than God. We loved our sin and sinned with great relish.
We carried out both the passions of our flesh, those wicked desires that dishonored God.
To top it all off, the wrath of God was upon us. In fact, the Scripture says we were by nature children of wrath. Because we were born with a wicked, sinful nature, the wrath of God was upon us from the moment we were born.
Are you starting to see just how dire our situation was? We had ZERO hope of ever rescuing ourselves from such a bleak, dark, spiritually barren situation.
If we’re going to understand the beauty of the words “But God” then we must come to terms with who we were. We truly were spiritually dead. We were gladly following Satan. And we were actively, zealously carrying out the sinful desires of our flesh.
We had no desire for God and didn’t want him interfering with our lives.
Titus 3:3 puts it this way:
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.
We weren’t neutral toward God. The Doobie Brothers sang, “Jesus is just alright with me.” Jesus was NOT just alright with us. We were opposed to God, opposed to Jesus, and opposed to the Holy Spirit?
Because we were slaves of sin, foolish, filled with malice, and hateful toward other people.
To say that we were in bad shape spiritually speaking is the understatement of the century. We were in absolutely hopeless shape.
There was absolutely NO way we could be saved by our own strength.
Someone had to intervene on our behalf.
We were in desperate need of God. We needed those sweet words, “But God.”
The sweet, precious good news is that what is impossible for man is not impossible for God. When God comes on the scene, you never know what might happen. And something glorious indeed did happen.
You could say that the gospel is a great reversal. We expect one thing to happen…
…but God does something different entirely. Something completely unexpected and beautiful.
Christ Died For Us
Christ died for us when we were still sinners. As it says in 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.”
Maybe, just maybe, a person might be willing to die for a righteous man.
But God isn’t like us.
God demonstrates His own love for us by sending Christ Jesus to die for our sins on the cross.
As it says in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
God Made Us Alive Together With Christ
Ephesians 2:4-7 puts it this way:
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.
We were dead in ours sins but God made us alive.
We were hopeless until the Lord rescued us.
We were willing slaves of Satan but God set us free.
Such sweet, powerful words.
Because of his great mercy and love for us, he caused our spiritually dead hearts to surge with life. He entered in the graveyard of our lives and caused our dead bones to come alive. He breathed life upon us and we came alive.
Joined To Christ, Blessed For Eternity
And that’s not all. He also joined us to Christ. Once, we were joined to Satan, but God rescued us from Satan and joined us to his Son, Jesus Christ.
In fact, we are so closely joined to Christ, that it’s as if we’re seated in the heavenly places with him. Just as Christ sits in the heavenly places, so we also have a place next to Jesus.
And it keeps getting better and better. In the coming ages, God is going to keep pouring out the immeasurable riches of his grace upon us. He is going to continue heaping blessing upon blessing on us, from now throughout all eternity.
God saved us so that he could bless us forever.
Isn’t that absolutely staggering?
The words, “But God,” truly do change everything.
Once we were enemies of God. Now we are seated at his table as his children. Once we were slaves to sin. Now we have been set free from sin and can pursue righteousness and holiness. Once we were members of the kingdom of darkness. Now we are citizens of heaven and joined to Jesus.
Once we were under the wrath of God. Now we’re under his constant blessing.
To be saved by God is a truly glorious thing, isn’t it?
Charles Spurgeon put it this way:
To be snatched from the devouring fire, or saved from fierce disease, just when the turning point has come, and death appears imminent, these are also occasions for crying “Saved!” But to be rescued from sin and hell is a greater salvation still, and demands a louder joy. We will sing it in life and whisper it in death and chant it throughout eternity—saved by the Lord!
Delighting In The Words “But God”
How should we respond to these glorious truths? With overflowing, joyful, unceasing praise to God. If God had not saved us, we would be in hell. If God had not rescued us, we would have no hope. If God had not put his life in us, we would have no reason to be joyful.
But God has saved us, rescued us, and put his life in us.
So let us praise God with all that we have. Let us thank him every day, many times per day for all that he has done for us.
We have a good God who has done such good things for us.