But. This little word is undoubtedly one of the most powerful words in the English language. Â Consider, for example, its dramatic impact on the following statements:
â€œYour family was in a major car accident and their vehicle rolled several timesâ€¦ but everyone is okay.â€
â€œYou have cancerâ€¦ but we’re confident we can remove it all from your body.â€
This little word can bring relief and comfort out of otherwise devastating news. Â Imagine the above statements without the word “but.”
â€œYour family was in a major accident.â€
â€œYou have cancer.â€
These are horrifying statements. Â But (there it is, again) this one little word provides immediate comfort, instant relief, sweet hope. Â And this is why â€œbutâ€ is one of my favorite words in the English language.
Weâ€™ve spent time in the last weeks considering the truth about humanity: that humanity has loved and worshipped creation rather than the Creator, and, as result, is deserving of Godâ€™s righteous judgment, and is helpless to rescue itself from the consequences.Â Furthermore, humanity is so wicked that, apart from divine intervention, we do not even want to be rescued from the consequences of sin (i.e., failing to love God).Â We are, as Romans 1 says, â€œhaters of God,â€ who is the only One worthy of our love and worship, and who alone can truly satisfy us.Â In other words, we are so hostile toward God and hate Him so badly that we would rather have His wrath than His presence.Â We are that hard-hearted, that calloused, that diseased, that evil and utterly wicked. Â This is the message of Romans 1:18-3:20.Â But, praise God, there is a “but.” Â Paul writes inÂ Romans 3:21-26:
â€œBut now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to itâ€”the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. Â For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. Â This was to show Godâ€™s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. Â It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.â€
And again, after reminding the church at Ephesus that they were once dead in sin, sons of disobedience and children of wrath, he then writes that beautiful little word:
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 Christâ€”by grace you have been savedâ€” 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. (Eph. 2:4-9)
The short story on the beauty of these two passages is that despite humanity’s failure to meet God’s standard, God embarked on the most elaborate and beautiful rescue operation in the history of the universe. Â He became a man and substituted Himself for sinners, thereby offering Himself the perfect sacrifice required to satisfy His own wrath, thereby forgiving the sins of all who are in Christ and giving them as a gift the righteousness He demands.
And this, friend, is why “but” is one of my favorite words in the English language.