Words are the vessels we use to convey our thoughts, feelings, intent, and our heart in any given situation. The words we choose to convey any emotion can be powerful. And in the right sequence, they can actually give life, or death, to the listener.
The apostle Paul, writing under the influence of the Holy Spirit chose two words that illustrate the life-giving power of words. These two words, used in this sequence, are most likely the two most important words in the New Testament, and possibly the whole of Scripture. They are found in Ephesians 2. Two simple words:
Why are these two words important? What makes them, and the way they are used, so special? It is because of what precedes them, and what comes after them. These two words serve as a bridge between our old self and the new self we become when we are redeemed by Christ. In this passage, the apostle Paul describes how we were dead in our sins before God stepped in. He uses words to describe how we were at one time “controlled by the prince of the power of the air…” In other words, our lives were influenced by Satan, and we were far from God – the old self. Then Paul chose these two words, “But God…” What comes after that is not only profound, it is life-changing!
“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…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…” Ephesians 2:4-5, 8-9
Strange how two words can be so important. And how two words can carry so much weight. They are important because these two words put all the emphasis on God. They take the effort off of me, and you, and place it squarely on the shoulders of God Himself. What effort? The effort of paving the way to Himself; through the gift of His mercy, His grace, and His Son Jesus. No work required! No effort needed! Just reach out and receive it. The effort has already been made through the sacrifice of His Son.
If you are a follower of Christ, you probably have a “But God” story. Maybe it involves an injured relationship where God stepped in and brought restoration. Or it could be a story of hope, where in the midst of despair God made the difference. Most likely, we all know of a time when we could insert those two little words into the storyline of our lives. We were hurt, but God brought healing. All seemed lost, but God made a way. The path ahead seemed dark, but God gave light for the way through.
I’ve never read two more powerful words than those. And none of us have ever experienced any words that made more of a difference in life now, and for eternity. Because those two words give us hope upon hope.
Your past may be weighing heavy in your mind and heart. Your present situation may not offer much hope. And it may seem that your future isn’t all that bright. But God wants to set you free to live today, and every day, under the promise that “He might show you the immeasurable riches of His grace” (Eph. 2:7).
So what’s your “But God” story? Feel free to share it. I’d love to hear how God has worked in your life. And don’t be afraid to share it with others. It might just be the words that someone needs to hear today.