Two mighty words image

Two mighty words

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There are two very powerful little words in the Bible. They crop up again and again, from Genesis through to the New Testament letters. They remind us of God’s power, his wisdom, his authority, and the fact that his ways are most definitely not our ways. And very often they signal a radical shift in the story, a hopeless situation overturned, a world transformed.

They are ‘but God’.

A quick biblegateway search, for the ESV, brought up 48 occurrences.

They tell us of God’s protection of individuals:

And David remained in the strongholds in the wilderness, in the hill country of the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God did not give him into his hand. - 1 Sam 23:14

And his judgement of peoples:

But God was displeased with [David’s census], and he struck Israel. - 1 Chron 21:7

They speak of his justice:

Our God is a God of salvation,
  and to God, the Lord, belong deliverances from death.
But God will strike the heads of his enemies,
  the hairy crown of him who walks in his guilty ways. - Ps 68:20-21

His righteousness:

[Jesus] said to [the Pharisees], “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” - Luke 16:15

And his sufficiency:

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever. - Ps 73:26

They introduce us to his topsy-turvy world of values:

...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; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. - 1 Cor 1:26-29

But God has so composed the body, giving greater honour to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. - 1 Cor 12:24-25

In fact, they give a pretty comprehensive sweep of the story of our salvation:

But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided. - Gen 8:1

So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. ... 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. - Gen 45:8, 50:20

And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” - Gen 50:24

When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.” But God led the people round by the way of the wilderness towards the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle. - Ex 13:18

And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” - Luke 5:21

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 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 5:6-8

They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day and caused him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. - Acts 10:39-41

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked… 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 towards us in Christ Jesus. - Eph 2:1, 4-6

All was lost, but God…

 

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