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. (Ephesians 2:4–5)
“But God.” These two words are overflowing with the gospel. For sinners like you and me who were lost and completely unable to save ourselves from our dead-set rebellion against God, there may not be two more hopeful words that we could utter.
Once we were dead to any real love for God at all, buried under the compounding and disorienting blindness of our sins (Ephesians 2:1), but God. Once we were deceived by our own lust for glory and self-determination; once we were unknowingly led by the pied piper called “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2), but God. Once we lived enslaved to the passions of our flesh, being driven and tossed between the impulsive waves of our flesh and mind (Ephesians 2:3), but God. Once we were God’s enemies (Romans 5:10), hating him (Romans 1:30), children of his wrath. But God.
But God being rich in mercy, but God showing his incomprehensible “love for us in that while we were yet sinners” (Romans 5:8) he said to us God-dead, God-ignoring, God-rivaling, God-hating, dry-boned children of wrath: “live” (Ezekiel 37:5)! Live to true beauty, live to true glory, live to true hope, live to true pleasure, live to true joy! Live to God (Galatians 2:19) and live forever (John 6:58)!
And he did so by taking our God-deadening, God-ignoring, God-rivaling, God-hating, God-wrath inducing sin and placing it on his Son, the Life (John 14:6), and said: “die” (Romans 5:8). And so he who knew no sin became our sin for us — for an infinitely hellish moment became a child of wrath (Ephesians 2:3) for us — the righteous for the unrighteous, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 3:18). So that we might live forever (John 3:16)
These two words, “but God,” tell us that we have been saved only by God’s grace. Dead children of wrath do not become living, loving children of God but for God.
Revel in these two priceless words. Everything, sweet and bitter, that will occur between now and the moment of your death God will work for your good (And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28), and every glorious pleasure that you will ever enjoy in your future eternal life in his presence (Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. Psalm 16:11) because of the gospel of these two words: “but God.”