Torchbearers for Christ
Sunday, June 23, 2024
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The words “But God” occur a number of times in Scripture.  We have several situations that seemed hopeless and dark until God intervened and changed everything.  Let us look first at the dreadful picture in Acts 13:28-29 concerning the unjust and cruel death of the Lord Jesus. We are told, “And though they found no cause of death in Him, yet desired they Pilate that He should be slain.  And when they had fulfilled all that was written of Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a sepulchre.”  This was the darkest of days for the disciples of Jesus; they had left everything to follow Him and now they mourned and wept (Mark 16:10); to them it appeared that all they had hoped for had been lost.  Jesus was dead.  Doubtless those who caused His death were delighted; He had constantly exposed their hypocrisy.  Then we read how God intervened and turned the world’s blackest day into our brightest day.  Acts 13:30 tells us “BUT GOD (emphasis added) raised Him from the dead.”  Jesus is alive and because of this, “we shall live also” (John 14:9).

Our next “But God” is found in Ephesians 2:4.  It is another resurrection story and concerns those who have passed from spiritual death to life through faith in the Lord Jesus (John 5:24).  This is how the Bible describes our state before our conversion:  “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.  All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful natures and following its desires and thoughts.  Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath” (Eph 2:1-3).  It is a bleak picture of how God sees the man or woman who is without God and without hope.  We then have the delightful picture of how a loving God intervenes. We read “BUT GOD (emphasis added) who is rich in mercy for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins has made us alive together with Christ (by grace you are saved). And has raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus; that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness towards us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Eph 2:4-8).  How grateful we can be that God intervened in our lives and delivered us from the wrath to come.

The third “But God” warns us of the danger of becoming envious.  In Psalm 73 we read the story  of a  godly man who made the sad mistake of envying wicked men who were prosperous; they seemed to have more money than they needed, and no problems such as he was having; they were proud, violent and corrupt.  He became disheartened, feeling that life was not fair and that he was wasting his time trying to live for the Lord and yet still experiencing so many difficulties.  But then things changed, and the envious man became an enlightened man. How did this happen? He tells us, “I went into the sanctuary of God, then I understood their final destiny” (Psalm 73:17). It was then that he saw how really blessed he was.  He tells us in verses 23-27, “Whom have I in heaven but you?   And being with you I desire nothing on earth.  My flesh and my heart may fail, BUT GOD (emphasis added), is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.  Those who are far from you will perish....”

Our last “But God” concerns a man who felt that he could find satisfaction and happiness in accumulating material things, so much so that he failed to think about God and the life to come.  We find his story in Luke 12:15-20.  This man was a wealthy farmer who had experienced a bountiful harvest.  We read in verses 17-29, “And he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’  Then he said, ‘This is what I will do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones and there will I store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to myself “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years.  Take life easy, eat, drink and be merry.”   BUT GOD (emphasis added)   said to him, ‘You fool!  This very night   your life will be demanded from you.  Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’  This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich towards God.”

 So we have four “BUT GOD” messages, each of which has an important lesson for us all.  From the first message we learn that Jesus is alive, and we can enjoy His indwelling presence and be assured of the forgiveness of our sins. If Jesus is not risen we are still in our sins (1 Corinthians 15:17).  Next we learn of the kindness and love of God in sending His Son into the world to save sinners like you and me (1 Timothy 1:15).

Then we are warned of the danger of becoming envious of other people, while failing to appreciate the countless blessings God has given us.  Finally we are reminded of the truth that happiness and satisfaction do not consist in the accumulation of material things, but rather in having the assurance that God has forgiven our sins and that we can have a vital relationship with a loving heavenly Father.

This article was written by Pastor Geoffrey Davies. He is a frequent contributor to this column. He lives in Melbourne, Australia, where he pastored a church for over twenty-five years.  Since 1983 he has traveled widely, continuing his ministry of encouragement and Bible teaching.


Click here for Previous Messages from Pastor Geoffrey Davies.