There are certain times where passages of Scripture pivot in such a way that we ought either to stand up and shout for joy, or fall to our knees and mourn. Often times those moments are announced by a three-letter word: “but.” I gave some of the top 10 “buts” of Scripture last week, and this week I finish my list. I’d encourage you to go back to last week’s list prior to reading this week’s.
5. Romans 2:5
In writing to the Romans, Paul has made it a point to make sure that we all know that we are spiritually no greater than pond-scum. In fact, we are what pond-scum feeds upon. Okay; those aren’t his exact words, but it’s how one can feel reading how Paul described us, especially in chapter 3. But in chapter 5 he brings up that we are weak. We are ungodly. He ultimately gets to the point that we are enemies of God. As he described us, he brings up that hardly anyone would die for a righteous person. The implication is, “let alone someone like you.” He admits that you might get someone to die for a good person, and again the implication is, “but don’t expect that person to die for you.” By the time we are finished reading, we are feeling about the size of Ant-Man.
“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” A regular ol’ person won’t die for a righteous person, but Christ–God the Son–died for us. We, who do not deserve such love, have received such love, and more than that we still receive it. Notice that the word “shows” (also translated, “demonstrates”) is in the present tense. That means that this wasn’t a one time display of love, but an ongoing display that continuously shows forever and anon God’s great love.
4. Hebrews 10:12
It is easy to feel like we must do something to gain God’s approval. It just doesn’t seem right to have Jesus do all the work and we do nothing. The Jewish people had spent thousands of years participating in the sacrificial system. They would bring their sacrifice year after year to the temple. Once there, the priest would assist and finish out the sacrifice each time. It was a synergistic model. What we find out in Hebrews (and other parts of the New Testament) is that Jesus is not only the Sacrifice, but He is also the Priest, a greater Priest than Aaron. As the great High Priest, Jesus performed the sacrifice, offering up Himself as the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Whereas the Aaronic (Levitical) priests would work day in and day out, we see these words: “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.”
The point? There are no more sacrifices to be made. He made a single sacrifice that covers all sins for all believers. Since there is no more sacrifice to be made, there is no longer a need for an earthly priest. Jesus did all the work for us.
3. Genesis 19:16
This verse is what sparked these two weeks of blogs. Our church is going through Genesis, and last Sunday we were in Genesis 19 (the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah). In there, we see Lot being warned twice of the impending doom. He knew the evil of the city and its eminent destruction, “But he lingered.” Some translations say that he hesitated. O! how sin can get such a hold of us that when faced with dying to sin or dying from sin, we linger. We pause to consider which scenario would be worse.
2. Ephesians 2:4-5
Once again, Paul has written about our depravity. He wrote that we were spiritually dead. We were children of wrath. We were living in the passions of our flesh. We were following the prince of the power of the air, aka Satan. Things do not look very good. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses and sins, made us alive together with Christ.” Do you remember those shows as kids that would cut to a commercial just before the main character fell into the bottomless pit or was crushed by some huge machine while the bad guy walks away? When the commercial came back, the bad guy came to the rescue to save the day. Well, this time, we are the bad guys about to receive wrath, and it is God in His great mercy who reaches down his hand and saves us.
1. 1 Corinthians 6:11
To me this is the greatest of all the “buts of Scripture.” I’m not going to comment; I will just let it speak for itself.
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God, (1 Corinthians 11:9-11).
There you have it. Did I miss one of your favorites? Let me know in the comments.
All Scriptures were from the ESV translation of the Bible.