The beauty of the word “but”

I just read through Greg Gilbert’s What is the Gospel?  Wow – what a nice little book (ca. 125 pages) to give to someone just to give them a nice little summary of what salvation is really all about!

After alluding (I presume) to Romans 3:21 (“But now, the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law …”), Gilbert has this nice little comment:

But. I think that must be the most powerful word a human being can speak.  It’s small, but it has the power to sweep away everything that has gone before it.  Coming after bad news like what we just heard, it has the power to lift the eyes and restore hope.  More than any other word that can be spoken by a human tongue, it has the ability to change everything.

– The plane went down. But no one was hurt.
– You have cancer. But it is easily treatable.
– Your son was in a car wreck.  But he’s fine.

Sadly, sometimes the but doesn’t come.  Sometimes the sentence stops, and all we get is the bad news.  Yet those moments only magnify for us the times when the but does come.  And they are glorious.

Thank God the bad news of human sin and God’s judgment is not the end of the story.  If the Bible had ended with Paul’s declaration that the whole world will stand, silenced, before the judgment throne of God, there would be no hope for us at all.  There would be only despair.  But (there it is again!) thank God there is more!

You are a sinner destined to be condemned.  But God has acted to save sinners just like you!

What is the Gospel? Pgs. 59-60

Sweet and simple.  This is a neat little book.  Lord willing, I’ll be passing out many copies of it!

Andrew Compton
Christ Reformed Church
Anaheim, CA

4 thoughts on “The beauty of the word “but””

  1. When I teach the book of Romans to junior high kids, they always get a kick out of me calling this verse the “biggest but in the Bible”!


  2. I went on the WTS bookstore site to check this out further. Sounds like a very useful little book, and easy to read. And it’s discounted right now for only $8.96!


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