The pastor was attempting to get a laugh. He had hit on ‘but God’ in the text that Sunday morning and he said that he could preach forever on the big buts of Scripture but he was hoping that people would clue into his attempt at humour and wanted them to think about the ‘big butts’ of Scripture. The congregation didn’t give him a chuckle so he circled back and tried it a second time with no yucks. He was determined to get a good reaction so he came back at it for a third round…but three strikes and he was out. The congregation either didn’t get it or they didn’t think it was funny or they were sleeping. My assessment was that he was playing marbles with diamonds. I have said things like that…and things worse than that from the pulpit. I admit this to my shame. Too often the one in the pulpit is more concerned with what people think about him than what people think about Him.
The glorious truths of Scripture are not to be taken lightly. They are to be exposed and seen and savoured. They cause us to awe and reveal and repent. They cause us to celebrate and they also motivate us to push our faces into the carpet in solemn reverence. God’s truth should stun us about His mercy and grace and patience and glory.
Ephesians 2 was simmering on the backburner of my mind as I was prepping for a speaking opportunity. And in the first three verses you go deep down into the pit of despair.
[2:1] And you were dead in the trespasses and sins  in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Ephesians 2:1-3 ESV)
I think too many times believers expect to leave their time in the Word, individually or corporately, thinking that I got it going o-on…thinking that I’m too sexy for my shirt. This text takes a sledge hammer to foolish pride. This text is a hearty dose of reality to us who are tempted to buy into modern-day religion that is to leave us with three easy steps and an ear to ear grin. To some, Bible lite tastes great… but it’s less filling. It’s like Chinese food, it leaves you stuffed but you’re wanting something more to devour in an hour.
When you drink deeply of those three verses, it reminds us and startles us, as to how jacked up we are. It says we’re a brutal mess. It says that all of humanity is stone cold dead. We bow down to our fleshly appetites, we are captivated by the God-haters around us, and we sing praise to the king of the dark side. Uh-oh! We’re in deep weeds.
But just as a person is ready to put the trigger in his mouth out of the despair of the truth, hope gallops in! It jolts us with the good news. But God…
Two of the greatest words in all the Word. It’s the good news that jars us. We are spiritually dead and walking zombies but God takes the paddles to shock us to spiritually life, thanks to Jesus.
 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 ESV)
The brutal mess of :1-3 can be washed up in the blood of Christ. He’s still in the business of making dead bones dance, making people alive together, in Christ.
Thomas Watson has said, ‘Til sin be bitter, Christ will not be sweet.’ We can’t get to the really good news of Ephesians 2:4-5 until we wade through the despair of :1-3.
Jared Wilson has written ‘The curse is four fathoms deep and un-swim-uppable. But ‘but God’ signals the divine retrieval, our Spiritual surfacing, our deliverance. ‘But God’ barrels in, carrying us out in two strong arms. ‘But God’ heralds the arrival of God’s glory, the unsearchable riches of Christ, and in its wake trails the train of all the blessings Christ has purchased for us with himself.’
Taking ‘but God’ and making a butt joke out of it is so horizontal. We need to get gloriously vertical and see and savour ‘but God.’ Oh, that we would see the magnificent beauty of the good news and the magnificent beauty of the Son who brought it.
James Boice wrote ‘If you understand those two words — “but God” — they will save your soul.’ And he is so right. Amen.