There are lots of words in Ephesians 2. Two words in particular change everything. “But God.”
“But” reminds us that the story isn’t over yet; the past doesn’t have the last word. “God” is the greatest being in the universe; when he has a plan, no one can stand in his way.
But what about “you were”? That tiny phrase carries a lot of freight for most of us. Guilt. Shame. Ignorance. Rebellion. Brokenness. The apostle Paul doesn’t shy away from the dreadful weight of “you were” in Ephesians 2.
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. (2:1-3)
The good news? “You were” doesn’t have to be “you are” because of “but God.”
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—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (2:4-10)
“And now”? If you are “in Christ Jesus”? You’ve been brought near to God by the blood of Christ (2:13). You’ve been granted full access to the gracious, all-powerful Father (2:18). Jesus himself is your peace (2:14). No longer an outsider, you’re a member of God’s own household (2:19). Redeemed and reshaped, you’re a building block of the holy temple that’s being built into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit (2:20-21).
“But God.” Just two words. “But God” gives you the perspective you need for today. “But God” defines your purpose for this week. “But God” gives you hope for the rest of your life.
“But God” changes everything.