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Two Great Words

The bible translation I read the most is the New International Version.  It’s not so much a commitment as a habit.  The window in my bible software includes the New American Standard, the English Standard Version, the New Living Testament,  and the Greek and Hebrew.  I wish that my software included The Message, but it doesn’t.  I have to pull out an actual book to get that or go to BibleGateway.com

While preparing to teach last Sunday on Ephesians 2:1-10, I noticed that the NIV is woefully lacking in its translation of verse four.  Up to that point, Paul has painted a pretty dismal description of the  human condition without God. “Dead”, influenced by the world, the flesh, and the devil, and an ‘object of wrath.’  Not a good sign at all.

But, then come the two great words – except in the NIV.

“But God . . . . . . “

What follows is an incredible statement about how God made us alive with Christ, because of his love and grace, not because of any personal achievement or performance.


Those two words announce the best intervention ever.  I mean, it could have the two words, “and, so . . . . .” we got what we deserved, or we stayed a mess, or we missed out, or whatever.

Consequence instead of transformation.

“But, God . . . “  Shows up. Overcomes.  Forgives.  Instructs.  Heals.  Transforms.

I know without a doubt that my life is a “But, God . . “ life.  But, I forget it.  I act like the main narrative is “But, Mark . . . “  Or, I can easily switch out ‘God’ for any negative or challenging circumstance in my life.  “But, problem . . . “

It’s almost impossible to see the “But, God . . . “  reality on the front side of the experience.  It’s only clear afterwards.  The front side requires faith.  And memory.  And the knowledge of how God works.


My goal:  I want my life to be defined by God’s work.  Period.  I don’t think I can improve upon that.

What about you?  Where have these two great words been the defining reality for you?