My favorite theological phrase is really simple – just two little words.
The first time this phrase is used is in Genesis 3. Adam and Eve sinned and hid themselves from God. “But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”
Adam and Eve could have spent their entire lives hidden from God. This would have been just. He could have abandoned them. They had fallen short of perfection, and He, being Perfection, did not have any logical reason to pursue them.
But God isn’t logical like that. He shows mercy and kindness and grace. None of those things are logical. The logical thing to do would to forget Adam and Eve and move on.
But God went after them, sought them, so that He, in all His might and power, could show them something illogical – Grace.
Throughout both the Old Testament and the New Testament, we see the two words “but God” repeated over and over.
“…but God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark” … and then He showed them Grace, allowing the waters to recede so they could return to the land. (Genesis 8:1)
“God said, ‘But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you ath this time next year'” and He showed Grace by providing Sarah and Abraham with Isaac, even though she was past the age of child-bearing (Genesis 17)
“Jacob … said to them, ‘But the God of my father has been with me. You know that I have served your father with all my strength, yet your father has cheated me and changed my wages ten times. But God did not permit him to harm me.'” Once again, God shows his mercy and kindness and Grace, even in the midst of hardship (Genesis 31).
Dozens and dozens of times, we see the two words “but God” and then God shows his love and mercy and kindness and Grace.
We often cite the Gospels as the location where we most cite examples of Grace, but we forget that Grace is also written all over the Old Testament as well.