The Two Words at the Heart of the Gospel
“Reminds us that nothing is impossible with God, we must always reckon with God, and God brings life out of death.”
– Tom Schreiner, Southern Baptist Theo. Sem.
“Concise, meaningful commentary…a mini-theology that will speak to the needs of every reader of this powerful book.”
– Wm. Varner, Prof. of Biblical Studies, The Master’s College
“Casey Lute has written a great little book!"
– Paul Tautges, Biblical Counseling Colaition
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Description & Excerpts..SHARE..
Whether from the pen of Moses, Paul, or other biblical authors, “But God” appears in various forms hundreds of times in the Bible. To understand these two words as they are used in Scripture is to understand the gospel. This book focuses on nine of the most important appearances of this key phrase, drawing in numerous other passages of Scripture and in the process unfolding the magnificent drama of God’s sovereign grace—from his mercy on Noah to our security in a resurrected Savior.
Taken together, this collection of brief Bible expositions provides a big-picture overview of the consistent way in which God has chosen to save sinners. It has always been by his might, his power, his grace, and his initiative.
James Montgomery Boice wrote that “If you understand those two words—'but God'—they will save your soul. If you recall them daily and live by them, they will transform your life completely.”
About the Author
Casey Lute lives in Salem, Oregon with his wife, Kelly, and two children. He holds a master’s degree in Biblical Studies from The Master’s College and a bachelor’s degree in Ministry from Corban University. He has previously served as a staff pastor at churches in California and Colorado.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Part One: God Shows How He Saves
One: God Preserves Humanity / Genesis 8:1, Noah
Two: God Creates a Nation / Exodus 13:18, The Red Sea
Three: God Preserves His Nation / Nehemiah 9:17, Israel the God-Fighter
Part Two: God Provides Salvation for His People
Four: God Provides a Better Sacrifice / Psalm 40:6-8, The Incarnation
Five: God Demonstrates His Love for His People / Romans 5:8, The Cross
Six: God Raises Jesus from the Dead / Acts 13:30, The Resurrection
Part Three: God Applies Salvation to His People
Seven: God Chooses the Foolish and the Weak / 1 Corinthians 1:27, Election
Eight: God Brings Life out of Death / Ephesians 2:4, Salvation
Nine: God’s Firm Foundation Stands / 2 Timothy 2:19, Perseverance
endorsements & reviews..SHARE..
Casey Lute reminds us that nothing is impossible with God, that we must always reckon with God, and that God brings life out of death and joy out of sorrow. Faith looks to God for everything we need, and we are reminded here that our God is the fountain of living waters, and that nothing can defeat us if God is for us.
Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Casey Lute has seized upon the brief expression, “But God…” that appears at some crucial locations in the Great Story of God’s plan for His creation. He traces these references within their contexts and with concise and meaningful commentary. What results is a mini-theology that will speak to the needs of every reader of this small but powerful book. Read it yourself and you will be blessed. Give it to a friend and you will be a blessing.
William Varner, Professor of Biblical Studies, The Master’s College
Keying off of nine occurrences of “But God” in the English Bible, Casey Lute ably opens up Scripture in a manner that is instructive, edifying, encouraging, and convicting. This little book would be useful in family or personal reading, or as a gift to a friend. You will enjoy Casey’s style, you will have a fresh view of some critical Scripture, and your appreciation for God’s mighty grace will be deepened.
Dan Phillips, Pyromaniacs blog, author of The World-Tilting Gospel (forthcoming from Kregel)
Rock-solid theology packaged in an engaging and accessible form…
But God…, the latest installment by Cruciform Press, written by Casey Lute, delivers what this young yet powerful publishing company is building a reputation for—books with rock-solid theology and packaged in an engaging and accessible form. Lute’s word study sweeps over three central aspects of scripture—God’s covenant with Israel, God’s plan for salvation through Christ, and God’s act of applying the work of Christ to believers—in a way that brings the sovereignty of God into powerful focus.
Lute’s central point is best expressed in his words,
“We see God’s intervention all over the pages of Scripture, nowhere more than in the salvation of those who have believed in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. “But God” paves the way for every aspect of the believers faith in Christ.” (87).
Indeed, this is beautifully applied throughout each of the nine chapters in this book.
Particularly remarkable is Lute’s clarity in breakdown seemingly lofty theological ideas like covenant, propitiation, and the doctrines of grace into an enveloping study of the Bible that hit this reader’s heart without confusing his mind. In all fairness, the incredible scope of theology in But God… is not unfamiliar to me, however, I would be at fault not to note the careful attention Lute pays to defining the terminology he works with, often times in a single, succinct sentence, and shows examples of using multiple passages of Scripture.
On a personal note, I was especially moved by Lute’s discussion of the doctrine of perseverance of the saints in the ninth chapter, titled “God’s Firm Foundation Stands,” which hinges on 2 Timothy 2:19. As a Reformed twenty-something, reading Lute’s exposition on the power this doctrine holds for those who have been saved, my own faith was built up in a way that’s best expressed in the words he writes in the final paragraph of that chapter, which I will leave those reading to find on their own.
Understanding the simple words, “But God…” as Lute explains them leaves the reader with a powerful lens to reflect on their salvation and pierces the heart in such a way that readies a believer for God’s continuing intervention in their life. In those ways, Lute’s words reach far beyond the pages they were written, which is what the best of theology texts should accomplish in the life of readers who identify themselves as believers.
Disclaimer: Although I received a complimentary advance copy of But God… to begin reading early for the purpose of writing this review, I am also an eBook subscriber of Cruciform Press. It is the most valuable $3.99 I spend monthly and would highly recommend subscribing.
Of all the Cruciform Press books, this may be their best to date.
“But God” are probably my two most favorite words in all of the Bible. If you are a Christian, this may be the case for you as well. Author Casey Lute, delves into the depths of the importance of these two words in his book by the same title.
This work is divided into three parts consisting of 3-4 chapters each. The first part looks at how God shows that He saves us in preserving humanity through Noah and then creating and preserving His elect nation. Part two explains God provides salvation for His people by offering a better sacrifice and demonstrating His love for us through the cross and resurrection of Jesus. The final section details how God applies His salvation to His people. Lute shows, from Scripture, that God chooses the foolish and the weak (I am so thankful for this!) and bring life out of death. Ultimately, it is on this foundation that our faith rests. Each chapter takes a look at a particular “But God…” passage found in Scripture. Review
While not exhaustive, But God… offers a wonderful introduction to this extraordinary “doctrine” of the Christian faith. If it were not for these two words, we would have no hope at all. Lute does an excellent job in a small space bringing these truths to light. Furthermore, he builds the entire book on the electing grace of God. In other words, if our salvation was left up to us, we would have no real hope. But, because our salvation rests squarely on God, we can rest assure that our salvation is secure. Recommendation
This resource can very much be used in the same vein as Desiring God’s For Your Joy or Don’t Waste Your Life. For the unbeliever, they know their need though they do not recognize it (see Rom. 1). Once they begin to see that despite all of their past sin and lifestyles there is always the promise of “But God.”
This book would also make an excellent resource for those who are spiritually depressed as they seek the Light in the apparent darkness around them. For the believer, the truth of “But God” is a sweet balm to a hurting soul. Of all the Cruciform Press books, this may be their best to date.
Terry Delaney, Christian Book Notes
A refreshingly concise, yet comprehensive biblical theology of grace that left this reader more in awe of the grace of God.
You wouldn’t think that two little words would carry so much weight, would you? Yet, it’s on these two words that so much of the Bible—even the gospel itself—hinges. Casey Lute gets this, and in “But God…”: The Two Words at the Heart of the Gospel, he walks readers through the Scriptures to show us just how important these words are.
And important they are. Over and over again, we see in Scripture how “But God” serves as a turning point in God’s saving work among fallen humanity. Indeed, Lute writes, “It is the perfect phrase for highlighting the grace of God against the dark backdrop of human sin” (p. 5).
From the flood account of Genesis 6-8, to the Exodus and God’s preservation of His stiff-necked people, the promise of a better sacrifice in Jesus Christ and His resurrection from the dead, to His saving for Himself a people from among all the nations and his preservation of them until the end, “But God” lies at the heart of all God’s work in history. These words show us how God saves, the salvation He offers and how He applies that salvation to His people.
In a word, it’s grace.
Lute does an exceptional job of illustrating this reality, particularly in the earliest chapters of the book as he delves into the flood account. Often, we hear or read the story of Noah as little more than “Noah was a good man among a sea of bad men, so God used him to build the ark.” Lute is quick to observe that this is not the case. He writes:
[T]he flood story is about God’s grace. Even the first significant statement made about Noah tells us more about God’s grace than about Noah himself: “So the Lord said, ‘I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.’ But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:7–8). The word “favor” might not seem especially meaningful to us, but the Hebrew word translated here as “favor” can also be translated as “grace.” In fact, the King James Version translators used that very word, “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” (p. 15)
I’ve heard a number of preachers make this point—that “favor” can be translated as “grace.” That understanding helps bring a greater understanding of the story’s place in the scope of redemptive history. It’s not that Noah was a good guy among a bunch of bad guys, it’s that he was a bad guy to whom God showed grace—and through him, God saved for Himself a remnant. It’s an amazing illustration of God’s grace that is too easy to overlook.
At this point, I’ve read or reviewed nearly every title that’s been released from Cruciform Press. In doing so, I’ve noticed a consistent pattern that is perhaps best evidenced in “But God…”.
That is the strength of brevity.
Because “But God…” and all of the publisher’s titles are held to a strict word count, their authors are not afforded room to meander. They have to get to the point, which (I know from experience) can prove difficult. But in this book’s case, the result is a refreshingly concise, yet comprehensive biblical theology of grace that left this reader more in awe of the grace of God. I’d highly encourage any reader to get a copy of this book and discover for yourselves the importance of the words “But God.”
Aaron Armstrong, Blogging Theologically
I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It would be great read for either a seasoned Christian, new Christian, or even an unbeliever.
“But God” by Casey Lute is another offering from Cruciform Press. I love what these guys are doing in offering Theologically rich books that are clear, well written, easy to read, and Gospel saturated. These books are small but they pack a huge Theological punch without a lot of Theological ‘jargon’ that may scare some folks off. I can’t recommend these guys highly enough. The same thing can be said for “But God”.
Casey Lute does an excellent job of walking us through the Scriptures and pointing out instances of the use of the term, “But God…”. It is amazing that 2 words can mean so much to a story so big, but indeed, you would be hard pressed to find a better summation or description of the ‘Gospel’. These 2 words as they are used in the Scriptures to describe the history of salvation tell us 2 major things: God is different than us, and God is active in the saving of His people. In fact apart from these 2 words, mankind would have no hope, for apart from these 2 words and the God in whom they are pointing us to, there is no salvation. This is not only true in the initial act of salvation, but also in the sustaining of our Christian lives and our persevering in the faith. From beginning to end, our Christian lives are wholly dependent on God. Mr. Lute does an excellent job of unpacking these truths for us.
Again, I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It would be great read for either a seasoned Christian, new Christian, or even an unbeliever. Get this book, maybe even a couple and give some away. People will be blessed…I promise.
Chris Canuel at his blog.
Every believer in Christ will be encouraged and edified by this book….I was very refreshed.
“But God” Moments
Casey Lute has written a great little book! “But God…” looks at the gospel from a fresh angle. By “fresh” I do not mean “new.” For this book does not present any new truth, but instead draws the reader into nine of the “But God” events or statements in the Bible. By doing so, Lute demonstrates how the biblical authors use this phrase to “highlight God’s grace in every aspect of salvation… It is the perfect phrase highlighting the grace of God against the dark backdrop of human sin.”
Lute effectively shows us that “to the left of ‘But God’ in Scripture appear some of the worst human atrocities, characterized by disobedience and rebellion. To the left of ‘But God’ is hopelessness, darkness, and death. But to its right, following ‘But God,’ readers of Scripture will find hope, light, and life. Following God’s intervention, the story of Scripture becomes one of grace, righteousness, and justice.”
Three Simple Parts
The book is divided into three parts. Part 1 takes a fresh look at three significant moments in Israel’s history: the Flood, the Exodus, and the Exile and Return to the Promised Land, and how the overpowering grace of God wins the day each time. One particular point made by the author that grabbed my attention is the fact that God Himself led Israel to the Red Sea. He backed them into a corner—by His own leading—so that He could demonstrate His power and saving grace!
In Part 2, faith and joy in Jesus are renewed as we see God provide salvation for his people and are reminded of the essentials of the gospel: the incarnation, cross, and resurrection. Part 3 then explores the application of God’s salvation to the heart of the sinner by means of election, salvation, and perseverance.
Concise and Punchy
This is the third Cruciform Press book that I’ve read in the past few months and I have been blessed by each of them. From my limited assessment, Cruciform, a new publisher, is quickly making a mark in the publishing world by focusing its attention on producing small-word-count (20,000), well-written books that pack a lot of punch. “But God…” will not disappoint.
Beneficial for Every Believer
Every believer in Christ will be encouraged and edified by this book, as will every person who wants to be a more effective hope-dispensing counselor. It successfully leads the reader to ponder the love of God anew as displayed in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Personally, as an average believer in Christ, I was very refreshed by this little one-evening read because it humbled me once again before the amazing grace of God and reminded me of the “‘But God’ moment” when He rescued this wretched sinner from a life of self-destruction.
Profitable for Counselors
As a pastor and counselor, I was reminded that the storyline of the Bible (because its theme is Christ), is one of hope, not condemnation. I found myself asking, “Am I a ‘But God’ counselor?”
As I help other believers wrestle with sin and the daunting problems of living in a fallen world, do I consistently help them look at the ‘But God’ examples in Scripture and for evidences of His grace in their own lives? As hopelessness threatens to defeat them, because that is all that their tearful eyes can see, do I consciously attempt to shift their focus to “But God…” in Christ so they find hope, light, and life? As God uses pain in the lives and hearts of other believers to bring them to a new level of brokenness, I pray that I will listen well and then effectively dispense hope by declaring, “But God…”
Paul Tautges, Biblical Counseling Coalition
“Could be easily understood by the newest Christians.”
I bought this book because Ephesians 2 is one of my favorite passages and my Christian life has thrived because of that single “But God…” Lute sums my feelings on that passage, “To the left of ‘But God’ is hopelessness, darkness, and death. But to its right, following ‘But God,’ readers of Scripture will find hope, light, and life” (pp. 5-6). Kindle Edition.
Before reading this book, I had no idea what the structure would be. I assumed because of how much I loved Ephesians 2 that the entire book would an exposition of that passage. Lute does explain Ephesians 2 but he follows this larger theme of God’s necessary work in the affairs of men throughout the entire Bible. He starts with Noah, moves to Israel, then Nehemiah, into the Psalms, and ending in the New Testament with Romans 5:8, Acts 13:30, 1 Corinthians 1:27, Ephesians 2:4, and 2 Timothy 2:19. Before starting he lays out his cards on the table,
“But God” marks God’s relentless, merciful interventions in human history. It teaches us that God does not wait for us to bring ourselves to him, but that he acts first to bring about our good. (p. 6). Cruciform Press.
These passages are examined carefully and simply. His exposition could be easily understood by the newest Christians. The chiastic structure of the “But God” is demonstrated throughout the Bible. He points out,
The Hebrew Bible is unlike other ancient documents—it does not shy away from recording the sins of its people because it is not ultimately about the people. (p. 40). Kindle Edition.
My wife and I recently discussed this very point while reading through Genesis together. These people are shady. None of them are commendable outside of the grace of God. That gives us hope as we plead for God to intervene in our daily lives.
Mathew Sims, Grace for Sinners