on May 16, 2011
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."
on July 13, 2012
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.
on June 10, 2011
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.
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.
on January 3, 2012
I bought this because a blog I follow recommended it. I'm so glad I did! It's such a helpful book to remind me of God's faithfulness amidst hopeless and desperate situations recorded in Scripture. It's an easy read and full of amazing promises of God that are timeless and applicable as we face trials in this life. Highly recommend!!!
on August 23, 2015
One of the best I've read in a long time. It's short, sweet, and down right to the point. To be so short, it is packed with all the information one needs to live a powerful life in Christ. It is a sure read. I truly recommend this book if you are looking for a closer walk with God.
on May 20, 2011
"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 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.
on January 20, 2014
Casey Lute, the author of But God... analyzes places in Scripture where this phrase is used. His conclusion is that the phrase "but God" is critical to understanding God's part in our salvation process. With a very thorough biblical analysis (with Reformed theological positions), Lute provides a very fascinating case that God is the beginning, middle, and end of our salvation.
The idea is based on the verses in the Bible which highlight God's role in salvation, with the words "But God." (Genesis 8:1, Exodus 13:8, Nehemiah 9:17, Psalm 40:6 ("But He"), Romans 5:8, Acts 13:30, 1 Corinthians 1:27, Ephesians 2:4, and 2 Timothy 2:19). I found the individual exegesis of the texts very thorough. Can one really develop an entire systematic theology based on this phrase? I am not entirely sure if this is possible. However, I was impressed with the attempt. I was also really encouraged that this book ended with a discussion of eternal security. Lute ends his book with the clearly Biblical point that:
God does not call us to our best life now, but to respond daily to Jesus’ call - deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Me.
I would recommend this book for any Christian who wants a thoroughly Reformed view about salvation. I would also recommend this book to anyone who needs more help in sharing the Gospel. These verses, like the verses in the Roman Road, can be helpful is guiding a person to follow Jesus Christ.
on November 27, 2012
I read this book because it was recommended by a very close relative who knew the author personally. It was a short and easy read. It wasn't a book I found earthshaking but enjoyable nontheless. The author wrote simply and plainly and it was very apparent he was writing from the heart. If you want something encouraging and inspirational, I would definitely recommend this book.
on September 13, 2015
The chapters are short and easy to digest, though Lute provides powerful examples from Scripture of God's mercy, grace, love, and provision. I've heard R. C. Sproul say that "but God" is his favorite phrase in the Bible. Lute does a good job in showing the importance of this phrase.
on September 29, 2013
This book was a blessing to me and I marked all the "but God" passages the author discusses in my own Bible How thrilling it is to see our mighty God in His powerful glory! This book was well researched and I plan to reread and/or reference it in the future.