Looking At The Little Word "But"

There is one little word in the English language that has the power to disannul every acknowledgement of truth and seemingly noble intention – that word is “but.” When someone says, “I know I ought to, but….”  you immediately know what’s about to follow. The use of the word “but” becomes a process of explaining why a particular truth does not apply to them. By their use of the word “but” they have in effect denied their responsibility.

Have you ever heard folks say, “I know I ought to obey the gospel, but….”? The truth is that while God has provided mankind salvation through Jesus Christ (Acts 4:11-12), there are conditions listed in the simple gospel of Christ to be obeyed (Romans 10:17; Romans 1:16; Romans 10:9-10; Mark 16:16; Acts 17:30; Gal. 3:26-27; Revelation 2:10). Peter said, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth….” (1 Peter 1:22).

The Hebrew writer said of Jesus, “Though he were a son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered, being then made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation to all those who obey him” (Hebrews 5:8-9). If you comply with the conditions of salvation as presented in the New Testament, then God washes away your sins through the blood of Christ (Acts 22:16; Revelation 1:4-5; cf. 1 John 1:7).

The disciple says, “Oh, I know I ought to, but….” The excuses come flowing as rushing waters down a mountainside. That which follows the word “but” runs the gamut from, “I’ve got a hangnail on my pinky” (a very serious illness to some), to once-in-a-lifetime special events. This writer knows of one member who says, “It’s okay to miss worshiping God for special events, as long as I don’t do it all the time” (?). God’s word, however, says something entirely different (Hebrews 10:24-27).

James says that man is inconsistent and acts contrary to what is natural when he, from the same source, speaks evil and good. “Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening?” (James 3:11). It is just as inconsistent to acknowledge God’s truth, and then deny its applicability to self.

Mike Riley, Gospel Snippets

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