All is hopeless. Because of our pride and rebellion we are cut off from God. We were created for eternity but because we think we know best and turn from God’s laws each of us dies. This was not the way it was supposed to be. We were meant to be in the paradise of the garden with God forever. However we thought we knew better and so we did our own thing.
Each of us in some way have broken God’s laws. Not all of us have committed murder, but all of us are guilty in some way or another. There is no ambiguity. All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory. Some of us lie, some steal, some covet. Some of us have affairs, some gossip, some persecute. Some of us struggle with pride, some with anger, some with lust. Some of us battle addictions to drugs, to alcohol or to porn. There is no one who can claim to be truly guilt-free. All of us sin, some in one way, others in another. But all of us sin and so all of us are guilty. All of us are cut off from God, for the holy and the guilty cannot mix. Because of our sin there is only one outcome – death and eternity cut off from God.
And yet because of the two greatest words in the whole of history all is not as hopeless as it seems. There are two words that change everything. Two words that bring hope to our despair. Two words that changed the course of history. The two most amazing words anyone in our sin created situation could ever hear.
Those words? Two simple words that when combined together become the most powerful phrase ever issued. “But God”. Two words that sum up the entire message of the gospel. Two words that bring hope. Two words that bring life. Two words that bring reconciliation.
Paul writes in Ephesians 2 “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly place in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And it is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” Ephesians 2:1-9 (emphasis added).
In Romans Paul again uses those two words to show just how incredible God’s love for us is. “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows his love for us in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8 (emphasis added).
That is the gospel. That is the message of hope. That is what the cross was all about. God stepped into the story and paid the price for our freedom. He is not distant or far off but He came down to redeem us and reconcile us, paying the debt we could never pay, doing what our works could never achieve, showing love for us when there was nothing loveable about us. Making a way for the worst of the worst, the liars and thieves, the murderers and lusters, the abusers and drunkards, the prostitutes and addicts, the vagabonds and tyrants, you and me. Making a way for us to be raised up and made alive with Christ – through grace by faith in Jesus, the one who died for the ungodly like you and me.
We were dead in sin, but God.
We were cut off, but God.
We were enslaved to sin, but God.
We were headed to hell, but God.
We were without hope, but God.
We were hurtling down a dead-end street, but God.
We were children of wrath, but God.
We were broken and lost, but God.
We were dead and hopeless, but God!
Two words that have the power to change everything. Two words that offer hope and reconciliation. Two words like no other. Two words to cling to in the storms of life. Two simple words that combine to change everything when you put your faith in Jesus. Two words that can become the story of your life – I was dead and hopeless, but God!