May 17, 2018

Topic Day|One-Verse Evangelism—The Bridge Illustration

The Biggest "But" in the Bible

Romans 6:23

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23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

In Context:

18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Biggest "But" in the Bible

Bio | Lindsey Juarez

Hi! My name is Lindsey. I have a new life in Christ, and I'm recovering from anger, pride, and seeking approval in others. That is how I introduce myself in re:generation, Watermark's biblical 12-step recovery program. If you haven't tried re:generation yet, I highly recommend it!

I'm a journalist by trade, but my identity is in Christ. I used to live for the world, but now I live for Him. I was dead in my sin, but now I'm reborn and made new. In today's Join The Journey devotional, you'll find out why "but" is one of my favorite words.

Central Truth

Your choices, mistakes, and the path you've chosen apart from God have earned you eternal separation from Him. Thankfully, God loves you and is offering you the ultimate alternative: life through His Son. Which will you choose?

Devotional | One-Verse Evangelism—The Bridge Illustration

"But" is one of my favorite words. It signifies a contrast, an exception, a turning point, and it's arguably the most crucial word in Roman 6:23. Let me explain.

When sin entered the world, it created a...

"But" is one of my favorite words. It signifies a contrast, an exception, a turning point, and it's arguably the most crucial word in Roman 6:23. Let me explain.

When sin entered the world, it created a chasm in the perfect relationship mankind had with God. Sin is anything a person thinks, says, or does that dishonors God, and it comes with a horrible price. The first part of Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death . . . ." A wage is something you earn, such as wages for a job. What you earn for dishonoring God is death—eternal separation from Him. If that were the end of the story, it would be a pretty depressing conclusion.

Thankfully, it's not the end. A twist in the narrative happens in the second part of Romans 6:23, and it includes the biggest "but" in the Bible. ". . . [B]ut the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." With a single word, the entire story changes. Even in our sin, God offers us a gift. A gift is not something you earn or deserve. You can't pay for it through good works or by keeping a seat warm on Sunday morning (see Ephesians 2:8-9). It is given solely out of love.

God's gift is eternal life with Him, a restored relationship with the Creator, a bridge over the chasm. But to offer this gift, God had to sacrifice His Son. Sin yields death; therefore, death is the required payment for sin. Do you know anyone who is willing to sacrifice his child to have a relationship with you? I certainly don't—that is, except for God. On top of that, Hebrews 12:2 says Jesus endured the cross with joy because He knew it was the only way to save you.

Knowing this, you now have two choices: you can reject God's gift or accept it. Reject it, and you will be eternally separated from God. Accept it, and your relationship with God is restored, and you can spend eternity with Him. Which will you choose?

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Discussion Questions

1. What does it mean to you to know that God loves you so much that He is willing to sacrifice His Son for you?

2. Knowing salvation is a free gift, why do we still sometimes feel that we have to do something to earn our salvation?

3. Have you accepted the free gift that God is offering you? If so, tell us in the comments section below.

4. Is there a "but" in your life keeping you from accepting God's gift? Do you say to yourself, "I know God loves me, but . . . ."? After you answer this question, read Romans 5:8.

12 Comments available

laura mayaka 8 months ago

Thank you for the blessing of God’s word. Q1: I am awed by his immense love that he sacrificed his only son so that we may receive eternal life. Q2: I feel that I sometimes deviate from my salvation in the Lord and walk in the flesh I tend ti fo things while seeking human approval to avoid their condemnation. Q3: Yes! The Lord is my saviour Q4: There are times in my life where I deviate to the but…works of man, works of might then I have to constantly remind myself that ‘ as Christ is so am I’ and surrender to his will to carry out the plan or lead the way by his will.

Elizabeth Lariscy 8 months ago

Q3. Yes, I have accepted God’s free gift of eternal life with Jesus Christ our Lord! I don’t deserve it and I will never earn it but by God’s endless mercy and His amazing grace, it is willingly accepted! I believe in the death and resurrection of Christ! This sacrifice shows His great love for me! Thank you, Jesus! Glory be to God!

Michael Scaman 8 months ago

I think there’s a reason some stories in the Bible have very fallible ordinary people. For example, many Jews did not return to Israel from Babylon, Esther (Hadassah - myrtle renamed after Ishtar and Mordachai (named after the God Marduk) They hid their Jewishness. They took part in the problematic Miss Babylonia contest, but God under crisis proved himself faithful and providentially remade them It’s a picture of the faithfulness and mercy of God even with ordinary fallible people.

The song ‘Ordinary man, Extraordinary God’ “” .

Michael Ponsler 8 months ago

Q1 It gives me great peace to trust in a hero God that would lay down His own perfect life to rescue one who has grieved Him as I have.

Q2 I think it’s one of Satan’s lies. If he has us competing for salvation we will be caught up in pride. Since salvation can’t be earned we won’t experience the peace of resting in Christ. In my own experience, I kept working harder but experiencing less peace until I became convinced that God rejected me. It led me to resent & deny Him until I understood grace.

Mark Bowman 8 months ago

Good morning Lindsey, thank you for the devo and a new look at such a small word that carries an eternal impact. It’s a conjunction that connects our sinful life to our perfect Father through the death of our savior, Jesus Christ. I always thought the key word was “in” as in “all in” . . . are we all in for Jesus? But (our new favorite word), your devo shines a new light on this verse and for that I am thankful. Godspeed to you …

Go Re:Gen!

Sue Bohlin 8 months ago

Thanks, Lindsey. I think you can make a case that the “but” in Romans 6:23 is indeed the biggest “but” in the entire Bible! The breath-taking contrast between the first half of the verse and the second half is yet another layer of evidence of why Christianity is true: because only God Himself could come up with such an unimaginable set of opposites! Earning death on the one hand, but being given eternal life as a free gift on the other, is just CRAZY . . . unless it’s true.

And it is! Thank You, Lord!

Reveling in the privilege of getting to teach why Christianity is true, ramps up my anticipation of pouring this kind of equipping into high school students at Probe’s Mind Games camp next month. I love hearing the difference it makes in their lives by the end of our week with them!

Michael Scaman 8 months ago

The bad news is that if we got what we earned it would be condemnation. The good news is God freely forgives and accepts those who in a submission of faith glorify God leaning on the work of Christ on the cross, believing for eternal life.

Jennifer Borgne 8 months ago

Good morning Lindsey. I appreciate your inclusion of Hebrews 12:2 in today’s reading immensely! The AMP states: “…He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endures the cross…”

To read that His sacrifice was joyfully made to obtain MY freedom from the bondage of sin… essentially, to obtain ME… is heartstopping. That He would consider ME a prize worth His sacrifice… in the middle of my sin (Romans 3:23) is nothing short of AMAZING. The word “Grateful” somehow falls short of expression.

Kathy Hempel Cox 8 months ago

At 16, I accepted God’s gift at a Dawson McAlister altar call. Undiscipled, I had no idea what to do with this gift for 26 years. Almost 10 years ago to the date, I responded to this free gift by publically being buried with Jesus and walking in the newness of life that His death on the cross offered me by being baptized at Watermark’s Baptism. I learned through Watermark’s teaching and through community the cost of God’s gift and am eternally grateful. Best.Gift.Ever.

Tommy Burnette 8 months ago

I am Tommy and I chosen a new life in Christ. I am going to be eternally in His presence!

Lindsey Driscoll 8 months ago

Lindsey, great way to explain the bridge we have to god through the truth in Romans 6:23! Q3 - great question. Right now it’s “but if work…” great reminder to Day that God has purposed me right where I am at work to share the free gift of God I’m my words and actions and how i work daily.

Hugh Stephenson 8 months ago

GM Lindsey. Very well done. I share your love of “but”. I also love “For” and “Therefore”. BUT, my favorite word is “Nevertheless” (Luke 22:42).

My response to the “but” in this verse is often “Yes, but”.

“Father, yes you are sovereign…”

“BUT I really want this deal to happen”

“BUT I have to help my prodigal out today”

“BUT I really want to do …”

“BUT I have waited a long time for you to act and you haven’t”

I imagine my Father says, “Yes Hugh, but if you truly know me, if you know my goodness and kindness, if you know how much I love you, if you know how good my plan for you is then you’ll stop saying ‘yes, but’ and just say ‘yes , Father’.

My prayer today is to constantly surrender my will to His.

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