Tony Evans is going to make a point by using a conjunction. Now conjunctions* are used throughout the Scriptures and are part of the English language to communicate a relationship between what has been said, and what is about to be said. They are “grammatical road markers.”
the most common conjunctions — FANBOYS
Now it is especially important to understand the role that conjunctions play in following the flow of the argument in the grammatical portions of the Scriptures. Conjunctions will tell you where the writer is going and the nature of the argument he is building.
For instance, the conjunctions “but,” “nevertheless,” “however,” “rather” are found in the Bible. Grammatically, these are words which speak of the converse, in contradiction to, opposites, the antithetical, or on the contrary. As we know and say, the word “BUT” changes everything!
(HOWEVER is a conjunction which indicates and communicates a clear change of direction from what has been said -“a” to what is about to be said -“b”.)
However, Tony Evans is not calling up, pointing to, or citing a passage of Scripture which is using a conjunction. If one were pointing to the argument which a biblical writer was making and/or if we were indicating the nature of the writer’s argument by highlighting the conjunction . . . .
i.e. — Paul now says (Ephesians 2:1-5), “BUT God who is rich in mercy.” Paul calls up a word which is used almost 4,000 times in the Bible – “But God” — That word changes everything when it comes to our salvation, our hope, our condition. Paul is now going to make the point that our condition changed, our situation has gone from hopeless to amazing . . . .”
. . . . that is what we might well say to help God’s people see the nature of Paul’s “argument.”
However, Evans does something different with a conjunction. Tony Evans . . . .
- is not flowing the argument of a passage of Scripture.
- is not even calling up a biblical passage to support what he is saying, although the point he is ultimately making is biblically true.
- is making a point by using the way conjunctions are designed to work in the English language. He is not speaking theologically, but grammatically.
- is merely calling up a well understood and established “grammatical road marker,” the word “B_U_T.” This conjunction is used in all of literature and is NOT unique to the Bible or biblical argument.
- is making a “secular” argument or point, leaning on a grammatical concept which gives communicating in English (and all other languages) a cohesion and flow.
As I stated, the conjunction “but” has no exclusive theological usage. Conjunctions are used in all of literature and are not unique to the Bible or biblical argument. They are known, used by, and understood to “sinners and saints” — secular literature and sacred writings.
Tony Evans is not making an exegetical point when he says what he says. He is constructing a biblical principle using English grammar. He is not arguing from a passage of Scripture. Rather (another conjunction), he is actually establishing a biblical principle by using the operational nature of conjunctions in language.
- He is going to utilize the conjunction “BUT” which is used to connect and contrast two other words, phrases, or independent clauses – “abutb.”
- He is going to ask the audience to “flip a and b” which are connected with that conjunction – “but.”
- Thereby, he is going to establish a biblical truth or principle.
Listen to how he makes a point, makes an argument, and/or establishes a biblical principle using this conjunction — “B U T”
If all you see is what you see, then you do not see all there is to be seen
He must . . . He’s saying —
He’s not saying deny the reality of what you’re going through.
He’s not saying that.
He calls it an affliction.
He says – But how you view it will be determined by what you’re looking at
and if all you’re looking at is the affliction
you’re not looking at everything to be looked at
If I can get you – Paul says – to not deny the affliction but to look beyond the affliction — to the fact that Jesus is getting ready to manifest himself through
or even causing
the affliction then you will see – that in light of what he’s getting ready to do — it hasn’t been that long
I want you to practice something
here’s what you practice as you go through and you will go through
we will all go throughHere’s what your practice — B_U_T – B_U_T
I want you to put that word and flip what you put in front of it and what you put in back of it
because it’ll change your perspective
If you say
“God is good but boy life is rough”
“Jesus is the waymaker but I don’t know if I’m gonna make it”
See you’ve got the thing flipped wrong.
Cause see what you’re doing is
you’re letting the end of the sentence control the beginning of the sentence – with wrong information.
see — what you have to say is — ah
Boy my situation is sure messed up well,
but I’m sure glad Jesus has got it under control
Boyyyyyy – I am so discouraged,
but I’m sure glad Jesus promised that I would not be forsaken
Boyyyy – life is hard,
but I’m sure glad Jesus is stronger
end with God
and if you end with God you’ll be able to handle what you began with when you opened up your sentence
You must change your perspective
Nowhere does the Bible tells us or teach us to flip the conjunction “but.” However, Tony Evans is not making the argument that the Scriptures state such, but that if the listeners will flip the way we think and frame our thoughts, then the listeners will see their afflictions and trials differently.
The listeners need to keep “a” and “b” on the right side of the grammatical, “secular,” and communicative conjunction — “but.”
This is another way of making a point, establishing a principle, clarifying a truth, illustrating a biblical concept — by using the workings of grammar and language! In this case, using the grammatical road-markers called conjunctions.
NOW, that we understand what Tony Evans did in using the operations of grammar to illustrate, clarify, or argue a biblical truth, can the observer duplicate the rhetorical technique? The answer is “Yes.”
First of all, a speaker can do exactly what Evans did with the same conjunction — “but.”
There will be those who will say, “We are citizens of another kingdom, but we still live in this world.” No flip that! The emphasis is wrong when we think of it that way. We live in this world, but we are actually citizens of another kingdom!” We will not see ourselves clearly if we do not first of all grasp — if we do not recognize — that we are just living in this world, BUT we are outsiders, with different passports.
Second, a speaker can work with other conjunctions* and do so with the same intent of clarifying or driving a truth or principle using a “grammatical illustration,” a way to make a point which comes from the use conjunctions in language.
Now put “Therefore” into the equation of your life! David understands the kindness of God and the kindnesses of others in his life. David understands that there is a “therefore” that ought to accompany kindness.
And David said, Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may shew him kindness for Jonathan’s sake? (II Samuel 9:1 — Note: We are not arguing exegetically from the word “therefore” since that word is not found in the passage.)
God has always designed His programs with a “therefore,” — a practical purpose. Something is meant to flow out of all the truths and actions of God and men towards us. There are practical applications which flow out of . . . .
all that theology we know and understand
all the theological data we accumulate in life
all those biblical truths of Scripture we have been taught
the gracious and kinds actions of men towards us
the workings of God in our lives through various men & women
When you leave out the “therefore” you have only half — maybe less than half — of God’s design and plan. There always needs to be a “therefore” in our thinking! When you fail to put in the “therefore” it does not result in transformation.
“If . . . . Then” — You can’t put the “then” before the “if.” Some people are looking for the results, the then, without the if. There are “ifs” in life — If you love God with all your heart, then you are in a position where He can bless you – then you are “blessable.” He is not going to bless you with His goodness when you are living like everyone else. . . . .
“Either . . . .Or” — Don’t compartmentalize life into “either-or” areas. It is not give your time to God or give time to your family. Giving time to your family is the same as loving God. It is the same as giving time to what God has placed in our lives . . . .
“Therefore . . . . Not But” — When it comes to what the Lord says, when it comes to what God says about _______, we are not to say “but” only “therefore.” It is not “BUT my situation is different. That may be true, or that may be what the Bible says, that may be true for others, BUT . . . . No — “Therefore!”
Since / Because
If . . . . then
Both . . . . And
Either . . . . Or
The Bible says,
“Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come” (Ephesians 1:20-21).
NOW, do not forget the word “BUT” because when you forget that Jesus is not only seated at the right hand of God, but there is far more than this world, but that which is to come, you lose perspective. We may not see His dominion when we want to see it in this world, but we will see it in a city, “in which dwelleth righteousness,” in a forever world!