What a strange name for an article…wouldn’t you agree? But as we progress in this teaching, you’ll understand why I chose this title. The idea I’m trying to bring across is that God is very conditional. There are conditions that He has set forth in His Word; that “if” we meet, then we are eligible to receive whatever it is that that particular condition merits. Example: God has stated in Matthew 6:15 and in Mark 11:26 that His forgiveness is based upon you forgiving others FIRST. So we see that “if” you do not forgive others, then you cannot be forgiven. He expects you to act first (this takes faith, and it shows faith on your part…and God always honors faith). Once you have acted first, then He is legally bound by His Word to act second. Is there anything greater than the Name of God? Most people would say, “No.” Ahhhh…but there is something greater. Psalm 138:2 tells us that He has magnified His Word above His very Name. So in God the Father’s eyes, His Word is greater. God will always honor His Word…and God will honor those who believe His Word, who act upon His Word, and who understand how His Word works.
Let us begin with the definition of the word “if“. The Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of the English Language gives the definition as “On the supposition or condition that…” We need to be very clear in this matter. In reality, God is leaving it up to you as to whether or not you can (or will) receive certain promises and privileges from Him. He has actually left it completely up to you whether you will even make it in the end. The Psalmist said, “My soul is continually in my own hand.” Many are quick to say that their soul is in God’s hand. By stating this, they are basically saying that if they don’t make it, then it won’t be their fault, but God’s fault. But they are saying these things in ignorance, because they don’t have a knowledge of God’s Word. Because then if we follow that line of thinking through to its conclusion; then we would have to admit that Adam and Eve had no free moral choice in the Garden of Eden. Because if their souls were in God’s hand, then He wouldn’t have allowed them to eat of the Fig tree in the garden.
But we know from history, and human experience, that they did indeed eat of the fruit. Their souls were in their own hands. They lost eternal life in one moment when the lights went out in their souls and spirits. God left it up to them as to what would happen. Nothing has changed. God still leaves it up to you as to what will happen to you in the end. If you meet the conditions that He has set forth in His Word, then you can be blessed in this life, and in the next.
“If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us.” 2nd Timothy 2:12. So then I have to ask, what happens if we don’t endure? I think it’s fair to say that we will not reign with Him…isn’t that exactly what the text says? And just how do we “deny” Him? “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny Him.” Titus 1:16. The Greek word for “works” here means the fruit that accompanies salvation; i.e., your living – your conduct – your speech, etc. Denying Christ has very, very little to do with denying Him verbally before men – it has everything to do with your living before God and men. If you profess to know Christ, but are living like everyone else, then you have denied Him. Even John through the Holy Spirit said in 1st John that if you say that you know Him, but walk in darkness (live out your life in a worldly manner) then you are a liar…and we know from Revelation 21:8 that no liar (in word or in deed) will be allowed into Heaven.
“How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation“? So we see here that salvation can be neglected. And if it is neglected, then we will not escape the judgement. But I want to bring your attention to the fact that “if” we neglect. The choice is ours as to how we will treat this salvation; and, as to what we will do with it.
In the Holy Spirit’s commentary of the Jews relinquishing the salvation plan of God for them to the Gentiles found in Romans 11, we read this: “You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either. Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.” Look at this portion of scripture very carefully. Paul (by the Holy Spirit) is writing to Gentile believers (“Saints” – Rom. 1:7) and is saying to them (the “Saints”) that if they do not continue in His goodness, they will be cut off. If someone is cut off, can they make it eternally? I think not!! So we see that the choice to continue in His goodness in totally yours (ours).
“…in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach — if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard,…” Col. 1:22b-23b So we see from these verses that if you want to be presented before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach, then you will have to continue in the faith. The promise of being presented before Him is contingent upon the supposition that you will continue in the faith. So…if you choose to not continue in the faith, can you be presented before Him holy, blameless, and beyond reproach? I think not!!
“If you obey…then (afterwards) you shall be a peculiar people unto Me.” (Ex. 19:5) The “peculiar people” follows the “if you obey” part. No obedience – no peculiar people. Can you see that?
“If you keep my commandments, then will I bless you.” (Deut. 7:12). The “bless you” part follows the “If you keep” part.
“Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God…and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God.” (Deut. 11:26-28). The choice is totally ours as to whether or not we will obey and be blessed, or disobey and be cursed.
“If indeed you do turn back (backslide)…you shall perish.” (Joshua 23:6-14). This is pretty self-explanatory I think.
“But if you forsake the Lord, He will forsake you.” (2nd Ch. 15:2). Please notice here who does the forsaking first. Are you seeing a picture slowly develop here? God is saying over and over and over again that if you will do your part first, then He will do His part. And we know He is faithful to do His part every time…guaranteed!!
“If you keep My commandments, you shall abide in My love.” (John 15:10) So then, what happens if we don’t keep His commandments? We shall not abide in His love. It’s so simple that even a child can understand it.
“If you continue in My Word, then are you My disciple indeed.” (John 8:31). You’re not a true disciple unless you’re continuing in His Word!! Dear reader, we cannot call ourselves a true disciple of Christ if we are not continuing in His Word!! It doesn’t matter what we think of ourselves; all that matters is what the Lord has said about our condition in His Word!!
There are over 100 more that I could list (1st John is filled with conditional verses). But I think that the precedent has been established that it is our responsibility…not God’s. He has given all that He can possibly can…He has nothing more He can give. He gave His Son. In one of the Lord’s parables, He brings out the point that God gave everything he could possibly give; and when He realized that it still wasn’t enough, He gave His own Son thinking surely we would respect and receive Him.
So many people want to put the responsibility of their spiritual lives and their spiritual condition on the Lord. But this is not what the Lord says in His word. He puts the responsibility of our condition upon us. Consider these verses:
- 2nd Corinthians 13:5 “Examine yourselves”
- 2nd Corinthians 13:5 “Prove yourselves“
- 1st Corinthians 11:28 “But let a man examine himself“
- 1st John 5:18 “but he who is born of God keeps himself“(the word keeps means “to guard”)
- 1st Corinthians 11:31 “For if we would judge ourselves“
- 2nd Timothy 2:21 “Therefore if anyone purges himself“
- 2nd Corinthians 7:1 “let us cleanse ourselves“
- Revelation 7:14 “these are the ones…who washed their robes“
- Revelation 3:4 “who have not defiled their garments“
- Revelation 16:15 “Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments”
- Luke 21:19 “Possess your souls“
- 1st Thessalonians 4:4 “Possess your body“
- Jude 1:21 “Keep yourself in the love of God.”
- Revelation 22:7 “Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”
These verses are all verses of personal responsibility. Don’t put anything off on God anymore. Everything is up to you…everything is your choice. That is the beautiful power of life and death that He has left in your hands. Now what will you do with this power? Will you use it – or will you abuse it? We’ll all find out in that great day.