By: Gary L. Hutchens
The word “if” is a little word with big implications. We use this word on a frequent basis. It indicates a condition upon which a subsequent action or result will take place, and it is used with both a positive and a negative emphasis.
Parents have often employ the word if in instructing and disciplining their children: “If you clean your room every day, you’ll receive an allowance at the end of the week.” “If you don’t do what I told you to do, you’ll be grounded.”
The sense of the word “if” is implied in many cases even though the word itself is not specifically used. An example would be: “Follow these directions correctly, and you’ll reach your desired destination.” Certainly, the sense of the statement is that you’ll reach your desired destination “if” you follow the directions correctly.
When it comes to our spiritual lives we need to remember that our expectation of an eternal home in Heaven is conditioned upon our continued faithfulness to God. The scriptures continually use the word if in both a positive and a negative sense to express some condition upon which a particular result will be based. “If” the Israelites would obey God, He would give them victory over their enemies (Ex. 23:20-22). “If” they would stay faithful to God, He would bless them richly and continuously (Deut. 11:13-17; 28:1-14). “If” they would forsake the Lord and serve idols, God would consume them and destroy them as a nation (Deut. 28:15-20; 29:24-28; Josh. 24:20-24). Unfortunately, Israel did not pay close enough attention to the if’s in God’s word and ended up in captivity as a result.
The New Testament is also filled with if’s that are intended to guide, assure and warn us in our lives today. The word if is used in both a positive and a negative sense to get across the absolute necessity of faith in Christ. Positive: “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9). Negative: “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (Jn. 8:24).
Additional examples are numerous. A person can be a true disciple of Jesus only if he is willing to live by the teachings of Jesus (Jn. 8:31). If a person truly loves Jesus, he will obey Jesus’ commandments. The world will recognize Christians to be true disciples of Christ if they demonstrate proper love for their brothers and sisters in Christ (Jn. 13:35).
We all need to stop and carefully examine ourselves as to whether or not our lives comply with the if’s in God’s word. Ultimately, how we meet the conditions of those if’s will go a long way in determining where we will spend eternity. Are you paying attention, or have you been ignoring that little word “if” that has such enormous implications?…
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Gary L. Hutchens