There are 783,137 words in the King James Bible. One of those words is ‘if’. Even though it is only two letters long it is one of the biggest words in the Bible. It speaks directly to our responsibility to God. Most of the promises we find in scripture have conditions and the word if speaks to those conditions. Jesus used the word if all the time. There are 574 times when ‘if’ is used, and half of them are in the four gospels. The if is always on our side of the equation. As in Mark 4:23, ”If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” There are many if’s in the in the Old Testament. This one comes from Deuteronomy 11:26-28. “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, IF you listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, which I am commanding you today; and the curse, IF you do not listen to the commandments of the Lord your God but turn aside from the way which I am commanding you today, by following other gods which you have not known.”
Then there are these words from 1 Samuel 12:14-15. ”IF you will fear the Lord and serve Him and listen to His voice and not rebel against command of the Lord, then both you and also the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God. IF you will not listen to the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the command of the Lord, then the hand of the allotted will be against you, as it was against your fathers.” God's covenant promises come with responsibilities on both His part and ours. They go something like this. If you do these things, then I will....do something else. If you keep my commandments, then I will be your God and you will be my people.
We use the word ’if’ in hopeful ways. If only I get this job, then my life will be complete. If only we can pay the bills...if only I pass this test...if only the doctor has good news. ‘If’ is a powerful little word. We see it in movies. Think about the scarecrow in the wizard of Oz...if I only had a brain!
But the evil one uses that little word to plant seeds of doubt. Jesus has just come up out of the Jordan river after being baptized by John the Baptist. Jesus is full of the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit leads Him out into the wilderness. For 40 days He was tempted by the evil one. Jesus ate nothing for those 40 days and when the days were over, He was starving. The evil one said to Jesus, IF you are the Son of God. There is the seed of doubt...IF you are. If you are, command this stone to become bread. Jesus answers him with scripture. The evil one I invited Jesus to worship him...IF you do that, I will give you everything. And a third time, again questioning His identity...IF you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from the pinnacle of the temple. The angels will catch you. The evil one whispers those kinds of words into our lives as well, causing us to doubt who we are and whose we are. All of it is a ploy to wrench us away from the Lord.
Jesus uses the word to issue invitations. “Behold I stand at the door and knock; IF anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and will dine with him and he with me.” Revelation 3:20. Paul uses the word for a promise, “IF you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9. Jesus also uses this little word as a challenge. ” For truly I say to you, IF you have faith the size of a mustard seed you will say to this mountain, move from here to there and it will move.” All of these if/then statements are promises God will fulfill if we do our part. Perhaps this if/then promise is fitting for the time we are living in. 2 Chronicles 7:14 tells us, ”If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, THEN I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
In His grip
Pastor Matt W