If your resolution this year is to “understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God” (Prov. 2:5), then you must begin this vision quest by understanding how the if / then passages in Scripture work. Simply put, you do the ifs, and God provides the thens. One is contingent upon another. One comes first, and the other follows after. One is a condition that must be met, the other is the result of meeting that condition. One is your responsibility, and the other is His.
Consider this passage from Proverbs 2:
Proverbs 2:1-5 – My son, if (condition) you receive my words, and (if you) treasure my commands within you, (to what extent) so that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; Yes, if (condition) you cry out for discernment, and (if you) lift up your voice for understanding, if (condition) you seek her as silver, and (if you) search for her as for hidden treasures; then (result of meeting the condition) you will understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.
As you can see, the promise of understanding the fear of the Lord and finding the knowledge of God only comes after the if conditions are met. One is contingent upon another. Meeting the if condition is the key that unlocks the then promise, If I want to understand the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God, then I must meet the condition set forth to receive that promise. It is foolishness, according to this passage, to assume we will receive the promise without meeting the condition.
Some promises in Scripture are granted without a condition being met.1 Others, most in fact, have a condition attached to them. For example, our salvation is based on meeting a condition:
Romans 10:9 – That if (condition) you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and (if you) believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, (then – result or promise) you will be saved.
Note that salvation comes after the condition is met. Repentance and the acknowledgement of Christ as Lord is mandatory, not optional. You cannot come to faith in Him any other way. This is an if / then passage about salvation.
If / Then Passages
But there’s so much more. Take a look at a few of these if / then passages. See if you can begin to understand how important your part is in receiving the promises of the Father.
Matthew 6:14-15 – “For if (condition – your action and responsibility) you forgive men their trespasses, (then – the result or promise from God) your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if (condition – your action and responsibility) you do not forgive men their trespasses, (then – the result or promise from God) neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
If we desire forgiveness from God, we must first forgive others. First the condition, then the promise. How important is it for me to forgive others who have wronged me? It’s vital. For without meeting the horizontal condition of forgiveness between me and another, God is not obligated to fulfill the vertical condition of forgiving me for my sins and transgressions. This is not something to play around with. This if / then condition has lasting, eternal consequences.
John 15:10 – “If (condition) you keep My commandments, (then – result) you will abide (rest, dwell, make your home) in My love, (example) just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.”
How do I rest and abide in the love (agape) of Christ? And how can I experience the abiding presence of that love like Jesus had with His Father? By meeting the if condition of the if / then promise. By keeping His commandments. By doing what He tells me to do. By loving Him through my obedience and not living a life of rebellion, apathy or arrogance. After all, Jesus also said in another if / then passage, “If you love Me, (then) keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Which means, if I love Him, then I will show my love for Him by keeping His commandments. And if I don’t love Him, then I won’t keep His commandments. Or, more frightening still, if I’m not keeping His commandments, then I must not love Him at all. Which means our love for Christ can be clearly seen by our obedience to Him. Not in our words, but in our actions (Luke 6:46).
We’ll close today with just one more. This if / then promise was spoken to Martha at the tomb of Lazarus right before Jesus raised him from the dead in the sight of all.
John 11:40 – Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if (condition) you would believe (then – result) you would see the glory of God?”
Jesus was about to raise a man back to life who had been dead and buried four full days. It was to be a powerful testimony that Christ is God and can do all things. For me, it’s one of the greatest miracles in the New Testament. But Martha would fail to see God in any of this unless she believed. She was in danger of becoming hard hearted and spiritually blind, much like the Pharisees and others who made up the religious establishment of that day, to what was about to take place. Instead of experiencing the glory of God, she would go back to her home unchanged, unmoved, and further away from the One who raised her brother from the dead. Why? Because of her lack of belief. Jesus’ words to her were simple, “If you believe (the condition that unlocks the revelation of the glory of God), then (the result of her faith and belief) you will see the glory of God.” And the opposite is also true. “If you do not believe (condition), then (result of lack of faith) you will not see the glory of God.”
The spiritual magnitude of this momentous event for Martha was contingent on her belief— on the if part of the if / then promise from Jesus.
Are you beginning to see the importance of these overlooked if / then promises in Scripture? Good. Because there are hundreds of them.
For the next few weeks we’ll be looking at the if / then passages found in Scripture to discover what part we must play in receiving the promises from God. Why? Because fulfilling the if part is something we can do. It’s something we can get better at. Something the Lord has left in our hands. Obedience to His Word is our responsibility. And the promises for obedience, the results of the if / then promises in Scripture are, honestly, overwhelmingly wonderful.
Tomorrow we’ll begin looking at the if / then promises found in the Proverbs.
1 – For example, God’s promise to Abraham is not conditional on anything Abraham would, or would not do (Gen.12:7). See also Gen. 12:1-3; 13:15-16; 15:18-21; 17:6-8; and 35:11-12.
Often we preach about the need for revival in the church and in our own lives. We hold the virtues and blessings of revival up high, for all to see, yet fail to talk about the dark side of revival, the downside of totally surrendering to Him.
And that downside is satanic attack.
For the novice, this attack can be devastating because they are often ill-prepared to stand against it. For the more mature believer, the attack is just another affirmation they are living as light and walking where the enemy dwells.
Do you know how to prepare for a spiritual attack? Do you know how to stand when the day of evil comes (Eph. 6:13)? If not, then keep listening.
The following is a study on Spiritual Warfare.
To download the slides for this message, click – HERE
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One of the greatest needs in the life of the believer today is revival. Revival is defined as “a restoration of life, consciousness, vigor, or strength. It is an awakening to something previously dormant. It is an improvement in the condition or strength of something or someone.” Spurgeon said revival means “to live again, to receive again a life which has almost expired; to rekindle into a flame the vital spark which was nearly extinguished.”
But how does revival come about?
What does true revival look like?
How does it change the person being revived?
Are there stages or steps to revival?
And how can we have revival now, today, in our lives and in the church?
Are you interested in finding out more? Then keep listening.
The following is a study on revival.
To download the slides to this message, click – HERE
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We’ve worked real hard to redefine what worship means today? And, in doing so, we’ve made it more about music or style or a feel-good experience than what it has historically meant in the past. But what does “worship” really mean?
According to Webster’s Dictionary (1828) worship means: “To honor with extravagant love and extreme submission. It means to declare or attribute dignity and worth. Worship is to show profound reverence and adoration.”
And this has nothing to do with a style of music or what I’ve seen in church most of my life. Which brings us to the question: Did you worship last Sunday? Did you honor your Lord with extravagant love and extreme submission? Did you boldly declare His dignity and worth among the congregation? Did you show, by your very actions, your profound reverence and adoration for the Lord last Sunday? And if you did, what was that like?
And if you didn’t, or if you’re not sure, then keep listening.
The following is a study on True Worship.
To download the slides for this message, click – HERE
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When I pray, I usually pray to Jesus.
“Why?” you ask. It’s because I can clearly see Jesus in my mind’s eye when I pray. I can see Him as a person with a personality, someone with whom I can relate. I’ve seen all the Jesus movies and have read the Gospel accounts in Scripture, so I can easily visualize Jesus the man, Jesus the person, Jesus as my friend, when I pray.
With God the Father, it gets a bit more difficult to form a mental picture of Him when I pray. In the Old Testament He’s revealed as fire and smoke and loud thunder and lightning flashing all around Mt. Sinai. He’s somewhat scary, but I pray to Him nonetheless. Why? Because in the New Testament Jesus calls Him Father and reveals a deeper, personal, more intimate side of the Father that was previously unknown. So for me as a father, I can comfortably pray to Him as my Father, the perfect Father, the only Father, as my Father in heaven (Matt. 6:9).
But when it comes to the Holy Spirit, things get even more murky. How can I visualize and relate to the Holy Spirit when I pray? When I think of Him I don’t view Him as a person like Jesus or the Father. Do you? He’s more like a gentle breeze or a soft breath or some power or force or energy emanating from the Father or the Son, as an extension of themselves. He’s something invisible or Someone I can’t see yet I’m fully aware of the effects of His presence. He’s much like the wind. I can hear and feel the wind blowing and I know it’s there and it’s powerful and uncontrollable and sometimes frightening, but I can’t see the wind with my eyes or hold the wind in my hands or touch the wind with my fingers.
So it is with the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, I never truly relate to the Holy Spirit in prayer. More often than not I find myself asking Him to give me power to pray to the Father and the Son. And when He does and I experience His presence in my prayers, I never thank Him for His presence. I thank the Father and the Son for giving me the “power” or “anointing” or “presence” of the Holy Spirit, like He’s some tangible, tradeable commodity, but I never thank the Holy Spirit for giving Himself to me.
And why is that?
Would the Holy Spirit Please Reveal Himself
Could it be I’ve eagerly embraced some false teachings about Him in the church I attend and the seminary from which I graduated? Or, maybe I’m just afraid of Him and what He may do in my life? Or, is it because I don’t want to end up like others who are self-proclaimed Holy Spirit fanatics and head off to “healing crusades” to be slain in the Spirit by some charlatan with a Rolex watch and a bad haircut?
Or, could it simply be I don’t know the Holy Spirit as well as I think I know Jesus and have denied, in my mind and in my theology, the reality of His personhood and His personality? Maybe I’ve made Him into a non-person, an entity, a thing. And by my lack of intimate knowledge of Him and my lack of desire to get to know Him more, I have relegated Him to the status of some second-class impersonal force coming from God and not as God Himself. He is the name of something I want from the Father, a power or force or energy, to do the will of God in my life, but I have not viewed Him as co-equal with the Father and the Son even though I theologically believe Him to be so in my mind and doctrine.
In other words, I want what the Holy Spirit has to give me. I want what He possesses. I want the gifts He has to bring, the gifts of the Spirit. And yet, sadly, at the same time, I don’t want the Giver of those very gifts. It’s like I tell Him, “Empty your pockets and put all you have on the table and walk away. I’m only interested in what you have to give me and not in who you are.”
And that just breaks my heart. Does it yours?
Who is the Holy Spirit to You?
Have you even felt the same about the Holy Spirit? Have you, maybe through misinformation or apathy or neglect or fear, treated Him as something less than God Himself? Have you, like me, disrespected the very One who lives inside us as the “Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance” in Him? (Eph. 1:13-14).
Have you ever thanked Him for the things He has done in your life? Or, like me, do you reserve your thanks for the Father and Son and treat the Spirit like an orphaned, second-place, also-ran?
If so, there’s so much we need to learn about the third Person in the Godhead. There’s so much Jesus wants us to know about Him. In fact, Jesus said it was better for us if He physically left this earth and returned to the Father (John 16:7). Why? Because if He did, He would send the One we ignore the most to be with us and in us forever (John 14:16). The Spirit of Truth. The Holy Spirit.
So join with me as we discover the personality and personhood of the God who lives inside us?
And just who is that God? It’s not the Father. He’s sitting on His throne in heaven. And it’s not Jesus. For He is now seated at the right hand of the Father interceding for us (Romans 8:34). No, the One who lives inside of us and guides and directs us is none other than the very One we choose to keep at a distance, in the safe-zone, at arms reach, and out of our personal space.
And His name is the Helper, the Comforter, the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit— God Himself.