Vol. 11 No. 11 November 2009
Paul R. Mobley
The word “if” is a small word, yet it often carries strong meaning and is a point at which there is a need to make a decision. Following the word “if” is what the decision needed is about.
The definition of “if” that should be noted is “that something may or may not happen.” All have used it at one time or another. For example, “if it does not rain today I will mow the yard” or “if it rains I will get in something from the store that is needed.” So we can see that the word “if” is important in our life.
The Bible, God’s Word, uses “if” often so let us examine it for a moment.
Cain brought an offering to God from the fruit of the ground. That was not what God had directed so God did not accept it, and the countenance of Cain fell, that is he was badly disappointed (Genesis 4:3, 5). Cain had thought that God would accept what he decided to offer. However, God did not condemn Cain, saying, “Why art thou wroth? And why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door” (Genesis 4:6-7). Cain was here told that he had made a mistake, but if he did well, obeyed God, then he would be acceptable. Cain was given a choice, and as we know he chose the wrong road.
Elijah provides another example. The children of Israel were gathered at Mount Carmel. And Elijah said unto the people, “How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word” (1 Kings 18:21). The people had been trying to follow the false god Baal, and the Lord God. That does not work for either one. Notice “how long halt ye” meaning that the people were not fulfilling service to God or Baal. They were being pulled in two different directions. Elijah gave them a choice, saying that if the Lord be God then follow him and him only, but if you believe that Baal is the god, then follow him. Choose and do not be divided. Jesus said it another way, saying, “He that is not with me is against me” (Matthew 12:30). Straddling a fence does not work, and is unacceptable to God. In this instance, it is not possible to serve our Lord God and Baal without adding to and omitting from the word of each. Further in Revelation 22:18-19, we are told specifically that when we add to or omit from God’s Word we have condemned self.
The apostle Paul shows us “if we deny him, he will also deny us” (2 Timothy 2:11), which Jesus also stated, “But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:33). Deny here includes verbal denial, and a behavior that denies Christ. It is not enough to say, “I believe in Christ,” or “I love Jesus” and then refuse to do what He has instructed. Thus, denial means loss of heaven, for if Christ denies one in heaven, then Christ has nothing to say good about that person to God.
Peter and the apostles were in prison but now brought before the council who said to them, “Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name [Jesus]?” (Acts 5:28). Or put another way, don’t teach or say anything that may step on our toes. It is what we want that counts. However, Peter answered, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Peter thus said it is not what men want that counts, but what God wants and instructs us. If there is a conflict between what men say and do, and what God teaches us, then God should always win, thus decide the question.
Jesus said, “And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). The truth of God frees us from any contrary teachings of men, and any behavior contrary to what God has given us. We are thus free to follow God through Christ. We can then enjoy the liberty that God has given us, and obeying God’s Word frees us from sin and prepares us for acceptance to God, and an eternity in heaven.
Jesus made it clearer, saying, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me” (John 14:6). Jesus the Christ brought us the truth of God, thus we that hope to see God in heaven must obey God’s Word through Christ.
Lastly, Jesus said, “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him and make our abode with him” (John 14:23). If a man loves Me, He will learn and do what I have given him thus showing his love, and because of that love, a love of word and deed, we, God and Christ, will love him. Is there anyone you would rather have at your house, with you and with your family, than Jesus the Christ, and God?