The Big “If”
“He who overcomes shall inherit these things.” Revelation 21:7
The Bible says God “has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises so that by them we might become partakers of His divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).” However, all God’s priceless promises are conditional upon our obedience. This is what the Bible calls the obedience that comes from our faith (Romans 1:5; James 2:26). We can only receive God’s promises if we obey God’s Word. We might call this the big “if.” Even in the Old Covenant, the promises of God were conditional upon His people’s faithfulness. God promised the Hebrews they would be a holy nation and a kingdom of priests to Him if they obeyed His voice and kept His covenant (Exodus 19:5-6).
In the New Covenant, the promises of God start with the new birth. God promised us salvation if we receive Jesus Christ as our Lord (Romans 10:9). Christ is able to save you forever if you draw near to Him (Hebrews 7:25). God promised to forgive our sins if we confess our sins and forgive others their sins (Matthew 6:14; 1 John 1:9). God promised to give us His Holy Spirit if we obey Him (Acts 5:32). God promised to give us His grace if we humble ourselves under His mighty hand and love Jesus with an undying love (Ephesians 6:23; 1 Peter 5:5-6). God promised us His love if we love and obey Him and we do not love the world (Daniel 9:4; 1 John 2:15). Jesus Christ promised we would be His disciples if we deny ourselves, carry our own cross, give up everything for Him and lose our life for His sake (Matthew 16:24-26; Luke 14:27-33). Jesus’ teaching on discipleship reminds me of the time a young man excitedly said to me, “Isn’t it great that salvation is free!” His face fell when I replied, “Yes, and it will only cost you your whole life.” By this, I meant that God offers us His gift of salvation freely because His Son paid the price for our redemption. However, after we receive His gift, it will cost us everything to follow Christ.
Christ promised to reveal Himself to us if we keep His commandments (John 14:21). Christ promised to answer our prayers if we keep His commandments (1 John 3:22). God promised to meet our basic needs if we seek His Sovereignty in our life (Matthew 6:33). God promised we can know Him if we obey His commandments (1 John 2:3). Christ promised we would know His truth if we are willing to do God’s will (John 7:17). Christ promised to set us free if we abide in His word (John 8:31-32). God promised we would be His Sons if we are led by His Spirit (Romans 8:14). Christ promised we would bear much fruit if we stay rooted in Him (John 15:5). Christ promised we will not see death, if we keep His word (John 8:51). God promised we would live in Him if we do not practice sin (1 John 3:6). God promised we would live and not die if by the Spirit we are putting to death the sinful actions of our body (Romans 8:13). Christ promised we would enter the kingdom of heaven if we do God’s will (Matthew 7:21).
God promised us His rest if we trust Him and cease from our works (Hebrews 4:1-11). God promised us His inheritance if we suffer with Christ (Romans 8:17). God promised that we would have fellowship with Him if we walk in His light (1 John 1:5-7). God promised us His reward if we endure affliction by faith (Hebrews 10:35-39). God promised we would be members of His household if we hold fast our confidence in Christ until the end (Hebrews 3:6). God promised us His kindness if we continue in His grace; otherwise, we would be cut off (Romans 12:22). God promised us His eternal life if we obey His Son (John 3:36). God promised we would reign with Christ if we endure and overcome with Him (2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 2:26).
The Bible says only those who overcome will inherit these promises. But how can we possibly overcome the big if? It is impossible for us to overcome the big if in our own ability. Many have tried but all have failed. We cannot overcome the big if; only Jesus Christ can. The Bible says Christ died so that we might receive His eternal promises (Hebrews 9:15). The way we overcome the big if is in Christ. “For as many as are the promises of God, in Christ they are yes (2 Corinthians 1:20).” We receive the promises of God by abiding in Christ. How do we abide and live in Christ? The apostle Paul said, “Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him (Romans 6:8; also 2 Timothy 2:11).” The way we live in Christ is to know (believe and act) that we have died in Christ. The fact is we have already died in Christ. God has already overcome the big if for us by including us in Christ’s death. “Therefore, when one died, all died (2 Corinthians 5:12).” When Christ died, we died with Him and our old sinful nature was removed from us. “For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that our body of sin might be done away with (Romans 6:6).” However, we must believe this divine truth in order to overcome the big if.
The Son of God has died for us and He now wants to overcome in us. As the apostle Paul declared, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me, and the life that I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself up for me (Galatians 2:20). Believing we have died with Christ and that Christ lives in us is the secret to overcoming the big if and receiving all the promises of God.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him and he with Me.” Revelation 3:20