Is the IF/THEN principle a complex, advanced concept? It is one of the earliest we master, even before we are aware. The newborn learns quickly that certain behaviors bring certain responses. IF I want attention, I engage my vocal chords and my lungs, and THEN–I get what I want!
The IF/THEN concept is the basis of logical thinking, programming, and communication. Hypothesis and conclusion.
The IF/THEN principle is part of everyday life. There is a condition to be met, an IF. When we meet the IF, we can expect the THEN.
The principle is all through Scripture. In situations of life there may be uncertainties, but when we see it as God’s way of working with His children, the THEN is always certain—when we satisfy the IF.
Let’s look at Solomon’s prayer when He was dedicating the temple.
Solomon prayed, giving honor to God.
2 Chronicles 6:14–17 14… “Lord God of Israel, there is no God in heaven or on earth like You, who keep Your covenant and mercy with Your servants who walk before You with all their hearts. 15You have kept what You promised Your servant David my father; You have both spoken with Your mouth and fulfilled it with Your hand, as it is this day. 16Therefore, Lord God of Israel, now keep what You promised Your servant David my father, saying, ‘You shall not fail to have a man sit before Me on the throne of Israel, only if your sons take heed to their way, that they walk in My law as [David] walked before Me.’ 17And now, O Lord God of Israel, let Your word come true, which You have spoken to Your servant David.
Even as Solomon recited God’s promise, hear the IF condition God had stated. God had said to David:
You shall not fail to have a man sit before Me on the throne of Israel, only if your sons take heed to their way, that they walk in My law as [David] walked before Me.’
Then comes Solomon’s question. It had many facets, but basically it was this: What IF… what IF Israel sins and turns away from God?
2 Chronicles 6:22–36 22“IF anyone sins against his neighbor, and is forced to take an oath, and comes and takes an oath before Your altar in this temple,…24“Or if Your people Israel are defeated before an enemy because they have sinned against You, and return and confess Your name, and pray and make supplication before You in this temple, …26“When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against You,… 28“When there is famine in the land, pestilence or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers; when their enemies besiege them in the land of their cities; whatever plague or whatever sickness there is; 36“When they sin against You (for there is no one who does not sin), and You become angry with them and deliver them to the enemy, and they take them captive to a land far or near;
What was God’s answer? To give emphasis to the THEN, God gave a VISIBLE demonstration of His power:
2 Chronicles 7:1–2 1When Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. 2And the priests could not enter the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord’s house.
Wouldn’t that be something to witness—fire coming down from heaven and consuming the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filling the temple? It got an immediate response from the people:
2 Chronicles 7:3 3When all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the Lord on the temple, they bowed their faces to the ground on the pavement, and worshiped and praised the Lord, saying: “For He is good, For His mercy endures forever.”
Surely they were ready to listen—at least for the moment.
What was God’s way of stating His IF/THEN proposition to Solomon?
2 Chronicles 7:12–14 12Then the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said to him: “I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. 13When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people,
God’s IF included four conditions to be met:
14IF 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 heal their land.
If-#1 –humble themselves
If-#3—seek God’s face
If-#4—turn from their wicked ways
THEN God would
1 – Hear from heave
2 – Forgive their sin
3 – Heal their land
IF…THEN. The door is locked until the conditions are met.
The little book of Hebrews has a number of IF/THEN statements. This first is a comparison of Moses and Christ:
Hebrews 3:5–6 5And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, … 6but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.
Do you hear the point? Moses was faithful as a servant, but Christ was faithful as a son—He was the SON of God.
What is the THEN? We belong to Christ’s “house” IF… “if we hold fast
IF we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.
IF we HOLD FAST… to the END. There is the IF condition.
The author of Hebrews repeats it in the very next verse without the THEN:
Hebrews 3:7–8 7Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you will hear His voice, 8Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion ….
Another “IF” follows, more about holding fast to our hope.
Hebrews 3:12–14 12Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; 13but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
First the IF condition is repeated:
14For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end,
What is the THEN? We can look forward to being “partakers” of the divine nature—IMMORTALITY—IF we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end.” It is all about holding out TO THE END.
Paul says the same. It is so natural to get tired in anything we do repeatedly over time.
Galatians 6:9 9And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap IF we do not lose heart.
The IF/THEN is never missing. IF we don’t get tired of doing what is good, IF we do not lose heart, THEN we shall reap! Because…
Galatians 6:7–8 7… whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
Then follows the IF statement:
8For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
Two possibilities: IF we sow to the flesh, THEN we reap corruption. IF we sow to the Spirit, THEN we will reap “life everlasting.”
The prophet Isaiah saw the people treating God with total disrespect, and sounded God’s trumpet to say, “STOP! Turn around!” Then he stated two solid IF/THEN possibilties:
Isaiah 1:19–20 19IF you are willing and obedient, [THEN] You shall eat the good of the land; IF you obey… THEN you get the “good of the land.”20But IF you refuse and rebel, [THEN] You shall be devoured by the sword”; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
If…If…IF! In other words, it all depends on what YOU do.
The book of Job has the same IF/THEN proposition:
Job 11:13–15 13“IF you would prepare your heart, And stretch out your hands toward Him; 14IF iniquity were in your hand, and you put it far away, And would not let wickedness dwell in your tents;
Two IF conditions:
IF we cleanse our heart, and
IF we put iniquity far away,
15Then surely you could lift up your face without spot; Yes, you could be steadfast, and not fear;
THEN we can face God unashamed!
Jesus stated the same IF as a condition of being His disciple.
John 8:31 31Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, IF ye continue in my word, THEN are ye my disciples indeed;
Being disciples “indeed”—in heart, in character—is the THEN result of CONTINUING. Keeping on.
The apostle John put the IF condition to coming out of the world. And don’t miss the THEN that follows—it is a great “forever” promise!
1 John 2:15–17 15Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. IF any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
It is the IF condition: Don’t love the world.
16For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
Do we see the contrast between loving the world and loving the Father?
That little IF becomes the difference between passing away and ABIDING forever!
Try to think today of more IF/THEN passages in Scripture. You will find it in dozens of familiar verses, every time God states a command and the blessing promised to follow. It is in every beatitude, every description of the reward, every time He says, “Blessed are they that do…”- the IF is what we must do, the THEN is the blessing God has promised. It will not always use the word IF, but the condition will be stated, and then the glorious promise to follow.
Everything God has promised is CONDITIONED on OUR obedience. If we meet the condition of the IF, the THEN will be the magnificent AFTERWARD, and it will be absolutely SURE—and ETERNAL.