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     Hardly any word in our language has as significant an impact on folks as the word “if”. As a part of speech, it is a conjunction. To use “if” introduces conditional clause. One uses “if” in conditional sentences to introduce the circumstances in which an event or situation might have happened, might be happening, or might happen in the future, as well as the outcome should this specific thing occur.

     As children, we no doubt were warned of the punishment we could expect by our parents as they used such a conditional clause regarding our behavior. It probably went something like: “if you do (such and such), then you’ll receive a spanking (or in this day and time, a “time-out”).   If our parents were consistent, the promised penalty was duly carried out when we broke the rules. Very early on, we became acquainted with the idea of “if/then”.

     When we became a little older, we learned the use of this conjunction was to entice us to do something.   For instance, a neighbor might say: “if you’ll mow the yard, then I’ll pay you five dollars.”   (At least that’s what it was in my youth). We fully understood the conditions (what the job entailed), as well as the reward that was expected upon completion of the job. Sometime later, we turned this around as we sought gainful employment in asking the prospective employer: “What pay, and benefits can I expect (if) I come to work for you?

     The same is true of contracts of all sorts. When we finance something or purchase something “on time”, we are allowed to keep and utilize that item, “if” we make the agreed upon payments in accordance with the conditions of the contract.   We will finally possess or own that item “when” we pay it off. This is only one example of how “if/when” works. The same is true when one enters into an agreement to provide goods or services to another for a set sum of monies. There are many other examples of this.  

   We’ve all heard some of the sayings of people that demonstrate this idea. Perhaps you’ve heard this one. If a deal seems too good to be true, then it probably is. Consider Lot, the nephew of Abraham.  In Gen. 13, as the land was not able to support the flocks, herds and tents of both Abram and Lot. A solution was suggested by Abram, which gave Lot the option of choosing which area he desired.   Gen. 13:10 shows that Lot chose the “well watered” plains of Jordan, which relegated Abram to the less irrigated land of Canaan. But we also see in Gen. 13:12 that this placed Lot in near proximity to Sodom. Gen. 13:13 informs us “the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.” We know how this turned out. Lot’s deal wasn’t so good, was it?

     Perhaps you’ve thought up some of these yourself.   One I came up with is:
If you make a hot deal with the devil, then you’re going to get burned.” Many are “making that deal” yet have not considered what price they are going to pay.   From Gen. chapter 3, we learn of the deal the serpent presented to Eve as he tempted her.   He and Eve both were fully aware of what God had said regarding the “tree in the midst of the Garden”. Verse 3 shows the prohibition God had given and the penalty awaiting “if” man touched or ate of it. Then, in verses 4 & 5, the “deal” was presented. Eve considered the deal, took the fruit, ate it, gave it to Adam who ate it, and they both paid the price in being separated from God and being expelled from the Garden.   Following this was a life of pain, suffering, difficulties, and all sorts of maladies known to mankind, including death. God has always meant what He has said.

   Even today, many are making deals that involve their souls. In Matt 16:26, Jesus acknowledged this by asking two questions. He asked: For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Our time in this life and all life has to offer has no value in comparison to the soul of man. Yet, many are “exchanging” their souls for empty promises of fame, fortune, pleasures, or a number of other things which lure man away from God and the promises He has presented in the gospel.   We are told in Titus 1:2 that He’s Promised us the “hope of eternal life” according to His plan before the world began.

   In 2Pet. 1:4 God has, through His divine power, given unto us “exceeding great and precious promises”. These promises are to those who have obeyed the gospel. In 2Pet. 1:8, following the list of things to add to our faith, we find another “if” which presents the condition which, if followed, will make one fruitful in the kingdom for which Christ died. Following this in 2Pet. 1:10 we have another divine guarantee for success. It is: “if ye do these things, ye shall never fall”.   This is advice that comes from God above through His Holy Word.   God’s Word is always to be obeyed and followed to the end of our lives.   This is evident in Gal. 6:9. The latter part declares: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. 

     However, one must begin before they can be. This reminds me of one of the many sayings of Yogi Berra, the long-time catcher for the New York Yankees. He said: “If you come to a fork in the road, take it!”   You are at a fork in the road. You must go one way or the other.   Why not take the path that leads to eternal bliss? Obey the gospel today! Remain faithful to God and grow in the Word.   If you do this, then you can live with Him eternally.

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

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