The Bible is an “iffy” book!
— a look at the conditional promises of God —

by Graham Pockett

Scripture quoted is from the NIV Bible, not because it is ‘best’ but because it is in modern English. If in doubt, please read the quotations in various translations. You might like to read Why I Quote The NIV Bible.

Most Christians assume that the promise of the gift of salvation, like all other promises in the Bible, is free.

We are taught that salvation is a free gift from God with the usual comment "you cannot earn your way into Heaven". Doesn't John 8:36 say "so if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed"? And doesn't Romans 6:23 say "for the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord"?

We all know that gifts are free – without any attached strings – but is that true when we look at the various promises in the Bible?

The primary Salvation promise is in John 3:16 which says:

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

However, John 3:16 does not say that Salvation is a free gift because it contains an "if" statement – you will not perish and have eternal life if you believe in Jesus! So there is a condition to that gift, and that condition is that you must accept that Jesus is Lord.

This is only a partial statement because just acknowledging that Jesus Christ is Lord is not sufficient – even Satan acknowledges that Jesus is Lord but no-one could claim that Satan was saved!

The John 3:16 statement is further clarified in the Word where it says that you must not only accept that Jesus is Lord (the Messiah as foretold in the Old Testament) but you must also submit yourself to Him (something that Satan does not do!).

So God's promises are conditional – they are only "free" if you obey certain conditions. Around 1,500 verses in the Bible contain the word "if", and there are lots of other promises in Scripture that do not use the word "if" but contain conditions (like our John 3:16 example).

For your information, and according to my Quickverse Bible software, the word "if" is used 1,784 times in 1,589 verses within the NIV. In the KJV (post 1820 version), the word "if" is used 1,595 times in 1,420 verses. Either way, it is a well used word in the Bible and it places conditions on God's promises.

Examples of some of the "IF" statements in the Bible:

"If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."
Genesis 4:7

"Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession."
Exodus 19:5a

"After you have had children and grandchildren and have lived in the land a long time – if you then become corrupt and make any kind of idol, doing evil in the eyes of the LORD your God and provoking him to anger, I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you this day that you will quickly perish from the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. You will not live there long but will certainly be destroyed."
Deuteronomy 4:25-26

"And if we are careful to obey all this law before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness."
Deuteronomy 6:25

"If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then the LORD your God will keep his covenant of love with you, as he swore to your forefathers."
Deuteronomy 7:12

"If you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed."
Deuteronomy 8:19

"So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today – to love the LORD your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul – then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and oil. I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied."
Deuteronomy 11:13-15

"If you carefully observe all these commands I am giving you to follow – to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways and to hold fast to him – then the LORD will drive out all these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations larger and stronger than you."
Deuteronomy 11:22-23

"See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse – the blessing if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the LORD your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known."
Deuteronomy 11:26-28

"If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, "Let us follow other gods" (gods you have not known) "and let us worship them," you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul."
Deuteronomy 13:1-3

"If you make the Most High your dwelling – even the LORD, who is my refuge – then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent."
Psalm 91:9-10

"Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land..."
Isaiah 1:18-19

"If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea." Isaiah 48:18

Jesus said: "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."
Matthew 6:14-15

Jesus said: "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."
Matthew 17:20

Jesus said: "If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."
Matthew 21:22

Jesus said: "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you."
Luke 17:6

Jesus said: "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples."
John 8:31

Jesus said: "I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death."
John 8:51

Jesus said: "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"
John 11:40

Jesus said: "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
John 13:35

Jesus said: "If you love me, you will obey what I command."
John 14:15

Jesus said: "If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. if you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you."
John 15:6-7

Jesus said: "If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love."
John 15:10

Jesus said: "You are my friends if you do what I command."
John 15:14

"If God is for us, who can be against us?"
Romans 8:31

"...if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord', and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."
Romans 10:9

"By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain."
1 Corinthians 15:2

"If anyone does not love the Lord – a curse be on him."
1 Corinthians 16:22

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"
2 Corinthians 5:17

"I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
Revelation 22:18-19

I pray you have found this article interesting and I would be pleased to read any comments you may have. However, my workload is such that I may not be able to respond to all mail. Address any comments to Graham Pockett.

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All of Graham’s Christian writings (see below) can be download as a set of archived text files GrahamsWriting.zip (you will need an unzipping tool – like the free Stuffit Expander Windows or Stuffit Expander Mac – to extract the separate documents from this archive).

 

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Graham’s Christian writing:
"Graham Pockett doesn't mince any words, but he writes with a kind heart. If you have questions about such things as "once saved, always saved", or why so many different ideas can come from the same scripture, or how much what we see and do affects us as spiritual beings, you'll find much to think about here."  from This Christian Life
Graham Pockett
Download these articles:
GrahamsWriting.zip
  • The Key To Heaven  (an analogy about commitment)
  • I Am A Cynic; Therefore I Am A Christian
  • Evolution – a statistical question mark?
  • “Once Saved Always Saved” – a dangerous delusion?
  • Who is my Neighbor? – featuring "The Parable of the Good Muslim"
  • Bashing The Bible – misusing & abusing Scripture
  • Two Billion Doctrines – the strange religion called Christianity
  • Does God Ever Change His Mind? – Calvin would turn in his grave!
  • New Wine In An Old Skin – the problem of legalism in the church today
  • Are You Hard Boiled, Or Soft & Runny? – doctrines are like an egg shell
  • The Bible is an "iffy" book – a look at the conditional promises of God
  • Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up? – what did Jesus really look like?
  • The Truth Will Set You Free! – the Holy Tarantula???
  • Growing the Seed of Faith – so it doesn't wither and die
  • We Don't See The Clean, Just The Dirt – judgement and forgiveness
  • Why I Quote The NIV Bible – is it an heretical Bible?
  • "Omissions" from the NIV Bible – a look at 17 missing verses
  • Do You Believe In Miracles? – you do when they happen to you!
  • “Why Didn’t God Answer My Prayer For A Miracle?” – my response
  • Christian Concepts – the cavern of life  (an analogy)
  • Christian Concepts – the three crosses  (an analogy)
  • Christian Concepts – we are what we eat
  • Christian Concepts – when are we saved?  (an analogy)
  • Christian Concepts – when we are saved, part 1  ...part 2


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    © Graham Pockett
    Last Updated: Monday, October 16, 2017