Have you even wondered how important the word “if” is? It is used in language and literature in cases where something may or may not happen and regarding subject matter that may or may not be true. It is also used in logic and even programing in the format of IF/THEN statements. For example: IF A=1, and if B=1, THEN A=B. But for a moment, consider the importance that Jesus places upon this word “IF” in John 8:31-54.
Jesus is speaking to listeners who are against and even antagonistic toward His message.
1. The “if” of discipleship.
Verse 31, “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.”” A true disciple or follower of Jesus is one who not only espouses His teachings, but also dwells in them. If a follower of Jesus is dwelling in His word, he is a disciple indeed.
2. The “if” of freedom.
Verse 36, “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” Only Jesus can free a sinner from the bondage and slaver of sin. We cannot free ourselves. If Jesus has set a person free, then they are free indeed.
3. The “if” of service.
Verse 39, “…Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham.” The Jews claimed to be of Abraham, which was true biologically. However, Jesus tells them that if they were really OF Abraham, they would do his works. Perhaps the most significant thing Abraham did as a “work” is believe in the promise of God. Three times in the New Testament we find the phrase, “Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” (Rom. 4:3, Gal. 3:6, & Jam. 2:23).
4. The “if” of sonship.
Verse 42, “Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me…” In John chapter 1 we find that in Jesus a person is given the “right to become a child of God.” Sonship does not happen by default. Because God is love, a child of God would also love His Son whom He loves.”
5. The “if” of responsibility.
Verse 46, “…if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me?” Jesus is the perfect ambassador of God. He is Immanuel, or God in the flesh. Jesus speaks the things that God wants Him to speak. No more. No less. We will be held accountable to the truth that Jesus speaks. While that is a great responsibility we have, it is astounding to think that truth will ring very loud and clear in the heart of a genuine truth seeker.
6. The “if” of assurance.
Verse 51, “Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.” This is a great promise for sure as we all want assurance that we will not see death. The death Jesus is speaking of here is spiritual death for we will all die in our flesh. But for the one who holds to the message of Jesus, let’s say the Good News that He came to save sinners through His death on the cross, that person will not experience spiritual death. That is a blessed assurance for sure!
7. The “if” of humility.
Verse 54, “If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me…” Jesus did not come to honor Himself but honor God the Father by completing the mission for which He was sent. He came to save sinners. His death at Calvary was unimaginably humiliating and in true form He came as a humble servant to save sinners.
The word “if” is an important word in the English language, but it is even more important when we talk about theology or spiritual language.
I did say that there were SEVEN “IFs” in John 8:31-54, but there is one more I must bring up…
Romans 10:9 declares, “…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” That is an “if” we can’t ignore.
If you have confessed Jesus as Lord, would you consider sharing that with someone today?