There is a tiny but powerful word that operates in our lives, IF. It is what we choose to do with our “ifs” that determine the course of a day. Ultimately it is a series of daily “ifs” that determine the course of our lives. Looking back we wonder, “What if?” Looking forward we consider, “What if?” We can’t escape the power of “if.”
Possibility begins broadly. At the center of it are a number of variables all hinging on “if.” Once an “if” is chosen, its accomplice, “then,” takes control. “If” invites us to choose. “Then” becomes the stuff of destiny.
You have a choice with “if.” You must live with “then.”
The Bible’s Book of Deuteronomy is an if/then book. In short Deuteronomy is a series of farewell sermons given by Moses. The word Deuteronomy means, “second law”, but it is more than that, it is a second chance. Deuteronomy is a big “if.” A generation has passed away in total failure. Their “if” came in Numbers 13 and 14. They were at the edge of promise. What if? It ended in a cataclysmic failure. Their “then” was the consequence of a poor choice based on poor attitudes. Their “then” was a 40 year circuitous death march in the wilderness.
A new generation is hearing the final sermon of a survivor. Moses lived through a bad “then.” He was presenting to them a new “if.” “If” we don’t learn from history, “then” we are doomed to repeat it. So he told them the story of the “then” he lived through. He shared with them God’s heart in the Law and His desire to bless them with the promised land. Then Moses presented them with their “IF.”
“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.” Deuteronomy 30:15–20 (ESV)
The world works with possibility and consequence; “if” and “then.” You and I have had a lifetime of “ifs.” Are we being honest about our “thens?” One thing that holds true about “ifs” is that we get more of them given to us if we can confess our “thens.” There is no one to blame but ourselves.
Yet God presents the repentant ones with a new “if.” The gospel is a huge possibility. It is the precipice of a new “then.” The story of Christ is set before us today as “life and good”, but it is also the ultimate expression of “death and evil.” How could something so awful as the crucifixion become something so wonderful as salvation? The gospel is a shocking if/then. “If” Jesus dies, He will then bring us new life. And He did. The resurrection brought forth new life and a new possibility of good. For its recipients, the gospel opens up a whole new chapter of “ifs.”
So what is your big “if?” “If” you will receive Christ according to His gospel, “then” you will experience a whole new set of possibilities. It is the precipice of choice.