The ‘If’ Factor

Once a person has received Christ as personal Savior (John 1:12; 3:15-18, 36; Acts 16:31), the new believer must continuously learn as a child of God; as a student under the teaching ministry of a Pastor and teacher (John 8:30-32; Acts 20:28). Therefore “volition” becomes the key issue in the believer’s life … “if” we are to be victorious Christians glorifying Christ. So, our study will be the “if factor.”

Study is imperative for the believer to discover, utilize and apply God’s Word to the details of life.  Jesus was emphasizing this very point when He said: “If” you abide in Me (John 15:5); and “My Word abides in you(John 15:7). This is the heart of living the Christian life.


Our study of the four conditional clauses of the Koiné Greek will help us in the future as we study God’s Word. As we learn these four conditions, we will also learn God’s Plan for effective Christian living.

With these things in mind, let us begin.

Based on the grammatical structure of the Koiné (common) Greek language, whenever you find the word “if”  in the New Testament, it means one of four things:

  1.  First-class condition: “If” and it’s true.
  2.  Second-class condition:  “If” and it’s not true.
  3.  Third-class condition: “If” maybe yes, maybe no; (potential); maybe we will, maybe we won’t. 

 Fourth-class condition: “If” I wish it were true, but it is not true.

The Greeks expressed something different every time they used the word “if.” For example: The “if'” in John 8:31 is a third-class condition; this is the expression of volition and it should read literally, “if” you continue in My Word — (maybe you will, maybe you won’t). In other words, the IF is potential, depending on your volition.

In 1 John 1:9, and in John 8:31, we have a general picture of every believer, as well as God’s instruction on how to be effective in our Christian lives. WE CAN AND WILL BE EFFECTIVE “IF” WE ABIDE IN CHRIST.

In JOHN 8:31, Christ spoke few words, but His words shout to the believer with a voice of “silence atomic.” Christ was actually stating a simple formula for living the Christian Life. As stated in our introduction, it is worthy to repeat here: In John 15:5 notice the words of our Lord: “He that abides in me, and I in him.  Then again in John 15:7, Christ explains that “if” you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done unto you.” He was lecturing the Apostles.

Some believers choose to be consistent in their study of God’s Word, some don’t. Are you consistent?

Some learn to confess (site, name, acknowledge) their sins if/when needed to the Lord (i.e. you realize you’ve made a wrong decision — past or present — and this has kept you in sin and away from God, so you confess to Him what the sin is/was, and you both move on). Some don’t. Do you? Both of these decision are non-meritorious acts of personal volition. We must decide to “abide in” Christ!  The simple mechanic for doing so is 1 John 1:9.

Note: God does not want you upset over every little thing that may be a sin and wondering if you should confess it or not. Generally, confession of sin is more of an acknowledgement to God that you’ve realized the sin you’ve been in for however many months or years, and you wish to remove yourself from it. All sin is a dead issue with God — bought and paid for on the cross.

God wants every believer to grow up into spiritual maturity. Here’s why: God wants us to live our life for His Glory and there is only one way to do that: STAY!

Let me explain what I mean by STAY … the believer can have a life of peace and power, strength and stability, joy and assurance, “if”the believer will:

(1) STAY  in the Word! (Hebrews 4:12).

(2) STAY in fellowship! – the filling of the spirit (1 John 1:9).

Ephesians 3:14-18:

The POTENTIAL for living the Christian Lifestyle is fantastic, and the mechanics are simply points (1) and (2) above. Application of Doctrine to the details of life is point three!

Go out daily representing Christ to a lost and dying world. Everyone you know needs Christ, and you are to be the light that they can see from darkness — a guiding light. God wants all men to be saved (1 Timothy 3: 3-6).

“Meditate on these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them; for in so doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1 Timothy 4:15-16).

When we live by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit and stay in the Word of God, the result will be dramatic and people will want to follow us to Christ … people will want what you have! What you have, believer, is Christ in you — the Hope of Glory.

For many years there was a “soap opera” on TV, entitled “Guiding Light.” People watched that program with unbelievable dedication, everyday for many years, and would not miss it for the world. Hmm, why is not the Word of God as important? God’s Word is the one, true Guiding Light that shines on the Cross — the light of eternal salvation! We as believers, must make God’s Guiding Light to shine brighter than the world’s guiding light “soap opera.”

Let us go on now with more examples to illustrate, the four conditional clauses:

In the great temptation of Matthew 4,  Satan said to Jesus, “If you are the Son of God”(first-class condition—and you are)! Then he said, “If you fall down and worship me” (second-class condition — but you won’t)!

Point of doctrine: Satan was tempting the humanity of Christ, not the deity of Christ (see our study on the Deity of Christ).

In 1 John 1:9, we find another good example: “If we confess our sins” — this is potential (the third-class condition — maybe we will, maybe we won’t)!

In 1 Peter 3:14, One final example: “If you should suffer for the sake of righteousness” — (fourth-class condition — I wish you were but you are not)!

Each class of these conditional phrases is very important because they affect the meaning and literal translation of every “if” passage in the New Testament. Learn these four conditional clauses, and use them whenever you see the word “if.”

Please turn in your Bible and read 1 John 1:6-8. All three “ifs” are 3rd class conditions. But, in verse 8, we have a point of doctrine that we will briefly address: Notice in verse 8  that “sin” is in the singular. This is a reference to the sin nature. If we say that we have no sin (Sin Nature), we deceive ourselves, and we do not have enough doctrine in our soul (frontal lobe).

What John is saying is: we simply do not understand the Doctrine of Carnality. Do you? Now let’s skip verse 9 and focus on verse 10 for a moment: “If we say that we have not sinned (3rd class condition, maybe we will say this, and maybe we won’t; maybe we recognize our carnality, maybe we don’t, or won’t),  but …

If we refuse to recognize our carnality we are not only lying to ourselves, we are lying to God. Do you see that here in verse 10? God is letting us know that He knows that we sin, because of our very nature, and because we do sin, if we do not acknowledge our sins, we are literally lying to ourselves, but even worse we are making God a liar as well. BE honest with God and yourself. Admit your sins and move forward.

ISOLATE your sin-issue, name it and trust God to forgive you. Understand this: God does not forgive you because you feel bad or sorry (and that is fine if you do feel that way — it shows you have a conscience), but God forgives you because Christ paid for that sin. God does not forgive us because we ask His forgiveness … God forgives based on the Cross-work of Jesus Christ.

If you are not yet a believer who has accepted Christ as Savior, your issue with God is not confession of your sins (not yet), your issue is: you must trust the “finished work” of Christ who died in your place (Romans 5:8; Acts 16:30, 31).

Have you? Will you? Right now, bow your head and tell God the Father that you believe Christ died for you. BOOM! You are instantly saved. If you’ve done that, then welcome to the royal family of God. You are now a child of God, the Father.

God wants us to learn to be honest with Him. He already knows about the sin we are in. This is Grace, in that God knows our true condition and loves us anyway (John 3:16; Romans 5:8). From now on just be honest with God and enjoy your fellowship with the Holy Spirit. This, then, is the way to live the Christian Life … this is how we glorify God.

God will never stop loving His Child … that is an absolute impossibility. “The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin” (Romans 5:9; Ephesians 1:7; 2:13; Colossians 1:14, 20; Hebrews 9:12, 14, — past present and future sin). This is what Christ came to do — to pay for our sin, so that (here is the reason), we can be released from the slave market of sin.

Forgiving and cleansing, are “aorist infinitives” (in the Greek) denoting Divine purpose. So, the aorist tense, (once and for all time) means, He forgives and cleanses until He calls us to His Kingdom.

What if every believer focused on Christ more than they focus on self? What if every believer studied the Bible under a teacher? What if every believer confessed sin daily? What if every believer represented Christ to those around them, in every daily detail of life?  What if?

Thank you Father for this study. We pray that God the Holy Spirit will enlighten our understanding and strengthen our FAITH by these things, in Jesus Name, Amen.

Abide in Me! Abide in my word!”

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