I read this on social media today:
“Our promises are conditional, but all of the promises of God through Jesus are Yes and Amen (2 Corinthians 1:20).”
So, let’s read that passage of Scripture in context, so we get the context:
2 Corinthians 1:19-22 ESV
“For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”
Now, the quote on social media was suggesting that God’s promises have no conditions attached to them at all. Do you see that? Is that true? Let’s take a look at that. Let’s begin with John 10:27-28 ESV:
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”
Now, many people today are quoting verses 28-30, and they are applying those promises broadly to anyone who professes faith in Jesus Christ, but they usually leave out verse 27. Why? Because verse 27 tells us who this promise is for, which is God’s condition to be met for that promise to be fulfilled. Jesus’ sheep listen to the Lord, and not just with their ears, but with their hearts, for then they follow him in obedience and they walk in his ways and in his truth and not in sin, and they are the ones who have eternal life.
Do you understand what the word “if” means? The word “if” introduces a conditional clause, like if you do what I say then this will be the result, or if you don’t do what I say, then this will be the result, instead. And the New Testament is filled with these “if” clauses. And I will share a few of them.
“If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:31-32).
“Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off” (Romans 11:22).
“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)
“But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel” (Colossians 1:22-23).
“… And we are his house, IF we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast… We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. As has just been said:
‘Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion’” (Hebrews 3:6,14-15).
“See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us—even eternal life” (1 John 2:24-25).
The Gospel Message
So, what is this gospel message that they heard that must remain in them, and that they must continue in, and that they must hold firmly to till the end, not moved from the hope of the gospel? It is not that we can “believe” (not biblically defined) in Jesus one time in our lives and now all our sins are forgiven (past, present, and future), and that heaven is now guaranteed us when we die, and it can’t be taken away from us, regardless of how we live our lives while we are still living on this earth. It is the following:
And Jesus Christ said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels” (Luke 9:23-26).
Do you understand what this is saying? Coming to faith in Jesus Christ is not a mere profession of faith in Christ, or a mere verbal confession of him as Lord, and it is not just praying a prayer to receive Jesus into our hearts. But it is denying self (the flesh), and it is dying to sin and to self, not just once, but daily (continuously), and it is following Jesus Christ in obedience to his commands (New Covenant). For if we hold on to our lives of living in sin and for self, we will lose them for eternity. But if for the sake of Jesus we die with him to sin and live to his righteousness, then we have eternal life in him.
For if we are ashamed of Christ and of his words, and so we deny him instead of denying self, and so we don’t forsake our lives of sin, and so we don’t walk in obedience to his commands, then when he returns for his bride, he is going to be ashamed of us, i.e. he is going to deny us (Luke 9:26; 2 Timothy 2:10-13). And he will say to us, “I never knew you. Depart from me you workers of lawlessness,” because we did not obey him (see Matthew 7:21-23).
And then we read in 1 John 1:6-7: “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” And in 1 John 2:3-5: “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.”
And so here we have even more conditional clauses in Luke 9, and in 2 Timothy 2, and in Matthew 7, and in 1 John 1 and in 1 John 2, and the list goes on and on and on. So, are God’s promises conditional? Yes! They absolutely are! That does not mean they aren’t “YES,” though, but that the promises themselves are conditional promises depending on who the promise is for and the stipulations of the promise itself. We just have to read them in their context to see who they are for and what conditions are involved. And if you want more proof, read the verses below:
[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
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