Author: Ron Graham
Conditions in the Promises
—Ten Promises continued
Our previous lesson ended with the point that the promises of Christ are conditional. This in no way weakens the promises or dims their glory, because nobody is excluded by any condition attached to God’s promises. Anybody who desires to accept the promises is able to fulfil their conditions.
Now in this lesson we look again at the same ten promises to notice the conditions they contain
1 Faith is a Condition.
1. "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
Everlasting life is promised to whoever believes in the only begotten Son of God. God loves the world and he wishes to grant eternal life to everyone in the world. However he finds it necessary to make the gift of eternal life conditional upon belief on his Son Jesus Christ.
People believe in all sorts of things and place their faith upon some idol or ideology. But God promises eternal life only through Jesus. We must place our faith squarely upon him. Without such faith, it is impossible to please God and receive the promise (Hebrews 11:6)
2 Baptism is a Condition.
2. "He who believes and is baptized shall be saved" (Mark 16:15-16).
Faith is not the only condition attached to the promise of salvation. Jesus made faith a condition, but he put another condition along side of it. Those who have faith, which is belief in the gospel of Christ, must also be baptized in obedience to the Saviour's commandment.
It is clear that sins are washed away by the blood of Christ when one is baptized. "Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16). "Repent and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38-39).
3 All Christ's Commands are Conditions
3. "You are my friends if you do whatever I command you" (John 15:14).
The promise is that you can have Jesus as your friend, but the condition is that you keep his commandments as a devoted way of life. "If you love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15)
If we claim to know Jesus as our friend, then we should be making every effort to do what he says. "He who says, 'I know him' and does not keep his commandments, is a liar and the truth is not in him" (1John 2:3-4)
4 Bearing our Burdens is a Condition
4. "Come to me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV).
The promise is that we shall have rest for our souls. The condition is that we take Christ's yoke upon us and bear our burdens with his aid and his wisdom. We do not try to bear our burdens alone.
❖ A yoke is a bow-shaped crosspiece as part of the harness of beasts of burden. It joins two or more animals such that they share the burden as they pull together and one guides the other.
5 Coming to Christ is a Condition
5. "The one who comes to me I will certainly not cast out" (John 6:37 NASB).
The promise here is that you will not be an outcast but Jesus will surely receive you into his eternal home. The condition is that you have to come to him. He will call you through the gospel, but you must answer him. If you do not surrender to him, and seek his forgiveness, you do not have his promise.
Of course you must come with a certain attitude: humbly, trustingly, honestly, and in repentance. On the day of Pentecost, people heard Peter preach and they were "cut to the heart". They came to Jesus in repentance just as Peter commanded (Acts 2:37-38).
6 Listening to Jesus is a Condition.
6. "My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them out of My hand. My Father who has given them to Me is greater than all. No one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand." (John 10:27-29 BSB)).
Jesus, the good Shepherd, promises his sheep that he knows them and gives them eternal life. The condition is that they listen to his voice and follow him (John 10:27-29 BSB).
We must allow ourselves to be led by our Shepherd. If we follow Jesus, if we listen to his teaching through his apostles, if we obey that teaching with his help, then we are guaranteed to be counted and known among his sheep.
7 Preaching the Gospel is a Condition
7. "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:18-20 NKJV)).
This promise of the presence of Christ was spoken after Jesus commanded his disciples to "go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20 NKJV).
Jesus explained the promise of his presence: "I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever —the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you (John 14:15-19 NKJV).
That is what Jesus meant when he said, "I will be with you always even to the end of the world". And his condition on that promise was that we fulfil the great commission to preach the gospel in all the world.
8 Our hope of Heaven is a Condition.
8. "I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself that where I am, there you may be also" (John 14:1-3 NKJV).
Jesus promises that he is coming again to gather to himself those who have believed in him and hoped with assurance for his return. Those who do not have this hope will not see heaven. "This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil" (Hebrews 6:19 NKJV).
9 Being Cleansed is a Condition
9. "The hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs shall hear the voice of the Son of Man, and they shall come forth —those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of damnation" (John 5:28-29).
The promise of "the resurrection of life" is a promise exclusively for "those who have done good". It is not for "those who have done evil". But wait a minute! Have we not done both good and evil? So where will we stand at the resurrection —among the damned or among the righteous?
The answer is that we can be forgiven and made righteous by the blood of Jesus our Great High Priest. Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works... (Hebrews 10:19-24 NKJV).
10 Receiving the Spirit is a Condition
10. "Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst again. For the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water that springs up into eternal life" (John 4:13-15).
Jesus also said, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." (John 7:37-38 NKJV). John explains, "This He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified." (John 7:39 NKJV).
A gift is not given if it is not received. The Holy Spirit will not make his abode with us unless we gladly consent and receive the gift. So Paul says, "You are not in the flesh but in the Spirit if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ he is not his" (Romans 8:9 NKJV).
Jesus likens receiving the Spirit to drinking life-giving water. You are a thirsty soul. You come to the water and you are invited to drink. You drink the water and you are thirsty no more. But if for some reason you refuse to drink, you die of thirst.
Likewise, unless you have the Spirit of Christ, you are dead in your sins. You need to receive the Spirit to be alive again, and to receive the Spirit you need to have faith in Jesus, obey his commandments, fulfil his conditions. Then, by the grace of God, you will be counted eligible to claim all his promises.
Our personal relationship with God is entirely by God's grace. He makes promises to us out of his great kindness and love. However he promises his gracious gifts with certain conditions attached. A fundamental condition was that if we are to be saved by his grace, then his Son must die in our stead, and we must believe in his Son and obey him. So there is no such thing as unconditional grace.