If a picture paints a thousand words, then we should picture the word "if" in golden letters. You see, God has spoken this simple, two-letter word in the Scriptures with regard to our great and glorious salvation, yet so many seem to have missed it.
The popular view of the New Covenant of grace is that reaching heaven is automatic for all Christians. It is assumed that once a person gives his life to Jesus, he is going to make it into the kingdom of heaven no matter what. However, the Bible teaches that there are specific conditions of the New Covenant, just as there were also conditions of the Old Covenant. Let's look at some of those conditions in God's Word, as well as some warnings, which are negative conditions.
I will not include all the conditions, but primarily the ones that contain the golden word "if", which is a primary particle of conditionality. That may be a little word, but it has significant implications for each one of us, when used in the context of the conditions of the covenant in Christ's blood. Therefore, in this article, I will capitalize the word "IF" for emphasis.
We begin with the positive conditions.
Enter Through Christ Alone
Jesus said, "I am the door; IF anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” (Joh 10:9)
Hear the Lord's Voice and Open the Door of Your Heart
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; IF anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” (Rev 3:20)
Deny Yourself, Take Up Your Cross and Follow Jesus
“And He was saying to them all, ‘IF anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.’” (Luk 9:23)
Become United with Christ in His Death
“For IF we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection…” (Rom 6:5)
“Now IF we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him…” (Rom 6:8; cf., 2Ti 2:11)
“But IF by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” (Rom 8:13b)
Suffer with Christ
“The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, IF indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” (Rom 8:16-17)
Keep His Commandments and Keep His Word
“And He said to him, ‘Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but IF you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.’" (Mat 19:17)
“So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, ‘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.’" (Joh 8:31-32)
"Truly, truly, I say to you, IF anyone keeps My word he will never see death." (Joh 8:51)
"IF you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (Joh 14:15)
Jesus answered and said to him, "IF anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.” (Joh 14:23)
“"You are My friends IF you do what I command you.” (Joh 15:14)
“By this we know that we have come to know Him, IF we keep His commandments.” (1Jn 2:3)
“As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. IF what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.” (1Jn 2:24)
Hold Fast the Word
"Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, IF you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain." (1 Cor 15:1-2)
Love One Another
“No one has seen God at any time; IF we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.” (1Jn 4:12)
Walk in the Light as He is in the Light
“But IF we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1Jn 1:7)
Judge Ourselves Honestly
“But IF we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged.” (1Co 11:31)
Eat of Christ, the Living Bread
"I am the Living Bread that came down out of heaven; IF anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh." (Joh 6:51)
Be Freed by the Son
"So IF the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” (Joh 8:36)
Become a Son
“Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and IF a son, then an heir through God.” (Gal 4:7)
Be in Christ and Belong to Him
“Therefore IF anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2Co 5:17)
“And IF you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise.” (Gal 3:29)
Do the Deeds of Abraham
“Jesus said to them, ‘IF you are Abraham's children, do the deeds of Abraham.’” (Joh 8:39b)
Forgive Others For Their Transgressions
"For IF you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” (Mat 6:14; cf., Mk 11:25)
Your Eyes Must Be Clear
"The eye is the lamp of the body; so then IF your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.” (Mat 6:22)
Confess with Your Mouth Jesus as Lord, and Believe in Your Heart That God Raised Him from the Dead
“…IF you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved: for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” (Rom 10:9-10)
"Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven.” (Mat 10:32)
Hold Fast Our Confidence and the Boast of Our Hope Firm Until The End
“But Christ was faithful as a Son over His house--whose house we are, IF we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.” (Heb 3:6)
“For we have become partakers of Christ, IF we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end,” (Heb 3:14)
Continue in the Faith Firmly Established and Steadfast, and Not Moved Away from the Hope of the Gospel
"And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach-- IF indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister." (Col 1:21-23).
Endure to the End
“IF we endure, we will also reign with Him… IF we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” (2Ti 2:12a,13).
"But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved." (Mat 24:13)
Your Heart Must Not Condemn You
“Beloved, IF our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God…”(1Jn 3:21)
Those Who Have Strayed from the Truth Must Turn Back to God
“My brethren, IF any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” (Jas 5:19-20)
Confess Our Sins
“IF we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1Jn 1:9)
“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And IF anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;” (1Jn 2:1)
Warnings Against Failing to Meet the Conditions
In addition to all the positive conditions listed above, we are also warned in Scripture of the following negative conditions.
Do Not Harden Your Hearts
“He again fixes a certain day, ‘Today,’ saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, ‘Today IF you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.’" (Heb 4:7)
Do Not Refuse Him Who Speaks
“See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For IF those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven.” (Heb 12:25)
Do Not Neglect Salvation Through Transgression and Disobedience
“For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape IF we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard…” (Heb 2:1-3)
Do Not Fall Away
“For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but IF it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.” (Heb 6:4-8)
Do Not Fall Short of the Promise of Entering His Rest
“Therefore, let us fear IF, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it.” (Heb 4:1)
Do Not Go On Sinning Willfully After Coming to Know the Truth
“For IF we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,” (Heb 10:26)
Do Not Shrink Back
“But My righteous one shall live by faith; and IF he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” (Heb 10:38)
Do Not Become Weary in Doing Good
“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap IF we do not grow weary.” (Gal 6:9)
Do Not Lose Heart When the Lord Rebukes You or Make Light of His Discipline
“But IF you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.” (Heb 12:8)
Do Not Become Tasteless Salt
"You are the salt of the earth; but IF the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.” (Mat 5:13)
Do Not Fail to Deal Radically with Sin to Remove It
"IF your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” (Mat 5:29)
"IF your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.” (Mat 5:30)
Forgive Others from Your Heart
"But IF you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” (Mat 6:15; cf., Mk 11:26)
"And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. "My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, IF each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart." (Mat 18:34-35)
Do Not Hate Your Brother
“IF someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (1Jn 4:20)
Guard Your Eyes, So That You Do Not Become Filled with Darkness
"But IF your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Mat 6:23)
Do Not Become Entangled Again in the Defilements of the World
“For IF, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them.” (2Pe 2:20-21)
''But IF that evil slave says in his heart, 'My master is not coming for a long time,' and begins to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards; the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mat 24:48-51)
Do Not Fail to Carry Your Cross and Follow Jesus, Even at the Expense of Family Relationships
"IF anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” (Luk 14:26-27)
Do Not Fail to Listen to Moses and the Prophets and Believe Christ's Words
"But he said to him, 'IF they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.'" (Luk 16:31)
"For IF you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. But IF you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?" (Joh 5:46-47)
Do Not Have Dead Faith without Works
“What use is it, my brethren, IF someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?… Even so faith, IF it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” (Jas 2:14,17)
Do Not Love the World nor the Things of the World
“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. IF anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1Jn 2:15)
"For what is a man profited IF he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luk 9:25)
Do Not Worship the Beast and His Image or Receive a Mark on the Right Hand or Forehead
“Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘IF anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name." (Rev 14:9-11)
Do Not Fail to Abide in Christ
"IF anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.” (Joh 15:6)
Do Not Be Arrogant nor Fail to Continue in God's Kindness
“But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but IF you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, ‘Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.’ Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; for IF God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either. Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God's kindness, IF you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.” (Rom 11:17-22)
Do Not Live According to the Flesh
“For IF you are living according to the flesh, you must die…” (Rom 8:13a)
Do Not Walk in Darkness
“IF we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;” (1Jn 1:6)
Do Not Deny Your Own Sin
“IF we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1Jn 1:8)
“IF we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” (1Jn 1:10)
Keep a Tight Rein on Your Tongue
“IF anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless.” (Jas 1:26)
Don't Fail to Wake Up
“'So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore IF you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.” (Rev 3:3)
Don't Destroy the Temple of God
“IF any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.” (1Co 3:17)
Don't Deny Christ
“IF we deny Him, He also will deny us.” (2 Tim 2:12b)
"But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.” (Mat 10:33)
"For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels." (Luk 9:26)
Don't Fail to Love the Lord
“IF anyone does not love the Lord, he is to be accursed. Maranatha.” (1Co 16:22)
Putting it All Together
As we have seen in God's Word, reaching heaven is not automatic once you say a prayer to accept Christ. It is not a foregone conclusion. Nor is it assumed that you will reach heaven, simply because you sincerely gave your life to Jesus at one time and still consider yourself a true believer.
There are clearly some conditions we are required to meet. We must do the following: Enter through Christ alone. Hear the Lord's voice and open the door of your heart. Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Jesus. Become united with Christ in His death. Suffer with Christ. Keep His commandments and keep His Word. Hold fast the Word of God. Love one another. Walk in the light as He is in the light. Judge yourself honestly. Eat of Christ, the Living Bread. Be freed by the Son. Become a Son. Be in Christ and belong to Him. Do the deeds of Abraham. Forgive others for their transgressions. Your eyes must be clear. Confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead. Hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end. Continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel. Endure to the end. Your heart must not condemn you. Those who have strayed from the truth must turn back to God. Confess your sins. This is not a complete list, but it gives you a good idea of the conditions God requires for those who wish to reach heaven. Examples of other conditions include the following: (Heb 12:14; Mt 19:21; Lk 9:24).
Those who meet the conditions of the New Covenant receive the following promises: We will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. We will be true disciples of Christ. We will know the truth and the truth will make us free. We will be free indeed. We are new creatures; the old things passed away; all things have become new. We will have continual communion with the Lord. We will come to share in Christ. We will be the Lord’s friends. We will have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. A multitude of sins will be covered. We will be forgiven our sins and cleansed from all unrighteousness. Our whole bodies will be full of light. We will have confidence before God. We will have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. The Lord Jesus and the Father will love us, and will come to us and make Their abode with us. We will be God’s house. God will abide in us, and His love will be perfected in us. We will abide in the Son and in the Father. We shall be in the likeness of Christ’s resurrection. We shall also live with Him. We will enter into life. We will live forever. We will never see death. Our souls will be saved from death. We will be children of Abraham. We will be heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ. Jesus will confess us before His Father who is in heaven. He will present us before the Father holy and blameless and beyond reproach. We will also be glorified with Him. We will also reign with Him. We will have treasure in heaven.
There are also many warnings in Scripture against failing to meet the conditions. The following are some examples of these warnings or negative conditions: Do not harden your heart. Do not refuse him who speaks. Do not neglect salvation through transgression and disobedience. Do not fall away. Do not fall short of the promise of entering his rest. Do not go on sinning willfully after coming to know the truth. Do not shrink back. Do not become weary in doing good. Do not lose heart when the Lord rebukes you or make light of His discipline. Do not become tasteless salt. Do not fail to deal radically with sin to remove it. Forgive others from your heart. Do not hate your brother. Guard your eyes, so that you do not become filled with darkness. Do not become entangled again in the defilements of the world. Do not fail to carry your cross and follow Jesus, even at the expense of family relationships. Do not fail to listen to Moses and the prophets and believe Christ's words. Do not have dead faith without works. Do not love the world nor the things of the world. Do not worship the beast and his image or receive a mark in your right hand or forehead. Do not fail to abide in Christ. Do not be arrogant nor fail to continue in God's kindness. Do not live according to the flesh. Do not walk in darkness. Do not deny your own sin. Don’t open your mouth easily. Don't fail to wake up. Don't destroy the temple of God. Don't deny Christ.
Some of the negative consequences for failing to meet the conditions include the following: Being in a worse state than before you ever came to Christ. Being disqualified to be a disciple of Christ. Being illegitimate children and not sons. Being devoid of the truth. Having worthless religion that does you no good. Being useless to God. Being caught off guard by the return of Christ, as a thief in the night. Being denied by Christ before His Father who is in heaven. Being denied forgiveness by God. God’s soul would have no pleasure in you. Failing to enter the promised eternal rest. Being unable to escape eternal punishment. Losing your life. Being destroyed by God. You must die. Being handed over to the torturers. Being thrown out and trampled under foot by men. Being cut to pieces and assigned a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Your whole body would be thrown into hell. Being in darkness. Being unable to repent. Being cut off. Being burned. Tormented with fire and brimstone. Being accursed.
Therefore, Scripture clearly teaches definite conditions that must be met by those who have entered into the New Covenant with Christ, and if we want to reach heaven, we must meet these conditions. Otherwise we will suffer an even worse punishment than the wicked.
This message is not being preached or taught in most churches, because it's not popular and it doesn't feel good. People like to preach only the positive side of the gospel or the benefits we receive, but they neglect speaking about the negative side or the warnings we must heed. Nevertheless, both the positive and negative sides are part of the gospel. All of these are conditions that must be fulfilled.
I hope you take it to heart and let it encourage you as well as warn you of areas where your soul is in danger. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal anything in your life that is hidden that must go, and then when He does, repent with all your heart and cry out for forgiveness. Mercy is only available while you are on earth. God's standard for heaven is high and He's not going to lower it for anyone. It's high time we get back to the true gospel, seeking holiness and consecration to God.
Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.
Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven, Drifting Away, Is Obedience Optional?, The Apostasy Parables, Obedience by the Spirit, The Obedience of Faith, Holy Living in a Perverted World, Aim for Perfection, Walking in the Perfect Will of God, Baptized with the Spirit, Holy Fire Baptism, The Straight and Narrow Path, Striving to Enter the Kingdom of God, Pleasing the Lord, The Burning Ones, Only the Holy -- Three Shocking Testimonies, Ask for the Ancient Paths, Living a Life Worthy of the Lord, Keeping a Good Conscience, Separation from the World, Having a Servant's Heart, The Difference Between a Disciple and a Believer, Righteous Deeds and White Robes, Doing What is Right, The Ways of Life, Whatever You Do, Do All Like This, The Mark of the Beast (666), and Listen to Jesus, Who Upholds Moses and the Prophets. You can find more of my articles related to Working God's Way on the Home page of this blog. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." Now I'd like to ask a very important question.
Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus. Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?
“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15). He preached that we must repent and believe.
Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International. He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org