If, Then, and Grace
By Hal Lindsey
In math class, we learned about IF-THEN statements. Don’t worry, this is not about math. But let me illustrate it with one simple equation, a+a=b. In that equation, IF a is 1, THEN b is 2 because 1+1=2.
The concept is important because it’s not just about math. It’s how we think, and it’s how we think because it is how the world works. “If it rains today, then I won’t need to turn on the sprinklers.” “If I don’t study for the test, then I will fail it.” Most people see their entire lives in terms of IF-THEN. “If I work hard and play by the rules, then I will succeed.” “If I am lazy and careless, then I will fail.”
That’s how the universe works — IF-THEN. We drum it into our children from early in life. We use it as motivation in our own lives to do good and eschew evil. Or we use it in a negative way. Some people go by the mantra, “If it feels good, then do it.” They look only at the immediate feeling of pleasure they get from an action instead of the long-term good.
The Bible teaches a profound IF-THEN relationship between sin and death. It is first referenced in Genesis 2:16-17. “The Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.’”
We can summarize it like this — IF-SIN, THEN-DEATH. Ezekiel 18:20 says, “The person who sins will die.” Romans 3:23 shows that we’re all in that category. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Romans 6:23 also links sin to death, then brings something else into the picture. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
With that verse, we see something amazing added to the “IF-SIN, THEN-DEATH” pattern — grace. Everything is working in the natural manner. Sin leads to death. All have sinned. All are headed toward death. It seems inevitable. We’ve fallen out of the plane and the natural order of things says we will die. As we fall downward, the ground seems to rush upward.
Then God enters the scene. And He offers something better than a parachute. He gives us His hand. We can believe Him and receive grace, or not believe Him and die colliding with the unyielding ground below. “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
We cannot be good enough on our own. We cannot earn what only Jesus could earn. Romans 11:6 gives us this beautiful IF-THEN statement. “And IF by grace, THEN it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace.”
When He saved you, God intervened in the deadly IF-THEN progression. But that’s not the only area where He makes such interventions. His grace enters our lives in countless ways. He intervenes in ways we never imagined, and He also intervenes in response to prayer. We don’t bother Him when we pray. He invites our prayer. More than that, He instructs us to pray. That’s grace.
In 1772, John Newton spoke for all who walk in God’s grace when he wrote, “Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; ‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home.”