1) Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2) When he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was hungry afterward. 3) The tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread."
4) But he answered, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.' "Matthew 4:1-4 (WEB)
Praise God, Jesus is not bullied by Satan’s taunting 'if', refusing even to speak in defense of his identity.
You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has lost its flavor, with what will it be salted? It is then good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under the feet of men.Matthew 5:13 (WEB)
Jesus challenges us with the 'if' of a thought provoking conundrum. Hey folks, salt that isn’t salty isn’t salt and never was salt!
9) Or who is there among you, who, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10) Or if he asks for a fish, who will give him a serpent? 11) If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!Matthew 7:9-11 (WEB)
Jesus highlights the silliness of doubting his goodness with the 'if' of a painful truth. What father is not good to his children and yet Jesus reminds us that even the best human dad is evil while he is trustworthy.
24) But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, "This man does not cast out demons, except by Beelzebul, the prince of the demons."
25) Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. 26) If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27) If I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 28) But if I by the Spirit of God cast out demons, then God's Kingdom has come upon you.Matthew 12:24-28 (WEB)
Jesus exposes the sinister Pharisees with two impossible 'if's and a one certain 'if.'
21) Peter seeing him, said to Jesus, "Lord, what about this man?"
22) Jesus said to him, "If I desire that he stay until I come, what is that to you? You follow me." 23) This saying therefore went out among the brothers, that this disciple wouldn't die. Yet Jesus didn't say to him that he wouldn't die, but, "If I desire that he stay until I come, what is that to you?" 24) This is the disciple who testifies about these things, and wrote these things. We know that his witness is true.John 21:21-24 (WEB)
John points out that Jesus might use a hypothetical 'if.' He is not saying that Jesus’ statement is untrue, but that the condition to satisfy the 'if' might never be true. Jesus final will was still not revealed.
1) If therefore there is any exhortation in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any tender mercies and compassion, 2) make my joy full by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind;Philippians 2:1-2 (WEB)
Paul uses 'if's to exhort believers to love others like we are loved by God, that is, 'if' you know God’s love!
11) I saw a great white throne, and him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. There was found no place for them. 12) I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and they opened books. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13) The sea gave up the dead who were in it. Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them. They were judged, each one according to his works. 14) Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15) If anyone was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire.Rev 20:11-15 (WEB)
And how does the Spirit use this 'if'?
He says 'if' your name is not in the Lamb’s book you are sentenced to the Lake of Fire. Scripture also tells us explicitly of only three people that are not in the book: The Beast who is worshiped instead of Christ, The False Prophet who is heard instead of the Holy Spirit, and Satan who is followed instead of God. Matthew 25 further explains that the Lake of Fire is prepared for the Devil and his angels.
Yet Christians hope for eternal life, and through faith see their names in Jesus’ book… written before the creation of the world! Faith did not add our names to the book, but instead opened our eyes to the great hope of our names ALREADY written! Do you trust that your name is already written in the Lamb's Book of Life? What is your destiny?
And Christians also hope for the defeat of Satan and also the defeat of the gates of the Hades. Friends, think about it! What is the only possible destiny of the unbelieving men punished in Hades... since Jesus died for them as well and loves them dearly?