Bible study is a structured and well ordered endeavor. Or at least it should be. There are hermeneutical and exegetical “laws” that need to be applied and never violated. Needless to say, they are broken all the time.
We tend to not like the “if’s” that are associated with the Word of God, which indicates the reader has to fulfill something in order for the promise contained within the passage to become activated. The “whatever’s” could be pro or con depending on the particular teaching. The “it shall’s” are usually the good stuff, containing what we can get from God. We tend to bypass the first two third’s of the verse to get to the good stuff.
Take the passage this morning:
John 15:7 – “If you live in Me [abide vitally united to Me] and My words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.”
In a nutshell, this verse is saying IF you participate with God, AND you continue to do so, WHATEVER you need, SHALL be accomplished.
We love that stuff, especially the “shall be done for you” part. Often that part doesn’t happen and the chasm between God and man widens because man doesn’t think that the message the TV preacher is hawking works. Well, if it doesn’t work it’s because the whole counsel of God is not being taught. Hey, let’s be frank here, how much revenue would pour into the preacher’s pockets if he told people there is work to do in cultivating and maintaining a relationship with Christ before the “good stuff” kicks in?
There are 34 words in this version of the verse today. One word is the most important. “IF”. It all hinges upon “IF”.
I can ask whatever I will and it will be done…IF.
Nothing…I repeat…NOTHING happens in our lives in relation to Jesus Christ if we are not vitally united to Him. Nothing. So to expect anything much past air in your lungs is perhaps the very root of the frustration in the life of a marginal and fringe imbiber of the River of Life.
Maybe that’s you. Maybe not.
I really need the “it shall”, and I shall have it, but I really love the vital union with Jesus part. I find that staying in close relationship with Him cuts down exponentially on the asking part. However, during those times when I have to be specific, and there is a real need, I have the confidence and expectation that whatever I ask I shall receive it.