“If” is a powerful word. My artistic friend, Lance Turner, painted the word with a period at the end because “if.” is a complete sentence. It is an entire sermon in a word.
Notice that the initial letter “i” is not capitalized, because “if” doesn’t start there. The concept of “if” has a rich, full history even before the word begins. And although there is a period, it doesn’t end there. Notice that the artist has left the border open toward the right, toward the future. Even though the period is there, the consequences of “if” carry on forever. There is no limit to the possibilities of “if.”
“If” has significant synonyms that provoke contemplation: test, trial, choice, agency, probation, and mortality.
“If” has a natural, casuistic complement: “then.” “If” promises that the subsequent or consequent “then” will most assuredly come. Following are examples:
“if ye will repent, and harden not your hearts, then will I have mercy upon you” (Alma 12:33)
“if ye do all these things then shall ye receive your reward” (Alma 41:14)
“if it shall so be that they shall believe these things then shall the greater things be made manifest unto them” (3 Nephi 26:9)
“if it so be that ye are righteous, then are ye blessed” (Mormon 6:21)
“if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified” (Moroni 10:33)
There are over nine hundred occurrences of “if” in the revelations of the Restoration. Quite a few are set in a context of chastisement, curse, and condemnation, but many others describe the blessings and rewards promised to the Lord’s faithful followers. Here are twenty extraordinary examples of the positive fulfillment of “if.” Think about each one.
“if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end
. . . ye shall have eternal life” (2 Nephi 31:20)
“if ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God” (Mosiah 4:12)
“if ye will repent ye shall be saved” (Alma 22:6)
“if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life” (3 Nephi 9:14)
“if ye forgive men their trespasses your heavenly Father will also forgive you” (3 Nephi 13:14)
“if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you” (3 Nephi 18:7, 11)
“if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you” (Moroni 10:4)
“if ye have faith ye can do all things” (Moroni 10:23)
“if you will ask of me you shall receive; if you will knock it shall be opened unto you” (D&C 6:5)
“if you desire, you shall be the means of doing much good” (D&C 6:8)
“if thou wilt inquire, thou shalt know mysteries which are great and marvelous” (D&C 6:11)
“if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life” (D&C 14:7)
“if thou art faithful and walk in the paths of virtue before me, I will preserve thy life” (D&C 25:2)
“if ye are prepared ye shall not fear” (D&C 38:30)
“if thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation” (D&C 42:61)
“if ye are faithful ye shall be . . . crowned with honor, and glory, and immortality, and eternal life” (D&C 75:5)
“if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light” (D&C 88:67)
“if ye walk uprightly and remember the covenant . . . all things shall work together for your good” (D&C 90:24)
“if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high” (D&C 121:8)
“if a man marry a wife . . . by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise . . . it shall be said unto them—Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection . . . and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths . . . to their exaltation and glory in all things” (D&C 132:19)
“If” lays a burden on the loyal disciple.
“If” provokes pondering, meditating, reflecting.
“If” invites finishing and fulfillment.
“If” demands forward movement: forward down or forward up. It’s your decision.
Dr. D. Kelly Ogden is a professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University.