We have spent several months diving into various techniques to assist us in our Bible study. Today, we will look much more closely at examples of conditional clauses, cause and effect, comparisons, and contrasts in the text. By understanding the relationship of these different aspects of scripture, we can learn why God does some of the things He does. We can also get specific images in our heads that will help us better understand spiritual concepts.

A conditional clause is what I like to call an “if, then” statement. Each presents a scenario in which a consequence, good or bad, will occur. Though this isn’t always the case, these statements are often identified by the words “if” and “then”: “If you do ____, then _____ will happen.” Once you have identified the conditional clause, be sure to identify the conditional action (the “if”) and the consequence (if “then”). When reading the scriptures, these statements explain why God performs certain actions. It will also allow us to see the rewards and/or consequences of our actions.

Read Leviticus 26:1-20. This entire chapter is filled with conditional clauses. In verse 3, we see the condition: keeping God’s commandments. The following verses through 13 contain many of the blessings the Lord will bestow upon them if they fulfill this condition. In verse 14, the condition is NOT obeying God’s commandments; the following verses show us what will happen in this situation. Throughout the rest of the Old Testament, we can see these conditions being met and the rewards and consequences of each fulfilled. In order to have a just God, we must have a God who keeps His promises, including the conditional clauses He sets forth in the scriptures.

Many times, an author will state a cause-and-effect scenario. This is similar to the conditional clauses we examined in the previous section. There is an action or situation that results in something else. Once you have identified one of these statements, locate the cause and search for its effect.

Proverbs is filled with cause-and-effect statements. Let’s look at a few of these statements. Read Proverbs 21:6. Our cause statement is “The acquisition of treasures by a lying tongue.” Now, look at the rest of the sentence to find the consequence of acquiring treasures this way. We see two results. First, they are fleeting vapors, meaning things gained in this fashion are not permanent. The second effect is that this is the “pursuit of death.” Not only is the person in this verse pursuing earthly treasures first, but he is sinning to gain them. This is a major problem, essentially causing spiritual death. As you can see, these cause-and-effect statements show the results of certain actions and behaviors without having to experience them for ourselves.

The next idea we will look at is that of contrast. Many times, writers will state concepts in opposition to one another. This gives us an idea of the spectrum’s opposite ends. It can also paint vivid imagery for us, like when John discusses “light” and “dark.” When searching for contrasts, look for the word “but.” This is a good indication that there are two opposing statements being made. Also, look for words that are clearly opposites used in close connection with one another.

Turn to 1 Corinthians 14:37-38. Here, Paul makes a serious contrast. On the one hand, we have those who recognize that the things Paul writes are the Lord’s commandments. If one considers themselves spiritual, this is the stance that is demanded. In stark contrast, Paul says that anyone who does not recognize that the things he has written are from God will not be recognized by God. In essence, Paul says true Christians will accept his writings as scripture. This is an important concept to understand as we read through his writings.

Throughout scripture, we can see authors using the technique of comparison. They will do this to make an abstract concept more understandable. We do this when we speak to one another in our attempt to get someone to grasp a situation fully. For instance, we might say, “That storm that came through was so loud and windy it sounded like a train!” We are comparing something familiar with something we want to be clear to the listener. When identifying comparisons in scripture, be sure to note what is being compared and determine how it is being compared. Just because one aspect of something is being compared doesn’t mean I can compare everything about each item. When comparing the storm with the train, it is specifically the sound I am referring to. I do not expect my listener to think the storm looks like a train, nor did it come in on a train track.

Matthew 25 is full of comparisons to help us understand aspects of the kingdom of Heaven better. Read Matthew 25:1-13. We see here that Jesus is comparing the kingdom of Heaven to ten virgins meeting the bridegroom. The specific comparison is brought out in verse 13: “Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.” Jesus is trying to impart the importance of being prepared for His coming. We must not be caught unprepared, or we will not be allowed to enter the kingdom of Heaven. By using this comparison, He allows us to internalize what it will be like to be caught in this situation when He returns.

Each of these comparisons allows us to more deeply understand the spiritual concepts that might otherwise be difficult to grasp. Often, we speed past these sections in our reading, but it is well worth your time to stop and really dwell on the various aspects of God’s message to us. They really help connect our understanding and emotions to a particular passage.

Kristy Huntsman
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Kristy Huntsman is the editor-in-chief for Come Fill Your Cup and the author of three books in the Finer Grounds Bible Study series published by Kaio Publications. She and her husband Lance attend the Stonewall Church of Christ where Lance is the minister. She is a homeschooling mom of two sweet girls, Taylor (14) and Makayla (11). Kristy has a master’s degree in biblical studies from the Bear Valley Bible Institute as well as Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Music Performance. She continues her education by pursuing specialized certifications in biblical languages from the Biblical Mastery Academy.