Eternity: Not a Game of Chance

As I was reading my daily devotion for today (July 30, 2016) in the “Light from the Word” devotional titled “Eternal Effects,” I realized that the only real motive and mission I’m supposed to have – not just as a minister in the Church but also as a Christian period – is to keep eternity in focus! That may sound like a gross understatement because we assume that the Church always has eternity in mind when we do anything related to ministry, preaching, serving, financial, etc., etc., etc. But today, we don’t have an eternally-minded Church in America, not as a general rule. Eternally-minded churches are the exception rather than the norm.
The writer of this devotion entry, Julie Cosgrove, mentions a Facebook post she came across that read: “I’d rather believe in God and be wrong than not believe and find I was wrong.” This quote was made famous by Albert Camus but has its roots with Blaise Pascal’s “wager” argument in his book titled “Thoughts” (Pensées). He said, “Belief is a wise wager. Granted that faith cannot be proved, what harm will come to you if you gamble on its truth and it proves false? If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation, that He exists.”
Now what do I think about this sort of reasoning? Well, I’m certainly not trying to go toe-to-toe with Blaise Pascal, a philosopher and mathematician who lived during the 1600s. But I don’t like this argument for belief in God and I’ll tell you why: there’s absolutely no motivation for this belief other than a simple “wager”, a bet, if you will, like someone putting a coin into a slot machine in Vegas and hoping against all odds that it will be a winner. I think this presents a person with a false choice: either one must believe in God or not by sheer happenstance of winning or losing a bet at a gaming table with no evidence that either choice is better than the other.
Holes have been punched – rightfully so – into Pascal’s Wager logic, and I’m not going to attempt to do that here. What I want to assert is that eternity is not a game where the outcome isn’t certain. Eternity is not a game of chance or wishful thinking where we close our eyes, cross our fingers, and hope against hope that all of this God talk is true. No, that is not correct, and Pascal’s assumption that God is completely unknowable negates the entire testimony of Scripture, of Jesus Christ, of the Holy Spirit, of the testimony of history, and many other avenues of compelling evidence for God (the intelligent design theory, the cosmological argument, etc.). Faith is NOT believing where there is no evidence! It’s not wishful thinking! That fact alone destroys this Wager argument. Faith is not taking a gamble that God is real and if He is then you’ll go to heaven. Many people will believe in God like this, and find out that they will be lost to Hell’s fire for all eternity anyway. Why? Because belief in God is NOT what gets someone into heaven! I’ve quoted James 2:19 multiple times from the pulpit: “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder.” So I say congratulations to those who believe there is one God – you have something in common with the demonic horde! Belief in God alone is clearly not the only requirement for salvation. What is? Believing in and upon Jesus Christ as Lord and receiving Him in humility and submission as Savior of your life. That’s eternal, that’s the main thing, that’s the mission of the Church: to “preach Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).
I pray that you’re not wagering your eternal destiny on a bet, a whim, wishful thinking, or blind faith. Those things cannot and will not save you. This is not a game of chance, it’s a real thing with real evidence and real truth to be found. Receive Jesus Christ today, for “today is the day of salvation.”
Prayerfully in Christ,
Pastor Branden T. Robertson

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