I’ll Bet!

2020-05-16 Pascals Wager

I say daily prayers with The God Who Is There and as I get older, I feel a sense of urgency to encourage others to consider the claims of Jesus and what that could mean to their lives.

My mother used to scold me when I would use the phrase, “Well, I’ll bet that . . .”
“You should never gamble; do not bet!” would be her retort.  But here is a bet which I’ll bet even she would approve 😉.

Consider “Pascal’s Wager.”  (https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/pascal-wager/)  In its simplest form it is the challenge that one who seeks to believe that God exists and lives as such will have lost very little if he is wrong compared to one who does not seek to believe in God and will miss Heaven if he is wrong.  In contrast the former will gain Heaven if he is right, and the latter gains very little if he is right.

Of course, Pascal’s Wager does not address the issue of whether one truly believes God exists or genuinely submits his life to a Creator. (See Hebrews 11:6 and .)

This blog is not out of any sense of being “holier-than-thou” or having any advantage.  Very few of you know anything about my life before Anita, and frankly, I plan to keep it that way.  It was not a good time in my life, and I was not a very good person.  But Someone got hold of my life and led me to changes that have showed how much He loves even the worst of sinners. (Romans 5:7-8; 1 Timothy 1:15)

The wonderful thing about Jesus is His exclusiveness and His inclusiveness.
He is exclusive in that He claims to be the only way to get to know the Creator God.  He is inclusive in that anyone (even I!) can get to know the Creator God.

One of the strongest arguments against following Jesus is that He only appeared to His disciples, people who might have a vested interest in proving He arose from the dead.  However, all of them suffered immeasurably and most were killed because they would not renounce their claims to have seen Him alive after His crucifixion.  This lends credence to the idea that they believed what they had seen.

Chuck Colson, Nixon’s ‘hatchet man’ went to prison for his crimes and there met Jesus.  He says of his experience: “I know the resurrection is a fact, and Watergate [the criminal enterprise for which he was in prison] proved it to me.  How?  Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it.  Every one was beaten, tortured, stoned or put in prison.  They would not have endured that if it weren’t true.  Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world – and they couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks.  You’re telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years?  Absolutely impossible.”

The attached page (https://wordpress.com/page/capost2k.wordpress.com/16919) gives more perspective on this issue in that it details views of skeptics who do not believe in Jesus, but grudgingly admit that the disciples saw “something” though they admit they do not know what.

So I’ll  bet that if you try Pascal’s Wager, you may find more that you bargain for.

A Devil’s Gamble

Driving home from Kansas City and Iowa on January 1, 2018, was very comfortable.  Clear skies, dry roads, bright sunshine in the southern view, light traffic, spotless snow-covered soft slopes of farmland all around; a truly beautiful sight, albeit outside our car the temperature was hovering around ZERO (-18C)!

Snow by highway January 1 2018But for all the beauty of the drive, we saw many silent symbols of those who had tried A Devil’s Gamble on the nights before, when the snow was fresh, and salt trucks and plows had battled to keep up with the falling white tricksters.  They melted just enough to make what residue was left behind as slick as an ice rink.  In a few places to the side of the road, but mostly in the median strip, there were corrugated channels where autos and trucks had spun off the road and been towed out.  We counted more than 40 between Cedar Rapids, IA, and Champagne, IL!  Only three autos still littered the sides of the road that day, still waiting for some rescue as the drivers and passengers had left the metal machines captured by the drifts, but the evidence of those already pulled from the pits were enough to set us thinking about how they wound up there.

Snow by highway 2 January 1 2018Only one really raised the hair on the back of our necks!  A mini-van, still loaded with Christmas gifts and luggage sat precariously to the right of our path, just at the edge of a 50 foot + (15m) embankment stretching sharply down in front of it, with only inches to go before it would have plunged into the depth, and probably rolled several times.  We imagined the relief of the driver as he pulled his children out of the almost fatal fall, leaving behind their parcels of holiday cheer, thankful to be alive.  Otherwise most of the tracks told of drivers who spun out and could not get their carriages out of the snow without help.

Snow by highway 3 January 1 2018
eerily similar to pickup we saw

One lone old pickup sat helplessly deep between guard rails, having kept his direction, but sinking more than 200 feet (61m) between the barriers on either side.

The drivers had gambled that they could handle the speed limit, some probably even passing it.  At 70 or more mph (110kph) the gamblers bet they could get to their destination 200 miles away 60 minutes sooner than if they traveled at 50mph (80kph).  They hoped that their risks would win, that they would be able to handle the speed and not get off track.  Instead they spent the night or even a couple days arranging for rescues that could have been saved with a one hour delay.

Satans fall
Luke 10:18

Such was the result of A Devil’s Gamble for these poor souls.  You see the devil gambled in ancient days that he could replace God.  He wanted to in charge and “like the Most High,” (Isaiah 14:12-19) and so took his chances at speeds not even “the Day Star, son of Dawn,” could manage.

He wanted to do what he wanted to do without regard for the truth that he was merely a created being, however magnificent; just a creature, NOT the Creator, the uncreated One.  Pretty stupid, don’t you think?  After all, how dumb did he have to be to see that he was NOT the Creator?

PowerballBut before we get too hard on the devil, let’s consider our own gambles.  God has laid out everything we need to enjoy His company, everything we need to live godly lives in Christ Jesus (2 Peter 1:3).  He has guaranteed that we can live with Him forever, that we can enjoy the trip on the way, that we can share these joys with families, friends, and fellow pilgrims.  Nothing will defeat us (Romans 8:37-39); no power on earth can disturb us (1 Corinthians 4:20); no one can stop us from loving and sharing this life (Galatians 5:23) . . . except us, me!

And at times I gambled as stupidly as the devil! I pretended that I could find joy, peace, love . . . on my own, in my own way, following my own ideas of what would satisfy.  I was as foolishly gambling as a devil.  Just in time, He rescued me.  He convinced me that I was speeding too fast and was headed for a ditch, and maybe even a crashing roll over a precipice that would have ended my life.

If you are honest you will admit you have gambled just as stupidly.  Maybe you are gambling today!  You are thinking that you can be happy living life without regard to what the Bible teaches.  You are running your life based on your personal perceptions of what will satisfy you.  Like a child you want to eat only sugary sweets, not realizing eating veggies may not be as much “fun” but will make you healthier and more able to enjoy life.  You are driving as if you can win doing life your way.

Gamblers loss.jpgSuch gambling is dangerous because none of us knows when the game will be over.  We play the odds hoping we will get out of the game before we crash.  The truth is that gambling is a fool’s or a devil’s game.  And the higher the stakes, the more likely you will lose.  When you gamble with your integrity, with your family, with your life, you are betting on extremely high stakes.

Stop betting on a devil’s gamble.