Pascal’s wager, and taking the Gospel for granted

Pascal seems to be a clever guy. Hedging your options is clever, right? He said, in short, that if you choose to believe then you can gain everything, because if there is a God, you will spend eternity with Him. But if you choose not to believe, and there is a God, you are in big trouble. So, says Pascal, it is better to place your bets on God, just in case.

But is that kind of faith, one born out of fear and uncertainty a type of faith we read about anywhere in the Bible? No doubt Pascal read verses like Mat 10:28  “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” and came away with his understanding that believing is better.

Inherent in Pascal’s conclusion, however, is something much deeper, and something that either he did not publish explicitly, or something that he did not quite understand…his wager takes the Gospel for granted.

Because without the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ, believing would not matter. Sure, you can have faith in your own ability to keep the law of God perfectly, but that would a false and misplaced faith. So contained in Pascal’s wager is the assumption that the substitutionary atonement does make a difference, or else he is still placing his bet in the wrong place.

Just as Pascal seems to take the Gospel for granted, don’t we all do it sometimes? We sometimes live as if there is no God, while we try and hedge our bets by going to church, mumbling the occasional prayer and play-acting holiness among other Christians. All the while we try to rationalize that it will all be ok, we can act as we do because we are also placing our bets on God in the hope of winning some metaphysical jackpot.

Let’s be clear about this, Pascal did get one thing right. If there is a God, then believing in Him is the not the biggest or most important thing, it is the only thing. But also, if we are to one day stand before Him to be judged for eternity, then taking the Gospel for granted and placing just some of our bets there is not a safe hedge of our future.

Is your eternal destiny worth a gamble? Is it worth looking betting on alternatives, like Tolle and Oprah does, and encourage millions of others to do? No, dear friend, believing in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is the only way, and receiving that faith by grace is God’s way.

Jesus said: Mat 16:24  Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
Mat 16:25  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Our motive should not be selfish, like that of Pascal, and take the gospel for granted in the process. Our purpose is God-given, to glorify Him in self-denial so that we may be recipients of His gracious love. Hedging bets out of self-preservation is not the kind of glory God wants. Glorifying God for who He is, and for what He has done for us, in humble submission and loving praise is the result of the Gospel.

May you today know that glorifying God in loving faith is not just a viable and safe alternative, it is the only alternative. 

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