Links Daily Devotional

What Are You Betting On?

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes… (Romans 1:16, NIV)

Golf is a numbers game. There is par and the number you shoot against it. There is the average of those numbers, adjusted to determine your handicap index. And then there are the numbers to the games we play, gross vs. net, stroke play or match play or Stableford scoring.

Let me encourage you to keep learning passages of Scripture, good lines of reasoning, and exceptional testimonies of men and women who have given their lives to Jesus.Of course, that’s not enough numbers for a lot of golfers. They have their side games, with whole others arrangements of numbers, and behind those numbers is what we call a wager. In every classic wager, those who lay the bets are counting on the outcome to go their way. But here is what is fascinating to me: Even if the penalty for losing is great, there are still those who take the bet. They are willing to put their last dollar on the line for a chance to win big. But look out if they lose!

In the 17th Century, a brilliant French mathematician named Blaise Pascal suggested a wager of another kind. He didn’t lay any money on the line, nor assets of any other kind. Instead, he was using the language of the gamble to observe the way people prepare for eternity by how they believe or don’t believe in God.

Like all human reason, Pascal’s logic was not perfect, but it has remained in circulation because it is provocative. What Pascal suggested was that since we cannot absolutely know that God of the Bible exists, we do far better to believe and live as though he does. Why? First, because the payoff of believing and being right is eternity in heaven, while the loss of believing and being wrong is simply physical death. However, the penalty of not believing God exists and being wrong is severe: eternity in hell, separated from God and all his love-charged attributes forever.

Some logicians have dismissed Pascal’s famous wager as being too black-and-white in its simplicity, but as I said, it is provocative. It demands that we consider eternal life and what role God plays in what happens to us when we die.

This is what happened a few weeks ago when we sponsored an outreach with players from the PGA Tour Champions, including Scott Simpson and Larry Mize. These men shared the place of Jesus Christ in their lives. At the end of the evening, one guest asked the friend who had invited him, “You don’t really believe that crap, do you?” His friend responded by asking whether he had ever heard of Pascal’s wager. The guest said he had not and his friend pointed him to an article that explained the reasoning. The result was just what you would hope for: the guest said he needed to “look into this Christianity more deeply.”

Just like your favorite wedge helps your golf game, adding arguments such as Pascal’s wager to your conversational bag of equipment can really improve your Gospel-sharing game! Let me encourage you to keep learning passages of Scripture, good lines of reasoning, and exceptional testimonies of men and women who have given their lives to Jesus. All of these can help you when it’s time to ask a friend, “When it comes to eternity, what are you betting on?”

Dereck Wong
November 9, 2016
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