1/14/15 Joey about 30
Just yesterday, and every so often in my outreach conversations, people will refer to some version of what is known as “Pascal’s Wager”. Blaise Pascal was a 17th century philosopher who taught that since we can’t know for sure about God’s existence, then we ought to assume He does exist and live accordingly, since what we stand to lose if He doesn’t is nothing compared to what we stand to lose or gain if He does. For a man named Joey,a teaching consultant whom a church brother and I spoke with at a Starbucks yesterday, this means that while he has given up belief in the Christian faith he had grown up in, he still tries to live a morally good life “just in case”. He said his rejection of Christian belief comes largely from seeing church people living immoral lives because they are sure they will be forgiven. Better for him to live a moral life, he reasons, because then he can be sure to be forgiven if God does exist. So which view is better or worse? People of both views believe they will go to heaven. The first think it is by virtue of their correct beliefs, even though their immoral behavior shows that they really don’t believe to the point that their faith affects their life. They have a type of faith, but it is a dead faith that produces no fruit. The second group believe they will go to heaven by virtue of their moral lifestyle, even though they don’t believe. Instead of putting their trust in Jesus, they trust in themselves and their own goodness. They too have a type of faith, only it is faith in themselves rather than faith in Christ. So is “Pascal’s Wager” a good thing? Should we hedge our bets and live moral lives “just in case”? Is Christianity just a big gamble that the reward of heaven and punishment of hell are true? Or might there be a better way to live? At this point in the conversation I just talked to Joey about my own experiences. In short, my initial faith in Jesus gave me a certain amount of assurance of salvation, and His work in my heart and in my life since then has confirmed and strengthened that assurance and allows me to thank Him for the gift of eternity with Jesus that salvation is.