Mike Novotny - Is Believing in God Just a Safe Bet?
Is it bad to tell people just to believe in Jesus because it's a good bet? That was a question that a woman asked me recently at our Question and Answer Sunday. She's passionate about sharing her faith and she knows that people have all different reactions and objections. And so she actually, I think unknowingly, quoted an old philosophical term that's called "Pascal's wager". Ever heard of it before? Blaise Pascal was a 17th century French thinker. And when he thought about belief and God, he said, "Isn't it a better bet to actually believe that there is a God instead of not to"? I mean, if it turns out you believe in him and he doesn't exist, well, you just wasted this life. But, if you don't believe in him and he does exist, you've wasted eternity.
And so Pascal's wager was it just logically makes sense that you should believe in him and trust in Jesus. And this woman was asking the same question. Is that a valid argument to make for the Christian faith? You know logically, in a way, it seems like yes should be the answer. But did you know the Bible, actually, itself, has a different answer to that question? Sometimes people think that Christianity is just about all of this stuff that you get. You know this free gift of forgiveness and salvation and eternal life. And hopefully, you can be a better person or a better neighbor or a better spouse or a better parent or whatever. But, do you know how Jesus described the Christian faith?
You have to lose your life. He said, "If anyone wants to find their life and be my disciple, they have to give up their life. You have to take up a cross and deny yourself and follow me". And so real Christianity actually involves great sacrifice. The forgiveness and eternal life is free. But it will cost you as you repent of sin and follow Jesus. I think that's why the apostle Paul talked about Jesus in such a really stark, vivid way in 1 Corinthians 15. Let me read to you his words.
The apostle Paul said, Paul's like, "Do you want to know a pitiful person? It's someone who trusts in Jesus if Jesus isn't true. It's a person who bases their whole life on the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. But he didn't actually rise from the dead". Paul said, "That's not great. That's not a great wager. That's pitiful". I mean, Paul knew, and you can read the rest of 1 Corinthians for yourself. Like he suffered. Like, he went through it for the sake of the Gospel. And if none of it was true, he wasted the one and only life that he had.
And so instead of thinking about what's a safe bet and what's not, let me instead turn you to the hope and the confidence of the apostle Paul. He says you should be pitied if it isn't true. The very next verse, verse 20, If I'm speaking with someone, let's not talk about wagers and probabilities. Let's talk about Jesus. Who he was. What he said. What he did. And the compelling evidence that we find in 1 Corinthians 15. All the witnesses. That he actually left the grave empty. That's the message that creates faith. Talking to your unchurched friends about probabilities will never change their heart. But talking to them about Jesus just might. So let's pray:
Dear Jesus, you are alive but we can't see you. We are people of faith and so we need you as we reach out to the people in our lives. We know reason and arguments might be powerful but they can never change the human heart. Only you can. So we're asking you, God, to keep your promise. That your word would never come back empty and that faith would come from hearing this message. Please bless us. Give us boldness and encouragement. Like Paul, help us to be willing to suffer and sacrifice and go out on a limb so that people can hear the one message that will change their forever. I thank you, God, for hearing this prayer. I thank you already for answering it, because we come to you in the powerful name of Jesus. Amen.
Right now, there is an urgent need to reach a generation that isn't engaged in their faith and are increasingly leaving the church. And today you have the tremendous opportunity to share the good news of God's grace right where they live everyday over Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Give now to help hit a $116,000 goal to share the Gospel with unreached Millennials, including people like Holly who need to know Jesus. Holly shares: The potential to connect more people like Holly to God's grace is huge. To thank you for your gift today, we'll send you Pastor Novotny's insightful book, "More Than Enough".