This article is for those who are not convinced of the reality of heaven and hell. Yes, you’ve read the evidence presented in The Main Issue. You have been warned by other Christians. You know the Bible quotes Jesus Himself warning about a place of “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” But you are not fully convinced. You might take a lesson from professional gamblers.
A professional gambler knows how to play the percentages. He wouldn’t last long if he couldn’t recognize a good bet when he seen one. Some things are just bad risks, others too good to pass by.
A good bet is when the chances of winning are better than the chances of losing. Or, if the chances of losing are greater, the investment is small in comparison to the prize.
Yes, a pro knows he will lose sometimes, often as a matter of fact. But if his winnings are larger than his losses he will realize a profit. His profit is wins minus losses. So the odds must be in his favor.
A professional gambler would not buy a Sweepstake ticket; the odds are very much against him. He would likely have better success betting on a particular horse. Or his chances of winning at, say, a poker game would be much greater than a lottery.
A gambler wants to know three things: l) what are the odds, 2) what is the required bet, and 3) what is the prize.
Let’s say a ticket for a thousand dollar prize would cost you $100 and you knew that there was only to be 12 tickets sold. Your chances of winning, you calculate, are one in twelve. And your chances of losing are 11 in 12. Doesn’t sound too good. But you learn they had trouble selling the tickets and the deadline for selling them is only a few minutes away. They had only managed to sell three tickets. You quickly calculate your chances of winning the $1000 prize, if you buy the fourth and last one, is now one out of four. What would you do?
Any professional gambler would jump at the opportunity. Though the odds of winning are still against him, the prize far outweighs the required bet. Too good to pass up.
Now let’s say you are offered a lot of money to transport some explosives to a certain construction site over very bumpy roads. It is calculated that the chances of the explosives going off en route are only one in a thousand. Would you do it? Some would, some wouldn’t. How about if the chances of an explosion are one in 500? Or one in a hundred? Or one in ten?
We all play the percentages. We have that inner ability to make quick calculations to determine what is likely to bring us the better profit or steer us out of trouble. Some might drive over a mountain pass if there has been only a little snow, others if it is reported there has been a number of accidents, a very few if there were blizzard warnings. Most would conclude the odds are against them.
So you are not convinced that there is a heaven to gain and a hell to shun. Okay, but what do you think the chances are that you are wrong, that there may be a heaven and a hell, taking into consideration all the evidence presented? A 50% chance? 25%? How about just 10? How might a professional bet? Remember, he is interested in only three things: 1) what are the odds, 2) what is the required bet, and 3) what is the prize. So let’s look at it.
1) THE ODDS. Let’s assume that the odds, in this case, are just 10%, one out of ten. In other words, there is one chance in ten there is a heaven and a hell – that Jesus was not misquoted and that He didn’t lie, that the apostle Paul really did go to heaven as the Bible states, that even one of the testimonies in this paper are true.
2) THE REQUIRED BET. Now let’s look at what you have to lose if you put your life in Christ’s hands – make a deep commitment to live with and for Jesus. First, you would have to humble yourself, and maybe that doesn’t come easy. You would have to admit your guilt before God and ask Jesus to forgive you. You would have to remove yourself from the throne of your life and solemnly invite Jesus to sit there. (Perhaps you are messing up your life anyhow, so the required bet may not be that much.) You would risk being persecuted by friends and loved ones, and that can hurt. You would have to forsake sinful pleasures.
3) THE PRIZE. The prize is beyond comparison and description and value (that is, assuming the Bible is authentic). Not only will you escape a non-ending nightmare of “weeping and gnashing of teeth,” but you will gain more joy than you knew existed. Keep in mind this prize is non-ending, you can never spend it all, it will never wear out, no one can steal it from you.
Jesus Christ is a very good “bet,” even if there were only a ten percent chance heaven and hell are realities (that is, a ten percent chance the Bible is true). The required bet compared to the prize is like an old sock the dog has chewed up and dragged in the mud to a King’s wardrobe. Not much to lose, lots to gain.
What will you do with Jesus? Whether you like it or not, you have a choice to make. Is Jesus who He claims to be? Is He really “the way, the truth, and the life”? Does He really have the power to forgive your sins and give you a brand new life, as the Bible claims?
What will you do with Christ?