|Photo by Sylvain Pedneault 2006|
Saturday, February 9, 2019
We recently went on a cruise to Cuba to celebrate our anniversary, and praise the Lord, He blessed us with a wonderful vacation and an opportunity to grow closer to each other and to Him!
Before we left, we decided to forego the cost of travel insurance to reimburse us if we had to cancel our trip, as well as medical insurance in case we got sick in Cuba or while at sea. But we did purchase and bring with us “poor man’s insurance,” namely bracelets to prevent seasickness, anti-nausea and antidiarrheal medication, and antibiotics in case we caught the local version of Montezuma’s revenge!
As is the case with most insurance, we prayed that we would never have to use it, and God answered that prayer. Our monetary outlay was small, and in return we received some peace of mind that we were to some extent covered if we became ill, as well as items that could prove to be useful at a future time (although we hope not)!
But most insurance that many of us are required or feel obligated to purchase carries a hefty price tag – life insurance, homeowner’s insurance, disability insurance, long-term care insurance, car insurance, and even umbrella policies in the event of disaster not covered by the above. These often account for a large proportion of our budget, yet unless a covered event occurs, they reap no tangible benefit other than peace of mind, or for some forms of insurance, the privilege of doing something like driving a vehicle.
Is it wrong to insure our assets and abilities rather than relying on God (Psalm 144:2) to protect us from disaster? I don’t believe that the first negates the second, for He wants us to be good stewards over all He has entrusted to us (Matthew 25:14-30). We should use common sense to protect ourselves and our households from danger and loss (Proverbs 22:3).
When we spend money on clothing, food, shelter, transportation, education, and other needs and wants, our expectation is that we will not only use them, but enjoy them, and perhaps even pass them on to our heirs. But insurance is a recurring, costly expense that we pay for while praying we will never have to use it!
Seventeenth-century French philosopher, mathematician and physicist Blaise Pascal had a vastly different view of insurance, not of the types described above, but rather of the spiritual variety. In his essay, “The Wager,” he proposed that every person, knowingly or unwittingly, makes a bet with their lives that God either exists or that He does not. This wager is not optional, for everyone must either accept God or reject Him.
My paraphrase is that those who believe in God have a form of spiritual insurance, for if their belief turns out to be true, they will live eternally in Heaven with Him and with their fellow believers. But those who reject God lack such insurance, for if God exists and condemns to eternal hell those who do not trust in Him, they have lost everything.
If we have no homeowners’ insurance and our house burns to the ground, that is a terrible tragedy, yet one from which we can ultimately recover, through God's grace, if our life was preserved. But if the Bible is true (2 Timothy 3:16), and Jesus Christ is the only Way (John 14:6) to Heaven through faith in His death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), then those who die without such faith will spend eternity in hell (John 3:18; Mark 9:43-47).
Scripture tells us that the narrow path to salvation is through Jesus Christ alone (Matthew 7:13-14); that we are saved by God’s grace through our faith alone, and not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9); and that life is eternal, either in heaven (John 3:16) or in hell (Luke 16:20-31). Let’s suppose for a moment that the Bible is not true, and that people who believe in other gods, or in no god at all, can go to heaven if their good deeds outweigh their bad. Or let’s imagine the even more extreme position that there is no afterlife, and that once our heart stops beating, our soul and spirit are no more.
What are the consequences for the believer in Jesus Christ if either of the above scenarios are true? In comparison to those who reject Christ, the believer in Him has lost nothing. In this life he may have given up worldly pleasures, such as illicit sex, drugs, or alcohol, yet abstaining from these has physical and mental health benefits and prolongs life. He may face earthly persecution for his beliefs, yet he has faith that he will be rewarded for these in Heaven (1 Peter 4:12-19).
Even if his belief in Christ were misplaced, he would gain peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7), joy in his Lord (Nehemiah 8:10), hope that God is working all things together for good (Romans 8:28), and abundant life (John 10:10). His belief would likely improve his relationships with others (Galatians 6:2) and benefit society as a whole.
So Pascal concluded that the only rational decision is to believe in God and live as though He exists. In so doing, the person “betting” on God loses essentially nothing, leads a better earthly life, and receives infinite, eternal gains in Heaven, while avoiding infinite, eternal losses in hell.
Not for a moment do I intend to imply that we are gambling by trusting in Jesus Christ, for only He can save our souls from eternal damnation! (Acts 4:12). Even the apostle Paul wrote that if Christ did not rise from the dead, then we as Christians should be most miserable, and we might as well party as if there is no tomorrow (1 Corinthians 15:12-32).
But praise God, Jesus Christ is risen from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:4), and by trusting in Him, we are clothed in His righteousness (Isaiah 61:10), our sins are forgiven (1 John 1:9), we are God’s children and joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17), we are His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) and fellow workers (1 Corinthians 3:9), and we will live forever with Him in glorified bodies (1 Corinthians 15:35-54) and in mansions (John 14:1-3) He has specially designed for us!
We spend vast sums of money to insure our physical life and belongings and hope never to need that insurance. Why would each of us not take out spiritual insurance that costs us nothing? By trusting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we can know through God’s Word and prayer that we can have the assurance of eternal life in Heaven with Him and our loved ones in Him, as well as untold blessings here below.
To summarize: If we trust God and He is not real, we have lost nothing. If we trust God and He is real, we have gained everything. If we reject God and He is not real, we have lost joy, peace, hope and a sense of purpose in this life. If we reject God and He is real, we have lost everything throughout all eternity.
Seems like a no-brainer to me.
© 2019 Laurie Collett