On this day in 1931, the Nevada state legislature legalized gambling. Prior to the stock market crash, Nevada’s famed silver mines had been in slow decline. With the advent of the Great Depression, lawmakers desperately passed the gambling bill to stimulate the economy and stanch population flight.
The measure put Las Vegas on the map. Approximately 36 million tourists visit Vegas every year, generating over $6 billion in gaming revenue. The famed Las Vegas Strip is a four-mile stretch of boulevard packed with casinos, shops and glitzy resorts. A “typical” Vegas hotel is Circus Circus, home to daily circus acts, an indoor amusement park, a plentiful buffet, three swimming pools and a wedding chapel.
The blackjack tables are not the only places where people gamble. Many gamble with their salvation, blithely trusting in their good works, church membership, or community reputation to tip the divine scales in their favor. A man may say, “I’m not sure I’m going to heaven, but God will probably let me in because I’m no ax murderer.” A woman may justify herself by thinking, “I’m a good mother and community volunteer. That should qualify me for God’s good graces.”
In 1 John 5:13, we read that we can know we have eternal life—that we are saved now and saved for eternity. The verb “to know” literally means “to see” or “sense.” First, our spiritual eyes need to be opened to the truth of God’s Word. In it we are provided an accurate description of our broken state before God and God’s gracious provision of restoration through Christ. Second, we need to be still and sense the witness of the Spirit to our spirits. The Holy Spirit strengthens our relationship with Christ and assures us that we are children of God. “These things,” according to John, are not based on fleeting feelings but on the solid bedrock of God’s Word and the testimony of the Spirit.
We do not have to gamble with our eternal future. In Christ, we can know that we have eternal life and in that knowing, we can have peace.