Summary: This sermon address God's answer to the issue of playing the lottery.


For many years I have wanted to address the issue of gambling, and specifically, the matter of playing the lottery.

There is no text in Scripture that says, “You shall not gamble.” In fact, the words “gamble” or “gambling” are not found in the Bible. Nevertheless, that does not mean that Scripture does not address the issue. And that is what I would like to do in this message.

Now, at the outset, I should say that most of this material is from two sermons by John MacArthur on the topic of gambling and playing the lottery.


What is God’s answer for the issue of playing the lottery?

Let’s use the following outline:

1. Current Concerns about Playing the Lottery

2. Culture’s Answers to Playing the Lottery

3. God’s Answer to Playing the Lottery

I. Current Concerns about Playing the Lottery

First, let’s look at current concerns about playing the lottery.

Gambling in America is huge. According to the website, Statista, gambling “makes a total contribution of around 137.5 billion U.S. dollars to the U.S. economy annually and directly employs more than 730 thousand people.” Illegal gambling perhaps doubles the amount of money spent.

Now, gambling is not something new. John MacArthur notes that “in 1776 the first Continental Congress of the United States sold lottery tickets to finance the American Revolution. President Washington himself bought the first lottery ticket to build the new capital called Federal City, now known as Washington, D.C. So our nation was founded on a lottery, the Revolution was financed by a lottery, and our capital city was financed by a lottery.”

Today, in this country, lotteries are run by 47 jurisdictions: 44 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The states that do not have lotteries are Alabama, Mississippi, Utah, Nevada, Alaska, and Hawaii.

John MacArthur notes that “by 1995 studies indicate 95 percent of Americans gambled, 82 percent play the lotteries, 75 percent play slot machines, 50 percent bet on dogs and horses, 44 percent on cards, 34 percent on bingo, 26 percent on sporting events, 74 percent frequent casinos and 89 percent approved of gambling. That means there were six percent who didn’t approve but gambled anyway… interesting.”

II. Culture’s Answers to Playing the Lottery

Second, notice culture’s answers to playing the lottery.

Basically, the culture says that it is okay to play the lottery. Forty-four states have lotteries. They see it as a great way to increase state revenue. And the government is so duplicitous. On the one hand, they say that they want to help the poor. But, on the other hand, the vast majority of people who play the lottery are low income earners.

Oh, to be sure there are groups that help compulsive and addictive gamblers, such as Gamblers Anonymous. But their impact on the whole problem is miniscule.

So, what is God’s answer?

III. God’s Answer to Playing the Lottery

Third, let’s examine God’s answer to playing the lottery.

Let me begin by defining gambling. Now, let me say that gambling is not simply taking a risk. There is a risk in almost everything in life. If you are a farmer, there is risk. One year, you have a great crop. But the next year, the crop fails.

Insurance is a risk. You take out life insurance, health insurance, car insurance, home insurance, and so on.

Even the stock market is a risk. You invest money in a public company believing that the company will continue to do well so that you may receive a return on your investment.

Where there is a reasonable, manageable risk, you do not have gambling. The words “gamble, gambling, gambler” are related to the word for “game.” Gambling is a game. It is not a game based on skill, reason, or anything controllable. It is a game based on sheer chance. According to gambling is defined as, “The activity or practice of playing at a game of chance for money or other stakes.” Gambling is an appeal to sheer chance.

Now, I want to approach God’s answer to playing the lottery by giving five biblical reasons why playing it is wrong.

A. Because It Denies the Reality of God’s Sovereignty

First, playing the lottery is wrong because it denies the reality of God’s sovereignty. Not only does it deny the reality of God’s sovereignty, playing the lottery affirms the existence of luck or chance.

There is no such thing as luck or chance. Luck is non-existent. Chance is an anti-God idea. The Bible clearly teaches that God is sovereign over all things. He is sovereign. He is in control of all things. Every single atom is under the sovereign control of Almighty God. Nothing happens by chance.

The Bible teaches that God is sovereign over all things in Psalm 103:19 (NASB95), “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all.”

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