Two men are seated on a plane. The first is given a parachute and told to put it on as it would improve his flight. He’s a little skeptical at first, since he can’t see how wearing a parachute on a plane could possibly improve his flight.
He decides to experiement and see if the claims are true. As he puts it on, he notices the weight of it upon his shoulders and he finds he has difficulty in sitting upright. However, he consoles himself with the fact he was told that the parachute would improve his flight. So he decides to give it a little time.
As he waits he notices that some of the other passengers are laughing at him for wearing a parachute on a plane. He begins to feel somewhat humiliaited. As they continue to point and laugh at him, he can stand it no longer. He slinks in his seat, unstraps the parachute and throws it to the floor. Disillusionment and bitterness fill his heart, because as far as he was concerned he was told an outright lie.
The second man is given a parachute, but listen to what he is told. He is told to put it on because at any moment he’ll be jumping 25,000 feet out of the plane.. He gratefully puts the parachute on. He doesn’t notice the weight of it upon his shoulders, nor that he can’t sit upright. His mind is consumed with the thought of what would happen to him if he jumped without the parachute.
Let’s now analyze the motive and the result of each passenger’s experience. The first man’s motive for putting the parachute on was solely to improve his flight. The result of his experience was that he was humiliated by the passengers, disillusioned, and somewhat embitered against those who gave him the parachute. As far as he’s concerned, it will be a long time before anyone gets one of those things on his back again.
The second man put the parachute on solely to escape the jump to come. And because of his knowledge of what would happen to him if he jumped without it, he has a deep-rooted joy and peace in his heart knowing that he’s saved from sure death. This knowledge gives him the ability to withstand the mockery of the other passengers. His attitutde toward those who gave him the parachute is one of heartfelt gratitude.
Now listen to what the modern gospel says: Put on the Lord Jesus Christ. He’ll give you love, joy, peace, fulfillment, and lasting happiness. In other words, Jesus will improve your flight. The sinner responds, and in an experimental fashion puts on the Savior to see if the claims are true. And what does he get? The promised temptations, tribulation, and persecution. The other passengers mock him. So what does he do? He takes off the Lord Jesus Christ; he is offended for the Word’s sake; he’s disillusioned and somewhat embittered…and quite rightly so. He was promised peace, joy, love, and fulfillment, and all he got were trials and humiliation. His bitterness is directed at those who gave him the so-called good news. His latter end becomes worse than the first, and he’s another inoculated and bitter backslider.
Instead of preaching that Jesus improved the flight, we should be warning sinners that they have to jump out of a plane. That it’s appointed for man to die once and then face judgment (Hebrews 9:27). When a sinner understands the horrific consequences of breaking the Law of God, he will flee to the Savior, solely to escape the wrath that’s to come. If we are true and faithful witnesses, that’s what we’ll be preaching that there is wrath to come that God commands all men everywhere to repent: because he has appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness (Acts 17:30,31).
The issue isn’t one of happiness, but one of righteousness. It doesn’t matter how happy a sinner is, or how much he is enjoying the pleasures of sin for a season, without the righteousness of Christ, he will perish on the day of wrath. Proverbs 11:4 says, Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivers from death. Peace and joy are legitimate fruits of salvation, but it’s not legitimate to use these fruits as a drawing card for salvation. If we continue to do so, the sinner will respond with an impure motive, lacking repentance.