Let’s now analyse 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 embittered 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 attitude toward those who gave him the parachute is one of heartfelt gratitude.
Listen to what the modern gospel says: “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ. He’ll give you love, joy, peace, fulfilment, and lasting happiness.” In other words, Jesus will improve your flight. The sinner responds, and in an experimental fashion puts on the Saviour to see if the claims are true. And what does he get? The promised temptation, tribulation, and persecution—the other passengers mock him. So what does he do? He takes off the Lord Jesus Christ; he’s offended for the Word’s sake; he’s disillusioned and somewhat embittered; and quite rightly so. He was promised peace, joy, love, and fulfilment, and all he got were trials and humiliation. His bitterness is directed toward those who gave him the so-called “good news.” His latter end becomes worse than the first—he’s another inoculated and bitter “backslider.”
Instead of preaching that Jesus improves the flight, we should be warning the passengers that they have to jump out of a plane. That it’s appointed for man to die once, and after this the judgment. When a sinner understands the horrific consequences of breaking the Law of God, he will flee to the Saviour 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 every-where to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness.” The issue isn’t one of happiness, but one of righteousness. The fact that the Bible doesn’t mention the word “happiness” even once, yet mentions “righteousness” 289 times, should make the issue clear.
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 do so, the sinner will respond with an impure motive, lacking repentance.
Don’t use John 3:16. Why? Because you tell a sinner how to be saved before he has realized that he needs to be saved. What you have done is gospel-hardened him. D L Moody said, “It is a great mistake to give a man who has not been convicted of sin certain passages that were never meant for him. The Law is what he needs . . . Do not offer the consolation of the gospel until he sees and knows he is guilty before God. We must give enough of the Law to take away all self-righteousness.” Our nation is full of people—both in and out of church—who have come under the light of the gospel, but who have never been struck by the Law. They are still asleep in their sins, unaware of their terrible plight because the Law has never awakened them. The power of the Commandments must open their eyes before the light of the gospel can be of benefit. Look at this sequence in what Paul writes to the Ephesians: “Therefore He [the Lord] says, ‘Awake you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light’” (Ephesians 5:14). There must be an awakening before Jesus Christ gives us light.