The Gospel: Why not preach that Jesus gives happiness, peace, and joy?
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. Heís a little skeptical at first, since he canít see how wearing a parachute on a plane could possibly improve his flight. He decides to experiment 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 humiliated. 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. Heís told to put it on because at any moment heíll be jumping 25,000 feet out of the plane. He gratefully puts the parachute on. He doesnít notice the weight of it upon his shoulders, nor that he canít sit upright. His mind is consumed with the thought of what would happen to him if he jumped without the parachute.
Letís now analyze the motive and the result of each passengerís experience. The first manís 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 heís 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 heís 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.
Now listen to what the modern gospel says: "Put on the Lord Jesus Christ. Heíll 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 temptation, tribulation, and persecutionóthe other "passengers" mock him. So what does he do? He takes off the Lord Jesus Christ; heís offended for the Wordís sake; heís 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 heís another inoculated and bitter "backslider."
Instead of preaching that Jesus improves the flight, we should be warning sinners that they have to jump out of a plane. That itís 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 thatís to come. If we are true and faithful witnesses, thatís what weíll be preachingóthat there is wrath to comeóthat God "commands all men every where to repent: because he has appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness" (Acts 17:30,31).
The issue isnít one of happiness, but one of righteousness. It doesnít 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 itís 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. Can you remember why the second passenger had joy and peace in his heart? It was because he knew that the parachute was going to save him from sure death. In the same way, as believers we have joy and peace in believing because we know that the righteousness of Christ is going to deliver us from the wrath that is to come.
With that thought in mind, letís take a close look at an incident aboard the plane. We have a brand-new flight attendant. Itís her first day. Sheís carrying a tray of boiling hot coffee. She wants to leave an impression upon the passengers and she certainly does! As sheís walking down the aisle she trips over someoneís foot and slops the hot coffee all over the lap of our second passenger. Whatís his reaction as that boiling liquid hits his tender flesh? Does he go, "Man that hurt!"? Yes, he does. But then does he rip the parachute from his shoulders, throw it to the floor, and say, "The stupid parachute!"? No, why should he? He didnít put the parachute on for a better flight. He put it on to save him from the jump to come. If anything, the hot coffee incident causes him to cling tighter to the parachute and even look forward to the jump.
If we have put on the Lord Jesus Christ for the right motiveóto flee from the wrath thatís to comeówhen tribulation strikes, when the flight gets bumpy, we wonít get angry at God, and we wonít lose our joy and peace. Why should we? We didnít come to Christ for a better lifestyle, but to flee from the wrath. to come If anything, tribulation drives the true believer closer to the Savior.
Sadly, we have multitudes of professing Christians who lose their joy and peace when the flight gets bumpy. Why? They are the product of a man- entered gospel. They came lacking repentance, without which they cannot be saved.