The Fallacy of the Modern Gospel
"You'll never be happy in this life without Jesus. You've got a God-shaped vacuum in your heart. Only God can fill this vacuum, and until you find Him, you will never find happiness. Jesus died on the cross for your sins, and if you ask Him into your heart, He will live in you and bring you everlasting happiness. Why don't you ask Him into your heart today?"
Have you ever heard a line like this? Sadly, if you've been witnessed to by a modern evangelical, you probably have. In this modern gospel, "Christians" use life-enhancement as a way to draw sinners to the Cross, and to make it more appealing. Variations on this theme include promises like, "God has a wonderful plan for your life", and Jesus will heal your alcohol problem, broken marriage, etc."
This "modern gospel" is pure heresey. Jesus did not come to earth, live a sinless life, die on the cross, and raise from the dead to improve the lives of those who believe on Him. He did this to pay the penalty for our sins. Moreover, He never promised a better life for His followers. Take a look at His words.
God does not promise an easy life for Christians. He promises just the opposite. The Bible does promise that "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." It does not say that life is easy, or even that all things that happen to a Christian will be good. It says that all things together work for good. Suffering, temptation, persecution, and loss can be used by God for a number of things. For example, suffering might bring a believer closer to God by forcing the believer to rely solely on Him.
Such a gospel may draw sinners to check out the Christian life to see if it's as good as all these Christians say, but when the promised persecution comes, they will fall away from the faith.
Ray Comfort, in his "Hell's Best Kept Secret" teaching uses the following illustration to clarify the fallacy of this teaching:
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 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, un-straps 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's 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 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.
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 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 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 improves 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 is 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 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.
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, let's take a close look at an incident aboard the plane. We have a brand-new flight attendant. It's her first day. She's carrying a tray of boiling hot coffee. She wants to leave an impression upon the passengers and she certainly does! As she's walking down the aisle she trips over someone's foot and slops the hot coffee all over the lap of our second passenger.
What's his reaction as that boiling liquid hits his tender flesh? Does he say, "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 didn't 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 motive - to flee from the wrath that's to come - when tribulation strikes, when the flight gets bumpy, we won't get angry at God, and we won't lose our joy and peace. Why should we? We didn't 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-centered gospel. They came lacking repentance, without which they cannot be saved.