A parachute as an illustration of faith and works

I can’t imagine what skydivers think as they leap from a plane with a parachute tied to their back.  They have to have complete faith in the parachute before they jump, trusting that it will stop them crashing into the ground.

As people hurtle toward death, in an ordinary sense, and then God’s judgement for sin, we need something or someone to stop us crashing and burning before God’s justice throne.  Christ is like a parachute.  He does what we cannot do ourselves.  To escape the wrath of God, we must put complete faith in Christ’s death for our sins and in his resurrection from the dead.

Some people live as if Jesus isn’t enough.  Just as a skydiver who believes his parachute is too small might flap his arms to save himself from crashing, so people who don’t think Jesus has done all that it is necessary to save us will try to do good works.  But these good works are as effective as flapping our arms as we hurtle toward the ground.  Good works won’t reduce the impact of the judgement and wrath of God.  Jesus is enough.  All we can do is rest on him.

About neilrobbie

I am a 6'6" formerly ginger Scot, in a cross cultural marriage to my lovely Londoner wife. We've lived in SE Asia and since 2005, I have served as an Anglican minister in Wolverhampton and West Bromwich.
This entry was posted in Means of Grace and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to A parachute as an illustration of faith and works

  1. Morris Lempkey. says:

    “I can’t imagine what skydivers think as they leap from a plane with a parachute tied to their back.”

    I am Paratrooper, Skydiver and Jumpmaster;
    We think about what we are going to do in freefall; working with others or doing aerobatics.
    Yes, we do believe in our parachutes, but we still carry a spare.
    I’ve had a few malfunctions, but I can’t say I ever flapped my arms.
    It is faith in myself and my mates that keeps me safe.

    I hope that helps.

    • neilrobbie says:

      Hi Morris, thanks for your help and welcome to TG. The analogy of parachute and faith in Christ breaks down, as you pointed out, as you and your mates pack the chute, someone makes them and so the trust is not in the parachute but in the person who packed it and made it. What would you do if your parachute and spare failed? No amount of faith in yourself will stop you from hitting the ground very hard. That’s the point. I can’t save myself from the judgement and justice of God than I can from hitting the ground by flapping my arms. WHat do you believe will happen to you when you die? Neil

      • Having had that opportunity (my reserve finally DID open after I threw it), I found that I was laughing; “What can go wrong. next?” A minute or two later, I broke my back.
        I tend to laugh at pain and the thought of death; I’ve been around almost long enough.

        What do I think will happen when I die? I usually tell people what I think;
        “End of story, movie’s over, last reel, end of film is flapping, noisily, around inside the projector.
        I need but one life.

    • Don Ranney says:

      Hello all you high fliers. I was trained to be a bird in the British Special Air Service in the mid 60s. We spent the first 3 days jumping off boxes at various heights when the jump master said “Go” It was a Pavlovian experience to turn us into robots. Then we were brainwashed with lectures on aerodynamics and the infallibility of the parachute. We believed. BUt we didn’t really KNOW the parachute worked until we tried it, Faith became Science.
      I too have had some mishaps, a line-over in which I had to release my main canopy and deploy the reserves was another act of faith that proved to be a rewarding experience. I’ve often thought that trusting God is something like that first jump. I came to believe God could work a miracle in my life afflicted with drugs alcohol and feelings of incompetence–even though I was a university professor at that time. Yet I only really got to KNOW God’s power when I stepped out in faith to accept him. I’ve had many confirmations of the wisdom of that move since that day.
      As a skydiver I stopped when I was 51 years old–yet the desire still lingers, and in my late 60s wrote this poem, published recently in CanPara, the magazine of the Canadian Sport Parachuting Association:


      The aircraft calls me as it drones across the sky,
      “Come join me in the fresh blue air.
      Look with me at the green land so many miles below.
      See, the fleecy billowing clouds beckon us to join them
      as they tumble in the wind.

      “Don’t forget your parachute
      so you can jump into those clouds,
      soar like a bird, twist and turn,
      as the buildings below grow quickly larger.

      “All too soon you’ll be back on Earth,
      ready to rise again.
      I’ll be waiting for you.”

  2. pvansoest says:

    The picture of the “parachute” you’re showing is in fact a paraglider. You don’t jump out of an aereoplane withe these, but walk/run (depending on the wind) from a mountain.

    • neilrobbie says:

      Hi pvansoest, thank you for the clarification. I have seen paragliders in action and can now see the difference, thanks to your comment.

      I’ll leave the post as it is, because the point still stands, either you trust the thing you have strapped to your back or you don’t, and it’s just the same for the believer in Christ. May God bless you. Neil

  3. Kim says:

    Thank youk for this analogy regarding Faith with works. It paints a clear picture that I will rely on when I fall back on my old habits of feeling as if I have to earn Salvation.

  4. Don Ranney says:

    !’ve jumped 24 times–started as a member of the British Special Air Service. Once I turned my chute as I was landing, lost air and broke my leg. The problem was that as a beginning sport jumper I had not read the manual that should have reached me from the Canadian Sport Parachuting Association but didn’t because of a mail strike. That taught me a spiritual lesson. In a sense I had broken God’s law of gravity. In my spiritual life I find that God has given us lessons in how to live well–the Bible. If we read that and do what it tells us to do, we will stay out of trouble.

  5. Gurpreet singh says:

    sir main parachute kharedna chahata hu,kya app muje jankari de skte hain,plz…

  6. Ian Paul says:

    I wonder whether Morris’ comment does in fact work as an illustration. Yes, Jesus does things for us that we cannot do for ourselves. But according to Paul, there is still plenty for us to do! He does seem to think that ‘works’ are still necessary.

    • Don Ranney says:

      The parachute is a great illustration. It tells us we must have faith and then actively put it into practice through our actions. “Faith without works is dead.” Belief in a parachute and being afraid to use it is not faith at all. If the jump is not made the faith is not genuine. A Special Air Sevice recruit who refuses to jump leaves the airfield and the army and is never seen again. So it will be with professing Christians who have a head knowledge of Christ but fail to follow up with actions that witness his love to others. Jesus will say, “Depart from me for I never knew you.”

  7. Tyler says:

    If parachutes didn’t have a high success rate, parachutes wouldn’t be used very often at all. According to the USPA in 2013, for every 1,000 jumps, 0.0075 were fatal (24 fatal jumps out of 3.2 million).

    I don’t need faith that a parachute works, I need statistics and a backup chute in case of failure. If they both fail, then faith in God won’t save me from a huge fall.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s