Unpluckable

There’s an older movie starring Bruce Willis in which he plays the character David Dunn—the sole survivor of a catastrophic train wreck. Through the course of events, Dunn discovers that he is “unbreakable” (the title of the movie). I see in that movie a parallel to a certain Scripture truth. David Dunn was born with the powers which made him unbreakable. When people are “born again” spiritually (c.f. John 3) resulting in newfound faith in Jesus Christ, though tragedies and trials will strike, though the natural body will die, though Christians are in this sense “breakable”, they cannot be plucked from the hand of the God who saved them. Whoever believes in Jesus Christ in the sense of trusting His death as a substitute to gain right standing before God, this person is “unpluckable” (John 10:29). Unpluckability came to mind as I read today, in Bagster’s Daily Light, a collection of Scriptures on the theme of the believer’s security in Christ:

December 10, 2010 – Friday Morning

No man is able to pluck them out …

My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.  1

which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.  2

The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. 3

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 4

For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  5

Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?  6

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace,  comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. 7
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1Joh 10:29; 22Ti 1:12; 32Ti 4:18; 4Rom 8:37-39; 5Col 3:3; 6Jam 2:5; 72Th 2:16,17.

Lately a number of factors have teamed up to discourage me: prolonged unemployment, a slow process toward potential church planting, little progress in paying down debts, difficulties with a tenant in a house 2000 km away which we can’t seem to sell, a motor vehicle accident in which a young man passed out and plowed his truck into my van, the decision by ICBC to count the van a total loss, a claim cheque for the van much smaller than would be required to replace the van we had… etc. But there is a reason why Paul calls the Gospel of Jesus Christ “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” Through the Gospel, God’s power comes to sustain believers, protecting them and ensuring their continued progress in becoming like Christ. But oh boy, what serious spiritual surgery has yet to be performed on me to make me reflect anything of Christ’s character and godliness! No wonder these little trials are painful—the pain of loss of a job for example corresponds to how much I found some security or sense of identity in that job. Like a wart or a tumor, the more it hurts when extracted, the more the patient was attached to it.

The apostle who wrote the book of Hebrews penned these wise words under the inspiration of the Spirit of God:

“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Heb 12:11 ESV)

I can confirm that the discipline of the Lord in my life right now is unpleasant. Yet I also know, as I told my wife last night while talking about all this with her, that what God is doing in me by His discipline is pleasant in its outcome. “…Later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Amen. Bring it on, Lord Jesus. But sustain me and protect me while you train me!

Which brings me back to Bagster’s theme of the believer’s security in Christ. Those wonderful Scriptures hold out a very great and precious promise, don’t they? My salvation is secure because it rests in God’s hands, not in my own; it is the result of the perfect work of Christ, not of my own filthy works. But those Scriptures are not given merely to state a fact like some sort of Cosmic Text Book. They are given to encourage the believer to dwell on what God has accomplished through the sinless life, sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus.  The message of these Scriptures is the Good News–the Gospel. And this Gospel is not meant to be heard, accepted and subsequently assumed or forgotten: it is meant to be relied on continuously. It is intended to be freshly believed every day. Because it is in this Gospel that one finds the power to endure to the point of our future hope. At least that’s my experience so far!

Indeed, the verse in Romans 1:16 specifies that the Gospel is the power of God for  believers. And that word “believes” is, in Greek, a participle in the present continuous tense, suggesting that these believers continually keep on believing—or trusting—in the Gospel. I find hope and encouragement in this reminder that the power of God in the Gospel is, for me, much greater than the power of my little trials to discourage me. Good thing too. Because the latter only leads to despair. But the former to “salvation” (Rom 1:16)! I may not be unbreakable, but the knowledge that God is disciplining me, though unpleasant at the moment, reassures me that I am unpluckable.