We The Unclaimable

"...God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God."                                        Galatians 4:4-7

This Sunday Riverside Church receives her first members and celebrates in worship with her first baptism. My thoughts lately have been about church membership, but not so much about Riverside membership, but rather about membership in the worldwide eternal body of Christ – which is THE church. However, membership in His church is not about our commitment to Jesus, but more importantly about His sacrificial commitment to us. Through Christ’s sacrifice and through His blood, we the unclaimable are claimed by God. As Peter said, “Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:10). Through faith in Christ, we have been transformed from ‘outsiders’ to ‘insiders;’ from being illegitimate and outcast to being children born of God (see John 1:10-13).

Displayed many times in Scripture is the imagery of believers being compared to children. In our ‘first-world’ context, we visualize the clean and peaceful nursery surroundings filled to the full of a mother’s hugs and snuggles of love and the sweet voice of her soothing song. How happy is the child surrounded with such love.

But, as Riverside receives new members, may the sober truth, which is too often ignored or even forgotten in established church circles, be forever evident in our hearts – that is that we, without Christ, were children of wrath – with neither help nor hope nor future. Russell Moore, a Southern Baptist Evangelist, and his wife Maria were looking to adopt a child out one of the countries of the former Soviet Union shared this heart breaking moment in their search. “I stopped and pulled on Maria’s elbow. ‘Why is it so quiet? The place is filled with babies!’ Both of us compared the stillness with the buzz and punctuated squeals that came from our church nursery back home. Here, if we listened carefully enough, we could hear babies rocking themselves back and forth, the crib slats gently bumping against the walls. These children did not cry, because infants eventually learn to stop crying if no one ever responds to their calls for food, for comfort, for love. No one ever responded to these children. So they stopped.”

Without Christ, this bleak description ... is us. No help, no hope, no prospect for love. But God did not leave us in such a place, in fact, He pursued us. Paul testifies, “While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly ... God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:6-8). Again, Paul said, “And you were dead ... but God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, ... made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved.” (Eph. 2:1-5). And then again he says that we in Christ “have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Rom. 8:15). In Christ, we have reason to cry – to cry out to the God who so loves us, and sent to us His only true Son, so that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). In Christ, we are able to cry -- ‘Abba! Father!’ – the very name Jesus used of His legitimate Father when He prayed (Mark 14:36). And in faith, that one and the same Father is now our Father -- who adopted us by the blood of His very own Son. Do you believe this? Then you are truly a member is His universal eternal church.

Come hear more as we celebrate in worship this Sunday at 4:25 pm at the Beaumont Children’s Museum. Until then, May the riches of God's merciful grace continue to shower abundantly upon you all through Christ Jesus Our Lord.

Riverside Church