In a worship service in the near future, we will be receiving new members into our congregation through transfer and through reaffirmation of faith. At the same time, we will hear some of our younger members make their profession of faith before the congregation so that they might begin to receive the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. For both groups of people, it is a time of transition, from youth to adulthood, from one congregation to another. And it is a time of taking vows, the promises that all communicant members must make in response to the following questions:
- Do you acknowledge yourselves to be sinners in the sight of God, justly deserving His displeasure, and without hope save in His sovereign mercy?
- Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and Savior of sinners, and do you receive and rest upon Him alone for salvation as He is offered in the Gospel?
- Do you now resolve and promise, in humble reliance upon the grace of the Holy Spirit, that you will endeavor to live as becomes the followers of Christ?
- Do you promise to support the church in its worship and work to the best of your ability?
- Do you submit yourselves to the government and discipline of the church, and promise to study its purity and peace?
Vows in our culture are taken very lightly. Couples who are wrestling through marital issues rarely seem to consider carefully the vows they have made before God. People make promises and break promises without much concern. The idea of keeping one’s word even to one’s own hurt is not the prevailing wisdom. Scripture, however, places the idea of promising something, of taking a vow, of making an oath, as a very serious act. The Westminster Confession of Faith reminds us that the vow is an act of worship … that a promise made before God’s sight (which is all promises) is like a promise to God Himself and so some vows ought not to be taken at all and all vows ought to be carefully considered.
So when this worship service comes in the near future and you hear these vows, consider whether you have thought about these things in a while, these same promises you have made before God. Have you been keeping your vows? And pray for those who are there, answering these questions, that the Lord will keep them in the faith, will help them to live as faithful followers of Jesus, will remind them of their important place among the people of God, and will strengthen them to do that which they have promised, that the Lord might be glorified and His people might be blessed, here at Living Hope, and throughout the world.