A Solemn Covenant with God and His Church—Part III

RPC

My last two Blog posts have been a discussion of the vows that members of the Presbyterian Church in America take when they become a part of a local church. Being Presbyterian, I must admit that I am a “Westminster-kind-of-guy,” but I do appreciate the three-part division of the Heidelberg Catechism: (1) Guilt, (2) Grace, and (3) Gratitude. The membership vows follow somewhat that same pattern. The first two vows (see last blog post) speak of the guilt that is ours because of our sin (both original and actual), and God’s gracious salvation that becomes ours through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The last three vows, however, speak of our thankful response to God’s gracious salvation by the lives we live for his glory. Today, we will look at vow #3 which is a general promise, and in a later post we will look at the last two vows which describe what we do to keep that vow.

The third membership vow is a positive affirmation of the following question, “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?” While the first two vows speak of our justification, this vow begins to describe the sanctifying work of God in our lives. While we are resolving and promising to do something, we also realize that it can only be done through the grace and work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

What is it that we are resolving and promising to do? We are relying on the Holy Spirit to enable us “to live as becomes the followers of Christ.” In the specific context of Christians striving to be sexually pure, Paul makes a general statement that speaks to all of our living in 1 Corinthians 6:20, “For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” When we join a church, we promise that we will endeavor to live our lives to the glory of God, according to His Holy Word. Yes, we rest totally in the finished work of Christ as our only hope in this life and the life to come, but even as we do that we are to “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

What are some things that we can do specifically to accomplish that? We will see in Blog posts to come.

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