PCA Membership Vows, Part 5
We arrive at the fourth vow having gone through a series of building blocks. Each vow reveals basic tenants of the Gospel. We covered the sinfulness of man in the first vow, and it is in our sinfulness that we are made aware of our own inability to save ourselves. We should despair if it weren’t for sovereign mercy that takes us from sinfulness to salvation. The second vow expresses the sovereign mercy found in Christ. We receive and rest in the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf. In doing so, we receive the salvation of God. Upon believing in Jesus Christ, we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit. The third vow affirms this by acknowledging the Spirit’s help in our new life in Christ. We grow and mature, obey and repent, by relying on the sanctifying work of the Spirit in us. The first three vows are deeply Trinitarian. We see in them the unity of the Godhead at work to bring lost sinners unto God. We also see the fundamental principles at work that constitute the true Church of Jesus. If any piece of the first three vows is missing, the house comes tumbling down.
It is in light of the first three vows that we come to the fourth, “Do you promise to support the Church in its worship and work to the best of your ability?” In this vow, we have moved from sin to Savior to sanctification to support. We see that God has established a people for himself and has given us to each other for support, encouragement, and fellowship as we await the coming of Christ. If we consider the life that has been given to us and the depth of undeserved mercy extended, how could we stay away from others who celebrate the same realities? I recently read Robinson Crusoe, and there is a particular part of the story where he rescues a native from cannibals. The man is so grateful for having his life saved that he will not be parted from Crusoe the rest of his life. He realizes the great salvation that has come to him. In a similar way, if we truly know the depth of our sin, the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf, and the blessed gift of the Spirit to our aid, we should scarcely be satisfied to be away from the gathering of believers.
Hebrews 10:23-25 considers one of the benefits of the Church: “Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” We have the Church as a support. It is a people gathering under a common confession and banner who hold fast to Christ. It is in the context of the Church that we remind each other and stir one another up to good works—to the service of Jesus Christ. This is what the 4thvow means when it says, “worship and work.” As we gather together, we are a waiting people. We anticipate hearing from God in his Word, and we believe upon his promises, awaiting that Day—the return of Christ. It is truly special that one day in seven God promises to meet with his people in a special way. Who could keep themselves from such an invitation? God says, “Come and meet with me.” We promise in the fourth vow that we will not neglect God’s design for the support and encouragement of his people.
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