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Vows Christians Make

Andrew Moody

The Christian life is made up of a number of important relationships. In the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, these relationships are solemnized by the making of public vows. But what are vows, and how should we view these different vows we make? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a vow as "a solemn promise or assertion; specifically: one by which a person is bound to an act, service, or condition."

More than promises we make in our day to day affairs, vows are solemn promises. They carry a greater weight of importance and fulfilling their obligations is to be of the highest priority. Our vow-keeping, or lack thereof, is a direct reflection of our character as a Christian. In the Old Covenant, vows were taken very seriously, as is seen in Deuteronomy 23:21-23, "If you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay fulfilling it, for the LORD your God will surely require it of you, and you will be guilty of sin. But if you refrain from vowing, you will not be guilty of sin. You shall be careful to do what has passed your lips, for you have voluntarily vowed to the LORD your God what you have promised with your mouth."

There are numerous vows that we might make as a Christian. It is easy to forget the specific vows we take over the years. However, we must keep these vows before us and strive to fulfill them to the very best of our ability.

This article is meant to serve as a reminder of your vows, and to call you to continued and renewed faithfulness to them for the honor and glory of Christ. The following vows are taken from the OPC Book of Church Order.

Baptismal Vows Regarding Children
Do you acknowledge that, although our children are conceived and born in sin and therefore are subject to condemnation, they are holy in Christ, and as members of his church ought to be baptized?
Do you promise to instruct your child in the principles of our holy religion as revealed in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, and as summarized in the Confession of Faith and Catechisms of this Church; and do you promise to pray with and for your child, to set an example of piety and godliness before him, and to endeavor by all the means of God's appointment to bring him up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?

Marriage Vows:
Man: Wilt thou have this woman to be thy wedded wife, to live with her after God's commandments in the holy estate of marriage? And wilt thou love her, honor and cherish her, so long as ye both shall live?
Woman: Wilt thou have this man to be thy wedded husband, to live with him after God's commandments in the holy estate of marriage? And wilt thou love him, cherish and obey him, so long as ye both shall live?
Man: I, ____________, take thee, ____________, to be my wedded wife, and I do promise and covenant before God and these witnesses to be thy loving and faithful husband in sickness and in health, in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, as long as we both shall live.
Woman: I, ____________, take thee, ____________, to be my wedded husband, and I do promise and covenant before God and these witnesses to be thy loving and faithful wife in sickness and in health, in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, as long as we both shall live.

Vows of Church Membership
1. Do you believe the Bible, consisting of the Old and New Testaments, to be the Word of God, and its doctrine of salvation to be the perfect and only true doctrine of salvation?
2. Do you admit you are a sinner and hating your sinfulness, do you humble yourself before God and trust for salvation not in yourself but in Jesus Christ alone?
3. Do you acknowledge Jesus Christ as your sovereign Lord and do you promise, in reliance on the grace of God, to serve him with all that is in you, to forsake the world, putting to death your old nature and to lead a godly life?
4. Do you agree to submit in the Lord to the government of this church and, in case you should be found delinquent in doctrine or life, to obey its discipline?

Vows Church Members Make When a New Congregation is Organized
In reliance upon God for strength do you solemnly promise to walk together as a church of Jesus Christ according to the Word of God and the constitution of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church?

Vows Elders and Deacons Make Regarding the Church
1. Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice?
2. Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and Catechisms of this Church, as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures?
3. Do you approve of the government, discipline, and worship of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church?
4. Do you promise to seek the purity, the peace, and the unity of the church?
5. Do you accept the office of ruling elder (or deacon) in this congregation and promise, in reliance on the grace of God, faithfully to perform all the duties thereof?

Vows Church Members Make Regarding Their Elders and Deacons
Do you, the members of this church, acknowledge and receive this brother as a ruling elder (or deacon), and do you promise to yield him all that honor, encouragement, and obedience in the Lord, to which his office, according to the Word of God and the constitution of this Church, entitles him?

Vows Pastors Make Regarding the Church
1. Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice?
2. Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and Catechisms of this Church, as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures?
3. Do you approve of the government, discipline, and worship of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church?
4. Do you promise subjection to your brethren in the Lord?
5. Have you been induced, as far as you know your own heart, to seek the office of the holy ministry from love to God and a sincere desire to promote his glory in the gospel of his Son?
6. Do you promise to be zealous and faithful in maintaining the truths of the gospel and the purity, the peace, and the unity of the church, whatever persecution or opposition may arise unto you on that account?
7. Do you promise to be faithful and diligent in the exercise of all private and personal duties which become you as a Christian and a minister of the gospel, as well as in all the duties of your office, endeavoring to adorn the profession of the gospel by your life, and walking with exemplary piety before the flock over which God shall make you overseer?
8. Are you now willing to take the charge of this congregation, in agreement with your declaration when you accepted their call? And do you promise to discharge the duties of a pastor to them as God shall give you strength?

Vows Church Members Make Regarding Their Pastor(s)
1. Do you, the people of this congregation, continue to profess your readiness to receive ____________, whom you have called to be your minister?
2. Do you promise to receive the word of truth from his mouth with meekness and love, and to submit to him in the due exercise of discipline?
3. Do you promise to encourage him in his arduous labor and to assist his endeavors for your instruction and spiritual edification?
4. And do you promise to continue to him, while he is your pastor, that worldly maintenance which you have promised, and whatever else you may see needful for the honor of religion and his comfort among you?

May the Lord continue to help each of us let our yes be yes and our no be no, that we may not fall under condemnation (James 5:12).

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