Question and Answer

Will I be welcomed back into the OPC?

Question:

After many years, falling away from the church, and being thrice divorced with no children, I find myself being drawn back toward the OPC. Will I be welcomed? Is there a place in the Church for me?

Answer:

I take it from your question that you had contact with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in years past. That being the case, you know that we are committed to the Bible as the rule of faith and life. The Bible holds us all to be sinners who need the cleansing that comes through Christ. Any true Church welcomes sinners because that is what we are.

I feel certain that you would be welcome at any OPC congregation in the sense that you would be received cordially and with respect. You would also be challenged, as are all of us, to trust in Jesus, to repent of your sins, and daily to heed the Word of God.

There are plenty of people who attend services regularly with a view to finding out over time if a particular congregation is where God wants them to be. Those who only attend without commitment are limited in the degree to which they can participate in the life of the Church. But this status would not normally deny anyone a warm welcome.

If you are interested in becoming a member of a congregation (or in restoring a lapsed membership) there are procedures that are laid down in the OPC’s Book of Church Order. (Form of Government XIII; Book of Discipline I, II, VI; Directory for Worship IV) This book is available for viewing online here. The Church will want to be satisfied that someone seeking membership has truly trusted Christ alone for salvation and desires to serve Him with the help and oversight of the Church. But even if one is not quite sure of her/his standing with the Lord, I am confident that the congregation will love, pray for and encourage that person. Keep in mind that each individual church decides on its membership.

Of course, I do not know about any previous conflicts or disagreements that may have arisen in connection with your former association with the OPC. If there are outstanding issues, these would need to be addressed. In particular, if you were ever under discipline, that is, if you were given a formal rebuke to which you did not respond, suspended from the Lord’s Supper, or excommunicated from membership, it would be necessary to seek the lifting of any of these censures. But the purpose of church discipline is restoration, not condemnation, and forgiveness is one hallmark of God’s people (Matt. 6:12; 18:21-22).

With regard to having been divorced several times, it is likely that the elders (and only the elders) of a particular church would eventually want to know some of the details. Their main interest would be only to ascertain that you have repented for any sinful role you may have played in the dissolution of the marriages. Being satisfied that the need (if any) for repentance is met, their inclination would be to look ahead and not back. Divorce in and of itself does not bar one from the Church.

I hope this is helpful, and I pray God’s blessing upon you.


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