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Question and Answer

How do I become a member of the OPC? - part 1

Question:

How do I become a member of the OPC?

Answer:

This answer is in two parts, beginning today and concluding next week.

Church membership is covenantal (in terms of the Covenant of Grace). The marks of those who are in God's covenant fellowship (the church) are that they love the means of grace: God's Word, prayer and the sacraments—baptism and the Lord's supper. When a person becomes a member of the church that person is bound by solemn vows made to the Triune God.

In other words, members of a particular church are under discipline. Discipline does not pertain merely to judicial discipline (dealing with those delinquent in doctrine or life), but to discipleship. Church members are disciples of Christ, and the rules governing the behavior of church members are a major part of the ongoing ministry of the church. Membership vows are binding on the consciences of all church members.

This responsibility of communicant members needs to be impressed on those taking membership vows. It is the plague of the present age that people take all sorts of vows, make all sorts of promises, without any serious sense of responsibility! So whoever teaches candidates for church membership ought to impress upon the candidates that membership in the church brings with it great benefits, but also great responsibilities.

As in all legitimate human affairs, privilege and responsibility are always, like lawfully wedded man and wife, always tied together. Read Scripture and you'll find that God blesses you freely to be a Christian; but it also costs to be a Christian. This present age, subtly and openly, opposes those who quit running with them in their secular mindset and begin seriously living according to the promises and law of their Savior-King. This also is involved in church membership.

Please do not feel overwhelmed by this answer. Romans 14:1 commands his saints to "receive even the weak in faith..." for, in verse 4, "God is able to make you stand" as a pillar of truth in his Church. Note also these words from Hebrews 13:20-21, "Now may the God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (NKJV)

[See also part 2 of this answer.}


About Q&A

"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. At least one new question is posted each week, so there should always be something new here for you to read. (For those who would like to look at previous questions and answers, they will continue to be available as well.)

The questions come from individuals like yourself. If you have questions about biblical and theological matters, you are invited to send them by e-mail by using the "Pose a Question" link on the OPC home page or by clicking here.

The purpose of the OPC website's "Questions and Answers" is to respond to biblical and theological questions. Matters of church discipline, disputes, or debates go beyond the scope of our work. We recommend that you present your concerns in these areas to the appropriate judicatory. In most cases this will be to a local pastor, elder, or session. We do not want the website to replace personal involvement in, or commitment to, the local, visible church.

While we will respond to every serious questioner, we are not bound to give a substantive answer to every question, should we deem the question to be beyond the scope of our purpose or our own ability to answer.

You will receive an answer by email. Please be patient as many of our respondents are busy pastors. The response to your question may take up to two weeks. Some of the questions submitted will be chosen to be posted here, along with the corresponding answers.

The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.

Note that the "Questions and Answers" posted on the site have been edited—all personal references are removed, Scripture references may be added, and sometimes portions are expanded—to make the questions and answers more useful to a larger audience.

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