During last Sunday’s worship service, three of our regular attendees made their “profession of faith.” You might be wondering, “What is this ‘profession of faith’”?
In Reformed churches, formal membership is very important. Why? Among other things, without formal membership, there is no church discipline. And one of the three marks of a true church is the exercise of church discipline:
The true church is to be recognized by the following marks: It practises the pure preaching of the gospel. It maintains the pure administration of the sacraments as Christ instituted them. It exercises church discipline for correcting and punishing sins. In short, it governs itself according to the pure Word of God, rejecting all things contrary to it and regarding Jesus Christ as the only Head. Hereby the true church can certainly be known and no one has the right to separate from it (Belgic Confession Article 29).
Thus, if a church has no formal membership, it is not a true church.
And the last step in becoming a member of Reformed churches for those who have never publicly professed faith or those who have never been a member of a Biblical church is their public profession of faith. The first step in becoming a member is by attending new member classes where basic Biblical teachings on God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, the Scriptures, sin, salvation and the church are reviewed.
After the review, the prospective members are interviewed by the elders about these doctrines and their personal piety. It is also a time to get acquainted and also to ask any questions about the church. After the interview comes the public profession of faith in a worship service.
If the new member has never been baptized, he/she must receive this visible sign of union with Christ and his church. But unlike many other churches, Reformed churches do not re-baptize new members who have been baptized in another evangelical church.
The following questions are asked in the public service when new members are received into the church and are to be answered in the affirmative:
1. Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God sent to redeem the world, do you love and trust him as the one who saves you from your sin, and do you with repentance and joy embrace him as Lord of your life?
2. Do you believe that the Bible is the Word of God revealing Christ and his redemption, and that the confessions of this church faithfully reflect this revelation?
3. Do you accept the gracious promises of God sealed to you in your baptism and do you affirm your union with Christ and his church which your baptism signifies?
4. Do you promise to do all you can, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to strengthen your love and commitment to Christ by sharing faithfully in the life of the church, honoring and submitting to its authority; and do you join with the people of God in doing the work of the Lord everywhere?
This membership process can be found in the Church Order of the United Reformed Churches:
Article 42: Adults who have not been baptized shall receive holy baptism upon public profession of faith, with the use of the appropriate liturgical forms, and be thus accepted as members. They shall be obliged to persevere in the fellowship of the church, not only in hearing God’s Word, but also in partaking of the Lord’s Supper.
Article 43: Baptized members who have been instructed in the faith and who have come to the years of understanding shall be encouraged to make public profession of faith in Jesus Christ. Those who wish to profess their faith shall be interviewed to the satisfaction of the Consistory concerning doctrine and life, and their public profession of faith shall occur in a public worship service after adequate announcement to the congregation and with the use of the appropriate liturgical form. Thereby baptized members are accepted into full communion in the congregation and shall be obliged to persevere in the fellowship of the church, not only in hearing God’s Word, but also in partaking of the Lord’s Supper.
After persevering through the catechism and review classes, and 1-1/2 to 2 hours of interviewing by the elders, Maria Teresa Cadaoas, Jill Abarra and Russel De Guzman, welcome!