Thursday, August 20, 2020

Why Risk Taking Vows? (2020.08.20 Pastoral Letter and Hopewell Herald)

 Hopewell Herald – August 20, 2020

Dear Congregation,

Upon hearing how weighty a thing it is to make a solemn promise before God, such as a vow or an oath, we might be tempted to think, “Then, why would we want to do such a thing? Why take vows when being added to the church, or when professing our faith, or when the Lord adds children to us, or when we take office, or when we get married?” 

It’s a good question. What is to be gained? 

Well, for those with whom the Lord puts us into relationship, much is to be gained by a vow, if the vow is a means by which we perform our duties toward them more consistently and completely. In a society where vows mean little, this advantage is lost, and we make a mockery out of integrity and honesty.

And for the unbeliever, of course, there can be nothing ultimately gained. The short-term good that the Lord continually does him will always condemn him all the more in the end. With no atonement for his sin, even outward “uprightness” will testify that all his sin was against that much more undeserved mercy from God. How dreadful to be the man in the coffin that everyone called “a good man,” but to appear at the judgment without Christ!!

But, for the believer, there is much indeed to be gained.

First, we don’t make promises in these vows to anything that the Lord Jesus hasn’t already required of us. If He saves us, He has added us to the church. Refusing to profess Him is a sin (Matt 10:32–33; Rom 10:8–10). Inconsistent attendance, whether we have professed or not, is a sin. The church is keep a roll and to add to its number (cf. Ac 1:15; 2:41; 4:4) those whom the Lord providentially adds by bringing their men to faith. Resisting being added is a sin. If God adds a child to us, and we fail to put His sign upon that child; or, if we fail to bring him up in the Lord’s discipline and the Lord’s instruction, that is a sin (Exo 4:24–26; Deu 6:4–14; Eph 6:1­–4). What grooms and brides properly promise in a wedding would have been a sin for them not to fulfill; as Scripture says, marriage is a covenant from God (Prov 2:17; Matt 19:4–5).

So, taking vows that have been established by those who have faithfully applied the Word for generations is a help against the self-deception in which our flesh tries to convince us that our profession/membership is our own, or our marriage is our own, or our children are our own, etc. These all are defined by, and belong to, the Lord.

Second, when we live not under the law as a burden, but under grace which fuels devotion to God’s law out of love and thankfulness, having vows to take increases opportunity for expressing our love and thankfulness to the Lord Jesus! We love to reflect upon how we may please Him. we enjoy watching others whom He saves make these promises, and celebrate with them the anniversaries of His sustaining them by grace. When it is necessary for us to come alongside them, we set before them the goodness and glory of Who He is and What He has done, that His worthiness might be ever-renewed and increased in their sight and ours.

Third, when we see that these vows (which come in accordance with God’s good and wise Word) increase the guilt of each sin that is committed against them, the value of Christ’s sacrifice and righteousness both increase before our eyes. How great is what He has suffered in our place! How astonishing He is in His perfect righteousness—and how marvelous that this is the righteousness that is reckoned unto our account before God!

Fourth, in our battle against sin, we should marshal all the weapons and means that God has placed at our disposal. When we have a serious and important duty or relationship, against which we know that our flesh will resist, having avowed ourselves to that duty stirs up our resolve to be in league with the Spirit against the  flesh.

Taken along with these considerations—and we could identify more—there is much to be gained by the consideration that God Is Witness. That He sees all, and even unto the depths of our hearts, and far more than we can ever see. And that He is perfectly holy and infinitely powerful. For, the more that we see the depth and weightiness of taking a vow, the more each of these preceding benefits is increased unto us.

We have a God Who swears by Himself, and Who makes and keeps covenant, binding Himself to us by His Word, His Son, His blood (Heb 6–10; cf. Ac 20:26–28). And ultimately, it is His keeping of His promises in Christ (and Christ’s keeping of our own obligations!) that makes vow-taking and vow-making such a benefit to believers!

Looking forward to coming to Him together with you in that worship to which we have rightly vowed our attendance,


LORD'S DAY – August 23, 2020 

9:50 a.m. Breakfast Line Opens
10 a.m. Sabbath School
This week, we continue a series on topics related to important issues that people around us are talking much about right now, continuing this week to study what Holy Scripture teaches us about “Racial Reconciliation.” (This week’s subtopic is This week’s subtopic is Real Reconciliation: when church discipline becomes necessary and/or is successful)


11 a.m. Public Worship
Children’s Catechism for Aug 23
Q43. With Whom did God the Father make the covenant of grace? A. With Christ, His eternal Son.

Shorter Catechism for Aug 23
Q51. What is forbidden in the second commandment? A. The second commandment forbiddeth the worshiping of God by images, or any other way not appointed in His Word.

Psalms and Hymns
TPH291 “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing”   
ARP34C “O Sons and Daughters, Come” 
TPH375 “All Hail the Power of Jesus’s Name”

Scripture Text for first portion of worship service
Psalm 103:1­–12

Scripture Readings
Numbers 10
Hebrews 8:1–6
Matthew 1 

Sermon Scripture text and topic
We will be hearing from Numbers 2, from which Chaplain McClelland will preach on “Order of the March.”

12:45 p.m. Coffee Fellowship and Catechism Class

1 p.m. Fellowship Lunch & Open Mic Time
Members are encouraged to bring way more than enough, so that there will be plenty for everyone, including any members or guests who are deciding last-minute whether or not to stay.

At open mic time, we’ll begin with birthdays and anniversaries and recitations of the memory verse:
(Numbers 2:34Thus the children of Israel did according to all that the LORD commanded Moses; so they camped by their standards and so they broke camp, each one by his family, according to their fathers’ houses.

2:30 p.m Psalm/hymn Sing
Carryover song requests from last week:
Red(h): 498t300, 446, 299 | 459, 476, 180 |
(if you wish to make this week’s requests in advance, please feel free to reply to this email, and let me know!)

3:30 p.m. Evening Sermon from 2Corinthians 3:12–4:6, on “A Theology of Faces”

This week’s booklet, and last’s, do not include Hopewell @Home daily devotionals, which will resume on the 30th. However, Kathy C is still keeping us in good supply on the website; you may look up these devotionals at

Hopewell this Month

Hopewell’s Presbytery Prayer Focus for August:
Bethel ARP in Oak Hill, AL

August Psalm of the Month
ARP34C O Sons and Daughters, Come

Upcoming Events

•August 26, Prayer Meeting, 6:30 p.m.
•August 30, Sermon to “launch” class series on delighted consecration of the Lord’s holy day
•September 13, Lord’s Day series begins in the Sabbath School
•September 14, Monthly Session Meeting, 6 p.m.
•September 19, Men’s Breakfast, 6:30 a.m.
•October 2-4, HARPC 200th Anniversary Celebration, with guest speaker Dr. Nick Willborn

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