Form for Readmission

Beloved in the Lord:

You all know that some time ago our fellow-member N________ was excommunicated from the church of Christ. We rejoice now to tell you that he/she, by this remedy and also by means of good admonitions and your Christian prayers, has come to be ashamed of his/her sin, and now requests us to be readmitted to the communion of the church. Since we, then, according to the command of God are in duty bound to receive such persons with joy, and we must do so in an orderly manner, we therefore make known to you that the next time when, by the grace of God, we celebrate the supper of the Lord, we shall loose again this excommunicated person N________ from the bond of excommunication and receive him/her again into the communion of the church, unless any one of you in the meantime should have valid reason why this ought not to be done, of which you must give us notice in due time. Meanwhile let every one thank the Lord for the favour shown this poor sinner, beseeching him to perfect his work in him/her to his/her eternal salvation. Amen.

Afterwards, if no hindrance occur, the minister shall proceed to the readmission of the excommunicated sinner according to the following form:

Beloved Christians:

We have recently informed you of the conversion of our fellow-member N________, so that with your approbation he/she might be received again into the church of Christ. Since no one has alleged anything against this readmission, we shall at the present time proceed to the same.

The Lord Christ, having confirmed in Matthew 18 the sentence of his church in the excommunication of impenitent sinners, declares that whatever his ministers shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; by which he gives us to understand that when any person is excluded from his church he is thereby not deprived of all hope of salvation, but can again be loosed from the bonds of condemnation. Therefore, since God declares in his Word that he takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that he should return from his way and live, the church always hopes for the conversion of the backslidden sinner and is open to receive the penitent. Accordingly the apostle Paul commanded that the Corinthian person (of whom he had declared that he ought to be excluded from the church), after he, having been reproved by many, had come to repentance, should be received again and comforted, lest he should be swallowed up with his great sorrow. In this passage Christ also teaches us that the proclamation of absolution, which is passed upon such a penitent sinner according to the Word of God, is counted binding and firm by the Lord. For this reason no one who truly repents ought to doubt in the least that he is certainly received by God in grace, as Christ says elsewhere; If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven (John 20:23)

But to proceed now to the matter in hand, I ask you:

N________, do you declare with all your heart, here before God and his church, that you are sincerely sorry for the sin and stubbornness on account of which you have been justly excluded from the church?

Do you also truly believe that the Lord has forgiven you and does forgive your sins for Christ's sake?

And do you therefore desire to be readmitted to the church of Christ, promising, from now on, to live in all godliness according to the command of the Lord?

Answer:

I do.

Then the minister shall further say:

We, then, being assembled here in the name and authority of the Lord Christ, declare you, N________, to be absolved from the bonds of excommunication. We receive you again into the church of the Lord, and declare that you now stand in the communion of Christ, of the holy sacraments, and of all the spiritual blessings and benefits of God which he promises to and bestows upon his church. May the eternal God preserve you to the end, through his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Be therefore assured in your heart, my beloved brother/sister, that the Lord has received you in grace. Be diligent to guard yourself against the subtlety of Satan and the wickedness of the world, so that you may not fall again into sin. Love Christ, for many sins are forgiven you.

And you, beloved Christians, receive this your brother/sister with hearty affection; be glad, for he/she was dead and is alive again; he/she was lost and is found; rejoice with the angels of heaven over this sinner who repents; count him/her no longer as a stranger, but as a fellow-citizen with the saints and of the household of God.

But whereas we can have no good of ourselves, let us, praising and thanking the Lord Almighty, implore his mercy:

Gracious God and Father, we thank you through Jesus Christ that you have given this our fellow-brother/sister repentance unto life, and thus we rejoice in his/her conversion. Show him/her your grace, that he/she may become more and more assured in his/her mind of the remission of his/her sins, and thus derive joy unspeakable and delight to serve you. And whereas in the past he/she has offended many by his/her sin, grant that he/she may now edify many by his/her conversion. Grant also that he/she may steadfastly walk in your ways to the end. May we learn from this example that with you is grace that you may be feared. May we, counting him/her our brother/sister and co-heir of life eternal, jointly serve you with filial fear and obedience all the days of our life, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, in whose name we conclude our prayer:

This is the Forms of the Reformed Churches of New Zealand