In today’s Christian world, especially in America, many people are confused about what the Bible teaches or even what it is about.  The Bible is used as if it were a manual for living (BIBLE = Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth), as a fortune-cookie by pulling out phrases to justify your own thoughts, or just another religious book alongside many others. 

Perhaps you have experienced some of these approaches to the Bible, but suspect that there must be more!  If this characterizes you then keep reading! 

Who are we?

The Gig Harbor Reformed Bible Study is a group that is forming to study the truths of the Bible in the Gig Harbor, Washington area.  At this time we are simply trying to gauge the interest for such a study, with the hopes that it can begin soon.  For more information, see the section “Who is doing this work?” below.

What is our Goal?

In the interest of full disclosure it must be said that the goal of this Bible study is to start a new church plant in the Gig Harbor area.  It is our conviction that our worship on the Lord’s Day is guided and regulated by the Word of God.  Therefore, through this Bible study we hope that as we dig into the Scriptures, the need for a church that actually takes the Bible seriously and worships just as seriously will become apparent and something that people cannot live without.  Stay tuned for more on this subject!

Why and what is a “Reformed” Bible Study?

The Protestant Reformation of the 1500s rediscovered the Gospel truth of the Bible that was masked by the Roman church for 1,000 years before.  The Reformation put forth the five solas (alones) which are: Christ alone, Scripture alone, Faith alone, Grace alone, all for the Glory of God alone.  These five solas then determined how we are to know and receive the salvation promised in the Gospel.  Our salvation is by grace alone through faith alone because of the finished work of Christ alone.

One segment of the Reformation came to be called “Reformed” (Calvinists) as opposed to other groups such as “Lutherans.”  The Reformed can be further differientiated into broad groups such as Presbyterians and the Reformed.  Although this is not the place to distinguish these groups in detail it is enough to say that both of these groups hold to particular Confessions (another blog post in the future!).  Simply put, Confessions are documents that are agreed upon by churches to contain a faithful summary of the Bible’s teaching.  The Bible is the sole authority (Scripture alone), but the Confessions are faithful guides for our faith and practice. 

This Bible study and, Lord willing, the future church plant will follow the historic Reformed Confessions commonly known as The Three Forms of Unity.  These are: The Belgic Confession of Faith (1561), The Heidelberg Catechism (1563), and The Canons of Dort (1618-1619).  [See the sidebar for links to these documents.] 

Who is doing this work?

We take our doctrine of the Church seriously and as such this Bible study is not simply a group of people getting together to “do church” on their own.  This group is being overseen by the Consistory (elders and minister) of the Bellingham United Reformed Church in Bellingham, WA.  This means that we will be held accountable to that body to make sure that we are being faithful to Scripture in all areas. 

We also believe that the church should be lead by men who have been trained for such a high calling.  To that end this Bible study is being organized by a final-year Seminary student who will be graduating in May and looking for a call to the ministry. 

So now what?

We hope that what has been briefly presented above piques your interest and that you would be willing to at least check us out.  In order to keep you informed about what is going on and when things will be getting started we need to be able to contact you.  If you could e-mail us at gigharborreformed@gmail.com that would be great!  We look forward to hearing from you.  Your contacting us about your interest will also help us secure support for this work as we can approach churches about the need for and the interest in what we are doing here.

If you have any questions about what was said above, please leave a comment or shoot us an e-mail.  If there is something that you want discussed here, then do the same!

In the meantime, please pray for us.  May the Lord show us a field ripe for the harvest and may he bring his sheep in so that they can be fed and nourished by his own Word.

Soli Deo Gloria

Mark Vander Pol (M.Div. candidate, Westminster Seminary California)
on behalf of the Bellingham URC Consistory