In a recent meeting of the Reformed Fellowship board the question was raised: Why do we publish Bible study material? How does this fit in our purpose as an organization? This was not the first time the question has been raised in our many years of existence. The answer to this question is found in the first issue of the Torch and Trumpet (the name under which our present-day Outlook first appeared). The opening article of the first issue, April-May 1951, answered the question. Although the article was giving reasons for the new publication, the board’s reasoning is still useful for The Outlook, and the publication of Bible study material, as well.
The first board was lamenting the insensitivity of so many in the Reformed churches who no longer sensed the real meaning of the “Reformed confession and life.” This was almost seventy years ago. They wrote, “Man and women with sharp Reformed ‘feelers’ (Gereformeerde voel-horens) are becoming almost a curiosity.” The writers expressed a deep concern about “the anti-doctrinal, man-centered modernism” that was current then. We need only to think about today. Not much has changed. Then, they made this statement: “It is our purpose to arouse those of like mind with us to a more serious study of the Word and the Reformed heritage, that we may all put on the whole armor of God and be the better equipped to fight the good fight of faith. We believe the disease of religious and doctrinal indifference is making insidious progress among us, and we would indoctrinate our people with the truth of God.”
It is true, without question, that today we are troubled with the same concerns as our brothers more than sixty-five years ago. It is for this same reason that The Outlook and our many publications are available. We are people of the confessions, and we need a biblical emphasis, for the confessions do not stand without a strong biblical foundation. Only with an understanding of Scripture and a commitment to confessional unity will we be able to live to the glory of God in this feeling-centered age. Knowing what Scripture says is essential.
For years we have published Bible studies either in the magazine, in books, or both. Many of the authors are familiar names among us: H. Vander Kam, J. Piersma, W. Hendriksen, M. Vander Hart, J. R. Sittema, W. Boekestein, B. Najapfour, N. De Jong, among others. We encourage you to use these studies in church societies or even individually. Still, the question comes: Why Bible studies? Many reasons can be given.
In Bible study we spend time with God’s holy, inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word. It must not be a closed and mysterious book.
We study the Bible with fellow believers from whom we may learn, as well as they may learn from us.
Bible study gives us the good things on which to meditate (Phil. 4:8).
It provides armor so we can withstand the evil one (Eph.6:11).
Bible study lays before us our spiritual needs for everyday life. As we see our sins, it lays before us our daily need of the Lord.
It gives us a deeper understanding of God’s truth so we may give testimony of God’s grace.
Bible study keeps before us our glorious eternal hope.
The preaching and study of God’s Word applied by the Holy Spirit work together to bring Christians to understand God’s truth.
All of this together, as it is applied by the Holy Spirit, brings us to grow in the Lord and sanctification.
Perhaps many more reasons could be added.
Of course, Bible study material is almost ubiquitous around us (some good, and some very bad—some teach heresy, or nigh unto it). Presently, Reformed Fellowship offers nineteen possibilities, and we are anticipating even more. Further, we are seeking to make them more useful.
“Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart” (Ps. 119:2, English Standard Version).
Rev. Jerome Julien is a retired minister in the URCNA living in Hudsonville, MI, and serves on the board of Reformed Fellowship. He and his wife, Reita, are members of Walker URC in Grand Rapids, MI.