Friday, July 29, 2005


This year marks 25 years that John Piper and Tom Steller have served Bethlehem Baptist Church. This past Wednesday, the church honored these two men. Here is a note I wrote to them:

Pastors John and Tom:

When I first came to Bethlehem in 1998, I did not yet know either of you. But I certainly knew of you. I knew that you were both godly men who trembled at the Word, passionately pursuing God and helping others to do the same. This has only been confirmed in all of my interactions with you over the past seven years. What has surprised and impressed me the most since that time, however, is your deep humility. You have different personalities and temperaments. But because you both are passionate about seeing the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, and being conformed to his image, your eye is ultimately always upon Another. You have followed the motto of John the Baptist: Christ must increase, I must decrease. For as long as I live I will remain eternally grateful for the gifts that both of you are in my life—and for the fact that you humbly and confidently point all us to Jesus Christ, our great Lord, Savior, and Treasure.

Justin Taylor

And here are some more words of encouragement and honor for these two servants of the Lord.

* * *

Dear John and Tom,

The following verse from sacred Scripture seems particularly appropriate for those who have the joy of honoring you on this special occasion:

"We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work." 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13

You two men are most worthy of the "high esteem" described in this passage. And because of your example you make it easy to obey this command from God. So thanks for serving one local church for 25 years and thanks for serving this church together for 25 years. What a compelling example of friendship and servanthood you have provided for pastors across the country and around the world. I esteem you both highly because of your example and for your labor on behalf of Bethlehem and the body of Christ. I am honored to communicate publicly the high esteem in my heart for you both.

As you celebrate the kindness and faithfulness of God on this evening I pray you are deeply affected by the appreciation of many for your service to the Savior and for the church. And most important I pray you are aware of the pleasure of God in your service to the Savior and for the church he purchased “with his own blood” (Acts 20:28).

Your friend,

CJ Mahaney

* * *

As one who has known and applauded your ministry at Bethlehem almost from the time it began, I am delighted to send you my congratulations and to join with you and your colleague and your people in praising God for all that has been accomplished during the past 25 years. Long may the good work continue!

James Packer

* * *

I am honored to join with so many others in thanking God for the ministries of John Piper and Tom Steller at Bethlehem Baptist Church. Twenty-five years represents a signal hallmark of ministry, and John and Tom are rightly to be honored for giving themselves so completely to this great ministry for a quarter of a century. Yet, time is only a backdrop to eternity. Bethlehem Baptist Church has made an impact of eternal significance over these years, and from this local church a ministry of global dimensions has emerged -- all centered in the supremacy of Christ. Christ is glorified when His servants are rightly honored. I am privileged to honor Christ today by honoring John Piper and Tom Steller.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Albert Mohler

* * *

To: Pastors John Piper & Tom Steller

Congratulations for a ministry that has reached far beyond the local church, indeed into the whole world awakening people to the sweetness and excellence of God. I have great admiration for pastors who remain devoted to a particular congregation over a period of time as they obey Christ’s call on their lives. This is clearly the direction of your ministry. May you continue steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the LORD, knowing that your labor is not in vain.

In Christ,

R.C. Sproul