No Ordinary Joe


“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is
my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” —Lamentations 3:21–24

It could be one of those, “You had to be there,” situations, but let me do my best with words to let you share in the blessing I received when I heard Bethlehem College & Seminary’s professor, Joe Rigney, bring the Word of God to the Saints at Christ Community Church, Houston, last Sunday morning.

Now, mind you, it wasn’t as if young Professor Rigney had been asked to go where angels fear to tread. “C3”, as the church endearingly refers to itself, is a garden of sound doctrine, Berean inquisitiveness, warm fellowship and deep affection for the Christian Hedonism for which Bethlehem College & Seminary is so well-known. Joe was among the friendliest of crowds. What an encouragement it was to walk into this church and see that it was engaged in serious theological training, using BCS Press curriculum in its own adult education program branded, “EQUIP.”

Joe took the pulpit, and the Holy Spirit took Joe. As my own soul was fed lavishly by Joe’s teaching, so too was my heart encouraged for the work set before us at Bethlehem College & Seminary. I was watching God’s work and Joe’s work, but I was also seeing the fruit of the work of so many who have been magnetized to the mission of “Spreading a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ”: students, staff and faculty here, our generous contributors, the elders and members of Bethlehem Baptist Church, the team at Desiring God Ministries, the casts at Banner of Truth, Together for The Gospel, The Gospel Coalition, New Saint Andrews College, Passion and so many other aligned ministries.

I saw the influence of God’s servant, John Piper. But I also saw the fruit of all the teachers, prophetic and apostolic, ancient and contemporary, primary and collegiate, living and dead, who have ever poured themselves into Joe Rigney. It seemed as if the whole orchestra of Joe’s teachers was in fanfare.

Here was a pulpit filled with a man who looks at the entire world, albeit through the opacity of a dimly-lit mirror, and sees the radiant brilliance of Jesus Christ in everything. Here was a Pastor-Scholar, a man of many books, an observant pilgrim on a life-long journey of learning about the Word and the world, and still he is homo unius libri, a man of one book, the Bible. He handles it with reverence, authority, knowledge of the languages of the original authors, but most of all with joy, as if he were holding the most valuable treasure in all of existence.

C3 is currently working together through a book-a-week, whole-Bible reading plan. Joe was assigned the entire book of Lamentations as his text. What a privilege it was to experience the product of our “Education in Serious Joy.” We could see and hear that the expression “Professor of Christian Worldview” is not a vocational title, but the description of a person’s capacities. Laypeople may not understand what Biblical exegesis is, but teachers like Joe Rigney will show them. He took a book of the Bible in one hand, full of horrendous descriptions of human depravity and suffering, and with his other hand he led us to the top of the Scripture’s magnificent chiasm.

“But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases,
His mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”

When we reached the summit, Joe took us back through the personal valley of his earthly father’s recent death after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. Here we saw displayed another magnificent fruit of a Bethlehem College & Seminary education, the truth that a passionate pursuit of spiritual affections is essential to both the authenticity of Christian obedience and the demonstration of God’s glory. The sorrow of a son’s grief for a father now gone streamed in rivulets down a face beaming with delight in the God who is sovereign over all things. The trumpet that is Joe’s spiritual giftedness sounded in loud, clear notes, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”

I was asked on this trip, “Why would anyone consider contributing a large amount of money to a school so small?” Regard this as my answer. By God’s marvelous grace and the work of Bethlehem College & Seminary, he is no ordinary Joe.

Rick Segal
Vice President of Advancement and the Distinguished Lecturer of Commerce & Vocation
Bethlehem College & Seminary

Prayer Requests

  1. Thanksgiving to God for the generosity of contributors who helped us complete our fifth year of operations.
  2. Wisdom and discernment as representatives of the ABHE accrediting commission visit Bethlehem in the coming months.
  3. Preparation for the incoming new students and those that will soon return to continue degree programs.
  4. Renewal and recreation of faculty, staff and all our friends as Summer rounds the bend.