Beloved, being very eager to write to you of our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. Jude 1:4
We invite you to make the Serious Joy Scholarship a new work of your personal ministry for Jesus Christ. This scholarship enables Bethlehem College & Seminary undergraduates and seminarians to complete their educations and launch immediately into life and ministry without debt. At this season, would you consider supporting one or more of these $10,000 annual scholarships in whole or in part?
Permit me to encourage you to see such support as a work of your heart.
On a Sunday in 1984, a young pastor named John Piper exhorted his congregation to contend for the faith. In his exegesis of Jude, he unfolded the meaning of this doctrine under four headings:
- There is a faith once for all delivered to the saints.
- This faith is worth contending for.
- This faith is repeatedly threatened from within the church.
- Every genuine believer should contend for the faith.
Piper went on to emphasize:
(But) if our stress on the personal relationship with Jesus leads us to deny that there is a set of truths essential to Christianity, we make a grave mistake. There are truths about God and Christ and man and the church and the world which are essential to the life of Christianity. If they are lost or distorted, the result will not be merely wrong ideas but misplaced trust. The inner life of faith is not independent from the doctrinal statement of faith. When doctrine goes bad, so do hearts. There is a body of doctrine which must be preserved.
Thirty-three years later, there is a young, start-up college and seminary on the same site where the members of that local church, a distinguished faculty of professors, and generous contributors, like you, have come together both to contend for the faith and to give it to a new generation of humankind—throughout the world.
It’s not the least bit reactionary to suggest that 2017 was an annus horribilus in the arenas of ideas and discourse in the culture, academy, public square, and the church. The cacophony of contentiousness, incivility, investigations, sexual outrages, natural disasters, racial disharmony, wars, and rumors of wars have left us feeling pummeled as we approach year’s end.
Imagine for a moment what it must be like to be 20 or 30 years old today and launching into life amidst the fog of popular culture. Just what is Western Civilization? What does it mean to be both an American and a Global Christian in this freely mobile, instantly interconnected world? Why would I have an interest in making a lifelong commitment to another in biblical marriage? What does it mean to be called an “Evangelical,” and is that a name-tag I really want to wear? These are questions we hear students struggling with every day.
Thanks be to God that, due to the generosity of individuals like you, such students have a place at this formative stage of their lives, not only to sort these things out, but also to become first-handers of the Word of God. With the compass of Scripture, students become able to navigate their times in the same way many saints before learned to flourish in life, even during times that were substantially more dangerous.
No publicly funded institution will commit a dime to teach them, or anyone else, of the surpassing beauty of Christ and his sovereignty over all things. Five million college students graduated from American colleges and universities this year, most of them with “skills” already trending toward obsolescence and with life compasses as reliable as a fan blade.
If there is to be a rising generation to whom the faith once given to the saints is to be given again, it must be the mature saints of this generation who undertake that task. If there is to be a generation to receive a bible-saturated “Education in Serious Joy,” in which the truths of God and Man and Christ and the church will not be distorted, it is those of us whose lives have been changed and blessed by this truth, that we ourselves once received, who must see that it is so.
Generosity toward Bethlehem College & Seminary prospers much for the gospel. Pulpits are being filled, churches planted, nations reached, neighborhoods and workplaces transformed all because generous givers have made the Serious Joy Scholarship a work of their personal ministries for Jesus Christ. Fruit is being born from Albert Lea, Minnesota to Amman, Jordan; from Mounds View to Myanmar. Yes, the stock market has performed well in 2017 but we dare say that no investments that you have made recently have returned greater rewards than those made in students at Bethlehem College & Seminary.
So, would you pray over these four questions:
- Should we act to support the Serious Joy Scholarship with a contribution of any amount? Truly, a gift of any amount will have a very substantial impact on this mission.
- Should we support one scholarship with a gift of $10,000?
- Should we consider an endowment gift to ensure that funds remain available for this work until Christ returns?
- Should we make provisions for Bethlehem College & Seminary in our estate plans?
Yes, 2017 was a rollercoaster year, but throughout we have been drenched in the joy of Christ as we have persevered in gladness, seeing young Christians’ lives blossom in a new Springtime of gospel hope. There has been a great joy in knowing and being in partnership with those who share in this Greatest Cause of All. On behalf of President Tim Tomlinson, the staff, faculty, students, alumni, and all whom God has woven together in the ministry of Bethlehem College & Seminary, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a 2018 of the deepest possible satisfaction in God.
His servant and yours,
Vice President of Advancement
Distinguished Lecturer of Commerce and Vocation
 John Piper, Contend for the Faith, Bethlehem Baptist Church, November 24, 1984. www.desiringgod.org/messages/contend-for-the-faith.