Proclaim the Excellencies of God


On May 21, Bethlehem College & Seminary conferred degrees on our largest graduating class to date. The ceremony was filled with songs of worship, testimonies of God’s grace, and exhortations to our graduates, to use what they have learned for the glory of God and the joy of all peoples.


During the ceremony, Sam Crabtree, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, delivered a powerful charge to the graduates. The charge, though aimed at the students who had finished their program of study, landed on everyone in attendance with force. His charge was taken from the words of the Apostle Peter, and I’m praying that it might land on you, too.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 1:9).

Sam focused on the reality of who we are as believers and then emphasized the purpose statement that follows. Peter says we are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession.” Then, who we are, gives way to why we are. Peter outlines what God has done to us (chose us and set us apart) and then reminds us of the great aim of God’s merciful, sovereign, and glorious electing grace. “That we may proclaim the excellencies” of God is the great calling on our graduates and on every man and woman God sovereignly brings to Jesus. God chooses us, brings us to himself, and does so that we might praise his glorious grace (cf. Eph 1:6). God’s aim is to redeem a people who would proclaim his excellencies. This is one of our stated aims as a school. We want students to graduate as mature adults ready to witness for Christ with wisdom and wonder for the rest of their lives.

So, one of the realities that pulses through the veins of Bethlehem College & Seminary is that we would raise up men and women who would “proclaim the excellencies” of God and “witness for Christ with wisdom and wonder,” so men and women from every corner of the globe would turn from sin and towards the sovereign, saving, and satisfying King Jesus.

As I sit here typing these words, I cannot help but think of a number of things. First, this week, Pastor Kenny Stokes led the church planting program’s “Gospel and Personal Evangelism” intensive. Students have taken time to dive deeper into the glorious gospel of Jesus and think strategically about how to more effectively serve as ambassadors for Christ. At the same time, my mind goes to our various students who are serving overseas, some in unreached areas, hoping and praying and sharing so that the spiritually dead would come to spiritual life. I also think of our students who are, right now in this moment, living ordinary lives with gospel intentionality, sharing Jesus in the regular rhythms of life. May God use our students, alumni, faculty, staff—and you, our friends—to “proclaim the excellencies of him who called [us] out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

And may we do this until Christ returns, or calls us home.

Jonathon Woodyard
Dean of Admissions & Assistant Professor of Theology and History


Prayer Requests:

  • Pray for President Joe Rigney as he begins his presidency this month.
  • Pray for a restful and fruitful summer break for our faculty and students.
  • Pray that the Lord would bring in funding to finish our fiscal year strong on June 30.
  • Pray for the incoming students as they prepare and for those yet to finalize their plans for the coming school year.