From David Mathis at Desiring God:
This Easter marks the end of an era at Bethlehem Baptist.
John Piper served as the church’s primary preacher from July 13, 1980, until December 31, 2012. Since January 1 this year, he has been associate pastor, and his final task on staff is preaching this weekend’s Easter message — once Saturday night, three times Sunday morning, and then the last hurrah on Sunday night.
It’s the end of an era — the era of Piper as local-church pastor — but God willing, just the beginning of a new season of ministry.
For well over a decade Piper and Bethlehem have felt an increasing call on Piper for “wider” ministry. The elders and church have eagerly encouraged this broader ministry beyond Bethlehem by commissioning Piper to travel for speaking and to devote several weeks each year to writing.
Sending Piper Off
In 2011, Bethlehem went through a special six-week season of soul-searching and God-seeking in an effort to discern the path forward for the church. Piper called it Bethlehem’s “Antioch Moment.” The text was Acts 13:2–3 — which now comes to fulfillment as the church gladly sends Piper off to greater attention to the wider ministry.
While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
It has been extraordinary to watch a people once seemingly reticent to let go of their beloved, long-time pastor become the happy commissioners of Piper into a new season of life and ministry.
Piper now plans to invest his writing and speaking energies mainly as founder and teacher of desiringGod.org, as well as continuing as chancellor of Bethlehem College and Seminary.…
His final sermon text is Hebrews 13:20–21. The title is “God Raised Your Great Shepherd from the Dead.” The live-stream begins this evening about 7:10 PM U.S. Eastern Time. The sermon video, audio, and manuscript should be available by midday Monday at desiringGod.org.
Read the rest of Piper’s Final Weekend as Pastor – Desiring God.
And read Justin Taylor’s very gracious tribute at The Gospel Coalition: “John Piper’s Farewell Sermon.”