A Prayer for Bethlehem One Hundred Years From Now
To Be Put in the Time Capsule in the New Building
Dear friends in the future,
I am writing this prayer on May 14, 2002. My name is John Piper, and I have been the senior pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church since 1980. Because Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and forever, we are bold to pray for you who will live and minister decades from now. We believe we are the beneficiaries of prayers prayed in this church a hundred years ago. May the same be true at Bethlehem for those who live a hundred years from now.
Merciful Father and everlasting God,
We praise your name, for you are very great. We rejoice in the certainty that there are no true gods besides you, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, your uncreated and everlasting Son. We delight to declare our confidence that when this letter is read, you will be reigning mightily over the universe. If men have traveled to other planets, we glory that they will have found only another place of your absolute rule. All things were made by you and for you, and they exist to display your glory. This we affirm in 2002, with joy that it will be true no matter when this capsule is opened.
We exult in the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, that he died for our sins, once for all in history, and that he rose again, and reigns with all authority over the universe, and that all who believe on him will not perish but have eternal life. We take heart that, though we are miserable sinners deserving nothing but judgment, nevertheless the perfect righteousness of Christ is imputed to us by faith alone, and that his shed blood covers the guilt of all our iniquities. We glorify you, Father, that the gospel will continue to be the power of God unto salvation for all who believe. Therefore we exult with your future saints in advance that they are saved by grace through faith and that not of themselves, but by the gift of God.
Thank you, Father, for sending your Holy Spirit whose great mission is to glorify Jesus Christ. He is our only hope for holiness and progress in becoming more loving and obedient. We are praying for your church in the decades to come, not with presumption that we are better than they, but with the confidence that they and we are, and will be, utterly dependent on the work of the Holy Spirit for spiritual life and faith and obedience.
So, gracious God, have mercy on the generations to come. Grant that in this place—at 8th Street and 13th Avenue South—there will always be a God-centered, Christ-exalting, Spirit-empowered, Bible-saturated, missions-mobilizing, soul-winning, justice-pursing, praying, humble, loving church. Grant that the exposition of the infallible Word of God would remain central in life and worship. Grant that hearts would be enflamed with passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ. Grant that your truth would hold sway, and that heresies would get no foothold.
Grant spiritual and doctrinal unity to the church for the sake of the glory of Christ. May they have one mind and one heart to live and worship with radical devotion to him. May they be ready to lay down their lives for the gospel, because "to live is Christ and to die is gain." May they boldly proclaim the gospel of the glory of Christ in these Twin Cities and to the unreached peoples of the world until you come or until they join us in heaven.
In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.