History of the Berean Bible Society

The Berean Bible Society was founded over seventy years ago for the sole purpose of helping believers understand and enjoy the Word of God. Our Organization holds without apology to all the fundamentals of the Christian faith and is evangelical, that is, we believe that salvation is by grace through faith alone on the basis of the shed blood of Christ.

We also emphasize the importance of proclaiming the whole counsel of God in light of the Pauline revelation. Insofar as Paul is the apostle of the Gentiles, it is our firm conviction that in his epistles alone we have the doctrine, position, walk, and destiny for the Church, the Body of Christ, during the dispensation of Grace.

In the Beginning

Pastor Cornelius R. Stam
May 27, 1908 – March 9, 2003

When did the Berean Bible Society actually have its beginning? Interestingly, it began in a two-room school house in Preakness (now Wayne), New Jersey. Here a group of believers began to see the importance of understanding the “the mystery” revealed to Paul, and the urgency of proclaiming the unadulterated “gospel of the grace of God”. It was Pastor C. R. Stam’s first pastorate: the Preakness Community Church.

When the school house had to be torn down, the little group felt led of God to launch a building program, even though they were in the depth of the Great Depression. The builder was our beloved Herbert Birchenough, though other members helped put in the basement and served in other ways. In this church the Berean Searchlight was first published.

It was not long before Pastor Stam was addressing a well-filled church each Sunday, with Mr. Ernest Ulmer the Superintendent of a growing, enthusiastic Sunday School. Brother Ulmer’s fervor and godly life were an inspiration to these young people and many of them gave their hearts and lives to the Lord.

Later, in 1945, Pastor and Mrs. Stam moved to Milwaukee, where he joined Pastor Charles F. Baker in establishing the Milwaukee Bible Institute. The Berean Searchlight, however, and Pastor Stam’s broadcast and wire recorded Bible lessons continued from a rented office. It was not a pretentious headquarters, but it was light and roomy, with plenty of storage space.

The Years at Milwaukee

Pastor Stam’s Personal Testimony

How abundant is the grace of God, and how perfect His timing!

In September, 1944, the Board of Directors of Grace Gospel Fellowship, after months of prayer and discussion, felt led of God to establish a Bible Institute in Milwaukee, hopefully with Pastor Charles R Baker as its president and me as its dean. The need was indeed great for a dispensational Bible Institute, and the time was ripe. Thus Pastor Baker and I agreed to meet in Milwaukee the next year to prepare a curriculum and attend to other details connected with the opening of a Bible Institute. Pastor J. C. O’Hair put himself into the promotion of the school, and Mr. T. R. Huston, of Milwaukee, contributed generously toward the financial needs.

Thus the Milwaukee Bible Institute opened its doors for classes on September 15, 1945, with Charles R Baker as president and instructor in Bible Doctrine, and C. R. Stam as dean and instructor in Bible Exposition and Dispensationalism. Other instructors taught other courses, including some being offered at a local evening school by the same name, already in operation at Pastor Baker’s Fundamental Bible Church.

These were days when we were indeed overworked, for the Berean Searchlight, our wire recorded Bible lessons, our broadcast and the other ministries begun in New Jersey could not be neglected. In addition to these duties I soon had 13 hours of teaching weekly (that’s at least 39 hours of work!) and two weekly Bible classes in the Chicago area (both of which eventually became organized churches).

But the most difficult of all was the breaking of new ground in most of my courses, for there were virtually no textbooks which taught these courses from a dispensational, much less a Pauline, point of view. But God was in it, for as a result five of our books came into being: Man, His Nature and Destiny, True Spirituality, The Two-Fold Purpose of God, our four-volume set on Acts Dispensationally Considered and The Fundamentals of Dispensationalism (nowThings That Differ). These first appeared as Milwaukee Bible Institute courses and were later published as books by Berean Bible Society. It has been a singular cause for thanksgiving to us, that the book written under the greatest stress, Things That Differ, soon became and has continued for almost 40 years to be our best seller by far. As we look back at all this we exclaim “what God hath wrought!” For under God, it was these and other of our writings especially the Berean Searchlight which brought about all the other ministries of Berean Bible Society.

How we enjoyed sharing the truths in these books-and others-with those dear students at Milwaukee Bible Institute! Still, much as we loved them, and enjoyed the fellowship with Pastor Baker and the other members of the faculty and staff, it became necessary, after almost five years (we had promised two), to say farewell to Milwaukee Bible Institute and give all of our time to Berean Bible Society again. The work had kept growing despite our inability to give it the needed attention.

Growth in Chicago

In 1953 the Berean Bible Society was moved to Chicago, the center of Fundamentalism in America at that time. A building only two years old, well built and situated on one of Chicago’s main thoroughfares (Belmont Avenue) was purchased for only $38,600. Now the Berean Searchlight would at last be published in a building of its own!

By 1958, however, the building BBS had purchased was already too cramped for efficient operation and had to be enlarged. As the ministries of Berean Bible Society kept growing, the building had to be enlarged again in 1967.

Now the Berean Searchlight, our taped Bible lessons, our publication of Bible study books, our telephone messages, and all our other ministries emanate from this building-again used almost to capacity!

Interlude at North Shore Church

North Shore Church


Pastor J. C. O'Hair

Pastor J. C. O’Hair

Pastor O’Hair was, without a doubt, the one person who, more than any other, was used of God to establish among believers what Paul, by inspiration calls, “the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery.” He knew that he had the Scriptural solution to the current theological confusion and preached the Word with great power. His oral ministry (including radio) and his many books had a profound effect on thousands here and abroad. As a gospel preacher and soul winner he was without a peer just because he understood so clearly the truth of the unadulterated “gospel of the grace of God.” The Church, all over the world, owes him much.

 Pastor O’Hair’s Testimony

J.C. O’Hair Online Library

Pastor Stam’s Testimony

(As to His North Shore Pastorate)

Pastor O’Hair had been like a father to me. Thus when he asked me if I would accept a possible call to the pastorate of North Shore Church upon his decease, I could not take it lightly. I was touched and honored.

I had always loved that congregation. Like their pastor, they were warm, generous and dynamic in their stand for the truth. But I also loved the work at BBS and was responsible for it. “What shall I do about BBS?” I asked Pastor O’Hair, “just desert it?” That seemed no problem to him; he was sure the Lord would provide in some way for BBS. But I felt called to BBS, so after some further discussion I promised only to make it a matter of special prayer. The need at North Shore and my indebtedness to Pastor O’Hair on the one hand, and my love and responsibility toward Berean Bible Society on the other, created a real struggle for me in those days, and I could not wait too long to decide with Pastor O’Hair so ill. Finally I promised him that should a call be tendered me, I would accept the pastorate for one year with the understanding that I would still fulfill my responsibilities at BBS as best I could. This seemed to be the Lord’s leading.

The call was extended after Pastor O’Hair’s home-going, but somehow the promised year became almost two years, when I was forced to resign due to debilitating migraine headaches.

These had been blessed, if busy years, but much as I enjoyed the work and loved the people, it seemed good once again to be giving all my time and attention to the Berean Bible Society.

A Sacrifice of Love

The BBS Board of Directors and Pastor Stam will not soon forget the year 1987. This was the year when God wrought for them in a way that had seemed all but impossible.

For some years they had been struggling with a growing problem that threatened the very existence of Berean Bible Society until certain matters were brought to light that made it necessary to call an emergency meeting of the Board.

It was already evident that the Berean Bible Society would need a new president-and almost immediately, for with Pastor Stam in poor health he could not efficiently oversee the affairs of this growing ministry even temporarily. Without a doubt this was the greatest crisis Pastor Stam had faced in his 47 years at Berean Bible Society. It was also the greatest crisis in the history of the Society and its Board of Directors.

Who could possibly carry on the work now? Men qualified to preside over such an organization as Berean Bible Society do not “grow on trees.”

We did have among our own members, one man whom we would have chosen if he were available. He was Pastor Paul Sadler, of Falls Bible Church, Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. All of us knew him well, and most of us had known him for many years. A few had worked with him on one or more “grace” boards. There was not one of us who did not highly respect both his ability and his character.

But, surely he was not available. He was pastor of a growing congregation of grace believers, and together they had but recently involved themselves in the purchase of land and the construction of a new and larger church building. How could Falls Bible Church be expected to give up the man who, under God, had led them to this point? And there was now considerable indebtedness to consider and another pastor who should be acceptable to them.

It was in the depth of our need that God undertook for us. Knowing no other way, the board asked Brother Sadler if he might at least convey to his official board the seriousness of the situation provided he felt that God would have him accept the presidency of BBS. He agreed to do this, and to accept the presidency should the board and the congregation show a willingness to relinquish their pastor to Berean BibleSociety.

As Pastor Sadler described our plight, first to the Falls Church Board of Directors, and then to the congregation, they both took action which we had hardly dared to expect. They showed a degree of sympathy and understanding indeed, of selflessness that touched us all deeply. They agreed overwhelmingly to relinquish their beloved pastor to Berean Bible Society, and permitted him to begin immediately to travel to Chicago three days each week to keep the ministries of BBS going.

Surely God will bless these dear saints for their loving sacrifice, and how can we forget their generosity in helping Berean Bible Society through this difficult time?

Love’s Long Journey

Pastor Sadler’s Personal Testimony

Pastor Paul M. Sadler

Nestled in the hills of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, stands my boyhood home. Back in those days my family rarely attended church, although I am grateful that I was raised in a home where there was a high standard of moral conduct.

I am thankful for a godly aunt who lived next door to us. She saw to it that I was in Sunday School every week. She prayed faithfully for my salvation and took advantage of every opportunity to tell me about the Lord as we clattered along in her 1927 Plymouth on the way to church.

As the years passed I was drawn into the clutches of worldliness, which caused me to become more and more indifferent to spiritual things. But the effectual fervent prayers of a godly aunt availed much!

Shortly after my wife, Vicki, and I were married the Lord brought us under deep conviction of our sins. Having a sense of urgency to escape the wrath of God, we immediately went back to the Baptist pastor who had married us. He graciously explained the way of salvation, and both of us were gloriously saved that day in his office. The pastor later commented that in all his years of ministry this was the first time he had ever had the opportunity to lead both husband and wife to the Lord at the same time. And he added:

“Apparently the Lord has something very special for you to do in His service.” We shall be eternally grateful to my aunt and to this dear man of God.

After having attended and graduated from Berean School of Bible and Theology I accepted my first pastorate at the Grace Christian Church of Independence, Kentucky, and after a two year tenure there, I received a call to pastor the Falls Bible Church in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. Vicki and I had the privilege of ministering the good news of God’s grace there for nine years.

In December, 1987, we moved to Chicago, having been called to the presidency of the Berean Bible Society which, as you have seen, is an international organization for the promotion of God’s Word, rightly divided, ministering regularly to people in every state of the Union and more than 60 foreign countries.

And now, having led us safely thus far, will our faithful Lord forsake us?

Surely not. Rather we can say with Frances Ridley Havergal:

I am trusting Thee to guide me:
Thou alone shalt lead,
Ev’ry day and hour supplying
All my need.
I am trusting Thee, Lord Jesus;
Never let me fall.
I am trusting Thee for ever,
And for all.

The Threshold of a New Era

By Paul M. Sadler

On more than one occasion we have felt like the Apostle Paul when he wrote: “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.”

It goes far beyond my comprehension why God saved an undeserving sinner such as I, to proclaim the precious truths of His Word. Ever since grace arrested this unworthy sinner, it has created within me the desire to proclaim “the exceeding riches of His grace.”

More than fifty years ago the Lord laid this same burden on the heart of Pastor Stam, who sacrificially devoted his entire life “to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery.” And now, as he rounds the final turn, approaching the home stretch, the finish line is beginning to come into view. There is no question in my mind that, like the Apostle Paul, he will, in the years to come, finish his course with joy and receive a crown of righteousness.

Unlike other ministries, which have failed with the passing of their dynamic leaders, the Berean Bible Society has not been built upon a man (to Brother Stam’s credit) but rather on the Lord Jesus Christ and the blessed message of grace.

This is why, by God’s grace, various provisions have been made to ensure that the Word, rightly divided, will continue to go forth unhindered. One of these arrangements, of course, was to make sure that someone was prepared to assume the responsibilities of the work upon Pastor Stam’s home-going. While I feel unworthy to even have been considered for such a position, my prayer is that God will use me in spite of my inadequacies.

Actually, as we stand together on the threshold of a new era, the future of Berean Bible Society, indeed, of the entire Grace Movement rests, humanly speaking, upon the support of the friends of grace. Let us not be overwhelmed at the enormity of the task, however. Let us rather rise to the occasion “to the praise of His glory.”

And Now?

By C. R. Stam

And now what is it our beloved Brother Sadler will need most as he takes on more and more of the responsibilities of the presidency of the Berean Bible Society?

I do hope that no one has so misconstrued my comments about him as to suppose that Berean Bible Society now has a perfect man as its president. This would do our brother a grave injustice, for who can live up to a reputation of perfection?

Brother Sadler and I have both lived sheltered lives and, by the grace of God, have been delivered from the grosser forms of evil. But as for myself, as I look back over the past years I must recall, not only many shortcomings and failures, but many sins: pride, willfulness and worse. Yet God knew my heart’s desire and my daily prayer that He might make me what I ought to be, a vessel truly “meet for the Master’s use.” And we know that this is Brother Sadler’s earnest prayer too.

The Apostle James says of Elijah (so greatly used of God): “Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are,” but demonstrates the key to his “greatness” as he continues: ” and he prayed earnestly.” (James 5:18). This shows that Elijah was not great in himself. He had to pray earnestly in his service for God-and so did James and his brethren-and so do we.

When the Lystrians would have worshipped Paul and Barnabas, these two men of God were so distressed that they “rent their clothes and ran in among them, crying out: “..Sirs, why do ye these things? we also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God…” (Acts 14:14,15).

Thus, what our beloved “Brother Paul” needs and desires for whatever time lies ahead is not your adoration but your respect and love and understanding as you have so freely given them to me through the years. Along with this you will naturally give him your earnest prayers and your support yes, your financial support, “as the Lord hath prospered you.” We know what it means to bear the many responsibilities of our God given ministry and the additional burden of concern over large bills almost due. We pray that, for the work’s sake, our brother will not often have to bear this burden, so that “the Word of the Lord may have free course and be glorified.”

And now, dear Brother Sadler, may God bless you richly as you conduct the affairs of the Berean Bible Society to the glory of our blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Our Relocation to Wisconsin

In the fall of 1993 the Board of Directors began diligently working on a much needed expansion project. Our Chicago facility had served us well for over 50 years, but it was time again to expand our horizons. Thus, the Board of Directors voted unanimously to relocate the ministries of the Berean Bible Society to a northwest suburb of Milwaukee. With the Lord leading the way, we erected a new facility in Germantown, Wisconsin which is better suited to meet our needs. In a sense we are returning home to our roots. The reason for this move was manifold:

Our storage area in Chicago had been filled to capacity for some time; consequently, we were storing approximately 20,000 books in other places. This problem would have only grown more serious as new volumes were published. Our new facility has over double the storage space, which should alleviate this problem for many years to come. Also, a large enough parcel was purchased for future expansion to avoid being hemmed in by houses or other businesses as we were in Chicago.
We have long had a problem encouraging grace believers to join the staff of BBS in Chicago. Between the high cost of living, traffic and crime, most were very reluctant to even entertain the thought. After many months of deliberation, the Board of Directors agreed that BBS should remain in the Midwest since it is the heart of the Grace Movement. The state of Wisconsin was chosen simply because it has the highest concentration of Grace believers in the country. In fact, we had a new staff on line months in advance of our move.
Needless to say, the Chicago facility was beginning to require more and more costly repairs due to its age. We need not remind our readers about the nightmare of having a flat roof it was one repair after another, and it still leaked! Furthermore, the building had been built back in the days when little or no insulation was used; so you can imagine how costly it was to heat and cool. On the other hand, our new facility is maintenance free with a PITCHED ROOF! In addition, it has two-by-six insulated walls with high-efficiency furnaces, which has cut the cost of our utility bills considerably. In fact, we have been saving approximately $600.00 per month during the heating season.

We are looking forward to serving the Lord in our new location for many, many years to come. May God richly bless His Word as it goes forth to the praise of His glory. If you have any questions regarding the ministries of the Berean Bible Society, please feel free to contact us using the contact information at the bottom of this page.