Monday, November 09, 2009

Filling up the Afflictions of Christ by John Piper

Filling up the Afflictions of Christ:
The cost of bringing the gospel to the nations in the lives
of William Tyndale, Adoniram Judson and John Paton
John Piper, IVP, 2009 126pp

Millions of people have yet to hear the gospel of salvation. The work of worldwide mission is far from over. But reaching the lost for Christ is a costly affair. As Jesus said, the grain of wheat must fall into the ground and die in order to bear much fruit (John 12:24). Paul was conscious that in the sufferings of his ministry he was filling up what was lacking in the afflictions of Christ (Colossians 1:24). This does not mean that the apostle was attempting to supplement Christ’s atoning work. But he knew that God’s love for the nations is revealed as his people undergo suffering for the sake of the gospel.

This is the great principle that John Piper seeks to illustrate in the lives of William Tyndale the Bible translator, and pioneer missionaries Adoniram Judson and John Paton. He tells the moving story of how these men were willing to suffer hardship and even death to bring the message of God’s grace to the nations. Each man is a powerful example of Christian courage, self-sacrifice and fortitude in the face of seemingly overwhelming opposition and hardship. I defy any reader not to be deeply affected and challenged by Piper’s brief, yet gripping accounts of their lives. Tyndale, Judson and Paton knew what it was to die to themselves in order to serve Christ and win others for him. That is why their ministries bore much fruit. Are we willing to do the same in the great work of reaching the unreached with the good news of Jesus in our day?

*An edited version of this review will appear in a forthcoming edition of Protestant Truth.

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