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 - eBook
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Publication Date: 2009
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Series: The Swans are Not Silent
The fifth volume in Piper's acclaimed The Swans Are Not Silent series illustrates powerful and enduring lessons through the missional sufferings of Tyndale, Judson, and Paton.
Jesus' words in John 12 are sobering: unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it will bear little fruit. The history of Christianity's expansion proves that God's strategy for reaching unreached peoples with the gospel includes the sufferings of his frontline heralds-the missionaries who willingly die a thousand daily deaths to advance God's kingdom.
Pastor John Piper's latest addition to The Swans Are Not Silent series focuses on this flesh-and-blood reality in the lives of William Tyndale, Adoniram Judson, and John Paton. The price they paid to translate the Word of God, to pave the way for missionary mobilization around the world, and to lead the hostile to Christ was great. Yet their stories show in triplicate how the gospel advances not only through the faithful proclamation of the truth but through representing the afflictions of Christ in our sufferings.
The first biographical sketch is of William Tyndale. Before his death in 1536 by strangulation and burning at the stake, he gave the world the first English translation of the New Testament, and a good portion of the Old Testament. His translation of the New Testament was the first to be made from the Greek text rather than the Latin. Piper examines the theological climate in which Tyndale lived, and discusses the parallels between Tyndale and the Roman Catholic scholar Erasmus, and looks at why the established church of that day was so hostile to the idea of having the Bible available in English.
The story of John Paton, Scottish missionary to the New Hebrides beginning in 1824 A.D., is a story I heard often in my youth from my pastor. Piper chooses to highlight Paton's courage: courage to overcome criticism at home and false accusations; the courage to continue after the deaths of his wife and children; and the courage needed to face the threats to his life from hostile native people and tropical illness. Piper then examines both the source and results of Piper's courage.
If a seasoned missionary advised you not to go to the foreign field to which you believed God had called you, would you still go? This is the situation Adoniram Judson faced when William Carey told him not to go to Burma. But the twenty-four-year-old and his young bride did go, staying until his death thirty-eight years later. Piper focuses attention on Judsons faith in God's sovereignty throughout a life of suffering: "If I had not felt certain that every additional trial was ordered by infinite love and mercy, I could not have survived my accumulated sufferings." Such faith was not only a legacy from his godly father, but also a result of his own absolute confidence in the Bible. It was this faith that enabled him to endure seventeen months in prison; to bear the loss of two wives and several children; and to persevere in completing a translation of the Burmese Bible and a dictionary.
The book concludes with Piper's characteristic pastoral exhortation. After a brief outline of current ethnolinguistic statistics, the reality of martyrdom in the work of spreading the gospel, and the question of the importance of suffering and martyrdom in world evangelism, Piper writes: "My hope for this book is that our hearts and minds have been shaped more deeply by the work of the Spirit, so that when the crisis comes, we will be guided more by the ways of God and less by the worldly assumptions of security and comfort. . . . And let us resolve to set our faces like flint on the path of obedience and never turn back. And with a full grasp of the possible cost before us, and with full courage because of Christ, let us walk softly to every unreached people that remains." Highly recommended. Pamela Glass, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
Wayne S. WalkerSalem, ILAge: 55-65Gender: male5 Stars Out Of 5we can admire their convictionNovember 29, 2013Wayne S. WalkerSalem, ILAge: 55-65Gender: maleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5This is Book No. 5 in the series The Swans Are Not Silent. Piper explains the series title in the Preface, where he writes, "By swans I mean the inspiring lives of faithful Christians in history. They are not silent in the sense that their lives still speak powerfully for our encouragement and guidance. He then quotes Eraclius at the retirement of Augustine as Bishop of Hippo in A.D. 430 when he said, "The cricket chirps, the swan is silent." Piper wrote when he read that, he thought, "No, Eraclius the swans are not silent. They go on speaking. That is, they continue speaking if someone tells their story and gives them a voice."
Concerning the book title, Piper explains in his Introduction that it is based on Colossians 1:24 where Paul wrote, "I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church." His point is that "this voluntary suffering and death to save others is not only the content but it is also the method of our mission." He then illustrates this principle by reviewing the lives and work of William Tyndale, the English Reformation leader who translated the Bible into the English language and was burned at the stake for it in 1536; John G. Paton, Scottish missionary to the island of Tanna in the South Pacific's New Hebrides chain beginning in 1824; and Adoniram Judson, the American missionary to the southeast Asian country of Burma, now Myanmar.
Other books in the series are The Legacy of Sovereign Joy: God's Triumphant Grace in the Lives of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin; The Hidden Smile of God: The Fruit of Affliction in the Lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd; The Roots of Endurance: Invincible Perseverance in the Lives of John Newton, Charles Simeon, and William Wilberforce; and Contending for Our All: Defending Truth and Treasuring Christ in the Lives of Athanasius, John Owen, and J. Gresham Machen. You must remember that Piper is an evangelical Calvinist, so some of the doctrines of evangelical Calvinism, like salvation by faith alone and total hereditary depravity, pop up from time to time. However, the men whom he discusses were all important figures in religious history who have a lot to tell us. Whether we agree with everything which they taught or not, we can admire their conviction to stand up for what they believed in and learn the important lessons which their attitudes and actions can teach us.
David ShawTecumseh, OK4 Stars Out Of 5March 22, 2012David ShawTecumseh, OKQuality: 4Value: 4Meets Expectations: 4John Piper has a series of books titles The Swans are not Silent in which he writes mini-biographies of some of the martyrs of the faith. Piper gives a little background on the lives of those he writes about but he mainly focuses on the ministerial hardships each man faced.
In book five, Filling up the Afflictions of Christ (title taken from Colossians 1:24), Piper writes about three giants of the faith, William Tyndale, Adoniram Judson and John Patton. Each of these men gave their lives to take the Gospel to the nations.
William Tyndale was the first to translate the Bible into English, a task the Catholic Church told him not to partake of. In 1536 the church had him strangled then burned at the stake. Piper writes about the environment that Tyndale lived in and how it led to his death.
John Patton was a Scottish missionary to the New Hebrides in 1824. He lost his wife and children, fought false accusations and had courage to face threats from the natives, all the while never losing sight of the call that God had given to reach those people with the gospel.
Adoniram Judson, at the age of 24, took his young bride to Burma. He lived among those people for 38 years during which time he spent 17 months in prison, lost two wives and several children.
Piper writes about each man in a heart wrenching fashion. Reading of these men gives me courage to stand in the face of any persecution I may face for the sake of the Gospel. We are indebted to these men who gave us the English Bible and had the courage to take the Gospel to the hardest areas of the world. I pray that I will have just a fraction of their dedication. This book will help me gain confidence in the grace of God to do what He has called me to do.