Please enable javascript in your browser to view this site!

Subscribe now

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

By John Piper
January 1970 | Review by Dan Peters
  • Publisher: InterVarsity Press
  • ISBN: 978-1844744091
  • Pages: 128
  • Price: £7.99
Buy this book »

Book Review

This book explores the relationship between mission and suffering. It represents an excellent combination of theology, biography and challenge.

The theology is contained in the introduction. This short chapter is vital, establishing the grid through which we should view the real-life sufferings recounted later on.

The trials experienced by Tyndale, Judson and Paton were not coincidental or unfortunate. Piper demonstrates that there is an inevitable, theological connection between mission and suffering. He focuses particularly on Colossians 1:24, arguing that what is ‘lacking’ in Christ’s afflictions is the presentation of them to the nations of the world.

That role is left to the church, and the way the church presents Christ’s afflictions is through its own afflictions. ‘God really means for the body of Christ, the church, to experience some of the suffering he experienced so that when we proclaim the cross as the way to life, people will see the marks of the cross in us and feel the love of the cross from us’ (p.24).

The biographical section of the book is moving. William Tyndale suffered violent Roman Catholic opposition. His determination to translate the Bible into English was unwelcome because it threatened the church’s control. He was pursued, imprisoned and ultimately martyred.

John Paton suffered the daily stress of living amongst the cannibalistic peoples of the South Pacific. On one occasion he even had to hide in a tree from bloodthirsty natives who were seeking his life. Adoniram Judson suffered the relentless assaults of cholera, malaria and dysentery in Burma. He lost two wives, seven children and numerous colleagues, and at one point was driven by depression to live alone, deep in tiger-infested jungle.

The challenge comes in the book’s conclusion. Piper wants readers to understand that mission in the 21st century is neither less necessary nor less costly than it was for our forebears. He refers to 3,500 ‘ethnolinguistic’ peoples which remain unreached with the gospel.

The author acknowledges that most of us are probably called to carry on serving God in our present situations. However, he also flags up the great need for modern equivalents of his historical case-studies; those willing to venture into unevangelised areas of our planet and suffer, in order to show forth the greater sufferings of their Saviour. I recommend this book unreservedly.

Leave a Reply

Book Reviews

Read our latest book reviews

Above and Beyond: The illustrated story of Mission Aviation Fellowship
Mission Aviation Fellowship

As someone with a long-standing interest in both aircraft and world mission, this book had immediate appeal to me! But you don’t have to be an aviation nerd to enjoy it. Above and Beyond is a very well-produced coffee table…

See all book reviews
The History and Theology of Calvinism
Curt Daniel

This must be the most comprehensive study of the subject available today. It is difficult to think of any aspect of Calvinism that is not covered. It is divided into two major sections. The first covers the history, and ranges…

Searching Our Hearts in Difficult Times
John Owen

It is difficult to do this book justice in a review – the only way to grasp how helpful it is will be to read it for yourself. John Owen has a reputation for writing in a style that is…

An Introduction to John Owen: A Christian vision for every stage of life
Crawford Gribben

This unusual yet valuable book is not a biography of the influential Puritan. Rather its purpose – which it achieves capably – is ‘to discover the kind of life he hoped his readers would experience’ (p.13). Drawing on Owen’s extensive…