Into the Book


What would you be willing to give for the expansion of Christ’s great Kingdom? What would you be willing to endure?

John Piper’s Filling up the Afflictions of Christ examines the lives of three Christian men–Bible translator/smuggler William Tyndale, and missionaries Adoniram Judson and John Paton, telling their stories with fascinating excerpts from biographies and quotes from historians, giving vivid images and ideas of what these men went through–and why and how.

From the highs of groundbreaking spirit-worked revival to the heart-rending tragedies, the lives of these three men clearly illustrate how mightily God can work through the deaths of His children. Sometimes the physical death inflicted by men, but first the thousand deaths died every day as wives, children, and friends are torn away and hostilities burn ever hotter. When a seed dies, its yield is great–such is the way with a Christian martyr in the hands of the Divine, as you will see.

In the introduction, Piper explains the concept of filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. What starts as a thought provoking and masterfully articulated biblical concept becomes the background against which to view the tales portrayed in the rest of the book, watching in pained yet ecstatic silence as three great men of God give their all in order to participate in this filling up.

While the focus of this book appears to be on martyrdom, persecution, and missionary work, it becomes clear that all Piper has in mind is the fulfilling of the Great Commission, and he makes clear that this can be and is done in our everyday lives as well as in more radical ways. This isn’t a book telling everyone to go live in a hut and learn a language no one has learned before, and I found that both personally comforting and encouraging, and generally more true to the spirit of Christ’s charge to Christians.

In terms of pages, the book is rather short; but the density and intensity of the content makes for a balance between easy and careful reading. Not a fast read, but definitely not something I had to slog through or was afraid I’d give up on. Piper’s writing voice is personal and flows well enough that you don’t usually notice it–your attention is on the radical message he is showing us in the lives of these men.

While this is by no means a children’s book, it doesn’t go into many gory details, and the writing style I think would accommodate people of most reading levels.

Whether you are wrestling with a desire for mission work, or looking for a starting point to study historical Christian figures, I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

~ Jeremiah

Published on 29 July, 2014. Last updated on

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