Thursday, August 13, 2009

"Filling Up the Afflictions of Christ"

The bible has much to say about suffering. I must admit that I struggle with much of what the bible says about suffering. I believe it; I just don't like to suffer.

For example, the bible tells us:

"More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." Romans 5:3-5 (ESV)

"Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus." II Timothy 2:3

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness." James 1:2-3

John Piper has written a new book that focuses on suffering. In particular, Piper's thesis focuses on the relationship between suffering and missions. Piper says that missions work will not only bring suffering upon those sharing Christ, but that the suffering of the missionaries is the means by which the gospel spreads. The reason for this? Those who suffer for the sake of the gospel show unbelievers in a tangible way something about the reality of the sufferings of Jesus Christ in His life and (especially) His death.

The book's title comes directly from Colossians 1:24, which says, "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church."

In Filling Up the Afflictions of Christ, Piper focuses on the lives of William Tyndale, John Paton, and Adoniram Judson. He shows that God used the great sufferings of these men to propagate the gospel (albeit in different ways) to those who had never heard it.

If you have never read about these three men, then I encourage you to purchase this book (click here). If you have read about these men, then I would encourage you to check this book out of the library and give it a quick read (it is short - only about 120 pages).

On a personal level, I liked this book because Adoniram Judson is one of my heroes. His suffering and endurance are beyond what I can comprehend. If you want to learn much more about Judson than Piper discusses, then I highly encourage you to read a great biography about Judson entitled To the Golden Shore. It is long (530 pages), but worth it.


Jeff Nelson said...


It has been my experience that afflictions and suffering do indeed make us stronger in the faith. That being said, I sure like "have suffered" more than "am suffering".


Eric said...


I agree. Looking back on past afflictions is much easier than being right in the middle of them.