December 11th, 2009
Piper, John. Filling up the Afflictions of Christ. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2009. 126 pp. $17.99. Purchase at Westminster Books.
Volume five in The Swans Are Not Silent series, Filling up the Afflictions is a reminder that we indeed stand on the shoulders of giants. In this book, Piper grants us a peak at three lives that were dedicated to the service of Jesus Christ. William Tyndale, Adoniram Judson, and John Paton suffered much for what many take for granted today.
William Tyndale was motivated by the pure gospel needing to be made accessible in the language of the everyday person. In the 16th century, however, this was not acceptable. The Roman Catholic Church claimed to have the only right to discern what the Bible says. Tyndale saw this as Pharisaical and set out to rectify the problem amidst much persecution ultimately being martyred for his efforts.
Adinoram Judson felt called to Burma in July 1813 against the wishes of one William Carey (the father of modern missions). Much like Jeremiah who could not help but preach the Word of God, Judson believed God wanted him to go to the uttermost hostile region in what we might call a “closed country” today. His faith in a sovereign God drove him and guided each and every step with assurance that he was doing the will of God even though it led to his death as well as the death of his children and wives.
John Paton is perhaps the most well-known of the three men discussed in this book thank in large part to his son’s biography, John G. Paton, Missionary to the New Hebrides. Piper paints an superb picture of the courage it took Paton to continue on the mission field when the world would readily run the opposite direction. Perhaps the most impactful section of the book is found in the discussion of the origin of Paton’s courage–his father. As a father, I found myself praying that I would have merely a fraction of the impact on my children as Paton’s father had on him.
If you have never read a book from The Swans Are Not Silent series, you have no idea what you are missing. These short, mini-biographies are excellent introductions to the giants of the Christian faith from the past. I encourage you to not only pick up Filling up the Afflictions of Christ, but to pick up the other books as well. You will not regret doing so. Their lives really help us to appreciate not only the freedoms we have today, but also the heritage that is passed on from generation to generation. Oh that we would drink deeply from our Christian ancestors and live the same faith they had in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.