I am currently reading through John Piper’s biographical sketches on William Tyndale, John Paton, and Adoniram Judson, from his book, Filling Up the Afflictions of Christ. Here are a few salient quotes from the Introduction and the chapter on William Tyndale. Good thoughts for keeping our afflictions in Christ-centered perspective:
From the Introduction
God’s design for the evangelization of the world and the consummation of his purposes includes the suffering of his ministers and missionaries. . . God designs that the sufferings of his ambassadors is one essential means in the triumphant spread of the Good News among all the peoples of the world. . . . suffering is a result of faithful obedience in spreading the gospel (14).
But this voluntary suffering and death to save others is not only the content but it is also the method of our mission. . . . As Joseph Tson puts it in his own case: “I am an extension of Jesus Christ. When I was beaten in Romania, He suffered in my body. It is not my suffering: I only had the honor to share His sufferings” . . . Christ’s suffering is for our propitiation; our suffering is for propagation (15).
So the afflictions of Christ are “lacking” in the sense that they are not seen and known and loved among the nations. They must be carried by missionaries. And those missionaries “complete” what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ by extending them to others. (22).
God intends for the afflictions of Christ to be presented to the world through the afflictions of his people. 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. Our calling is to make the afflictions of Christ real for people by the afflictions we experience in bringing them the message of salvation (24).
On William Tyndale
For a thousand years [before Tyndale], the only translation of the Greek and Hebrew Bible was the Latin Vulgate, and few people could understand it, even if they had access to it (31).
Nine-tenths of the Authorized Version’s New Testament is Tyndale’s. The same is true of the first half of the Old Testament (32).
. . . two ways that a pastor or any spiritual leader must die in order to bear fruit forGod (John 12:24; Romans 7:4). On the one hand, we must die to the notion that we do not have to think hard or work hard to achieve spiritual goals. On the other other hand, we must die to the notion that our thinking and our working is decisive in achieving spiritual goals (35).
You work. He give. If he withholds, all our working is in vain. But he ordains that we use our minds and that we work in achieving spiritual ends. . . . The key to spiritual achievement is to work hard, and to know and believe and be happy that God’s sovereign grace is the decisive cause of all the good that comes (36).
It is ironic and sad that today supposedly avant-garde Christian writers can strike this cool, evasive, imprecise, artistic, superficially reformist pose of Erasmus and call it “postmodern” and capture a generation of unwitting, historically naive people who don’t know they are being duped by the same old verbal tactics used by the elitist, humanist writers in past generations. We see them in the controversies between the slippery Arians and Athanasius, and we see them no in Tyndale’s day. It’s not postmodern. It’s pre-modern-because it’s perpetual (41).
Here is Tyndale’s definition of the “gospel” that rings with exuberant joy: “euangelion (that we call the gospel) is a Greek word and signifieth good, merry, glad and joyful tidings, that maketh a man’s heart glad and maeth him sing, dance, and leap for joy. . . . [This gospel is] all of Christ the right David, how that he hath fought with sin, with death, and the devil, and overcome them: whereby all men that were in bondage to sin, wounded with death, overcome of the devil are without their own merits or deservings loosed, justified, restored to life and saved, brought to liberty and reconciled unto the favor of God and set at one with him again: which tidings as many as believ laud, praise and thank God, are glad, sin and dance for joy” (42, note 41).
How should we use quotes like these? It was recently recommended to me to begin keeping a file of notes on subjects like “affliction” in order to regularly review them for setting your heart in a steadfastly Christ-centered direction. Ever considered doing something similar?
Get the book HERE.