Come, Lord Jesus: Meditations on the Second Coming of Christ. John Piper. 2023. [January] 322 pages. [Source: Review copy]
First sentence: The aim of this book is to help you love the second coming of Jesus Christ. The contents and title were inspired partly by the biblical prayers "Come, Lord Jesus!" (Revelation 22:20) and "Our Lord, come! (1 Corinthians 16:22). But mainly the book was inspired by the heart affection beneath these prayers which Paul expressed in 2 Timothy 4:8: There is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. A crown of righteousness is promised to those who love the second coming of Christ. We pray for his appearing, because we love his appearing.
Come, Lord Jesus is a weighty book. Perhaps I have misunderstood the word 'meditation' for most of my life--possible, for sure. I was expecting meaty devotions themed around the second coming, end times, last days, final judgment, heaven, new heaven and earth. I was not expecting a scholarly work packed--stuffed--with footnotes. I wasn't expecting Greek, Greek, and more Greek. There is a LOT for readers to unpack. This is no 5-minute-rice theology.
The theme is right on target. I would say it covers--end times, signs of the the last days, final judgment, tribulation, second coming, rapture, new heaven and earth, etc. It spans the teachings of the New Testament (New Testament authors). It seeks to reconcile the teachings of Jesus and Paul, to name an example.
I would say it challenges readers from the start. It asks much. And that's not a bad thing. To read without engaging this one would be a disservice. It asks you to think, to consider, to ponder, to wrestle with your own views and traditions. It holds the Bible in highest esteem. It lays out the Bible for you--chapter and verse. It unpacks all the angles. Piper has his views, but he is 'showing his work' if you will and not asking you to take his word for it on blind faith.
I found it thought-provoking. Even when I wanted to stop thinking about it, I couldn't. The end times, like it or not, can make you squirm a bit, be a bit uncomfortable. There are some subjects where I tend to be a little like Scarlett O'Hara, I'll think about that tomorrow. For me, the end times is that subject I'm always pushing to tomorrow. I think because it is so easy to get confused and stay confused. Perhaps because it is a subject that can feel extra-heated. Sometimes people have very STRONG feelings on what they think will happen, how it all unfolds. Trigger warning: Piper doesn't hold to a separate rapture of believers occurring pre-tribulation (or mid-tribulation for that matter). He believes in ONE second coming--the verses that speak of believers meeting him in the air is the same second coming where he's coming to judge the world.
I can honestly say that I've never asked myself the question do I [actively] love the second coming of Christ. Passively sure I think many Christians fall into that camp. But actively--desiring, longing, hoping, loving--that's a BIG, bold statement. Piper, especially at the beginning and perhaps again towards the end, makes the argument that "the test of our love for the Christ who HAS appeared is our longing for the Christ who WILL appear." He argues that it is our LOVE for his appearing that enables us to ENDURE through anything/everything. It is our LOVE for his appearing, so Piper claims Paul writes, that protects our hearts and minds from loving this world too much, from becoming too entangled with worldly-world influences. It is our LOVE for his appearing that will encourage and promote holy living--sanctification. It is our LOVE for his appearing that will keep us gathering together as believers and encouraging one another.
Piper further writes that it isn't enough to love certain things about his second coming [loving the gifts more than the giver] but our love for the second coming needs to fit into Christ's purpose for coming again. Here Piper does what Piper does best--talk about GLORY and delighting in the GLORY of the Lord. (Christian hedonism is Piper's default mode.) Here in this one it does make sense though.
He writes, "Absolutely crucial to God's ultimate purpose in the second coming is not only that the glory of Christ be revealed, but that it be loved. Rightly loved."
I am glad I read this one. It may be worth revisiting again. For being a book about the end of times or "day of the Lord" it covers SO much theological territory.
One of my favorite quotes:
Our hope is that the joy we have tasted in this life (1 Peter 2:3) will be given an injection of supernatural capacity beyond imagination. This is what Jesus prayed for. This is what will happen. God will pour his own love for Christ into us. We will enjoy Christ with the very enjoyment of God. It is true that our joy in Jesus even now is a work of God--God the Holy Spirit. Our joy in God and his Son is owing to the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, creating the capacity to delight in God and Christ (Romans 14:17; 15:13; 1 Thessalonians 1:6)... Jesus promises that he will go further: he will make God known in new and unimagined ways, with the result that God's own love for the Son will become more fully our own love for the Son, so that we will be able to enjoy Christ with the purity and intensity we ought. We will not be lamed by our present worldliness and remaining corruptions, and by the constrains of a fallen body.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible