John Piper on the Second Coming
Some inspiring quotes from his important new book:
There is a never-ending supply of books on eschatology, the last things, the return of our Lord, heaven and hell, the future state, and so on. Prophecy buffs have made a killing of course on adding speculation and melodrama to what we do know from Scripture on these matters.
Sometimes we need to separate fact from fiction as we read these books. Over a decade ago I did provide a list of some of the better books that are available on these related themes and topics: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2012/11/10/recommended-reading-on-eschatology/
Of course many more good books have appeared since then. One that I want to highlight here is the latest work by John Piper: Come Lord Jesus (Crossway, 2023). One reviewer complained that it did not cover all the usual theological debates about the millennium, and so on. But the subtitle explains why this is the case: “Meditations on the Second Coming of Christ.” So it is more of a devotional work, but certainly not devoid of theological depth. It is all about ‘loving his appearing’ as 2 Timothy 4:8 speaks of.
This piece will not be a proper review of the volume, but just a collection of some of the many significant quotes that can be found in it. Hopefully what is offered in this article will stir you up sufficiently to get a copy of this book for yourself. Here then are some key quotes:
“Paul says that the grace of God appeared the first time to bring into being a people who would eagerly wait for Christ’s second appearing with uprightness and godliness. In other words, the first appearing prepares us for the second. We have much to love about the first appearing of Christ. But as great as it was, climaxing in the cross and the resurrection of Jesus, it was all designed to bring into being a people and a new reality that would find climactic expression at the second coming.” 15
“My suggestion is that welling up in Paul’s mind, as he thinks about his fight and race and faith, is his own decades long desire for the Lord’s appearing that exerted such a keeping power in his life. In other words, as he thought back over the battles he had fought, and the endurance demanded by the marathon of his life, and the temptations to forsake his faith for the pleasures of the world, what rose in his consciousness was the sustaining power of the preciousness of what he saw coming at the Lord’s appearing. He loved it. And that love kept him.” 16
“Paul says his crown will be awarded because of a well-fought fight and a well-run race and persevering faith, while their crown will be awarded because they have loved the Lord’s appearing. These are not separate standards for awarding crowns. They are the same standard. In one, Paul focuses on the inner spiritual affection of love for the Lord and his coming. And in the other, Paul focuses on the resulting fight for perseverance. This relationship between loving and fighting is so important for us to see because it shows how crucial it is that we love the Lord’s second coming. This love is not marginal. It is not optional. It is a means by which Christians are kept from falling away.” 18
“Both these texts [Luke 21:25-27; Matt. 24:30] emphasize that Christ is coming with ‘great glory.’ All suffering and shame are behind him. The great reversal—glory for suffering—will be made public to the whole world at his second coming. It will not be a temporary glory marred by some later reversal. It will be an ‘eternal glory’ (2 Tim. 2:10; 1 Pet. 5:10).” 44
“Reconciliation is not a process, like sanctification. It happened at the cross. In his death, Jesus absorbed the wrath of God for us, and now there is no condemnation, but rather reconciliation, acceptance, forgiveness, and adoption—forever (cf. Rom. 5:8–10; 8:1–3). If anyone stands before Christ blameless at his coming, it will be owing to the death of Jesus reconciling us to God.” 76
“On the day when Christians are judged, God is not looking for deeds that purchased our pardon in his judgment hall. He is looking for deeds that proved we were already enjoying our pardon. The purchase of our pardon was the blood of Jesus, sufficient once for all to cover all our sins. And the means by which we own it is faith—faith alone. The deeds that will be brought forward confirm the faith because ‘faith apart from works is dead’ (James 2:26).” 80
“There have always been false teachers who denigrate bodily existence as intrinsically defective and encumbering to the human spirit. The biblical view of the body is very different. The body is not only part of God’s “very good” creation before the fall (Gen. 1:31), but it is destined to be raised, perfected, and made an eternal part of our worship and obedience. As with Christ, God’s people will have transformed physical bodies forever.” 90
“Therefore, because you will be perfectly glorified at the coming of Christ, put to death impurity (Col. 3:5). In other words, since you are destined to be perfected in purity at the coming of Christ, seek to be done with all impurity now. Which means that the appearing of Christ in glory will bring about not only the physical but also the moral perfection of his people. What has been progressive in this life will be completed at the Lord’s appearing.” 102
“But if we are not careful, we may conceive of our deliverance from wrath at the second coming in a way that badly distorts the reality. It would be a distortion if we thought of God pouring out wrath and his Son mercifully keeping us from the Father’s wrath. It would be a serious mistake to pit the mercy of the Son against the wrath of the Father in this way—as if God were the just punisher and Christ the merciful rescuer. It is quite otherwise. It is not as though divine judgment gets underway and Jesus shows up to intervene. Jesus himself sets the judgment in motion and carries it out. Jesus is the judge. Jesus brings the judgment. The surprising implication is that when Paul says, ‘Jesus . . . delivers us from the wrath to come’ (1 Thess. 1:10), he means, ‘Jesus delivers us from the wrath of Jesus’.” 109
“We should hear the summons of David in Psalm 31 and let our hearts be guided by his words: ‘Love the Lord, all you his saints! The Lord preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.’ (31:23) We do not delight in the pain of the punished for itself. We delight in the justice of God and the righteousness of Christ. We delight that this is not a universe where evil triumphs but where every wrong will be set right, either by condemnation on the cross of Christ or by just recompense in hell.” 115
“In other words, these verses about ‘the rebellion’ and ‘the man of lawlessness’ focus on their insidious deceptiveness and how not to be taken in by it. It turns out that the decisive issue is not just what we know, but what we love. People are sucked into endtime deceit not just because they don’t have truth, but because they don’t love truth (2 Thess. 2:10). This, we will see, relates directly to our love for the Lord’s appearing.” 124
“The main reason we should not think of rewards as earned or deserved payback for good deeds is that the only good deeds that have moral beauty in God’s eyes are ‘works of faith’ (cf. 1 Thess. 1:3; 2 Thess. 1:11). Apart from faith, we cannot please God (Heb. 11:6). Therefore, Paul’s aim in his ministry is ‘the obedience of faith’ (Rom. 1:5; 16:26). In other words, the only good deeds that receive Christ’s reward are the deeds that we trust God to work through us by the power of his grace. ‘[God’s] grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me’ (1 Cor. 15:10).” 144
“Not all Christians are called to endure the same measure of suffering in this way. What comfort is there for one who suffers right up to the very end—when there is no life left on earth where one could profit from the sanctifying effects of suffering? Paul’s answer: No Christian suffering is pointless. It is ‘preparing an eternal weight of glory.’ In other words, there is a real correlation between our suffering here and the measures of glory we know there. God will award the Christian sufferer in accord with his or her suffering. These rewards will differ greatly, and those of us who suffered less will leap for joy that the rewards of those who suffered more exceed ours.” 152
“The fact that there are historically repeated prefigurations of end time events means that most of the precursors of the second coming are not of such a nature that they allow for discerning the closeness of the end. They are real, but also imprecise. They are meant to make us vigilant, knowing that very quickly, the common evils of history might escalate into the climactic events of the end.” 235
“The kingdom of God was in some sense present. And yet, in some sense, it was not present, but coming. This perplexity is at the heart of the uniqueness of Christianity and how we are to live in this age. Something absolutely astonishing and wonderful has already happened in the incarnation of the Son of God. And yet something astonishing and wonderful is yet to happen that will complete what Christ began on earth. Salvation has come. And salvation is coming. We pursue with moral earnestness our full salvation in the future, because salvation has already been secured for us in the past. Because of Christ’s work in his first coming, we are already forgiven (Col. 1:14), justified (Rom. 5:1), adopted (Gal. 4:5–6), secure (Rom. 8:30)—all of this because of our union with Christ through faith.” 250
“My conclusion, therefore, is that Jesus’s repeated command that we be awake, ready, on guard, watchful, and vigilant is not because the second coming will take obedient disciples off guard, but because spiritual stupor results in being oblivious to what is happening in the world, and thus being surprised and trapped and ruined. The uncertainty of the time of Christ’s return functions to warn all of us to be spiritually alive and awake and sober because the alternative is a spiritual condition that will be blind to signs and will not be able to recover from satanic stupor when ‘the lightning . . . lights up the sky from one side to the other’ (Luke 17:24). Any presumption of Christ’s delay to justify worldliness puts a heart in a position of spiritual suicide.” 258
“If we love the Lord’s appearing, we will love the advance of his mission toward completion. We will take heart from his promise that the gospel will be preached to all nations, that is, all the people groups (‘tribe, language, people, nation’), and we will embrace his command to ‘make disciples of all nations’ (Matt. 28:19). We will seek to share the urgency and clarity of Ladd’s exhortation: ‘So long as Christ does not return, our work is undone. Let us get busy and complete our mission’.” 284
4 Replies to “John Piper on the Second Coming”
“My conclusion, therefore, is that Jesus’s repeated command that we be awake, ready, on guard, watchful, and vigilant is not because the second coming will take obedient disciples off guard, but because spiritual stupor results in being oblivious to what is happening in the world, and thus being surprised and trapped and ruined.“
This is why I hate it when people even mention he might not come for 100 years because for many that IS license to relax he’s not coming back soon these rumors of war and wars have been with us since he left so it probably is closer to 100 years before he returns. It reminds me of 2Pe 3:4
And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
Discernment is the KEY.
That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition
Before we dismiss the soonness of his his coming with it could be another 100 years perhaps we should discern the times we are in lest we find ourselves MUCH closer than that. Even the Bible say we can know when it is at the doors. We are surrounded by signs and portents and I feel a darkness pressing at our backs. Satan knows his time grows near and the evil is palpable. One can feel the evil in the air. The temptations increasing. The weight of sin and life’s choices weigh down even more. “And what rough beast it’s hour come round at last slouches towards Bethlehem to be born”.
Thanks Paul. A few points:
-As Jesus said, “no one knows the day or hour”
-There could well be as many who think the Lord is coming soon who “relax” as those who think it might be longer.
-My new article looks at what we ALL should do, regardless of our eschatological beliefs: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2023/04/16/when-will-the-end-come/
Ouch $45! Is there a paperback version yet?
Not yet John.