One of the final sentences in our Bibles is a prayer for the second coming: “Come Lord Jesus.” (Rev. 22:20) In his newest book Come, Lord Jesus: Meditations on the Second Coming of Christ (Crossway, 2023), John Piper takes a deep dive into Scripture to examine everything God has revealed to us about the return of Christ. The purpose? To help us love the second coming of our Savior and Lord. In 2 Timothy 4:8, Paul tells us that a crown of righteousness awaits those who have loved his appearing. In Titus 2:13, he says that we are waiting for this appearing, which is our blessed hope. And in Philippians 3:20-21, he writes that we are eagerly awaiting our Savior, and the transformation of our bodies that will occur at his coming.
To be honest, this has not always been my experience as a Christian. I have not always longed for and loved Christ’s appearing. I believe this is mostly the result of my youth, my lingering love for the world, and my lack of suffering. However, the longer I live, and the deeper I grow to know and love Christ, the more I long for him to come again… and the more I find myself praying, asking God to send him quickly. In light of that, I am deeply thankful for John Piper’s investment to write this book.
The book is divided up in to three parts. Part one is ‘Reasons to Love Christ’s Appearing.’ Here, Piper focuses on the wonderful promises God has given us in Scripture for that day. It is also here where he addresses what he calls “the heart of the matter.” In chapter three, he lays out the biblical evidence for his claim that the primary reality of the second coming is the glory of Christ. This evidence culminates with 2 Thessalonians 1:10, which says Christ is coming, “to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed.” This is quintessential Piper. Of course the second coming includes Christian hedonism. Christ will be exalted and we will find our greatest joy in his glory. I expected nothing less from this book. Piper writes,
“The heart of the matter is that he is coming to be glorified and marveled at. Christ’s purpose in coming is radically Christ-exalting. He means for his own glory to be front and center. He means for it to flash from horizon to horizon unmistakably (Luke 17:24). And he means for that glory to shine most brightly in the joyful marveling of his people. We will not be the center of attention. He will. And the glory of his centrality will be our joy. Our marveling at his supreme glory will complete his glorification and will be the height of our jubilation.” (Loc 807)
The best part of the book, for me, was part two: ‘The Time of His Appearing.’ Here, Piper answers the following questions: Did Jesus teach that he would return within one generation? What does the New Testament mean that Jesus will come soon? Is there an any-moment rapture before the second coming? And what must happen before the Lord’s appearing?
Any serious student of the Bible has puzzled over these questions at one time or another. I seriously enjoy a book that gives solid, satisfying, and (most-importantly) biblical answers to questions like these.
One of his potentially controversial claims here is that it is unbiblical for us to speak as if Christ could return at any moment. Why? Because Scripture tells us certain things must happen first. Two main events are the appearance of the “man of lawlessness” mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2, and the gospel being preached to all nations (Matt. 24:14). He does admit, the former could happen very quickly, and we are in the dark as to when the latter will be completed. Nevertheless, he does say we should not speak as if Christ could come back at any moment.
Multiple times in the book, stressing the need for vigilance, he noted that we have no warrant to be sure that Jesus’s coming is ever more than a few years away. Yet, he does consistently use that time-frame—a few years away. This was the only point where he didn’t fully convince me. I don’t insist that we are on the verge of it. We cannot know these things. However, considering there is no way for us to truly know when the gospel finally reaches all nations, and the fact that the man of lawlessness could rise quite quickly, a timeline of a few years seems a bit too long.
Having said all that, I appreciate the fact that Piper is bringing to bear biblical information that many people simply disregard or conveniently forget when they begin to speak of the possibility that Christ could come at any moment.
Part three is titled ‘How Then Shall We Live?’ Here, he concludes, in a very Paul-like fashion, with practical exhortations, from the Bible, on how this doctrine should make a difference in our lives now. He addresses themes like staying alert, waiting with peace and patience, trusting in God’s justice, and how best to pray. The simple but profound chapter titled ‘Go to Work, Go to Church’ was especially helpful to me. In his exposition of the Thessalonian problem of believers quitting their jobs, he writes, “Bad eschatology had led to bad behavior. They were wrong about the second coming and had gone wrong about the duties of ordinary life.” (Loc 1819) Part three is kind of the opposite of that. Good eschatology should lead to good behavior, and should lead us to properly go about the duties of ordinary life.
Finally, I’d like to encourage you to purchase and read this book by saying that Piper has written his own hymn about the second coming, which he included at the very end. It is absolutely wonderful. I can’t wait for someone like the Gettys, one of the three Matts (Merker, Boswell, Papa), or CityAlight to put it to music. It would be such a blessing to sing in a worship service. Go get the book and see what I mean.
Come, Lord Jesus is a book that I would recommend to every student of Scripture and lover of Christ. It drove me to write lots of notes in my Bible, to take another look at my assumptions on this topic, and to long for and pray for Christ’s appearing.
Photo credit: Crossway
Editor’s Note: This resource was received by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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