A Brief Book Summary from Books At a Glance
By Benjamin J. Montoya
John Piper’s new book Coronavirus and Christ is an excellent and timely little book for Christians in our current health crisis. We offer this “Bonus” summary to all our readers for your enjoyment and edification.
If you would like to read the entire book, here are the links you will need:
- You can download a free PDF of the book here.
- You can purchase a copy from Amazon here.
- You can purchase a Kindle version here.
Throughout history, there have been all kinds of pandemics. What is God doing with the Coronavirus? Is God still in control? Consider this important book, and its summary, to learn more.
Table of Contents
Introduction The Occasion: Coronavirus
Part 1 The God Who Reigns over the Coronavirus
Chapter 1 Come to the Rock
Chapter 2 A Solid Foundation
Chapter 3 The Rock Is Righteous
Chapter 4 Sovereign over All
Chapter 5 The Sweetness of His Reign
Part 2 What Is God Doing through the Coronavirus?
Preliminary Thoughts: Seeing and Pointing
Chapter 6 Picturing Moral Horror
Chapter 7 Sending Specific Divine Judgments
Chapter 8 Awakening Us for the Second Coming
Chapter 9 Realigning Us with the Infinite Worth of Christ
Chapter 10 Creating Good Works in Danger
Chapter 11 Loosening Roots to Reach the Nations
A Closing Prayer
Part 1: The God Who Reigns over the Coronavirus
Chapter 1: Come to the Rock
Life is filled with all kinds of uncertainties that make people fear. The author of this book was diagnosed with cancer, and of course, like anyone else, it shook him. It is not as though he felt pain immediately, but a diagnosis of that kind is scary for anyone. When we face times like this one, what should we do?
When we look to Scripture for our answers, we see that God in Christ is the Rock on which we stand. Christ has always been our Rock, and he is no less so in this time of pandemic. This time also helps understand the words of James when he writes,
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that” (James 4:13–15).
We may make our plans, but ultimately, we must learn to depend on the Lord who determines our lives. And we must depend on him as our Rock in all times.
Chapter 2: A Solid Foundation
The coronavirus has made people feel very uncertain, but what can be our solid foundation during this time? The answer is the Word of God. The Word of God authenticates itself as the very Word of God by the words contained in it. The divine glory of God shines in it.
Although God is sovereign enough to stop this virus at any moment, but has not yet, it is His Word that can provide us with sustaining strength during this difficult time. We can look to stand on its foundation in the same way that we taste honey. We have to experience it firsthand. It is only then that we can experience comfort during this uncertain time.
Chapter 3: The Rock Is Righteous
The presence of this virus may cause us to question what we know about the nature of God. Is he good? Is he in control? Is he righteous? Although we may be tempted to question his righteousness during this time, we ought not to do so. First, Scripture consistently teaches his righteousness, despite pandemics and other disasters. Second, if God is not righteous, he cannot be our rock. We need a rock on which we can depend, and righteousness is an essential element. We as humans are all sinful; the Bible speaks to that point repeatedly (Romans 3:10). But God is not like us. His is holy, righteous, good, and sovereign, the attribute that the next chapter will consider.
Chapter 4: Sovereign over All
A pandemic like this one can make us all wonder if we will survive. In fact, even the author of this book admits that given his other health issues, there is a real chance that he, too, could die of this virus if he caught it. This all must make us wonder, is God really in control if he allows these kinds of things to occur?
God could stop this virus at any moment he chooses, but the fact that he does not is not proof that he is not control. He is still in control during difficult times. A pandemic like this one can be described as bitter providence. That does not mean that God himself is bitter. Rather, it helps us understand that throughout Scripture, God works through very difficult times of his providence that we struggle to understand. Ruth found herself in a very difficult situation too, and God clearly provided for her.
This pandemic can help us all realize that because of God’s sovereignty, we ought to be quick to say, “If the Lord wills, we will do this or that,” as James instructs us (James 4:15). This sort of time reminds us that our lives are still in his control and help us see that more so.
Chapter 5: The Sweetness of His Reign
The sweetness of God’s reign may be difficult to comprehend during times like these. Yet, Scripture reminds us that God works in our lives and others in ways that are difficult to understand from a human standpoint. Consider the fact that God secured our salvation by slaying his own sinless Son on the cross (Romans 8:32). God cares about his people, even during difficult times, and he distinctly knows about his people down to the number of hairs on their heads (Matthew 10:29–31).
What Is God Doing through the Coronavirus?
Preliminary Thoughts: Seeing and Pointing
What is God doing through the Coronavirus? We must be careful because when we ask questions like this one, we are not speaking with a God who is an equal. His ways are much higher than our ways, as the Bible repeatedly reminds us. God, however, is doing something with the Coronavirus. To discover what he is doing, we must look primarily to Scripture. Six answers will be given here.
Chapter 6: Picturing Moral Horror
The first answer is that God is helping us see the reality and effects of moral horror. When we think of the Fall in Genesis 3, we may be tempted to think of it in too low of terms, in the sense that we are not fully gripped with the seriousness of it. “God is giving the world in the coronavirus outbreak, as in all other calamities, a physical picture of the moral horror and spiritual ugliness of God-belittling sin.” Sin is why all bad things happen, including viruses and plagues. The physical evil that we see in our world is because of the spiritual evil that has occurred.
Chapter 7: Sending Specific Divine Judgments
Although it is not the case for every single person, “some people will be infected with the coronavirus as a specific judgment from God because of their sinful attitudes and actions.” God’s Word is clear that God sends specific judgment on some people because of their sins. For those of us who are in Christ, we can know that that is not the case for us. Our condemnation has been laid upon Christ. But for those not in Christ, their sickness and infection from the Coronavirus may be as a result of their sin.
Chapter 8: Awakening Us for the Second Coming
The Coronavirus is intended to be a wake-up call for Christians. “The coronavirus is a God-given wake-up call to be ready for the second coming of Christ.” As Christians, it is all too easy to get wrapped up with the things of this life. But, our reality is that Christ is coming back again. That is something for which we should hope. What we see in creation right now is birth pains that signal the coming of Christ is coming.
Chapter 9: Realigning Us with the Infinite Worth of Christ
One of the most important things that can happen during this time is that “the coronavirus is God’s thunderclap call for all of us to repent and realign our lives with the infinite worth of Christ.” Even in the Bible, when Jesus addressed why calamities happen, he focused on the eternal reality of focusing on repentance. So also for us today. We ought to be reminded of our sin, the God-centered reality, repent of our sin, and realign to focus on the infinite worth of Christ. That is one of the primary things God wants us to do.
Chapter 10: Creating Good Works in Danger
God also expects Christians to use this time wisely. “The coronavirus is God’s call to his people to overcome self-pity and fear, and with courageous joy, to do the good works of love that glorify God.” Scripture speaks of it as follows, “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Pet. 2:12). The early church stood out in their day because they did this very thing. God’s call for us is the same.
Chapter 11: Loosening Roots to Reach the Nations
Finally, “in the coronavirus God is loosening the roots of settled Christians, all over the world, to make them free for something new and radical and to send them with the gospel of Christ to the unreached peoples of the world.” Scripture promises that the gospel will be proclaimed in all the world (Matthew 24:14). That is not a maybe, or a hope. That is a certainty. Although this time period may seem like a setback for missions, God can use what seems like an apparent setback to make great advances for the gospel. Piper tells an important story to that end,
On January 9, 1985, Pastor Hristo Kulichev, a Congregational pastor in Bulgaria, was arrested and put in prison. His crime was that he preached in his church even though the state had appointed another man as pastor whom the congregation did not elect. His trial was a mockery of justice. And he was sentenced to eight months in prison. During his time in prison, he made Christ known in every way he could. When he got out, he wrote, “Both prisoners and jailers asked many questions, and it turned out that we had a more fruitful ministry there than we could have expected in church. God was better served by our presence in prison than if we had been free.”
May God use the Coronavirus in our day in the same way!
Copyright 2020, Books At a Glance
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CORONAVIRUS AND CHRIST, by John Piper