A conversation between Paul and Jesus

John Piper, in his sermon on Romans 16:17-20, records a conversation he imagined between the Apostle Paul and Jesus as Paul was writing that the God of peace will SOON crush Satan under our feet.  Read or listen to the entire sermon, but pay close attention to this imaginary, yet biblically informed conversation that Piper adds to the end of his sermon.

Paul: O Lord, how long? How long till this great enemy is finally removed and the troubles of the church come to an end?

The Lord: It is not for you to know. My Father has the time fixed in his secret councils. And he is infinitely wise and infinitely good.

Paul: Lord, could it be long—hundreds or even thousands of years?

The Lord: And if it were a thousand years—or two thousand? Would that be long? A thousand years is like a day with me.

Paul: Lord, how then should I speak of this coming triumph? What should I say about the time?

The Lord: Be true to me the way I really am, and say what will help people be ready at my coming. They must not think that they can presume upon my delay. For if they do, they will drift into patterns of indifference and be snatched away to destruction in a moment.

Paul: So do you mean, Lord, that I should say that you are coming soon even though I don’t know that from our side whether it will be soon? That would not be a mistake to say that?

The Lord: No that would not be a mistake. Say that. It will cause some to stumble, like many other things that I say. Scoffers will come and ridicule my promise. I know that. But if you give the impression that it will not be not soon, you will do far more damage to the truth and to the souls of men than if you stay true to my timeless haste and help the people be always ready and full of hope.

Paul: Lord, if a thousand years or two thousand should pass and you do not come, what should your people think who read these words in those days? Will they not think, So many hundreds of years have come and gone, there is no reason to think it will be soon any more or that our lives will be interrupted by his appearing?

The Lord: They should remember that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. It will be sudden and unexpected by almost everyone. The world will be going on as usual (Luke 17:26-31). And sudden destruction will come upon them. Pray for them, Paul, that they not stumble over the word soon. Pray that they will know that for me it will be soon, and for them it will be sudden. Pray that they will understand that expecting it to be soon is the best way not to drift into indifference and be snatched away in destruction.

Paul: Thank you, Lord. You know that I would love for you to come back while I am still alive. I would love to be clothed with life rather than stripped of my body in death. Come, Lord Jesus. Come quickly.

The Lord: Paul, my dear servant, your desire for me and my quick return is a great honor to me. I would not want you to desire anything less. Finish this letter to the Romans and pray that those who come after you will have your same desire. And until then, never forget—and don’t let the people forget—when I come I will crush Satan under your feet. My grace be with you.

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