A Review: Death By Love Part 2

Death By Love: Letters From the Cross

By Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshears

Driscoll, Mark, and Gerry Breshears. Death By Love: Letters From the Cross. Wheaton , Ill.: Crossway Books, 2008.

Mark Driscoll is the founding pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, one of the fastest-growing churches in America. He is president of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network and leads the Resurgence Missional Theology Cooperative.

Gerry Breshears is professor of theology and chairman of the division of biblical and theological studies at Western Seminary. He and Driscoll also coauthored Vintage Jesus.”[1]


Chapter Three: New Covenant Sacrifice

Luke is consumed with “rage, humiliation, and panic.”  His wife has just told him that she slept with his best friend.  But as Driscoll points out Jesus Christ is Luke’s New Covenant Sacrifice.  Driscoll masterfully redirects those emotions back on Luke’s own sinfulness, which parallels his wife’s sin. As the saying goes Luke is “out for blood” to pay for what he has been put through.  Blood is connected to sin in two ways Driscoll states, “First, shed blood reminds us that sin results in death.  Second, God is sickened by sin, which causes death, a connection first made in Genesis 2:17 and repeated throughout the Bible.”[2] The New Covenant Sacrifice of Jesus Christ fulfilled the death that we all deserve and offered a path to life.  Christ and Christ alone was the sacrifice that ushered in the New Covenant community of believers.  Luke as Driscoll points out needs to see that Christ has sacrificed Himself already for the sin’s that have been committed against him.  “As members of the new covenant, you and your wife are continually growing to be more like Jesus by the power of God the Holy Spirit working through your new heart, which is the center of your new identity and new desires.”[3] Both Luke and his wife are pictures of grace; Driscoll wisely notes that Christ is abundantly more through His sacrifice than any sin that they could commit.  “You understand that just as Jesus suffered to be in covenant with you, you too have suffered to be in covenant with your wife—because you love her and continually seek her best.  You also rightly understand that, as the covenant head, you bear a burden for humble service, love, care, protection, and provision so that Jesus can be experienced by your wife, in part through you.”[4] Overall this was one of my favorite chapters, the sacrifice in the New Testament often is misunderstood without the Old Testament background which Driscoll wisely brings into light.

Death by Love

Chapter Four: Gift Righteousness

David is the consummate Christian, perfect in character, but does not understand the Gospel and because of his self righteousness, he cannot see the gift righteousness of Christ.  What seems to be more dangerous is that he cannot see his own sin.  When commenting on 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 Driscoll says, “Here we see that the gospel is continual, in that we must continually be reminded of it; proclaimational, in that it much be preached to us often, including preaching it to ourselves; personal, in that we must personally receive it in faith; essential, in that we must continually cling to it alone for the assurance of our salvation; central, in that it is the most important truth in all the world; eternal, in that it is passed on from one generation to the next without modification by religion; Christological, in that it is about the person and work of Jesus Christ alone; penal, in that the wage for sin—death—was paid; substitutional, in that Jesus’ death on the cross was literally in our place for our sins; biblical, in that it is in agreement with and the fulfillment of all Scripture; and eschatological, in that the resurrection of Jesus reveals to us our future hope of resurrected eternal life with him.”[5] This is the money quote of the entire book; foundationally the Gospel should be the center of all Christian activity in the world.  All of the presuppositions that Driscoll brings with this chapter are Christocentric, not anthropocentric; Theocentric, not anthropocentric; righteousness through Christ alone, not the false righteousness of man! Religion does not give the gift of righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ.  Driscoll outlines ten statements about religion that do have grounding in the self righteousness of many contemporary Christians and Jews over the span of history.  I will not take the time to outline them here, but it is a start to addressing the problem of works based theology.  The most important part of this chapter (or the take home points) are that gift righteousness: is through faith, not rule keeping, the righteousness God gives is a status that is imputed, reckoned, attributed, or granted to us, and righteousness is imparted to us at the time of faith, at the same time of justification.[6] This chapter essentially gives the foundation of the Gospel and surrounds the reader with a Christ-centered focus.  I greatly enjoyed this chapter and think that any member of the church should read this as a refresher on what Christ attained to through the cross.

[1] From the back cover of the book.

[2] Driscoll, Mark, and Gerry Breshears. Death By Love: Letters From the Cross. (Wheaton , Ill.: Crossway Books, 2008), 76.

[3] Ibid. 82.

[4] Ibid. 83.

[5] Ibid. 92.

[6] Ibid. 101-103. This section is summarized from these few pages of “death by love.”


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Filed under Application, Book Review, Gospel Foundations, Mueller

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