A Review: Death by Love Part 5

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 Nine: Ransom

First and foremost Hank is what many call a pervert, an abuser, and a violent man.  He believes that he is going to hell, because of all that he has done in his life.  Driscoll notes that Hank needs to hear about how Jesus was the ransom for him.[2] Hank knows that he has a debt before God; because of this debt he needs a mediator, a redeemer, and a ransom.[3] Driscoll makes hank aware of his depravity by saying, “You were made by God with dignity but have sunk so deep into depravity that your life is nothing short of a disgraceful tragedy.”[4] The corruption in Hank’s life is what has caused him to need a ransom like us all.  The good news is that “Jesus is willing to be your mediator, redeemer, and ransom.”[5] Driscoll correctly points to Christ alone being sufficient as a ransom for sinners.  “Jesus has paid your debt and by grace will apply that to your account if you pray the words of repentance in faith that Jesus taught you to pray – “Forgive me my debts” (see Matt. 6:12).”[6] Although this gospel truth is not given to a character in the book that I personally can identify with, it does not devalue the truth.  This chapter correctly addresses the depravity in all men.  If you are struggling with how sinful you are, or that you are beyond forgiveness read this chapter.[7]

Death by Love

Chapter Ten: Christus Exemplar

Caleb is going through a great trial; his wife has a brain tumor and is suffering right in front of his eyes.  Driscoll addresses the fact of Christ being our example.  In Caleb suffering he needs to take on the very mind of Christ in his wife’s suffering.  The contrast that Driscoll makes is between the theology of glory and the theology of the cross.  Theology of glory is “which the objective is to glorify self, the power to do so is self, and the means to do so are self-sufficiency, victorious living, pride, and comfort, which together commingle as a false gospel that is of no help when the dark season of life envelope you.”[8] What is clear is that the theology of glory is not followed by someone that realizes that Christ is our example.  “Theology of the cross celebrates what Jesus alone can accomplish for us, through us, with us, and in spite of us…The theology of the cross seeks Jesus, even if that should mean that experiencing pain and poverty like Jesus.”[9] Driscoll put some more meat on these bones but you get the point; Christ alone is the example of a follower of the gospel.  Christ is our example in suffering and in celebration.  To follow this understanding of Christ’s example Driscoll gives five points.  “1) You were made for God’s glory (Isa. 43:6-7).  2) Everything in your life is an opportunity to glorify God (1 Cor 10:31).  3) Rather than glorifying God, you will have a sinful tendency to do what you think will make you happy, and you will end up sinning (Rom. 3:23).  4) When you choose happiness over God’s glory, enduring joy is impossible.  You wind up pursuing things besides the glory of God (e.g., life, friends, comfort, pleasure—ironically, all gifts from God) rather that God himself.  5) Your pleasure is found in God alone; as God is glorified, your joy is satisfied.  My friend John Piper has stated it this way in his book Desiring God, …The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.”  Or “God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in Him.”[10] The theology of the cross exalts Jesus Christ above all others to the right hand of God.  The purpose of God sending Christ as an example, Driscoll concludes is for God to be glorified through us following the example of Christ.  “Indeed, the most perfectly Spirit-filled person who has ever lived, Jesus Christ, worked a simple job, lived a simple life, and died a painful death as a flat broke, homeless man by the power of the Holy Spirit and in so doing perfectly and fully glorified God the Father and tasted pure joy.”[11] To take this doctrinal assertion seriously means that whatever comes your way, you glorify Christ with exaltation of Him through all things.  To be honest this doctrine I have the most trouble living out.  This book makes a good explanation in practical terms of what the implications of this doctrine are on the life of the believer.  Christus Exemplar (Christ our example) needs to be understood as Driscoll presents rather than what the false gospel of Christ being our example but not God, just a social and political leader.  As C. S. Lewis says, either Christ was a liar, lunatic, or the son of God.[12] Driscoll presents Christ as the example of a Christian life lived out!

This is the fifth post of six, to see the other ones please search Death by Love.

[1] From the back cover of the book.

[2] Note: do not confuse this with the ransom theory of atonement.  This book clearly presents the Penal-Substitutionary view of atonement.

[3] Driscoll, Mark, and Gerry Breshears. Death By Love: Letters From the Cross. (Wheaton , Ill.: Crossway Books, 2008), 187.

[4] Ibid. 192.

[5] Ibid. 192.

[6] Ibid. 193.

[7] Grace is beautiful, in that we all are chosen by God.  No one has better standing before God than another except through Jesus Christ!  He was the ransom for sinners that repent!

[8] Driscoll, Mark, and Gerry Breshears. Death By Love: Letters From the Cross. (Wheaton , Ill.: Crossway Books, 2008), 202.

[9] Ibid. 202.

[10] Ibid. 204-205.

[11] Ibid. 211.

[12] This is from “Mere Christianity” his watershed apologetic book.  I cannot currently remember the page number.

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Filed under Application, Book Review, Gospel Foundations, Mueller

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