Category Archives: Application

Guarding the Heart…

Charles Bridges, from his commentary on Proverbs, on the topic of “Guarding the Heart”:

“Let it be closely garrisoned. Let the sentinel never be sleeping at its post… If the citadel be taken, the whole town must surrender. If the heart be seized, the whole man–the affections, desires, motives, pursuits–will all be yielded up. The heart is the vital part of the body. A wound here is instant death. Thus–spiritually as well as naturally–out of the heart are the issues of life. It is the great vital spring of the soul, the fountain of actions, the center and seat of principle, both of sin and holiness (Matthew 12:34-35). The natural heart is a fountain of poison (Matthew 15:19). The purified heart is a well of living water (John 4:14). As is the fountain, so must be the streams. As in the heart, so must be the mouth, the eyes, the feet. Therefore, above all things keep thine heart. Guard the fountain, lest the waters be poisoned… Many have been the bitter moments from the neglect of this guard. All keeping is vain, if the heart be not kept.”[1]

Sobering words… “All keeping is vain, if the heart be not kept”!!!

[1] Charles Bridges, Proverbs (Carlisle: Banner of Truth Trust, 1968), 53.

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Gospel Faithfulness through Time Management

“Seven Thoughts on Time Management” by Doug Wilson

Here’s the outline of the article: (You can find the full article here.)

  1. The point is fruitfulness, not efficiency.
  2. Build a fence around your life, and keep the fence tended.
  3. Perfectionism paralyzes.
  4. Fill in the corners.
  5. Plod. Keep at it.
  6. Take in more than you give out.
  7. Use and reuse. State and restate. Learn and relearn.
Here’s the outline of the article (36pgs.):
  1. Busyness?
  2. Confessions of a Busy Procrastinator
  3. The Procrastinator Within
  4. Just Do It
  5. In All Thy Ways
  6. The Sluggard
  7. Time Redeemed
  8. Time Well-Spent
  9. Roles, Goals, & Scheduling
  10. Roles (Part 1 & 2)
  11. Goals (Parts 1-4)
  12. Scheduling the Unexpected
  13. Self-Sufficient
  14. The “To Do” Lists Are Never Done
You can find the entire article here.

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The Relevance of the Gospel

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For the Love of the Gospel

In my home at any given time there are perhaps twenty copies of the Bible distributed among the seven members of my family. Each of us owns one or two with invaluable study notes, and three or four are written in the original languages. On top of this, at least half the books on my family’s floor-to-ceiling bookshelf are dedicated to helping believers interpret and apply Scripture – all this not to mention that two of our computers connect to the internet, which in itself is a source of truly inexhaustible information.

But how do I respond to the immediacy of the Gospel in my daily life? How do we, as 21st century American Christians, react to a privilege virtually unknown throughout the scope of human history and in many parts of the world even today?

During the weekend I watched this ten-minute video that captured the consummation of a lifelong dream for Indonesia’s remote Kimyal tribe: the translation of the complete New Testament into the Kimyal language. The video is a little long, but well worth the time.

This video shocked me because I am utterly unable to relate to the delight these people displayed at receiving the Word of God. The constant presence of Scripture in my life has hardened my heart to the wonder of a transcendent God condescending that we might share in His perfect joy, and to my shame I often find it difficult to regard studying these life-giving words as more than a tedious Christian obligation.  

I suspect that many of us regard the Bible as mundane simply because we’ve forgotten what it really is that’s written in these sixty-six familiar books. Because I was home sick on Sunday morning, I was able to spend some time rediscovering the unique and infinite value of God’s Word through what it testifies about itself. In the order that I first wrote them down, here are seven aspects of the Bible that most renew my love and appreciation for it.

1. Scripture sustains and directs spiritual life.   

  • Deuteronomy 8:3 – “Man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”
  • Colossians 3:16 – “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom…”
  • 2 Timothy 3:16 – “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”
  • Romans 15:4 – “For whatever was written in the former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

 2. Scripture reveals truth.

  • Psalm 12:6 – The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.
  • Psalm 33:4 – “For the Word of the Lord is upright…”
  • Proverbs 30:5 – “Every word of God proves true…”
  •  2 Peter 1:20-21 – …no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God.”

 3. Scripture is eternal.

  • Isaiah 40:8 – “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God will stand forever.”
  • Matthew 24:35 – “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”
  • John 1:1-2 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.”

 4. Scripture is unified.

  • Luke 22:37 – “For I tell you Scripture must be fulfilled in me.”
  • John 5:46 – “For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me.”
  • Romans 1:1-2 – “… the gospel of God which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures.”
  • Galatians 3:8 – And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham.”

5. Scripture effects the will of God.

  • Is. 55:11 – “…so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it will accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
  • Hebrews 4:12 – “For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword.”
  • Ephesians 6:17 – “…the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.”

6. Scripture effects salvation.

  • 1. Corinthians 15:2 – “…you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you.”
  • 1. Peter 1:23 – “…you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding Word of God.”
  • John 6:68 – “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
  • John 7:38 – “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘out of his heart will flow streams of living water.’”

For more information about the Kimyal tribe and the Bible translation effort, visit www.kimyaltribe.com

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Biblical Application

Dr. Matt Harmon on his blog, entitled Biblical Theology, has been doing a series of posts on biblical application of the text for preaching, teaching, and personal study.  It’s well worth the time spent reading!!


Series on Biblical Application

Part 1: God’s Work vs. the Work of the Believer

Part 2: We Resemble What We Worship

Part 3: Fallen Condition Focus

Part 4: Fallen Condition & Gospel Solution

Part 5: Personal Application

Part 6: Four Aspects of Application

Part 7: Different Levels of Application

Part 8: First, Second, and Third Order Applications

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The Death of Me

Death is painful.  It’s unnatural and excruciating to be separated from the ones that we love.  The loss of life sobers each one of us as we realize its physical finality.  We’re also brutally reminded of our own pending deaths.  One day the air that we mindlessly breathe will be found in short supply.  Yet we know that death brings with it a sense of freedom.  When we die, we will be physically free from the struggles and pain of this world depending on our readiness to enter the next.

Sarkofagus_Lux_Coffin

In Luke 9:23-27, Jesus says these famous words: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of he holy angels. But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”

  • Jesus calls his followers to deny themselves and make a commitment that will result in death.  He’s clearly not messing around.  Anyone who desires to follow him must be selfless and willing to risk it all, a reckless abandonment for the very person they claim to love.  His love compels priority and perseverance.  There’s no half-hearted followers of Jesus.  They must be willing to lose their lives, their fortunes, their friendships, their families, their reputations, their comfort, their pride, their preferences, their dreams, their desires, their personal passions, their expectations, and the list goes on.  Only in laying it all on the line will His followers be able to serve Christ first and foremost.  While they may not actually lose all other things, it is important that their hearts are not tethered to anything but Christ.  Christ does not deny His people anything that is necessary for them to have, and often He even allows them to keep that which is considered only to be a good thing rather than treasured as an ultimate thing.  He requires their love and attention as a husband jealously deserves and desires the love and commitment of His wife.

The very state of our souls depends on what we’re seeking to save and what we’re willing to lose.  Those who live to save themselves and protect their pride, possessions, passions, and the myriad of things listed above will actually lose their greatest possession, their souls.  However, those who are willing to die to themselves and commit their hearts to Christ will save the very life of which they seek.  It is in losing that we win.  The paradox seems ridiculous, but we find the greatest example of this self-denial and undying commitment in the sacrifice of Christ for His Bride.

May we say with Paul, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ (Phil. 3:8)… For, I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Gal. 2:20).”

Just as physical death brings physical freedom, so will spiritually dying to ourselves bring the spiritual freedom and eternal life that we long to have.  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me…” (Jn. 14:6)  That which we seek cannot be found by living for ourselves and clinging tight to the lives that we live.  May we find the Way, the Truth, and the Life that we seek by denying ourselves and taking up our crosses.  As we die to self and put our trust in Jesus Christ, we find life in the very One who created us.  In what ways has God been calling you to die to yourself?
Blessings in Christ, Gabe

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A Review: Death by Love Part 6

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]

Review:

Chapter Eleven: Reconciliation

Kurt is a man lost to the world, delving into drugs and alcohol. Kurt as Driscoll notes does not understand how to reconcile with people but more importantly that Jesus Christ through the cross reconciled us to God.  This chapter I found to be the most personally written and least like a systematic theology of the doctrine at hand.  Driscoll compares the reconciliation needed between his brother and Kurt to Esau and Jacob being reconciled.[2] The cycle of bitterness as Driscoll describes is: “Bitterness, Wrath, Anger, Clamor, Slander, and Malice.”[3] In describing these, Driscoll has done the reader a service, showing how the barriers progress in the heart against reconciliation.  The words that Kurt needs to hear as we all do are, “You will see that not only does Jesus reconcile you to God in heaven, but he also takes away sin so that you can be reconciled to people on the earth.”[4] Reconciliation has two aspects to us as Driscoll notes the duality of the reconciliation through the cross.  Noticeably this chapter seems the most applicable for those that struggle with barriers between them and others.

Death by Love

Chapter Twelve: Revelation

Susan does not know what to think, or where to look for Jesus, for God.  She is searching for revelation when in fact Jesus is the revelation.  Driscoll makes a primary conclusion about Jesus Christ.  “Jesus is such an enormous figure in human history that he is the only person who appears in every major world religion.”[5] This is refreshing to see someone go out and say this, it has always been a mystery to me how Jesus is in every religion but is not exalted as being the son of God.  He is who he says he is.  Driscoll also gives eight truths learned through the cross and seven truths from the resurrection.[6] This chapter brings all the previous material together in defense of the cross and Christ being the revelation of God.  When reading this chapter the words of “In Christ Alone” come to mind.

“In Christ alone my hope is found…

‘Til on that cross as Jesus died

The wrath of God was satisfied

For every sin on Him was laid

Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ”

Jesus Christ alone can be: the victor, the redemption, the sacrifice, the righteousness, the justification, the propitiation, the expiation, the atonement, the ransom, the example, the reconciliation, and the revelation.  He is the ultimate champion of all time, reigning on high!  All glory goes to God!

This is the sixth and final post on this book.  Search Death by Love to see the other posts.


[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), 224-225.

[3] Ibid. 223-224.

[4] Ibid. 229.

[5] Ibid. 238.

[6] This takes up a majority of the chapter and is a clear gospel presentation.

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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]

Review:

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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A Review: Death by Love Part 4

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]

Review:

Chapter Seven: Expiation

The character of this chapter is Mary a girl that over and over has been violated by predators.  Mary continually in many ways was abused by those that were supposed to love her.  She does not understand the doctrine of expiation that Christ fulfilled through dying on the cross.  Driscoll first makes a case for her defilement being caused by both active and passive sins.[2] He is speaking of both those sins that she committed and the ones that are committed against her.  Giving a further framework for understanding defilement Driscoll gives three categories of defilement, with the supporting scripture.  “First, places become defiled by sin…Second, things, such as the marriage bed, become defiled by sin…Third, people are defiled by sin.”[3] All the categories of defilement act in the same way, they bring a sense of shame.  Mary has both previously been sinned against defiled and now is struggling and sinning against others.  When we are defiled or defiling others we want to cover up our shame.  Driscoll uses the analogy of a fig leaf to cover up our shame.  To do this he gives four roles for the fig leaves.  “The first fig leaf is worn by the good girl…the second fig leaf is worn by the tough girl…the third leaf is worn by the party girl…the fourth leaf is worn by the church lady.”[4] All of these different ways of covering the shame of defilement lead one to believe that Christ has not expiated us through the cross.  Jesus Christ was the scapegoat; he took our shame upon himself.[5] Driscoll rightly gives word pictures about cleansing, for Mary to apply to her life; in order to actively live out an expiated life.  This chapter deals with something that definitely is timely in a world that has a high level of abuse to children and teens.  Mary’s situation is not that uncommon and I pray that God will use a book like this to bring people to himself.

Death by Love

Chapter Eight: Unlimited Limited Atonement

This chapter is of special importance to both Driscoll and I, for him he writes this as a letter to his son, for me it is the doctrine that I have struggled with the most.  I found this chapter most helpful to understand this complex doctrine.  On page one sixty eight there is an immensely useful chart on differing views on atonement.  Ranging from Universalism and Pelagianism (both heretical) to Unlimited Atonement, Limited Atonement, and Unlimited Limited Atonement.  This chapter although my favorite does not provide pithy quotes, but directly presents unlimited limited atonement as the most biblically supported.  He summarizes the approach he takes to Unlimited Limited Atonement by saying, “this both/and approach of unlimited limited atonement explains the biblical statements about Jesus’ dying to reconcile all things to the Father.”[6] The atonement has always been and always will a doctrine that will be attacked from both inside the church and outside the church.  Driscoll although the conclusion of this chapter is a modified Calvinist view, and presenting a somewhat progressive understanding of limited atonement, finds its grounding in the sovereignty of God through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.  Foundationally, I found this chapter to defend the middle ground that I always hoped to hear from a pastor, that does not forsake the authority of scripture for cultural authority.

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


[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), 147.

[3] Ibid. 148-149.

[4] Ibid. 150-152.

[5] Hebrews 12:1-3

[6] Driscoll, Mark, and Gerry Breshears. Death By Love: Letters From the Cross. (Wheaton , Ill.: Crossway Books, 2008), 173-174.

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A Review: Death by Love Part 3

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]

Review:

Chapter Five: Justification

The character of this chapter is John, He has committed gross sin with the opposite sex.  He does not understand his justification through the cross of Christ.  Doctrinally Driscoll covers his bases with reviving a focus on the inability of man to fulfill the law.  The conclusion of this is “Total Depravity” and requires a sacrifice to atone for the gross violation of God’s law.  Driscoll points out the reality of Justification through Christ, “You are justified by grace alone, which means that there is absolutely nothing that you can do to contribute to your justification.  Rather, when Jesus said, “It is finished” on the cross, he was declaring that all that needed to be done for your justification was completed in him.”[2] John believes that he should die because of what he has done.  The affects of his sinful actions are clear by the ostracization of his close family, church, and general society.  Two passages that Driscoll illuminates for “John” to read are Romans 3:21-31, and Luke 18:9-14.[3] In response to his actions John has seen the physical and spiritual reality of the sin in his life.  Driscoll correctly responds with, “I know that you have given serious consideration to killing yourself in light of what you have done.  The truth is that what you have done is worthy of death.  But the good news is that Jesus has already died for your sins.  As a result, you can now put your sins to death by his power and live a new life as a new man.  Scripture further states that Jesus also rose from death for your justification and, as a result, is alive today and ready to hear from you, speak to you, and walk with you through the rest of your life and into eternity as not only your judge but also as your justifier (Rom 4:25)”[4] Jesus Christ, as Driscoll clearly shows is the only justifier for our sin.  We can only respond in humility and worship of a Holy God that would sacrifice His only Son, Jesus Christ, as the justification that allows us to attain eternal life in communion with God.  I appreciated this chapter but would suggest further study in the area of justification.[5]

Death by Love

Chapter Six: Propitiation

Bill the character portrayed in this chapter was beat as a child by his father.  He struggles with how Jesus Christ through the cross is the propitiation for our sins.  Propitiation is “How Jesus diverts the active wrath of our rightfully angry God from us so that we are loved and not hated.”[6] Driscoll, First, deals with the character of God the Father.  Second, he presents the wrath of God in Scripture.  The sheer amount of Scriptural references in this chapter show the high level of reverence and authority placed on Scripture by Driscoll.  This chapter does not shy away from discussing the wrath of God in detail.  When discussing 1 John 4:10 Driscoll says, “It states that rather than seeing the cross as the place where love was absent as God’s righteous wrath for sin was poured out on Jesus, the cross is precisely the place where God’s love is shown in the propitiation of Jesus Christ.”[7] Both God’s wrath and love were present through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.  God’s attributes cannot be divided.[8] Driscoll masterfully presents the equality of man in our spiritual condition in this chapter, and rightly so, uses Old Testament illustrations of this reality.  In conclusion, this chapter was less theological than previous chapters I found, but not to its detriment, because of the personal response of Driscoll to Bill’s situation.


[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), 115.

[3] Ibid 117.

[4] Ibid 118.

[5] I should make note that I understand that this chapter is introductory but still left so much out as far as the doctrine of justification.

[6] Driscoll, Mark, and Gerry Breshears. Death By Love: Letters From the Cross. (Wheaton , Ill.: Crossway Books, 2008), 131.

[7] Ibid. 132.

[8] See A.W. Tozer, Knowledge of the Holy Page 15.

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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]

Review:

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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A Review: Death by Love Part 1

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]

Summary:

Driscoll and Breshears have written a treatise on the attributes of Christ that have been applied to followers of Christ through the sacrificial act on the cross. First, in each chapter they elaborate on the story of someone in the church.  Second, they write in letter form, how Christ is the answer to the person’s sin through a result of the cross.  Third, they offer answers to common questions about the doctrine of the cross covered in the chapter.  The doctrines of the cross that are covered in the book are: Substitutionary Atonement (this actually is what all the other chapters flow from), Christus Victor, Redemption, New Covenant Sacrifice, Righteousness, Justification, Propitiation, Expiation, Unlimited Limited Atonement, Ransom, Christus Exemplar, Reconciliation, and Revelation.

Review:

Most of the time one evaluates a book on the whole and not the individual chapters, but the structure of this book gives one a different topic to be evaluated in each chapter.  As so I am going to differentiate my review based on each individual chapter including the introduction.

Death by Love

Introduction:

In the introduction Driscoll and Breshears address the attack on the atonement of Christ by putting forth the view of substitutionary atonement.  The exposition of the last seven words that Jesus spoke is highly meaningful and elucidates profound doctrine to the everyday man.   In most situations I have been very complimentary to Mark Driscoll and his ministry, but in this case I found some of this introduction to be worded just for shock value.  Because of this Driscoll draws attention away from the person of Christ and His character, for the sake of provoking the reader.[2]

Chapter One Christus Victor:

The character that the letter is written to “Katie” is dealing with demons tormenting her after years of abuse at the hand of others.  Christ is victorious over Satan and all the demons, through the cross! “First, Satan and demons are your foes and not in any way friends (1 Pet. 5:8).  Second, Satan and demons are actively at war against you (Eph. 6:10-13).  Third, Satan and demons want you to die because Satan is a murderer; he wants to bring death to everything in your life, including your love, joy, marriage, and ministry (John 8:44).  Fourth, Satan and demons have no claim to you, because you have been delivered forever from Satan’s kingdom of darkness to Jesus’ kingdom of light (Col. 1:13).  Fifth, in Jesus there is for you personally protection from and authority over Satan and his demons (Luke 10:18-20).  Sixth, because you are in Jesus Christ positionally and all things are under his authority, you too can command Satan and demons to obey you by the authority delegated to you from Jesus (Eph. 1:18-2:8).”[3] In the case of Katie’s torment, Driscoll most vehemently presents the Gospel truth of Christ’s victory over Satan through the cross, in a pastoral and biblical way.  At the end of this chapter as with all the chapters he gives some practical conclusions as a result of the cross. Handling the doctrine of Christus Victor over the history of the church has sometimes landed a theologian outside of orthodoxy; Driscoll does not stray from the biblical text in his exposition of this important doctrine.

Chapter Two Redemption:

Thomas is consumed by lust, and through the cross he has been redeemed.  Driscoll gives five steps[4] to understanding and living out a redeemed life.  The five steps he gives are: Conviction, Confession, Repentance, Restitution, and Reconciliation.[5] Pastorally, Driscoll ends this letter with “Thomas, as I heard your story some weeks ago, as I have prayed for you since, and as I write this letter today, I have to confess that it has really troubled me that, apart from Jesus, I think we’re basically the exact same guy.  I don’t like to admit it, but we are pretty much the same except for the one difference that makes all the difference—Jesus has redeemed me.  So, I’m praying that you turn from sin to him so that he can redeem you as well.  If you do, let me know.  Until then, I will pray.  It all comes down to you and Jesus.  You are more evil than you have ever feared, and more loved than you have ever hoped.[6] The pastoral transparency I greatly appreciated, and was overcome with the reality of this paragraph.  This chapter was not enjoyable in the present cultural understanding,[7] but was convicting and consumed with Gospel centered living.


[1] From the back cover of the book.

[2] This was brought to my attention after careful reading by a colleague of mine, Nate McLaurin.

[3] Driscoll, Mark, and Gerry Breshears. Death By Love: Letters From the Cross. (Wheaton , Ill.: Crossway Books, 2008), 48.

[4] A good amount of Christian literature at the popular level has steps that are just capriciously driven.  In the case of this book the steps do not follow whims but biblical evidences.

[5] Driscoll, Mark, and Gerry Breshears. Death By Love: Letters From the Cross. (Wheaton , Ill.: Crossway Books, 2008), 68.

[6] Ibid. 65-66.

[7] The humanistic proposals in the current theological spectrum are disturbed by the fact,  that the only thing that separates the believer from the unbeliever is redemption.  We were pre-redemption the same wretches that the “worst sinner” that we can imagine.

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PRAY the BIBLE

Method for Prayer

Pray the Bible

Matthew Henry wrote an excellent book entitled A Method for Prayer.  It is a valuable resource for guiding us in praying God’s word back to him, as well as edifying the body through praying Scripture.   J. Ligon Duncan has updated Henry’s antiquated language and replaced the KJV with ESV references.  The whole book is made available online in order to encourage believers to grow in praying the Bible.   The website offers the following ways to make the most of this excellent resource according to a variety of interests and schedules.

(1) Read the book online.

(2) Follow the thread of a keyword through different parts of the book.

(3) Work through the heart of the book via daily devotional emails.

(4) Take advantage of the Index and Table of Contents.

(5) Perform your own search of the book’s contents.

(6) Other features of this website.

HT: Justin Taylor

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Knowing and Living the Gospel

The week of July 13th I went to Pittsburgh PA.  I took some of the students from the church that I serve at to a youth conference called Momentum.  The week is an opportunity to not just receive mental stimulation and growth, but serve the community where the conference is held.  It is not just about understanding mentally the gospel but living it with our lives.  You can only do (live) if you first know (understand). The theme for the week was 1 Thessalonians 2:8 “So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.”  We shared the Gospel verbally and shared the living Gospel.

On Saturday God did something magnificent in my heart.  I listened to the Spirit of the Lord in ways that I never had before.  The entire conference 2000 students and leaders went out into communities in the area and served the community.  We were at a park, cleaning it up and playing with kids from inner-city Pittsburgh.  I noticed this kid in the park; he was about 12 years old.  At this point I decided that I was going to start talking to him, with the intention of discussing Christ.  Though my motives were pure and God-centered there was barriers to the Spirit moving in me.  My heart was cynical because of past manipulations and abuses of the Gospel.  Despite this, quickly God left opportunity after opportunity to share with Him the Gospel.  He (Jay was the kid’s name) had heard a false Gospel of works, and was trying to live it but even as he admitted he was falling short.  The irony of this interaction I had, was that I listened to the Spirit.  Previously either from fear of men or a lack of faith would have responded differently.  In the end I trust that God was faithful and now there is one more person that Heaven is rejoicing about.

Me and Jay

The lesson I learned was that living the Gospel starts with knowing the Gospel, but does not end there.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is one meant to be lived with our everything, not just part of us.  Romans 1:16-17 says, “16For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”  Both know unashamedly and live unashamedly the Gospel.  If you do not know the Gospel I encourage you to read the “What is the Gospel?” tab on this blog.  For those that know the Gospel I encourage you to challenge yourself to live it!  Read the word of God and listen to the Spirit!  Search for needs in your neighborhood, community, and city.

Questions to Ponder:

How can I live the good news of Jesus Christ?  Do I know needs in my neighborhood, community, and city?  Am I seeking to help those in need (Spiritually, Emotionally, Physically)?

Have I listened to the Spirit sharing the Gospel by confessing before men (Romans 10:9-10) and with my actions (James 1:22-25)?

In Christ Alone, Mueller

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Going Through The Motions

Many of us go through the motions in life.  Let me explain what I mean.  We go to work/school, and then we finish all the related activities (TV, Sports, reading, Etc…), (if you are a follower of Christ) pray some, read God’s word some.  Then we just repeat.  It’s like living in a clothes washer.  You just spin round and round aimlessly waiting for the cycle to stop.

Clothes Washer

The monotony of daily life can only be satisfied by a God that is truly dangerous, yet secure, yet good.   In the classic Narnia series by C. S. Lewis, the character of Aslan symbolizes God/Jesus.  One of the characters of the book Lucy asks a Beaver, (Don’t ask) “is Aslan safe?”  He responds with,”‘Safe?’  ‘Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. but he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.'”[1] God is not safe, he is secure as the foundational ground[2] of all that this universe is, the creator God.

2nd Corinthians 13:4-8

4For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God.  For we also are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God. 5Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! 6I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test. 7But we pray to God that you may not do wrong—not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. 8For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth.”

Testing and trials are the result of pursuing God.[3] Following Christ is neither safe nor easy.  When we are tested and found faithful we have something worth more than anything else in this world.  Faithfulness as the result, gives us more than we could ever ask for; eternal life with the one and only creator of the universe.  When you wander and think that God does not test us in love ponder what A.W. Tozer says about the attributes of God, “All of God does all that God does; He does not divide Himself to perform a work, but works in the total unity of His being.”[4] God works with all that he is to love us, care for us, to see us become what we were always intended to be – Faithful servants of the creator God.  Obedience is the new rebellion!

When God puts trials and tests of faith in our path what is our response?  Are we exalting His supremacy over creation and our lives?  Or casting off our true calling finding hope in false idols?  Will you stand the test of faith that God has prepared for you?  What tests of faith are you in right now?

In Christ Alone, John


[1] God called many men to be martyrs for the Gospel. He truly is dangerous (as defined by this world) as seen in the narratives of the Old and New Testaments.  Servants of God, met their death, as we all do, due to their obedient service.  Many times they were killed because of serving God, above all men.

[2] Christ is the cornerstone, the foundation of the church.

[3] See James 1:2-4 for encouragement in midst of testing.

[4] Tozer, Aiden W. The Knowledge of the Holy. (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1961) 15.

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Practical or Professional

I’m going to be out of town for the next week without any opportunity to post, but I hope to follow-up with a four-part discussion on Romans 12:1-2.  In the meantime, Mueller will be sure to keep you company.  Since my time is limited, I thought I would post a quote from John Owen that God used to convict my heart.  I hope that you will find it equally stimulating.

Confessional and Functional Theology:

One of the major problems that I see in the Evangelical church today, and even in my own life at times, is a chasm between confessional and functional theology.  What I mean is simply this, what we say we believe does not always dictate what we actually do.  Our profession does not match our practice, even though it ought to guide it.  This is true not only of personal habits, but of ministry methods as well.  Instead, our behavior often evidences pragmatism (“whatever works best”) in the place of living out genuine biblical convictions in the church and in our personal lives.  The answer, according to Owen, is intimate communion with God as the doctrines of the gospel penetrate our minds and grab hold of our hearts.  Then, the overflow of our lives will be careful obedience to and delight in the person and truths of God.

Owen

John Owen: “When the heart is cast indeed into the mold of the doctrine that the mind embraces;… when not only the sense of the words is in our heads, but the sense of these things abides in our hearts; when we have communion with God in the doctrine we  contend for,–then we shall be garrisoned by the grace of God, against all the assaults of men… Let us, then, not think that we are anything the better for our conviction of the truths of the great doctrines of the gospel… unless we find the power of the truths abiding in our own hearts and have a continual experience of their necessity and excellency in our standing before God and our communion with him.”

Have you considered in what ways do your profession and practice fail to line up?  Is your faith merely confessional or is it also functional?  These are painful, but necessary questions.

Blessings in Christ, Gabe

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