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Death by Love by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears

December 11, 2008

There is nothing that I enjoy more than studying good, sound Biblical theology, however what good is the soundest theology if we don’t apply it to our life and be transformed by it with the help of the Holy Spirit. This is what Mark Driscoll attempts to do with his book Death by Love, more specifically applying the theology of the Cross. He generally states this in the first paragraph of the preface by telling us:

Because no one is born into this world with a theology, each generation must rediscover the truths of Scripture for itself. In doing so it must labor to connect the unchanging answers of God’s word with the ever-changing questions of its culture. Sometimes this project is successfully undertaken, and the result is a glorious resurgence of a faithful and fruitful Christian church. Sometimes this project is unsuccessfully undertaken, and the tragic result is false teaching that renders the church impotent to see the power of the gospel unleashed because she either has a false Jesus or is embarrassed by the real one. (9)

And later he narrows down his methodology when he tells us that:

This book is an attempt at faithfulness to the timeless truths of Scripture that have served the church well since the first promise of Jesus’ suffering was pronounced by God to our first parents in the garden. We hope to present the timeless truths of the cross in a timely manner that is biblically faithful, culturally, relevant, and personally helpful. Our objective is to think God’s thoughts after him as revealed in Scripture, and if at any point we fall in this, we ask God’s forgiveness and your kindness. (12, 13)

Mr. Driscoll does indeed stay faithful with God’s Holy Word, yet this book is written in a way that enabled him take “the many sides of the great jewel of the cross” and show us how to apply it to our dark and desperate world. He begins with an introduction entitled “We Killed God: Jesus is Our Substitutionary Atonement.” In each of the following chapters Pastor Driscoll describes a situation with a real person that he has talked with in his role as a pastor in one of the most unchurched cities in America, Seattle, WA. At times these peoples stories will break your heart, other times they will stir up a part of you that cries out for justice, however at all times we see people that Christ has died for. After he gives us this understanding of the people he pastors, Mark Driscoll then writes a letter to them explaining how the Cross of Christ can be applied to them and how this finished work can heal them.

This book does a wonderful job taking the totality of Christ’s work on the Cross and applying it to peoples’ lives. The following are the theological aspects of the Cross that Mark Driscoll tackles in this book: substitutionary atonement, Christus Victor, redemption, new covenant sacrifice, the gift of righteousness, justification, propitiation, expiation, unlimited limited atonement, ransom, Christus Exemplar, reconciliation, and the revelation of God in Christ Jesus. After each chapter there are further questions asked and answered, presumably by co-author Gerry Breshears. Combine all of this with an appendix with a thorough reading list of books that delve even deeper into the Cross and you get a wonderful book that glorifies the beauty of the Cross.


The Truth of the Cross by R. C. Sproul

October 21, 2008

In a day and age in which the Cross has been down played entirely or simply used as a band aid to patch every want and need imaginable, R. C. Sproul has written a timely and concise book dealing with the subject of the Atonement. This book is rich in theology while at the same time it remains easy to understand. Dr. Sproul tells us why he chose this time period to write this book when he says “I doubt there has been a period in the two thousand years of Christian history when the significance, the centrality, and even the necessity of the cross have been more controversial than now.” This is no small concern considering he has been in the ministry for well over thirty years. If this is indeed true-and I believe it is-than this book is right in time and it will go a long way in helping to regain what has so tragically been lost in American Christianity, the Cross of Christ. Dr. Sproul goes on to tell us that there are basically three types of view on the atonement: those that believe it is absolutely unnecessary, those that believe it to be only hypothetically necessary, and the classical, orthodox view that it is absolutely necessary; he states that “If we are defective in understanding the character of God or understanding the nature of sin, it is inevitable that we will come to the conclusion that an atonement was not necessary.” (p 15) This statement is made in the first chapter after R.C. has made a very solid case for the necessity of the Atonement.

Dr. Sproul continues by moving to the next chapter entitled The Just God. Here R.C. clarifies one the most overlooked aspects of God’s character, that being that God is  just , saying “God is loving, but a major part of what He loves is His own perfect character, with a major aspect being the importance of maintaining justice and righteousness. Though God pardons sinners and makes great provision for expressing His mercy, He will never negotiate His justice. If we fail to understand that, the cross of Christ will be utterly meaningless to us.”(p 19) It is here that this book begins to go from good to great, because Pastor Sproul doesn’t just give us his opinion, he opens up the Bible and begins to teach from it, beginning in Gen 18 and expositing all throughout Scripture Dr. Sproul leaves no stone unturned in helping us understand the truth of the Cross and all its beauty. This book is truly written in a way that will benefit Christians of every maturity level.

There are only two other issues that I have with this book the part I liked most and the part I feel could have been left out. Beginning with the part that could have been left out and that is the chapter on limited atonement. While I fully believe and am growing in my understanding of the Doctrines of Grace, the L is the one petal on the TUILP flower that I truly have more to learn about. The only reason I feel this chapter could have been left out is the fact that it does tend to divide the body bitterly, however the more I thought about it the more I realized that if he had removed this chapter then he would not have given us the complete truth of Cross but only a shorten version of it. Even in this chapter we are shown how great of a Bible teacher he is and how he can take such a complex issues as this and explain them in laymen’s terms. For example he states “The real heart of the controversy over limited atonement is this question: what was God’s intent or His design in sending Christ to the cross? Was it the purpose of the Father and the Son to make an atonement that would be made available to all who would put their trust in it, with the possibility that none might avail themselves of its benefits? In other words, was God’s purpose in sending Christ to the cross simply to make salvation possible? Or did God from all eternity plan to send Christ to die a substitutionary death in order to effect an actual atonement that would be applied to certain elect individuals?” and then explains it like this ” People have trouble with that, particularly if I use those words to describe the doctrine. What if I say Jesus went to the cross to make an atonement for believers, and only for believers? In that statement, I declare that it was God’s design that Jesus should die not for everybody indiscriminately, but only for those who would believe. If you accept that, you see that only the elect are believers and that only believers are the elect. I’m not saying anything different when I say that Christ died only for the elect. Can you conceive of people who are believers who are not elect, or of people who are elect who are not believers?” He continues to explain this out of the text of Scripture and at the very least gives the reader a basic understanding of their Calvinist brothers.

My favorite chapter in this book is easily the last one here Dr. Sproul answers nine questions about the atonement that went a long way in answering some of nuances of the Cross for me. For instance the first question is what is the significance of the shedding of blood on the Cross? Well you’ll have to buy the book to get the answer to this and the other questions in this chapter. I strongly recommend this book to anyone that would like to understand the Cross better.

Read what others are saying about it Tony Reinke and Tim Challies. Also if you would like to a small and free insight to what this book is about than listen to this sermon by Dr. Sproul.

Lame Abortion Arguments

October 20, 2008

Yes these are over the top, however these are the same arguments used to justify the murder of unborn children and I believe these two videos show how insane these arguments are when they are used to justify abortion.

Just in Case..

October 18, 2008

…You are worried that you belong here

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A quick lesson in Hermeneutics

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A Gospel that Saves

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