Mark Driscoll’s Death by Love is a weighty book to read—weighty for its description of the mess that people can get their lives into, but also weighty because of the counsel that Driscoll gives to those who find their lives ravaged by sin.
This is not a book of shallow solutions or counseling techniques, but a book that gets to the heart of Christ’s redeeming power. Death by Love explores how the cross of Christ and the atonement that Jesus made there for sins is the solution to the real-life problems that people face.
What makes this book stand out is the way Driscoll has taken real-life experiences of people he has counseled and woven them together with sound biblical instruction on the nature of Christ’s work for us on the cross.
I love the book for the way it presents Jesus in all of his glory as the Savior. He’s Kate’s Savior from satanic torment. He’s Thomas’ Savior from lust. He’s John’s Savior from the sexual sins of his past. He’s Kurt’s Savior from bitterness… But Mark doesn’t just state that Jesus is able to save from these sins, he shows how the atonement Christ made for sin addresses each of these specific situations.
Each of the chapters begins with a brief description of an individual whom Driscoll has counseled. Then he shares a pastoral letter that he has written to address that person’s problem. Each letter portrays a different aspect of what Christ accomplished for us on the cross: redemption, justification, reconciliation, expiation, ransom, just to name a few.
I especially appreciated the chapter on expiation, entitled: “He Raped Me: Jesus is Mary’s Expiation.” After sharing briefly the horrific story of Mary’s relationship with a violent boyfriend in high school and her subsequent struggles because of that relationship, Mark writes a beautiful letter showing from the Scriptures that Jesus died not only to forgive our sins, or to ransom us from sin, or to reconcile us to the Father (all wonderful truths portrayed in other chapters), but also to cleanse us from the stain of sin.
Expiation is just not an aspect of Christ’s work on the cross that we think about very often. While other more celebrated aspects of the atonement address the sins we have committed, expiation is a beautiful concept that can help Mary experience the truth that she has been cleansed and purified from the sins of others against her. Listen to how Mark says it in his letter…
On the cross, Jesus dealt with the sin that has stained your soul. Jesus both forgave your sins at the cross and cleanses you from all sins that you have committed and that have been committed against you.
These sins have resulted in great shame for you, which Jesus also dealt with on the Cross. Sadly, one of the effects of sin is that it has made you feel contempt and disdain for yourself as a despicable person unworthy of love, intimacy, and joy, despite the fact that you are an image bearer of God. Through the cross, though, Jesus Christ has taken your sin and shame away forever. (p. 153)
This book will move you to tears as you see how our sin has wreaked havoc in so many lives, but it will also move you to tears of joy and thanksgiving as you reflect on the incredible redeeming love of God expressed through the Father’s sending of his only begotten Son to die on the cross for us.