“This book is brutally honest about sin and suffering, and wonderfully hopeful as it points us to our true Savior.” – Timothy S. Lane
“Practical and powerful. It applies the sufficiency of Jesus to the real-life challenges we face in the church every day. If you work with hurting people you need Death By Love.” – Dan Jarrell
My initial motivation for picking up this book was primarily because I love the ministry of one of the authors, Mark Driscoll. He is the founding and teaching pastor of Mars Hill in Seattle, and over the past decade he has been pivotal in planting many more churches as Mars Hill continues to grow. There are few men who possess the gift of teaching God’s Word with such authority and without apology to the degree I’ve experienced through his ministry. I’ve sat under his teaching, I’ve read his books, and I respect him as a godly man, father, and pastor. So, when a friend of mine gave me his book to read, I was thrilled. I had no idea what I was getting myself into though. The hard and saving truth of the gospel presented in this book turned my heart inside out at times, caused internal struggle at other times, but ultimately pointed me towards God’s Word without fail every time.
In the twelve chapters of this book, Driscoll and Breshears offer “a proper biblical understanding of what Jesus has accomplished for us on the cross” through real-life stories of individuals that have greatly sinned against others and those who have been greatly sinned against. Each chapter begins with a brief story of the individual, and it is followed by an in-depth, scriptural and pastoral response from Mark Driscoll, with the intent of pointing that person towards the redeeming work of Jesus Christ on the cross. The stories range from demonic oppression, sexual strongholds, abusive fathers, wayward children and everything in between. The stories hit home because we all know someone that has been through the same things. I felt the pain of the individual that I was reading about every time, and the response from Driscoll was filled with truth AND grace, healing medicine straight out of God’s Word.
In the introduction, he describes the bloody, gruesome, horrific details of crucifixion. Any pretty picture of Jesus on the cross that might have been painted in our minds is stripped away by the reality of what Jesus actually faced…for us, in our place, because of His love. With that in mind as you read each chapter, sin becomes a far more serious offense than we typically make it out to be. I was gripped by the reality of the sin in my own life, the sin that took part in nailing Christ to that tree. I was among the mockers. I was in the crowd. God takes sin seriously, and so should we. If there was anything that struck me most, that was it. I was forced to evaluate my sinful condition, and I was brought to my knees in repentance as Christ on the cross was repeatedly portrayed through the stories shared.
Although not a light or easy read, I highly recommend this book. I had to read through it slowly in order to absorb its content, but it was life-changing and truly challenged me to my core. Conviction is a difficult thing to wrestle with, but I’m grateful that the Lord in His patience and mercy with us chooses conviction through His Holy Spirit as a tool to draw us back to Him in repentance. Death By Love…letters from the cross…read it.