[This post is part of the Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe series]
Much like the last chapter, this chapter is also more or less material from a previous book, in this case, Death by Love. I would thoroughly recommend that book, and you could read more of my thoughts about it here. This chapter starts with a brief but thorough introduction to the art of crucifixion. In many ways, we have been desensitized to the horrors the crucifixion once entailed, and with the exception of Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ, very few Jesus films ever really depicted it accurately. I suppose you could watch that for the greatest effect, but with a good imagination, the intro to this chapter can shift your paradigm just as well.
From there, the chapter again follows the Q/A format, this time dealing with these:
- How can Jesus’ crucifixion be good news?
- How does God satisfy himself through the cross?
- How does God redeem us through the cross?
- For whom did Jesus Christ die?
- How does God triumph through the cross?
- How does God inspire us through the cross?
- What does the doctrine of the cross reveal about God’s love?
What stands about this chapter is the abundance of “how” questions. Overall the chapter is explaining how the death of a man 2000 some odd years ago has any bearing on us today. You can tell from the phrasing that the main things this work of Christ accomplished according to biblical teaching are: (1) satisfaction (or atonement), (2) redemption, (3) victory over evil, (4) the ultimate display of love.
The question asking “for whom did Christ die,” is essentially clarifying who benefits from this work of Christ on the cross. At first, I felt Driscoll held to a rather odd position (he calls it unlimited limited atonement), but after reading Calvin, his position not only makes sense, but is the one I would agree with myself. It is the position that Jesus provided payment for all, but it is only applied in a salvific (saving) way to the ones that God chooses (the elect). In this sense, the atonement is both unlimited in potentiality, but limited in its actuality, which helps to reconcile what might otherwise strike one as contradictory biblical teachings.
Overall then, this chapter is a good CliffNotes of Death by Love, but given the depth of the subject matter being dealt with, I would recommended reading further elsewhere. Considering that Death by Love is roughly half the length of this book (still well over 200pgs), but devoted exclusively to unpacking the significance of the cross for our personal lives, it is well worth the read. Keep in mind too that this recommendation is coming from someone who has taken an entire class just on this topic, and if I could recommend one book on the practical nature of the cross, it would be that one. If I could recommend one book on the doctrine itself, it would be Pierced for Our Transgressions. As with Death by Love, you can read my thoughts on it elsewhere.