Tim Keller, fully Timothy J. Keller

Keller, fully Timothy J. Keller

American Presbyterian Pastor, Theologian and Christian Apologist, Founding Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, Chairman of Redeemer City to City

Author Quotes

The root of our disobedience is essentially failing to remember who he is. And the reverse is true?for as long as we remember who he is, we will serve him wholeheartedly, radically, and joyfully.

There are gradations, then, in Hauerwas?s Law. Some people are really, really the wrong people to marry. But everyone else is still incompatible. All who win through to a good, long-term marriage know what Hauerwas is talking about. Over the years you will go through seasons in which you have to learn to love a person who you didn?t marry, who is something of a stranger. You will have to make changes that you don?t want to make, and so will your spouse. The journey may eventually take you into a strong, tender, joyful marriage. But it is not because you married the perfectly compatible person. That person doesn?t exist.

Think of people you consider fanatical. They?re overbearing, self-righteous, opinionated, insensitive, and harsh. Why? It?s not because they are too Christian but because they are not Christian enough. They are fanatically zealous and courageous, but they are not fanatically humble, sensitive, loving, empathetic, forgiving, or understanding?as Christ was. Because they think of Christianity as a self-improvement program they emulate the Jesus of the whips

To pray in Jesus? name [is], essentially, to reground our relationship with God in the saving work of Jesus over and over again. It also means to recognize your status as a child of God, regardless of your inner state.

We began with a warning that we must be careful not to read the book of Acts as a strict rule book for church planting. Yet our secular, urbanized, global world today is strikingly like the Greco-Roman world in certain ways. For the first time in fifteen hundred years, there are multiple, vital, religious faith communities and options (including true paganism) in every society. Traditional, secular, and pagan worldviews and communities are living side by side. Once again, cities are the influential cultural centers, just as they were in the Greco-Roman world. During the Pax Romana, cities became furiously multiethnic and globally connected. Since we are living in an Acts-like world again rather than the earlier context of Christendom, church planting will necessarily be as central a strategy for reaching our world as it was for reaching previous generations. Ultimately, though, we don?t look to Paul to teach us about church planting, but to Jesus himself. Jesus is the ultimate church planter. He builds his church (Matt 16:18), and he does so effectively, because hell itself will not prevail against it. He raises up leaders and gives them the keys to the kingdom (Matt 16:19). He establishes his converts on the word of the confessing apostle, Peter ? that is, on the word of God (Matt 16:18). When we plant the church, we participate in God?s work, for if we have any success at all, it is because God made it grow. Thus, neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow (1 Cor 3:6?7).

We would never produce the full range of biblical prayer if we were initiating prayer according to our own inner needs and psychology. It can only be produced if we are responding in prayer according to who God is as revealed in the Scripture.

When the woman said, I don?t need a piece of paper to love you, she was using a very specific definition of love. She was assuming that love is, in its essence, a particular kind of feeling. She was saying, I feel romantic passion for you, and the piece of paper doesn?t enhance that at all, and it may hurt it. She was measuring love mainly by how emotionally desirous she was for his affection. And she was right that the marital legal piece of paper would do little or nothing directly to add to the feeling.

Without an acceptance of multiple biblical church models, your own movement and network may plant cookie-cutter churches in neighborhoods where that model is inappropriate or may employ leaders whose gifts don?t fit it. Your own movement would risk becoming too homogeneous, reaching only one kind of neighborhood or one kind of person, and fail to reflect the God-ordained diversity of humanity in your church. As much as we want to believe that most people will want to become our particular kind of Christian, it is not true. The city will not be won unless many different denominations become dynamic mini-movements.

The Scriptures show numerous instances when gospel truths are brought out in different orders, argued for using different premises, and applied to hearts in distinctive ways. It is clear that Paul does not feel an obligation to give the whole gospel picture to his audience in one sitting.

There are many goods that God will not give us unless we honor him and make our hearts safe to receive them through prayer.

This does not happen overnight, of course. It takes years of reflection. It requires disciplined prayer, Bible study and reading, innumerable conversations with friends, and dynamic congregational worship. But unlike learning other thinkers or authors, Jesus?s Spirit can come and live within you and spiritually illuminate your heart, so that his gospel becomes glorious in your sight. Then the gospel dwells in your hearts richly (Colossians 3:16), and we find the power to serve, to give and take criticism well, to not expect our spouse or our marriage to meet all our needs and heal all our hurts.

To pray is to accept that we are, and always will be, wholly dependent on God for everything.

We believe that, as badly wounded as persons may be, the resulting self-absorption of the human heart was not caused by the mistreatment. It was only magnified and shaped by it. Their mistreatment poured gasoline on the fire, and the flame and smoke now choke them, but their self-centeredness already existed prior to their woundedness. Therefore, if you do nothing but urge people to look out for number one, you will be setting them up for future failure in any relationship, especially marriage. This is not to say that wounded people don?t need great gentleness, tender treatment, affirmation, and patience. It is just that this is not the whole story. Both people crippled by inferiority feelings and those who have superiority complexes are centered on themselves, obsessed with how they look and how they are being perceived and treated. It would be easy to help someone out of an inferiority complex into a superiority complex and leave them no better furnished to live life well.

We would never produce the full range of biblical prayer if we were initiating prayer according to our own inner needs and psychology. It can only be produced if we are responding in prayer according to who God is as revealed in the Scripture... Some prayers in the Bible are like an intimate conversation with a friend, others like an appeal to a great monarch, and others approximate a wrestling match... We must not decide how to pray based on what types of prayer are the most effective for producing the experiences and feelings we want. We pray in response to God himself.

When we look at the whole scope of this story line, we see clearly that Christianity is not only about getting one?s individual sins forgiven so we can go to heaven. That is an important means of God?s salvation, but not the final end or purpose of it. The purpose of Jesus?s coming is to put the whole world right, to renew and restore the creation, not to escape it. It is not just to bring personal forgiveness and peace, but also justice and shalom to the world. God created both the body and soul, and the resurrection of Jesus shows that he is going to redeem both body and soul. The work of the Spirit of God is not only to save souls but also to care and cultivate the face of the earth, the material world.

Work is so foundational to our makeup that it is one of the few things we can take in significant doses without harm. Indeed, the Bible does not say we should work one day and rest six or that work and rest should be balanced evenly but directs us to the opposite ratio. Leisure and pleasure are great goods, but we can take only so much of them.

The secret to freedom from enslaving patterns of sin is worship. You need worship. You need great worship. You need weeping worship. You need glorious worship. You need to sense God?s greatness and to be moved it ? moved to tears and moved to laughter ? moved by who God is and what he has done for you.

There are many ways to cover up our sin. We may justify or minimize it by blaming circumstances and other people. However, real repentance first admits sin as sin and takes full responsibility. True confession and repentance begins when blame shifting ends.

This fellowship with the Lord, is not wholly in the future. As we have seen, we are invited even now to taste and see that the Lord is good (Ps 34:8). We can see and taste his love, at least in part, now (2 Cor 3:18). The great eighteenth-century hymn writer William Cowper suffered from bouts of depression, but he was able to write: Sometimes a light surprises the Christian as he sings; it is the Lord who rises, with healing in his wings: When comforts are declining, He grants the soul again A season of clear shining, to cheer it after rain. In holy contemplation we sweetly then pursue The theme of God?s salvation, and find it ever new. Set free from present sorrow, we cheerfully can say, Let the unknown tomorrow bring with it what it may. It may be fitful and episodic, but fellowship with God is available now.

To reach this growing post-Christendom society in the West will obviously take more than what we ordinarily call an evangelistic church; it will take a missional church. This church?s worship is missional in that it makes sense to nonbelievers in that culture, even while it challenges and shapes Christians with the gospel. Its people are missional in that they are so outwardly focused, so involved in addressing the needs of the local community, that the church is well-known for its compassion. The members of a missional church also know how to contextualize the gospel, carefully challenging yet also appealing to the baseline cultural narratives of the society around them.3 Finally, because of the attractiveness of its people?s character and lives, a missional church will always have some outsiders who are drawn into its community to incubate and explore the Christian faith in its midst.

We have talked about the manner and mode of preaching, but contextualization also has much to do with the content. A sermon could be unengaging to a person because, though expressing accurate biblical truth, it does not connect biblical teaching to the main objections and questions people in that culture have about faith.

Wedding vows are not a declaration of present love but a mutually binding promise of future love. A wedding should not be primarily a celebration of how loving you feel now?that can safely be assumed. Rather, in a wedding you stand up before God, your family, and all the main institutions of society, and you promise to be loving, faithful, and true to the other person in the future, regardless of undulating internal feelings or external circumstances.

When we spend time with other believers, we are spending time with those who say: This is true and: This is wonderful to that declaration. We can see faith, and the obedience that flows from it, all around us. We can see others using their gifts for others, and we can use ours for them. That is what encourages and strengthens us.

Woundedness is compounded self-doubt and guilt, resentment and disillusionment. We come to one another in marriage with these things in our backgrounds. And when the inevitable conflicts occur, our memories can sabotage us. They can prevent us from doing the normal, day-to-day work of repentance and forgiveness and extending the grace that is so crucial to making progress in our marriages. The reason is that woundedness makes us self-absorbed.

The seventeenth-century English theologian John Owen wrote a warning to popular and successful ministers: A minister may fill his pews, his communion roll, the mouths of the public, but what that minister is on his knees in secret before God Almighty, that he is and no more.32

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Keller, fully Timothy J. Keller
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American Presbyterian Pastor, Theologian and Christian Apologist, Founding Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, Chairman of Redeemer City to City