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 power of the gospel comes in two movements. It first says, I am more sinful and flawed than I ever dared believe, but then quickly follows with, I am more accepted and loved than I ever dared hope.

The urban mentality is spreading around the world as technology connects young generations to urbanized, global hyper-culture. Many young people, even those living in remote places, are becoming globalized semi-Westerners, while their parents remain rooted in traditional ways of thinking. And so ministry and gospel communications that connect well with urban residents are also increasingly relevant and effective with young nonurban dwellers.

There is an inequitable distribution of both goods and opportunities in this world. Therefore, if you have been assigned the goods of this world by God and you don't share them with others, it isn't just stinginess, it is injustice.

Those who believe they have pleased God by the quality of their devotion and moral goodness naturally feel that they and their group deserve deference and power over others. The God of Jesus and the prophets, however, saves completely by grace. He cannot be manipulated by religious and moral performance--he can only be reached through repentance, through the giving up of power. If we are saved by sheer grace we can only become grateful, willing servants of God and of everyone around us.

Two things we want so desperately, glory and relationship, can coexist only in God.

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. God?s Word to us contains this range of discourse?and only if we respond to his Word will our own prayer life be as rich and varied.

What, then, would the effect be if we were to dive even more deeply into Jesus?s teaching and life and work? What if we were to be so immersed in his promises and summonses, his counsels and encouragements, that they dominated our inner life, capturing our imagination, and simply bubbled out spontaneously when we faced some challenge? How would we live if we instinctively, almost unconsciously, knew Jesus?s mind and heart regarding things that confronted us? When you received criticism, you would never be crushed, because Jesus?s love and acceptance of you is so deeply in there. When you gave criticism, you would be gentle and patient, because your whole inner world would be saturated by a sense of loving patience and gentleness with you.

While we must continue to align ourselves in denominations that share our theological distinctives, at the local level our bias should be in the direction of cooperation with other congregations. Because of this belief, Redeemer Presbyterian Church has for a number of years given money and resources to churches of other denominations that are planting churches. We have helped to start Pentecostal churches, Baptist churches, and Anglican churches, as well as Presbyterian churches. For our efforts we have received sharp criticism and a lot of amazed stares. We believe this is one clear way to practice the kind of catholicity that turns a city of balkanized Christian churches and denominations into a movement.

You don't realize God is all you need until God is all you have.

The preachers must choose some particular illustrations and concepts that will inevitably be more meaningful to some cultural groups than others. We need to stretch as much as we can to be as inclusive as possible. But we must also be aware of our limits. We should not live in the illusion that we can share the gospel so as to make it all things to all people at once.

The way the normal human ego tries to fill its emptiness and deal with its discomfort is by comparing itself to other people. All the time.

There is something in us from God that knows we are not alone in the universe, and that we were not meant to go it alone. Prayer is a natural human instinct.

Though prayer is a kind of artillery that changes the circumstances of the world, it is as much or even more about changing our own understanding and attitude toward those circumstances. Prayer is a kind of tune that transposes even the six days world. The six days is not the Sabbath day of formal worship but the workweek of ordinary life. Yet the one hour of prayer completely transposes it all, as the transposition of a piece of music changes its key, tone, and timbre.

Ultimate reality is a community of persons who know and love one another. That is what the universe, God, history, and life is all about. If you favor money, power, and accomplishment over human relationships, you will dash yourself on the rocks of reality... [it is] impossible... to stay fully human if you refuse the cost of forgiveness, the substitutional exchange of love, and the confinements of community? We believe the world was made by a God who is a community of persons who have loved each other for all eternity. You were made for mutually self-giving, other directed love. Self-centeredness destroys the fabric of what God has made.

We must not settle for an informed mind without an engaged heart.

When anything in life is an absolute requirement for your happiness and self-worth, it is essentially an ?idol,? something you are actually worshiping. When such a thing is threatened, your anger is absolute. Your anger is actually the way the idol keeps you in its service, in its chains. Therefore if you find that, despite all the efforts to forgive, your anger and bitterness cannot subside, you may need to look deeper and ask, ?What am I defending? What is so important that I cannot live without?? It may be that, until some inordinate desire is identified and confronted, you will not be able to master your anger.

While your character flaws may have created mild problems for other people, they will create major problems for your spouse and your marriage.

You may speak a great deal about what a blessing your faith is and how you just really love the Lord, but if you are prayerless?is that really true?

The problem is not with marriage itself. According to Genesis 1 and 2, we were made for marriage, and marriage was made for us. Genesis 3 tells us that marriage, along with every other aspect of human life, has been broken because of sin. If our views of marriage are too romantic and idealistic, we underestimate the influence of sin on human life. If they are too pessimistic and cynical, we misunderstand marriage?s divine origin. If we somehow manage, as our modern culture has, to do both at once, we are doubly burdened by a distorted vision. Yet the trouble is not within the institution of marriage but within ourselves.

The way to reach the sheer diversity of the city is through new churches. New churches are the single best way to reach (1) new generations, (2) new residents, and (3) new people groups. Young adults have always been disproportionately located in newer congregations. Long-established congregations develop traditions (such as time of worship, length of service, emotional responsiveness, sermon topics, leadership styles, emotional atmosphere, and dozens of other tiny customs and mores) that reflect the sensibilities of longtime leaders who have the influence and resources to control the church life. These sensibilities often do not reach the younger generations. THE 1 PERCENT RULE Lyle Schaller talks about the 1 percent rule: Each year any association of churches should plant new congregations at the rate of 1 percent of their existing total; otherwise, that association is in maintenance and decline. If an association wants to grow 50 percent plus [in a generation], it must plant 2 to 3 percent per year.6 In addition, new residents are typically better reached by new churches. In older congregations, it may require years of tenure in the city before a person is allowed into a place of influence, but in a new church, new residents tend to have equal power with longtime area residents. Finally, new sociocultural groups in a community are generally better reached by new congregations. For example, if white-collar commuters move into an area where the older residents were farmers, a new church will probably be more receptive to the multiple needs of the new residents, while older churches will continue to be oriented to the original social group. And a new church that is intentionally multiethnic from the start will best reach new racial groups in a community. For example, if an all-Anglo neighborhood becomes 33 percent Hispanic, a new, deliberately biracial church will be far more likely to create cultural space for newcomers than will an older church in town. Brand-new immigrant groups can normally only be reached by churches ministering in their own languages. If we wait until a new group is sufficiently assimilated into American culture to come to our church, we will wait for years without reaching out to them. Remember that a new congregation for a new people group can often be planted within the overall structure of an existing church ? perhaps through a new Sunday service at another time or a new network of house churches connected to a larger existing congregation. Though it may technically not be a new independent congregation, it serves the same function.

There is, then, a great gulf between the understanding that God accepts us because of our efforts and the understanding that God accepts us because of what Jesus has done. Religion operates on the principle I obey?therefore I am accepted by God. But the operating principle of the gospel is I am accepted by God through what Christ has done?therefore I obey.

To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.

Underneath all notions of justice is a set of faith assumptions that are essentially religious, and these are often not acknowledged.

We often forget how thirsty we are because we believe we will fulfill our dreams.

When God brought the first man his spouse, he brought him not just a lover but the friend his heart had been seeking. Proverbs 2:17 speaks of one's spouse as your 'allup, a unique word that the lexicons define as your special confidant or best friend. In an age where women were often seen as the husband's property, and marriages were mainly business deals and transactions seeking to increase the family's social status and security, it was startling for the Bible to describe a spouse in this way. But in today's society, with its emphasis on romance and sex, it is just as radical to insist that your spouse should be your best friend, though for a different reason. In tribal societies, romance doesn't matter as much as social status, and in individualistic Western societies, romance and great sex matter far more than anything else. The Bible, however, without ignoring the importance of romance, puts great emphasis on marriage as companionship.

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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