Fully Known and Truly Loved

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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.

– Tim Keller

New Human Community

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The new human community that the Bible requires cuts across all cultures and temperaments. Put another way, it doesn’t fit any culture but challenges them all at some point. Christians from more individualistic cultures love the Bible’s emphasis on affirming one another and sharing hurts and problems—but hate the idea of account- ability and discipline. Christians from more traditional communal cultures love the emphasis on accountability for morals and beliefs but often chafe at emphasis on racial reconciliation and being open about one’s personal hurts and financial needs. 

– Tim Keller

He Became Poor

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Many people believe that ‘justice’ is strictly the punishment of wrongdoing, period. They don’t think we should be indifferent to the poor, but when we help them they would call such aid charity, not justice. But Job says that if he had failed to share his food or his fleece—his assets—with the needy, that would have been a sin against God and by definition a violation of God’s justice. Of course, we can call such aid mercy or charity because it should be motivated by compassion, but a failure to live a lifestyle of radical generosity is considered injustice in the Bible. 

Our culture gives us a mixed message. It says: make lots of money and spend it on yourself; get an identity by the kind of clothes you wear and the places you travel to and live. But also do some volunteer work, care about social justice, because you don’t want to be just a selfish pig. However, Christians’ attitudes toward our time and our money should not be shaped by our society; they should be shaped by the gospel of Christ, who became poor so that we could become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9). 

– Tim Keller

Why Did Jesus Have to Die?

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It is typical for non-Christians today to say that the cross of Christ makes no sense. ‘Why did Jesus have to die? Why couldn’t God just forgive us?’ Actually no one who has been deeply wronged ‘just forgives’! If someone wrongs you, there are only two options: (1) you make them suffer, or (2) you refuse revenge and forgive them and then you suffer. And if we can’t forgive without suffering, how much more must God suffer in order to forgive us? If we unavoidably sense the obligation and debt and injustice of sin in our soul, how much more does God know it? On the cross we see God forgiving us, and that was possible only if God suffered. On the cross God’s love satisfied his own justice by suffering, bearing the penalty for sin. There is never forgiveness without suffering, nails, thorns, sweat, blood. Never.

– Tim Keller

Repentance

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Repentance out of mere fear is really sorrow for the consequences of sin, sorrow over the danger of sin — it bends the will away from sin, but the heart still clings. But repentance out of conviction over mercy is really sorrow over sin, sorrow over the grievousness of sin — it melts the heart away from sin. It makes the sin itself disgusting to us, so it loses its attractive power over us. We say, ‘This disgusting thing is an affront to the one who died for me. I’m continuing to stab him with it!’

– Tim Keller

The Christian Story Line

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Look again at the uniqueness of Christianity. Only the Christian worldview locates the problem with the world not in any part of the world or in any particular group of people but in sin itself (our loss of relationship with God). And it locates the solution in God’s grace (our restoration of a relationship with God through the work of Christ). Sin infects us all, and so we cannot simply divide the world into the heroes and the villains. (And if we did , we would certainly have to count ourselves among the latter as well as the former.) Without an understanding of the gospel, we will be either naively utopian or cynically disillusioned. We will be demonizing something that isn’t bad enough to explain the mess we are in; and we will be idolizing something that isn’t powerful enough to get us out of it. This is, in the end, what all other worldviews do.

The Christian story line works beautifully to make sense of things and even to help us appreciate the truth embedded in stories that clearly come from another worldview. The Christian story line, or worldview, is: creation (plan), fall (problem), redemption and restoration (solution):

The whole world is good. God made the world and everything in it was good. There are no intrinsically evil parts of the world. Nothing is evil in its origin. As Tolkien explained about his archvillain in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, in the beginning ‘even Sauron was not so.’ You can find this ‘creational good’ in anything.

The whole world is fallen. There is no aspect of the world affected by sin more or less than any other. For example, are emotion and passions untrustworthy and reason infallible? Is the physical bad and the spiritual good? Is the day-to-day world profane but religious observances good? None of these are true; but non-Christian story lines must adopt some variations of these in order to villainize and even demonize some created thing instead of sin.

The whole world is going to be redeemed. Jesus is going to redeem spirit and body, reason and emotion, people and nature. There is no part of reality for which there is no hope.

– Tim Keller