Daily Keller

~ Wisdom from Tim Keller 365 Days a Year

Daily Keller

Because God Said So

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Tim Keller

…we turn to the law of God because sometimes we need to do things just because God says so. In the garden, God told Adam and Eve not to eat the tree, but he never told them why. Some of us simply hate to follow a direction unless we know all the reasons why the direction was given, how it will benefit us, and so on. But God was saying to Adam and Eve, I think, ‘Obey this direction, not because you understand, but because you recognize that I am your God and that you are not.’ They failed in this. But every day we have the opportunity to put this right. Do God’s will, not because it is exciting (though it will eventually be an adventure) not because it will meet your needs (though it will eventually be a joy) not because you understand why this is the path of wisdom (though it will eventually become more clear.) Do it because he is your Lord and Savior and you are not. Do it because it is the law of the Lord. And if you do it—if you obey him even in the little things—you will know God, know yourself, find God’s grace, love your neighbor, and simply honor him as God. Not a bad deal.

– Tim Keller

Where Toddlers and Elephants Swim Together

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Tim Keller

The gospel has been described as a pool in which a toddler can wade and yet an elephant can swim. It is both simple enough to tell to a child and profound enough for the greatest minds to explore. Indeed, even angels never tire of looking into it (1 Peter 1:12). Humans are by no means angels, however, so rather than contemplating it, we argue about it.

– Tim Keller

The Son Became a Dog

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Tim Keller

Isaiah says the Messiah will come to save us ‘with divine retribution.’ But Jesus isn’t smiting people. He’s not taking out his sword. He’s not taking power; he’s giving it away. He’s not taking over the world; he’s serving it. Where’s the divine retribution? And the answer is, he didn’t come to bring divine retribution; he came to bear it. On the cross, Jesus would identify with us totally. On the cross, the Child of God was thrown away, cast away from the table without a crumb, so that those of us who are not children of God could be adopted and brought in. Put another way, the Child had to become a dog so that we could become sons and daughters at the table.

And because Jesus identified like that with us, now we know why we can approach him. The Son became a dog so that we dogs could be brought to the table; he became mute so that our tongues can be loosed to call him King. Don’t be too isolated to think you are beyond healing. Don’t be too proud to accept what the gospel says about your unworthiness. Don’t be too despondent to accept what the gospel says about how loved you are.

– Tim Keller

Radical Gospel

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Tim Keller

One of the signs that you may not grasp the unique, radical nature of the gospel is that you are certain that you do. Sometimes longtime church members find themselves so struck and turned around by a fresh apprehension of the Christian message that they feel themselves to have been essentially ‘re-converted.

– Tim Keller

The Problem of Suffering

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Tim Keller

…we have to recognize that the problem of tragedy, injustice and suffering is a problem for everyone no matter what their beliefs are. Now, if you believe in God and for the first time experience or see horrendous evil, you rightly believe that that is a problem for your belief in God, and you’re right — and you say, ‘How could a good and powerful God allow something like this to happen?’

But it’s a mistake (though a very understandable mistake) to think that if you abandon your belief in God it somehow is going to make the problem easier to handle. Dr Martin Luther King, Jr., in his Letter from Birmingham Jail says that if there was no higher divine Law, there would be no way to tell if a particular human law was unjust or not. So think. If there is no God or higher divine Law and the material universe is all there is, then violence is perfectly natural—the strong eating the weak! And yet somehow, we still feel this isn’t the way things ought to be. Why not? Now I’m not going to get philosophical at a time like this. I’m just trying to make the point that the problem of injustice and suffering is a problem for belief in God but it is also a problem for disbelief in God—for any set of beliefs. So abandoning belief in God does not really help in the face of it.

– Tim Keller

Authority

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Tim Keller

Many years ago as a young Christian my attention was arrested by an article on ‘Authority’ by John Stott. Stott asked, “Why should people believe that the Bible is God’s Word written, inspired by his Spirit and authoritative over their lives?” (The Authority of the Bible, IVP, 1974,p.6) This was a big question for me. I had decided that I believed in Jesus Christ, but I struggled with the idea that I had to believe everything in the Bible. Stott answered that we do not believe it simply because we want to be dogmatic and certain about our own beliefs, nor because the church has consistently taught this (though it has), nor because we just ‘feel’ the Bible is true as we read it. “No. The overriding reason for accepting the divine inspiration and authority of Scripture is plain loyalty to Jesus…Our understanding of everything is conditioned by what Jesus taught. And that includes his teaching about the Bible. We have no liberty to exclude anything from Jesus’ teaching and say, ‘I believe what he taught about this but not what he taught about that.’ What possible right do we have to be selective?” (p.7)

What did Jesus believe about the Bible? He said that not a ‘jot or tittle’ (i.e. not the smallest letter or even a part of a letter) would pass away from God’s Word until all was fulfilled (Matthew 5:17-18 cf. John 10:35.)

In Matthew 19:5, Jesus tells us that in Genesis “God said” that “A man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife.” But when you go back to Genesis 2:24 you discover that it is only the human but inspired author of Genesis who wrote that. So, to Jesus, what Scripture says, God says. And Jesus did not simply believe the Bible, but he guided and regulated every step and detail of his life by it (cf. John 19:28.)

Stott’s question—‘what possible right do we have to be selective?’—is like a hammer blow to our contemporary way of life. We feel strongly that we have the right, even the obligation to select what parts of Jesus teaching we can accept and what parts we cannot. But that makes no sense. Why should you trust in him as Savior if you are wiser and smarter then he is? Either he is who he said he is, and his views judge our views, or he was lying or deluded about being the Son of God. So Jesus’ authority and the absolute authority of the Bible stand or fall together. If we believe he was who he said he was, then we must accept the entire Bible as God’s word.

Tim Keller

All of Life is Repentance

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Tim Keller

Martin Luther opened the Reformation by nailing ‘The Ninety- Five Theses’ to the door of the Wittenberg Cathedral. The very first of the theses was: ‘Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ…willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.’ On the surface this looks a little bleak! Luther seems to be saying Christians will never be making much progress. But of course that wasn’t Luther’s point at all. He was saying that repentance is the way we make progress in the Christian life. Indeed, pervasive, all-of-life repentance is the best sign that we are growing deeply and rapidly into the character of Jesus.

-Tim Keller

Anger is the Result of Love

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Tim Keller

Anger is the result of love. It is energy for defense of something you love when it is threatened. If you don’t love something at all, you are not angry when it is threatened. If you love something a little, you get a little angry when it is threatened. If something you love is an ‘ultimate concern,’ if it is something that gives you meaning in life, then when it is threatened you will get uncontrollably angry. When anything in life is an absolute requirement for your happiness and self-worth, is 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.

– Tim Keller

What Does it Mean to Do Justice?

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Tim Keller

Doing justice means giving people their due. On the one hand that means restraining and punishing wrongdoers. On the other hand it means giving people what we owe them as beings in the image of God. Nick Wolterstorff says that, as a creature in the image of God, each human being comes into your presence with ‘claim-rights.’ That is, they have the right to not be killed or kidnapped or raped. Of course there is plenty of room for disagreement on the specifics of these things, but that’s my basic definition. Doing justice, then, includes everything from law enforcement to being generous to the poor. (I believe Job 29 and 31 include generosity as part of a just life.)

– Tim Keller

*Quote taken from interview with Kevin DeYoung about Generous Justice.

The Resurrection

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Tim Keller

If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all he said; if he didn’t rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead.

-Tim Keller