Daily Keller

~ Wisdom from Tim Keller 365 Days a Year

Daily Keller

How to Love the Law

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Galatians For You, Tim Keller

Without the gospel, we may obey the law, but we will learn to hate it. We will use it, but we will not truly love it. Only if we obey the law because we are saved, rather than to be saved, will we do so ‘for God’ (Galatians 2:19). Once we understand salvation-by-promise, we do not obey God any longer for our sake, by using the law-salvation-system to get things from God. Rather, we now obey God for His sake, using the law’s content to please and delight our Father.

– Tim Keller

The Ultimate Springtime

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Tim Keller

If you’re a person who wants to do mission in the world, you’re going to find you’re always frustrated because people don’t listen to you. You try to work against poverty, and after a lifetime of it, it doesn’t seem to be any better. Mission can be pretty doggone frustrating. However, at the very end here it says, ‘Then, the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God, will bless us.’

What is then? ‘… may all the peoples praise you.’ Most commentators believe (I’m almost certain they’re right), the word then is looking way into the future. It’s saying we actually don’t build great community. We don’t share the truth well. We don’t do justice, but a time is coming when the land will yield its harvest.

It’s talking about the new heavens and the new earth. It’s talking about the ultimate springtime, after which there will be no more winter, the ultimate harvest, after which there will be no lands lying fallow. It’s looking forward to the time in which God ultimately blesses us, renews the new heavens and new earth, and all the peoples of the world begin to praise him. It’s looking to the very end.

I had a great experience this last June when I was doing one of the little courses we teach in the summer. I had a chance to read Tolkien’s essay on why fairy tales still move people. Modern critics hate the fact that so many of the biggest movies and biggest selling books are still about dragons, knights, witches, and stuff like that. They say, ‘Come on. Let’s get realistic.’

Tolkien has this great essay on why we will never stop reading, watching, or writing fairy tales. In a book about Tolkien’s essay, the writer basically says, ‘Tolkien says fairy tales move us in a way realistic fiction does not. Even the best realistic fiction is moving, but fairy tales move us in a way that realistic fiction cannot. Why? Because fairy tales speak to several deep human longings that we are almost ashamed to admit, and that we never can discard.’

The writer continues, ‘We long to survey the depths of time and space. We long to get outside of time altogether and escape death. We long to hold communion with other living things like angels. We long to find a love that perfectly heals, and from which we can never part, and we long to triumph over evil, finally and totally.’

He concludes, ‘When you are in the middle of a great fairy tale, the fairy tale lets you live, even briefly, with the dream that love without parting, escape from death, triumph over evil, are real and realizable. That’s why the stories stir us so deeply, and why we will go on reading and writing them no matter what the critics say.’

The gospel’s message is that through Jesus Christ, every single one of these things the fairy tales talk about is true and will come to pass. We will hang out with angels. We will fly. We will have loves from which we’re never parted. We will see an absolute triumph over evil. There is a beauty who will kiss you in all your beastliness, and transform you. There is a Prince who will save us forever. Let that be your consolation in mission. Let’s pray.

Our Father, we thank you that every single week when we worship, after we’ve heard the gospel, our names are written in heaven, someday there will be a new heaven and new earth, everything sad will become untrue, and all of our deepest human longings will come to pass. In the knowledge of that, we can go forth into the world to serve as those who love our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, out of thankfulness.

We pray that you would send us out today knowing what we’re going to do and sensing your love on our heart. And we pray that you would make us, as a church, a church for this city. We pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.

– Tim Keller

Words found in Tim Keller’s 2008 Sermon, “Thanks Be to God!” (Psalm 67)

Beauty, Brokenness, Mercy

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Romans For You, Tim Keller

In the beauty of the world, we are to see God’s existence. In the brokenness of the world, we are to see God’s justice. As we do, we run back to the place where we see God’s mercy: the cross.

– Tim Keller

Loving and Challenging Culture

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Center Church, Tim Keller

All churches must understand, love, and identify with their local community and social setting, and yet at the same time be able and willing to critique and challenge it. Because Redeemer was a ministry operating in a major urban center, we had to spend time studying the Bible to see what it said about cities in particular — and to our surprise we found that it said a lot. Every church, whether located in a city, suburb, or rural area (and there are many permutations and combinations of these settings), must become wise about and conversant with the distinctives of human life in those places. But we must also think about how Christianity and the church engages and interacts with culture in general. This has become an acute issue as Western culture has become increasingly post-Christian.

– Tim Keller

Access Through Christ

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Tim Keller

‘For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.’ Every word in there is loaded. It reminds me, a hymn writer once talked about a verse like that.

A box where sweets compacted lie.

That’s what it is. Every word is sweet. Look at the first one: for. It’s a sweet word. Why? Look at what comes before it, all of Paul’s discussion of how Jesus Christ died on the cross to reconcile people to God and to reconcile people to one another, but what is the point of it? What is it for? It all boils down to verse 18. ‘For through him we both have access …’ Access is the bottom line of the Christian life. Access.

You may be religious. You may have experienced forgiveness. You may have experienced changes in your life. You may have overcome habits. You may have experienced a certain amount of peace, but listen. All those things are great, but that’s not the bottom line of the Christian life. Those things are symptoms. Those things are sparks, in a sense. They’re results. The bottom line of the Christian life is access. It’s all for this: Through him, we have access, getting in. Getting in.

The bottom line of the Christian life is… Are you in, near God? Are you out on the periphery, or are you in close? Do you experience access to him? Do you enjoy him? Do you know him? Or flip it around. Is he in the center of your life, or is he out on the periphery? Does he enjoy access to you? Do you enjoy access to him, and does he have absolute access to you? Are you in his center, or is he in your center? Access, that’s what the Christian life is about. That’s why we have to look at it. Notice all three members of the Trinity, the triune God, are involved in bringing us this great gift.

For what? ‘For through him …’ Who’s that? Christ. ‘…we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.’ Three prepositions: through Christ, to the Father, by the Spirit. Three little words. Prepositions of all things, not a noun, not a verb, not even an adverb. Three prepositions on which you can build your whole life. Not only that (and it has been done), on which you can build a whole civilization. Three prepositions. Let’s look at each one of them. This gift of access is to the Father through the Son by the Spirit.

– Tim Keller

Words found in Tim Keller’s 1989 Sermon, “Christ Our House”

Love Only God Can Give

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Tim Keller

You will crush your marriage with those expectations. Nobody can bear the weight of the expectations and the hopes of ultimate joy. The criticism of your spouse will crush you. The problems of your spouse will crush you. They will devastate you much more than they should, because you’re looking to your spouse and to marriage to save you, to make everything right in your life. Now there are a whole lot of ways this plays out. Let me just give you a couple.

When you’re married, the way it plays out is you just feel that your spouse isn’t perfect. ‘My marriage isn’t perfect, and I don’t like it.’ You cannot live with imperfection. You can’t ever settle for anything other than this incredible picture you have in your mind of absolute blissful love. You have to have it, because you’re looking to it to give you what only God can give you. So when you’re not able to actually handle mediocrity in marriage, and you get all bent out of shape about the imperfections of your spouse and your marriage and refuse to be content with the good things you have, it’s idolatry.

How do unmarried people do it? There are a lot of ways. One of the ways unmarried people make an idol out of marriage and think it’s going to save them and fix them is by being incredibly picky as they evaluate spousal prospects. You say, ‘Oh, I want a marriage, and it’s going to be like this, and it’s going to be like this. This person has to be so this and this.’ You’re looking for virtually perfect spousal prospects, but there aren’t any out there. And you’re not perfect spousal prospects. Hypocrite! You want something you’re not, and that’s idolatry.

Or maybe the most frequent form of idolatry I know is a single person who wants to be married and who so pines after being married that they cannot enjoy their present condition. What are we going to do? This is just plain common sense. There’s a tendency for us to say, ‘So are you trying to say I shouldn’t love my spouse too much, or hope to love my spouse too much?’

C.S. Lewis says it is probably impossible to love any human being too much. You may love him too much in proportion to your love for God, but it is the smallness of your love for God, not the greatness of your love for the person, that constitutes the inordinacy. Do you know what that means? Marriage will strangle us unless we have a really great, true, existential love relationship with God.

You must not try to demote your love for your spouse or the person you think you’re going to marry. You can’t at all. You have to promote your love for God. Otherwise, it’ll strangle you. Don’t you see that? So married people, you have to do that, or you are not going to be able to settle for the imperfections of your marriage and of your spouse, and single people, you have to remember Christianity is the only major religion that was started by a single person.

– Tim Keller

Words found in Tim Keller’s 2009 Sermon, “The First Wedding Day”

What is the Gospel?

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Romans For You, Tim Keller

What is this ‘gospel’ for which Paul is willing to glory in being a slave? What gospel would make Paul happy to lose everything in order to share it? First, it is worth reflecting on the word itself. ‘Gospel’ — euangeloi — is literally ‘good herald.’ In the first century, if on a far-flung battlefield an emperor won a great victory which secured his peace and established his authority, he would send heralds — angeloi — to declare his victory, peace and authority. Put most simply, the gospel is an announcement — a declaration. The gospel is not advice to be followed; it is news, good (eu) news about what has been done.

The apostle Paul is the herald of this announcement. It is a good reminder that the gospel is not Paul’s; it did not originate with him and he did not claim the authority to craft it. Rather, it is ‘of God’ (v 1). We, like Paul, are not at liberty to reshape it to sound more appealing in our day, nor to domesticate it to be more comfortable for our lives.

– Tim Keller

Boldness and Humility

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Tim Keller

When Jesus invites Peter to follow him, he’s not just saying, ‘Would you like to sign up for a few courses with me?’ He wants him to live with him. He wants him to be his family. Therefore, when the salvation of Jesus Christ comes into your life, you see yourself as more wicked and sinful than you ever dared believe, and yet you sense you’re more valued and loved and affirmed than you ever dared hope at the same time.

That is a mark, infinitely greater self-worth, infinitely greater realism about your flaws at once, which is the selfquake, which is the unique self-image, which is the transformation of identity that happens to anyone into whose life this salvation comes. I say it every so often, but it has been a while so I’ll say it again. If you were saved by works, if you go to heaven through your performance, then you might be bold but not humble when you’re living up or you’ll be humble but not bold and confident when you’re failing, but you can never be bold and humble at once.

If you are more wicked than you ever dared believe and you’re more loved and affirmed than you ever dared hope at the same time because your relationship with God through Jesus Christ is based completely and sheerly on his grace, on his call, then it means you can’t be into either superiority or inferiority at all, because at the same moment you have infinite self-worth from his affirmation and you have infinite realism about your sin.

You can’t get an inferiority or superiority. There is a boldness and a humility about you at once. It is absolutely different.

– Tim Keller

Words found in Tim Keller’s 2003 Sermon, “The Message of Jesus”