Daily Keller

~ Wisdom from Tim Keller 365 Days a Year

Daily Keller

No End to Gospel Exploration

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Tim Keller

One of the most startling passages in the Bible connects the magnificence of angels with the mystery of the gospel.

Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care….It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.
1 Peter 1:10-12

Although angels are incredibly majestic and powerful beings living in God’s eternal presence, there’s something that has happened on earth which is so stupendous that even these immortal beings experience the persistent longing “to look into these things.” What are “these things” that could possibly and consistently consume the attention of God-fixated creatures?

The Gospel.

The angels never get tired of looking into the gospel. This means there is no end to gospel exploration. There are depths in the gospel that are always there to be discovered and applied, not only to our ministry and daily Christian life, but above all, to the worship of the God of the gospel with renewed vision and humility.

– Tim Keller

Everything For Your Good

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Tim Keller

God is so great that he works out a plan, a plan to work everything out for your good if you belong to him, and his glory, which takes into consideration your choices, and still works his plan out infallibly.

Jacob lied to his father, Isaac, and wanted his birthright. He cheated his older brother out of it. Because he cheated, because he lied, he had to flee from his family. Was he guilty? Yes. Did he experience pain in his life because of that choice? Yes. Was he punished for it? Yes. But because he sinned he went and found his wife, Rachel, through whom the Messiah came. Was it all right then that he sinned?

No, but don’t you see because Jacob sinned, though God held him responsible for that choice, did that put him on an eternal plan B? Did he say, ‘I’ve ruined it from now on because of this sin. God will never give me the best?’ My friends, no. When he sinned he went into the best for him. God is far greater than your stupid choices.

– Tim Keller

*Words found in Tim Keller’s Sermon, “Christ Our Head”, 1989.

Doctrine Matters

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Tim Keller

“The insistence that doctrines do not matter is really a doctrine itself.”

– Tim Keller

One Foot in the Trap

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Tim Keller

How do you know that money isn’t just money to you? Here are some of the signs. You can’t give large amounts of it away. You get scared if you might have less than you’re accustomed to having. You see people who are doing better than you, even though you might have worked harder or might be a better person, and it gets under your skin. And when that happens, you have one foot in the trap. Because then it’s no longer just a tool; it’s the scorecard. It’s your essence, your identity. No matter how much money you have, though it’s not intrinsically evil, it has incredible power to keep you from God.

– Tim Keller

The Ultimate Priest

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Tim Keller

Jesus is the temple and tabernacle to end all temples and tabernacles, because he is the sacrifice to end all sacrifices, the ultimate priest to point the way for all priests.

– Tim Keller

Is God Committed to Your Happiness?

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Tim Keller

Is God committed to your happiness? Absolutely, and yet if you come to him to make you happy, you’re coming to a false god. If you say, ‘Well, I’m interested in this Christianity, and maybe I’ll come and bite on it if I can see it will help me reach my goals and make me happy.’ You’re not coming to God; you’re coming to a butler. Either God exists or he doesn’t exist. If he doesn’t exist you can’t come to him for happiness, right? But if he does exist, you have to realize you must come to him because he created you, and therefore, he owns you.

To not come to him and obey him would be an injustice. The only way to come to God rightly, the real God, is to come without conditions and to say, ‘Forget happiness. I owe you everything.’ There are only two ways to come to God. You can come to God on the basis of saying, ‘I owe you everything; you owe me nothing,’ or you can come on the basis of saying, ‘I’m going to come to you, but then you owe me a lot.’ The only way for you to know on what basis you have come is to see what happens in the bad seasons.

When things go wrong, do you get upset and say, ‘What good did it do me to come to church? What good did it do me to read the Bible?’ Do you know what that shows? You came to him on the basis of saying, ‘I will do this and this, as you owe me.’ In other words you’re saying, ‘My number one priority is happiness, and I’m using God as a way to get there’ as opposed to saying, ‘My number one priority is to serve God, and if happiness happens, great. To the degree it happens, great.’

Here is the irony: the less you’re concerned about your happiness and the more you’re concerned about him, the happier you get. This is not a trick. You can’t say, ‘Oh, great. I have it. I come to God, and I say this and this and this.’ You cannot bandy with the omnipotent and omniscient Lord of the universe. ‘Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.’ Happiness is a byproduct.

– Tim Keller

*Words found in the sermon, “The Search for Happiness” by Timothy Keller, 1993.

 

Costly Grace

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Tim Keller

When we grasp that we are unworthy sinners saved by an infinitely costly grace, it destroys both our self-righteousness and our need to ridicule others.

– Tim Keller

Taking Criticism

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Tim Keller

The biggest danger of receiving criticism is not to your reputation, but to your heart. You feel the injustice of it and feel sorry for yourself, and it tempts you to despise not only the critic, but the entire group of people from which they come. ‘Those people…’ you mutter under your breath. All this can make you prouder over time. Newton writes: ‘Whatever…makes us trust in ourselves that we are comparatively wise or good, so as to treat those with contempt who do not subscribe to our doctrines, or follow our party, is a proof and fruit of a self-righteous spirit.’ He argues that whenever contempt and superiority accompany our thoughts, it is a sign that ‘the doctrines of grace’ are operating in our life ‘as mere notions and speculations’ with ‘no salutary influence upon [our] conduct.’

So how can you avoid this temptation? First, you should look to see if there is a kernel of truth in even the most exaggerated and unfair broadsides. There is usually such a kernel when the criticism comes from friends, and there is often such truth when the disapproval comes from people who actually know you. So even if the censure is partly or even largely mistaken, look for what you may indeed have done wrong. Perhaps you simply acted or spoke in a way that was not circumspect. Maybe the critic is partly right for the wrong reasons. Nevertheless, identify your own short-comings, repent in your own heart before the Lord for what you can, and let that humble you. It will then be possible to learn from the criticism and stay gracious to the critic even if you have to disagree with what he or she has said.

– Tim Keller

Excerpt from Redeemer City to City Blog, “How Do You Take Criticism of Your Views?” by Tim Keller

Grief and Joy

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Tim Keller

It’s the grief that makes you go to your resources. It makes you go to your roots as a Christian. It makes you go to the gospel. It makes you look at what Jesus has done for you. That’s what it does. The grief pushes you toward the joy, and it enhances the joy. The joy kicks on like a heat furnace and overwhelms the grief, but it’s there. I’ll go so far as to say if you get into grief, if you get into a time of trouble, and you have no tears and you have no problem and you say, ‘I’m just praising God,’ that is thought control. That’s brainwashing. That’s the way the cults operate. That’s some kind of psychological control.

It’s not supernatural. It’s not the way the gospel works. Don’t you see? The second principle is that a Christian is both happier and sadder at the same time. The gospel makes you a far more sensitive person, a far more feeling person, but at the same time a person who is feeling because you’re more hopeful than anybody else, a person who is able to sense and see the grief because you have a joy unspeakable and full of glory.

– Tim Keller

Words from the Timothy Keller Sermon Archive, “How to Handle Trouble”, 1993.

Speaking to Non-Christians

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Tim Keller

It is hard to overstate how ghettoized our preaching is. It is common to make all kinds of statements that appear persuasive to us but are based upon all sorts of premises that the secular person does not hold; it is common to use terms and phrases that mean nothing outside of our Christian subgroup. So avoid unnecessary theological or evangelical subculture jargon, and explain carefully the basic theological concept — confession of sin, praise, thanksgiving, and so on. In the preaching, show continual willingness to address the questions that the unbelieving heart will ask. Speak respectfully and sympathetically to people who have difficulty with Christianity. As you write the sermon, imagine a particular skeptical non-Christian in the chair listening to you. Add the necessary asides, the definitions, the extra explanations. Listen to everything said in the worship service with the ears of someone who has doubts or troubles with belief…

Speak regularly to ‘those of you who aren’t sure you believe this, or who aren’t sure just what you believe.’ Give them many asides, even employing the language of their hearts. Articulate their objections to Christian living and belief better than they can do it themselves. Express sincere sympathy for their difficulties, even when challenging them severely for their selfishness and unbelief. Admonish with tears (literally or figuratively). Always grant whatever degree of merit their objections have. It is extremely important that unbelievers feel you understand their objections: ‘I’ve tried it before and it did not work.’ ‘I don’t see how my life could be the result of the plan of a loving God.’ ‘Christianity is a straitjacket.’ ‘It can’t be wrong if it feels so right.’ ‘I could never keep it up.’ ‘I don’t feel worthy; I am too bad.’ ‘I just can’t believe.’

– Tim Keller