[TogetherLA] Tim Keller: How Does the Church Love the City?

TogetherLA Conference. February 26-28, 2015. West Angeles Cathedral, Los Angeles.

VIDEO by BiolaUniversity

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[TogetherLA] Tim Keller: Loving the City Through Culture & Loving the City Through Social Change

[TogetherLA] Tim Keller:

Loving the City Through Culture

Tim Keller talks about Cultural Engagement. What does it mean to engage our culture? Not just, what does it mean to change our society and work with the poor, not all the other things we’ve been talking about, but, how do you engage culture and let me read you, probably the most famous place in the Bible where that happens and just draw out three principles, just 3 ideas. That’s the best way for us to kind of limit ourselves in such an enormously big subject.

This is Acts 17, it’s very famous. It starts out here in verse 16-

16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols. 17 So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present. 18 And also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers wereconversing with him. Some were saying, “What would this idle babbler wish to say?” Others, “He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,”—because he was preachingJesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is which you are proclaiming? 20 For you are bringing some strange things to our ears; so we want to know what these things mean.” 21 (Now all the Athenians and the strangers visiting there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new.

Sermon on Mars Hill

22 So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. 23 For while I was passing through and examining theobjects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; 26 and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, havingdetermined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ 29 Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. 30 Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”

32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, “We shall hear you again concerning this.” 33 So Paul went out of their midst. 34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.

 Now, what do we learn? Three things:
  1. First, the Gospel is actually for the public square. It’s not just for peace and inspiration in the private life, it’s for the public square. It says that Paul went into the marketplace.  Right. And the Greek word there is agora. (4:22)

TogetherLA Conference. February 26-28, 2015. West Angeles Cathedral, Los Angeles.

VIDEO by BiolaUniversity

[TogetherLA] Tim Keller:

How Do We Love the City

Through Social Change

Five places where we would see change in society if we as Christians lived out our faith.

Tim Keller: Laboring for a God Who Fights for Us (Nehemiah 3–4)

Photo credit assorted-ideas.com

Nehemiah 3

Builders of the Wall

 Eliashib the high priest and his fellow priests went to work and rebuilt the Sheep Gate. They dedicated it and set its doors in place, building as far as the Tower of the Hundred, which they dedicated, and as far as the Tower of Hananel. The men of Jericho built the adjoining section, and Zakkur son of Imri built next to them.

The Fish Gate was rebuilt by the sons of Hassenaah. They laid its beams and put its doors and bolts and bars in place. Meremoth son of Uriah, the son of Hakkoz, repaired the next section. Next to him Meshullam son of Berekiah, the son of Meshezabel, made repairs, and next to him Zadok son of Baana also made repairs. The next section was repaired by the men of Tekoa, but their nobles would not put their shoulders to the work under their supervisors.

The Jeshanah Gate was repaired by Joiada son of Paseah and Meshullam son of Besodeiah. They laid its beams and put its doors with their bolts and bars in place. Next to them, repairs were made by men from Gibeon and Mizpah—Melatiah of Gibeon and Jadon of Meronoth—places under the authority of the governor of Trans-Euphrates. Uzziel son of Harhaiah, one of the goldsmiths, repaired the next section; and Hananiah, one of the perfume-makers, made repairs next to that. They restored Jerusalem as far as the Broad Wall. Rephaiah son of Hur, ruler of a half-district of Jerusalem, repaired the next section. 10 Adjoining this, Jedaiah son of Harumaph made repairs opposite his house, and Hattush son of Hashabneiah made repairs next to him. 11 Malkijah son of Harim and Hasshub son of Pahath-Moab repaired another section and the Tower of the Ovens. 12 Shallum son of Hallohesh, ruler of a half-district of Jerusalem, repaired the next section with the help of his daughters.

13 The Valley Gate was repaired by Hanun and the residents of Zanoah. They rebuilt it and put its doors with their bolts and bars in place. They also repaired a thousand cubits of the wall as far as the Dung Gate.

14 The Dung Gate was repaired by Malkijah son of Rekab, ruler of the district of Beth Hakkerem. He rebuilt it and put its doors with their bolts and bars in place.

15 The Fountain Gate was repaired by Shallun son of Kol-Hozeh, ruler of the district of Mizpah. He rebuilt it, roofing it over and putting its doors and bolts and bars in place. He also repaired the wall of the Pool of Siloam, by the King’s Garden, as far as the steps going down from the City of David. 16 Beyond him, Nehemiah son of Azbuk, ruler of a half-district of Beth Zur, made repairs up to a point opposite the tombs of David, as far as the artificial pool and the House of the Heroes.

17 Next to him, the repairs were made by the Levites under Rehum son of Bani. Beside him, Hashabiah, ruler of half the district of Keilah, carried out repairs for his district. 18 Next to him, the repairs were made by their fellow Levites under Binnui[f] son of Henadad, ruler of the other half-district of Keilah. 19 Next to him, Ezer son of Jeshua, ruler of Mizpah, repaired another section, from a point facing the ascent to the armory as far as the angle of the wall. 20 Next to him, Baruch son of Zabbai zealously repaired another section, from the angle to the entrance of the house of Eliashib the high priest. 21 Next to him, Meremoth son of Uriah, the son of Hakkoz, repaired another section, from the entrance of Eliashib’s house to the end of it.

22 The repairs next to him were made by the priests from the surrounding region. 23 Beyond them, Benjamin and Hasshub made repairs in front of their house; and next to them, Azariah son of Maaseiah, the son of Ananiah, made repairs beside his house. 24 Next to him, Binnui son of Henadad repaired another section, from Azariah’s house to the angle and the corner, 25 and Palal son of Uzai worked opposite the angle and the tower projecting from the upper palace near the court of the guard. Next to him, Pedaiah son of Parosh 26 and the temple servants living on the hill of Ophel made repairs up to a point opposite the Water Gate toward the east and the projecting tower. 27 Next to them, the men of Tekoa repaired another section, from the great projecting tower to the wall of Ophel.

28 Above the Horse Gate, the priests made repairs, each in front of his own house. 29 Next to them, Zadok son of Immer made repairs opposite his house. Next to him, Shemaiah son of Shekaniah, the guard at the East Gate, made repairs. 30 Next to him, Hananiah son of Shelemiah, and Hanun, the sixth son of Zalaph, repaired another section. Next to them, Meshullam son of Berekiah made repairs opposite his living quarters. 31 Next to him, Malkijah, one of the goldsmiths, made repairs as far as the house of the temple servants and the merchants, opposite the Inspection Gate, and as far as the room above the corner; 32 and between the room above the corner and the Sheep Gate the goldsmiths and merchants made repairs.

Nehemiah

Opposition to the Rebuilding

4 When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, “What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble—burned as they are?”

Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, “What they are building—even a fox climbing up on it would break down their wall of stones!”

Hear us, our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity. Do not cover up their guilt or blot out their sins from your sight, for they have thrown insults in the face of the builders.

So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.

But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the people of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.

10 Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.”

11 Also our enemies said, “Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work.”

12 Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, “Wherever you turn, they will attack us.”

13 Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. 14 After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”

15 When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to our own work.

16 From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah 17 who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, 18 and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me.

19 Then I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. 20 Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!”

21 So we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out. 22 At that time I also said to the people, “Have every man and his helper stay inside Jerusalem at night, so they can serve us as guards by night and as workers by day.” 23 Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water.

Tim Keller speaks on Nehemiah 3–4 at our 2014 National Women’s Conference in Orlando, Florida.

VIDEO by The Gospel Coalition from the 2014 National Women’s Conference in Orlando, Florida

Tim Keller Session 3: Vision New England, Lowell, MA

Tim Keller discusses „The Gospel-Centered Church and Mission” by sharing his belief…. „The mission of the local Church is to make disciples, who will then change the world.” Christians will change the world by integrating their faith with their work, doing justice, loving their neighbor, and changing social structures.

His teaching from both Old and New Testaments presents a thought-provoking reflection concerning the 3-fold call and mission of the Church in society. This call embraces astonishing generosity, empowering the poor, and hope for the poor. Keller distinguishes this call as one that is not utopian and not cynicism, not socialism, and not normal capitalism, citing the example of the Early Church among whom „there were no needy persons.” Keller illuminates the motivation for responding to this call as the grace of God, expressed in Deuteronomy, Chapter 15… „Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you.” Paul refers to this same grace in II Corinthians Chapter 8… „Though He (Jesus) was rich, yet for your sakes, He became poor.” The Gospel of Grace changes our attitude towards the poor as we acknowledge our own spiritual bankruptcy; when the poor get a hold of the Gospel, they will be empowered by hope.

Keller issues a challenge for Christians to pour ourselves out for the poor, so our deeds back up our words and others will see the awesomeness of God and listen to the Gospel.

VIDEO by  PrayTV

Tim Keller Session 2: Vision New England, Lowell, MA

Tim Keller discusses the necessity of discipling people for transformation in their public life and work, in addition to helping people go inward in a process of transformation. Keller identifies the diverse views regarding daily work, highlighting the evangelical tradition, the mainline Protestant approach focused on social justice, the Lutheran approach that promotes excellence in work regardless of what it is, and a reformed world view that combines a Christian and a life view. Keller’s message explains five ways in which the Gospel transforms daily work. He discusses the danger of making one’s work one’s identity and states, „Faith gives one an inner ballast, without which work can sink you” ….the Gospel gives people a deep identity and certainty of worth that is not grounded in job performance.” Referring to Martin Luther’s view of work, Keller declares, „Faith gives you a new concept of the dignity of all work, without which work could bore you.” Keller discusses the pressure young people feel in our culture for high-status, world-changing jobs and the importance of affirming all work. He refers to Dorothy Sayers’ insightful comments about the World War II era…. „For the first time in their lives, people found themselves doing something not for the pay, not for the social standing, but for the sake of getting it done for everybody.” Keller expands yet another concept, „Faith gives you a moral compass, without which work can corrupt you,” and develops how „Gospel faith gives you a new world and life view, without which work is your master, and not your servant.” By referring to the real-life experience of J.R.R. Tolkien when he wrote „Leaf by Niggle,” Keller unwraps the truth that Christian faith „gives you a hope in frustration, without which work can harden or crush your spirit.”

In the final moments of this session, Keller refers to the concepts of „mortification” and „aspiration,” the processes identified by John Owen, the 17th century Puritan author. He shares from his own experience how these practices are life-changing, as the Holy Spirit takes us „inward” and transforms us.

VIDEO by  PrayTV

Tim Keller Session 1: Vision New England, Lowell, MA

Tim Keller discusses an organic and vulnerable presentation of the Gospel that presents a practical theology of evangelism by creating a lay ministry community and designing a culture of inclusion. Keller elaborates how the Gospel eliminates pride, fear, pessimism and indifference. He encourages Christians to make the development of friendship the focus of evangelism. Apologetics, the attempt to explain Christianity so it makes intellectual sense, is no longer listened to in contemporary culture. In contrast, Keller shares one of Pascal’s pensees, „Make good men wish Christianity could be true and prove it so.”

Keller describes how J.R.R.Tolkien identified the reasons why people crave fantasy- the desire to step outside of time, to escape death, to experience a love that never ends, to communicate with non-human beings, and to see good triumph over evil. Christianity explains these longings and if „Jesus Christ is who He said He is, that’s all going to come true.” Keller challenges Christians, „Do we know how to present the Gospel to the average person in such a way that he/she wishes it were true?”

VIDEO by  PrayTV

Dr Timothy Keller @HKU – Hope Beyond the Walls of the World

VIDEO by HKU Faith Initiative

The Theology of the Cross and Walking with a Limp

God sacrifices himself for those who are weak. What if the cross is the way God works through everyone he loves? We wrestle for blessings from our work, family and other idols but we can only get blessings from God. Tim Keller explores this thesis and says that all Christians with true joy have a limp like Jacob.

From the Gospel & Culture Conference November 2 & 3, 2012

VIDEO by RedeemerCFW

When a sleepy Christian wakes up – Tim Keller

Photo credit www.dailymail.co.uk

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

Excerpted from Tim Keller and D A Carson’s video – ‘When They Experienced Revival’. You can watch the video and/or read the transcript here – Tim Keller and D A Carson – When they experienced revival.

So when a new Christian, a person really gets converted, it has an enormous impact on people who know them. Secondly, when a sleepy Christian who has been inconsistent, sort of wakes up, that is also part of revival.

They grasp the Gospel in a new way, they get in a sense on the heart, Edwards would say, of what they’ve always believed  about who they are in Christ.

When a sleepy Christian wakes up, they become more humble, because they’re more convicted of sin, and also more confident, because they’re less concerned about what people think about them. And that makes you a potent evangelist.

Because if you’re humbler, you’re not arrogant and off putting. If you’re more courageous, then you’re more willing to open your mouth.

And I remember that because I had a very small number of sleepy Christians that kind of woke up upon the preaching of the word,  in 1990, and a certain number of new believers that Redeemer grew to almost 1,000 people in about 2 years in the middle of Manhattan, at a time when people were leaving the people because there was a recession and there was a high crime.

And I look back on that and I say, „How did that happen? There were revival dynamics. It’s just automatic  that when a sleepy Christian wakes up, he becomes a better evangelist. And a new Christian is a great evangelist. And it was remarkable for about a year, when I just saw lots of people become Christians. It was a revival.

Tim Keller and D A Carson on When They Experienced Revival

Photo credit mudpreacher.org

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

Tim Keller and Don Carson have experienced revival firsthand. Watch them share their experiences in a brand-new roundtable video.

Carson: The reformed folk have some heritage of revival. It’s not quite the same as  charismatic sort and it’s not the same sort as the Finney sort, but there’s a heritage of it. What kind of experiences of revival have you known  personally, or glimpsed close up or from afar?

Keller: In my case, when I became a Christian, 1970, in a campus fellowship at a college in Central Pennsylvania, the campus fellowship went from about  5-10 people at the weekly meeting, to over 100 – 150 people in about a period of a year. When we went off to the central Pennsylvania Inter Varsity Conference which is basically the chapters of Central Pennsylvania, university campuses would send send a few people. Generally, most of them had 5-10 people. And 3-4 would come to the conference. I remember that the same year, Bucknell, which is where I went, the same year that chapter grew enormously; it happened all around Central Pennsylvania. This was before social media. There was no way to coordinate it. And we’re trying to figure out what happened. We also found out  in 1970, there was an awakening of sorts on college campuses of Christian colleges, like Asbury College. There was a renaissance of campus ministry in many many places. When I went to Gordon Cromwell, I took a course with Richard Lovelace ‘The History of Awakenings’ and I realized -and Richard is a reformed theologian, he favored Jonathan Edwards revival, that it’s a gift of God, it’s centered on the preaching of the Gospel, it’s something that we can be receptive of, but we just can’t create. It’s not just something that you can meet the conditions, push the right buttons… And I realized when I read that, that that’s what I had experienced. And so, I’ve actually been a proponent of that  chastened reformed understanding of revival, not one that puts all the emphasis on emotion, not one that puts all the emphasis on human nature, ever since.

Carson: 1970, I was unaware that that was the date for you, because 1970 means something to me. At that time I was pastor of a church in Western Canada. And in Saskatchewan, which is one of our prairie provinces  there were some Bible evangelistic meetings by a pair of preachers called the Sotero twins. And they started preaching and in this church, people started getting converted confessing their sins, returning things they had stolen to the stores. The crowds packed in, more people getting converted, the crime rate went down after a few weeks. It was one of these things that you read about in older stories. Gradually, it spread out across the country. By the time it reached Vancouver, which is where I was, it had more elements of phoniness and people were beginning to domesticate it. But there was no doubt, I was crossing the country a couple of times those days and there was no doubt, you touched down and saw some of those things going on . It was a singular movement of the Lord.

And at the same time that was going on, there were other things going on in English speaking circles in French Canada. In other words, it’s almost a scattered around North America thing in 1970.

Keller:  I’ve heard that, but actually I hadn’t heard as much until this minute. And it’s intriguing that similar things were happening in the States that same year. Some years ago, I talked to a leader in Jews for Jesus, who told me that almost all of the founding members of the Jews for Jesus converted in 1970. There was just a group of people who became Christians  out of Jewish background, who then decided ‘we need to reach out to our own folk’. And that goes along with the history of awakenings, they’re not humanly coordinated. But there are human connections sometime. Some people hear and they start to pray because they’ve heard of something happening in some other place and they come under conviction that we need to be asking God for His power. And so, there is a human connection. There’s no media campaign, there was no marketing campaign, there was no group of people that got together and said, „Now, you’re gonna do promotion, and you’re gonna do this, and we’re gonna have a conference.” It didn’t happen that way.

Carson: It didn’t happen, and when it did begin to happen, it killed it; that is to say, at least in Canada. A couple of the big expansions in the new area, some minister or other who had been powerfully affected by this and then he goes to  another area and just gives his testimony of what the Lord had done and it breaks out again. The danger came, then, when somebody else said, „Okay, we’d like you to fly to another place again and do it,” and it’s beginning to be domesticated. It’s being packaged. And then, you get some of the tears and all that, but it just begins to feel phony.

Keller: Interesting, because under Dr. Lovelace, we had to read Edwards. Edwards had some 4 major books on revival- one called ‘Thoughts on revival’, which is not as well known. But, one of the things he deals with is that there always seems to be, especially as time goes on, a layer of phoniness, a layer of false experience. You do have people that are attracted to … some people just want the attention. And there’s a fair number- I remember, one of the things that Edwards says often happens is certain people would be attracted and perhaps at first they would have a genuine experience, but because their experience was so spectacular, they were often promoted into positions of leadership too quickly and it actually did go to their head. They very often couldn’t give good theological leadership. It’s remarkably insightful  how revivals go bad. But his whole idea was that that doesn’t destroy the credibility of the actual revival. It’s almost inevitable that strange fire gets mixed in  with the good stuff.

Carson: It’s one of the things that the devil is certainly going to try to do. And the little bit that I have seen on what I have read on the Welsh revival makes me resolve that if the Lord in mercy ever puts me anywhere near one of those hints, my first priorities will be to have as little to do with media as possible. And second, to funnel as much of this energy as possible in good preaching and systematic teaching of the Word of God, rather than endless recounting of experience. Becauase then there’s the danger of chasing the experience, rather than the Lord and the Gospel. You start by preaching the Gospel, then you get the experience and then you start chasing the experience. And that becomes an idol. And then, pretty soon it gets detached from Scripture and God help us then.

Keller: I think Dr. Lovelace gave me this definition. He said, „There is a review of revival that defines it as the extraordinary work of the Holy Spirit. And I remember I was taught  that the reformed understanding of revival  is an intensification of the ordinary operations of the Holy Spirit. And the ordinary operations are: conviction of sin, conversion, the giving of assurance, sanctifying us and turning us into more holy men and women. And actually, this is the dynamic, because I actually did see it about 6 or 7 months when Redeemer started. Not the moment Redeemer started, but there was a period between ’90 and ’91 that savored of what I experienced  when I was in college. New Christians have a lot of non-Christian friends. All of their greatest friendships are the people that really open their hearts to non-Christians. So when a new Christian, a person really gets converted, it has an enormous impact on people who know them. Secondly, when a sleepy Christian who has been inconsistent, sort of wakes up, that is also part of revival. They grasp the Gospel in a new way, they get in a sense on the heart, Edwards would say, of what they’ve always believed  about who they are in Christ. When a sleepy Christian wakes up, they become more humble, because they’re more convicted of sin, and also more confident, because they’re less concerned about what people think about them. And that makes you a potent evangelist. Because if you’re humbler, you’re not arrogant and off putting. If you’re more courageous, then you’re more willing to open your mouth. And I remember that because I had a very small number of sleepy Christians that kind of woke up upon the preaching of the word,  in 1990, and a certain number of new believers that Redeemer grew to almost 1,000 people in about 2 years in the middle of Manhattan, at a time when people were leaving the people because there was a recession and there was a high crime. And I look back on that and I say, „How did that happen? There were revival dynamics. It’s just automatic  that when a sleepy Christian wakes up, he becomes a better evangelist. And a new Christian is a great evangelist. And it was remarkable for about a year, when I just saw lots of people become Christians. It was a revival.

Carson: And you can’t organize that  with a set of criteria, you meet the criteria and you turn it on.

Keller: It wasn’t a campaign .

Carson: It comes from God, it’s  a gracious gift. But the point is: God can do it again.

Keller: Yes, and I think the Gospel Coalition, that could be one of the main ways in which we help our churches see that this understanding of revival is definitely something that we should be seeking God for. Essentially, it starts with prayer, but it’s also sought by – I think, Dr. Lloyd-Jones used to say, „In the Bible, you  build an altar and you ask God to send down the fire. He’s not gonna send down the fire if you don’t build the altar. But if you build the altar, you have to wait for Him.” He would say, „You seek revival by building the altar. It’s up to God to what degree He’s going to empower it. But, i would say it’s the faithful preaching of the Gospel, it’s extraordinary prayer, it’s leaders who model a renewed life. They’re walking little models of renewal. Very often, it’s a few converts who are willing to open their mouths to other people. And sometimes the fire comes down in big ways, small ways. But, you create the altar. That’s how Lloyd-Jones would put it. But you have to ask God to send down the power.

Carson: And even when we’re building the altar, we confess that our very desire to do so stems from God who works in us both to will and to do good works for His good pleasure.

Keller: Usually, revivals start well and after a while it’s not for that, it’s for the power and the glitz. So, it’s difficult; it’s one of the reasons why revivals don’t seem to last. It’s because of our sin. But, we still should be asking for them and seeking them.

Carson: Amen!

Keller and Carson on When They Experienced Revival from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

What Are Some Current Problems In The Western Church? Tim Keller

tim keller fullTim Keller:

I can think of 3 idols that are pretty common in the American church:

  1. One idol, I think, is experience. Instead of looking into the Word of God to be their norm and their guide, tend to look to their won experience, their feelings, their intuition, their impressions to be their guide. That’s part of American individualism. And therefore, emotion, and expression, and experience is very good. But, when you make it more important than the Word of God, or fi you even put it higher than the Word of God, it becomes an idol.
  2. The second one, this might surprise people, is doctrine. I actually do think some people make an idol out of doctrine, because there are sectors of the church that say that, if you have your doctrine straight, and you have your doctrine right, then you are pleasing to God, and then you are part of the solution, not the problem. And, you’re not like what they call ‘these other parts of the church’, that are very heretical. And there’s a pride and a smugness about having good doctrine, that to me, it puts doctrine, almost in the place of the saving grace of Jesus Christ. And so, it becomes an idol.
  3. And, I think, probably lastly, there is such a thing as – a big problem we have is consumerism, and that is: Instead of people looking to the church as a place where they give themselves in community, they look at it as the place where they’re going to get the services they want. They have emotional needs, they have relational needs, they have vocational needs, and you go to a church because it’s a good place to network, to find somebody to date, a good place to maybe network for vocational purposes. So, I’m going there because it meets my needs and I’m seeing it almost like a mall, rather than a family I give myself to. And, in that sense, consumerism is my felt needs become the idol. That is, they’re more important  than actually being part of the community.

I wouldn’t say, though, that those, by the way, idols exist equally across the whole church. I think certain sectors of the church struggle more than others with some of them. But, those are all there, and they hurt us quite a bit.

VIDEO by Jefferson Bethke

Tim Keller – Humble Cultural Engagement

Also from the same conference, watch – Os Guiness – Engaging an increasingly post-Christian culture in the west (Gospel & Culture Lectures)

Dr. Tim Keller speaks on cultural engagement with practical insights on how Christians should relate in the culture, and especially at their workplace.

Tim Keller is Senior Pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church. Dr. Keller:

I am here to talk about how a Gospel changed heart makes a difference, how a Gospel changed heart is crucial to a cultural renewal. In the last couple of years, some of the books I have been reading on cultural renewal have been moving towards a consensus. The consensus goes something like this, and this is an oversimplification: When it comes to how Christians relate to the culture- on the one hand, you’ve got a withdrawal mentality, that says, „Christianity is not really here to mend the world.” There is a liberal version of that, that basically accommodating culture? Why would Christians want to change things? There’s a conservative version of that that says that as Christians of the Church what we ought to be doing is just building up the church,  evangelizing, discipling. In other words, there’s the withdrawal mentality that says it’s not the job of Christians to try to mend the world.

On the other hand there is an extreme, which you could call triumphalism. And again, there’s a kind of liberal and conservative version of that. The liberal version is what you call liberation theology, which is a form of marxism. The conservative version is the idea that Christians ought to take power and make society the way that Christians think it should be. In both cases there is talk of some kind of triumphalistic kind of talk of transforming culture- we’re gonna make culture the way it ought to be.

All these writers are saying that this doesn’t fit in with what the Bible says and what the Gospel is. If you think about this, the Bible is a third way between legalism and what you might call license, the theological term is antinomianism. Legalism says: We can change ourselves with our own power, our own strength. Antinomianism , or license says: We’re just fine the way we are. The Gospel is: You’re saved by grace, through faith. You’re not saved by your own efforts and power, but, at the same time, once you’re saved, it changes you.

There is a consensus developing that humble, faith work integration- engaging culture as Christians, but, still working together for a common good,  a kind of cultural engagement that avoids these extremes. And it’s analogous to the Gospel itself. But, if you’re going to engage in this way, the Gospel has to change your heart.

  1. The Gospel actually gives your heart the humility  to appreciate the contributions of everyone out there in the field- christians and non christians. It enables you to humbly cooperate with others, who aren’t Christians to work for the common good.
  2. On the other hand, the Gospel gives you courage and insight to humbly and respectfully provoke the culture and to say, there’s a lot of ways in which work needs to be done in a different way, and public life needs to be conducted in a different way. There needs to be humble cooperation, respectful provocation and then
  3. Last of all, the Gospel shapes the way in which you lead in your vocation.

1. Gospel gives you the humility to work with others. There is a rhetoric out there that says, „Christians ought to go out and take back their culture.” And very often, the critique of that view is that it is not appreciating the fact that the world is filled with the glory of God, that God is at work out there, and through all kinds of people’s work, whether people are Christian or not, that He is doing His work.

Martin Luther had some fascinating stuff to say about this. Luther says: When you pray, „Give us this day our daily bread,” instead of God just having the bread appear on your table, what He is actually doing is He is working through the bakers, the merchants, the people who transform the flour. In other words, what God does is He in fact answers your request , and He gives you food through the work of other people. At one point, Luther looks at all the jobs that are out there and he says, „These are the masks of God, behind which He wants to remain concealed, and do all things. Christians have to be profoundly appreciative of good work done on absolutely everything. You need to be looking out there and seeing God working in all kinds of people.

And, some of you heard that this is often called common grace. Common grace means that God gives good gifts and He works through people. It’s common grace, not special grace. But, the fact is that if you know you’re saved by grace alone, and if you’re a Christian, you know that God is at work in your life, despite the fact that you’re not great  in a lot of ways. He didn’t save you because you are a better mother or father. He didn’t save you because you are a better business person. He saved you just by grace. And you know that God works in people’s lives, even though they’re flawed. And that means that God really does do everything by grace. And out there, there are people who don’t believe what we believe. And yet, God has given them gifts of wisdom and of skill, and of beauty, and of excellence. And through their work, the human race’s life is better than it would have been otherwise. And we have to realize that those are real gifts.

Through the Gospel, Christians should be humbled, enough to see that God always works through grace, and always works through gifts. And when you look out there, you see the whole society, the whole world aflame with the grace of God- all over the place. There’s a tendency for Christians to be so negative about society, so negative about culture. And there’s a self righteousness in that that does not behoove people who understand they’re sinners saved by grace. So, the Christian Gospel teaches you to enjoy God’s gifts, wherever they are, and make you humbly cooperate with other people for the common good. (10:00)

2. Gospel gives you the courage & insight to humbly and respectfully provoke the culture. Christians know that all work is done for some reason. It’s either done for God’s glory, or it’s done for something else. And when work is not done for God’s glory, it’s distorted. When work is done for your glory, or for your status, or for your success, or for your particular tribe’s status and success, rather than for everyone else, there’s all sorts of ways then , that work is distorted in this world. It’s distorted by sin. The Gospel gives you the courage and the insight to tell the world that there is a way to work that is shaped by what we know is the character of God.

So you go out there humbly, respectfully. But, at the same time you have to have the courage and you also have the insight to know that the Gospel shapes the way in which you work, because the glory of God shapes the way in which you work. Everyone works for some reason, everyone works from a particular worldview. And when Christians move out into the world because they believe the Gospel, they think Gospel wise. They’ve got the courage and the insight to change the way work is done from the inside. Not in a triumphalistic way, taking over. Not failing to appreciate the fact that all kids of people who are not Christians, who don’t have a better world view might be doing a better job in your work than you are because of the way God tends to operate, because of the way God gives His gifts of grace all over the place.

Do you see the way God operates? You know you’re a sinner saved by grace, you know you’re completely sinful, and completely loved. There’s a paradoxical balance in the way Christians think. The longer you’re a Christian, and the more and more you learn to think in a kind of Gospel way. And, therefore, not only does it humble you to appreciate what other people do, but it actually emboldens you to say, „We’ve got to change things, the way they are.” There’s plenty of places where the way work is done and the way public life is ordered, changes need to be made so it’s more in line with justice, more in line with the common good.

3. The Gospel changes the way you relate to people in your profession. If you actually do have a Savior who saved you, by taking the blame for what you did; if you have a Savior who saved you, by putting your needs ahead of His own; if you have a Savior who saved you by substitutionary sacrifice- look at that and how you were saved and how you can actually relate to people. The Gospel creates a kind of transformational leadership pattern, in which you give credit instead of always taking it, in which you bear blame instead of always making other people take the blame, in which you lift up others instead of trample on people, so you can get up the ladder. You lift up other people instead. You don’t think people notice that? Oh, they do! You could call it the ethical side of work- Gospel wise. Not so much the shaping of the work through the world view, just the ethical side.

Putting all that together – If you see the implications of the Gospel, if your heart’s really been affected by the Gospel, so that you have this humility, that you wouldn’t have had, unless you knew you’re a sinner; and a boldness you wouldn’t have had, unless you knew you were completely affirmed by God, and therefore, what really matters is not your status, and not your success, and not how much money you make, but, just do a good job. If the Gospel has shaped you, so your relationships are such, that you know how to serve instead of use people everywhere, you’ll engage the culture. A Gospel shaped heart will create culturally engaged Christians that really will change the world.

 Uploaded by RedeemerCFW September 2012

Tim Keller – video from the simulcast about his new book Center Church + Q & A

This recorded webcast with Dr. Timothy Keller, hosted by Zondervan and The Gospel Coalition. Dr. Keller discusses his book, „Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City.” Published on Oct 19, 2012 by 

Also, listen to the first chapter (in audiobook form) of Tim Keller’s new book Center Church: In Center Church, Timothy Keller outlines a broad theological vision that connects classical evangelical doctrine to holistic and vibrant ministry expression, particularly in globalized, urbanized settings. Published on Jul 13, 2012 by 

This panel discussion was filmed October 19th, 2012 at The Gospel Coalition’s New England pre-conference. Timothy Keller, David Wells, Richard Lints, and Stephen Um answer questions asked by the audience via Twitter. Their conversation focuses on how to contextualize the Gospel in various ministry settings. Published on Oct 26, 2012 by 

Tim Keller answers questions at Oxford (6) Last video in the series

Photo source http://www.marchofmorn.com

Watch the other videos (or read some notes) at these links:

You can visit ThisisJesus.org for more resources. And http://www.oiccu.co.uk/ OICCU also recommends-  bethinking.org as a great apologetics site, as well as uccf.org.uk

In every session (video) Tim Keller set aside the last half hour to answer questions texted by students in attendance. IN this last one, the entire session (45 min) is a free form session of questions & answers.

Uploaded by  on Feb 11, 2012

Tim Keller answers questions from Oxford students texted in on the Saturday lunchtime of „This is Jesus”, OICCU’s 2012 main event. These are the questions asked by the Oxford students:

  1. What does Christianity believe about other religions and do we call people of there religions our brothers & sisters? (min 4)
  2. I’m gay and I want to be a Christian. On the two, following Christ and this human innate desire for intimacy and companionship appear to be mutually exclusive. What is your advice? (8 min)
  3. Why does the Bible make no mention of evolution, or life on other planets or make no distinction between animals that were present before it was written? (17 min)
  4. Yesterday you said that the wages of sin are death. Can you explain what you meant by that? (19 min)
  5. How is the God of love the same one who commands the extermination of whole ethnic groups? (min 23)
  6. Can religion be explained simply as a product of social evolution? (29 min)
  7. How can I be sure that Christ has entered my life? (31 min)
  8. The Christians in the Crusades justified some of their actions because they saw armies of angels with them and heard God telling them what to do. They backed this up with testimonies of many eyewitness. Is this not the same as justifying the Bible by many eyewitnesses who saw Jesus after he died? If the people in the Crusades were mistaken why were the eyewitness of Jesus not? (min 36)

AUDIO links for all sessions here:

  1. A Skeptical Student Encounters Jesus
  2. The Insider and the Outcast Encounter Jesus
  3. Two Grieving Sisters Encounter Jesus
  4. A Wedding Party Encounters Jesus
  5. The First Christian Encounters Jesus
  6. Tim Keller Responds to Oxford’s Questions

Tim Keller at Oxford (5) The First Christian Encounters Jesus

Keller: What we’re doing every night this week is we’re looking at questions that every person has to have a set of working answers for in order to live: Who are we, as human beings? What’s wrong with us, with the world? What, if anything can improve or put us right. So each night we’re looking in the New Testament Gospel of John, and there we’re looking at a series of encounters that Jesus Christ had with individuals.

I have an 18 month old granddaughter and right now she can perceive a lot more than she can express right now, and it’s a grief to her. And, all Christians feel that way. If you can see or feel something of absolute beauty and then you come down off the mountaintop or come away from the sea or wherever you were and you try to convey it verbally to somebody else, it’s very very frustrating. All Christians feel like that. I’m no different. So, in a way, in trying to convey what christianity’s answers to questions has been something of a grief to me. So, let’s conclude this way: You can’t look at christianity’s answers to the big questions unless you deal with the issue of faith. And we all know, that the answers that christianity gives about Christ and about the cross and about everything else are only operable in your life if you have faith. But, what in the world is that? There’s a lot of confusion- what does christian faith mean? Let’s take a look at the last of the encounters of Jesus Christ with individuals, that we’ve been looking at all week in the Gospel of John. I am going to read this encounter with Mary Magdalene.

In this night we’re going to take a look at this question: What is faith?

John 20 – 1-10 (Part 1) 11-18 (Part 2) The first part tells us that christian faith is impossible and rational (verses 1-10). The second part tells us that christian faith is graceful, existential and individual. I think this will be the most practical of all the talks.

Christian faith is impossible

Part 1 – Now, when I say faith is impossible, it’s a bit of an overstatement. I am not saying it’s impossible to have christian faith. What I am saying is that it’s impossible for you or me to produce it without outside intervention and help. Mary goes to the tomb, sees the stone rolled away, runs back to Peter and John and says, „They’ve taken the body”. Now, Jesus Christ has been saying to his disciples over and over again, „I’m gonna die and rise again on the third day.” He has said it so often (throughout the Gospels), that the enemies of christianity had put a guard to the tomb (Matthew).  So, why in the world, when Mary actually saw the stone rolled away why didn’t she just actually say, „Could it be? Maybe?” She didn’t even think about it. It didn’t even occur to her. She runs back, „They stole it (the body)”.

For a minute I’m going to put aside why first century Jews would have been that absolutely convinced that at the resurrection of Jesus He could not rise from the dead.

Nobody – NATURALLY- can believe… there is an allergy to belief in God or an inability in us. Some of you know there’s different theological traditions  inside christianity that has somewhat different views on to what degree we have an ability to respond to God. But, all of them agree that we just can’t produce faith without help from outside.

Do you really think you’re objective in looking at a book like the Bible, or looking at a message like the Gospel? Because if it’s true, you would lose control of how you would live your life. When people say, „I’m completely objective, I’m looking at the evidence and I just don’t see the evidence”, surely you know that you have a deep layer of prejudice and if you’re not going to acknowledge it, you’re never going to get close to objectivity, never.

When you come to christianity to say, „Is it right or wrong?”, you have a vested interest in it being „wrong”. But, you can’t recuse yourself (as a judge would when ruling on a case) so here’s what I suggest- three things. Mary only believes because of help form the outside. John and Peter only believe because they have help form the outside. They do not have the ability to believe. So here’s what I would suggest:

  1. First of all, please doubt your doubts. Please look at your doubt and realize that you do have a sort of emotional, psychological force underneath them. You’re afraid of it being true. You’ll never be fair minded  if yo don’t see that.
  2. Some of you may be overconfident that you are objective and somehow the evidence just isn’t enough for you.  Why don’t you consider praying? Why don’t you consider praying, „Lord God, I don’t know if you’re there, but, if you are please help me think this through”. Break the ice. If you’re not willing to do that, you’re not willing to see your prejudice.
  3. But, a lot of you are actually too anxious. The Bible says that you can’t believe without help from the outside. Without God helping you, without Jesus coming to yo hand saying to you, like He speaks to Mary. In all her consternation- she’s running around and she doesn’t see Jesus. Just please keep this in mind: If you want to believe, if you find yourself desiring to believe, if you find yourself very interested in christianity but you’re afraid somehow that you’re not gonna be able to come into faith. About 5 of you came to me this week and said you were interested but you weren’t sure you would get it right or that your motives were right in pursuing chrsitianity. A sense of Christ’s absence may be a sign of His presence. Because I don’t think you’re capable of wanting to believe without Him giving you some help. So if you wanna believe, instead of being afraid that He’s not around, look at that as maybe a sign that He might be right there at your elbow, just like with Mary. Mary’s in tears, she doesn’t even realize that He’s talking to her. You might be in that situation. You might feel like everything’s falling apart and you kind of want something, but I don’t know, He may already be working in your life. So faith by yourself is impossible. But, obviously not impossible to have, just to produce on your own.

Christian faith is rational

What I mean by rational: There’s evidence. Let’s take a look at why Mary and John and Peter aren’t there. If you don’t know anything about first century culture, first century history, it doesn’t make much sense that Jesus said, „I’m gonna rise the third day”. And when you get to the third day, the disciples are not there waiting to see. And, even when Mary Magdalene sees, she runs away assured that there’s been no resurrection.

The reason… it’s kind of incredible to us when you read it not knowing anything about the text. But, when you read a book, like I did by N T Wright giving the exhaustive account of the historic evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. (Keller says it’s the best book on the resurrection written in the last 100 years). In it he shows that Jews and Greeks and Romans would never believe that an individual could be resurrected from the dead. Greeks believed the body was bad. So the idea of the resurrection of the body, who wants that? The whole idea of salvation is liberation from the body.

Some of the Jews, like the SAdducees didn’t believe in any resurrection and Pharisees believed in a general resurrection at the end of time. Nobody believed that he could rise from the dead here. And certainly the Jews were the last people who could believe that a human being could be the Son of God. They’ve been taught their whole lives that God cannot be human. They have this transcendent view of God. You put all that together, you’ll see why first century Jews were every bit as closed to the idea of resurrection of Jesus Christ, for a different reason.

The average person, here at Oxford, thinks the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is crazy. Why? Because your post enlightenment naturalism. The idea that there aren’t any such things as miracles. That everything has a scientific explanation, so on. So we’re closed to it. But, they were closed to it. Everybody’s closed to it for different reasons. If that’s true, imagine what evidence you would have to get if you were to absolutely believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ.

What kind of evidence would you have to have to break through your absolute ironclad doubts? You have this world view that insists it couldn’t have happened. WHat kind of evidence would have to happen to you so it would have to shatter and you would believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God and was resurrected from the dead?  Whatever that evidence is that you are imagining right now, they must have had something like it. You see? They must have gotten the same kind of evidence. Because they were as closed to it as you were. And, if that’s the case, that evidence might be enough to you.

What’s the evidence? One piece is right here. WHo is this eyewitness? The Gospel writer tells us that an eyewitness to the resurrection was Mary Magdalene, a woman. And, what all historians will tell you is this- In those patriarchal times, women were not trusted, and therefore, women could not give testimony, either in Jewish or Roman courts. Therefore, if you were making up an account of the resurrection, you would never in a million years make a woman the first witness. And actually, in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the first witnesses of the resurrection are all women. And, the only historically plausible answer to why women are in the account, the only reason why men who wrote the accounts would put women in is because it must have happened. She must have been there. She must have claimed to see Jesus Christ. So, there’s a lot of action for the resurrection. Actually you can even see it with Peter as he is looking in the tomb and wondering if the grave clothes were still there, then…

Faith is not only rational. You NEVER GET ALL THE WAY INTO FAITH THROUGH REASON. Faith is an act of a whole person and you’ve got to have a convinced mind. You obviously cannot get all the way to faith because reason is not the same as faith. Obviously, faith goes beyond reason, but it’s not quite the same as reason.

We live in a time when people say over and over again, „There’s really no objective truth. If you wanna believe in christianity, if you wanna believe in whatever faith you want… if it’s relevant for you, if it’s satisfying to you, don’t worry about whether or not it happened. If it’s relevant for you , you can believe it”. Hitler believed something that was relevant for him. And we all think he was wrong. Why? Because we all do know down deep that there is such a thing as truth and there is such a thing as a standard. Christianity will never say: Believe me only because it’s relevant. Christianity basically says: Don’t believe christianity because it’s exciting, practical and relevant; believe it because it’s true. Because if it’s not true it won’t be practical at all then.  You’re never gonna be able to face the suffering that’s ahead of you, o young people, if you don’t in the end believe Christianity’s relevant and exciting (which it is), BT IT’S TRUE.

Christian faith is ‘gracefull’

Part 2John 20:11-18 Christian faith is gracefull with 2 l’s. Here’s a point that is all through the New Testament, but we’re seeing it in narrative form here. Before I show it to you in narrative form let me tell you what the point is. At the very essence of what it means to not just have faith in general, but life transforming, Jesus encountering saving faith in particular is when you learn the difference between salvation by grace through Jesus Christ is done, rather than by salvation and working very, very hard, and all your moral efforts to earn your place with God.  Those are 2 absolutely different paradigms. They’re actually two different faiths.

To put it like this. Traditional religion says: I obey God, therefore I get accepted and saved and blessed. But the Gospel of Jesus Christ says: I’m accepted by God by what Jesus Christ has done on the cross for me, therefore I obey. If I’m obeying, hoping somehow God will bless me and answer my prayers and take me to heaven, if I’m obeying only to be accepted, I’m always afraid, insecure and operating out of fear. And, of course if I am doing it, I’m living like I should, your identity rests not in God, it rests in yourself, in your own ability. If you get your identity out of being a hard working person, you will have to look down your nose on people. If you get your identity out of being a good, moral person who obeys the moral law, you will have to look down on people who you think are immoral.

But, if you obey because you’re already accepted, you’re doing all the things you’re doing out of joy and gratitude and you’re humbled because you now… even though God loves you freely, it’s nothing you earn. So, you look at people who are not living like they should and you cannot feel superior to them. So, you have 2 people. One trusting in their moral efforts. One trusting in Jesus. And even though on the surface they may look like they’re living the same kind of life, in the end, it produces 2 completely different sets of character. You will have self righteousness and bigotry vs. humility and graciousness. It will affect people around you in such different ways. And the essence of becoming a christian is to transfer the trust you have in your own ability, in your own efforts, onto what Jesus Christ has done.

How does this get across in this narrative? Mary goes to the tomb, she looks around, she finally sees Jesus. She says: Teacher!”Mary”, He says. At that moment, especially when He tells her to go tell the world what’s happening, in some sense, she’s the first christian. Do you know why she’s the first christian? What’s a christian? A christian is someone that knows Jesus is risen from the dead, has had an encounter with the risen Christ. For one moment, in a sense, she’s the first christian who is going to the world to tell them, „Do you know what He’s done?”

Who’s Mary Magdalene? We don’t know much about her, we do know she’s been a demon possessed person and demons were cast out of her. Jesus Christ chose a woman, not a man. He chose a reformed mental patient, not a pillar of the community. He chose a layperson, not one of the apostles. What’s He doing? How much clearer can He be to say, „My salvation is not based on breeding, on pedigree. I’m not really your teacher, I’m your Savior. I’ve come not to call the strong but those who are weak. I’m here to save you, not by your work, but by my work. The minute you understand that, the penny drops and the change happens.

The First Christian Encounters Jesus

Uploaded by  on Feb 13, 2012

Tim Keller speaks on the Saturday evening of „This is Jesus”, OICCU’s 2012 main event.

Tim Keller at Oxford (4) A wedding party encounters Jesus

 

Keller: What we’re doing every night this week is we’re looking at questions that every person has to have a set of working answers for in order to live: Who are we, as human beings? What’s wrong with us, with the world? What, if anything can improve or put us right. So each night we’re looking in the New Testament Gospel of John, and there we’re looking at a series of encounters that Jesus Christ had with individuals.

In this night we’re going to take a look at this question: What will put us right? What did Jesus come to do? The answer to ‘what is wrong with us’, ‘who can put us right’, and ‘what has He done to put us right’, helps us answer our philosophical questions.

What has Jesus come to do?

John 2:1-11 Jesus changes the water into wine. The key to understanding this event is at the very end, in verse 11 where it is not just called a miracle, it’s called a sign. A sign, a symbol, a signifier. This is the beginning of Jesus career, the beginning of His public ministry. Why would Jesus decide that the quintessential signifier of what He is all about is to keep a party going? Why would He do that?

Reynolds Price, who is a very prominent professor of English literature for Duke University, wrote a book in which he analyzed 3 of the Gospels, it’s called ‘The three Gospels„. But, just as an expert on literature, reading through the Gospel of John he said, „This is not fiction. If you were inventing a biography of Jesus Christ, who would invent, for His inaugural sign of Jesus’ career, a miraculous solution to a mere social embarrassment?” Or put it this way: Jesus CHrist uses all of His almighty power to wipe egg off the faces of two befuddled teenagers, because the bride and the bridegroom would have been teenagers. Why in the world would this be the inaugural sign? Who would have thought it up? Reynolds Price makes the case, „It’s a sign of an eyewitness account. It really happened, you wouldn’t make something like this up”.

Now, I am going to show you that this is more than a social embarrassment. Now

  1. What did He (Jesus) come to bring? The master of the banquet (vv 8-9), it was his job to make the party great. And when Jesus turns water into wine and saves the day, you know what Jesus is saying? Let’s get right to the point here. Jesus is saying, „I’m the true master of the banquet. I am Lord of the feast. I come to bring festival joy. Yes, I’m gonna suffer. Yes, there’s gonna be self denial and yes, there’s gonna be sacrifice. And my followers will have self denial, suffering, but, those are means to an end. I come to bring festival joy. That’s why this is my first sign. Let’s not forget that.”  Why does the Bible, so often use sensory language? Psalm 34 says, „Taste and see that the Lord is good”. Well, don’t they already know that the Lord is good? The psalmist is writing to believers, the Israelites. Well of course they know, but, I want you to taste it. What does that mean? I want you to experience it. Do you know what the Bible says about the last day? What’s gonna happen at the end time. Isaiah 25:6- In that day, the Lord of Hosts will make for His people a feast of the finest meats and the finest of wines.On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations;     he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The Lord has spoken. Jesus, the Bible, the New Testament, that’s what they tell us He’s gonna do, He’s gonna bring us to a place where every tear is gonna be wiped away, there’ll be a new heaven and a new earth, we’re not just taken out of this world and into heaven, but, heaven’s gonna come down at the end of time and renew this world That’s what He ultimately is here to do. That’s what He came to do. Or, on the other hand, you can actually think about joy now. It’s intermittent, it’s nothing like the joy in the future. There was a Baptist preacher in London, Charles Spurgeon, and here is what he experienced. In one place he said, „Some of us know what it is like to be too happy to live. The love of God has overpoweringly been experienced by us on some occasions that we almost had to ask God to stop the delight, for we could endure it no more. If God would have not veiled His love and glory a bit, we would have died for joy”. I don’t wanna give anybody the impression that that’s the normal experience of a christian in prayer. But the fact of the matter is that it’s possible. The fact of the matter is, to some degree it’s inevitable. Jesus CHrist says, „I am Lord of the feast. In the end, I come  to bring joy”. That’s the reason why, my calling card, my first miracle is to set everyone laughing. (?)
  2. Why did He come to bring it? When Jesus starts to do His miracle, He very deliberately chooses vessels in which He’s going to do His miracle. He does it by filling up jars used by the Jews for ceremonial washing. Judaism, the Old Testament had these great sets of rites of regulations. Those rites & regulations, all got across the idea that God is holy and that we are flawed, there’s something wrong with us spiritually and therefore we need to be purified, cleansed, our sin needs to be atoned for. Above all, there were the blood sacrifices. The whole idea in the OT was that because God was holy and righteous and we are not, we can not just walk in. Something had to be done about what’s wrong with us. The problem with these teenage bride & groom is not just social embarrassment, they lived in a shame and honor culture. It’s not something we, in the individualistic west understand, but, these young people had a very serious problem. They had shame, and guilt was coming. And Jesus CHrist rescues them from that, redeems them from that by showing us that He is going to cleanse them. He’s replacing the old idea that we have to use water, we have to eat certain things, we have to sacrifice animals. He’s  hinting that He’s coming to do what all those regulations used to signify. We’re stained and we need to be purified. We have guilt and shame and we need to be rescued from. You all really know that something is so wrong. Why are you working so hard? Why is it so important to look good? Why do you worry so much about how you look? Why is it so important to achieve? You know, I believe, there’s something wrong and you’re trying to purify yourself. You’re trying to cover up, you’re trying to deal with it. You’re trying to prove yourself. Deep down inside we know there’s something wrong and we’ve gotta prove that we’re right. Biblically, in Genesis 3 the Bible talks about Adam and Eve turning away from God and immediately feeling naked, and needing to cover up, so they put fig leaves on themselves.  There’s more self centeredness and sin in you than you would want to believe. There’s stuff in your heart that will bite you (as a young person), it will spring up out of you and you’ll say, „I didn’t know I was capable of that”.
  3. And, how does He bring it? Mary comes up to Jesus and says, „It’s been a disaster. They’re out of wine”.(v4) „Woman, why do you involve Me?” That’s pretty cold. It’s an unusual way for Him to be treating her in that kind of society. Something’s bothering Him. Then He says, „My hour’s not yet come”. If you read the whole book of John, every place Jesus is talking about ‘his hour’, He’s talking about his death, the hour of His death. So, she tells him, „It’s a disaster, they’ve run out of wine”. And He tells her, „Woman, why are you telling me this, I’m not ready to die”. He is saying, „Oh really, you want me to do something about their shame, you want Me to bring joy to them?” See, this is a sign, it’s all a symbol and I know Jesus is looking past His mom, past the bridegroom and his bride, past the wedding party, and He’s looking past at something else saying, „I have come to deal with their shame. I have come to bring joy, but, I’m gonna have to die to do it”. ANd maybe John wants to us to think about something else. God in the Old Testament is depicted as a bridegroom to His people. He does not just want a ‘king and his subjects’ relationship with us. He wants a love relationship with us, as profound as a love relationship between a husband and a wife. So he calls Himself the bridegroom in the OT. Jesus comes along in the Gospels and in a point where his disciples are criticized for not fasting, He says, „Why should the friends of the bridegroom fast when the bridegroom is still with them? He calls Himself the bridegroom. And John, the writer understands this theme, because when you get to the end of the New testament, to the book of Revelation, written by John, he depicts the end of all things the same way actually as Isaiah 25. Revelation 21- Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.   Blessed are those invited to the feast of the Lamb. In other words, at the end of time there’s gonna be a feast. But, it’s not just gonna be a general feast, it’s gonna be a wedding feast. Because all the things that Jesus Christ has sought to accomplish, all the things He came to accomplish will be accomplished. Jesus came to replace the old system of the Old Testament: the tabernacle, the veil, the holy of holies,the blood sacrifices. At the heart of the old system of religion wa a blood sacrifice. I am a sinner and something atones, dies in  my place for my sin. Yet, when John the Baptist saw Jesus for the first time, a revelation from God- he looks at Him and says, „Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”.

A Wedding Party Encounters Jesus

Uploaded by  on Feb 11, 2012

Tim Keller speaks on the Friday evening of „This is Jesus”, OICCU’s 2012 main event.

Tim Keller at Oxford (3) Two grieving sisters encounter Jesus

Keller: What we’re doing every night this week is we’re looking at questions that every person has to have a set of working answers for in order to live: Who are we, as human beings? What’s wrong with us, with the world? What, if anything can improve or put us right. So each night we’re looking in the New Testament Gospel of John, and there we’re looking at a series of encounters that Jesus Christ had with individuals.

In this night we’re going to take a look at this question: What can put us right? What, if anything can improve our condition? And, if you’re gonna go to christianity to find out what the christian answer to that major philosophic question is, you have to change the question a little bit. The question is: Who can put us right? So tonight we are gonna start looking and we’ll do it some more tomorrow night, at who is Jesus Christ? Who is this center of christianity that’s supposed to be the person who does everything right. To do that, we’re gonna look at John, chapter 11. I’m gonna read you two sections (in two stages) from a long chapter, to tell the story of Jesus and His relationship with 3 people, 2 sisters and a brother Mary, Martha and Lazarus.  Jesus had a particularly close relationship to them. Earlier in chapter 11, Lazarus is described as someone that Jesus loved. ‘Love’ is a word that was only used in Jesus intimate relationship with His disciples. Lazarus gets sick, very sick. Mary and Martha send for Him. And then, He starts to come, but, Lazarus dies before He arrives.

Who Jesus is

John 11:17-36 Did you notice something? Martha comes to Jesus and says, „Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died”. Later, Mary comes out and says exactly the same words. And yet, Jesus’s response to Martha and to Mary are absolutely different. Same statement, same condition, two sisters with a brother whom they love. With Martha, He almost argues with her. You could see Him standing straight and lifting up His voice. The flow of her heart is going down. She’s in despair, sadness and sorrow and He’s pushing against that flow. He says, „Don’t say that, I am the resurrection and the life; I’m here. Things are gonna change. Lift up your heart”.

He goes to see Mary, Mary comes out, says exactly the same thing and His response is completely different. He’s essentially speechless. And, instead of pushing against the flow of her heart, He enters it; He’s sort of sucked into it. He feels her sorrow and he’s just swept up into it and He bursts into tears. All He can say is, „Where is he?” One commentator on the Bible that I know has said, „This has got to be an eyewitness account. No fiction writer would have ever made anything up like this”. Because, if you’re making this up, it makes sense then, that maybe Jesus Christ (who claims to be God- we’re gonna get to that in a minute), walks in and says, „I’m the resurrection and the life, everybody watch what I’m  gonna do”. But, then when He gets to Mary, why does He act that way, why is He pulled down? Why does He seem to be so vulnerable? If you are making this story up, you could either make Jesus playful, and then Jesus would say to Mary, „Ha,ha,ha,ha wait til you see what I am about to do”. Or you can just make Him high and elevated and you have Him say to her, „I am the resurrection and the life”. But, as that person said, „If you were a fiction writer, you would have never made up what happened”.

He speaks to Mary in a completely different way that He speaks to Martha. Why this difference?

  1. Because it HAPPENED. That’s the only good reason for being there
  2. Secondly, because in terms of narrative, He is teaching us that Jesus Christ is both God and human. He is teaching us in narrative form what the New Testament says elsewhere propositionally: That He is God and man. Not just God. Not just man. God man.

Let me show a little bit more about that. First of all, here we see Him actually claiming to be God. When He says, „I am the resurrection and the life,” let’s put this in context. Jesus is constantly making claims like this that are astonishing. It’s even more than saying, „I’m God”. You know, a lot of people talk and say, „I’m God”, and they mean different things by ‘god’ and in some way you can say, „I believe there’s a god in everybody”. But, when Jesus says these names, we see the magnitude of them.

So, for example, one of the things Jesus does constantly, you read it in the New testament, is He is always forgiving people for their sins. Does that surprise you? It should. You can only forgive someone if they have sinned against you, and if Jesus Christ goes around and forgives people left and right, what is He saying? You know what He is saying, „I am the creator and proprietor of the human race and all sins are against Me. All violations, all wrongs are against Me”. You can go to chapter 14 where Jesus doesn’t just say – I tell the ruth or I bring the truth, or I point to the truth. He says, „I am the way, the truth and the life. I am the truth? We saw last night that He’s the source of eternal life. That only God can give life and take it away.

Here, He’s not just saying, „I can resurrect Lazarus”. He’s not saying, „I’ve got the power to revive this person”. He’s going way beyond that. He says, „I have the power to destroy death. I am the resurrection and the life”. At the end of the book of John, Jesus appears to Thomas, shows him his nail prints and His scars, Thomas falls down and he says, „My Lord, and my God”. He worships, and Jesus just sits there.

Now, everywhere in the Bible, if an angel appears and you fall down in the BIble and you try to worship the angel, the angels say, „Get up.” Why? „I am a fellow creature, I have been created by God, so, if I have been created by God, don’t worship me”. And when people fall down before God, before Jesus and say, „My Lord, my God”, and worships Him, and Jesus takes it, what is He saying about Himself? It’s everywhere in the New Testament, even off the cuff. In Luke Jesus says, „I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning”, and then He goes on to something else and the other disciples must have been sitting there thinking, „What, who do you think you are?” And that’s the point. Everybody knew who He was claiming to be. There’s a place in John 5 where He says, „I’m the Son of God”, and they try to stone Him. Why? Because in that culture, if you’re the only son, the only child, you inherit everything from your father, which means that you’re equal with your father and they tried to kill Him because they knew that every time He called Himself the Son of God, He was calling Himself equal with God.

Jesus’s constant claims, that either directly or with just slight direction say, „I am the creator of the universe. I am the transcendent one. I am the one who is infinitely exalted above heaven and earth. All things belong to Me”. It’s astounding. And it creates a problem, not only to the people around Him who are with Him at the time, but, for everybody in this room. There was a Scottish presbyterian rabbi who said, „Because of Jesus’s claims, He’s different than the other founders of all the other great religions. Because of His claims, „Christ either deceived humankind by a conscious fraud, or was Himself deluded, or He was divine”. There is no getting out of this trilemma. He was either a fraud and was lying, or he was deranged or He was God. But, don’t say He’s just another founder of another religion, that He’s another great man, another great teacher and that we can learn a little bit from him, and from another

Jesus doesn’t give you that option. You can’t put Jesus on a shelf with all the other great sages. He won’t let you, because of the claims. You see, He says, „Take seriously my claims. If I am wrong, I am inferior to all those other founders If I am wrong, I am not like those other founders who had the wisdom to not claim to be God. But, if I’m right, I am superior, I have to be for you to find out who God is and what ultimate reality is. But, I’m not an equal.

Somebody years ago, after reading the Gospels and looking at His life put it like this, and by the way we don’t know who wrote this. It was quoted in a book and the source was not named:

The accounts of Him in the New testament speak for themselves. He combines qualities that no one has ever seen. Despite His incredible claims, we never see Him pompous or offended, or leaning on His own dignity. Despite being absolutely approachable to the weakest and most broken people, He is completely fearless before the proud and the corrupt. It’s like being profoundly human and becoming weary and lonely, and moved to joy, and love, and anger. Yet, we never see Him moody. We never see Him inconsistent. We never see Him being strong where He should be tender or tender where He should be strong. Most interesting of all, in His accounts in dealing with people He is continually surprising us, shocking us, yet never disappointing us. It is difficult to imagine the word Jesus ought to have said or the deed He ought to have done. Nothing He does falls short. In fact He is always surprising and taking your breath away, because he is incomparably better than you could imagine yourself. Why? These are the surprises of perfection. He is tenderness without weakness, strength without harshness, humility without the slightest lack of confidence, unhesitating authority with a complete lack of self absorption. Holiness and unbending conviction, without the slightest lack of approachability, power without insensitivity, passion without prejudice. There’s never a false step, there’s never a dry note, this is life at the highest.

His claims- INCREDIBLE!

His life- ASTONISHING

Conclusion- He’s God. But, He’s not just God. He doesn’t just show Martha „I’m the resurrection and the life”. When He gets to Mary He weeps. Here you have deity, with human vulnerability. His love for these people, for this family, brings Him down into weeping. What you have in Jesus Christ is something that is pretty hard to believe, He’s not 50 % human. He’s not 20% God. He’s not a human being with sort of a high God consciousness. He is deity, but He is absolutely and totally human. Now, no other religion agrees with this. Nobody else believes that Jesus Christ is God come in the flesh. Lots of people will grant that He was a guru, a sage, but no one else will grant that HE was God come in the flesh. But, here’s my argument to you: Look at they way in which He actually responds to the 2 women and you will see that when you can get your mind around the idea of a God-man or not, it’s what you need. Why? With Martha, He gives her the ministry of truth. She needs the truth, because she’s Martha. He says, „Listen, stop don’t despair. I’m here, the resurrection and life”. Because of His highness, because of His cosmic identity He’s able to point to the stars. ANd then, when He gets to Mary, He doesn’t give her the ministry of truth, He gives her the ministry of tears. He doesn’t say anything. He just gets into her sorrow with her. Complete sincerity, complete integrity and just weeps with her, because of His lowness. Now, technically, everyone needs a ministry of truth and a ministry of tears. Sometimes you need more of the truth. Sometimes you need to be punched out by a loving friend who says, „Wake up, stop it”. Other times you just need somebody to just weep with you. Sometimes, to lay truth on people when they’re grieved is absolutely wrong. But, other times, just to weep with them and not tell them the truth is wrong too. A lot of us tend to be with people and just weep and never tell the truth and a lot of us tend to be abrasive people who love to tell the truth, but we’re really not sympathetic. But Jesus Christ isn’y just a wonderful counselorHe is the truth come in tears. He is deity incarnate.

Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see. Hail the incarnate deity! He is God become a human being and He’s become a human being because He loves us. Behold how He loves us.

Two Grieving Sisters Encounter Jesus

Uploaded by  on Feb 10, 2012

Tim Keller speaks on the Thursday evening of „This is Jesus”, OICCU’s 2012 main event.

Tim Keller at Oxford (2) The insider and the outcast encounter Jesus

To watch the lecture on video go to the bottom of the page.

A very insightful lecture on Jesus and the Samaritan woman (amazing insight) and on Nicodemus.

  • See part 1 here – A Sceptical encounters Jesus
  •  Tuesday  See video below – The insider and the outcast encounter Jesus
    • Coming Wednesday – Two grieving sisters encounter Jesus
    • Coming Thursday – A wedding party encounters Jesus
    • Coming Friday – The first Christian encounters Jesus
    • Coming Saturday – Tim Keller’s Q&A session at Oxford

The Insider and the Outcast Encounter Jesus

Each session addresses a big question. This session addresses the question: What is wrong with us (the world)? Keller explores the Christian answer to that question here. He delves into the subject of sin. Keller, „I know the word grates and it’s warranted for people to cringe when christians use the word ‘sin’, because it is a way to marginalize and objectify your opponent. Nevertheless, I can show you that the actual biblical understanding of sin is much more nuanced than that. It can be used that way, but, it is much more profound.”

„To do that we’re going to look at 2 encounters Jesus Christ had. They are in the book of John. In chapter 3 He meets a civil and religious, moral male leader and in chapter 4 He meets a social and moral outsider and outcast, a woman. Both characters are developed in great detail, the stories are full of interest. These 2 (persons) are so different on the surface, yet I think the writer is trying to have us look at both, together… Let’s look at the outsider before we look at the insider”.

1 –  Jesus and the Samaritan woman  John 4:9  

This is a very remarkable conversation-

  1. How gentle He is and what a strong radical outreach Jesus is doing at the very beginning, as He begins to talk with her. It’s not surprising to us to see this conversation, but it should be. If you understand the context you would be surprised. There’s one little reference there: it says the Jews and the Samaritans don’t get along and she is shocked that He is even talking to her. The context is that the Jews and Samaritans were bitter enemies; met centuries before when most of the Jews were taken in exile by their conqueror. Some of the Jews who stayed behind, intermarried with other Canaanites and formed actually a new race, Samaritans, who then also took parts of the Jewish religion and parts of the Canaanite religion and formed a syncretistic religion. The Jews considered Samaritans: racial inferior heretics. This is the first reason she’s surprised He is speaking to her.
  2. The second reason she is surprised is that He was a Jewish man and to speak to a strange woman was a shock too.
  3. But, the third thing is she came to draw water at noon, and what commentators over the years have pointed out is that is that that’s not when women came to draw water. They came early in the day, when it wasn’t hot yet, so they could have water for their housekeeping chores for the entire day. So, the question is, why was she there in the middle of the day? Well, she was a moral outcast, even within her own society she was a moral outcast. And Jesus Christ reaches across every single barrier that the world puts up between.

There was a racial barrier, a cultural barrier, a gender barrier and there was a moral barrier. And, according to every social convention, everything in the world He shouldn’t have anything in the world to do with her yet He didn’t care.  You see how radical He is? He reached right out to her and He wanted to connect to her.

The second remarkable thing is that He is clearly open to her, He is very warm to her. He is astonishingly desirous of a relationship with her and yet, He confronts her. He confronts her in a way I would consider gentle, certainly it’s brilliant. He says, „If you knew who I was, you would ask me for water. If you drink that water, you’ll never thirst again”.

Now, what is He talking about? He calls it eternal life. Jesus is talking metaphorically and He is referring to something as living water. If you lived in ancient times, you lived in arid climates, you would knowing something about the agony of thirst. He is saying, „I have something for you that is as basic spiritually as water is physically, without which you are lost.

Water would be satisfying- deeply satisfying. He says, „My water, if it is in you, will well up like a spring”. It comes from inside. He’s talking about deep soul satisfaction, apart from what’s happening outside of you. Now, you don’t really believe you are that thirsty (in the way He is speaking) as long as your think there’s a pretty good prospect of you achieving your dreams. And those people who do reach their dreams speak about the unbelievable emptiness they are surprised to find when they get to the top of the heap. (17:00)

Everybody has got to live for something that’s outside of you. Jesus is saying, „If it’s not me… I can give you that satisfaction and when I give it to you it will be something inside you, that has nothing to do with the circumstances. But, if it’s not me, then you’re gonna be looking at something outside of you. Whatever that thing is gonna be, you are going to have your whole life rotating around it, and whatever that is, it is going to enslave you and it’s gonna hurt you”.

Jesus tells her how to get the water

Jesus tells the woman to go get her husband. She says she doesn’t have one. Jesus tells her she had 5 but the man she is with is not her husband. Why is Jesus changing the subject? HE IS NOT CHANGING THE SUBJECT. He is showing her where she was trying to get her water. She was trying to get it through men, and guess what it’s not working.

2 – NICODEMUS John 3 

Do you notice that this is almost the opposite of how Jesus treats the woman at the well? The woman at the well, he starts off very gently, surprising her with His openness and then slowly confronts her with her spiritual need. With Nicodemus, Nicodemus says, „Ah, rabbi, I heard many wonderful things about you. People say that you really have a lot of wisdom and God is with you”. „You must be born again!” Jesus does not work off a template. Jesus is not a salesman. He confronts Nicodemus, right up front and says, „You must be born again”.

And he was as offended, as probably you would be if He said the term to you because when you hear the term ‘born again’, I think most people today, say, „Ok, that’s a kind of Christian”. Who are born again christians? Some people are more emotional, or broken and need a cathartic experience or being born again is for people who need a lot of structure in their lives, so they join these regimented, authoritarian structured religious movements. Being born again is for a kind of a person- THE PROBLEM WITH THAT IS –

  • Nicodemus is a male Jew. He is a civic leader in the Sanhedrin. He is at the top, he made a lot of money, he is very prosperous, he is not the emotional type. He is not the broken type and
  • He was a pharisee. Who would have more structure than that? And, not only that, he wasn’t a bad pharisee (today phrase has nothing but a really bad connotation). But, he goes to a man, Jesus – who is only a carpenter, no training, and he calls Him rabbi. That shows open mindedness.

This is the most admirable person possible.  Pulled together, successful, moral and yet, openminded still. Yet, what does Jesus say, „You must be born again”. Now, that’s another metaphor, it’s a metaphor for life. Jesus is talking about spiritual life again. Now He is using a different metaphor, not living water, but, being born again. To be born means you come into life. But, this metaphor has something that comes across that the other one (woman at the well) didn’t about the life that Jesus offers. And it is this: You can’t earn or contribute anything to being born. What did you have to do? Wasn’t it hard work to be born? No. Did you decide to be born?

What is Jesus Christ saying to this man who is as morally and religiously accomplished as anything? The pimps and the prostitutes, outside in the street and you are in the same place. You could contribute nothing to your salvation. You need spiritual life and it’s gonna be a spiritual gift. You’re just gonna have to ask for it. It comes free.

How can you say that? Here’s how He can say it. Jesus is working on a deeper understanding of sin. You look at the woman at the well and you say, „Ok, that’s the traditional understanding of sin”, Right? She broke the rules, maybe she committed adultery, she obviously was a moral outcast. Ok, I understand where christian understanding of sin, it’s breaking the law. But, why is He talking to this man like that? Here’s the answer: There’s a deeper view of sin. Sin, that Jesus is working off of. Sin  is putting yourself in the place of God, putting yourself in the place of being your own savior, your own god and master.

  1. Now, there is a secular way to do that, and that is to say, with my critical faculties, with my hard work I am going to create a satisfying life.
  2. There is an irreligious way: I’m gonna go out and break all the rules, break all the traditional models and show that I’m a free spirit and
  3. There’s a religious want to be your own savior and Lord, to say, „If I live a good life, I am moral, God will have to bless me, He will answer my prayers”. Why are you being god then? For God’s sake? No, really for your sake. Why are you doing that? To get control over God, „God will have to bless me, He will have to save me and take me to heaven.” You’re being your own savior and Lord.

There are 2 ways you can be your own savior and lord. One is by being incredibly bad, breaking all the rules, and by being incredibly good and saying, „Now, God is in my debt”. Both those people need to be born again because, ultimately they are both doing the same thing. They are self centered. There is a moral, self righteous, incredibly moral kind of person who is so self centered, bigoted, looks down on everybody that causes a lot of misery in the world. And, there’s another form of self centeredness, „I’m gonna kill, I’m gonna steal, I’m gonna rape, I’m gonna do whatever I want and this person creates a very miserable world too. But, IT’S ALL SIN and THE ONLY WAY FOR US TO BE SAVED is to a admit, whether we’re good or bad, WE NEED TO BE BORN AGAIN.

So what we’ve got in common, do you see it?

  1. Everybody’s guilty. I’ve had a lot of people say to me, „Look, I’m not religious, and I think there is a God, I guess. But, I’m a good person and that’s all that matters. Isn’t it?”  If there is a God, you owe Him everything. If there is a God, He should be the center of your life. And just because you’re a good person, you actually have a self centeredness there. You’re not letting God be God and you’re guilty.
  2. Secondly, we ‘re all enslaved because if you build your life on men, morality, money and you think, „God should love me because I’m a really good person”. But, if you lose your career, or you break up with your boyfriend/girlfriend or if you fail morally, you’ll never forgive yourself. You know why? Every other master but Jesus Christ, if you get him or you get it, it won’t satisfy you. And if you fail it, it won’t forgive you. Jesus is the only Lord that if you get Him, He will satisfy you and if you fail Him, He will forgive you. Your career can’t die for your sins

Jesus was thirsty

Why was it that she (woman at the well) found the living water? If you keep reading the chapter, she goes off and tells her friends about the living water she found. So, she finds living water. Why? Because Jesus was thirsty. If He hasn’t been thirsty, He wouldn’t have gone to the well and she wouldn’t have found the living water. Why was He thirsty? Because He ahd become human being. He was great. He was God, but He let Himself become so weak that He would become tired. She found the living water because Jesus Christ said, „I thirst”. In the book of John that is not the last time Jesus says ‘I thirst’. On the cross He said, „I thirst”. And there was more than just physical thirst going on there. Jesus was experiencing the loss of a relationship with His Father. He was paying for the punishment we deserved fro our sin. And that was to be cut off from God and lose the source of living water. Isn’t that paradoxical, but astonishing? As Jesus Christ experienced cosmic thirst on the cross, you and I can have our spiritual thirst assuaged. That’s the Gospel. (34:27)

What follows for the last 30 minutes (39:13 )is 5 questions from the audience about sin and other subject matter and ends with this epilogue by Keller:

EPILOGUE: Would you notice something that is common to Jesus and the 3 people we’ve discussed these past 2 nights( Nathanael,Samaritan woman at the well and Nicodemus) ? Nicodemus was confronted early, but I could make a case that if you get all the way to the back of the book of John, you will see him burying Jesus when it was very dangerous to do so, with Joseph of Arimathea. Nicodemus was confronted and then he was loved. The woman at the well was loved and then she was confronted. Nathanael, if you remember from yesterday (Video1) was both affirmed and confronted. To be loved , but not known is nice. But, since they don’t really know you it’s not that satisfying. To be known and not loved is our greatest nightmare. That’s why we cover up and make sure people don’t see all the stuff that’s in there. But, to be known to the bottom and loved to the sky, by the only person in the whole universe whose opinion really counts, is a solid foundation on which you can really build your life because circumstances cannot touch that. Now, the way to do that is to say, „God the Father, would you accept me and forgive me, not because of anything I have done or ever will be able to do, but, because of what Jesus Christ has done in His life and on the cross? In other words, Father accept me because of Jesus’s sake. Amen. That’s your step through the door

QUESTIONS & ANSWER SESSION

  1. Isn’t psychology moving closer, every single day, to explaining  our actions through materialistic forces, rather than spiritual forces of the soul? Answer: The idea that you can explain absolutely everything as the response of chemical reactions in your brain, that are due to the way your genetic code has been programmed by evolution (sometimes it’s called social biology, evolutionary psychology) basically saying (that) everything has a physical cause (and therefore must have a chemical/biological cause), my feeling of love, my feeling of everything actually comes from my brain, if it comes from the genetic … Let me cut to the chase. The problem with this idea that says ‘my feelings are basically just the responses of my brain chemistry- it has to be applied to your reason, as well. Alvin Plantinga has a formidable argument. What he’s trying to say is, „If you say that my moral and my emotional intuitions are nothing but a response of what I have been programmed by the genetic code – i.e. ‘I feel I have a soul, I feel I have human dignity’. His whole point is: If you can’t trust your moral and spiritual  intuitions, then you shouldn’t be able to trust your rational thought as well. It’s in his book called „The evolutionary argument against naturalism”. In other words it undermines the claim itself. If I can’t trust these (emotional and moral intuitions), I can’t trust the claim itself (the rationale of it).
  2. My sister is gay. She feels alienated and judged by christians. What should I do? Answer. That doesn’t square with what Jesus taught. However, If I was debating a Hindu man and I totally disagreed with what he said, I would not feel he was judging me. We disagree. So, this could be a case: just because this christian friend disagrees with you about something, doesn’t mean automatically that they are judging you. Because if everyone you disagreed with was judging, then you  as a non believe would be judging her, by disagreeing with her. The Bible says, a number of times, pretty unambiguously, that homosexuality is not God’s design to use sexuality. According to the bible it is God’s design for uniting a man and a woman in marriage. That’s the understanding of christianity. Of course that’s extremely unpopular. If it’s true that christianity is God’s truth, if the Bible was  actually inspired by God, then it would have to offend every culture, some place. Just because it offends our western culture at this point doesn’t mean you should write it off. Maybe you’re saying, „I’m gay and I don’t see myself fitting in christianity”. All I can say is your sexuality should not determine how you study facts. Sometimes I’ll say to a gay person, „Are you saying that because you’re gay Jesus couldn’t have been raised from the dead?” They say, „No, I’m not talking about that at all”. Then I say, „Do you know if Jesus was raised from the dead or not?” The person says, „I don’t know”. I say, „Well, you’ve got to figure that out. Christianity is based on that”. ANd so, if you’ve got a good read on christianity and you think that Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead, then who cares what the Bible says? But, if on the other hand, you’ve studied it and you say, „I think there’s really good evidence that Jesus was raised from the dead”, then I say, „Go there first, and if you believe that then go to everything else second because becoming a christian means believing in Christ first. And, if Jesus was raised from the dead, then we’ll have to look at everything else Jesus did and said and that will take a process.
  3. Isn’t it harsh that God doesn’t appreciate our good efforts at all? Why bother? Answer: Now, I didn’t say God didn’t appreciate ‘at all’. If (as a christian) I’m mad at somebody and I pick up a stone and want to smash him in the side of the head, there’s a couple of things I can tell myself to stop myself: (1) Hey, you’re a christian and you’re loved by Jesus Christ. You’re completely accepted in Him. Why is this person making you angry? Probably, the person made you feel humiliated, perhaps the person has kept you from some goal. But, in Christ it doesn’t matter, I’m accepted in Him. What people think of me shouldn’t matter. Get your heart right, you shouldn’t be this angry. I could do that. (2) The other thing I could say is, „Just don’t do it because you’ll go to jail; because you’ll hurt the person, because you’ll hate yourself in the morning. It’s likely that when I’m really angry my motives aren’t right and unless they are right, in the long run I’m not gonna become a non angry person. See, unless I get my heart right, I am not going to eventually get over my heart anger. In the short run, I think God does appreciate it if I don’t kill the person. Even if my motives are absolutely wrong. I think God cares about the misery of this world, we’re told in Psalm 145 that He loves all that HE has made. He cares for them. And if you love somebody rather than hate them, if you feed them rather than oppress them, regardless of your motives, I think God does appreciate that because He wants to see us thrive. But when it comes to your salvation and your relationship with God, I would say, „Yeah your deeds are being appreciated by God, but you’re doing them basically to stay away from God.
  4. Why is sex okay after marriage, but a sin before? Answer: That’s right, I did say that, didn’t I? Alisatir McIntyre who wrote the book ‘After Virtues’ said that the only way you can judge the morality of someone or something is if you first determine its purpose. This is really about marital sexual ethics, is because christians have a view of the purpose of sex that other people don’t share. If you’re asking me for the inner logic, I’d be happy to tell you. God sees sex as a unitive act, that is a way for you to say to another human being, „I belong completely and exclusively to you; it’s a way of communication. If you’re not married to the person, then that’s a LIE. What you’re doing is saying, „I want your body, I want you to give me your body and I want to give you my body, but I don’t wanna give you ALL the rest of my life. I don’t wanna give you myself legally, psychologically, permanently. In other words, let’s give each other our bodies but let’s keep the rest of our lives to ourselves. That is not really what sex is for. Sex is a covenant renewal ceremony. After 2 people have said, „I’m giving you my whole life”, sex is a way to renew that commitment and deepen it. It’s a kind of glue. It’s a way of creating deep unity between two people who are saying, „All the rest of my life belongs to you and physically I give myself to you”. And, that unites the whole things. So, since we understand the purpose of sex, for you to say to someone else, „I belong exclusively  to you, I’m not my own, I don’t want anybody else”, then sex is a lie unless you do it inside the context of marriage. Now, if you don’t agree that that’s the purpose of sex, you say that that’s just a big personal fulfillment, or simply just a biological process for pleasure, of course you’re gonna find that that’s too restrictive.
  5. You talked about the fundamental emptiness that people feel when they achieve a material purpose. What if we feel that emptiness because existence has no fundamental purpose or intent? What if religion, including christianity is just another one of man’s attempt to fill the void? Answer: There was a man who used to teach here, C S Lewis. C S Lewis says ‘the very fact that we want something that this world can’t satisfy is a clue that we were made for something beyond the world. Lewis says, „Why don’t animals feel that way (emptiness)? Why do we feel our finitude so strongly? ” He says, „A fish out of water knows it needs to be in water, if you’re in the water you wouldn’t feel that you’re out of your element. Human beings feel meaningless, they’re unhappy about the fact they’re gonna die. Why would you feel that way?” You can read his very eloquent argument- google C S Lewis argument for design. The very fact that you’re feeling meaningless is a clue that there’s something about you that didn’t just evolve.

Uploaded by  on Feb 9, 2012

Tim Keller speaks on the Wednesday evening of „This is Jesus”, OICCU’s 2012 main event.

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