Ethics and the Good Life – Timothy J. Keller and Philip Kitcher at Columbia University

VIDEO by The Veritas Forum

Tim Keller – What Role Should the Bible Have in Society?

From the Q conference in Chicago, February 2010. Panel Discussion featuring Tim Keller, Alister McGrath, Brian McLaren, and Dempsey Rosales-Acosta regarding the Bible’s role in society.

Interpreting the Bible has become a divisive issue for some and little more than sport for others. Some want to talk about the “authority” of Scripture. They’re asking questions like, “How is the Bible authoritative in our lives today?” Others are wondering if the word “inerrancy” is making a comeback. Is it? Or is the term only useful for theological debates, to separate those who are “in” and those who are “out”? How then should we interpret the Bible as God’s word for our culture today?

Keller has some very useful apologetical comments in this panel discussion, the other 3 panelists- McGrath, coming from across the pond in UK, surprisingly dances around the question. MacLaren, we have all come to know his evolving religion since this video, and Dempsey Rosales-Acosta is a Catholic priest. Read Kevin DeYoung’s commentary and take on the subject of inerrancy, as represented in this video discussion, at this link- http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2010/09/24/whos-afraid-of-inerrancy/

VIDEO by Jacob Mitchell

In marriage, no two people are compatible

Here’s a truth that many of us ignore, even though experience has shown us this statement is absolutely true. I am reading through Tim Keller’s new book „The Meaning of Marriage” and I am finding so much wisdom and insight that I have not found in other books with the same subject matter.  Tim J. Keller, (born 1950) is an American author, speaker and the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City,  starts out by repeating what thousands of couples have said to him that he spoke to or counseled, and whether they were working on sustaining or saving their marriage, most couples complained that „love should not be this hard.” Those couples seemed to believe that „love should just come naturally if two people are compatible, if they are truly soul mates”. Here, Keller dives in and shares with us about compatibility and what the Bible has to say about it:

„The Bible explains why the quest for compatibility seems to be so impossible. The Christian answer to this is that no two people are compatible.”

Then Keller quotes Duke University professor Stanley Hauerwas who made this famous point:

„Destructive to marriage is the self-fulfillment ethic that assumes marriage and the family are primarily institutions of personal fulfillment, necessary for us to become „whole” and happy. The assumption is that there is someone just right for us to marry and that if we look closely enough we will find the right person. This moral assumption overlooks a crucial aspect to marriage. It fails to appreciate the fact that we always marry the wrong person. We never know whom we marry; we just think we do… For marriage, being [the enormous this that it is] means we are not the same person after we have entered it. The primary problem is… learning how to love and care for the stranger whom you find yourself married”. (Photo below via Amazon.com)

Keller points out that you can’t know ahead of time how your spouse will change, until you get there and that over the years, „you will have to learn to love a person you didn’t marry” and „make changes you don’t want to make”, but in the end you may have a joyous marriage and it will definitely not be „because you married the perfectly compatible person”. Keller states, „That person does not exist!”

Keller points out that „Hauerwas gave us the first reason that no two people are compatible for marriage”. Then Keller gives us the biblical reason:

„Any two people who enter into marriage are spiritually broken by sin, which among other things mean to be self-centered… Why would it be easy to live lovingly and well with another human being in light of what is profoundly wrong within our human nature? … the Biblical doctrine of sin explains why marriage– more than anything else that is good and important in this fallen world– is so painful and hard.”

(source Relevant Magazine)

How can a sermon make the sin problem worse? A preacher explains

Peter Mead via http://sermoncentral.com Photo credit touchyaneighbor.com

Surely good preaching helps people live less sinful lives? Good preaching does, but not by moralizing. Simply pressuring people to clean up their act and perform more like good clean Christians is not gospel work. It is what Tim Keller refers to as turning younger brothers into older brothers. Cleaner, supposedly better and certainly more religious, but no more Christian than a fence post. Behavior modification is not the intention of the Bible. Independent pride promotion is the antithesis of Biblical intent.

So am I going against Scripture to argue against moralizing, especially when there is so much instruction there? I don’t think so. The Scripture assumes things to which we have grown blind. Knowing God brings life change, there are instructions relevant for those who are in communion with Him, but the process is never one of behavior modification first, internal realities second. And growth as a Christian is not a different set of rules; it continues to be by faith from first to last. So what does this mean?

In a nutshell, it means that we can’t simply be the older brother patrol out to instruct people toward a pseudo-godliness. When you preach an instructive section, be sure to put it in its full gospel context. Specifically, seek to answer the “why?” question. Why does that command make sense in light of the Bible’s teaching about God and sin and life? How you answer the why question will reveal your theology. That you ask the why question will reveal your awareness that instruction alone is never enough.

Read the entire article here- http://sermoncentral.com
Peter Mead is involved in church leadership at an independent Bible church in the UK.

Jesus our Defense Dr. Timothy J. Keller

Photo via http://artistlight.blogspot.com/1-john-410.html

From monergism.com – The following sermon notes (an excerpt) preached by Tim Keller in 11/13/94 from a series on 1 John entitled: Knowing that we know God

„If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 1My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” ( 1 John 1:8-2:2)

…Only for people who see themselves as a moral failure. Only people who see that they are not worthy to go in, that they need someone to go in for them. If you don’t see that .. if you don’t see yourself as so sinful that you don’t have the right to just go to God and speak to Him you haven’t gotten the first point … You are not able to experience intimacy with the Father. Now, having said that, I immediately realize that you are going to fall into two categories here: As I just said, that John says, you have to see that you are sinner, such a sinner and so morally inadequate that you don’t even have the right to go in before God. As a pastor for almost 20 years now I have talked to people a great deal over the years and I have heard people’s reaction to this particular teaching of the Bible. And in general the teaching divides people. I find that people fall into one or the other category. Either they have a lot of trouble with this and they really don’t have that sensation at all … they don’t sense … they don’t feel that they are moral failures. They don’t think they are that bad, they don’t think they are that wicked. They don’t have this sense and they don’t see any reason why they can’t go to God and pray and talk to Him. They feel like, you know I have tried my best, I do pretty good. I am not perfect but I certainly have the right to go in. So some of you just don’t have nearly enough of this sense, according to the writer here. And others of you have an overwhelming sense of it. That are you just crushed under it. You can hardly look at Him. You don’t want anything to do with Him. Everybody [has the tendency] to go into one side or the other. Let me say something to both of you:

1st: Because it’s New York, maybe it’s wrong to say this … I would think that most of you …maybe not. More of you would tend to be in the first category … that you say, “I don’t feel that way … I don’t feel like I am such a rotten sinner. I know the Bible teaches this and I know conservative churches still teach this but basically that is an outmoded doctrine. We don’t believe that anymore. I don’t sense that at all, I don’t feel that way, I don’t see it that way.” But John says …look at … see verse 8. “If we say we are without sin we deceive ourselves. John says [in essence] beware you will not want to admit it. It is natural to deceive yourself on this. It is natural to say what you are saying. You will hide from yourself how self-centered you are, you will hide from yourself how much evil there really is in there. You won’t see it … you’ll repress it.

Everybody is talking about Union South Carolina, aren’t they? And the one thing that is so interesting since my wife and I ministered, we had a church in a city just like Union South Carolina. Similar size, similar kinds of people, it’s amazing. Same accent. Same phrases. And after it was discovered that the woman actually had killed her two children, the quotes in the newspapers from their friends went something like this: “she came from a good family – I knew her people – I sat with her in church, she praised the Lord, how could she do such a thing? I can’t believe it.” But what they mean is: “she’s just like me. She is my kind of people. I went to school with her. I went to church with her. She is just like me and I do not believe that I could do that.” And the reason they are so shattered and the reason they are so disillusioned and the reason they are so amazed is because of bad theology. They may be religious and may go to church and may even consider themselves conservative Christians but they are not reading their Bible. And as a result they are shattered and disillusioned. WE ARE capable of all sorts of things.

I think a lot of folks say, “Yeah, this is dirty pool, you shouldn’t pull this on us. I feel that person must be sick. To be capable of evil and wickedness … certain people are but I just don’t feel like I am that bad a sinner. And all I can tell you that no one has done a better job of explaining this than Charles Spurgeon. He is a Baptist minister and he has this great illustration which I have often had recourse to. He says, “Look at an acorn. What do you see in the acorn? He says, I know it is counterintuitive and I know it doesn’t really make sense, it doesn’t seem to be true but if you think about it you will know it is true. When you look into an acorn you will see an ocean of wood. Let me show you that. He says, first of all inside the acorn is a tree, a huge tree. And every single bit of that tree is in that acorn all scrunched up. In other words, there is not one thing on this huge tree that is going to come out of the acorn that is not in that substance. It’s in there. And that is counter-intuitive. Not only that, but on the tree that is in there are thousands of other acorns. And each acorn is another tree which means that inside that acorn is not only another tree but one thousand other trees and each one of them is a thousand other trees and he says, one acorn has the power to cover the entire world with an ocean of wood. That’s how much power is in there. But if that acorn falls on the pavement, within a couple of days it rots. All of its power goes to nothing. It doesn’t mean that the power is not there. To see the power, to understand the power, it has to actually fall on the soil; it has to get watered and so on. And Spurgeon would turn around and say, “what do you think murder is?” “What do you think it starts with?” Murder has to start with the thought that says “I wish that person weren’t here. I don’t like that person”… it starts with a grudge, it starts with selfishness, it starts with pride, it starts with self-centeredness. What do you think that is? He says, “in your heart, that acorn cup of your heart, there is and ocean of evil, and if you just happen, by God’s grace, to have fallen on pavement … if you have happened, by God’s grace, not to be in a situation where that evil is really being fertilized, if … you can’t see how much evil is in there it doesn’t mean that it is not there.

Now, if you still, considering all that say, „I just don’t see myself that wicked or evil. I don’t see myself capable of murder and extortion. I don’t see myself capable of any of those things”, then I will just say, “Ok fine I am done, I have got to move on. File what I am saying, would you please?” Because the great hymn writer John Newton once said in a letter, “you never learn you are a sinner by being told. You only ever learn that you are a sinner by being shown.” And I suggest to you that someday, some place you will find yourself in a situation in which the only way to explain the way you are acting or the way you are relating or the way you are being treated, is by recourse to the doctrine of sin. As Pascal says [and he was no stupid person] “certainly nothing offends us so rudely as this doctrine of original sin yet without this mystery, the most incomprehensible of all, we are incomprehensible to ourselves.” And if you are not incomprehensible yet to yourself, unless you believe in the radical depravity of the human heart, just wait … just file what I am saying. Alright?

On the other hand, a lot of you are the opposite. You are kind of crushed under the whole idea. In other words when you read this and you see John saying you need someone to go speak on your behalf, you don’t have the right to go in. You are not worthy to go to God. Right away, you immediately know that is true. But you have been crushed … even if you are a Christian. John is writing to Christians here and he knows something. He knows that in the lives of certain people there is a voice that has them nailed to a wall. I have met people … Christians that haven’t stopped going to church necessarily but they have done something in their past that maybe the world calls a great sin. As a result this voice come to them and it says things like, “how could you have done that? All the sermons you have heard, all the promises you have made, all the things you have said, all that you know and you have done this. How can you go to God? How can you expect God to listen to your prayers? How in the world could you even think of yourself as a Christian? You are not worthy to go before Him.” And that voice has you nailed to the wall and it has had you there for years. Maybe you have not given up on your profession of faith. Some of your have, you have completely given up on Christianity. When you get near it the voice just comes at you and you have decided that it is Christianity doing that. And all of its guilt trips. But some of you have stayed in and you’re just crushed. You are bound in shallows and miseries. Well what John has to say is especially for you.

So the first thing you have to see is that you are not worthy to go in. The second thing you have to see is that we have an advocate with the Father. Notice this: Now in chapter 2:1 “if anybody does sin we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense, Jesus Christ the righteous one. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins…” Now what is this teaching? Let’s ask three questions:

What is an advocate? Now you say “where is the word ‘advocate’, I do not see it.” The real problem is that there is a Greek word here. It literally says “we have, when you sin, a paraclete with the Father.” But in this particular context it’s a hard thing to get this whole idea across with one English word. So the translators actually take this and open it up and taking one [Greek] word and translating it “one who speaks to the Father in our defense” But the word here could be translated “an advocate”. Maybe that is the best way to put it. What is an advocate? What is this person? An advocate is someone who has an official relationship with you so that whatever the advocate achieves, you achieve, and whatever the advocate loses, you lose. An advocate is a legal proxy. An advocate is a legal representative. In philosophical/theological language an advocate is a federal head, from the Latin wordfoedus meaning covenant. It means you have entered into a relationship with this person so that this person represents you so that what that person does is transferred to you. Here are some examples … they are all over the place actually:

In the area of negotiations. In most countries, in fact in all countries, the national leaders can declare war and also surrender and achieve peace. You don’t have a referendum on war. We don’t have a popular election to decide whether we are going to go to war or not or decide whether we will surrender or not. You have a relationship with the national leaders so that they have the right to do that and, of course, if they make a bad move we are all involved … if they make a good move we are all involved.

Let me give you an illustration that is a little more clear than that. In ancient times you had the idea of a champion. Here were two great armies coming together and sometimes rather than have the battle and have lot and lots of people killed each army would put forth a champion. In the old days they even had a word for this in the ancient Greek, anArchegos. And the champion would stand forth and would represent the army and the country and would battle against the champion of the other country/army. Of course the agreement is that when you did that it meant that if your champion was skillful you were skillful, if your champion was foolish you were foolish, if your champion had victory you were treated as if you were the victors. If your champion was defeated you were treated as if you were defeated.

And of course the one we often use most nowadays is a lawyer, a legal proxy. Especially a lawyer who has what we call today “power of attorney”. And in that case the lawyer stands in and represents the client so that what the lawyer achieves the client achieves and what the lawyer looses, the client looses. It’s all transferred. Charles Hodge, a hundred years ago was a Presbyterian theologian who put it this way:

“The relationship of Christ to his people is that of a legal advocate to a client. The former personates the later. The lawyer stands in the clients place. It is, while it lasts, the most intimate of relationships. You may not even have to appear in court. You are not heard. You are not regarded. You are lost in your advocate who for the time being is your representative. The advocate, not you, is seen. The advocate, not you, is heard. The advocate, not you, is regarded.”

Now if Jesus is our advocate, what is he doing up there? That is the second question. What does he do? He’s speaking. He’s talking. And if we stick with the lawyer illustration, everybody knows why, because that is the job of a lawyer. You hired the lawyer to talk for you. You hired the lawyer because you say the lawyer can talk. The lawyer knows what to say and the lawyer can make a case I could not. Now when I first became a Christian … I heard about this idea that Jesus Christ was before the Father (there are a number of words in the Bible for this). In the book of Hebrews it says Jesus Christ stands as our high priest before the Father. It means he stands as our representative speaking on our behalf. Our legal proxy, our advocate. And He’s up there pleading before the throne for our sake. When I first heard about this at first it seemed at best foolish and at worst very nerve racking. At best it seemed kind of silly like why are you arguing with the Father. But at worst nerve racking because it means when I sin Jesus says “Oh Father, please don’t wipe him out. For my sake please, don’t wipe him out.” This is what I pictured it as and I saw that I would sin again and the Father would say, “I can’t believe that Tim Keller did that again and Jesus says “I know but wait a minute” (this is my idea) that Jesus gets in front of the Father and says “One more time, just give him one more chance, please for my sake Father.” And then I see the Father looking down at Jesus saying, “well, ok, for your sake, alright, one more time.” You see that is a nerve racking metaphor, you know, you sit there and say, “when does the Father finally say “I’ve had it”? When does the father finally say, “forget it”. But you see it doesn’t say the advocate is standing there as Jesus Christ the merciful. It also doesn’t say Jesus Christ the persuasive. It says, “Jesus Christ the righteous one” and it says what he is saying. You see, a really good lawyer doesn’t just play on the emotions of the court. A good lawyer has a case. And what Jesus case is: an atoning sacrifice, and therefore the teaching of this passage which is so absolutely startling and which is absolutely unparalleled in any other religion, is that Jesus Christ is not just standing up there asking for forgiveness … no. And he is not just up there asking for mercy … absolutely not. Jesus Christ is telling the Father what the law is. Now it is unworthy to think of Jesus as having to persuade the Father. You have to remember that the advocacy of Jesus Christ was the Father’s idea. We read in 2 Cor 5 “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.” You have to understand what this is about. What it is about is this: Jesus Christ stands before the Father. Before the justice of God, in other words. And relentlessly and continually says He something like this: ‘Father, yes Tim did do it again but I have died the death he should have died and have lived the life he should have lived in his place. I am his advocate. He is lost in Me. When you look at him you have to see Me. You have to see all that I have done. You have to see all that I am. And therefore Father it would be unjust for you to take two payments for this sin. I have already paid for it. Therefore Father I do not ask for mercy. I demand justice.”

Some people ask “c’mon where does it say that.” It says that in chapter 1 verse 9. “If we confess our sins”, it doesn’t say “he is faithful and merciful to forgive us our sins.” It does not say “he is faithful and loving’. He is of course faith and loving. He is of course faithful and merciful, I am not saying he is not. But it says when we confess our sins because we have an advocate with the Father, God forgives our sins because He is just. Listen, justice has to be stronger than mercy. If you ever have a judge and if that judges son or daughter would come to trial, no judge anywhere would be allowed or would allow themselves to sit and preside over a trial with their own kid. Why? Because justice has to triumph over mercy. Because justice has to prevail or you cannot have a civil order. But incredibly we have a situation in which the justice and the love of God demand that He accepts us. There is nothing beyond this. Nothing at all. “Father”, He says, “I don’t ask for mercy. I demand justice and there is no greater case than that. The justice of God on the scales. The thing we always worry about: the scales. And here are my deeds and my records and here is the justice of the law. And of course my deeds and my records can’t possibly outweigh the deeds of the law and so the idea of blind justice is a frightening thing unless you understand this: We have the law of God not on the other side against us. We have the law and justice of God completely for us. We have the justice of God completely for us. There is no such thing as this anywhere else. No other religion says this. This is far more than forgiveness. Most people seem to think that what it means that Jesus died for you and you go and ask for forgiveness is that “God now wipes off your past slate and your back now on probation, but now you better do a good job.” [rather] Jesus Christ has gone through the probation for us. He puts us beyond probation. Jesus Christ not only gives us forgiveness for our sins but has accomplished righteousness for us. He is not just the one who pays our penalty but is our advocate. He is the one who stands in for us. He is the archegos. It says that in Hebrews. He is our champion, He is the “author and finisher of our faith.” And you know what that word is “author” – archegos. That is in Hebrews 12:2. He is the one who accomplishes it for us.

How does that change your life? That is that last thing we will talk about and I will just tick it off.

Finally you can deal with your guilt. Finally!. Most people cannot deal with their guilt. The person who has got that voice nailing them down: “But I have done something wrong…” But you see God has not just given you forgiveness. People who think that is all that we get. The reason you can’t deal with your guilt is that you believe God is simply merciful. Well He is very merciful. It was mercy that brought forth the whole idea of Jesus dying on the cross and standing in for us but you must understand something else. That not only the mercy of God demands that He love and accept you and shower you with blessings and treat you as if you were His Son. And had done everything that Jesus had ever done, it is His justice that demands it too. Don’t you see the reason why Paul says “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”? Don’t you see why Paul will break in during that same chapter and say “who shall bring a charge against God’s elect.” See? ‘It is Christ who died yea rather that is risen again who is even at the right hand of the father. What shall separate us from the love of Christ?” See what is he doing at the end of chapter 8? He is going on and on that this is not just forgiveness. This is righteousness. God’s righteousness has come to us and it showers us and we are living in it. This is the end of the voice. You know, when the voice comes to us and says, “you call yourself a Christian. Look at what you have done.” And of course that great hymn:

Well may the accuser roar of sins that I have done
I know them all and thousands more and Jehovah knoweth none.

And if you don’t know the hymn, you have to be able to turn to the voice and say, ‘Jesus Christ is my advocate. Of course I have done these things. God knows that. But when he sees me he sees me in my advocate. I am lost in my advocate and all He sees is a beauty.” Do you know how to do that? If you say I am a Christian but I cannot deal with my guilt. If you say, I am a Christian but don’t feel worthy to go before God you don’t get this yet. Be here’s hope; keep reading about it. Keep thinking about it. Keep talking to somebody because when it dawns on you wait till you see.

But on the other had, what else does it bring you? Also it is the only way to deal with disappointment. I have come to the conclusion that most people get into despondency not over guilt necessarily but over the loss of a hope. Something in their life that is so important to them. Something in their life that is so valuable. Something in their life that means so much and you get despondent. You know why? Most of your deepest yearnings for success are actually efforts to be what only Christ should be for you. These things that you get so despondent when you lose they are your case, your arguments before God. They are the things that you look to and say, “see I am worthy” And when one of them falls through: This person doesn’t love me. This job has not worked out. Why are you so despondent? Because you don’t know the hiddeness.

Let me close with this. When Stephen, the great first martyr… you can read about him in Acts 6&7. When he was preaching and was brought into courts. And the religious authorities were upset that Christianity was spreading as it was. They looked at him and said we are going to execute you. Especially after he explained the gospel to them and told them they were wicked sinners. And it didn’t go over very well. You know the first part of the sermon tonight fortunately most of you probably will not try to execute me but some of you will probably be unhappy. In this case, Stephen was preaching to people who had the power to execute him so they did. And they took him out to stone him but just before they began to kill him God gave him something. He looked to the heavens and said “I see Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, standing at the right hand of God.” What did he see? He saw his advocate. And the thing that is so amazing is when on earth he was getting condemned – he was being called a loser, he was getting called a traitor, he was being called a cult leader and a liar. Everything he would want to claim. He would want popularity. He would want a good name. He would want success. He would want a good reputation. It was all being stripped away from him. What did he do in response? When he saw Jesus Christ as advocate standing up there, his face God radiant, it said. He says I see the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” In other words, to know that his advocate in Heaven, and his Father in Heaven loved him, commended him, acclaimed him and accepted him meant that all of the rejection and even an execution here on earth. – He got so excited he seemed to forget, if you read the text, that he was about to be executed – to the degree that you grasp the fact that you have an advocate with the Father you will be able to take criticism. This guy could take an execution. You will be able to take criticism. You will be able to take rejection. You will be able to take sin and guilt. You will be able to take the things that right now weigh you down. You will have the fullness of the Spirit to the degree that you grasp that when we sin we have one who speaks to the father in our defense: Jesus Christ the righteous one. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

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 

How does the Trinity affect all doctrine? Tim Keller, John Piper, D A Carson

We’re tempted to take the doctrine of the Trinity for granted. But there is scarcely any belief unaffected when we get the Trinity wrong.

In this video: Don Carson, John Piper, Tim Keller

Only the Triune God Is Love from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

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From The Mystery of the Trinity Teaching Series from Ligonier Ministries

 

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.

Tim Keller at Oxford (1) A Sceptical encounters Jesus

This is the first of 5 messages (+ one Q&A session) given by Tim Keller at Oxford from the Gospel of John of 5 encounters that Jesus has with 5 different individuals. Keller asks, „Why should we do that? And answers, „Here’s a preliminary thought: Everyone has to have a working theory as to what the answers are to the ‘big questions’ YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT THAT WORKING THEORY. The biggest question is: Why get up in the morning, at all? Or, you might have another set of questions: There’s something really wrong with the world. If anything will improve it, or put it right? „.

„Over the next 5 nights I am going to give the Christian answer to these:

  1. Where do we come from?
  2. what’s wrong?
  3. and, what will put us right ?

We will be reading from John 1 and later in John we will be reading at the very end of the 1st chapter about a skeptical student named Nathanael. Back in those days, if you wanted to be a student there were no universities, you attached yourself to a teacher. And, there were a lot of teachers they students attached themselves to and became their disciples. Perhaps the most avant grade teacher about that time was John the Baptist. John the Baptist had some students, one was Andrew who had a brother named Peter. And there was Philip, who had a friend- Nathanael. And what we are going to read about is how one very, very skeptical student Nathanael, had an encounter with Christ.

John 1

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.

Jesus Calls Philip and Nathanael

43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45 Philip found Nathanaeland told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip.

47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” 48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 49 Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”

50 Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” 51 He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”

I want you to notice Nathanel’s:

  1. problem – people of the world look at christianity and dismiss it
  2. his need
  3. his prescription

………………………….

The messages are given at Oxford’s Town Hall. I will be posting one message per day this week in the following order:

The post below – A Sceptical encounters Jesus

  1. Coming Tuesday – The insider and the outcast encounter Jesus
  2. Coming Wednesday – Two grieving sisters encounter Jesus
  3. Coming Thursday – A wedding party encounters Jesus
  4. Coming Friday – The first Christian encounters Jesus
  5. Coming Saturday – Tim Keller’s Q&A session at Oxford

A Sceptical Student encounters Jesus

Uploaded by  on Feb 9, 2012

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

When Should Christians Disobey

When should Christians engage in civil disobedience? What do we do when the regime turns hostile to Christian conviction and intrudes upon Christian and religious liberty?

Tim Keller, John Yates, Albert Mohler:

 

When We Suffer, When to Disobey from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

Timothy J. Keller – 1st Chapter of Center Church (in audiobook form)

Published on Jul 13, 2012 by 

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.

Race and the Christian – An Evening with John Piper and Tim Keller

From Desiring God – An Evening with John Piper and Tim Keller
Moderated by Anthony Bradley – Sponsored by Crossway and hosted by Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC
Published on May 15, 2012 by 

Wednesday night, March 28, John Piper and Tim Keller teamed up in New York City for a conversation, moderated by Anthony Bradley, about the gospel and race, based on John Piper’s book ‘Bloodlines‘. See link below video for free download of this book:

from desiringGod.org , John Piper :

Bloodlines is one of the most autobiographical books I have written. It tells my story from racism to the path of redemption. I preached on the theme of Bloodlines yesterday to mark Martin Luther King weekend. The title of the message was “From Bloodlines to Bloodline.” I argued that God is calling his people to move from the alienation of many bloodlines to the reconciliation of the single bloodline that began on the cross of Christ.

I urged my people to read the book. Not because I care about selling books, but because I want them to know my story, to be aware to the global relevance of the issue, and to feel the hope that comes from the power of the gospel.

In making the book available in a PDF version online for free we are trying to remove every obstacle that might keep you from that experience.

Access the Desiring God website page here. If you wish to purchase the book, you can do so here.

Tim Keller – A Call to Justice

Tim Keller speaks in Durham North Carolina June 2012 from Deuteronomy 15:

When you try to take the Gospel out of your private ice and even out of the church and out into the world, there’s basically two ways to do that: word and deed. You talk to people about the love of God (evangelism) and you can embody, you can show the love of God in deeds. Take a look at Luke 10. The first half is Gospel messaging- it’s talking about the love of God. Te second half of Luke 10 is Gospel neighboring; it’s doing deeds of love, it’s showing the love of God.

When you go out into the world to do evangelism, first of all nobody but christians are going to help you. And even if all christian churches come together to do evangelism in a big place, it’s actually tricky because you’re trying to get people into the churches and which churches do they go to? But when it comes to doing justice… sometimes the Bible talks about doing mercy, which is really the motivation, or doing service, which is really the form of the action and justice is the effect of the action.

Whenever the Bible says to go out into the world and show in deed, like the Good Samaritan did… go out there and do justice, it brings , first of all non christians who say, „Let’s do this with you and the churches have got to come together. There is no better way for churches to come together than to do justice and show the world the love of Christ.

Tim Keller preaches a sermon on Deutoronomy 15 that talks about a call to justice, then the power for doing justice and the testimony of justice.

Uploaded by  June 2012

Tim Keller answers many difficult questions on Christianity from journalist Martin Bashir (Veritas) (essential lecture)

At Columbia University- 1/2 hour questions by MSNBC journalist Martin Bashir and then questions and answer session from Columbia University students. Very important and thoughtful questions answered wisely by Tim Keller.

Tim Keller, Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, which he started in 1989 with his wife, Kathy, and three young sons,  answers many difficult questions on Christianity – and speaks from his book ‘The Reason for God’. Tim Keller is questioned by Martin Bashir (MSNBC) who also gave Rob Bell (Love wins author that stirred controversy with his open ended questions on Universalism) a tough interview for MSNBC.

Redeemer Church is „one of Manhattan’s most vital congregations,” according to Christianity Today [12/04 Tim Keller started a Church Planting Center in 2001, and its phone has not stopped ringing since. He is committed to the church planting movement and ‘entering the culture’s stories and retelling them with the gospel’.” Redeemer’s vision is to spread the gospel, first through ourselves and then through the city by word, deed, and community; To bring about personal changes, social healing, and cultural renewal through a movement of churches and ministries that change New York City and through it, the world

There is a  second video lecture given at PennU (niversity) in 2008 where Tim Keller discusses ‘The Reasons for God’ (58 minutes) hosted on the Westminster Theological Seminary site.

From the Veritas Forum at Veritas.org

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