Tag Archives: Timothy Keller

“Dr. Motyer concluded” by Timothy Keller

“Approximately forty years ago, during the summer between my undergraduate college years and seminary, I was working and living with my parents in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

One evening I drove over the mountains down into a long valley in the midst of the Laurel Highlands and came eventually to the Ligonier Valley Study Center, just outside the little Western Pennsylvania hamlet of Stahlstown, where R.C. Sproul was hosting at his regular weekly Question and Answer session a British Old Testament scholar, J. Alec Motyer.

As a still fairly new Christian, I found the Old Testament to be a confusing and off-putting part of the Bible. I will always remember his answer to a question about the relationship of Old Testament Israel to the church (I can’t remember if R.C. posed it to him or someone from the audience).

After saying something about the discontinuities, he insisted that we were all one people of God. Then he asked us to imagine how the Israelites under Moses would have given their ‘testimony’ to someone who asked for it. They would have said something like this:

We were in a foreign land, in bondage, under the sentence of death. But our mediator— the one who stands between us and God— came to us with the promise of deliverance. We trusted in the promises of God, took shelter under the blood of the lamb, and he led us out. Now we are on the way to the Promised Land. We are not there yet, of course, but we have the law to guide us, and through blood sacrifice we also have his presence in our midst. So he will stay with us until we get to our true country, our everlasting home.

Then Dr Motyer concluded: ‘Now think about it. A Christian today could say the same thing, almost word for word.’ My young self was thunderstruck.

I had held the vague, unexamined impression that in the Old Testament people were saved through obeying a host of detailed laws but that today we were freely forgiven and accepted by faith.

This little thought experiment showed me, in a stroke, not only that the Israelites had been saved by grace and that God’s salvation had been by costly atonement and grace all along, but also that the pursuit of holiness, pilgrimage, obedience, and deep community should characterize Christians as well.”

–Timothy Keller, “Foreward” in Alec Motyer, A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Loving the Old Testament (Geanies House, Fearn, Ross-shire, Scotland, Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 2015), ix-x. Keller also alludes to this Motyer quote here.

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“It is finished” by Timothy Keller

“Most of us work and work trying to prove ourselves, to convince God, others, and ourselves that we’re good people. That work is never over unless we rest in the gospel.

At the end of His great act of creation the Lord said, ‘It is finished,’ and He could rest. On the cross at the end of His great act of redemption Jesus said, ‘It is finished’– and we can rest.

On the cross Jesus was saying of the work underneath your work– the thing that makes you truly weary, this need to prove yourself because who you are and what you do are never good enough– that it is finished.

He has lived the life you should have lived, He has died the death you should have died. If you rely on Jesus’s finished work, you know that God is satisfied with you. You can be satisfied with life.”

–Timothy Keller, King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus (New York: Dutton, 2011), 43.

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“Resting in what Jesus has done” by Timothy Keller

“Idolatry is not just a failure to obey God, it is a setting of the whole heart on something besides God. This cannot be remedied only by repenting that you have an idol, or using willpower to try to live differently. Turning from idols is not less than those two things, but it is also far more.

‘Setting the mind and heart on things above’ where ‘ your life is hidden with Christ in God’ (Colossians 3:1-3) means appreciating, rejoicing, and resting in what Jesus has done for you. It entails joyful worship, a sense of God’s reality in prayer.

Jesus must become more beautiful to your imagination, more attractive to your heart, than your idol. That is what will replace your counterfeit gods. If you uproot the idol and fail to ‘plant’ the love of Christ in its place, the idol will grow back.”

–Timothy J. Keller, Counterfeit Gods (New York: Dutton, 2009), 171-172.

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“Rejoicing and repentance” by Timothy Keller

“Rejoicing and repentance must go together. Repentance without rejoicing will lead to despair. Rejoicing without repentance is shallow and will only provide passing inspiration instead of deep change.

Indeed, it is when we rejoice over Jesus’s sacrificial love for us most fully that, paradoxically, we are most truly convicted of our sin. When we repent out of fear of consequences, we are not really sorry for the sin, but for ourselves.

Fear-based repentance (‘I’d better change or God will get me’) is really self-pity. In fear-based repentance, we don’t learn to hate the sin for itself, and it doesn’t lose its attractive power. We learn only to refrain from it for our own sake.

But when we rejoice over God’s sacrificial, suffering love for us– seeing what it cost Him to save us from sin– we learn to hate the sin for what it is. We see what the sin cost God.

What most assures us of God’s unconditional love (Jesus’s costly death) is what most convicts us of the evil of sin. Fear-based repentance makes us hate ourselves. Joy-based repentance makes us hate the sin.”

–Timothy J. Keller, Counterfeit Gods (New York: Dutton, 2009), 172.

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“The operating principle of the gospel” by Timothy Keller

“There is a great gulf between the understanding that God accepts us because of our efforts and the understanding that God accepts us because of what Jesus has done. Religion operates on the principle, ‘I obey– therefore I am accepted by God.’ But the operating principle of the gospel is ‘I am accepted by God through what Christ has done– therefore I obey.'”

–Timothy Keller, The Reason for God (New York: Dutton, 2008), 179-180.

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“The basic premise of religion” by Timothy Keller

“The basic premise of religion– that if you live a good life, things will go well for you– is wrong. Jesus was the most morally upright person who ever lived, yet He had a life filled with the experience of poverty, rejection, injustice, and even torture.”

–Timothy Keller, The Reason for God (New York: Dutton, 2008), 182.

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“Like Hamlet looking for Shakespeare” by C.S. Lewis

“When a Russian cosmonaut returned from space and reported that he had not found God, C. S. Lewis responded that this was like Hamlet going into the attic of his castle and looking for Shakespeare.”

–Timothy Keller, The Reason for God (New York: Dutton, 2008), 122.

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