Tag Archives: Tim Keller

Whose Glory Will You Live For?

There is a contrast in Revelation between the wicked city called Babylon and the heavenly city, the New Jerusalem. And we have a choice as to which city we will build in life. The first city is about self. The second city is centered on the glory of God. In his message on Revelation 18, Tim Keller compares this first city to the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11…

The men of what would become Babylon got together, and they said, “Let’s form a city.” Do you remember why? This is Genesis 11:4, “… let us make a name for ourselves …” “Let’s build a tower so high no one can see the top. Let’s build a great city.” Now this is the reason most people come to New York. It’s the spirit of Babylon. “… let us make a name for ourselves …” That’s why many of you are here. That’s why many of you came originally. It’s the only way to really make it in this field or make it in this field. “I’m going to make a name for myself.”

You have talents. You’re a lawyer. You’re a dancer. You’re a person in finance. You can either use those abilities to make a name for yourself or to honor God. A city can either be a city forming a culture that glorifies humanity, that glorifies the self, that maximizes your bank account, that maximizes your ego, or you can build a culture that honors God. As a dancer, as an artist, as a businessman or businesswoman, you can use your culture-forming ability to build a civilization that either maximizes the human ego and maximizes your own name, or one that honors God. That’s what God is saying.

Keller, T. J. (2013). The Timothy Keller Sermon Archive. New York City: Redeemer Presbyterian Church.

It’s a choice that each of us must make – who will we live for? Ultimately, will we seek to glorify ourselves…or God? If we choose to live for selfish glory, we should realize that any glory we achieve will surely pass away. We will be working for the short term, for this life alone. But if we choose to live for the glory of God, we will in some way be contributing to the brightness of His glory that will never fade, and we will be truly living for eternity, and for the Eternal One.


For Monday, December 28: Revelation 19

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Posted by on December 25, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Praying When I “Cherish Iniquity In My Heart”

How many Christians have been kept from prayer by this intimidating word in the Psalms?…

If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. Psalm 66:18 (ESV)

Answer: a lot. I’ll bet many Christians have been kept from prayer because of their understanding of this warning, but consider this insight from Tim Keller in his message on Hebrews 7:

“It says, for example, in Psalm 66, ‘If I cherish iniquity in my heart, he will not hear me.’ Good night! Then why should he hear anybody? We’re all cherishing iniquity in our hearts, so that’s the end of that.”

The enemy of our souls takes Psalm 66 and twisting it, fools us into believing we need a perfect conscience – yes, even a guiltless life – in order to pray.

And our prayer life dies.

But what if when I came to pray, God wasn’t looking at what I was cherishing in my heart, but at what Jesus was cherishing in His heart? That is, what if He really represented me as my advocate before the Father, and what if He did this, not just on judgment day, but on every day, at every moment? Wouldn’t that be glorious?

Well, it’s true:

Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:25 (ESV)

Do you long to draw near to God? Here’s good news: Jesus is your advocate before the Father, and He is always interceding for you. And this is powerful – just knowing that the Father is listening because Jesus is interceding for you – well, it almost makes you want to stop cherishing sin in your heart, doesn’t it?

So let me close by paraphrasing the immortal words of Pete Townshend of The Who…

Get on your knees and pray. And don’t be fooled again.

For tomorrow, Friday, September 25th: Hebrews 8

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Posted by on September 24, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Why Greed is Different Than Every Other Sin

“No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Luke 16:13 (ESV)

Greed is a fascinating sin, and different than almost any other temptation or transgression. Here’s why, as Tim Keller points out in his book Counterfeit Gods, most people don’t know when they are being greedy. In contrast, every man who is committing adultery knows exactly what he is doing. Now, of course, he may be carried away in the heat of the moment, but…he still knows. Keller explains this phenomenon…

“Some years ago I was doing a seven-part series of talks on the Seven Deadly Sins at a men’s breakfast. My wife, Kathy, told me, “I’ll bet that the week you deal with greed you will have your lowest attendance.” She was right. People packed it out for “Lust” and “Wrath” and even for “Pride.” But nobody thinks they are greedy. As a pastor I’ve had people come to me to confess that they struggle with almost every kind of sin. Almost. I cannot recall anyone ever coming to me and saying, ‘I spend too much money on myself. I think my greedy lust for money is harming my family, my soul, and people around me.’ Greed hides itself from the victim. The money god’s modus operandi includes blindness to your own heart.”

Tim Keller, Counterfeit Gods, Chapter 3: Money Changes Everything

Keller explains at least one aspect of this problem – most of us settle into a particular economic class, and when we look around our little town or situation in life, there are almost always people who are richer and more lavish in their habits than us. We compare ourselves to them and reason that we are doing great in the greed department. After all, we don’t have as much as the Joneses. But the rest of the world knows differently.

How do we solve this problem of greed? Keller again…

“Jesus gave up all his treasure in heaven, in order to make you his treasure—for you are a treasured people (1 Peter 2:9-10). When you see him dying to make you his treasure, that will make him yours. Money will cease to be the currency of your significance and security, and you will want to bless others with what you have. To the degree that you grasp the gospel, money will have no dominion over you. Think on his costly grace until it changes you into a generous people.”


For tomorrow, Thursday, July 24th: Luke 17

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Posted by on July 22, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Jesus Didn’t Come for Everyone

Jesus Christ defined the people He came for when He preached at the synagogue in Nazareth. Quoting the Prophet Isaiah, He said,

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19 (ESV)

I think we tend to assume that the Lord was just waxing poetic, that really, of course, He came for everyone, perhaps with a special emphasis on the poor, the captive, the blind and the oppressed. But in the following chapters, Luke shows the Lord ministering to this very group of people.

  • He casts the demon out of the oppressed man.
  • He calls the half-wit disciples.
  • He cleanses the leper and heals the paralytic.
  • He shows up at a party for broken transgressors.
  • He ministers grace and forgiveness to the sinful woman.

Luke is making a point. It’s not just that Jesus came with a special emphasis on hurting and needy people. It’s that these are the only people He came for. The powerful and the rich? The people who “had it altogether?” Not so much.

And the lesson for us is clear – the prerequisite to receiving help from the Lord is to recognize our weakness. As Tim Keller once said,

“If you want God’s grace, all you need is need, all you need is nothing. But that kind of spiritual humility is hard to muster. We come to God saying, ‘Look at all I’ve done…'” Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller

Keller puts his finger on the problem so many people have that keeps them from receiving Jesus’ help: They don’t come to Him needy. In fact, they don’t come to Him at all. Why should they? If anything, these people reason, He should come to me. After all, “Look at all I’ve done.”

But Jesus did not come for people who were at the top of their game. He came for people who knew they were broken.

In other words, He came for people who knew…they needed Him.

For Tuesday, July 7th: Luke 5

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Posted by on July 6, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Why Religious People Go to Hell

“The boy didn’t need to hear it. There was already a deep black wordless conviction in him that the way to avoid Jesus was to avoid sin.”

–Flannery O’Connor, Wise Blood: A Novel (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1949/2001), 22.

So I have this friend who hates legalists.  I mean hates.  And he has a saying that goes something like this: “Legalism sends more people to Hell than alcoholism.”

My friend is a little zealous, but he’s probably right.  Mind you, both alcoholism and legalism are to be avoided if at all possible, but most often, the alcoholic has a leg up on the legalist.  For the alcoholic usually knows that he has a deep need, even if he isn’t asking for help.  The legalist however…not so much.  And recognizing our need is the half way point to Jesus.

The Pharisees and Scribes were clearly not even half-way there.  As far as these men knew, they were keeping all the rules and had no need of God’s help. Their encounter with Jesus is told in the first few verses of Matthew 15, where Jesus challenged them…

“…you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;”

-Matthew 15:5-8 (ESV)

In this case, legalism actually led to disobedience. More often, it only leads to disinterest…in God. Why cry out for help if you can keep the rules on your own?  Like Isaiah intimated, legalism moves our hearts far from God.

Once a newspaper asked for answers to the following question: “What’s wrong with the world?”  And G.K. Chesterton famously replied: “Dear Sirs, I am. Yours, G.K. Chesterton.” The religious leaders would have never answered this question like that.  As they saw it, the problem was with the prostitutes and tax-collectors, or with the Roman thugs who occupied their beloved land.  But the issue was never with them. They were doing life right.

So when the Messiah came, they saw no need for Him.  They were doing fine on their own, thank you very much.  And so we learn from the Pharisees that there is more than one way to earn a trip to perdition: First, there is the way we’ve always known – the irreligious way, the Prodigal Son in the land of sin. And then there is the way of the Pharisees themselves, the way of the Elder Brother.  As Tim Keller says,

“Neither son loved the father for himself. They both were using the father for their own self-centered ends rather than loving, enjoying, and serving him for his own sake. This means that you can rebel against God and be alienated from him either by breaking his rules or by keeping all of them diligently. It’s a shocking message: Careful obedience to God’s law may serve as a strategy for rebelling against God.”

-Tim Keller, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith


Posted by on January 21, 2015 in Uncategorized


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