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Quotes

This page captures Keller’s quotes that we’ve found from the web and via Twitter:

Contents

Pithy Quotables

One of the greatest teachers and theologians of our day, Pastor Timothy Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, makes this keen observation: “Until the twentieth century most cultures, including ours, held that having too high an opinion of oneself was the root of most of the world’s troubles. Misbehavior from drug addiction to cruelty to wars resulted from hubris or pride—a haughtiness of spirit that needed to be deterred or disciplined. The idea that you were bigger or better, or more self-righteous, or somehow immune from the rules that govern others—the absence of humility, in other words—gave you license to do unto others what you would never allow them to do unto you.” (ht: themoralliberal.com)

“The human heart is an idol factory that takes good things like a successful career, love, material possessions, even family, and turns them into ultimate things. Our hearts deify them as the center of our lives, because, we think, they can give us significance and security, safety and fulfillment, if we attain them.” – Timothy J. Keller in Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters (ht: redemptionhill)

“We do not have to make ourselves suffer in order to merit forgiveness. We simply receive the forgiveness earned by Christ. 1 John 1:9 says that God forgives us because He is ‘just.’ That is a remarkable statement. It would be unjust of God to ever deny us forgiveness, because Jesus earned our acceptance! In religion we earn our forgiveness with our repentance, but in the gospel we just receive it.” (ht: firstimportance.org)

“The Bible’s purpose is not so much to show you how to live a good life. The Bible’s purpose is to show you how God’s grace breaks into your life against your will and saves you from the sin and brokenness otherwise you would never be able to overcome… religion is ‘if you obey, then you will be accepted’. But the Gospel is, ‘if you are absolutely accepted, and sure you’re accepted, only then will you ever begin to obey’. Those are two utterly different things. Every page of the Bible shows the difference.” (ht: centralityofthegospel)

One of the signs that you may not grasp the unique, radical nature of the gospel is that you are certain that you do. (ht: rianniello)

Contextualization is not giving people what they want. It is giving God’s answers (which they probably do not want) to the questions they are asking and in forms they can comprehend.  (ht: Intersection)

If you and your church were to disappear off the face of the earth tomorrow – would anyone in the unbeleiving community around you notice you were gone.  And if they did even notice – would they say we are really glad they are gone or – gee we’re going to miss them. (ht: Shane Rogerson)

on Romans 1:16-17 – “Paul is not saying the gospel produces power. He says the gospel IS the power of God in verbal form. Do we believe that?” [or do I secretly believe that everything is up to me?] (ht: jayhardwick)”Sin isn’t only doing bad things, it is more fundamentally making good things into ultimate things. Sin is building your life and meaning on anything, even a very good thing, more than on God. Whatever we build our life on will drive us and enslave us. Sin is primarily idolatry.” (in “Talking About Idolatry in a Postmodern Age” via Mongerism)

“My wife, Kathy, never gets footnoted, yet she is the main author of the faith and thought of this author. She put me on to Lewis, to Edwards and Reformed theology, and to the importance of prayer, social justice, and the city. When you are that foundational to someone’s world- and life- view, you get mentioned in the acknowledgments, but not in the footnotes. The main reason I’m putting this book into print is because she likes it.” – Tim Keller (via Monergism)

Tweets from unofficial Tim Keller @DailyKeller

    • “Jesus’s miracles are not just a challenge to our minds, but a promise to our hearts, that the world we all want is coming.” via@courtneyreissig
    • Think like a prophet, serve like a priest, and plan like a king. [@DailyKeller]
    • There is no menial work. Jesus came not as a philosopher, not as a general. He came as a carpenter. [@DailyKeller]
    • “You don’t realize Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.” via @lecrae
    • The gospel has been described as a pool in which a toddler can wade and yet an elephant can swim. [@DailyKeller]
    • Humility is only achieved as a byproduct of understanding, believing, and marveling in the gospel of grace. [@DailyKeller]
    • Jesus is saying, “Look what I’ve done to come near to you. Now draw near to me. I don’t want to be a concept; I want to be a friend.” [@DailyKeller]
    • “It takes pride to be anxious – I am not wise enough to know how my life should go.” via @desiringgod
    • The gospel is not that Jesus Christ comes to earth, tells us how to live, we live a good life, and then God owes us blessing. [@DailyKeller]
    • Christmas – God has become human. The absolute has become particular. The ideal has become real. The divine has taken up a human nature. [@DailyKeller]
    • The observer of beauty always receives a passion to share the beauty with others. [@DailyKeller]
    • When Christians who understand the gospel see a poor person, they realize they are looking into a mirror. [@DailyKeller]
    • The more we see ourselves as needing forgiveness, the more likely we are to forgive others. [@DailyKeller]
    • The more aware you are of God’s grace & acceptance the more you are able to drop your self-defenses & admit the true dimensions of your sin. [@dailykeller]
    • The sin under all other sins is a lack of joy in Christ. [@dailykeller]
    • Gospel repentance is tapping into the joy of our union with Christ in order to weaken our need to do anything contrary to God’s heart. [@DailyKeller]
    • You are not saved by love, joy, peace…You are saved by faith not fruit, BUT you are never saved by fruitless faith. [@dailykeller]
    • The real gospel gives us a God far more holy than a moralist can bear and far more loving than a relativist can imagine. [@dailykeller]

Quotes from Published Books & Resources

Ministries of Mercy

“Mercy is a command of God, yet it cannot simply be a response to a demand. It must arise out of heats made generous and gracious by an understanding and experience of God’s mercy. It is the hearts of the congregation that must be melted until they ask, “Where is my neighbor?” p 135 (ht: Toddbumgarner)

“Those of us without the spirit of a deacon are too proud to do little things and too lazy to do big things. Our service is mediocre; it transforms no one. But a deacon will do it all.” p 139 (ht: ToddMindBlogger)

“A frightening proportion of our churches are trapped by what Frank Tillapaugh calls the “fortress church” mentality. That mentality is made up of attitudes that may be conscious or unconscious: “Let them come to us! Our doors are open.” “We come to church to have our needs met, to escape the cold, cruel world.” But there are biblical truths that knock flat the walls of our fortress. Every member is a minister. Every member has kingdom power to destroy strongholds. Through us Jesus continues to immerses himself in the needs of the world.” p 172 (ht: ToddMindBlogger)

“The ministry of mercy, then, is the best advertising a church can have. It convinces a community that this church provides people with actions for their problems, not only talk. It shows the community that this church is compassionate.” p 212 (ht:ToddMindBlogger)

 Church Planter Manual

“Repentance out of mere fear is really sorrow for the consequences of sin, sorrow over the danger of sin — it bends the will away from sin, but the heart still clings. But repentance out of conviction over mercy is really sorrow over sin, sorrow over the grievousness of sin — it melts the heart away from sin. It makes the sin itself disgusting to us, so it loses its attractive power over us. We say, ‘this disgusting thing is an affront to the one who died for me. I’m continuing to stab him with it!’” - Timothy Keller, Church Planter Manual (net source)

“The gospel creates the only kind of grief over sin which is clean and which does not crush. It says: ‘Look at Jesus dying for you! He won’t leave you or abandon you–how then can you respond as you are? He suffered so you wouldn’t do this thing! You are not living as though you are loved! As his child! It is not because he will abandon you that you should be holy, but because this is the one who at inestimable cost to himself has said he won’t ever abandon you! How can you live in the very sin that he was ripped to pieces to deliver you from?’ See the GRACE of God argument? It is the only argument which cannot be answered.” - Timothy Keller, Church Planter Manual (ht: Of First Importance)

“There are three basic roles or functions that a Christian minister has: preaching, pastoring/counseling and leading. No one is gifted or equally gifted in all three areas and yet we must do them all… [but] The greatest factor for long-term effectiveness of a Christian minister is… godliness. A) You may not have a strong public speaking gift; but if you are very godly, your wisdom, love and courage will mean that you will be interesting. B) You may not have strong pastoral or counseling gifts (e.g. you may be very shy or introverted, etc.); but if you are very godly, your wisdom, love and courage will mean that you will comfort and guide people. C) You may not have very strong leadership gifts (e.g. you may be disorganized or very cautious by nature); but if you are very godly, your wisdom, love and courage will mean that people will respect and follow you.” – Timothy Keller, Church Planter Manual p.63

The Reason for God

“Christianity not only leads its members to believe people of other faiths have goodness and wisdom to offer, it also leads them to expect that many will live lives morally superior to their own.  Most people in our culture in our culture believe that, if there is a God, we can relate to him and go to heaven through leading a good life.  Let’s call this the “moral improvement” view.  Christianity teaches the very opposite.  In the Christian understanding, Jesus does not tell us how to live so we can merit salvation.  Rather, he comes to forgive and save us through his life and death in our place.  God’s grace does not come to people who morally outperform others, but to those who admit their failure to perform and who acknowledge their need for a Savior.” - The Reason for God, 19 (ht: Stuart Williams’ ”Christians Should Believe Others Are Morally Superior“)

‘Self-salvation through good works may produce a great deal of moral behaviour in your life, but inside you are miserable. You are always comparing yourself to other people, and you are never sure you are being good enough. You cannot therefore, deal with your hideousness and self-absorption through the moral law, by trying to be a good person through an act of the will. You need a complete transformation of the very motives of your heart.’ - The Reason For God, 177 (ht: GaryMcMurray)

“The Cross is not simply a lovely example of sacrificial love. Throwing your life away needlessly is not admirable — it is wrong. Jesus’ death was only a good example if it was more than an example, if it was something absolutely necessary to rescue us. And it was. Why did Jesus have to die in order to forgive us? There was a debt to be paid — God himself paid it. There was a penalty to be born — God himself bore it. Forgiveness is always a form of costly suffering.” Tim Keller, The Reason for God, 193 (ht: Scott Stewart)

“A faith without some doubts is like a human body without antibodies in it.  People who blithely go through life too busy or indifferent to ask hard questions about why they believe as they do will find themselves defenseless against either the experience of tragedy or the probing questions of a smart skeptic.” Tim Keller, The Reason for God, xvi (via scotthodge)

 The Prodigal God

The moral conformist say: “The immoral people- the people who ‘do their own thing’-are the problem with the world, and the moral people are the solution.” The advocates of self-discovery say: “The bigoted people-the people who say, ‘We have the Truth’-are the problem with the world, and progressive people are the solution. Each sides says: “Our way is the way our world will be put to rights, and if you’re not with us, you are against us. - Tim Keller, The Prodigal God (ht: JordanJustice)

“The story of Jesus tells us that our root problem is not just failing in our obediance to God [not being good enough...] but in RELYING  on our obedience [being really, really good] to save us.  Therefore, the gospel is a ‘third way’–  neither religion NOR irreligion. The religious person may say, “I am doing the right things that God commands” and the irreligious person may say, “I decide what is right and wrong for myself.”  But both ways reject Jesus as Savior (though they may revere Him as ‘Example’ or ‘Helper’).  Both ways are strategies for self-salvation–  both actually keep control of their own lives.”  - Tim Keller, [The Prodigal God?] (ht: restorationArlington)

“… those who understand the gospel cannot possibly look down on anyone, since they were saved by sheer grace, not by their perfect doctrine or strong moral character.
Another mark of the moral-performance narrative is a constant need to find fault, win arguments, and prove that all opponents are not just mistaken but dishonest sellouts. However, when the gospel is deeply grasped, our need to win arguments is removed, and our language becomes gracious. We don’t have to ridicule our opponents, but instead we can engage them respectfully.
People who live in the moral-performance narrative use sarcastic, self-righteous putdown humor, or have no sense of humor at all. Lewis speaks of “the unsmiling concentration upon Self, which is the mark of hell.” The gospel, however, creates a gentle sense of irony. We find a lot to laugh at, starting with our own weaknesses. They don’t threaten us anymore because our ultimate worth is not based on our record or performance.” - Tim Keller, [The Prodigal God?] (ht: pastorinbloggaus‘ The Gospel Creates a Gentle Sense of Irony)

“Jesus’s teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of his day. However, in the main, our churches today do not have this effect. The kind of outsiders Jesus attracted are not attracted to contemporary churches, even our most avant-garde ones. We tend to draw conservative, buttoned-down, moralistic people. The licentious and liberated or the broken and marginal avoid church. That can only mean one thing. If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did.” - Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God (ht: CoffeeRandom ’The True Message of Jesus)

“[Jesus] is saying that the inevitable sign that you know you are a sinner saved by sheer, costly grace is a sensitive social conscience and a life poured out in deeds of sheer service to the poor. Younger brothers are too selfish and elder brothers too self-righteous to care for the poor” (p.112). Earlier in the book, Keller elaborated on the sin of the older brother: “Elder brothers may do good to others, but not out of delight in the deeds themselves or for the love of people or the pleasure of God. They are not really feeding the hungry and clothing the poor, they are feeding and clothing themselves” (p.62, The Prodigal God).  (ht: wsvanderlugt ”Why Don’t We Care for the Poor?”)

It is only when you see the desire to be your own Savior and Lord -lying beneath both your sins and your moral goodness- that you are on the verge of understanding the gospel and becoming a Christian indeed.  When you realize that the antidote to being bad is not just being good, you are on the brink.  If you follow through, it will change everything: how you relate to God, self, others, the world, your work, your sins, your virtue.  It’s called the new birth because it’s so radical. (p. 78) Jesus Christ, who had all the power in the world, saw us enslaved by the very things we thought would free us.  So he emptied himself of his glory and became a servant.  He laid aside the infinities and immensities of his being and, at the cost of his life, paid the debt for our sins, purchasing us the only place our hearts can rest, in his Father’s house…  Knowing this will transform us from the inside out… Why wouldn’t you want to offer yourself to someone like this? Selfless love destroys the mistrust in our hearts toward God that makes us either younger brothers or elder brothers… We will never stop being younger brothers of elder brothers until we acknowledge our need, rest by faith, and gaze in wonder at the work of our true elder brother, Jesus Christ. (p. 87-89 The Prodigal God) (ht: RelentlessGrace, “Our hearts are transformed by service, not power”)

Counterfeit Gods

Modern society . . . puts great pressure on individuals to prove their worth through personal achievement.  It is not enough to be a good citizen or family member.  You must win, be on top, to show you are the best . . . David Brooks’ book On Paradise Drivedescribes what he calls ‘the professionalization of childhood.’  From the earliest of years, an alliance of parents and schools creates a pressure cooker of competition, designed to produce students who excel in everything . . . the family has become the nursery where the craving for success is first cultivated. (p. 79) (ht: cruciformLife)

An idol is something that we look to for things that only God can give. Idolatry functions widely inside religious communities when doctrinal truth is elevated to the position of a false god. This occurs when people rely on the rightness of their doctrine for their standing with God rather than on God himself and his grace. It is a subtle but deadly mistake. The sign that you have fallen into this form of self-justification is that you become what the book of Proverbs calls a “scoffer”. Scoffers always show contempt and disdain for opponents rather than graciousness. This is a sign that they do not see themselves as sinners saved by grace. Instead, their trust in the rightness of their views makes them feel superior. (p.131) (ht: Chrishartshorn)

other publications

Today’s preacher must argue against the self-serving pragmatism of postmodernity. The gospel does say that through it you find your life, but that first you must lose your life. I must say to people, “Christ will ‘work’ for you only if you are true to him whether he works for you or not. You must not come to him because he is fulfilling (though he is) but because he is true. If you seek to meet him in order to get your needs met, you will not meet him or get your needs met. To become a Christian is not to get help for your agenda but to take on a whole new agenda — the will of God. You must obey him because you owe him your life, because he is your Creator and Redeemer. - Tim Keller, from a contributing chapter of The Art and Craft of Biblical Preaching (ht: george24)

* speaking of the power of the Gospel: ”… the more you see your own flaws and sins, the more precious, electrifying, and amazing God’s grace appears to you. But on the other hand, the more aware you are of God’s grace and acecptance in Christ, the more able you are to drop your denials and self-defenses and admit the true dimensions and character of your sin. This also creates a new dynamic for discipline and obedience. First, the knowledge of our acceptance in Christ makes it easier to admit we are flawed because we know we won’t be cast off if we confess the true depths of our sinfulness. Second, it makes the law of God a thing of beauty instead of burden. We can use it to delight and imitate the one who has saved us rather than to get his attention or procure his favor. We now run the race ‘for the joy that is set before us’ rather than ‘for fear that comes behind us.’ ” Tim Keller in Introduction to Galatians (ht: TheSticklerFamily)

“At the root of all our disobedience are particular ways in which we continue to seek control of our lives through systems of works-righteousness. The way to progress as a Christian is to continually repent and uproot these systems the same way we become Christians, namely by the vivid depiction (and re-depiction) of Christ’s saving work for us, and the abandoning of self-trusting efforts to complete ourselves. We must go back again and again to the gospel of Christ-crucified, so that our hearts are more deeply gripped by the reality of what he did and who we are in him.” - Timothy Keller, Paul’s Letter to the Galatians (Redeemer Presbyterian Church, 2003), p.61 (ht: pjcockrell)

 

Quotes from Speaking Engagements

“Sex is a covenant renewal ceremony… sex between a husband and wife is the same role as the Lord’s Supper between God and the believer, cause the Lord’s supper is going back and renewing the original covenant. Jesus Christ dies, that’s the bridge between me and God. What’s the purpose of the Lord’s Supper? The Lord’s Supper is to get the intimacy back by renewing the covenant, re-living the idea of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection for me.” - (ht: pgjackson)

Five questions Keller suggested to ask as you read the Bible daily are:  (via cookiesday)

  1. How can I praise him?
  2. How can I confess my sins on the basis of this text?
  3. If this is really true, what wrong behaviour, what harmful emotions or false attitudes result in me when I forget this? Every problem is because you have forgotten something. What problems are you facing?
  4. What should I be aspiring to on the basis of this text?
  5. Why are you telling me this today?

Discussion

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