This Requires the Gospel to be Explored at Every Opportunity and in Regular, Systematic Ways

Religion, as the default mode of our thinking and practices, is based upon performance: “I obey; therefore, I am accepted by God.”  The basic operating principle of the gospel however, is not surprisingly, an about-face, one of the unmerited acceptance: “I am accepted by God through Christ: therefore I obey.”  To truly understand this paradigm shift at a life-altering level requires that the gospel be explored and “looked into” at every opportunity and in regular systematic ways.

– Tim Keller, in the forward to Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary; B&H Publishing Group; Nashville, TN; Copyright 2011; Kindle Edition; location 138

There Is No End to Gospel Exploration

One of the most startling passages in the Bible connects the magnificence of angels with the mystery of the gospel.  Angels are incredibly majestic and powerful beings, living in God’s  eternal presence.  Yet there is something that has happened on the earth that is so stupendous that even these immortal beings experience the persistent longing “to look into these things” (I Peter 1:10, 12).  What are “these things” that could possibly and consistently consume the attention of God-fixated creatures?  The answer is – the gospel.

The angels never get tired of looking into the gospel.  This means that there is no end to gospel exploration.  These are depths in the gospel that are always there to be discovered and applied not only to our ministry and daily Christian life, but above all to the worship of the God of the gospel with renewed vision and humility.

– Tim Keller, in the forward to Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary; B&H Publishing Group; Nashville, TN; Copyright 2011; Kindle Edition; location 125

What They Really Rejected Wasn’t Real Christianity at All

Some claim that to constantly be striking a “note of grace, grace, grace” in our sermons is not helpful in our culture today.  The objection goes like this: “Surely Pharisaism and moralism is not a problem in our culture today.  Rather, our problem is license and antinomianism.  People lack a sense of right or wrong.  It is ‘carrying coal to Newcastle’ to talk about grace all the time to postmodern people.”  But I don’t believe that’s the case.  Unless you point to the “good news” of grace, people won’t even be able to hear the “bad news” of God’s judgment.  Also, unless you critique moralism, many irreligious people won’t know the difference between moralism and what you’re offering.  The way to get antinomians to move away from lawlessness is to distinguish the gospel from legalism.  Why?  Because modern and post-modern people have been rejecting Christianity for years thinking that it was indistinguishable from moralism.  Non-Christians will always automatically hear gospel presentations as appeals to become moral and religious, unless in your preaching you use the good news of grace to deconstruct legalism.  Only if you show them there’s a difference – that what they really rejected wasn’t real Christianity at all – will they even begin to consider Christianity?

– Tim Keller

as quoted by Tchividian, Tullian; One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World; David Cook Publishers; copyright 2013; Kindle Edition; Location2182

Sin Isn’t Only Doing Bad Things…

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.

– Tim Keller

as quoted by Tchividjian, Tullian; Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free; David C Cook Publishers, Copyright 2013, Kindle Edition, page 143

Are You Avoiding Him as Savior?

If you’re avoiding sin and living morally so that God will have to bless you and save you, then you may be looking to Jesus as a teacher, model and helper, but ironically you are avoiding him as Savior.  You are trusting your own goodness rather than in Jesus for your standing with God.

– Tim Keller, Reason for God

as quoted by Tchividjian, Tullian; Surprised by Grace: God’s Relentless Pursuit of Rebels; Crossway Books; Wheaton, Il; copyright 2010; p. 56

Explosive Growth of Christianity in Africa

Why has Christianity grown so explosively in these places [Africa]?  African scholar Lamin Saunneh gives a most intriguing answer.  Africans, he said, had a long tradition of belief in a supernatural world of good and evil spirits.  When Africans began to read the Bible in their own languages many began to see in Christ the final solution to their own historical longings as Africans.

– Tim Keller, Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism

The Independence of Reason from Natural Selection

Despite popular books like those of Dennett, Hawkins and Harris, which try to use the evolutionary clue-killer on religion, more and more thinkers are seeing through it, and not just orthodox believers, but those like Thomas Nagel.  Leon Wieseltier, the literary editor of The New Republic, points out the flaw in the clue-killer argument in his review of Dennet’s book, Breaking the Spell:

[Dennett] portrays reason in service to natural selection, and as a product of natural selection.  But if reason is a product of natural selection, then how much confidence can we have in a rational argument for natural selection?  The power of reason is owed to the independence of reason, and to nothing else… Evolutionary biology cannot invoke the power of reason even as it destroys it.

Tim Keller, Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, copyright 2008, page 139

Christians Should Believe Others Are Morally Superior

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.

– Tim Keller, Reason to Believe: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, copyright 2008, page 19

The Biblical View of Things is Resurrection

The Biblical view of things is resurrection – not a future that is just a consolation for the life we never had but a restoration of the life you always wanted.  This means that every horrible thing that ever happened will not only be undone and repaired but will in some way make the eventual glory and joy even greater.

– Tim Keller, Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, copyright 2008, page 32

Christianity Does Not Simply Replace Our Natural Life

All our merely natural activities will be accepted, if they are offered to God, even the humblest, and all of them, even the noblest, will be sinful if they are not.  Christianity does not simply replace our natural life and substitute a new one; it is rather a new organisation which exploits, to its own supernatural ends, these natural materials.  No doubt, in a given situation, it demands the surrender of some, or of all, our merely human pursuits; it is better to be saved with one eye, than, having two, to be cast in Gehenna.  But it does this, in a sense, per accidens – because, in those special circumstances, it has ceased to be possible to practise this or that activity to the glory of God.  There is no essential quarrel between the spiritual life and the human activities as such.  Thus the omnipresence of obedience to God in a Christian’s life is, in a way analogous to the omnipresence of God in space.  God does not fill space as a body fills it, in the sense that parts of Him are in different parts of space, excluding other objects from them.  Yet He is everywhere – totally present at every point of space – according to good theologians.

– C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, copyright 1949, 1976, page 14-15