Matthew’s Spiritual Journey

Posts Tagged ‘Tim Keller

Sharing the Father’s Welcome

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Thanks to blog posts by Keren and Dennis, I learned belatedly that you can read Edmund Clowney’s “Sharing the Father’s Welcome” on Crossway’s website (which is more useful than the link in my earlier post).

I am thankful to have access to this writing, especially because Tim Keller wrote that Dr. Clowney’s teaching influenced his understanding of the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

Also on Crossway’s blog, I found the link to free podcasts of “Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World,” a 18-session lecture series by Clowney and Keller. I had previously listened to the 21-minute introductory podcast and found it very useful in understanding the structure and goal of Tim Keller’s sermons each Sunday.


Written by Matthew

October 27, 2008 at 10:43 pm

The Prodigal God

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Rev. Tim Keller’s new book is now available. He explains what is in the book and why he wrote it.

It is an expansion of my sermon on the Prodigal Son parable in Luke 15. Kathy and I have long felt that this was the clearest and best single exposition of the gospel I’ve been able to do over the years. My interpretation of the parable was originally based on a sermon called “Sharing the Father’s Welcome” that I heard preached by Dr. Edmund P. Clowney over 35 years ago. That sermon had a profound impact on how I preached for the rest of my ministry. In some ways the teaching of this sermon is at the very foundation of Redeemer’s ministry.

What’s the book about? It’s about being ‘prodigal.’ The word ‘prodigal’ is an English word that means recklessly extravagant, spending to the point of poverty. The dictionaries tell us that the word can be understood in a more negative or a more positive sense. The more positive meaning is to be lavishly and sacrificially abundant in giving. The more negative sense is to be wasteful and irresponsible in one’s spending. (Some people think prodigal means ‘wayward,’ but there is no dictionary that indicates that the word means ‘immoral.’) The negative sense obviously applies to the actions of the younger brother in the Luke 15 parable. But is there any sense in which God can be called ‘prodigal’? I think so.

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Written by Matthew

October 27, 2008 at 4:47 pm

The Fellowship of Grace: Study Guides 1-4

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Below are links to the first four weekly study guides for the sermon series, The Fellowship of Grace, at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City.

You can listen to Rev. Keller’s free sermon (streaming or mp3) about the prodigal sons. Also, search and sign up for a fellowship group that is most convenient to you.

Written by Matthew

October 25, 2008 at 11:45 pm

The Fellowship of Grace: To Be Called Your Son

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Below are my notes from the Sunday service on October 19 at Redeemer Presbyterian Church. The title of the sermon is To Be Called Your Son.

Scripture Reading – Luke 15:11-24 (ESV)

Notes on the Sermon by Rev. Timothy Keller

In The Parable of the Prodigal Son, the theme of sonship is important to understand. First, the father proclaims that “this son of mine was dead and is alive again” (verse 24). What does he mean by that declaration when the son had not physically died. Second, the main topic the younger son talks about after his repentance is the fact that he is “no longer worthy to be called your son” (verses 19 and 21). Therefore, Rev. Keller explores the following four aspects of the meaning of sonship in the ancient culture and the Bible.

  1. The character of sonship
  2. The practice of sonship
  3. The community that results from sonship
  4. The true sonship of Jesus

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Written by Matthew

October 21, 2008 at 12:15 am

The Fellowship of Grace: Give Me Mine

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Below are my notes from the Sunday service on October 5 at Redeemer Presbyterian Church. The current series is examining how the Gospel creates a new kind of community. This sermon introduces the Parable of the Prodigal Son which will be discussed over the next six weeks.

Scripture Reading – Luke 15:11-32 (ESV)

Luke 15:11-32 (ESV), courtesy of http://wordle.net/

Notes on the Sermon by Rev. Timothy Keller

Rev. Keller asks us to think about this familiar parable in a slightly different way. He summarizes the story as a picture of an assault on the community, because of idolatry, which is only overcome by agony. He then touched on the following topics.

  1. What is happening in the story? There is a two-front assault on the integrity of the family.
  2. What is the underlying cause of this assault? An idolatry.
  3. What is the source of this sin of idolatry tearing up the community? A disordered love.
  4. What is the ultimate meaning of life for Christians? Loving relationship enjoyed by the triune God.
  5. There is nothing more beautiful than an infinitely powerful and perfectly happy God who is willing to suffer for our sins.

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Written by Matthew

October 7, 2008 at 10:32 pm

The Fellowship of Grace: He Welcomes Sinners

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Beginning with this post, I am starting a new project to summarize teachings at Redeemer Presbyterian Church on a regular basis. Below are my notes from the Sunday service on September 28.

Scripture Reading – Luke 15:1-10 (ESV)

Luke 15:1-10 (ESV), courtesy of http://wordle.net

Notes on the Sermon by Rev. Timothy Keller

The “muttering” [Luke 15:2, NIV] from the Pharisees and the scribes triggers Jesus to deliver three parables of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin and the Prodigal Son. Conventional interpretations of these parables typically discuss how the Grace of God changes us as individuals.

In this 7-week series entitled the Fellowship of Grace, however, Rev. Keller wants to discuss them in a different light, exploring how these parables illustrate that the Grace of God, not only changes us individually, but also transforms us into a unique kind of group—a distinctive Gospel community.

Focusing on the parable of the Lost Sheep in particular, Rev. Keller asks the following three questions.

  1. What does the lost sheep teach us?
  2. What does the search itself teach us?
  3. What does the shepherd teach us?

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Written by Matthew

September 30, 2008 at 11:06 pm

Leading a Beta Group

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One new project Susan and I have committed to this fall is hosting and leading a weekly Christian fellowship meeting at our home. We will be studying three parables in Luke 15 over those seven weeks, dovetailing with the end-of-October publication of The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith, a new book by Reverend Tim Keller.

Beta Groups are newly-formed small gatherings for worship and Bible study at Redeemer Presbyterian Church. They are designed to serve as a seven-week introduction to the community of Christian fellowship.

In leading our Beta Group, we are responding, in part, to Reverend Keller’s call to engage more actively in building a Gospel-based Christian community and, in particular, to practice Christian hospitality in our daily lives. This homily, delivered on June 8, was part of the sermon series entitled Practicing the Christian Life and discussed Hebrews 13:1-14 which begins as follows.

Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Reverend Keller helped me see that the practice of Christian hospitality should be considered part of the larger transformation of rebirth initiated by the Grace of God. I have come to accept that the practice of Christian hospitality requires me to form radically new attitude towards others with heart-felt care about both material and spiritual well-being of fellow sojourners in Christ.

Below are a couple of other Bible passages that have guided my service to our Beta Group which, incidentally, is composed mostly of newcomers (hence, sojourners) to New York City.

For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:17-19, ESV)

The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:7-11, ESV)

Written by Matthew

September 28, 2008 at 4:28 pm