By Cally Logan, Crosswalk.com
"God will only give you what you would have asked for if you knew everything he knows."
Timothy Keller was a profound man of wisdom, faith, and dedication to the Lord and someone we can all take a nod from. As the news broke of his passing on May 19, 2023, we were saddened at the loss of such an insightful man of God but also met with the joy that an obedient and faithful son is now forever in Glory with our Creator. Timothy Keller lived a life of legacy and impact for the Kingdom that will endure for generations to come.
Born in historic Allentown, Pennsylvania, Keller was born and raised into a Christian family but came to salvation in Christ while attending his undergrad at Bucknell University. He then went to Seminary at Gordon-Conwall Theological Seminary and Westminster Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Kathy, have dedicated their lives to the work of the Kingdom through a ministry of writing, speaking, and outreach to their communities. He was ordained by the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) and served as a pastor at West Hopewell Presbyterian Church in Hopewell, Virginia, for nine years before seeking to plant churches for urban ministries. In 1989 he was recruited to help plant Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, New York. The church would prove fruitful, and, as his website shares, "grew to a weekly attendance of over 5,000 people, and through which God brought many other fruitful ministries, such as Redeemer City to City, Hope for New York, and Redeemer Counseling Services, among others. After stepping down as Senior Pastor of Redeemer in July of 2017, he continued to serve City to City full-time, a ministry that has helped start more than 1,000 churches in over 150 cities and trained or reached more than 79,000 leaders." Redeemer Presbyterian continues to grow today as a mighty oak tree from a once small seed of hope.
Books and Publications
In addition to his work as Senior Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian, Keller poured out endless wisdom through his books, sermons, and published works. His most notable works are The Reason for God, The Prodigal God, and The Meaning of Marriage. These works encapsulate the proper balance of Spirit and Scripture with useful guidance that can be implemented in a believer's daily life and walk. These works seek to cultivate and encourage true intimacy not only with one another but with God as well. He beautifully shares in, The Meaning of Marriage, "The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope." Timothy Keller spoke boldly and without fear and walked out of such beliefs with great courage.
Keller was not one to stray away from or hide from sharing his beliefs on a grand scale publicly. In an age where many are threatened to be "canceled" at the whim of the ever-changing public opinion, Keller stood firm in his beliefs. He lived by the call of 1 Corinthians 15:58 to, "Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain." By disavowing the "Social Gospel," he sought to unify the church by bringing to light that the Word of that Lord and the Gospel stretches far beyond Democrat and Republican Party systems. This belief carried forward in his rooted biblical beliefs in social issues such as abortion, marriage, and gender roles. In regards to handling disagreements in this world with one another, he offered, "Tolerance isn't about not having beliefs. It's about how your beliefs lead you to treat people who disagree with you." Although often counter to the opinions of society and modern culture, Keller consistently lived a life of conviction for his beliefs, even to the end.
Ministry in Marriage
The Kellers, as a couple, lived by the example of what it looks like to have a Godly marriage rooted in at the core in Christ. In their co-authored book, The Meaning of Marriage, they share, "To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us."
This is a vital reminder that, at its core, a marriage needs God above all else. Together with God, the Kellers wove together a tapestry banner of what a successful marriage looks like in practical application. They also shared that marriage in itself is a journey, just like anything else in life, and it is something requiring partnership together and with God, "Falling in love in a Christian way is to say, 'I am excited about your future and I want to be part of getting you there. I'm signing up for the journey with you. Would you sign up for the journey to my true self with me? It's going to be hard but I want to get there." These worthwhile challenges, along with living as an example, are evidence that the Kellers walked the walk of ministry in all areas of life.
The impact and legacy of Timothy Keller will endure for years to come. Each and every believer serves a vital and important role in the Body of the Church, but for some, they are called to live out the calling of being a voice for the Kingdom. With all of his strength and vigor, Timothy Keller did just that. His life is one where he took every and all piece of his ministry back to the Word of God. He knew that relationship with God brings us back to the heart of God for man from the very beginning in Eden. In The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, he shares, "When we look at the whole scope of this story line, we see clearly that Christianity is not only about getting one's individual sins forgiven so we can go to heaven. That is an important means of God's salvation, but not the final end or purpose of it. The purpose of Jesus's coming is to put the whole world right, to renew and restore the creation, not to escape it. It is not just to bring personal forgiveness and peace, but also justice and shalom to the world. God created both the body and soul, and the resurrection of Jesus shows that he is going to redeem both body and soul. The work of the Spirit of God is not only to save souls but also to care and cultivate the face of the earth, the material world."
Timothy Keller now passes the torch to believers everywhere to continue to praise, worship, and proclaim the truth of the Word of God to all the earth. May we carry that torch with courage onward!
Photo credit: ©Tim Keller Facebook
Cally Logan is an author and US History teacher from Richmond, Virginia. In her free time, she enjoys mentoring youth and spending time in nature. She is the author of Hang on in There, Girl! and Dear Future Husband: A Love Letter Journey While Waiting for God's Best. Check her out on Instagram and Twitter, @CallyLogan and TikTok Cally_Logan.