The Gospel would still be true even if no one believed it. The hopeful thing is that, where it is tried–where it is imperfectly and hesitantly followed–as it was in Northern Ireland [and South Africa] during the peace process[es], as it is in many a Salvation Army hostel this Christmas, as it flickers in countless unseen Christian lives, it works. And its palpable and remarkable power to transform human life takes us to the position of believing that something very wonderful indeed began with the birth of Christ into the world.
Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God, page 192.
Quoting A. N. Wilson, It’s the Gospel Truth.
All judgments that something or someone is good or bad do so based on an awareness of purpose. If you know what that purpose is, then your moral evaluation of something can be a factual statement, a truth that exists apart from your personal likes and dislikes. You may not like watches for some reason, but if it is a good one, you will have to acknowledge it to be so. If you know the purpose of a farmer is to get a crop out of a piece of land, but she does not get any yield at all, year after year, then you know she is a bad farmer, however much you may like her personally. If, however, you have no idea of the purpose of an object, then any description of it as “good” or “bad” is wholly subjective, completely based on inner preferences.
How, then, can we tell if a human being is good or bad? Only if we know our purpose, what human life is for. If you don’t know the answer to that, then you can never determine “good” and “bad” human behavior. If, as in the secular view, we have not been made for a purpose, then it is futile to even try to talk about moral good and evil.
Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God, pages 186-187.
Eastern religions today teach that after death our souls merge with the All-Soul of the universe. Just as a drop of water returning to the ocean loses its individual nature in the whole, so we become an impersonal part of the impersonal spiritual life force knitting all things together. But if after death there is nonexistence, impersonal existence, or in any case nonconsciousness, that means there is no love, because only persons can love. If we are not a self after death, then we have lost everything, because what we most want in life is love.
Tim Keller, Making Sense of God, p. 167
In addition, we will never again fear separation from those we love. Disrupted love, the greatest sadness that earthly life contains, will be gone forever. In heaven “they shall know that they shall forever be continued in the perfect enjoyment of each other’s love.” All things there “shall flourish in an eternal youth. Age will not diminish anyone’s beauty or vigor, and there love shall flourish . . . as a living spring perpetually springing . . . as a rive which ever runs and is always clear and full.”
Tim Keller, Making Sense of God, p. 169
Quoting Jonathan Edwards, Heaven is a World of Love, The Sermons of Jonathan Edwards: A Reader.
There has to be somebody whom you adore who adores you. Someone whom you cannot but praise who praises and lovesyou–that is the foundation of identity. The praise of the praiseworthy is above all rewards. However, if we put this power in the hands of a fallible, changeable person, it can be devastating. And if this person’s regard is based on your fallible and changeable life efforts, your self-regard will be just as fleeting and fragile. Nor can this person be someone you can lose, because then you will have lost your very self. Obviously, no human love can meet these standards. Only love of the immutable can bring tranquility. Only the unconditional love of God will do.
Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God, p. 135
When religion becomes a veneer of holiness to conceal unholy character, it makes its bearers less receptive to God’s transforming grace.
Craig Keener, Matthew, p.335.
And here we see the richness, complexity, and startling distinctiveness of the Christian approach to identity. Paul can say, “God judges me,” not with alarm but with confidence. Why? Because unlike either traditional or secular culture, a Christian’s identity is not achieved but received. When we ask God the Father to accept us, adopt us, unite with us, not on the basis of our performance and moral efforts but because of Christ’s, we receive a relationship with God that is a gift. It is not based on our past, present, or future attainments but on Christ’s spiritual attainments. In the Christian understanding, Jesus did not come primarily to teach or show us how to live (though he did that too) but to actually live the life we should have lived, and die in our place the death – the penalty for our moral failures – we should have died. When we rest in him alone for our salvation, he becomes a substitute and representative for us. On the cross Jesus was treated as we deserved, so that when we believe in him, we are treated as he deserves.
Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God, page 136
Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.
I was informed that Richard had died alone in a hotel room from a heart attack. However, I knew the true story. I knew that Richard died in a hotel room with Jesus in his heart and right by his side. Now Richard is home with Jesus. He’s not home because he always did what was best and true. He’s home because of what Jesus accomplished for him.
Jim Burgen, No More Dragons, p. 168
Staying in your comfort zone is a tool of oppression.
Ana Marie Cox, on The Hilarious World of Depression,
Episode #PLACEBO, May 5, 2017