Tim Keller, a beloved pastor, preacher and teacher died recently at the age of 72.  After being diagnosed in 2020 with pancreatic cancer, he told the New York Times, “If the resurrection of Jesus Christ really happened, then ultimately, God is going to put everything right.  Suffering is going to go away.  Evil is going to go away.  Death is going to go away.  Aging is going to go away.  Pancreatic cancer is going to go away.  Now if the resurrection of Jesus Christ did not happen, then I guess all bets are off.  But if it actually happened, then there’s all the hope in the world.” 

Back in 2021, Keller said, “It is endlessly comforting to have a God who is both infinitely more wise and more loving than I am.  He has plenty of good reasons for everything He does and allows that I cannot know, and therein is my hope and strength.”  His final words were these: “There is no downside for me leaving, not in the slightest.” 

There is no doubt in my mind that Keller was very influential among evangelical pastors and leaders. Dale M. Coulter (a Pentecostal theologian) had this to say about Keller (who had a reformed background).   “Keller was winsome in his approach, but uncompromising on doctrine.  He focused on grace because he believed that most people understand how broken they are.  Keller’s approach of emphasizing grace and love in the context of offering the gospel to skeptics became the hallmark of his life.”

“Tim Keller,” wrote Pastor Ray Ortlund, “was the publicly prominent voice for Christ in my generation, who I trusted the most.  When he spoke or wrote I never had to brace myself for embarrassment.   He rang true again and again, because he was true to Christ.”   

Ortlund named three aspects of Keller’s ministry that I relate to as a follower of Jesus.  First, “Gospel Fullness” as “a principled sensitivity to the biblical gospel as the integrating center of everything that is truly Christian.”  For me, it’s always about Jesus.  Keller maintained, “The gospel changes everything… The gospel is not just the ABC’s but the A to Z of the Christian life.  It is inaccurate to think the gospel is what saves non-Christians, and then Christians mature by trying hard to live according to biblical principles.”  No, it’s all about the love, grace and mercy found in Jesus. Period!  

Secondly,  “Authentic Revival.”  Keller was consistent. “Since the gospel is about more than converting individuals but about renewing the world with outpouring of refreshment from above (Acts 3:20), authentic revival deserves to be an essential concern.”  Like Keller, I was deeply influenced back in the early 70’s by Richard Lovelace’s book, “Dynamics of Spiritual Life.”  I read it many times.  I was blessed to see a respected church leader like Keller implementing revival into his renewal for the church

Thirdly, “Missional Wisdom.”  “What we can do is take wiser advantage of our beliefs, with gentle awareness of the riches offered there for calling ‘post-everything’ people to Christ.”  Ortlund ponders, “Why muffle our theology in an effort to win a hearing, when our theology itself offers compelling insights into the burning issues of the day – if we will be humble and wise about it?”

Men, in plain language, here is a charge from Tim Keller as we desire to influence our culture:  1) It’s all about Jesus.  Keep your eyes always on him.   2) Pray for (and be open to) an outpouring of God’s spirit.  3) Don’t give up on the historic faith.  Through wisdom and humility, it can speak effectively to the issues of our day.