The Penalty, Faith, and the Gospel
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel (emphasis mine) I preached to you, which you received,in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to youâ€”unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.
1 Cor. 15:1-4 (ESV)
I am a Tim Keller fan because Tim Keller gets the biblical gospel right. I enjoy listening to his audio messages because they are cross-centered, grace-saturated, and Christ-exalting. You can find his sermons at theÂ Redeemer Presbyterian Church or The Gospel Coalition websites. Transform your spiritual life by listening for free to the “Prodigal God” sermon series.
The Gospel: His Love, My Flaws
The Christian gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me. This leads to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time. It undermines both swaggering and sniveling. I cannot feel superior to anyone, and yet I have nothing to prove to anyone. I do not think more of myself nor less of myself. Instead, I think of myself less.
Timothy Keller, The Reason For God (New York, NY: Dutton, 2008), 181.
The Cross Pays Our Debt
The cross is not simply a lovely example of sacrificial love. Throwing your life away needlessly is not admirable â€” it is wrong. Jesusâ€™ death was only a good example if it was more than an example, if it was something absolutely necessary to rescue us. And it was. Why did Jesus have to die in order to forgive us? There was a debt to be paid â€” God himself paid it. There was a penalty to be born â€” God himself bore it. Forgiveness is always a form of costly suffering.
Timothy Keller, The Reason For God (New York, NY: Dutton, 2008), 193.
Weak Faith in a Strong Branch
Imagine you are on a high cliff and you lose your footing and begin to fall. Just beside you is a branch sticking out of the edge of the cliff. It is your only hope and seems more than strong enough. How can it save you?
If youâ€™re certain the branch can support you, but you donâ€™t actually reach out and grab it, you are lost. If instead your mind is filled with doubts and uncertainty that the branch can hold you, but you reach out and grab it anyway, you will be saved. Why?Â It is not the strength of your faith but the object of your faith that actually saves you. Strong faith in a weak branch is fatally inferior to weak faith in a strong branch.
Timothy Keller, The Reason For God (New York, NY: Dutton, 2008), 234