If you want a good place to start with Tim Keller


NYC Redeemer Trip June 2006

Finding Tim Keller

I have listened to hundreds of Tim Keller sermons and talks.

I first heard of Tim Keller when I was a student at Calvin Seminary. Keller had taught at Westminster with Roger Greenway who was then teaching Missions at CTS. Greenway handed out an article written by Keller and told us prophetically “you’ll hear more from this guy in the future”. Well we have.

Visiting Redeemer

I visited Redeemer Pres. in the June of 2006. Tim Blackmon had a friend who knew Keller and could get myself, Ron Vanderwell, Tim and Kevin Adams into a quiet little conference they sometimes did with a dozen or so pastors who were curious about what Redeemer was doing. We had a couple of sessions with Tim Keller and other staffers at Redeemer.

It was a terrific trip for us partly just the four of us being together. We enjoyed the Redeemer stuff but the real joy was a time of friendship and building stories together.

Listening to MP3s

It was August of 2006 that for a number of reasons on my personal and spiritual lives I was in a very tough, hard, dry space. I was at my wit’s end, feeling empty, bankrupt, scared, trapped and lots of other hard and bad things. I’m a product of my Dutch/Frisian subculture so probably few might have guessed it. “No one wants to hear you complain” is a mantra in our subculture so you take this stuff, you bury it until your back yard is full of the stuff you try to hide.

I needed to lose weight and exercise so I found a stationary bike someplace and started to ride it listening to mp3s. I stumbled across some of the Tim Keller websites that had popped up and began to download the free stuff. Every day I’d listen to one or two hours of Keller stuff. I burned through the free stuff pretty quickly and then hit the “pay for stuff”. Kind of sounds like an addict but it was helping me in some spaces that really needed help. I didn’t just listen to Keller. There were others too that I found helpful but I found Keller really helped me sort out some emotional stuff and find a way to trust God for a lot of scary stuff in my life where no typical American solution was faithful, responsible or good to pursue.

This kept up for a few years but tapered off to a more sustainable pace. I’ve been listening to Keller now for almost 10 years now.

Tim Keller as a Preacher

Keller is a very predictable preacher, as if there is any other kind. 🙂

Most of his sermons have three points:

  1. The Presenting Problem
  2. The Assumed Cultural solution is really a deeper dilemma
  3. How the Gospel fixes it

Basic, to the point, very predictable.

Keller repeats his favorite illustrations, his favorite themes, his favorite book and hymn quotes very regularly. Many of them crop up again and again.

One thing important to appreciate is the roll Keller plays in the church he serves. There is high turn-over at Redeemer with many people staying only 4 years or so.

Keller is at heart an evangelist and an apologist and so that is a lot of what his sermons do. I wouldn’t say he isn’t a good exegete. I often benefit from his insights into passages, but the texts set him up to present the kinds of things he presents over and over again.

He also is a master of cultural exegesis and finds terrific illustrations. That was part of the reason I took to blogging sermon notes from him Often I just wanted to steal his illustrations and the best way to do it was the blog. Some of the posts that get the slow but regular traffic on my blog are the “sermon notes” I do from his sermons.

Where to Find Keller Sermons

GospelinLife.com is the chief source. If you want free stuff there are lots free messages you can download. If you’re looking for a place to start and are willing to spend a little something the recent series he’s done on “What We Believe” is a good place to start. He hits a lot of the main themes he’s been working over the years and he’s gotten really good at being clear with them. The series follows the Apostles Creed so you get a nice even coverage of Tim Keller’s version of mere Christianity with this series. Recommended. pvk

About PaulVK

Husband, Father of 5, Pastor
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