Last Friday, May 19, author and retired pastor Tim Keller entered into the presence of His Lord and Savior. I have always appreciated his thoughtful, biblical, and Christ-centered insights, and have often recommended his books, messages, and online videos. I love that brother and prayed for his healing since his diagnosis of pancreatic cancer—knowing that healing is always temporary in this life, and asking that if God didn’t heal him that He would prepare Tim for that better world. And God has answered that prayer, and the prayer of countless others around the world, by bringing Tim into His presence, where he has experienced complete healing and great joy.
The Gospel Coalition shared this in their announcement of Tim’s death:
In 2021, Keller spoke on a podcast with Hansen, Kevin DeYoung, and Justin Taylor about his experience with terminal cancer and how it has focused his spiritual life.
“I think the way I handle imminent death,” Keller said, “is by fighting my sin and getting deeper communion with God. That’s certainly how John Owen did it, as you know. His Meditations and Discourses on the Glory of Christ, the last thing he wrote, was basically how he was dealing with his imminent death. And that’s what I’m trying to do too.”
His experience of seeking deeper communion with God is exactly what I saw in Nanci’s life during her cancer years. Michael Keller, Tim’s son, wrote about his dad’s passing: “Timothy J. Keller, husband, father, grandfather, mentor, friend, pastor, and scholar died this morning at home. Dad waited until he was alone with Mom. She kissed him on the forehead, and he breathed his last breath. We take comfort in some of his last words: ‘There is no downside for me leaving, not in the slightest.’ See you soon, Dad.”
I quoted from Tim in several of my books, but especially in It’s All About Jesus, which is a collection of quotations about our Savior. Hope you enjoy these rich and meaningful insights from Tim. May His legacy of exalting Jesus through his words live on and continue to impact many for the Kingdom.
“In the whole history of the world, there is only one person who not only claimed to be God himself but also got enormous numbers of people to believe it. Only Jesus combines claims of divinity with the most beautiful life of humanity.”
“Jesus lost all his glory so that we could be clothed in it. He was shut out so we could get access. He was bound, nailed, so that we could be free. He was cast out so we could approach.”
“Because he was thrown into that storm for you, you can be sure that there’s love at the heart of this storm for you.”
“When you read the Gospels, you are seeing God’s perfections… in all their breath-taking, real-life forms. You can know the glories of God from the Old Testament, but in Jesus Christ they come near.”
“The mission God gave Jonah meant possible death and suffering… Jonah, however, refused to go, thinking only of himself. The mission God gave Jesus, however, meant certain death and infinite suffering, and yet he went, thinking not of himself but of us.”
“Jesus didn’t come to tell us the answers to the questions of life, he came to be the answer.”
“After creation God said, ‘It is finished’—and he rested. After redemption Jesus said, ‘It is finished’—and we can rest.”
“The fact that Jesus had to die for me humbled me out of my pride. The fact that Jesus was glad to die for me assured me out of my fear.”
“If we again ask the question: ‘Why does God allow evil and suffering to continue?’ and we look at the cross of Jesus, we still do not know what the answer is. However, we know what the answer isn’t. It can’t be that he doesn’t love us. It can’t be that he is indifferent or detached from our condition. God takes our misery and suffering so seriously that he was willing to take it on himself.”
“The founders of every major religion said, ‘I’ll show you how to find God.’ Jesus said, ‘I am God who has come to find you.’”
“If you think it takes courage to be with Jesus, consider that it took infinitely more courage for him to be with you. Only Christianity says one of the attributes of God is courage. No other religion has a God who needed courage.”
“Everything in the Hebrew worldview militated against the idea that a human being could be God. Jews would not even pronounce the name ‘Yahweh’ nor spell it. And yet Jesus Christ—by his life, by his claims, and by his resurrection—convinced his closest Jewish followers that he was not just a prophet telling them how to find God, but God himself come to find us.”
“If we think we are not all that bad, the idea of grace will never change us. Change comes by seeing a need for a Savior and getting one.”
“Jesus himself is the main argument for why we should believe Christianity.”
“All change comes from deepening your understanding of the salvation of Christ and living out the changes that understanding creates in your heart.”
“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.”