Book Recommendation: Every Good Endeavor

Just yesterday Timothy Keller’s new book Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work was released. You can pick up a copy here.

Before the release, the guys over at Desiring God had Keller on their podcast Authors on the Line. Here is what they had to say about the interview:

We put Dr. Keller on the line to ask him about the 9 to 5 labors into which we invest so much of our lives. So what is the purpose of our work? What if we get stuck in a job we don’t enjoy? And why does it seem the church has such a hard time getting its arms around vocation in the first place?

Their interview was helpful and informative. I recommend you take the time to listen to their discussion and pick up a copy of Keller’s new book.

God’s Work and Ours: An Interview with Timothy Keller (17 minutes)

What Gospel-Centered Churches Do and Why

Have you ever wondered what your church should be doing, and why you should be doing it? In his latest book, Center Church, Timothy Keller answers those questions. In Keller fashion, his answer stems from an understanding of the gospel. Before we get to what our churches should be doing, let’s start with an outline of the gospel.

The Gospel Outline

  1. The Son of God emptied himself and came into the world in Jesus Christ, becoming a servant.
  2. He died on the cross as a substitutionary sacrifice.
  3. He rose from the grave as the first-fruits of a whole renewed world[1].

From this outline Keller develops the following categories, which coincide with the outline above and provide us with the answer to our questions: What should our churches be doing? And why should they be doing it?

Gospel Categories and Church Ministries

The Incarnation and the Upside-Down Aspect of the Gospel

Jesus gave up all to serve all. His humble and servant actions serve to turn the world’s idea of life on it’s head. In doing so, “He creates a new kind of servant community, with people who live out an entirely alternate way of being human. Racial and class superiority, accrual of money and power at the expense of others, yearning for popularity and recognition – all are marks of living in the world. They represent the opposite of the gospel mind-set”[2]

The Upside-Down aspect of the gospel teaches us that our church should have or be doing the following:

  • Deep Community
  • Cell Groups or House Churches
  • Radical Giving and Sharing of Resources
  • Spiritual Disciplines
  • Racial Reconciliation
  • Living with the Poor[3]

The Atonement and the Inside-Out Aspect of the Gospel

“Jesus took our place on the cross and accomplished salvation for all, which we freely receive as a gift”[2]. This is the opposite of Traditional religion, which teaches that “if we do good deeds and follow the moral rules in our external behavior, God will come into our hearts, bless us, and give us salvation”[4]. The gospel is the opposite. Instead of obeying to get God, the gospel tells us that we obey because we have God.

The Inside-Out aspect of the gospel teaches us that our church should uphold the following doctrinal convictions and should be doing the following:

  • Personal Conversion
  • Experiential Grace Renewal
  • Evangelism
  • Outreach
  • Church Planting[5]

The Resurrection and the Forward-Back Aspect of the Gospel

“Jesus is resurrected but we are not. He has inaugurated the kingdom of God, but it is not fully present”[6]. This means that we live in the “already/not yet”. We now experience the results of Christ’s reign, but we will not fully experience them until He returns. While we enjoy His reign now, we look forward to His return.

The Forward-Backward aspect of the gospel pushes us as a church to:

  • Seek the Welfare of our City and Neighborhood
  • Civic Involvement
  • Cultural Engagement
  • Training Congregants to Work Out of a Christian Worldview in a Secular Vocation[7]

Conclusion

If we want to be a Gospel-Centered and Gospel-Driven church, we must first understand the gospel, then allow the gospel to inform us as to what actions we are to take, what ministries we are to have, and what we are to belief. A church with the gospel at its center never wonders what they are to do, nor why they are doing it. As well as they never lack the power to accomplish their ministry and work in their community and city.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Why does your church have the ministries it has?
  2. What is your church missing from this list?
  3. What does your church do well on this list?
  4. In what areas will your church need to change in order to become a gospel-centered church?

Resources

[1] Timothy Keller, Center Church, 46.
[2] Ibid., 46-47.
[3] Ibid. 47.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Ibid., 47-48.

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Prophet, Priest, and King

You may have heard that all believers function as a Prophet, Priest, and King, but you may not know how you function in those ways. I have often wondered myself. Yesterday, I came across an article, entitled Movement Dynamics, by Timothy Keller that helped me to understand the biblical reasoning behind these categories, as well as the ways in which we act as a Prophet, Priest, and King. Today, I want to share with you what I learned from that article.

Prophet

A prophet is one who interprets Scripture, judges by Scripture, and witnesses to the truth of their faith. He is also one who admonishes, counsels, nourishes, and encourages other believers from the Scripture.

Joel 2:28-29 predicts those in the New Covenant will act as prophets, and we do. In Matthew 11:9-11, we are told that we are in a greater position and calling than the prophets of old, specifically, John the Baptist who is said to be the greatest prophet.

Then in Colossians 3:16 and Hebrews 3:13 and 10:24-25 our prophetic duties are spelled out, telling us that we are teach and admonish others, exhort others, so that they will not be hardened by sin, and we are to stir one another up to love and good deeds. We are also called by Jesus to take His message to our neighbors and the nations (Matt. 28:18-21).

Priest

A priest is one who has access to God. He is able to enter into His presence and intercede for others.

The veil to the temple was torn in two at Jesus’ crucifixion (Matt. 27:51), resulting in all of us having access as priests in the name of Christ, the great High Priest, to the presence of God (Heb. 4:14-16).

We all are given priestly work (Rev. 5:10). We are to pray for others (James 5:16). We are to offer ourselves as living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1-2). As well as we are to offer sacrifices of deeds and mercy (Heb. 13:16), along with offerings of worship: praising God and acknowledging His name (Heb. 13:15).

King

A king is one who sits on his throne ruling and reigning over those He has been given authority over. He has the power to make decisions and fight off attackers that would threaten his kingdom.

Every believer has these same abilities, having been made a kingdom through the blood of Christ (Rev. 5:9-10) and seated with Him in the heavenly places (Eph. 2:6) we reign now over the powers of Satan. We are able to fight and defeat the world, the flesh, and the devil (1 Tim. 1:18; 6:12). One day, we will reign on this earth alongside our One True King, Jesus Christ (Rev. 1:5-6; 5:9-10). As well as those who are apart of the New Covenant church have the power to make decisions regarding church governance even now.

Jesus is the Ultimate Prophet, Priest, and King

While every believer is a Prophet, Priest, and King, the ultimate Prophet, Priest, and King is Jesus Christ. He is the One that brings us God’s Word (Prophet). Stands as our advocate before the Father (Priest), and orders the life of His people through His Law (King). Without Him and His sacrifice, we would not be able to exercise our offices as Prophet, Priest, and King. So may we not forget that Jesus is the ultimate Prophet, Priest, and King, who makes it possible for us to function in these offices, as well as stands as our perfect example.

Questions for Reflection:

  • How are you doing at exercising your role as Prophet, Priest, and King?
  • Do you exercise your role as a Prophet by speaking the truth in love to others, calling them to repent and believe the gospel, as well as calling those who are Christians to live as Christ?
  • Do you exercise your Priestly role by interceding for others, and offering yourself as a living Sacrifice?
  • Do you fight against evil, the flesh, and the world in your life as a King?

Resources

Post adapted from Timothy Keller, Movement Dynamics, 3-4.

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