An Evening with Tim Keller

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We at BtT would like to make you aware of An Evening with Tim Keller, an event being sponsored by DurhamCares and held on May 4th at the Durham Performing Arts Center. Keller will be speaking about the impact local churches can have on their cities for the Kingdom of God. In particular, he will be addressing questions such as: Is it important for the church to be involved in serving the community? If I want to be more involved in serving the community, what might the next step might be? Does community service commit me to ‘the social gospel’? After speaking, Keller will address questions from the audience.

For more information on An Evening with Tim Keller, click here.

Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary

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You heard it here first. Advance the Church 2011 is coming to the Raleigh Convention Center May 4-5 with the theme, “Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary,” and you do not want to miss out. Tim Keller, Danny Akin, J. D. Greear, Tyler Jones, Eric Mason, Alan Hirsch, and Darrin Patrick are the plenary speakers.

The conference website poses and answers a provocative question: Is it possible that the reason the Church has lost its credibility and prophetic voice is that its Christians no longer believe the Gospel? The Gospel turned the ancient world of the Apostles on its head. It transformed the most unlikely of people into fervent ambassadors for God, while making enemies of both the secular and religious establishments. In contrast, the Church in many places today has become a part of a dying tradition that neither challenges the culture nor attracts the skeptic. Even in movements founded on Biblical truth, a pervasive legalism and moralism has eclipsed the explosive power of what God did for the world in Christ. There is only one thing that can restore the revolutionary power of God to the Church: the Gospel. The Church is in a moment of crisis. The Gospel is our only hope!

The plenary and breakout sessions will address many other questions at the intersection of gospel and ministry, such as: How does a gospel-centered worldview inform the way we preach, treat social issues, plant churches, think about current events, give pastoral counsel, treat our spouses, raise our children, and approach the task of world mission? In what ways do American Christians misunderstand the gospel? In what ways have Christ and the gospel been replaced in church life today?

I’ve attended Advance the Church in previous years, and I was not disappointed. I expect that this year’s conference will be equally profitable. If you would like to join me at Advance the Church Raleigh, you can click here for a link to the website or click here for a link to the Advance11 video.

On the Dangers of Seminary (Pt. 2): The Danger of Losing Your First Love for God and Your Love for the Lost

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Revelation 2:4: “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen.”

Romans 10:15: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!

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In the summer of 2000, I returned home from having spent two years in a predominantly Muslim context in Central Asia, where I found opportunities to share the gospel nearly every day. It was my experience in Central Asia, just as it had been during my college years, that contact with lost people was good for my soul. My love for God poured out naturally into a love for the lost around me. But the reverse was also true: my encounters and relationships with the lost spurred on my love for God. There is something beautiful and indeed powerful about seeing a lost man cry out to God, be saved by God’s grace, and walk in newness of life. Our love for God and his gospel results in a love for man (one does not commend that which he does not cherish), but also our love for God’s image-bearers results in a yet deeper love for God and his gospel (the more we proclaim and embody God’s love, the more we love Him and recognize his unsurpassed worth).

Upon returning home from Central Asia, I threw myself into Ph. D. studies. I preached the gospel, especially during the summer breaks, but for the most part I studied. As the months and years passed, I found that I rarely had conversations with unbelievers. I lived on campus, taught on campus, and worshiped with believers on Sundays. Rare was the day that I had a meaningful conversation with someone who was not a believer. Even worse, I felt like I was slowly losing the impulse to share the gospel. As a result, not only was I was withholding life from men and women who are dead in their trespasses, without hope and without God in this world, but also I was losing one of the very things that fired my passion for God.

Ironically, I was attending a seminary that confessed absolute confidence in God and his gospel and encouraged evangelistic zeal at every turn. For over a decade now, under two different presidents, this has remained the same. And yet retaining my affection for God and a love for the lost remains a struggle for me. I suspect that I am not alone, and I offer some advice for those those who may find themselves in this situation-seminary students and employees, pastors, employees of SBC entities, etc.: Do whatever it takes to break out of the Christian bubble within which you live, and take the gospel of life to those who are dead. In an attempt to do this myself, I have designated a few days each month during which I do my work (research, writing, email, whatever) at a coffee shop or student center at UNC, Duke, or one of the other college campuses in our area. Here is another idea: Try coming home from work or from the library before 10:00 p.m., and in so doing you might actually meet some of your neighbors who are lost. A final idea: Instead of listening to that next Tim Keller sermon, put down the iPod and actually do what it is that Keller is talking about-share the gospel.

In conclusion, don’t resent your time “in the bubble.” Don’t reject the great opportunity God has given you to lay the foundation for a lifetime of ministry. Don’t feel guilty that you are here. Seminary is your calling at this time in your life. Take advantage of your classes, your professors, your fellow students. Make the most of your studies in church history, theology, or missions. But while you are at it, don’t allow yourself to lose your first love for God and your love for the lost.