This Tuesday Tim Keller’s Memorial Service will be livestreamed at 2:30 Eastern Time and then shown on You-tube. For more information: https://timothykeller.com/service
When I was ten, my parents took me to the Sistine Chapel and I looked up at Michelangelo’s depiction of The Final Judgment.
It put the fear of the Lord in me, though I did not yet understand the very good news of the Gospel. Jesus promises in this week’s passage:
I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned. (John 5:24)
Many say: “I can’t believe in a God who’d send people to hell.” How would you respond?
The best rebuttal I’ve heard to that is a word picture of a man drowning and a rescuer throwing him a life buoy. But the drowning man refuses it. Is the rescuer responsible for sending him to his death?
What a lifeline our God has sent us in Jesus!
He has not only rescued us from hell but from so much more. I’d love for you to watch this video of a new songwriter I’ve come to love, for he puts psalms to music, but in a much more melodic way than I have usually heard. I’m working on memorizing this one!
Also — heads up. I’m planning in early September to do Paige Benton Brown’s 6 week study on Jonah, but in a simpler way here. Instead of lots of questions, I’ll divide her lecture into 15-minute segments for your reactions. It will cut down on your homework but still give you the blessing of learning from Paige. Then I plan, Lord willing and guiding, to return to Keller in October. If you want to do Paige with a friend or a small group, this blog might help your discussion.
Sermon Transcript: The_Great_Divide_Transcript (1)
1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
2. How have you experienced God’s mercy in this last week?
Monday: The Text
I found three “apparent” contradictions in this text — we know all are just apparent, for God’s Word does not contradict itself, but there is simply something that we don’t understand. So this is a more challenging passage, but I know you are up to it. Let’s dig in together. We’ll look at two today and a third later.
3. Read John 5:24-35
A. What is the promise of verse 24?
B. Was there a moment or time you became confident you were rescued from condemnation? If so, share.
C. What time is coming according to verse 25?
D. In verse 25 we are told those who hear will live. In verse 27 it says all in their graves will hear his voice. What thoughts do you have on this apparent contradiction? (The Greek for the word “hear,” if that is how your translation puts it, will help.)
E. According to verses 26-27, who has given the Son both the power and the authority over life? According to verse 30, who has given Him the wisdom to judge rightly? How does all this show equality with God?
F. Another easier apparent contradiction is in verses 28-29. We are told we are not saved by works, so how do you explain this apparent contradiction?
Listen up to when Keller says he didn’t have the guts to call this sermon the doctrine of judgment. About 9 minute mark.
4. Keller opens with a New York Times critique on the movie Field of Dreams when the writer said “There is a need to believe in justice beyond the grave” because life is incredibly unfair. Do you have that need to want justice for those who have been horrible to others? Do you think most people do?
5. But then Keller says, we want justice, but not a Judge, for we ourselves cringe at the thought of being judged. Do you agree or not and why?
6. How would refute the common thought that we will evolve into better and better people? How does the Christian view differ?
7. What did he mean when he said our Judge is not only the dispenser of judgment but the absorber of judgment?
Wednesday: The Doctrine of Judgment
Listen up to when he says there are a lot of people who get upset about Jesus throwing people into the Lake of Fire. About 14 minutes in.
Verse 30 says our future judgment will be just. We are very good at denial about our sin. Keller quotes Lewis here:
Some day… an absolutely correct verdict—if you like, a perfect critique—will be passed on what each of us is.
We have all encountered judgments or verdicts on ourselves in this life. Every now and then we discover what our fellow creatures really think of us. I don’t of course mean what they tell us to our faces: that we usually have to discount. I am thinking of what we sometimes overhear by accident or of the opinions about us which our neighbours or employees or subordinates unknowingly reveal in their actions: and of the terrible, or lovely, judgments artlessly betrayed by children or even animals. Such discoveries can be the bitterest or sweetest experiences we have. But of course both the bitter and the sweet are limited by our doubt as to the wisdom of those who judge. We always hope that those who so clearly think us cowards or bullies are ignorant and malicious; we always fear that those who trust us or admire us are misled by partiality. I suppose the experience of the final judgment (which may break in upon us at any moment) will be like these little experiences, but magnified to the Nth.
8. What stood out to you from this section and why?
9. Share a time when you deceived yourself about sin in your life and the Lord, somehow or other, then helped you see the truth.
10. Honestly, some aspects of future judgment for believers seem like a contradiction to me, but again, I know it is apparent. I know we are completely forgiven through grace, but also that there will be an examination of our works. (1 Corinthians 3:10-15) and our impure works will cause loss. Keller quotes the Scripture that “every mouth will be stopped.” God’s judgment will be just and it seems there will be a judgment of our gold and hay works. Perhaps that has to do with levels in heaven or rewards, I really don’t know, but would love your wise thoughts.
11. How did Keller explain verse 29?
12. How would you answer his questions: Are your ideas clearer? Is your heart softer? Is your laugh deeper? Are your concerns broader?
Listen up to when he says “And one last thing, the doctrine of judgment will free you from judging yourself.” 27 minute mark
13. What stood out to you from this section and why?
14. What did you learn about what it means to be separated from God, which is the judgment for unbelievers.
15. How does Christianity diverge from other religions when it comes to justice?
16. What do you think about his comment that “Right now counts forever?”
17. He refers to Luke 16:9. What does it say — what do you think it means — and what does Keller say it means?
14. Why does he say the doctrine of judgment will free you from bitterness?
Friday: The Only Way Out
Listen up to the end.
13. What stood out to you from this section and why?
14. How can letting Jesus be in control of your life be the end of boredom?
15. What’s your take-a-way and why?