The Prodigal God Quotes

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The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith by Timothy J. Keller
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“Mercy and forgiveness must be free and unmerited to the wrongdoer. If the wrongdoer has to do something to merit it, then it isn't mercy, but forgiveness always comes at a cost to the one granting the forgiveness.”
Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
“Jesus's teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of his day. However, in the main, our churches today do not have this effect. The kind of outsiders Jesus attracted are not attracted to contemporary churches, even our most avant-garde ones. We tend to draw conservative, buttoned-down, moralistic people. The licentious and liberated or the broken and marginal avoid church. That can only mean one thing. If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did.”
Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
“Neither son loved the father for himself. They both were using the father for their own self-centered ends rather than loving, enjoying, and serving him for his own sake. This means that you can rebel against God and be alienated from him either by breaking his rules or by keeping all of them diligently. It's a shocking message: Careful obedience to God's law may serve as a strategy for rebelling against God.”
Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
“I asked her what was so scary about unmerited free grace? She replied something like this: "If I was saved by my good works -- then there would be a limit to what God could ask of me or put me through. I would be like a taxpayer with rights. I would have done my duty and now I would deserve a certain quality of life. But if it is really true that I am a sinner saved by sheer grace -- at God's infinite cost -- then there's nothing he cannot ask of me.”
Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
“When a newspaper posed the question, “What’s Wrong with the World?” the Catholic thinker G. K. Chesterton reputedly wrote a brief letter in response: “Dear Sirs: I am. Sincerely Yours, G. K. Chesterton.” That is the attitude of someone who has grasped the message of Jesus.”
Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
“You can avoid Jesus as Savior by keeping all the moral laws. If you do that, then you have “rights.” God owes you answered prayers, and a good life, and a ticket to heaven when you die. You don’t need a Savior who pardons you by free grace, for you are your own Savior.”
Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
“If we say, 'I believe in Jesus,' but it doesn't affect the way we live, the answer is not that now we need to add hard work to our faith so much as that we haven't truly understood or believed in Jesus at all.”
Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
tags: faith
“Our Western society is so deeply divided between these two approaches (moralism, self-discovery) that hardly anyone can conceive of any other way to live. If you criticize or distance yourself from one, everyone assumes you have chosen to follow the other, because each of these approaches tends to divide the whole world into two basic groups. The moral conformists say: "the immoral people -- the people who 'do their own thing' -- are the problem with the world, and moral people are the solution." The advocates of self-discovery say: "The bigoted peole -- the people who say, 'We have the Truth' -- are the problem with the world, and progressive people are the solution.”
Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
“A person motivated by love rather than fear will not only obey the letter of the law, but will eagerly seek out new ways to carry out business with transparency and integrity.”
Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
“To truly become Christians we must also repent of the reasons we ever did anything right.”
Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
“Jesus does not divide the world into the moral “good guys” and the immoral “bad guys.” He shows us that everyone is dedicated to a project of self-salvation, to using God and others in order to get power and control for themselves. We are just going about it in different ways. Even though both sons are wrong, however, the father cares for them and invites them both back into his love and feast. This means that Jesus’s message, which is “the gospel,” is a completely different spirituality. The gospel of Jesus is not religion or irreligion, morality or immorality, moralism or relativism, conservatism or liberalism. Nor is it something halfway along a spectrum between two poles—it is something else altogether.”
Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
“The targets of this story are not "wayward sinners" but religious people who do everything the Bible requires. Jesus is pleading not so much with immoral outsiders as with moral insiders. H wants to show them their blindness, narrowness, and self righteousness, and how these things are destroying both their own souls and the lives of the people around them.”
Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
tags: bible
“If a group believes God favors them because of their particularly true doctrine, ways of worship, and ethical behavior, their attitude toward those without these things can be hostile.”
Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
“Another sign of those with an “elder brother” spirit is joyless, fear-based compliance. The older son boasts of his obedience to his father, but lets his underlying motivation and attitude slip out when he says, “All these years I’ve been slaving for you.” To be sure, being faithful to any commitment involves a certain amount of dutifulness. Often we don’t feel like doing what we ought to do, but we do it anyway, for the sake of integrity. But the elder brother shows that his obedience to his father is nothing but duty all the way down. There is no joy or love, no reward in just seeing his father pleased. In the same way, elder brothers are fastidious in their compliance to ethical norms, and in fulfillment of all traditional family, community, and civic responsibilities. But it is a slavish, joyless drudgery. The word “slave” has strong overtones of being forced or pushed rather than drawn or attracted. A slave works out of fear—fear of consequences imposed by force. This gets to the root of what drives an elder brother. Ultimately, elder brothers live good lives out of fear, not out of joy and love.”
Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
“Your computer operates automatically in a default mode unless you deliberately tell it to do something else. So Luther says that even after you are converted by the gospel your heart will go back to operating on other principles unless you deliberately, repeatedly set it to gospel-mode.”
Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
“Do you realize, then, what Jesus is teaching? Neither son loved the father for himself. They both were using the father for their own self-centered ends rather than loving, enjoying, and serving him for his own sake. This means that you can rebel against God and be alienated from him either by breaking his rules or by keeping all of them diligently.”
Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
“Properly understood, Christianity is by no means the opiate of the people. It’s more like the smelling salts.”
Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
“I was intrigued. I asked her what was so scary about unmerited free grace? She replied something like this: “If I was saved by my good works—then there would be a limit to what God could ask of me or put me through. I would be like a taxpayer with rights. I would have done my duty and now I would deserve a certain quality of life. But if it is really true that I am a sinner saved by sheer grace—at God’s infinite cost—then there’s nothing he cannot ask of me.”
Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
“Would you please be open to the possibility that the gospel, real Christianity, is something very different from religion?” That gives many people hope that there is a way to know God that doesn’t lead to the pathologies of moralism and religiosity.”
Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
“In this story the father represents the Heavenly Father Jesus knew so well. St. Paul writes: “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not reckoning to them their trespasses” (2 Corinthians 5:19—American Standard Version). Jesus is showing us the God of Great Expenditure, who is nothing if not prodigal toward us, his children. God’s reckless grace is our greatest hope, a life-changing experience, and the subject of this book.”
Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
“in general, religiously observant people were offended by Jesus, but those estranged from religious and moral observance were intrigued and attracted to him. We see this throughout the New Testament accounts of Jesus’s life. In every case where Jesus meets a religious person and a sexual outcast (as in Luke 7) or a religious person and a racial outcast (as in John 3-4) or a religious person and a political outcast (as in Luke 19), the outcast is the one who connects with Jesus and the elder-brother type does not. Jesus says to the respectable religious leaders “the tax collectors and the prostitutes enter the kingdom before you” (Matthew 21:31).”
Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
“A friend who attended a prestigious MBA program once told me about the business ethics course he took there. The professor counseled honest business practices for two reasons. First, if you lie or cheat you may be caught, and that would be bad for business. Second, if people in the company know they ae working in an honest business, that will boost morale . . . "Tell the truth--because it's to your own advantage," was the counsel. What happens, however, when you inevitable come to situations in which telling the truth would cost you dearly? What happens when telling a particular lie would be stupendously advantageous to you?”
Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
“If you have not grasped the gospel fully and deeply, you will return to being condescending, condemning, anxious, insecure, joyless, and angry all the time.”
Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
“The gospel is distinct from the other two approaches: In its view, everyone is wrong, everyone is loved, and everyone is called to recognize this and change.”
Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
“The younger son’s flight from the father was crashingly obvious. He left the father literally, physically, and morally. Though the older son stayed at home, he was actually more distant and alienated from the father than his brother, because he was blind to his true condition. He would have been horribly offended by the suggestion that he was rebelling against the father’s authority and love, but he was, deeply.”
Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
“The elder brother is not losing the father’s love in spite of his goodness, but because of it. It is not his sins that create the barrier between him and his father, it’s the pride he has in his moral record; it’s not his wrongdoing but his righteousness that is keeping him from sharing in the feast of the father.”
Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
“In the end, Martin Luther’s old formula still sums things up nicely: “We are saved by faith alone [not our works], but not by faith that remains alone.” Nothing we do can merit God’s grace and favor, we can only believe that he has given it to us in Jesus Christ and receive it by faith. But if we truly believe and trust in the one who sacrificially served us, it changes us into people who sacrificially serve God and our neighbors. If we say “I believe in Jesus” but it doesn’t affect the way we live, the answer is not that now we need to add hard work to our faith so much as that we haven’t truly understood or believed in Jesus at all.”
Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
“Elder brothers’ inability to handle suffering arises from the fact that their moral observance is results-oriented. The good life is lived not for delight in good deeds themselves, but as calculated ways to control their environment.”
Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
“[People] who are no longer sure that God loves and accepts them in Jesus, apart from their present spiritual achievements, are subconsciously radically insecure persons. . . . Their insecurity shows itself in pride, a fierce, defensive assertion of their own righteousness, and defensive criticism of others.”
Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
“Honesty born of fear does nothing to root out the fundamental cause of evil in the world—the radical self-centeredness of the human heart. If anything, fear-based morality strengthens it, since ultimately elder brothers are being moral only for their own benefit. They may be kind to others and helpful to the poor, but at a deeper level they are doing it either so God will bless them, in the religious version of elder brotherness, or so they can think of themselves as virtuous, charitable persons, in the secular version of it.”
Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith

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