Much of Exodus is God’s direction to Moses and the children of Israel for the construction, equipping and ministry of the Tabernacle of God and its fulfillment as the children of Israel and Moses obeyed God in all that He commanded them to do. In the first seven chapters of Leviticus, God gives Moses direction for the ministry of the offerings of the sacrificial system of worship established by God through the Levitical priesthood which came through Aaron. In Leviticus chapters eight through nine the commandments of God regarding the Levitical priesthood are put into practice by Aaron and his sons as they are prepared by Moses for this most holy service to God Almighty. As they fulfilled all that God commanded them, the glory of the Lord appeared before all of the people and fire came out from His presence and consumed the burnt offering on the alter. God blessed their faithful execution of all that He had commanded them to do, with His presence and consumption of the sacrifice by His holy fire.
23 And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of meeting, and come out and blessed the people. Then the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people, 24 and fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces. Leviticus 9:23-24
This was a day of glory and praise! God blessed their faithful efforts with a glorious display of His presence and power. The people were overcome with the awe of His glory and fell on their faces in fear. But the next verses bear witness to the fact that not everyone was filled with the awe and fear of God that is due Him because of Who He is and because of His great holy power.
1 Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. 2 So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. 3 And Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord spoke, saying: ‘By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; And before all the people I must be glorified.’” So Aaron held his peace. Leviticus 10:1-3
These sons of Aaron, who were witnesses to the glory of Lord as they faithfully ministered to Him, took it upon themselves to give Him their own offering which He had not commanded them to make, and so they disregarded the holiness of the Lord God Almighty and did not glorify Him before all of the people by their fleshly offering. So a day of praise and glory was turned to a day of shame and consternation by the lack of piety towards our Holy God when they offered profane fire before Him. It is no different today. There are many who are in positions of leadership who offer their profane fire before the Lord by rejecting the witness and testimony of the Scriptures regarding God’s Son Jesus Christ and the gospel of our salvation, and instead come up with false doctrine regarding Jesus Christ and His work of salvation. This wicked impiety is visibly expressed in the false teaching of the social gospel. The exaltation of man is central to the social gospel rather than the glory of God. In its many manifestations, the social gospel denies the work of Christ Jesus on our behalf and instead substitutes a powerless gospel that views Jesus Christ as a good example for us to follow. This false teaching is so pernicious and despicable, and all who promote it are presenting profane fire to our Holy God. One such individual is Tim Keller, who craftily denies the gospel of Jesus Christ by substituting his wicked false doctrines in the place of the life giving gospel of Jesus Christ found in God’s Holy Word, the Bible.
Tim Keller is an ecumenist who believes in and teaches theistic evolution. He dodges the supremacy of Christ in salvation and side-steps God’s judgment of sinners in fiery hell by saying that followers of other religions may have a way to God apart from Christ. In an interview with Martin Bashir about these topics he airs his own mind and never quotes Scripture.
5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: 7 eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; 8 but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness-indignation and wrath, 9 tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; 10 but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 11 For there is no partiality with God. Romans 2:5-11
He rejects the truth of the Scripture that fallen evil man rejects the gospel because of depravity and he sets up a false set of tenets for presenting the “message of Jesus Christ” to the people of today’s culture. The message must be presented in keeping with the cultural values and norms. Does that mean that Jesus Christ promotes and advocates abortion and homosexuality? Those evil practices seem to be valuable culturally acceptable norms. Keller supposes that by engaging with the cultural norms of the people they can give Jesus a try and see if He works. That is antithetical to God’s command that all repent and believe in His Son Jesus Christ.
3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other, 4 so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, 5 which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; 6 since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, 7 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed. 2 Thessalonians 1:3-10
Tim Keller believes that an apologetic approach to sharing the gospel, where all of man’s sinful objections are cleverly answered will somehow bring that individual into the kingdom of God. It is a pity that Paul didn’t use that same approach; he most likely would have had more success. What does God’s Word say about sharing the gospel? He tells us how to faithfully and effectively give the gospel call to lost sinners through Paul’s testimony, in 1 Corinthians chapters one and two, who trusted in the Holy Spirit of God to regenerate sinners rather than fancy words of false human wisdom.
2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:2-5
17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. 18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:17-18
Keller doesn’t preach the gospel because he rejects the Genesis narrative of the fall and he calls sin selfishness, rather than the rebellious rejection of obedience to God’s holy law and commandments. Since Tim Keller rejects the biblical origin and definition of sin, he believes that God’s purpose in sending His Son is to make the world right, but that will never be accomplished until there is a new heavens and new earth in which righteousness reigns. God’s work now is to call sinners to repentant faith in His Son Jesus Christ and to live for His glory by obedience to His Word and sharing the gospel, the one and only true gospel, with other sinners. Tim Keller believes and teaches that there are different forms of the gospel that are necessary to present to people so they will believe the “message”. What he believes and teaches is contrary to the Word of God, the Bible, and is false and dangerous.
1 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you-unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures 1 Corinthians 15:1-4
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. 1 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. 1 John 1:8-2:2
10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also out to love one another. 12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. 17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him because He first loved us. 20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love His brother also. 1 John 4:10-21
The gospel, according to the Word of God, is clear and unequivocal; Jesus Christ is the propitiation for our sins so we can be forgiven and live as He lived in this world, by the power of God to His glory. The life that we live is empowered by the Holy Spirit of God and is characterized by love for our brothers and love for God. This is the only gospel that saves, and transforms us from sinner to saint. The false gospel of Tim Keller has neither the power to save nor power to produce godly holy loving living. It is profane fire that is an abomination to our Holy God and must be rejected for His praise and glory. It is the self-effort of a self-called deceived man that leads only to shame, disgrace and destruction. May God in His mercy and grace deliver us, His children, from the deceit of wicked men, and build us up on our most holy faith as we walk with Jesus Christ, trusting in His provision of mercy, grace and peace for our provision here on this earth and our eternal blessedness with Him in heaven. Even so come Lord Jesus!
Much of the material about Tim Keller was taken from Dr. Paul Elliot’s expose of Keller on his website Teaching the Word ministries. Dr. Elliot gives a much more in-depth coverage of the apostasy of Dr. Keller through a series of very informative articles in which he sites Tim Keller and uses appropriate and powerful Scriptural refutation of Mr. Keller’s heresy. The first of these articles can be accessed at this url.