“God used a stranger,” as Augustin Kambale puts it, “to demonstrate how much I was in need of Jesus. The Jesus I was rejecting, in my attempts to save myself. That person was Timothy Keller.”
God used Keller in the lives of countless people whom he never met.
Indeed, a theme is emerging across the internet. That God used Keller in the lives of countless people whom he never met. Augustin along with two Christian brothers from Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of Congo have similar testimonies. Though they never knew Keller in person, they are immensely grateful to the Lord for him. For this pastor, writer, teacher, and church planter from Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York had a most profound impact on the global church.
A Faithful Gospel Witness—Worldwide
Augustin says, “I only ever met Keller through his faithful, powerful, and gospel-centred writings. He would help me understand what it means to believe in Christ rather than believing in my works. He would highlight the difference between professing Christ with my lips yet placing confidence in my deeds. God used Keller’s writing to bring me from religion to Christianity. Through the writing ministry of this man, whom I will only meet in glory, God transformed me into a faithful believer with a new understanding of the good news.” From his Reason for God to the more recent video series on understanding the gospel throughout the Old Testament, Keller tirelessly made much of Christ and the gospel.
Through the writing ministry of this man God transformed me into a faithful believer.
Likewise, Lucas Amuli reports, “I never met Timothy Keller, apart from through his writing, panel discussions, and on YouTube. And the way he shaped my Christian life is difficult to describe or quantify—short of saying he impacted me in ways very few others have.” Lucas says that reading Prodigal God persuaded him that, “you can be in the church yet still be lost.” Lucas encountered Keller at a time of disorienting flux in his own life, as he found himself hungry for the truth, desperate for meaning, and in search of an identity. Through the writing and teaching of Keller, he learnt that much of that yearning is met in Christ.
Keller’s Call to Faithful Gospel Living
Learning how our deepest desires are met in Christ, Augustin says, he was better placed to address young Africans’ desperation to leave the continent—both in his own heart and the hearts of others. “Through the writing of Timothy Keller, God helped me understand how the only hope and eternal solution to this longing is found in the gospel. Understanding the gospel as Keller presents it encouraged me to love my country and be grateful to God for it and serve his kingdom in it.”
By fulfilling the work that God set us on earth to do, we can both glorify him and make the gospel attractive.
Flowing from those convictions, Celestin Yusse became persuaded that Christians are called to seek the betterment of their cities. “In Matthew 5:13,” Celestin notes, “Jesus exhorts his followers to be salt and light. Unfortunately, we aren’t always clear on what that means. So I was hugely grateful to the team from Redeemer Presbyterian Church and—the thinker behind much of their work—Timothy Keller, who showed us how the church ought to serve its city by addressing socio-economic problems. As Keller often preached, I became convinced that Christians should desire for their cities to prosper. Fundamental to that prosperity is gospel proclamation, but in addition to that is gospel obedience.”
On this theme, Lucas recalls how helpful a corrective Every Good Endeavour was to his life in general and work specifically. “Like many other believers,” he admits, “I led a double life. My faith was unhitched from routine activities, such as work and leisure. Yet Keller winsomely shows that work was established by God, at creation. Thus it is imbued with meaning and value, divinely designed. And by fulfilling the work that God set us on earth to do, we can both glorify God and make the gospel attractive to our colleagues.”
So Much More Could Be Said
With Augustin, many are finding it impossible to fully account for the invaluable ways Keller has impacted them. “I could write thousands of words on Keller’s exhortation to identity ‘counterfeit gods’ in my life; or on his biblically saturated, winsomely counter-cultural presentation of marriage in The Meaning of Marriage. But,” Augustin continues, “this was meant to be brief. So let me conclude. Timothy Keller showed me, in as many ways as he could masterfully muster, how to find my surest joy as well as hope in God.”
We will miss him dearly. Nevertheless, we rejoice for the hope we have in Christ.
Keller is enjoying that all-satisfying hope now. He is at rest with his God and Saviour. This good and faithful servant has run his course. No doubt, he would hurry to add that he was only able to finish well because of the grace of God. And given just one more chance to address us, he would certainly preach with persuasion the one he never grew tired of proclaiming, Jesus Christ. Lucas is undoubtedly right in saying, “We will miss him dearly. Nevertheless, we rejoice for the hope we have in Christ, that we shall see him on the day of resurrection” (Hebrews 9:15).