Tim Keller Sermon Notes – Series: The Gospel, Hope, and the World – Sermon #1: Hope for the World

Sermon preached on September 27, 2009. (Notes taken at Ethical Culture Society, 9AM service, Manhattan.)

Teaching is based on Ephesians 1.

Please note that these sermon notes are provided only to encourage, and that any or all parts of the notes may contain errors or omissions, due entirely to the note-taker. Full audio of the sermon may be found at the Redeemer Sermon Store.

Hope for the World

Introductory Comments:

Every several years we do a covenant renewal–renewing our vision to renew the city with the  gospel. You can make too much or too little of anniversaries: in Joshua, God says when you cross the Jordan, pick up 12 stones and pile them in remembrance. Part of the problem with the human heart is it forgets God’s miracles. That’s why the Word shows disciplines of remembrance. Even if you weren’t here 20 years ago [when Redeemer started], you need to remember that you’re sitting in a miracle right now. This isn’t just about our past–it’s got everything to do with our future.

Some ways to participate in this covenant renewal:

  • Come: This series of sermons will focus on Redeemer’s calling
  • Discuss: Join a Beta group.
  • Daily prayers: Sign up at
  • Thank God: for any way that Redeemer has changed your life; this is His miracle.

Ephesians 1 is about hope. We will look at

  1. Why hope is so crucial
  2. What Christian hope is
  3. How Christian hope can shape your life

I. Why hope is so crucial

  • Hope in Christ is how you start. In v. 18, Paul prays that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you.
  • Essentially, Paul is saying, “I want you to have your inner being so smitten that it would be like you stared at the sun.” He is praying that the Holy Spirit will help them know their hope.

Problem: The English word “hope” is too weak for biblical hope.

  • We say, “I’m not sure, but I hope so.” Hope, in English, means uncertainty; it’s the opposite of the biblical word!
  • Hebrews 11:1 “Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
  • Biblical hope is a life-changing certainty about what’s going to happen.
  • Take two people, Persons A and B. Put them both in a room creating widgets for 10 hours a day for a year. Tell Person A that he’ll receive $10,000 at the end of the year, and tell B that she’ll get $1 billion. Person A says, “This sucks!” Person B says, “No, this isn’t so bad!
    • We are irreducibly hope-based creatures.
  • Christian hope has to do with the ultimate future state, not the immediate. Many think living a good life now will give them peace and prosperity in this life. No! There’s only one person who lived a good life, and he was rejected! Oh, well, he’s different–why? He says He’s not different!
  • Jonathan Edwards: Your bad will turn out for good–look at Christ. Your good things won’t ever be taken from you. And your best is yet to come.
  • Christian hope is effective because it’s not about prosperity in this life.
  • People who don’t understand hope are always freaking out when things go wrong.
    • Sumerset Long (?) Of Human Bondage

II. What is Christian Hope?

1. Personal: “the riches of his glorious hope in the saints (those set apart for Christ)

  • You are God’s  rich and glorious inheritance
    • Imagine a couple who owns the most valuable piece of art in the world.. The Lord of the universe considers YOU His treasure; when He looks at YOU, He feels rich.
      • If God in the past went into infinite debt to purchase you, what is He going to do when you meet Him face to face?
      • “This is what we are in for! Nothing less.” C. S. Lewis, pulsating, writes, “Everything you’ve ever longed for will be present in your heart at the moment of the first embrace.”

2. Material (wait, there’s more!)

  • the Spirit is a down-payment of our future redemption
    • in Romans 8, Paul explains that the whole created world will be freed from the bondage of decay.
      • This glory will not only envelope our bodies, it will envelope the cosmos
      • Nature in its greatest glory right now–the Grand Canyon, the Isuzu Falls–is a shadow of its future self.
      • If trees will be able to sing (Keller rubs his hands together), what will you be able to do?

III. How does this hope affect you?

1. Personally: Centuries ago, anyone who ever heard about self-esteem mentioned this passage.

    • During my undergraduate work, I was depressed, and my counselor told me that, whenever I felt depressed, to imagine the crowd’s applause after my greatest trumpet solo.
      • But what is that to this!? That trumpet solo might happen. You might write a best-seller, you might get that promotion, but this will happen! This is certainty! That depends on fickle crowds! That is a dew-drop of affirmation, whereas this is a worldwide flood!
  • Unless how He regards you infuses you, you’ll go through life scraping for awards and credentials because you don’t know who you are.

2. Materially

  • Conservatives don’t mind this idea of personal worth, but they get squeamish with social justice.
  • Liberals don’t mind this idea of personal worth, but they get squeamish with the “Jesus-only”.
    • If we have this hope, we’re going to call liberals to believe (despite their squeamishness), but we’re going to make this a good place to live whether they believe or not (despite the squeamishness of conservatives).

So, How?

vs. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,

You believe the gospel.

Eph 2:12 says, “Remember when you were without hope?”

  • John 1: When Jesus came into the world, He came to His own, but they excluded him
  • He turned to God in Gethsemane, opened the door of prayer, and no one was there.

Hughes: Hope deferred makes the heart sick.

  • Yes, it hurts when you don’t get into the school you want, or the job you yearned for, but imagine losing ultimate, complete, utter, final hope.

When you see Christ losing all hope so that you can have hope–that is when you begin to have this biblical hope shaping your life.


About davestuartjr
Dave Stuart Jr. is a full-time teacher who writes about becoming better, saner teachers at He is a follower of Jesus Christ, a husband to Crystal, and a father to Hadassah, Laura, and Marlena.

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