The gospel has me reconsidering the typical way we think about Christian growth: spiritual measurements and maturity; what it means to change, develop, grow; what the pursuit of holiness and the practice of godliness really entails.

If we’re serious about reading the Bible in a Christ-centered way; if we’re going to be consistent when it comes to avoiding a moralistic interpretation of the Bible; if we’re going to be unswerving in our devotion to understand the many parts of the Bible in light of its unfolding, overarching drama of redemption, then we have to rethink how we naturally and typically understand what it means to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).

Let Grace Kill Your Natural Instinct

In his 2008 movie The Happening, writer, producer, and director M. Night Shyamalan unfolds a freaky plot about a mysterious, invisible toxin that causes anyone exposed to it to commit suicide. One of the first signs that the unaware victim has breathed in this self-destructing toxin is that they begin walking backwards—signaling that every natural instinct to go on living and to fight for survival has been reversed. The victim’s default survival mechanism is turned upside down.



The unbeliever lives out his life in the worthlessness of his own mind, having a darkened understanding and excluded from the life of God because of his own ignorance and hardness of heart (Eph 4:17-18). People do not consider what life is really about and if they do, they are deceiving themselves and are not honestly seeking truth. Apostle Paul describes man’s mind as useless and seeking after meaningless thought. The natural condition of man’s mind is empty and frivolous. He describes the mind of man as “darkness.” When a person is in darkness he cannot discern objects accurately. He cannot noticeably tell the difference between the night stand and the dresser. Man’s faculties for properly understanding his existence in this life do not work. Just as ones’ eye cannot see in the dark so one’s understanding, if darkened, cannot function properly. Lastly, Paul explains that people are separated (alienated) from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them. He describes man’s mind as void of any light, a place full of ignorance. Paul does not mean that people do not have the ability to increase in knowledge in such things as – music, math, computers, engineering, etc..- but that they are ignorant about LIGHT- truth vs. falsehood, right vs. wrong, wisdom vs. folly, good vs. evil, and God vs. satan.

If we could encounter God’s mind and thoughts, we would be submerged with light, but if we walk in man’s mind we would be stumbling around in a dark place.

1Jn 1:5 “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.”

God is light and in Him is no darkness at all, whereas man is darkness and in him is no light at all. Jesus said He is the “truth” and “the Light of the world” (Jn 14:6, Jn 8:12).



by J.I. Packer

In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” JOHN 3:3

Regeneration is a New Testament concept that grew, it seems, out of a parabolic picture-phrase that Jesus used to show Nicodemus the inwardness and depth of the change that even religious Jews must undergo if they were ever to see and enter the kingdom of God, and so have eternal life (John 3:3-15). Jesus pictured the change as being “born again.”

The concept is of God renovating the heart, the core of a person’s being, by implanting a new principle of desire, purpose, and action, a dispositional dynamic that finds expression in positive response to the gospel and its Christ. Jesus’ phrase “born of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5) harks back to Ezekiel 36:25-27, where God is pictured as symbolically cleansing persons from sin’s pollution (by water) and bestowing a “new heart” by putting his Spirit within them. Because this is so explicit, Jesus chides Nicodemus, “Israel’s teacher,” for not understanding how new birth happens (John 3:9-10). Jesus’ point throughout is that there is no exercise of faith in himself as the supernatural Savior, no repentance, and no true discipleship apart from this new birth.


The following is an edited transcript of the audio.

If at the end of your life you could say one thing to the next generation of church leaders, what might it be?

This is risky, because I know how it could be misused by people who don’t like me anyway. But I think I’m going to say to them on my death bed, “Make the Bible the supreme intellectual and emotional authority in your life, for the sake of magnifying Christ in the fullness of his person and his work, so that generation after generation preserves the foundation and the capstone of the glory of God in Christ, and the grace that is the apex of that glory.”



Preoccupation With Self

June 8, 2010

“Man’s basic problem is preoccupation with self. He is innately beset with narcissism, a condition named after the Greek mythological character Narcissus, who spent his life admiring his reflection in a pool of water. In the final analysis, every sin results from preoccupation with self. We sin because we are totally selfish, totally devoted to […]

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The Bible Is Very Easy To Understand…

May 27, 2010

“The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything […]

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Total Depravity

May 24, 2010

Objection is sometimes made to the doctrine of total depravity. If men turn away from God in anger, I can understand it. If men turn aside form God in justice, I can understand it. But when they so hate God that they will not even have his salvation, when they refuse pardon through the precious […]

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Indicatives and Imperatives

May 19, 2010

For over forty years, Pastor Albert N. Martin faithfully served the Lord and His people as an elder of Trinity Baptist Church of Montville, New Jersey. Due to increasing and persistent health problems, he stepped down as one of their pastors, and in June, 2008, Pastor Martin and his wife, Dorothy, relocated to Michigan, where […]

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