Archives For Paul


I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

Check out this fascinating quote explaining the meaning of Paul’s unique phrase the “eyes of your heart.” It is more than just a misjudging of the location of one’s ocular devices. It is Paul describing the importance of the Holy Spirit’s regenerating work in our hearts allowing us to see the truth.

Paul uses a strange construction here: the eyes of your heart may be enlightened. Usually we think of the eyes as being in our head, and we connect the head with the brain and the brain with the mind. Hence we say that we understand a particular teaching with the mind. But the apostle refers to the eyes of the heart. What does he mean?
He means that by nature we are closed to the things of God. He does not mean that we cannot discuss them nor have intellectual debates about them. But the heart in New Testament terms refers to the central disposition, inclination, bent, or proclivity of the human soul. In simple terms, the bias. Everybody has a bias and prejudices. The word ‘prejudice’ is usually a pejorative term, but what it literally means is to prejudge certain things, to have a standpoint, a viewpoint.
Our natural prejudgment of reality is against God. To receive the truth of God requires that our ‘anti’ bias be changed. The key work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration is not giving new knowledge to the brain but changing the disposition of the heart. Before the Spirit turns that heart of stone into a heart of flesh, we have no desire for the things of God. We may desire the blessings that only God can give us, but we have no affection for the things of God. At the moment of regeneration, the eyes of the heart are opened somewhat, but this is just the beginning. The whole Christian life involves an unfolding and enlarging of the heart’s openness to the things of God. There are concepts, attitudes, and values in my life at present that do not please God, for there will be stony parts to my heart as long as sin abides within me. Sin clouds my thinking, my will, my desires, my affections. There will always be parts of me that need to be opened more and more to let the fullness of God’s truth dwell in me. — The Purpose of God: Ephesians

2 Cor. 2:12-17

I. Victory March 

     A. Christ is the general 
     B. God is the sovereign victor 
     C. Christ spreads his fame
          1. Christians are his means
          2. Fragrances (aroma) are his mode
Transition: We have this brilliant contrast highlighted in this passage of scripture. The believers apparent (temporal) defeat vs the believers actual (Spiritual) victory. 
II. Defeated Victory
     A. Contrasting themes
          1. Death is here but Christ delivers 
               (2 Cor. 1:8-9 / 1:10)
          2. My spirit is not at rest but God leads me in a triumphal procession 
               ( 2 Cor. 2:12-14)
          3. Struck down but not destroyed because we have life in Jesus 
               (2 Cor. 4:8-10) 
          4. Outer self is wasting away but our inner self is being renewed
                (2 Cor. 4:16-18) 
          5. A thorn was given to me to harass me but God said my grace is sufficient 
               (2 Cor. 12:7/ 12:9)
     B. Constructing themes
          1. Christ builds me into a fragrant vessel
          2. Christ turns me from a loser into a winner
Conclusion: Through Christ’s death on the cross I can now offer up my life on the sacrificial alter to be consumed for his glory. The aroma of my life will spread to those around me whether they be saved or unsaved. I give myself to be the sweet smelling fragrance of life for all see.  Oh Lord, let the aroma of salvation permeate the world around me so others may see more of you and less of me. 
 “For who is sufficient for these things?” (2 Cor. 2:16) 
“For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10)

What is a Christian?

bobbyemberley —  March 15, 2013 — 1 Comment

The following are some thoughts I wrote down in my devotional journal this week. It may contain a theological perspective that I am still uncertain about.

John 6:38 says, “For I [Jesus] have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.” Later in I Corinthians 4:4, Paul, also speaking of doing the will of another, said, “This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ.” As Paul invites us to follow him and ultimately to follow Christ, we too are to do the will of the Father. We are to do what pleases God. We are to do right. However, as God changes my heart, doing my own will becomes doing God’s will. Or we had best put it the other way around- doing God’s will becomes doing my will. This is a way of life, not something you get done for the day and forget about. It really is silly to think of getting God’s will done so that I may move on to my own. As if there were portions and times of my life in which God has no explicit way for me to act or obedience for me to exhibit.

So we immediately run into two problems:

1. The sheer impossibility of actually doing this even if we wanted to.

And the greater of the two,

2. Actually wanting to.

I think here we find the essence of what it means to be a Christian. It also speaks much about what God does when he saves a person.

You see, no one actually wants to surrender his life to live it in the service of another person. At least no one I’ve ever known. At least not to the extent that the Bible speaks of it when we come to fully understand it. Those who seem to want it inevitably do so for selfish motives, and that is perhaps worse than simply admitting rebellion and being done with it.

And so God must change us. He must make our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. He must take what is dead and make it walk again. No, not even again, but for the very first time. It is still unclear to me when this change occurs. Of course it has not fully occurred in any of us, and perhaps we can say it has more fully occurred in some than in others. But could it be that this change has not occurred in every person who has faith in Jesus? Or does their faith presuppose that God has at least planted the seeds of change? Of one thing we may be sure: the change will come. It must. For to grab hold of God is to grab hold of doing his will as a servant and in the process eternal life.

Truly, we should hardly think of the two (doing God’s will and eternal life) as separate. Did not Jesus say that whoever loses his life for my sake will find it? So it would seem that eternal life is found along the way of doing God’s will. Yet, we must not forget that doing God’s will and more importantly wanting to do it are gifts from God from the start.

If we must think of them as separate for the sake of better understanding, let us suppose that to lay hold of God is to lay hold of a rope consisting of two strands- one being doing God’s will as a servant, the other, the attainment of eternal life. You could no sooner simply grab one strand of the rope than you could jump into a lake on a hot summer day with the hope of staying dry. You can jump into the lake to enjoy relief from the heat, but you will most certainly also get wet, and you had best prepare yourself for that. Indeed, we could think of the rest of the world’s religions as attempts to untangle these two strands. Because everyone wants eternal life. No one wants Jesus. Not in their natural state. Not when it means becoming a servant as he was. Not when they really understand him and what following him entails. Even if they were to succeed in untangling the rope, it wouldn’t be strong enough to save them. I am reminded of preachers who speak of the danger of coming to Jesus as simply a fire escape from hell. I think their warning is much-needed because those who think of Jesus in such terms are not really thinking of him at all.

To lay hold of God is to lay hold of doing his will as a servant and in the process eternal life.


Author: Paul

Provenance: Roman imprisonment

Destination: Philemon

Occasion: Philemon’s slave escapes, meets Paul, becomes a believer, and is sent back to his owner

Purpose: To encourage Philemon to accept Onesimus as a brother and to send him aback to Paul and possibly grant his freedom

Theme: Love and reconciliation in the body of Christ


Author: Paul

Date: AD 60

Provenance: Roman imprisonment

Destination: Circular letter or Ephesus

Purpose: To declare and promote cosmic reconciliation and unity in Christ

Theme: The summing up of all things in Christ


Philippians and Colossians are two books in the group commonly known as the “prison epistles.” However, Philippians stands out as a favorite among Paul’s letters for many because its inspiring message of joy in the midst of trying circumstances. As you read Philippians, try to focus on the main theme of the letter: partnership in the gospel and walking worthy of the gospel. “Partnership” can be rendered as the same word for which this site is named after, “fellowship”, or in the Greek koinonia.

“Christian fellowship, then is self-sacrificing conformity to the gospel.” – D.A. Carson

Colossians is similar to Philippians but different in many ways. As you read, attempt to determine the purpose and occasion of each book.


10/22 – 10/29 — Week 7 – Read Philippians & Colossians

For my students and others who may want to answer these questions as they read. Here are some questions that may help to think about while your reading.

  • Is there any command to obey?
  • Is there any promise to believe?
  • Is there a good example to follow?
  • Is there any sin to avoid?
  • Do I learn anything about God?
  • Do I learn anything about man?
  • Is there anything I can thank God for?

Related articles from Hip Fellows:


jordantmoody —  July 27, 2012 — 2 Comments

Whatever (Photo credit: Thomas Hawk)

“Whatever” is often a phrase heard by attitude driven teenage girls who model their lives after a devious mix of Mean Girls and Lady Gaga. When posed with a situation when one of these tweeners must make a decision that demands responsibility or effort, in order to sound more important than the question or situation, she answers with a nasal response such as, “Whaaateverrr.” However, I think this seemingly mindless word “whatever” is quite the opposite from its popular use today. “Whatever” takes on a meaning completely opposite from its current use and the contrast is striking. “Whatever” today implying “nothing matters because I am more important,” as opposed to the Biblical usage of the word “whatever” meaning “nothing matters because Christ is more important.” These definitions are my own and the way I have seen it in the scripture but I think you will see what I mean as I further explain myself.

Paul mentions this idea in Philippians 4:8
Finally, brothers whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Again in Philippians 4:11
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.

Paul shows his contentment with this word “whatever.” He says further on that he has been brought low and yet he knows how to abound but that in any and every situation or circumstance, he has learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger or abundance and need. (4:12)

Paul had learned how to be content. He had learned it is Christ who supplies all his needs. If God cares for the lilies of the field and provides food for the sparrows how much more will he care for Paul and you? However, Paul’s contentment did not cause him to sit around and meditate in a zen-like state humming with a bunch of bald monks. No, on the contrary, he acted using contentment as his support system for what may befall his actions.

You see, contentment supports action. Christ was the most important thing to Paul. Christ was everything to him. Therefore, all other things, however important and sentimental they may be, were by the definition of the word, second. Christ was to come first and therefore whatever difficulty or trial that may arise was “whatever” in comparison to glorifying Christ.

Paul then could write Phil. 4:13 with confidence because Christ was first and he was content serving Him in whatever situation that may be. (This also happens to be the theme verse of Dublin Christian Academy. I recently heard Sam Wulbrandt share a misconception of this verse.  This verse is commonly taken out of context and away from its meaning of contentment not necessarily empowerment to attain superhuman strength.)

Paul shows his confidence in this belief Philippians 4:13
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

How could Paul say that? Really? All things? Does this mean I can pick up a car with one hand and throw it into the ocean if I want to? No. I can do all things (or whatever) because I am content with any state Christ will put me in because He is the MOST IMPORTANT thing in my life. Therefore, whether sickness and storms, whether pain and sorrow, whether success or failure, I can do it all because Christ gives me strength to do so. I may still feel pain but the pain is bearable because I am content in His success. For as Desiring God Ministries says so often and pointedly summarizes Paul’s theme,  “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.”

God is Teaching Me

jordantmoody —  April 16, 2012 — 1 Comment

We ought to pray the way Paul did in I Thessalonians 3:5

May the Lord, direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ. 

Through all the Lord is putting me through right now, I need to pray that it will direct my heart to God’s love and Christ’s steadfastness. We shouldn’t always pray to rid ourselves of trials or hardship but often pray to His increase and my decrease.