Calvary Road Baptist Church

“PRIESTS”

Philippians 2.17-18

At Calvary Road Baptist Church we believe that this congregation is the body of Christ.[1] We believe that this assembly is the temple of God.[2] And we believe that God’s plan is for the church to see that folks who sit under the gospel and who are saved come into the church and become a part of this church through baptism.[3] Once a believer has been baptized, he or she then becomes a member and should be trained in earnest to serve God and to observe all things whatsoever Christ has commanded. Please don’t presume to think that we are unique in what we think a church ought to be. Every church ought to be the body of Christ. Every church ought to be the temple of God. Every church ought to engage in the effort to see lost folks saved. Every church ought to baptize saved folks. And every church ought to be involved in training members to obey what our Savior and Lord commanded. The problem is that they don’t.

Too many churches are pastored by men who are lost. Too many churches are populated by members who are lost. Too many churches do not baptize converts because the people they baptize aren’t saved, and the reason their baptismal candidates aren’t saved is because they don’t preach the gospel. No wonder most so-called Christians attend church on Sunday morning but stay home on Sunday night and Wednesday night, if their churches even have Sunday evening and midweek services. An evangelist that I have known for many years, who also represented an outreach to Jewish people, and who in that context used to visit churches all over Southern California, once reported that virtually every church he was in on Wednesdays had grand totals of 12 or 14 people in attendance. At one Baptist church in the South Bay area there was one person besides the pastor and he and his wife the night he was there. One person!

My friends, we live in the last days. We live in days of apostasy. We live during a period of time when pagans and heathens have begun to wear the mantle of Christianity. We live in a time that is very much like the time the Apostle Paul lived and served God, with one notable exception. During Paul’s day there were unsaved pretenders trying to sneak their way into churches. During our day they have completely overrun most churches, leaving those churches Christian in name only. With that understood, let us turn our attention to my text for today, Philippians 2.17-18. In the passage we will examine, take note of the interaction, the interrelation, and the intertwining of the Apostle Paul’s life and the entire congregation of the church in Philippi. Keep something in mind as we proceed. My purpose is not so much to persuade you who are church members to do anything, other than what you already know you ought to do in service to God, but to bring you to see something. I want you to see how Paul’s life was intermingled with the church at Philippi. And if Paul’s life was so intermingled and intertwined with those people, which was about 700 miles from where he was imprisoned, then how ought your life to be intermingled with your own church?

Stand and read with me Philippians 2.17-18:

17     Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.

18     For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.

Look at three of the words in this passage before we consider how these words fit together in Paul’s thinking. In verse 17 we find, first, the word “offered.” That word translates the Greek word “spendomai,” which is a passive verb that means to be offered as a drink offering. “Paul is again referring to the prospect of martyrdom which he faces, and thinks of himself, his life’s blood, as a libation poured forth to God.[4] Do you remember the accounts of David’s battles after he was anointed king? On one occasion, when he was battling the Philistines for control of Bethlehem, the city of his birth, he made an offhanded remark that is recorded in First Chronicles 11.17: “Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, that is at the gate!” In First Chronicles 11.18, we are told that three of David’s men broke through the Philistine lines and, at great risk to their lives, brought some water to him from the well that supplied Bethlehem. However, David would not drink it, “but poured it out to the LORD” as an offering. What David did is an example of what Paul means by this word “offered” in Philippians 2.17. Next, there is the word “sacrifice.” This is the basic New Testament word for sacrifice, referring either to the sacrifice of an animal to satisfy the Mosaic Law requirements for sacrificial atonement, or the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. The word is also used, as in this passage, of sacrifices that are rendered to God for the purposes of worshipping and obeying Him, not in any way remitting sins.[5] Finally, there is the word “service.” This word translates the Greek word “leitourgia,” from which comes the English word “liturgy,” used so often by very formal churches, like the Roman Catholics or the Lutherans. The word very simply refers to service of a spiritual or religious nature.[6]

Those three words understood, look at what we can find out in this passage about Paul’s experiences and the Philippian’s experiences that shows how their lives were intertwined together:

First, THERE IS PAUL’S EXPERIENCE

He begins verse 17 in this way: “Yea, and if I be offered . . . .”

Two things I want you be aware of about this phrase:

First, be aware of the fact that this word “offered,” which we already know is a word that refers to being offered as a libation, or as a poured out offering as a tribute to God, is what is called a passive verb. The passive is used when the agent of action, or the person who is actually doing the deed, is not specifically expressed in the sentence. Paul is being offered, but he does not specifically tell us who is offering him. We can figure out who is offering Paul if we consider three things: First, Paul is an apostle of Jesus Christ, a servant of the Savior Who offered Himself to God the Father a sacrifice for our sins. Second, Paul’s fate may be death, but at this point he is still quite optimistic about living, meaning that the offering does not have Paul’s dying in mind, but his living. Third, a quick reading of our text shows us that, whatever is happening, Paul is extremely happy about it. You know who I think it is who offers Paul up as a living sacrifice, a libation or drink offering poured out in worship to God? I think it is the Lord Jesus Christ. Unnamed, but the One Who Paul served and was willing to die for, the Savior is the One I think is doing this.

In addition to being passive, ponder with me the portrayal. Even though I used the picture of David pouring out water taken from the Bethlehem well to illustrate what the Savior is doing with Paul’s life, those who commonly and ordinarily offered up such offerings in Old Testament times were the priests. Pay close attention and you will see how the lives of Christians in a church are intertwined in priestly functions. This should be no surprise to us. Remember, Revelation 1.5-6 informs us in no uncertain terms that the Lord Jesus washes believers in His Own blood and makes us priests unto God and His Father. Therefore, the Apostle Paul was not only a priest after a fashion, but also an offering poured out by our great High Priest.

Now, THE PHILIPPIAN’S EXPERIENCE

Reading again: “Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith. . . .”

First, the sacrifice of their faith. The Word of God shows believers performing every priestly function except one. And since the priest’s function is to offer sacrifices, it is reasonable to describe priestly functions in terms of sacrifices. Scripture talks about the sacrifice of praise, the sacrifice of prayer, and so on. But only the Lord Jesus Christ is the priest Who offers up the sacrifice of His blood to God to remit sins. Every other sacrifice, however, we both can and do offer. What Paul is likely referring to here, then, are the two types of sacrifices that we know the Philippians gave to God. First, we know they gave money sacrificially when they, despite their great poverty, prevailed upon Paul to allow them to give money to a special project to feed the starving Christians in Judea.[7] And second, we know they were suffering sacrificially for the cause of Christ. When the believer does what he does for the Lord Jesus Christ, and it is a sacrifice, it is proper to call it the sacrifice of your faith.

Then, the service of their faith. The service of your faith is not church attendance. This word “service,” which translates the Greek word, from which our English word “liturgy” comes, is never used to describe the faithful coming and going to the Temple. In other words, this word would never have been used by Paul or anyone else in the first century to describe church attendance. This word is used, however, to describe the priests going about performing their priestly duties in and around the Temple. Therefore, functioning as an usher, as a greeter, as a Sunday School teacher or helper, counting the offering, singing in the choir, in short, doing all the things that make it possible for the ministry to function and continue, that is the “service of their faith.” Pull these two thoughts together. The Philippians did what needed to be done for their church to function. They taught. They sang. They ushered. They performed all the duties in the church that priests in and around the Temple would have performed. They did not listen to confessions, since that is an unbiblical Roman Catholic invention. They did not offer up sacrifices to forgive sins, since the Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled that function perfectly. But they did otherwise function as priests.

Now, SEE HOW PAUL BRINGS TOGETHER HIS EXPERIENCES AND THEIRS AND SHOWS THEM TO BE INTERRELATED

Verse 17 reads: “Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.” Those of you who have been here at Calvary Road Baptist Church for a while, or are one of those strange people who, like my wife, really like grammar, will see that this sentence is a conditional sentence of the first class. The word “if” here expresses the concept of “since.” Paul is telling his readers, in essence, that since he is being offered upon their sacrifice and service of faith, since he is being poured out like an additional offering, on top of what they are giving in worship to God, he has joy and actually expresses that joy with each and every one of the Philippians. To state the matter succinctly, Paul is delighted that his life and ministry, even as far away as Rome, is being used by the Lord Jesus Christ as part of the same priestly recipe and mix, icing on the cake as it were, with the priestly function and service to God the Philippians were giving.

Look to verse 18: “For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.” In writing this, Paul is inviting his beloved Philippians to reciprocate. Notice, he is not asking those people to intertwine their lives and ministries with his. He is not urging them to interrelate with what he is doing in Rome. My friends, the interrelationship and the intertwining of their lives and ministries is a fact undeniable, whether they knew it to be so or not. What Paul is asking them to do is recognize the fact of it enough to rejoice over the matter. That is, those folks should recognize that they are involved in the Christian priesthood of giving to God the sacrifice of their faith and the service of their faith, and that the ministry of the Apostle Paul is being coupled, somehow, with their ministries much like a drink offering would be poured out in addition to another offering.

What are we to get out of this passage? I want you to go home with this, church members: I want you to see that no man is an island, and I want you to see that no believer is an independent contractor. I want you to see that in God’s economy your offerings to Him and your service to Him is integrally related to the ministries of other people. Imagine, if you would, the Levitical priest whose job it was to serve and function in some capacity in the Temple. However, one day he decides he does not want to. The high priest said something he did not like, so he decides to go and work at the temple where Baal is worshipped. What treachery. What apostasy. However, today when someone does that it is accepted as though it is normal and proper. Today we even have people who claim to be Christians who function not at all. They do not sing in the choir, or teach a class, or serve in a ministry of any kind. All they do is attend. Such things ought not so to be in a church. “Who cares, so long as it doesn’t affect anyone?” Have we not seen in this passage that lives and ministries are interrelated, and when those folks are serving God we can all rejoice? But when they are not, what do we do?

SERMON:

This evening I want to present to you the priesthood of the Lord Jesus Christ. I want to lay out before you, as best I can in one sermon, the only priest you will ever need to mediate between you and God, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is that One and Only Mediator between God and men, according to First Timothy 2.5. The one priest you need to bring you to God is not some clown dressed up in a Batman costume. The one priest you need to bring you to God is not Mary, who is never shown in scripture to be a mediatrix. That precious lady confessed in God’s Word to be a sinner and herself in need of a Savior.[8] Neither can you be a priest for yourself. Oh, no. The sinner, such as yourself, can do nothing that is pleasing to God. The best you have to offer as an unbeliever is totally unacceptable to God, for you are all as an unclean thing, and all your righteousnesses are as filthy rags, Isaiah 64.6.

No. You need someone Who will do for you what you cannot do for yourself. You need one to approach God on your behalf. For that need there is only One, the Lord Jesus Christ. No man cometh unto the Father but by Him.[9] Four items related to the Lord Jesus Christ’s priesthood:

First, HIS OFFICE

With a priest being someone who represents the sinner to God, there are two things about the Savior’s office as priest:

First, His order, which is after the order of Melchizedek. All the way back in Psalm 110, it was recognized that God would send a priest not like the descendants of Aaron, Israel’s first high priest. Aaron and his sons lived and died. Aaron and his sons repeatedly sinned. Aaron and his sons offered up only the blood of bulls and goats, which could never take away sin, but only covered sin from the sight of God for a while. And most importantly, Aaron and his sons were not priests given by a promise made by God, Hebrews 7.21-25:

21     (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:)

22     By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.

23     And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death:

24     But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.

25     Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

Next, His obedience, Philippians 2.5-8:

5      Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

6      Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

7      But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

8      And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

When you go shopping for a priest to represent you in your desire to approach God, you want a priest who is obedient, you want a priest who does what he is told, and you want a priest who submits to the will of God the Father. The Lord Jesus Christ, Whose priesthood is after the order of Melchizedek, is just such a priest. No other kind of priest is the kind of priest the Lord Jesus Christ is. Other priests sin. Other priests die, but do not live again. However, death will never conquer our great High Priest.

Next, HIS OBJECTIVE

The Lord Jesus has two objectives, which are not of equal importance:

Far and away His most profound consideration was Christ’s objective to satisfy God. First John 2.2 points out that the Lord Jesus Christ is the propitiation for sins. However, it is important to understand what propitiation means. Propitiation refers to an offering that so satisfies that the wrath of God that is against sin is turned away. However, who does Jesus Christ satisfy if He is the propitiation for our sins? The Lord Jesus Christ, as our Great High Priest, offered up an offering that completely satisfies God the Father. When He came and offered up the perfect sacrifice He did so to please His Father. Listen to what Jesus said, according to Hebrews 10.7 and 10: “Lo, I come to do thy will, O God.” “Lo, I come to do thy will, O God.” The Lord Jesus Christ’s primary goal was not to save you and make you happy in heaven. Not at all. His primary goal was to do the will of His Father, to please His Father, to satisfy the holy demands of His Father.

It follows that the saving of men’s souls is the means by which Jesus does the will of God the Father. You see, the highest good and the most noble cause is to see God glorified. When the Lord Jesus Christ, then, functions as our Great High Priest, His primary goal is to please God. And it is as He mediates between God and sinners, saving sinful men’s souls and bringing them to God, that He fulfills His highest goal of glorifying the Father. Therefore, recognize that you are not at the center of the universe. You are not the most important to anyone, the Lord Jesus Christ or anyone else. God is. And your personal importance is related solely to how you are used, either as a vessel fitted to honor or as a vessel fitted to destruction, to glorify God. Should you be one of those sinners who is actually brought to God by this great High Priest, then the simultaneous benefit of glorifying God and the salvation of a poor, wretched sinner will have been achieved. Understand, however, that even if you die in your sins and are eventually cast into the lake of fire, God will still ultimately be glorified. With you or without you, this great High Priest will accomplish His goal of seeing His Father glorified. Better with you.

Third, HIS OBSTACLE

I use the word obstacle guardedly, because the King of kings and Lord of lords is hardly obstructed from any accomplishment He sets out to achieve. Our great High Priest is not interfered with by sinners. However, from a human standpoint there are two factors that appear to be obstacles to a sinner’s salvation:

First, there is unbelief. There was a time, when the Lord Jesus walked among men, that He did not many mighty works because of men’s unbelief.[10] And certainly there is no mightier work among men than the salvation of a sinful soul. Since the salvation of a sinful soul only occurs when that sinner believes to the saving of His soul, the presence of unbelief does present a problem. Not all men have faith.[11] However, without faith it is impossible to please God.[12] Without faith it is impossible to come to Jesus Christ for salvation. And that faith comes only by the hearing of the Word of God and as a gracious bestowal from the Holy Spirit.[13] “How shall they hear without a preacher?”[14]

Related to unbelief is unrepentance. If repentance is the most poorly translated word in the Bible, next to baptism, it is because of the influence of Roman Catholicism on people’s thinking. People usually associate repentance with penance, with acts of contrition, with doing something to prove to God that you are really sorry for your sins. That is not repentance at all. Repentance has to do with a change of mind, an alteration of attitude and intent. Pentecostals, Charismatics, new-evangelicals, and most Baptists, will never be saved because they want salvation without repentance. However, Peter told those men on the day of Pentecost to repent.[15] If I tell a man to move out from his girlfriend’s apartment before I tell him how to be saved, I am not telling him that he has to do something good in order to get saved. However, I am telling him that unless his attitude and intent about sin changes, unless he repents, he cannot be saved. You see, Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, saves people from their sins.[16] He does not save people in their sins. Therefore, if you insist on having your cake and eating it too you will spend eternity in Hell. Do you think Jesus will let you have His salvation and your lust, too? Do you think He will let you use Him as a fire escape from Hell, all the while continuing in your sin? No! So you see, when I refer to an obstacle, I refer to sin as an obstacle only from the human perspective. What in the world do people think who cry “Holy, holy, holy,” while they are shedding their clothes and fornicating? Or while they are staying home from church? No. Jesus saves people from sin. Therefore, as long as you have in your mind that you will continue your sinning as before He will not save you. Jesus saves from sin, not in sin.

Finally, HIS OFFERING

Priests give offerings to God. And the one offering which only Jesus Christ could give to God was something so precious, something so pleasing, something so satisfying to God, something so efficacious in its remedy of sin, that God is well-pleased and satisfied with the offering. What was it Jesus Christ gave to His Father as our great High Priest? It was His blood. It was His blood. It was His soul cleansing, sin remitting, blood. Praise God, for without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin, Hebrews 9.22.

Sinner? You need a priest to get you to God. You need a priest who will pave the way for you to God. You need a priest who will prepare for you a welcome from God. You need a priest acceptable to both God and you. You do not need a fallible priest who sins himself. You need one who is infallible, one who is perfect in every way, one who does what needs to be done and does it right the first time. You also need one who saves from sins, who delivers from sins, who rescues the perishing. When you consider all the claims of all the priests who offer their services, be they Catholics, Mormons, Buddhist monks, etc., there is only one priest who can mediate between you and God. He is the one who came by means of the virgin birth, who loved you and gave Himself for you, who rose the third day, who sits in heaven at His father’s right hand, and who bids you to come to Him.

Won’t you come to my Lord Jesus? He’s not angry with you. He has compassion for you. He loves you. And if you come to Him by faith He will save you from your sins.



[1] Colossians 1.18; Ephesians 4.4

[2] 1 Corinthians 3.9-17

[3] Matthew 28.19-20; 1 Corinthians 12.13; Ephesians 4.5

[4] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 553.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] 2 Corinthians 8.1-6

[8] Luke 1.47

[9] John 14.6

[10] Matthew 13.58

[11] 2 Thessalonians 3.2

[12] Hebrews 11.6

[13] Romans 10.17; 2 Corinthians 4.13

[14] Romans 10.14

[15] Acts 2.38

[16] Matthew 1.21



Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org