Statistics
1469 sermons as of June 20, 2017.
Site Search powered by FreeFind

bottom corner

   
Author:Rev. Mendel Retief
 send email...
 
Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Kelmscott
 Kelmscott, Western Australia
 frckelmscott.org
 
Title:The libation of an office bearer
Text:Philippians 2:17,18 (View)
Occasion:Ordination (Elder/Deacon)
Topic:Our Calling
 
Added:2013-08-21
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Ps. 144: 1

Ps. 37: 12, 13, 15

Ps. 126: 1, 2

Ps. 134: 1 - 3

Ps. 77: 7

 

Scripture reading:       Phil. 2: 1 – 30

Text:                              Phil. 2: 17, 18

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Mendel Retief, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


The Libation of an Office Bearer (sermon at the ordination of an elder)

Ps. 144: 1

Ps. 37: 12, 13, 15

Ps. 126: 1, 2

Ps. 134: 1 - 3

Ps. 77: 7

 

Scripture reading:       Phil. 2: 1 – 30

Text:                              Phil. 2: 17, 18

 

Beloved congregation, saints in Christ Jesus,

 

In this chapter the apostle spoke about the example of Christ; the example of humble, self-sacrificing service.  

The Son of God stripped Himself of all His heavenly glory and came down as a humble servant to minister to our needs. 

 

And the apostle exhorts the congregation to follow this example:

 

            “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…” (verse 5)

 

Leaving behind our selfish ambitions we have to deny ourselves and serve one another with humble self–sacrificing love.

This mind which was in Christ Jesus must also be in us, His body.  

 

The apostle Paul was not last to imitate this example of Christ.

He gave himself for the church.   For their sake his life was being poured out as a drink offering.  

That is our text this morning.  

The apostle views his own life as a libation on the sacrifice and ministry of their faith.  

 

In this same chapter he also speaks of two other office bearers who were like minded; who had the same mind which was also in Christ Jesus.   

He first mentions Timothy.   Timothy does not seek his own interest, but the interest of Christ and the interest of His church.  

And he contrasts this mind frame of Timothy with other ministers who only seek their own interest.   There are not many ministers with the same mind-frame as Timothy, he says.

 

            “For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state.   For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus.” – verses 21, 22

 

Most of the ministers were only seeking their own interest, but Timothy will truly care for the congregation.

 

And then he also mentions another faithful servant: Epaphroditus – a fellow worker and fellow soldier serving Christ.   For the sake of serving Christ and for the sake of serving the apostle Paul, Epaphroditus came close to death, and did not regard his own life – verse 30.

 

The apostle recommends their faithfulness.   These servants of Christ do not consider even their own life.   Their whole mind is set on serving Christ and His church.

 

Yes, while he urges each member in the congregation to have this mind, which was also in Christ Jesus, he makes this especially a requirement for office bearers: they must not seek their own, but sincerely care for the congregation.  

 

Also in this respect the apostle himself sets the example.   He rejoices in the privilege to be poured out as a drink offering, a libation, on the sacrifice and service of their faith.

 

Brothers and sisters, this morning we hope to ordain a 9th elder in the congregation.

And while the example of Christ’s humble self-sacrificing service is set before each of us, and while the apostle teaches each of us to have the same mind and to imitate Christ in this, this example is all the more applicable where Christ calls and appoints office bearers to serve in His church.

And thus – proclaiming God’s Word to you from this text – the theme will be:

The libation of an office bearer

We will note…

1.      The example of self-sacrificing love

2.      A libation poured out with rejoicing


In the first place we note…

The example of self-sacrificing love

 

The apostle says:

 

“…if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.”

 

In the Old Testament there were certain sacrifices that had to be accompanied by a grain offering and a drink offering.   The grain offering was of flour and oil, and the drink offering was of wine.    The drink offering – or as it is also called: the libation – was then poured out over the sacrifice, and burned with the sacrifice, as a sweet aroma to the Lord.

 

And now the apostle says that he is being poured out like a drink offering.  

Our translation says:

 

            “…if I am being poured out as a drink offering…”

 

We should rather translate the Greek:

 

            “…but although I am being poured out as a drink offering…”

 

It is not a possibility that his life might be poured out; it is already happening.

 

He speaks about his labour as an apostle.   He speaks about the fact that his whole life is a sacrifice to the Lord, a sacrifice in which he does not spare himself but pours out his life in service of the Lord, serving the congregations.   

 

In the previous verse he used two words – the word “run” and the word “labour” – to describe his ministry.    In serving the churches he exerted himself like an athlete running a race.   And when he describes his labour among them, the Greek word refers to hard toilsome labour.   And now he goes one step further.   Not only did he run with all his might, not only did he wear himself out with toilsome labour, but he also pours out his life as a drink offering in ministering to the churches of Christ.  

 

Note also the exact language which he uses.   His reference to a drink offering or libation is sacrificial language.   But then he also uses two other words – the word sacrifice and the word service or ministry – and both these words, sacrifice and ministry, refer to the priestly ministry and sacrificial service in the Lord’s temple.  

 

We read for example in Hebrews 10: 11:

 

“…every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices…”

 

The same Greek word which is used there to describe the ministry of the priest, is also used here in our text (compare also Hebr. 9: 21).

And in the Greek translation of the Old Testament this Greek word for ministry was almost exclusively used for the priestly ministry in the temple.

 

In serving the churches he acts as a priest.   But in this priestly ministry he does not sacrifice an animal; he sacrifices himself, spending his life, pouring it out for the sake of Christ and His church.    

 

Furthermore he says to the Philippians:

 

“…I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith…

 

Also the Philippians are, through faith in Christ, sacrificing themselves to the Lord.   Yes, the whole church in Philippi has become a sacrifice to the Lord.  

This is characteristic of all believers, as the apostle also writes to the saints in Rome, saying:

 

“…present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God…” – Rom. 12: 1

 

And in Rom. 15: 16 the apostle says that he, through the ministry of the gospel, is offering the Gentiles as an acceptable offering to the Lord.  

 

We have the same here in our text.   The apostle ministers to the faith of the Philippians in order that they may be an acceptable offering to the Lord, and also that his labour among them, spending himself for the sake of their faith, may be an acceptable sacrifice to the Lord.  

 

The same mind which was in Christ Jesus was also in the apostle.   With no regard for his own life or his own interests, he totally spent himself in ministering to their faith.

That is his libation.

 

This sacrifice was not without pain.   The flames of persecution surrounded him.   But he gladly endured all things for the sake of their salvation, as he wrote to Timothy, saying:

 

“…I endure all things for the sake of the elect…” – 2 Tim. 2: 10 (compare also 2 Cor. 4: 10, 11)

 

Dear congregation, the apostle was not doing something exceptional.

He was doing what all office bearers in the church are called to do: to execute their office and calling with the same mind which was also in Christ Jesus.

 

The example of Christ’s self denial and self-sacrificing service, not seeking His own honour or His own interest, but giving Himself for us as a humble Servant to minister to our needs, giving His own life for us – that is a theme that runs through the whole epistle.  

Time and again the apostle calls the Philippians back to this example, exhorting them to have this mindset which was in the Lord Jesus when He gave himself for us.

 

The apostle John teaches the same, saying:

 

“By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us.   And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” – 1 John 3: 16

 

Not only the apostle, and not only the office bearers, but each of us is called to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters in Christ.

 

Now, here in our text the apostle also speaks of the joyful manner in which he brings this sacrifice.  

We note that in the second place…

A libation poured out with rejoicing

 

In the Old Testament libations were especially linked to thank offerings.   If you were an Israelite and the Lord delivered you from enemies or great trouble, you could go to the temple to pay your vows to the Lord.   You could then bring a thank offering to Him, which was accompanied by a grain offering and a drink offering.   The libation of wine was then poured out over the slaughtered animal, and burned.  

In the language of the Old Testament this was then a sweet aroma unto the LORD – a sweet aroma of thanksgiving.

 

We see it also here in our text.   It is a libation with rejoicing. 

 

Now, this libation is not only a sacrifice of love in which the apostle spends himself for the church, it is also a libation in which the apostle’s life is being consumed by the flames of persecution.   It is also a blood libation in which he is ready to lose his life for Christ’s sake.

 

He already said in chapter 1 that it is his desire to magnify Christ, whether by life or by death, for to him to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

And he already described it in chapter 1 as a privilege, a gift of grace, to suffer for Christ’s sake.   And thus he rejoices while his life is being poured out.   Even if this libation would finally be a blood libation in which he has to die a martyr’s death for preaching the gospel, he rejoices.

Yes, he speaks about the outpouring of his life not only in a context of self-denying love and service, but also in a context of persecution where others are seeking to pour out his lifeblood.  

Yet, he rejoices, for even by his death he seeks to magnify Christ and to serve the churches.

 

This attitude of the apostle Paul reminds us also of the other apostles, when they were beaten by the Jewish council, how they departed from the council “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame” for Christ’s sake – Acts 5: 41.

 

And so also the apostle Paul rejoices for the privilege to spend his life and to be spent for the sake of Christ and His church.

And then he adds in verse 18:

 

            “For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me.”

 

The apostle does not want them to be sad because his life is being poured out.   He already explained that even if he has to die for preaching the gospel, he counts death as gain.

He now wants the Philippians to share this view.  

They must rejoice with him while his life is being poured out.  

 

In this way the apostle encourages the congregation, and teaches them to meet death with firmness, for we suffer no harm from death.   It is gain.

 

Here in our text the apostle wants to make sure that his sufferings, and even his death, may not discourage the saints in Philippi.   His libation, his life being poured out as a drink offering, is not a cause for sorrow, but for rejoicing – in as much as it will be for the confirmation of the gospel and for their benefit.

 

And, says he, if my death will be to me, personally, a matter of joy, why won’t you share in my joy?

 

Brothers and sisters, you see then how this passage further explains what he meant in chapter 1, when he said: I count it gain to die.

Both in life and in death he has only one desire: to serve and magnify Christ.   And when Christ is magnified he rejoices, even in death.

 

Dear congregation, in a few minutes time we are to ordain, in the name of Christ, an elder to serve as a servant of Christ in this congregation.   Our text this morning gave us the right perspective on the way in which we are to serve in Christ’s church.   It gives the right perspective also on the ministry of an elder who is appointed as shepherd and overseer of the flock.  

 

Sometimes it happens that men are elected and appointed as elders, but that they then accept their task with a sigh.  

Yes, the task of an elder is a serious and a heavy task.  

And someone may sigh because he knows his own weakness.  

But we see here the libation of a true office bearer.   He rejoices while he is being poured out on the sacrifice and service of Christ’s church.  

 

Congregation, deacons and elders, the apostle said somewhere else:

 

            “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” – 1 Cor. 11: 1

 

And here in this epistle to the Philippians he says the same:

 

“Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.” – Phil. 3: 17

 

He recommends his example to the congregation.   Follow me as I follow Christ.

 

Timothy followed this example, sincerely caring for the congregation, not seeking his own interest but the interest of Christ and His church.

Another office bearer also followed the example: Epaphroditus.   For the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his own life.

 

Yes, let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.

 

It is also the pattern for office bearers.   If your life be poured out as a drink offering for the sake of the congregation, for the sake of their faith and salvation, let your life be a libation with thanksgiving.

 

Amen.

 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Mendel Retief, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright, Rev. Mendel Retief

Please direct any comments to the Webmaster


bottom corner