Life-Study of Philippiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In 2:17 Paul says, “But if even I am poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and priestly service of your faith, I rejoice and rejoice together with you all.” In 2 Timothy 4:6 Paul also refers to himself as a drink offering: “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand” (lit.). Since everything Paul covers in the book of Philippians is related to the experience of Christ, this must also be true of the drink offering referred to in 2:17. If our experience of Christ has not come to the point where we have been constituted as a drink offering, we have not yet experienced Christ to the uttermost. When we experience Christ to an exceedingly high degree, we shall become a drink offering.
The drink offering was additional to the basic offerings revealed in Leviticus chapters one through seven (Num. 15:1-10; 28:7-10). The basic offerings were types of various aspects of Christ. The drink offering was a type of Christ as enjoyed by the offerer, an offering that fills him with Christ as the heavenly wine and even causes him to become wine to God. The apostle Paul became such a drink offering by so enjoying Christ that he could be poured out by the shedding of his blood upon the believers’ faith as a sacrifice to God.
The burnt offering, the meal offering, the peace offering, the sin offering, and the trespass offering were the basic offerings, but the drink offering was not. The five basic offerings covered in chapters one through seven of Leviticus are types of various aspects of what Christ is to God on our behalf. If we read Numbers 15:1-10 and 28:7-10, we shall see that the drink offering was something additional. If one of the basic offerings was offered without the drink offering, this was an indication that there was something lacking with the presentation of the basic offering. The one who offered the basic offering must have been rather poor. Actually, the drink offering signifies that the offerer himself becomes the drink offering. However, this does not mean that the offerer can be such a drink offering according to his own natural constitution. Rather, he must enjoy Christ to such an extent that Christ fills him, saturates him, and permeates him. Christ is the heavenly wine for our enjoyment. When we enjoy Him by taking Him into us, we shall become filled with Him and thoroughly saturated with Him. In this way we shall become the wine to be poured out as a drink offering upon the offerings we present to God.
With the typology in the Old Testament as a basis, Paul came to regard himself as a drink offering poured out upon the sacrifice and priestly service of the believers’ faith. For years Paul had been drinking of Christ and enjoying Him so that he came to the point that he was filled with Christ and saturated with Him. Eventually, Christ as the heavenly wine caused Paul to become a constitution of wine in his very being. This was the reason Paul could consider himself wine poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice he offered to God as a priest.
In 2:17 Paul speaks of “the sacrifice and priestly service of your faith.” The sacrifice of the believers’ faith means that the faith of the Philippian believers was considered by Paul a sacrifice offered to God by him as a priest (Rom. 15:16), and his offering ministry was considered a priestly service. The issue, the result, of Paul’s ministry was the faith of the believers. Faith in 2:17 is all-inclusive. It refers to much more than the act of believing. Faith here includes all that the believers have received and enjoyed. Ultimately it includes what the believers themselves are. This faith was the result of Paul’s ministry. Paul’s ministry resulted in the all-inclusive faith of the believers, the faith which Paul offered to God as a sacrifice.
To be sure, the sacrifice of the believers’ faith was full of Christ. It included Christ as the basic offerings. When we experience Christ in these different aspects and enjoy Him as these basic offerings, this experience and enjoyment become our faith. Experientially, the enjoyment of Christ as the basic offerings eventually becomes our faith. Hence, this faith is constituted of the Christ we experience and enjoy.
We must not make the mistake of understanding the faith spoken of in 2:17 in a shallow, superficial way. Faith is a constitution of our experience of Christ. As such, it could be viewed by Paul as a sacrifice to be offered to God. The faith which can be offered to God as a sacrifice is a constitution of our enjoyment of Christ. The amount of faith constituted in us is in proportion to our enjoyment of Christ. The more we enjoy Him, the more we have the faith which is constituted of the enjoyment of Christ.
During the years I have been ministering in this country, the saints have been enjoying the Christ ministered to them. They have experienced Christ and enjoyed Him in many different aspects. As a result, within the saints there is a constitution, and this constitution is called faith. There is no better word to signify the enjoyment and experience of Christ in its various aspects than the word faith. This was the word used by Paul in 2:17, and we cannot improve on it. Paul uses the word faith to denote the totality of our enjoyment of Christ and experience of Him. Therefore, faith is the total expression of our experience and enjoyment of Christ.
As we have pointed out, Paul regarded this faith, constituted of the believers’ experience and enjoyment of Christ, as a sacrifice which he could offer to God as a priest. Although I by no means presume to compare myself with Paul, many times in prayer I have had the sense that the enjoyment and experience of Christ found among the believers is an offering which I can present to God. There is among the saints in the Lord’s recovery a kind of faith which is the constitution and totality of their experience and enjoyment of Christ. This faith can be found in every local church in the Lord’s recovery. The saints have a faith which is a constitution of their experience of Christ and enjoyment of Christ over the years. This is a sign that the ministry has not been in vain. The ministry has resulted in a constitution which comes out from the saints’ enjoyment of Christ and experience of Christ. In 2:17 Paul refers to this constitution as faith.
Based upon the principle in the Old Testament that the drink offering required a basic offering, Paul regarded the faith constituted of the believers’ experience of Christ as the basic offering upon which he could pour out himself as a drink offering. God in heaven must have been very happy with this situation. How pleased He must have been to see the faith as the basic offering and also to see the drink offering! On the side of the believers, there was faith; on the side of the apostle, there was the drink offering. What a marvelous scene! No wonder Paul could say that he rejoiced with them all! Paul rejoiced to have his blood shed as a drink offering upon the sacrifice of the believers’ faith. He not only rejoiced, but he rejoiced together with all the saints. To rejoice together with others is to share joy with them. The apostle shared his joy with the Philippians in his martyrdom over their faith. This implies a congratulation to them. I believe that the Triune God was also rejoicing with Paul at such a happy, joyful scene.
Both the believers’ faith as the basic offering and the drink offering are something which has been constituted over a period of time. Faith does not grow and develop suddenly, for it is a constitution of the believers’ enjoyment of Christ and spiritual experience. Likewise, a drink offering can only be produced out of our experience with the Lord. In order to become a drink offering, we need to be filled with the Lord and saturated with Him. Only in this way can we have the spiritual constitution which makes us a drink offering. What a tremendous matter that sinners such as we can be constituted into heavenly wine for God’s satisfaction!
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