Facing Friendly Fire

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  • I am having a ball preaching through Philippians!

    I am still in Paul’s missionary report to the church, where he discusses the advancement of the gospel. In verses 14-18, Paul describes how God worked through his difficult circumstances to advance the gospel. Now, in verse 15-18, Paul describes how God worked through his ministerial opposition to advance the gospel.

    Some parents were not satisfied with the explanation they were given about their son’s death in the Vietnam War. They continued to ask questions and demand answers, until the found out the truth. Their son was not killed by the enemy. Rather, he was accidentally killed by the artillery of a fellow-soldier. They called it “friendly fire.” Unfortunately, it happens in the church, as well.

    The matter that Paul discusses in this text was not doctrinal or moral. It seems to have been a purely personal issue that caused the church at Rome to divide into two camps: pro-Paul and anti-Paul. But Paul responds by concluding that all that matters is what they say about Christ. What they say about him is secondary.

    Here is the sermon skeleton of the message:

    Title: “Facing Friendly Fire”

    Text: Philippians 1:15-18

    Sermon Series: Philippians: Partnership in the Gospel

    Theme: A Christ-centered response to interpersonal conflict

    Point: There is joy in Christ that transcends how other people treat you.


    I. The humanity of the church’s members (1:15)

    A. The problem of sin in the church: “Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry” (v. 15a)

    B. The power of sanctification in the church: “but others from goodwill” (v. 15b)

    II. The motivation of the church’s ministers (1:16-17)

    A. God uses people whose motives are right: “The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel” (v. 16)

    B. God uses people whose motives are wrong: “The former proclaim Christ out of rivalry, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment” (v. 17)

    III. The priority of the church’s message (1:18)

    A. How should I respond when I am mistreated? “What then?” (v. 18a)

    B. How should I respond when Christ is magnified “Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice” (v. 18b)


    H.B. Charles Jr.

    Pastor-Teacher at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church of Jacksonville and Orange Park, Florida.