Today on Insight for Living, from Chuck Swindoll. Many have great beliefs. You think right, you believe correctly. I mean, it squares with the Scriptures, but they're not convictions. You learn when you press on in life, you need more than mere beliefs. You need deep-seated convictions. It's been said that belief, in and of itself, has no intrinsic value, at least in a spiritual sense. After all, even Satan believes in God.
So what's the tipping point? What's the virtue that elevates those who truly follow Jesus Christ above those who simply believe? Today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll teaches from Philippians chapter 1, where the Apostle Paul provides the answer to this valid question. This is the eleventh message in a 12-part series called Walking with Integrity in Times of Adversity.
Chuck titled today's message The Integrity of Pressing On. We have been walking with integrity in times of adversity for the last number of weeks as we have journeyed through the Scriptures to see examples of those who have done so in all different kinds of adverse circumstances, beginning with Daniel, you may recall. Then we took on Noah, and then there was Joseph and others along the way, until we have come today to, of course, the great Apostle Paul, the man who knew adversity as few will ever know it. We're looking at Philippians chapter 1 together, and I will use this as a moment to announce that my last in the series will be next Sunday as I talk about the integrity of finishing well out of 2 Timothy chapter 4. But for today, we will look at Philippians 1, 12 through 14, and then the third chapter, same verses, 12 through 14. I'll be reading from the New Living Translation, and I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has happened to spread the good news. For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence. And boldly speak God's message without fear. Now chapter 3 verse 12, I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection, but I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing, forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God through Christ Jesus is calling us. Great counsel for any generation, any age, any circumstance, forgetting what lies behind, I press on to what lies ahead. And in between, we give thanks. You're listening to Insight for Living.
To search the scriptures with Chuck Swindoll, be sure to download his Searching the Scriptures studies by going to insightworld.org slash studies. Chuck titled his message, The Integrity of Pressing On. Believing important truths is valuable.
Standing on them in tough times is invaluable. That's when mere beliefs turn into convictions. John F. Wahlberg was the president of Dallas Seminary for 34 years.
During his tenure, he often presided over the commencement exercises at graduation. I'll never forget one of those commencement ceremonies where Dr. Wahlberg stood tall and looked at the graduates and spoke openly from his heart as he said, I fear we may be graduating students with too many beliefs and not enough convictions. I've never forgotten that statement and I agree with him.
In fact, I would alter that since you're not students and I do not speak to students regularly, though on occasion I do. But I would say the same for believers today. Many have great beliefs. You think right. You believe correctly.
I mean, it squares with the scriptures. But they're not convictions. You learn when you press on in life, you need more than mere beliefs. You need deep seated convictions.
The Apostle Paul is a marvelous example of such. He was concerned that his understudy, Timothy, be a man of convictions. He wrote to him on one occasion and said, continue in the things that you have learned and become convinced of.
Second Timothy 3.14. You learn beliefs. Going through tough times, you become convinced of them and they turn into convictions. Pressing along, of course, requires that we hang tough during times of suffering. It may not be a pleasant subject for you to hear, but it is a necessary one. Hard times are upon us. Harder times are coming. Scripture tells us this several times that is predicted for us. I suggest it's high time we believe it. Beliefs will not get you through hard times.
Convictions will. I'm turning in my Bible, before we get over to other parts of his letters, to the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. The recording is in chapter 9 where the Lord found him on the road to Damascus. He was on his way to arrest believers in Christ, to put them in chains, and to bring them back to Jerusalem that they might be put on trial and when necessary killed because they believe that Jesus was Messiah. And this proud Pharisee was again on one of those terrorist missions.
By now, he is a household name among believers and they are fearful of him, especially when he came into their city. On the road to Damascus, however, all that changed. You who know the story remember that the Lord brought down a laser bright light that blinded him. He wound up blind, helpless, and sitting in a home on Straight Street in the old city of Damascus.
While initially blinded, he cried out, who are you, sir? Using the word kurios, translated Lord, but he didn't see him as Jesus until Jesus answered, I am Jesus whom you're persecuting. For the first time, for the first time, he realized his mission was in the wrong direction and Saul of Tarsus is converted to Christ.
His life in Christ only begins while he is helplessly sitting in that house on Straight Street. The Lord is at work in the life of a man named Ananias. Your Bible is open to chapter 9 of Acts. You will see in verse 10 where the Lord spoke to Ananias about his plan for him. There was a believer in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, calling Ananias. Yes, Lord, he replied. The Lord said, go over to Straight Street. When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul.
He's praying to me right now. I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so he can see again. Immediately Ananias is reluctant. Remember, everybody knew about Saul of Tarsus and now he's being told to go and stand before him. So his first response is, but Lord, I've heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to believers in Jerusalem and he is authorized by the leading priest to arrest everyone who calls upon your name. The Lord will hear nothing of his pushback. So he answers, the Lord said go for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings and to the people of Israel. Now look at the next verse.
You may have not seen it before or it may have been a long time. He adds, and I will show him how much he must suffer for my name's sake. Part of Saul of Tarsus' calling, part of his conversion included the promise of suffering, how much he must suffer for my name's sake. God had plans for Saul of Tarsus and we now know with the Scriptures completed just how much he had planned, especially in his writings for no one, has contributed more to our theology in writing than the Apostle Paul. How much he must suffer. Pathine is the Greek term.
We get our word pathos or pathetic from it. It means, always means to endure suffering and misfortune and it almost always appears in the original text in the plural how many sufferings he must endure. Paul was to communicate great beliefs, great truths as a result of his multiple sufferings they would come through the convictions of his heart and surely they did. What's interesting is how quickly Saul of Tarsus becomes the evangelist rather than the persecutor of people in Damascus.
Look for yourself. After the scales drop from his eyes and he is no longer blind, after he is baptized, given food and something to drink, he gains strength and immediately we read, Saul stayed with the believers in Damascus for a few days and immediately, look at that, immediately he began to preach about Jesus in the synagogue saying he is indeed the Son of God. Imagine the surprise. They knew the man, at least they knew of him, and here he is speaking in the synagogue declaring to these Jews, unbelieving at the time, that he, Jesus, is in fact the Son of God. He's the Messiah. It was shocking. All who heard him were amazed.
Of course they were. Isn't this the same man who caused such devastation among Jesus' followers in Jerusalem they asked? Didn't he come here to arrest them and take them in chains to the leading priests? Paul's preaching became more and more powerful. So he went on with his evangelistic work and the Jews in Damascus couldn't refute his proofs that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. But notice, true to his word, when the Lord said he must suffer, look at this, after a while, some of the Jews plotted together to kill him.
The roles are now reversed. The man who had been killing is now being stalked. In fact we read, they plotted together to kill him, they were watching for him day and night at the sitting gate so they could murder him. Rather than letting these words rest on a page in your Bible, may I ask, have you ever been stalked by someone who wanted to kill you?
I think it's safe to say probably not. Most of you have not had that happen. Some have.
Think about it. Here is a man who finally is believing right, beginning to be treated in such wrong ways. Those who are not converted resent the fact that he's a turncoat. How dare he tell people that Jesus is Messiah. We thought he was coming here to arrest these Christians who were telling us the same message as he's now preaching.
We need to put him out of his misery. He debated with some and he, according to this 29th verse, the Greek speaking Jews, look at this, and they tried to murder him. This happened on in the city of Jerusalem. So he was let down in a big basket off a wall at Damascus and he made his way to Jerusalem. When he got there, the Hellenists heard him speak and they're ready to kill him. So the suffering begins.
The suffering begins. And what had been beliefs on the part of the apostle, now that he presses on through these hard times, turn into convictions. He's now more determined than ever not to run scared, not to quit, but to get at the task of fulfilling his ministry. However, when he gets to Jerusalem and tries to fellowship with the apostles and the other believers, they reject him. They're afraid of him.
He's notorious. They want nothing to do with him. So he's hated by the Hellenists. He's stalked by the unconverted Jews.
The believers won't have anything to do with him. So what does he do? I want to suggest that about this time, something took place that we often find hard to locate when it happened. And I want you to go from Acts 9 over to Galatians chapter 1. I wish it were all in one chapter, but it isn't.
So we have to move to a place where we can read of the next event that occurred. And we're finding it in Galatians chapter 1. Look at verse 15.
But even before I was born, this is Paul writing, before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. So his theology is already beginning to be perfected. Another belief, as he understands God's sovereign hand in his life, he says then it pleased him to reveal his son to me. That would happen on the road to Damascus. That would be his conversion.
So that I would proclaim the good news about Jesus to the Gentiles. When this happened, he says, I didn't rush out to consult with any human being. I didn't look to be ordained or to be justified in my conversion.
I didn't look for that. When I went up to Jerusalem, he said, I didn't go to be consulted to consult with those who were apostles before. Instead, now look closely, instead, I went away to Arabia and later returned to the city of Damascus.
Now, pause right here. Paul has converted about 33, 80-33. We're not sure exactly when he went to Arabia or what part of Arabia he was in. Some of it bordered awfully close to Damascus, could have gone to the edge, could have gone more into the interior. We're not even told what he did when he was in Arabia.
No one went with him. But while there he met with the Lord intimately and some phenomenal things occurred. They are not linked directly with his time in Arabia, but quite likely they occurred during that time, around that time. So you're in Galatians 1. Go back to the previous book. I'm not going to keep doing this to you, but I've got to go back and forth to tie this story together. Go to 2 Corinthians 12. I'm suggesting that what we're going to read in chapter 12 happened around that time, maybe while in the country of Arabia. Look at what we're going to read here. This boasting will do no good, but I must go on. I will reluctantly tell about visions and revelations from the Lord.
Now I'm going to interrupt again and say this. Saul is converted A.D. 33. He writes the letter of 2 Corinthians A.D. 56. And for the first time he's telling of this event. Look, I was caught up in the third heaven 14 years ago.
Do the math. He wrote this in 56. So this would be in 42 A.D. 42. He's been a believer nine years. But he waits 14 years before he tells about this being caught up into the third heaven. Whether he's in the body or out of the body, he doesn't know.
Only God knows. But while caught up into paradise, verse 4, I heard things so astounding that they cannot be expressed in words, things no human is allowed to tell. Well, though we'd prefer to continue, the clock dictates that we hit the pause button. But there's much more ahead. And I'll urge you to join us again when Chuck Swindoll resumes this study about the integrity of pressing on. And to learn more about this ministry, visit us online at insightworld.org. But I'm pleased to tell you about our newly updated resource from Chuck. It's a daily devotional that contains more than enough chapters to take you through the entire year. Titled Wisdom for the Way, this deluxe leather soft edition features daily reflections on topics such as dealing with discontentment, developing personal character, and finding purpose in your job. Plus, the book includes thought-provoking questions and space for writing your own personal thoughts.
To purchase a copy right now, go to insight.org slash offer. Or call us if you're listening in the United States, dial 1-800-772-8888. In the last several weeks, we've heard from thousands of friends from all around the world who've affirmed the value of these daily visits with Chuck. Many have told us that they can trace their listening back ten, twenty, thirty years and more. It's wonderful to see what God has accomplished through this legacy of God's faithfulness. What began on a handful of stations in 1979 has now grown to more than 2,000 stations worldwide.
And the program is translated into multiple languages as well. And it's because people like you have stood by our side. We believe the best days are yet ahead as we deepen our friendship with partners like you. To give a donation today, share with us by calling us. If you're listening in the U.S., dial 1-800-772-8888. Or give a donation online at insight.org slash donate. Join us when Chuck Swindoll describes what he calls the integrity of pressing on, Thursday on Insight for Living. The preceding message, The Integrity of Pressing On, was copyrighted in 2021 and 2022, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2022 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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