CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Vale Ravi Zacharias

May 19, 2020

The great Ravi Zacharias has just passed away. He was a true champion of God and for God:

The world has just lost one of the greatest Christian apologists and evangelists of recent times, and a wonderful, humble servant of God. Ravi Zacharias has just passed away after a battle with cancer of the spine. He was 74. There already are and will be many dozens of wonderful eulogies to this great saint of God, so there is little I can add to what is already being said.

But let me nonetheless offer a few words. He was born in India in 1946 to an Anglican family, but rebelled during his youth. He was suicidal as a teen, but found Christ at age 17. After completing studies in Canada, the US, and the UK he settled in the US where he established the Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.

His story is recounted in his 2006 book, Walking from East to West (Zondervan). I look at the volume in more detail – noting some similarities with his spiritual journey and mine – in this 2008 article: billmuehlenberg.com/2008/09/22/a-tale-of-two-men/

He had ministered all around the world, and spoken to many hundreds of thousands of people at universities and elsewhere, sharing the truth claims of biblical Christianity. He was without doubt one of our most important Christian apologists of the past century. Other names that come to mind include C. S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, and William Lane Craig.

He had spine problems for a number of decades, and he often ministered while in quite a lot of pain. He of course wrote often on the issue of pain and suffering. He offered both philosophical and theological treatises on the topic, but he offered plenty of devotional and pastoral perspectives on it as well. As he once said, “We all want Canaan without going through the wilderness.”

The last days of his life were spent at his home in Atlanta with his wife of 48 years, Margaret, and his three children. His daughter Sarah had recently said this (May 9): “We know that God has purposed and numbered each of our days, and only He knows how many more Ravi will experience on this earth. … While we are full of so many emotions, we are also at peace, resting in the truth that God knows all and sees all and is sovereign and good. I think of the great joy my dad will have and I am comforted.”

Zacharias books

Zacharias wrote over 25 books, and I have almost all of them. One book he wrote that no one has as yet is his 2004 volume, The Prince and the Prophet: Jesus Talks With Mohammed which has been waiting to be released posthumously. Presumably we will soon be able to obtain that book. And next year he is due to have this title released: Jesus for You: The One Who Meets Your Every Need, with Vince Vitali. In addition he penned several children’s books.

Let me offer in order of their appearance the 25 books by Zacharias that I have:

A Shattered Visage (Baker, 1990)

Can Man Live Without God? (Word, 1994)

Deliver Us From Evil (Word, 1996)

Cries of the Heart (Word, 1998)

Jesus Among Other Gods (Word, 2000)

The Lotus and the Cross (Multnomah, 2001)

Light in the Shadow of Jihad (Multnomah, 2002)

Sense and Sensuality (Multnomah, 2002)

Is Your Church Ready? (Editor, with Norman Geisler, Zondervan, 2003)

Who Made God? (Editor, with Norman Geisler, Zondervan, 2003)

Recapture the Wonder (Thomas Nelson, 2003) 

I, Isaac Take Thee, Rebekah (Thomas Nelson, 2004) 

The Real Face of Atheism (Revised version of A Shattered Visage, Baker, 1990, 2004)

The Lamb and the Fuhrer (Multnomah, 2005)

Walking from East to West (Zondervan, 2006)

Beyond Opinion (Edited by Zacharias, Thomas Nelson, 2007)

The Grand Weaver: How God Shapes Us Through the Events of Our Lives (Zondervan, 2007) 

The End of Reason (Zondervan, 2008)

New Birth or Rebirth? (Multnomah, 2008)

Has Christianity Failed You? (Zondervan, 2010)

Why Jesus? (FaithWords, 2012)

Why Suffering? (With Vince Vitale, FaithWords, 2014)

Jesus Among Secular Gods (With Vince Vitale, FaithWords, 2017)

The Logic of God (Zondervan, 2019)

Seeing Jesus From the East (With Abdu Murray, Zondervan, 2020)

Image of The Logic of God: 52 Christian Essentials for the Heart and Mind
The Logic of God: 52 Christian Essentials for the Heart and Mind by Array Amazon logo

Zacharias quotes

Let me finish with a small collection of his quotes. Because they have come from his books and/or his talks, I have not offered any references here. There would be many hundreds of great quotes to choose from, but these should interest you in reading his works for the first time, or rereading them.

“I am convinced that the most effective defense of the faith and offense against falsehood must be based on an examination of worldviews.”

“All religions are not the same. All religions do not point to God. All religions do not say that all religions are the same. At the heart of every religion is an uncompromising commitment to a particular way of defining who God is or is not and accordingly, of defining life’s purpose.”  

“I am absolutely convinced that meaninglessness does not come from being weary of pain; meaninglessness comes from being weary of pleasure. And that is why we find ourselves emptied of meaning with our pantries still full.”

“Outside of the gospel, there are no answers for humanity’s most fundamental questions.”

“We have a right to believe whatever we want, but not everything we believe is right.”

“One of the most staggering truths of the Scriptures is to understand that we do not earn our way to heaven. …works have a place–but as a demonstration of having received God’s forgiveness, not as a badge of merit of having earned it.”

“A man rejects God neither because of intellectual demands nor because of the scarcity of evidence. A man rejects God because of a moral resistance that refuses to admit his need for God.”

“Philosophy has become existential; 
Art has become sensual;
Education has become skeptical;
Religion has become mystical;
Our culture has become trivial;
Christianity has been made minimal;
And we wonder what has happened to us in society.”

“When a plane crashes and some die while others live, a skeptic calls into question God’s moral character, saying that he has chosen some to live and others to die on a whim; yet you say it is your moral right to choose whether the child within you should live or die. Does that not sound odd to you? When God decides who should live or die, he is immoral. When you decide who should live or die, it’s your moral right.”

“When you say there’s too much evil in this world you assume there’s good. When you assume there’s good, you assume there’s such a thing as a moral law on the basis of which to differentiate between good and evil. But if you assume a moral law, you must posit a moral Law Giver, but that’s Who you’re trying to disprove and not prove. Because if there’s no moral Law Giver, there’s no moral law. If there’s no moral law, there’s no good. If there’s no good, there’s no evil. What is your question?”

“God put enough into the world to make faith in Him a reasonable thing. But He left enough out to make it impossible to live by reason alone.”

“To sustain the belief that there is no God, atheism has to demonstrate infinite knowledge, which is tantamount to saying, ‘I have infinite knowledge that there is no being in existence with infinite knowledge’.”

“These days it’s not just that the line between right and wrong has been made unclear, today Christians are being asked by our culture today to erase the lines and move the fences, and if that were not bad enough, we are being asked to join in the celebration cry by those who have thrown off the restraints religion had imposed upon them. It is not just that they ask we accept, but they now demand of us to celebrate it too.”

“If you believe in subjective morality, why do you lock your doors at night?”

“The Christian faith, simply stated, reminds us that our fundamental problem is not moral; rather, our fundamental problem is spiritual. It is not just that we are immoral, but that a moral life alone cannot bridge what separates us from God. Herein lies the cardinal difference between the moralizing religions and Jesus’ offer to us. Jesus does not offer to make bad people good but to make dead people alive.”

“I do not believe that one can earnestly seek and find the priceless treasure of God’s call without a devout prayer life. That is where God speaks. The purpose of prayer and of God’s call in your life is not to make you number one in the world’s eyes, but to make him number one in your life. We must be willing to be outshone while shining for God. We hear very little about being smaller in our own self-estimate.”

“Truth that is not undergirded by love makes the truth obnoxious and the possessor of it repulsive.”

“Truth is the thread that separates true spirituality from false spirituality. Spirituality does not give relevance to life; rather, truth gives relevance to spirituality. You must not dare to get sidetracked with ceremony or legalism! Your spirituality must be born of the truth and lived out in grace!”  

“The character of Jesus has not only been the highest pattern of virtue, but the strongest incentive in its practice, and has exerted so deep an influence, that it may be truly said that the simple record of three years of active life has done more to regenerate and to soften mankind than all the disquisitions of philosophers and all the exhortations of moralists.”

“The cross stands as a mystery because it is foreign to everything we exalt – self over principle, power over meekness, the quick fix over the long haul, cover-up over confession, escapism over confrontation, conform over sacrifice, feeling over commitment, legality over justice, the body over the spirit, anger over forgiveness, man over God.”

“The Cross of Christ is the crux of history. Without the Cross, history cannot be defined or corrected.”

“Outside of the cross of Jesus Christ, there is no hope in this world. That cross and resurrection at the core of the Gospel is the only hope for humanity. Wherever you go, ask God for wisdom on how to get that Gospel in, even in the toughest situations of life.”

“It is the resurrection that makes Good Friday good.”

“I have little doubt that the single greatest obstacle to the impact of the gospel has not been its inability to provide answers, but the failure on our part to live it out.”

“Love is the greatest apologetic. It is the essential component in reaching the whole person in a fragmented world. The need is vast, but it is also imperative that we be willing to follow the example of Jesus and meet the need.”

“When your life is changed by Jesus, you are a new creature. God not only changes what you do, He also changes what you want to do.”

“Love is hard work. It is the hardest work I know of, work from which you are never entitled to take a vacation.”

“To allow God to be God we must follow Him for who He is and what He intends, and not for what we want and what we prefer.”

There are so many videos of Zacharias teaching and sharing and debating and answering questions. If you have not heard him speak, let me share just one video, of many, that is well worth watching. It is 15 minutes on the issue of God and suffering: vision.org.au/associated-person/ravi-zacharias/belief-in-god-during-times-of-suffering/

And this 20-minute retrospective released in 2015 is also well worth watching: www.youtube.com/watch?v=or65lJX8D_g&feature=share&fbclid=IwAR3mWzfuHRczAxQ-Kbpf3U34xggfK5i7Z80hvPwtlpXvb6WdG5TqycWTcs0

Please keep Ravi’s family in your prayers during this difficult time. They have lost a wonderful man – indeed, the world has as well. Rest in peace Ravi Zacharias. You were one of God’s chosen vessels and one of his great gifts to this world and to the church.

[2000 words]

24 Responses to Vale Ravi Zacharias

  • Amen Oh Amen! What a loss to the Christian World. Lord please raise up a Joshua to take over for the Moses we have lost. Praise God for Ravi and the guide and encouragement he has been. Thank you very much Bill for this lightning fast but still deep and meaningful article. God bless you and your ministry, In Christ, Dave

  • Yes. Our sadness must be turned to intercession for such new ‘workers for the harvest’.
    Thanks for the second article for the day Bill.

  • Great article. We’ll miss Ravi. I also appreciate all you do Bill to encourage and equip Christians.

  • Thank you for this information brother.

  • Thank you Bill. I appreciated reading all of those Ravi quotes. A true servant of God who embodied grace and wisdom.

  • I loved this man for so long. Finally home with Our Lord. God bless his family and all who cherishes Ravi Zecharias’ teachings. Pass them on.

  • It will be interesting to see how his RZIM ministry will continue over the next few years. There are 74 speakers affiliated with his ministry, who go to events to speak or debate about some aspect of Christian apologetics. They piggyback on his name and radio show, on his immense capacity and reputation. I know that some of them are paid staff; I hope they can continue without harm to their important gospel work.
    Perhaps the agency can reinvent its branding. (It’s been done before: The China Inland Mission got kicked out of China and reinvented themselves as Overseas Missionary Fellowship; Sudan Interior Mission merged with other agencies, including some in South America, modified their meaning to Serving in Mission before now just using letters SIM (without being an acronym.)

  • What a man. And what insight he had into the mind of the atheist. This has been an amazing loss. Feeling sad, yet knowing God knew it would end this way. If our Lord has allowed it, maybe I am comforted.

  • Saddened to hear of Ravi’s death. Apologists for Christianity are rare, and he had the gift of gracious explanation and a wonderfully broad understanding of the human condition in light of Scripture. Keep up the good work Bill … much needed in Australia. Sabbatical is not weakness, but they are given to people to re-charge to “wait upon the Lord”. Blessings – Mark

  • A great example of loving God with all the mind – and the rest.

  • There was a man sent from God whose name was Ravi!!! What a gift God gave to the heathen world and to His church. Ravi is now enjoying his reward… but he will be missed!
    Thanks for this article Bill!

  • God bless you Bill, another wonderful article and I pray for Ravi’s family at this sad loss.

  • Thanks Bill. Ravi from India has been an encouragement to me in my Christian journey to continue to press in to the “more” of God, and to stop growing in fervour for the Lord Jesus.

  • I heard Ravi at my then local church in Sydney in 1976.

  • Many thanks guys. And here are 25 more gems from the late, great Christian apologist:

    https://billmuehlenberg.com/2020/05/20/25-key-quotes-from-ravi-zacharias/

  • Great post Bill. Thank you Brother.

  • So so sad , enjoyment was so good with his explanation of Scripture , so rich in being able to understand all that he give to all of his followers , The world mourns with sadness , but we know he is with his loving Saviour , and one day all born again Christians will meet our heavenly family in a joyous occasion and Ravi with be there , praise GOD .

  • So sad to hear but I know His work on earth has been fulfilled by the calling of God. A marvellous example of a person transformed to witness to others just like Paul was chosen to do so. My prayers are with his wife, children and all related family,friends and collegues. A great lost but all in God’s timing.

  • Truly loved this man as a mentor and learnt so much from him 🙁

  • Ravi’s death is a sad loss for us. RIP.

    It is so good to see that somewhere the real challenge of Christianity is presented so clearly:

    “At the heart of every religion is an uncompromising commitment to a particular way of defining who God is or is not and accordingly, of defining life’s purpose.”

    “The cross stands as a mystery because it is foreign to everything we exalt – self over principle, power over meekness, the quick fix over the long haul, cover-up over confession, escapism over confrontation, conform over sacrifice, feeling over commitment, legality over justice, the body over the spirit, anger over forgiveness, man over God.”

    “The Cross of Christ is the crux of history. Without the Cross, history cannot be defined or corrected.”

    “Outside of the cross of Jesus Christ, there is no hope in this world. That cross and resurrection at the core of the Gospel is the only hope for humanity. Wherever you go, ask God for wisdom on how to get that Gospel in, even in the toughest situations of life.”

    “It is the resurrection that makes Good Friday good.”

    “I have little doubt that the single greatest obstacle to the impact of the gospel has not been its inability to provide answers, but the failure on our part to live it out.”

  • Earths loss – Heavens gain. Lord may the seeds of Ravi’s planting spread fast, far and wide -in Jesus’ name!

Leave a Reply