Ravi Zacharias: A Tribute To a Faithful Servant of God

The Transcendence of the Gospel

The world lost Ravi Zacharias today and we could certainly use a thousand more. He, in many ways, was the representative voice of early 21st century Christianity. His Indian heritage represents the spread of Christian influence beyond its historical center in Europe. This historical reality speaks to the spiritual reality that God is busy accomplishing his mission to make a people for himself in all nations. The Christian faith is overwhelmingly global. The voice, character, and appearance of Ravi was an ever-present reminder of the universality of the Church.

While the multiculturalism Ravi represented was probably welcomed by American culture at large, his message was antithetical to our cultural moment. He spoke of truth and reality in a way that demanded adherence, not in a way that denoted preference. He used his voice to speak of transcendent and objective Biblical truths to a culture that is trying its hardest to “move past” these categories.

His message was refreshingly transcendent. It is this quality of his ministry that is the most compelling. While he didn’t avoid controversial political issues like defending the sanctity of human life, Ravi was not reactionary. Ravi spoke Biblical truth to our culture (and other cultures) because of his commitment to Biblical truth rather than a commitment to a particular side of a culture war.

In this way, Ravi set an example for the church universal to follow. It is an example to transcend our moment by pointing to the truly transcendent–the Gospel. The Biblical story of reality goes beyond our culture, our politics, our race, and our situation in life. Truth is truth regardless of who we are. Ravi will always remind us of that.

David Lytle

A Worldview Expansion

Ravi Zacharias was a giant in the Christian community. I am sure you will read many superb articles detailing all the amazing things he was a part of. He did as much for intelligent, thoughtful, Christian teaching and apologetics as anyone else. Please, take some time over the next few days to read up on his ministry and his life.

My connection to Ravi is much smaller in scale and more personal. Years back, a group of us at my church had started our own Wednesday Night Bible study. Our group was comprised of young adults – all between the age of 20 and 25, give or take a year. It is still one of the best groups I have been involved in. We wanted to grow in our faith, primarily by engaging in the Word as much as possible. For one of our studies, we watched a Ravi Zacharias video series. I was blown away. It was my first true exposure to him as a teacher and it served as a worldview expansion moment for me.

Are you familiar with the movie “The Matrix”?

In short, that film tells the story of a young man – Neo – who comes to discover that the world he thinks he knows is not the world as it actually is. Or perhaps another example would be C.S. Lewis’s “The Last Battle”. In the end of the book, after our heroes have entered the stable door, they discover that the world is much more grand and expansive than they could ever conceive.

That is how I felt listening to Ravi speak. Growing up, I received great, Biblically sound teaching. My father is a wonderful and gifted teacher. My mother is a student of the Word. One of our deacons, Jorge Lopez, in the church in Panama where I grew up is to this day, one of my two or three favorite teachers I have ever studied under. I attended and graduated from Welch College and received top-of-the-line Biblical instruction. Even so, hearing Ravi speak felt different to me.

He communicated with such precision!

His towering intellect and his mastery of the subject matter showed me, in no uncertain terms, that to believe in Christ is not wishful thinking or abandonment of reason. In fact, it is the opposite. Faith in Christ goes hand-in-hand with truth, logic, and intellectual curiosity. All things I had been taught my entire life but Ravi brought it into focus for me like never before.

I will always be grateful for that class. I will always be grateful for Ravi and his transformative teaching and influence. Ravi is with his Savior now and we rejoice in his faithful life of service.

Follow me

An Amazing Mind

I remember, as a kid, listening to Ravi Zacharias on Christian radio in the evenings on the way to and from church. And even as I grew into a young man and faced some difficult questions during my college years and beyond, Ravi was still there with RZIM, as sharp as ever, sharing such great wisdom and helping me work through my doubts.

One of his lectures stuck out in such a way that I can’t forget about it. The topic was on the problem of pleasure, saying that true despair was getting all of the world’s pleasure and then still realizing that it wasn’t enough to satisfy. He broke the idea of pleasures into two categories, legitimate and illegitimate, and I still think about it often. Here it is:

A few years back, I listened to an early recording of Ravi. He was a young man then. Instead of the slower cadence that he seemingly grew into as an older scholar, he was moving from thought to thought at such a rapid pace in the recording. I could hardly keep up with him. “Such an amazing mind…” I thought to myself.

And I still think that, as he has entered into his eternal reward.

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Humility and Grace in Action

I can’t remember when I first heard of Ravi Zacharias. It was probably in the 1980s, possibly when he spoke at the Billy Graham Congress for Itinerant Evangelists known as Amsterdam ’83.

Many times over the years I have listened to his radio program, “Let My People Think,” and been both blessed and challenged by his brilliant mind and his deep love and compassion. I found I had to give him my undivided attention if I was to have any chance of understanding him. Yet his clarity was amazing.

His daughter spoke of “my dad’s humility, grace, tenderness for people, and above all love for the Lord…” His work as an apologist, philosopher, and defender and proclaimer of the faith set a tremendous example for believers everywhere. Though very few will ever achieve his eloquence or his intellectual depth. He stated that he “saw the objections and questions of others not as something to be rebuffed, but as a cry of the heart that had to be answered,” according to Michael Ramsden, RZIM’s president. He taught our generation that the best way to win people is to love them, listen to them, and respect them, and not attack them or ridicule them.

I have shed more than a few tears these past two weeks thinking about Ravi’s imminent homegoing, and this morning my emotions overwhelmed me when I heard the news. He was one of our generation’s giants of the faith. Because of his many books, sermons, and audio and video recordings, his works will follow him to bless the coming generations.

“Lord, thank you for your gift of Ravi Zacarias to the church, to the seeking heart, and to our world during these many decades. Thank you for taking him home to hear “well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Phill Lytle

I love: Jesus, my wife, my kids, my family, my friends, my church, Firefly, 80s rock, Stranger Things, the Tennessee Titans, the St. Louis Cardinals, Brandon Sanderson books, Band of Brothers, Thai food, music, books, movies, TV, writing, Arrested Development, pizza, vacation, etc...

One thought on “Ravi Zacharias: A Tribute To a Faithful Servant of God

  • May 19, 2020 at 6:36 pm
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    Thank you, guys, for your moving tributes to Ravi Zacharias, a man whom I admired and appreciated, though I never got to meet him.

    Reply

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