Ravi Zacharias: Defender of the Christian Faith
Ravi Zacharias, the well-known Christian apologist, went to be with the Lord on May 19, 2020. He died at home at age 74 from cancer after spending 48 years in the ministry. He was known for his vigorous intellectual debates and rational arguments against atheists and other challengers. He presented and defended Christian theology through apologetics, which started with the Apostle Paul’s preaching on Mars Hill in Acts 17:22-31.
“[Ravi] 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,” said Michael Ramsden, president of RZIM. “People weren’t logical problems waiting to be solved; they were people who needed the person of Christ. Those who knew him well will remember him first for his kindness, gentleness, and generosity of spirit. The love and kindness he had come to know in and through Jesus Christ was the same love he wanted to share with all he met.”
A Life Forever Changed
Born in Madras, India, he was a skeptic, but at age 17, while recuperating in a hospital after a failed suicide attempt, he heard the words of Jesus from John 14:19, “Because I live, you also will live,” and he thought that “This may be my only hope: A new way of living. Life as defined by the Author of Life.” From that point forward, Zacharias’s life changed forever. He came to know the Lord, and it was the truth of the scripture that brought him hope.
In describing his salvation, he reflected, “I came to Christ after a life of protracted failure and, unable to face the consequences, I sought to end it all. It was on a bed of suicide that a Bible was brought to me, and in a cry of desperation, I invited Jesus Christ into my life. It was a prayer, a plea, a commitment, and a hope.”
He dedicated his life to serving Jesus and vowed, “I will leave no stone unturned in my pursuit of truth.” The words of Jesus, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” became the foundation of Zacharias’s mission as a Christian apologist and evangelist. He has presented and defended the truth of Jesus Christ ever since so that others might find hope as he did.
He describes his spiritual journey as “I can now enjoy the benefit of time’s distant view. The Jesus I know and love today I encountered at the age of seventeen. But His name and His tug in my life mean infinitely more now than they did when I first surrendered my life to Him. I came to Him because I did not know which way to turn. I have remained with Him because there is no other way I wish to turn.”
His Journey of Service
Zacharias was first called to preach at age 19 after being presented with the Asian Youth Preacher Award by the International Youth Congress in Hyderabad. In 1971, he spent the summer in South Vietnam evangelizing to U.S. troops and Viet Cong prisoners. Zacharias also spent a short time evangelizing in Cambodia. Ordained in 1980, he spent the next four years as a professor of evangelism at the Christian and Missionary Alliance-affiliated Alliance Theological Seminary.
In 1983, at age 37, Zacharias was invited to be the plenary speaker by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association for Itinerant Evangelists in Amsterdam, addressing 4,000 other speakers. It was there that he saw the need for apologetics to address skeptics whose intellectualism and existentialism prevented them from considering Jesus’s claims of truth.
He was the founder and chairman of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM), established in 1984. The organization is dedicated to reaching those who shape culture with the credibility of the truth of Jesus Christ. An apologetics training center was established in 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. Today, RZIM consists of 17 global entities with nearly 100 speakers and 250 employees. RZIM works to impact the hearts and intellect of society’s thinkers and influencers.
During his career, he held speaking engagements in more than 70 countries, including at some of the world’s top universities. He spoke with clarity, coherence, and grace, defending the truths of Christ. He stayed faithful to his calling and argued that a coherent worldview must satisfactorily answer four questions on origin, the meaning of life, morality, and destiny. He taught Christians to engage with skeptics and that Christianity answered the existential questions of humanity. Zacharias also hosted the radio programs Let My People Think and Just Thinking.
Zacharias presented the Christian faith in answer to questions of origin, meaning, morality, and destiny. He believed the truth of Jesus Christ could withstand harsh critiques and philosophical attacks. He authored over 30 books on theology, apologetics, comparative religion, and philosophy. His best-selling book Can Man Live Without God? sold half a million copies in 1995 and received the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association’s Gold Medallion Book Award.
He Fought a Good Fight
As a boy in India, a palm reader once told him, “Looking at your future, Ravi Baba, you will not travel far or very much in your life.” He continued, “That’s what the lines on your hand tell me. There is no future for you abroad.” Willing to be used by God, Zacharias has impacted the lives of people worldwide through his teaching, preaching, speeches, debates, books, airwaves, podcasts, and more.
He often quoted one of his favorite hymns and closed some of his speeches with these beautiful, uplifting words from He Giveth More Grace by Annie Johnson Flint:
He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase,
To added affliction, He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials, He multiplies peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half-done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
His love has no limit, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men,
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth and giveth and giveth again.
You can view his personal testimony and learn about his most asked questions by watching this video:
==> And read Francis Scott Key: God and Country.
==> Also read Franklin Graham: Being Used for God’s Glory.
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