Lessons Learned from Evangelist and Gospel Patron-Ravi Zacharias (1946-2020)
Dr. Jacob Daniel is a graduate of Biola University, Cook School of International Studies, President of Heritage Counsel and regular instructor at The New Hope Academy. Jacob and his wife, Preeta's, lives were changed when they met Ravi Zacharias who was integral in bringing them to the United States. Jacob shares his testimony about this great Evangelist of the Gospel.
Ravi Zacharias’ name is well recognized by millions of Christians who have greatly benefited by both his sharp mind and his penetrating character, each of which was shaped by the schools of life and of academics. He dedicated his life and his messageto these two worlds, working to reconcile and conform them to the truth of the gospel. Ravi had the ability to captivate his audience at various stations in life. He did this with humility and impacted scores of people cross-culturally, intergenerationally, and at every social level and economic sphere.
While the world saw a man used by God in a way that might have been even a cause of envy for many celebrities, his life and ministry was forged out of trials and huge personal cost. The Christian world remains indebted to him and his family for their many sacrifices.
Ravi was sifted, even to the end of his life; yet he never announced the cost of his obedience to the world. He expanded the community of eternal friends by denying the various comforts that life could have offered him. Though he would have been the first one to acknowledge that he was not perfect, it was evident from his conduct that he knew perfect grace.
Ravi’s ministry strategically breached social, religious, economical, denominational, political, generational, and geographical boundaries. He did that by standing firm on the promise of Christ, the promise that the gates of hell shall not prevail against God's church (Matthew 16:18). He contended for the gospel with utter civility, because he truly believed in it with all his being. He once said, “we have to be willing to disagree not disagreeably, but with civility, and the truth will win out at the end.”
His prophetic witness was about life, because he himself was plucked out of the jaws of death at the age of 17. Ravi remained faithful to his Master who kept His promise to him, the promise of His abundant life in Ravi’s own (John 14). During an interview in 2013, Ravi talked about seizing every opportunity as a platform to preach the gospel, and he shared the personal values and principles that guided his own life and ministry.
Here is an excerpt from the interview in Ravi’s own words:
“Well you know, it’s always tough, you have to be very careful when you give advice to people on how to govern their lives because your life is not over yet. Billy Graham used to say, “ he would wake up every morning and one of the prayers he prayed everyday- Lord, today let me not undo what had taken all these years to do and to build.” So we always have to be on our guard, we always have to be watchful. But I think the Bible talks about what is in the world- the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. So let me reverse it.
Pride is the most deadly posture of the mind. It brought Lucifer to his fall. We ought always have to deal with our ego. People make us think we are better than who we really are, but they don’t really know you. My wife and family know me, but people who see you in a public setting don’t really know you. It’s very important to be humble. I don’t read the press, good or bad. Just stay ignorant; don’t take peoples accolades and adulation as if it is all factual. I appreciate them, I remain grateful for their kindness, but deep inside we are all in our human struggles, we’ve human failings and we face that. Humility is very critical!
Number two, lust of the flesh. Always bring under control the seductions and the temptations. As human beings we will always have it because we are in this body. The body has struggles, the body has allurements, and the body has desires. The mind and the imagination play havoc with you. I talk to people; they tell me they don’t know why they are addicted to certain habits, because when they finish expressing them, they are emptier than before. But that is the mystery of iniquity! So I say something like this, guard your eyes; it’s where it begins. When the eye gate begins to see seduction, and in the process turn away and move on. Let the imagination have another sight. One of my mentors used to say something like this, “the first look you can’t help, the second look you can”. Always guard your eyes!
Thirdly, the lust of the eye, which is greed. So, you’ve got pride, you have to deal with your ego. Lust of the flesh, where you have to deal with sensuality, and lust of the eyes, where you have to deal with your private greed; For example, how to deal with your finances. I always believe this may be extreme, but I do it too, Jacob. I think especially those in the ministry have to have somebody to whom they are accountable with their finances. Because, money makes possible what the imagination often desires. And if you can guard that area too—you’re just taking precautions and that way your bank account is also monitored and viewed.
So the advice I would give is, ego, lust, and greed, watch your step in all of those, that’s what the Bible says!”
Ravi leaves behind not just his family, but thousands of eternal friends, a global family; one he made during his faithful ministry to the world. He will be greatly missed!
Dr. Jacob Daniel