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2021 online sermons » Ravi Zacharias » Ravi Zacharias - Church Leaders Conference Q&A

Ravi Zacharias - Church Leaders Conference Q&A

Vince Vitale: We're excited to spend the next hour or so taking your questions very seriously, and hopefully showing that the Christian faith has some of the most deeply satisfying answers to some of life's deepest questions. Next time we're going to try to get a more experienced panel, but we're very thankful to John Lennox, and to Louie Giglio, and to Ravi Zacharias for stepping in as we build towards that. Wow, to have three men with us who have followed God with such conviction, and such boldness. Who have been so attentive to the leading of God's spirit, and who have done so with such humility, we are incredibly grateful to be able to hear from you. We've been receiving lots of questions on Facebook and Twitter, through social media. One that has been recurring and coming up quite often has been the topic of what to do when young people, and some people even asking about their own children, walk away from the Christian faith. Here's one way that the question has been put, and I might ask just to start, maybe each of you could say something, an encouragement or a piece of advice to this question as we get started. Here's one way that it was put, "How do we reach young people who have grown up in the church, and have seen compromises that have confused them and caused them to doubt their faith? What do we do when our children stop believing"?

Ravi Zacharias: I don't know why were were positioned this way, whether it was logical or chronological with growing, going, and gone. I know these men well enough to say that. You know, I would defer to the man in the university here, because he is not a just a veteran in ministry, but he has eyeballed UNSC students struggling in their faith. John, why don't you go first on this? We've talked about this before many times.

John Lennox: This is a phenomenon that is increasingly happening in the Western World. And the tragedy of it is, that it's very easy to start blaming, and I know many of you here are parents, and you may well be concerned about one or more of your children who have walked away. And the trouble is, there's no generic answer to this. For those of us who are parents, it seems to me it's enormously important to keep the lines of communication open. I know of virtually no families that don't have somewhere a problem like this, and therefore, we need those of us who are believers, to keep those lines of love and communication open so that there's contact with our children, and so that they always know that they're going to have a home, whatever their status of faith is. Now, the more general issue, walking away from the church, everyone is an individual. And when a survey was done in the united kingdom a few years ago, as to why people were leaving the church, the number one answer was this, they don't answer our questions. And that's something, I know that Ravi and the RZIM Ministry takes very seriously, but it is so important because it reflects that often the Christian homes they grew up in, were not homes where there was a lot of conversation. There may have been a great... but very little conversation. And I think, therefore, if I may speak to a younger generation, we need to get the conversation going with our young people, and in our churches we need to get the conversation going. We need to take questions seriously, and frequently I will go into a church and instead of preaching a sermon I just sit down in a chair, and I say to the audience, "Well you've had an interesting week, what are your questions"? And they just flow in, and we relate immediately to what people are asking, but I think that touches a nerve. We need to try to answer, faithfully and biblically the questions they're asking, but to listen to them, to find out what exactly it is that they find unacceptable, or whatever, and that requires a lot of attention and skill.

Ravi Zacharias: I think Louie answered this so brilliantly too, and what John has said here. I generally, when I look at a young person who has told me they walked away from the faith, normally there are about three or four paradigms they will give to you. Number one, they went through a tremendous grief at some stage, and they found that their prayer was in vain, they just seem that God was not answering their prayer or hearing them. It could have been a brother, or a sister, or a parent, or sometimes even a child that has been lost, and that wound has sort of struck very deep, and gone very deep. And other times they will say to you intellectually they were just hammered away in their classroom, and those hammerings took their toll, because the Bible, it's very easy to make a caricature of it, it's very easy to use it tendentiously, take a passage out of context and skew it in the direction that makes Bible believing people actually look stupid and archaic, or fools, and students listening to this day in and day out from their professors, it takes their toll and say I can't really live in this environment trying to defend what I believe. And other times it is a moral life that has gone in a different direction and they're looking for rational justification to move in that direction, and so, that's more often than not that you may imagine, somebody wants to just shake off any holdings of moral guidance and become autonomous and how do they do that without becoming schizoid within? And so they find a rational justification that they don't believe it anymore. That's why I think it's very important to ask them questions, and listen carefully. Find out what is at the root. Not always will the root cause be given to you, the superficial cause may be given. I've found over the years in maturing a little bit, and still a long way to go, that the early, younger, impulsive ways to come down hard, and it doesn't work. You know, you only just hammer them down and tell them all the reasons why you think they're wrong. The supreme reason I think a lot of people struggle with this, is because of what is known as the hiddenness of God. God just sometimes does not seem as obvious to them as they would like to see God reveal himself to them. And the only way I know to counter that is to embody the love of Christ for them, and then it dawns on them that God is closer to them than they realize, because he has come to them in the form of an individual, or a loving voice, or a loving friendship, that is not there to cut them down at the knees, but to let them know that they're a valuable person in your eyes, and in your relationship. You will never win them by blocking them out, because if they're not hearing your voice, they're hearing somebody else's voice. So be there as Louie said so well, they need to trust and feel safe with you, and not feel like they're just another illustration for you in the process of your walk. When they feel safe with you, and trust you, the years may go by, and they will someday tell you it's because of what I saw in you, I finally made the turn around and came back. So, it's a reality, but I think the hiddenness of God is a very real factor. And if they can see the love of God revealed in an individual. Almost every muslim for example who comes to Christ will tell you one of two ways, either through a dream, or through seeing the love of God, love of Jesus in another person. And when they see that love, that love becomes irresistible, and the most tangible evidence they see of God at work in the human world.

Louie Giglio: It's just anecdotal, but when 55.000 18-25 year olds spend three days with their Bibles open listening to Ravi Zacharias and Beth Moore, and John Piper digging in, you're hopeful. And so, I'm hopeful. And I read pew research and the stats, but I don't think that the outside world has the best ability to gauge what's happening inside the church. And so, I would try to take a more hopeful approach. I also have found it helpful to ask the question, is this person leaving a church, or the church? And I think all of us would leave a church under the right circumstances. But that's different than leaving the church. And I think a second question, more important question to me is are you leaving the church, or are you leaving Jesus? And I feel like what I want to help people do is love the church, but only as it is the body of Christ with a head named Jesus. And so if we can help people fall in love with Jesus, grow in a personal relationship with Jesus. Not just in information about him, but in that revelation that comes by the Spirit. I pray that the eyes of your heart would be enlightened so that you may know him more. Then I think that's a more hopeful path, and I find that maybe people have left a church, but if you're honest, maybe that church wasn't all that compelling in a very challenging culture. And maybe they've come somewhere where there's more life, more truth, more word. And I travel around the world and everywhere I go there are tons of young people at every church I go to, so either I'm going to the only churches in the world that have young people, or there are more young people at church than people think are at church. And so I'm not denying the facts and the statistics and all that, I just have a more hopeful approach, and you know, when I read the scripture, Ravi, one of the verses that troubles me the most is when Paul talks about Demas at the end of his life, and he said "Demas, because he loved this present world has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica". Wow, and I don't know the age range in there, but you can sort of figure it out this guy was maybe, I dunno, mid twenties something, and he was on a front row seat for Dr. Luke, writing acts, he was in it. And he was enticed by something and walked away from it, so, that's in our hearts, that's in my heart, that's in all of our hearts. And so I think it helps me not just to look at the younger generation, and say, well, what's wrong with them? It's the same thing that's wrong with all of us. If we're not falling in love with Jesus day by day by day we're falling in love with something else day by day by day. And if we're not careful, we might be outside the faith, or outside the church or a church at the end of the day. I would encourage whoever asked the question, Vince, that the power of a praying mom is the most powerful power that there is apart from obviously the Holy Spirit. And I believe that if a young person has been exposed to Jesus, not a structure and a system, not a we show up on Sunday and we go through the motions and it's all, you know, basically a function of faith. They've been exposed to Jesus, and they've been exposed to the Spirit of God, and they've seen the real love of God in their parents, not perfection, but real love of God in their parents. And they have parents praying for them, I think they have an extraordinarily great chance of coming back into faith.

Vince Vitale: Fantastic, I'm just reminded as you were saying, I was a freshman in college and I really could have went either way, and it was probably 15 years later that I met a woman who went to my college a decade before me, but she spent a lot of her time praying for the people living in 122 Jolene Hall. Ten years later was me and those prayers were brought to fruition. Let's take a question from the floor, and tell us your name as well.

Joel: My name is Joel, this has been awesome, makes me wish I was back in school. I can't afford that anymore though. My question, I think, for me I think has to more with the people in our congregation. I've heard it said and have people in our congregation who are fond of identifying with the phrase, "The Bible says it, I believe it, that's enough for me". And so I wonder about how you see the relationship between pursuing a rational faith and embracing the mystery of faith. I get that there's a both/and, and we have people who lean on side to the other, but how do you understand that relationship, and how do we lead and pastor both side of that?

Ravi Zacharias: I think you are partly answered your own question in that there are times where you'll have to reason your way through things, there are other times where the encounter you've already had with Christ, you fall back upon to carry you through. You know, when we saw Nabeel Qureshi's life come to it's earthly end at age 34, a bit of a jolt to a lot of people. And as I reminded them at the funeral, there were a lot of great workers for Christ who went early. Pascale, David Brainard, Henry Martin. In our own time Keith Green, the musician. And it's only when it comes to hit home close that we think somehow it's very, it's unique. Many people have to go through that. I have found in my own life, when Paul talks about growing from strength to strength, faith to faith, your faith needs more study, more information, more understanding as you see God's word and see reality through the lens of the scriptures. You take for example a man like Josiah who was so instrumental in leading a reformation and yet came to a rather violent end himself. These things happen in life. I go back to the time when I was 17 and wasn't even seeking after God. I wasn't really looking for him. I was looking for an abstract hope, or happiness, like many a teenager. Why did God pursue me in that hospital room? Never figured it out. Why did he send a man with a Bible to talk to me when I didn't even own one, and wasn't looking to open one? But if the hound of heaven is on your trail, as Francis Thompson said, or C.S. Lewis as well, he pursues you in such a way that your encounter with him becomes a very pivotal moment as a point of reference. We don't often emphasize anymore that moment of transformation from darkness to light, from death to life. What God does in your life is the greatest miracle of all, that he changes not only what you do, but what you want to do. And I keep going back, not that I don't have the God of the present, I've seen him do numerous things in these 50 years of knowing him, but I will never forget that he pursued me and brought me to himself even when I wasn't looking for him. I was just looking for some happiness or some kind of hope. And so to me, no matter what arguments people will bring to me, in my mind I keep muttering to myself, I know this God who saved me, who rescued me, whatever you're talking about is not going to change my mind. I am committed to him, and I'm going to follow him and pursue him. At the same time you find a bridge for people just to diffuse the question, just to diffuse it. You know, with so many questions we raise assume a moral reference, and if we are the random product of time, plus matter, plus chance, where does moral reasoning come from? Why do we think in these terms? If you can diffuse the question for the person, and let them come face to face with Christ, it's a combination of faith and reason at one moment one will bridge it, and another moment the other will bridge it, and I think as Abdul Sowayan said yesterday, the ability to reason itself is the gift of God. But you know, in the reformation era, what was it that captured those young minds? Whether it be Luther or Melanthen or Zwingli, or Calvin. What was it that captured? It was the fact that they felt faith was a gift that God would give to you and your righteousness was a gift that God would give to you. But Sola Scriptura, the revealed propositional truth as Luther said, if you cannot convince me from this word, I will not recant, and here I stand. So they saw both the revelation propositionally and the gifts of God in righteousness, and we are standing on the shoulders of people like that, so we take the revealed truth and measure it objectively. We apply it in a subjective way, and the two come together, and at a given moment you may have to fall upon one or the other to help another person cross a bridge.

John Lennox: I think that there's a backstory to this, and perhaps it reflects the fact that I live in Europe, but there's huge confusion out there in the public space as to what faith actually is. And part of the trouble is that this is now coming into churches and congregations where the general public has brought in to the kind of atheistic Richard Dawkins redefinition of faith. That faith is a religious term, and it means believing where there is no evidence. And that confuses many people, and I think therefore, it's very important just adding to what Ravi's been saying, is this that, faith as defined in the New Testament is evidence based. It is not believing where there is no evidence, and if you want to have that proved to you, all you need to do is see why the Gospel of John is written. In John 20:31 it says, "Many other signs Jesus did in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written in order that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you might have life in his name". In other words, the Christian faith is evidence based, it's a conviction and a commitment based on evidence, and I think it's immensely important that that is taught in churches. Otherwise people have this vague idea, either that faith just happens to you, or that you just close your eyes and take a leap of faith. Christianity isn't taking a leap of faith into the dark, it's taking a step of faith into the light. And therefore, I would say to you that the next thing we need to beware of is putting a disjunction between faith and reason. There isn't really a disjunction, you see, I have never yet met a person who can read the Bible without using their reason. Now, reason and revelation are often pitched against each other in the secular world. Dawkins, you know, folk believe in a holy book, in believe in reason. As if you don't don't need your reason to read this. And I think one of the things I've found most helpful in this is to realize that there's a very fine line in one sense between Christianity and idolatry and it's this, Paul was a genius, he was a brilliant man. But the secret of the way in which he lived was, he used his reason and he trusted God. The danger for you and me is that we trust our reason and use God. And if we can get that clear, that God encourages us to use all these gifts, but not to trust them, because trusting anything other than God is idolatry, I think that an also help us sort this kind of thing out, because many people I need in churches, and I get this question all the time, but aren't you in danger of intellectual idolatry, and I say, "Yes of course I am, but intellectual idolatry is where you trust your reason and you use God when you get stuck, but Christianity is when you trust God and use your reason".

Female from audience: We've talked a lot over the last few days here about the unity of the church and appreciating our differences within denominations but coming together as one church. As we're approaching this 500th anniversary of the reformation, I would ask you what questions do we need to be putting pen to paper as the leadership and the guidance and the decision-makers of our churches so that as a body, instead of tripping over our own feet, we can really be dancing together as one?

Ravi Zacharias: We'll go to the only pastor on the platform here. That's, I'm sure you battle this, Louie, all the time.

Louie Giglio: You know, unity could be defined many different ways. And I think that if it were as simple as we are going to all lock arms and move forward together, then we would have done that 500 years ago. It's not that simple. And I don't know why it's not that simple, but we are all human and none of us are perfect. I don't think any one of us fully could say, "I 100% represent God's complete understanding of everything". And so, there's divergence, and emphasis is put in different places. And in some cases, it's more than emphasis. It's belief lands in different places and there isn't an opportunity for unity because some things are more important than the appearance of unity, like we all love each other, we're all on the same page together, we're all in this together: let's just join hands, cross streams, and be in it together. I think, as a pastor, my responsibility is to not have the millstone put around my neck at the end of the day and to be true to God's word. And so, I have a responsibility and stewardship, which is greater than unity, but people will say, "Well, Jesus said of his greatest prayer, 'I want them to be one like you and I are one'". Well, that's going to come true. That prayer is actually get answered. And we are moving, I think, more towards that moment every breath we take. That's called heaven and redemption and perfection. But on the way, a pastor has to root in this word and be true to this word. So what I have found is that relational unity is possible almost with everyone, and I strive for that. I get hammered for it because I have friends across the whole spectrum of the church: and when I meet people in this critical era that Dr. Lennox referred to where you used to have 140 characters to talk about big ideas from anonymous position and you normally didn't have any leadership responsibility, 'cause people who have a lot of leadership responsibility can't get away with 140 character tweets that are flying left and right. You've got to stand up, be accountable to people. But people who have no leadership and are anonymous can say little things about big subjects. And I've chosen to withhold judgment of people if I don't know 'em. Now, if they're blatantly teaching something that's not biblical, that's one thing. But if it's preferential, the emphasize this more than this, I would like to say I'd like to get to know them. And when you get to know them, what you typically find, Ravi, is that they love God, they love Jesus, they're people of faith, and you like them. I would name some names, but it would probably discredit me to some of you. "You like him"? No, I really do. I've spent some time with him and he's lovely. So personally, unity is very attainable. And what it does is it trickles down into corporate unity in the sense that when there is divisiveness, I remember when we were doing passion, something came up with a national campus ministry and there was a big brew and it was like "This ministry said something about passion and this particular location," and I was like, I pray every year with the head of that ministry for two days. He's one of my best friends. We will not say one negative word about that ministry. You will dig down to the bottom of it and we will are going to honor them in every way because these people are amazing. It's different when you know people, right? So let's strive for personal unity. That's attainable. Meet all the pastors in your town. Go to lunch with everybody in your town doing ministry and try to build relationships with them that will tone down the rhetoric. But then, when it comes to teaching, you've got to be true to what's true. And if that causes there to be a lack of perceived unity, then that's just the way sometimes has to be.

Ravi Zacharias: You know, as evangelists, we have a little more leeway because we really are not presenting a particular church or a particular denomination per SE. I remember when I accepted to speak at Mormon Tabernacle how many hits I took. But I had good counselors behind the scenes and the chief of them was Chuck Colson. I remember talking to him and Chuck said to me on the phone, "What are people expecting you to do? Only to go and preach to the choir"? He said, "You're an apologist. You go into places where they do not believe what you do". He said, "Ravi, you'd be foolish to turn this down. Say yes and pull the shutters down because it's going to be a very cold winter for you". That's what he said. But what I did when the leadership, including one of the apostles came, and I'm sure some of them may be listening in from Utah, to talk to me. I asked them one question, why they were asking me. And fascinating answer. And then, I said, "I will accept it on two conditions: I get to select the subject and I get to bring the music: and if you allow me to select the subject..". And he said, "What subject would you speak on"? I said, "I think I would speak on the exclusivity and sufficiency of Jesus Christ". So he said, "We'll have to contact the chief prophet to get permission for that". And they gave it to me. And number two, I took Michael Card with me the first time. I took Fernando Ortega the second time. I'll never forget that second time, when I finished speaking, and some of them in the audience were there. Fernando went up to the piano and there are some of the best acoustics in the world at the Mormon Tabernacle. And he sang "Give me Jesus". I felt the goose bumps in my body. And the thousands of them sitting were listening, not only to the message, but to the song. I have built very warm friendships with some of the leadership within their — they know I do not compromise. In fact, I began my message by saying, "You and I have deep differences theologically and a matter of doctrine, but I'm honored that you would invite me to come and speak to you and present the message of Jesus Christ to you". Incredible things happen. Incredible things are happening. So we cross certain boundaries, and as Louie has said, we build friendships and we stay connected. For the church, it is important to know when you come together why you are coming together, what is the purpose. Are you coming together to stop human trafficking? It's a worthy cause. Are you coming together to affirm the family? It's a worthy cause. You don't have to cross your T's and dot your I's on everything for every gathering. But if you're coming together to affirm what you believe, then you have a clear-cut presentation of this is what we stand on. There are secondary and tertiary causes for which we may come together to build a society into a better place so that we are not eating each other up, and we need to know the difference between why we are there and what we are representing when we are there. Okay.

Vince Vitale: Thank you. Such an important question. Come forward. We'll take another one from the floor.

Hope Lewis: Hi, my name is Hope Lewis and I'm currently going to Liberty University, and I first wanted to say thank you so much for contributing to the Jesus Bible. It has been with me to unreached people groups in Nepal as my first semester I was able to go there, and my second semester now at liberty university, and then also with me to Cuba. It's been my rock and I love reading the excerpts as well. I'm so grateful for your contribution, both of your contributions. And my question: yesterday, God divinely placed my airplane flight seat next to a man, and he had a question. He's an atheist, so he says, and we had a long conversation. And his main dilemma is if God is all-good, then there's a bucket of something that's all-good. And if you reach into something that's all good, you should be able to take out something that's good. And he's like, "How did God create heaven and Lucifer fall? How did God create the earth and then there's fallen humans? How does evil come out of good, something that's all-good"? So that would be my question. How would y'all answer that question?

Ravi Zacharias: I know John will answer it, so I'll just keep mine brief with this. Give him time to get his answer together. If there is no God, then everything is accidental and everything in the bucket should be accidental. How does he pull out and accidental comment and take it to be true? That his moral reasoning can be trusted and dependent upon to say that there is no God. The very act of using logic and moral reasoning in a naturalistic framework is actually self-destructive. You cannot come to those logical conclusions morally or logically and assume them to be valid if there is no God. The fact that he trusts his reason, trusts his moral judgment in an accidental universe, out of flux, nothing but flux, determinism kills that particular question. He's just got that stranglehold around his neck. So I would have just said to him, "If you are a naturalist, out of this all should come is accidental reasoning. Why is your reasoning taken to be true when it is accidental? Why are you using moral reasoning when there is no God? Your question is actually self-defeating. If you will explain and justify your question, I'll be glad to give you an answer".

John Lennox: Well, that's a very good answer.

Ravi Zacharias: Now to the real stuff, yeah?

John Lennox: No, that is the real stuff. It's extremely important to realize that this is the hard question for everybody. It's not only a hard question for a believer, for a Christian: it is a very hard question for an atheist. And there are two levels to it, of course. The one is the objective side, the philosophical side. The other is if you're hurting, it looks very different to you. Cancer looks different to someone who's just been told she's got three months to live and to a professor of oncology. And on the intellectual side, I think Ravi's answer is so important, that if you get rid of God, then the huge problem you've immediately got is, "Well, how do you describe this world as evil? Where does your concept of evil actually come from"? And it was Dostoevsky said, and I think he was write and many Russians understand this, "If God does not exist, everything is permissible". He didn't mean atheists couldn't behave. He meant there's no base for morality. And it seems to me that this is something we need to be very aware of. Richard Dawkins talks about the evil of God and so on, and yet, he himself believes in the universe. And here's the logic of atheism. "This universe is just what we'd expect it to be if at bottom there is no good, there is no evil, there is no justice". "DNA just is and we dance to its music". In other words, he's logically saying that his atheism leads him to deny the categories of good and evil. So the answer to the intellectual side is atheism does not fair very well here. Also, atheism thinks that removes the problem. But it doesn't remove the suffering and the pain and the evil in the universe. We argue in the way you did, "Surely a good God could, would make, should have produced this". And yet, we find that those arguments never come to any satisfactory conclusion. We've all argued to the midnight as students. Have we ever found a successful solution to it? No. So I think we're asking the wrong question. What I mean by that is this: what faces us is a world which I describe as beauty and barbed wire or beauty and bombs. We look at a universe and it presents a mixed picture. There are beautiful things about the universe, and there are ragged and horrible things about the universe. Now that's the way it is. And atheists got to face that and Christians got to face that. Atheism has no answer. It doesn't remove the problem but it does remove all hope. Christianity faces the problem and does bring us hope, although the problem will leave every single one of us going into eternity with questions that will only be answered at the other side. And so, we need to know enough of the love of God to trust him with the really difficult bits.

Vince Vitale: Atheist Friedrich Nietzsche said "The Gods justified human live by living themselves, the only satisfactory response to the problem of evil ever invented". He was actually talking about the ancient Greeks. Never makes the connection to Christianity. As John has told us, we can affirm the statement and point directly to the cross of Jesus Christ. We have two more questions. We're running out of time, so I'm going to ask you guys to speak briefly to these two final questions from the floor. Yes, please? And so we get two brief responses to these questions, and then we'll have a time of prayer before we finish.

Female from audience: Hello. My question is for Mr. Louie. I caught, something you had said was that young people want substance, and then they want someone to ask them to stand up and do something great. And as a millennial, I feel like the disconnect between the two generations is not understanding what increasingly being ask of us in our college campuses and in our jobs for bearing the name of Christ. And I wanted to know if you could address how we draw young people's attention to eternity and get them focused on being willing to give up everything for Jesus, even that great dream that they may have? You know, how do we get them committed to giving that up, should they have to, and put Christ first and have a passion for lost souls above that?

Louie Giglio: Great. Wonderful question. Thank you. I think that all of us in life have to make sure that we are surrendered to God's purpose and plan for our lives. I had a great dream as a freshman in college. It would not have led me to this place today. God had a different dream for my life, and therefore he took away my great dream and allowed me to understand that he was calling me to proclaim his word to my generation. And everyone has to cross that bridge every day, so maybe their great dream of being on Wall-Street "for the glory of God" isn't God's great dream — it's just your dream to get rich and tag a scripture verse on the end of it. That was kind of the camp I was in as a freshman in college. And so that's question number one: we lead people to be sensitive to God's Spirit, to the community of pastoral faith around them, to their community, to affirm their calling. This is a biblical model. And then, secondly, it's to follow that calling. And for some people, that's going to be to cash out and to go to the uttermost parts of the earth and to live in relative anonymity and to give their lives away for the Gospel: and then, the other side, it is going to call them to Wall-Street. And we have to provide a path of equipping, strengthening, accountability, and preparing to help them succeed on whatever path it is. We said it this way, "God may call you to Ghana or he may call you to Goldman Sachs". There's no higher value in the kingdom in either one: it's why are you doing what you're doing.

Stephanie: Hi, my name is Stephanie. I'm living in the Atlanta area and this is a great question for like all three of you, but whoever wants to answer it can. I've really enjoyed this whole thing, by the way. It's been amazing and you guys are amazing. All the speakers are, so my question is: how do I engage with a growing number, and I mean like growing like this is happening right and left of fellow Christian leaders and friends, friends, who are watering down and deconstructing core orthodox beliefs with more popular, socially acceptable, alternative biblical narratives, primarily in the pathos and ethos of love wins? I see it happening all the time, everywhere. Do I confront, try to confront? Break fellowship if and when, or treat and love them as if they're lost? 'Cause how do I even know if they're even, belong to Jesus? So, that's my question.

Vince Vitale: Who wants to see Ravi and John do rock-paper-scissors?

Ravi Zacharias: No, since we are to be brief, I'd like the other gentleman to contribute too, and I'll take one idea and they can continue it. The reality is that the questions have changed. It used to be, 20 years ago, where we were answering a lot of tough questions on science age of the earth, and the empirical worldview and so on, so forth. Today, while those questions are there, they're really not at the surface. The questions at the surface are life, lifestyle, preferred choices, preferred relationships, and therefore, how you navigate through that minefield is very, very critical. So I always ask myself the question when a question like that is asked, "What can I accomplish in a five to seven minute answer to this person". And the most important thing I can say to them is this, that God cares about them and that question very much: and it is because the questions of relationships are so important and so key that he sent his Son to die on the cross to reveal that his pure love is supreme for each and every one of us. And so, I will say to them, "Are you willing to take an answer that is true and would you be willing to follow it in that direction, or are you only looking for an answer that will satisfy you for the moment"? And if it is an answer that you're willing to follow through to its logical outworking, let's stay connected and let's sit around a coffee table and talk about it because for me to give you a simplistic answer for such a complex question is to show disrespect for how important this question to every area of your life. I will be happy to take a phone call from you. I'll be happy to sit down around — we have invited people from university campuses who have come here from a completely different worldview and spent a whole morning with them, discussing this issue. What they need is, I think, what Louie was talking about. They need to trust you and they need to realize that they can respect you even if they end up disagreeing with you. And so, you have to find the context in which you can accomplish that. To give an answer with immediacy is to try to win a logical argument. And these things go far beyond a logical argument. They go deep into the very choices a person has already made and, in many ways, could already be broken. I remember Vince was with me. I won't name the university. We were asked a very thorny question by two young gals that came up to the front, to the microphone. They were as close to us as you are now. And we took our turns in answering them. We both figured out what lay behind the question, even though we never talked to each other about it. We could put two and two together. The amazing thing about that night was after it was over, and while were answering, the tears were running down the face of this principle questioner. And then, she came up to the front and asked us both, "Can I give you guys a hug"? And then came to the back room, two of them, and told them what really lay behind the question, which we had already figured out. And when we left them, we left them with their knowledge that while our answers would be based on the scriptures, our love for them was equally given from those scriptures and that we were willing to engage them as those whom we cared for. When you build a bridge, it is easier to carry a load. When you're going down the valley and up another hill, it's very difficult to carry it, so build the bridges and then carry the load across. And building a bridge takes a lot of time.
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