Faith

8 lessons from the Ravi Zacharias scandal

Senior Pastor Pacer Tan, Lighthouse Evangelism // February 16, 2021, 5:05 pm

Ravi Z response 2

In the history of Christendom, it is not uncommon to read about prominent ministers who fall from grace. Every time it happens, it is a blow to evangelical believers in many ways.

It stumbles the faith of some, gives license to other believers to sin, mars the good name of Christ and adds to the growing list of “reasons” why one should not be a Christian.

This time around, it hurts really bad. Ravi Zacharias (RZ) seemed different from the typical minister. For the many ministers who fell into public disgrace, their outward conduct gave more “signs” that they could be living a double life.

But Ravi seemed to be the best of us. Articulate, humble (seemingly) and pious. Even many of his co-labourers believed him to be a good and righteous man.

The duplicity and hypocrisy of RZ fooled everyone. Except perhaps his victims.

“God, have mercy on us all”: Lessons from Ravi Zacharias’ fall

I write this not in scorn, but in bitter anguish. Personally, RZ had a huge impact on my thinking as a pastor.

Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) stood as a worldwide beacon for the thinking Christian. They provoked the minds of believers and provided unbelievers with reasonable answers for a theistic faith.

So, why am I writing this post? I want to help my church members and fellow Christians to process the whole matter. Also, I need to write it for my own catharsis.

The last thing I wish to do is to add to a growing list of condemnation towards RZ. Neither do I want to sugarcoat or whitewash all the sins RZ had done.

So, how should we think about all that has happened? What imperative lessons can we take to heart?

8 LESSONS FROM THE RAVI ZACHARIAS SCANDAL

1. Sin has terrible consequences

For all the good works done in RZ’s ministry, the wrongdoings have severely undermined everything RZIM supposedly stood for.

There are literally thousands of verses in Scripture that highlight the deadly danger of sin and all that lays in its path.

And tragically, RZ lived a private life that was antithetical to the gospel.

I am in fear for the countless of believers that will be shaken in faith because of this.

2. Repentance is necessary for salvation

I cannot tell you if RZ is truly saved or not. I cannot tell you if he is in heaven or hell.

What I can say is the Bible truth: Jesus preached repentance and faith.

We have heard His words many times: “Repent and believe the gospel.”

If, Ravi repented before he died, like the man who was dying on the cross next to Jesus, you can be sure he is with God in Paradise right now.

3. God will vindicate His Name

RZ manipulated women using the guise of religion. For years, these women were victims of his spiritual abuse. They dared not speak up for fear of the backlash they might receive.

Scripture reminds us: “Vengeance is mine says the Lord. I will repay.”

God will not be mocked. We do reap what we sow.

What was in the shadows was brought to light. What was silenced is now spoken on the rooftops. This is extremely sobering. Indeed, God will not be mocked. We do reap what we sow.

May God have mercy on our souls! May we walk with a sincere aim to obey and please Him!

4. Pray for the victims and the Zacharias family 

There is nothing we can do for or to RZ now. He is in God’s mercy or judgment now.

But we can do something for the victims like Lori Anne Thompson. We can do something for his wife and children. And that is prayer.

I cannot imagine the horror, pain and suffering they have to go through.

The Zacharias name is now denigrated. And it would be easy, but wrong to involve his family in his sins.

Pray for inner healing. Pray for the Lord’s comfort to be upon them.

5. Renewed fear of the Lord

Does the news of RZ’s transgressions grieve you?

As I write this now, I am filled with fear. Fear of living apart from God. Fear of having a cold and impenetrable heart.

In the Old Testament and New Testament, we are commanded to fear God. Ecclesiastes tells us to “fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”

“The best of men are but men at best.”

6. Revere God, not man

Like many others, I was always impressed by RZ’s prowess of reasoning, defense of the Christian faith and powerful oratory skill.

But as the saying goes, “The best of men are but men at best.”

7. Christ is true even when the messenger is not

For some, it is hard to watch a sermon clip of Ravi without some apprehension.

I am not suggesting you continue to endorse RZ’s ministry. But the reason why many were blessed by Ravi’s ministry was that much of what he said was true.

What would the Apostle Paul say? In Philippians 1:15, he wrote “Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will.”

And then he concludes the issue in verse 18: “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.”

When your hero of faith lets you down

In other words, there is some comfort we can take in this whole RZ saga.

Jesus was being preached. People did get saved through RZ’s ministry even though the messenger was not living out his message.

If Paul could rejoice in the fact that Christ is preached, I believe we should as well.

8. Trust in the Lord with all our heart

Many of us are trusting God to provide the outward needs of life. But fewer of us are looking to the Lord to sustain us in our walk of righteousness.

Sometimes we equate blessings to food, money, house and family. But there is a deeper and truer blessing.

Jesus taught us about that in the Beatitudes in Matthew 5. All the blessings given had a spiritual aspect and were about character.

Let me just speak on one of the Beatitudes. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”

The sin nature in man wants to fuel the flesh with pleasure at any cost.

You and I know that sexual desire in and of itself is not sin. It becomes sin when it is directed at someone who is not your spouse.

There is no doubt that Ravi faced tremendous pressures as the leader of a global ministry. But if he had trusted that God could supply all his needs, he would not have needed to find illicit means to satisfy himself.

If he was more hungry and thirsty for the righteous paths of God, he would have been filled. This is such a necessary lesson for myself as well. No one likes pain. And when pain comes, we want to alleviate it immediately.

May we turn to God in our darkest hour – when we are faced with temptations that seem insurmountable. God be with us all. God have mercy. God, lead us to be pure and holy. Amen.

This article was adapted from Pastor Pacer’s Facebook post and is republished with permission.