The Call: Musings on Ravi Zacharias, C.S. Lewis, and Moving On

I would like to share the three major things I’ve learned at RZIM and will bring with me to Chestnut Grove. I had intended on preaching this message in chapel, but didn’t get the chance. So here goes:

What I’ve Learned – Three Keys from C.S. Lewis

Ephesians 4:11-16:

“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

1.     The Need for Translation – “to prepare God’s people…until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature.

The goal of Christian preaching, teaching and apologetics is not mind-control – it’s discipleship, moving people from a place of ignorance to a place of knowledge—not just in the head, but in the heart.

Lewis said it this way: “You must translate every bit of your theology into the vernacular. This is very troublesome and it means you can say very little in half an hour, but it is essential. It is also of the greatest service to your own thought. I have come to the conviction that if you cannot translate your thoughts into uneducated language, then your thoughts were confused. Power to translate is the test of having really understood one’s own meaning.”

2.     The Insistence of Truth – “Then we will no longer be infants…blown here and there by…the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the TRUTH in love…

Christian preaching, teaching and apologetics is primarily concerned with the Truth—the God-man Jesus Christ. His existence, His undeniable historical and eternal reality, must lead us to the conviction that Christianity matters, that it has substance and weight to it unlike anything else. It should not even be called a “faith” or “belief” because it is the default setting of the universe. The Christian worldview is as reality is.

Lewis borderline commanded this understanding and foundational component to our preaching. “One of the greatest difficulties is to keep before the audience’s mind the question of Truth. They always think you are recommending Christianity not because it is true but because it is good. And in the discussion they will at every moment try to escape from the issue ‘True—or False’ into stuff about a good society, or morals, or the incomes of Bishops, or the Spanish Inquisition, or France, or Poland—or anything whatever. You have to keep forcing them back, and again back, to the real point. Only thus will you be able to undermine (a) Their belief that a certain amount of ‘religion’ is desirable but one mustn’t carry it too far. One must keep on pointing out that Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance, and, if true, is of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important.”

3.     The Person, Jesus Christ – “we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.

Words do not win the day, nor do actions. In fact, every meaningful human contribution to the Kingdom of God is rendered meaningless if not for Jesus. I came here a tired man, weary from battling the challenges of the pastorate, tired from the rejection of God’s word, miserable from expending my energy to try and convince a dying world that it is, indeed, dying. I came in part to get away from my tiredness, and also to learn “the art and science of Christian persuasion.” I wanted to be able to learn those airtight arguments that would leave unbelievers (and annoying elders) speechless before the power of God.

In short, I wanted a weapon to fend off what made me weary.

Instead, I was reintroduced to the Person who gives me strength. Sometimes we lose sight of Him.

Again, Lewis: “One last word. I have found that nothing is more dangerous to one’s own faith than the work of an apologist. No doctrine of that Faith seems to me so spectral, so unreal as one that I have just successfully defended in a public debate. For a moment, you see, it has seemed to rest on oneself: as a result, when you go away from that debate, it seems no stronger than that weak pillar. That is why we apologists take our lives in our hands and can be saved only by falling back continually from the web of our own arguments, as from our intellectual counters, into the Reality—from Christian apologetics into Christ Himself.”

5 thoughts on “The Call: Musings on Ravi Zacharias, C.S. Lewis, and Moving On

  1. Hey bro. I came across your post this morning. Excited for you. There is never a time that I don’t think about you when I drive past CGBC. I would love to connect when you fee like you are a good place with the transition. Cheering you on.

    • Thanks, JYoung. I’ve been reading your blog for the past few months and following along with what you’re doing. I’d love to sit down and chat some time in March or April and catch up a bit. I’d also like to talk with you about a workshop idea I have for my parents/church. I’ll email you soon.

  2. Jason, I have occasionally heard Ravi Zacharias on the radio and I haven’t heard anything from him that I didn’t enjoy. This, however, is the first time I have researched his ministry and I am very suprised that I haven’t heard more about this. Aplogetics have been among my favorite topics of study and discussion since reading “Mere Christianity” years ago. I haven’t seen an ministry focus on apologetics to the extent that RZIM does in my lifetime, but as you quoted above “That is why we apologists take our lives in our hands and can be saved only by falling back continually from the web of our own arguments, as from our intellectual counters, into the Reality—from Christian apologetics into Christ Himself.” Thank you for the “Musings”.

    • Josh –

      RZIM is one of the most unique Christian ministries in the world, not just for its focus on apologetics (though there are other organizations that have something to offer in this field), but for the worldwide access they have. I am proud of the three years I spent working with this astounding and gifted (and blessed by God) group of women and men, and will continue to support them the rest of my days. Glad to know that you’re on the apologetic track as well, and I encourage you to bookmark the RZIM website and utilize the content to its fullest. I would also encourage you to attend any RZIM event that might be in your area and do your best to meet with the speaker or other ministry reps who might be there. You’ll be amazed at how open they are.

      Thanks for reading.

      Jason

  3. I’ve been listening to Ravi Zacharias a lot recently and was first introduced via radio as a kid. (30 years ago.) I spent 10 years in TV news. Working for RZIM one day would be a dream come true.

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