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February 12, 2021
A man is either ignorant or a fool who thinks he will find honey in a wasp nest. Mess with a nest and the odds are wasps will chase you and possibly sting you to death.
Ravi’s wasps chased him into his home, into his ministry, and then stung and stunned millions of his faithful followers.
The RZIM Ministry Board of Directors recently released an open letter regarding the investigation of misconduct.
His fall was painful because his name was synonymous with integrity. He was the gentleman’s gentleman; the proud mountain of intellectualism to which we pointed as evidence that Christianity isn’t just for the fool on a hill.
Yet at the same time, his eloquence concerned me. I often expressed that concern in a self-deprecating way by saying that I listened to him in awe, but would come away not having a clue what he had just said. I even addressed my concern (in fear and trembling) in one of my books.
The big lesson we should all take from this tragic situation with Ravi is to listen to our apologists and ask, “Are they preaching sin, righteousness, and judgment? Are their hearers being impressed with eloquence, or have they been awakened to their terrible danger? Do they tremble, as did Felix, after hearing Paul preach (see Acts 24:25)?”
Intellectual preaching produces intellectual converts who name the name of Christ, but are strangers to the new birth. Each of us should be asking if we were talked into our faith or if we had an encounter with the living God. If we came through the door of argument, then all it will take is a better argument to cause us to leave by another door. Take to heart Paul’s warning about such so-called conversions:
“And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).
We are called to be witnesses of Christ. No judge wants an eloquent witness. He just wants to hear the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. And the truth is in Jesus. It is in Christ crucified for the sin of the world. Fail to preach that ultimate truth and we are not true and faithful witnesses. We are wasting both our time and the time of our hearers.
As a ministry, we believe in the use of apologetics as is commanded in 1 Peter 3:15:
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense (Greek apologia, meaning a formal written defense of one’s opinions or conduct) to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.”
But we have a problem when we elevate apologetics above the gospel, and never preach the actual good news of salvation. Paul reminds us that it is the gospel, not apologetics, that is the power of God unto salvation (see Romans 1:16).
My heart breaks for the staff of Ravi’s ministry. But it breaks even more for his precious family who must feel shell-shocked by this living nightmare. Let’s keep the ministry and his family in prayer.