Thank you for downloading from Rabi Zacharias International Ministries. Support for this podcast comes from your generous gifts and donations.
You can find out more about Rabi Zacharias and the team at www.rzim.org. Yes, I see. Answer the just man. Then why do you go on shouting and screaming? I'll tell you why, little boy. In the beginning, I thought I could change man.
Today, I know I can't. If I still shout today, if I still scream today, it is to prevent man from ultimately changing me. How is your battle against the world going?
Are you changing it or is it having a greater impact on you? Hello and welcome to Let My People Think. Today, we're sharing the conclusion of a message from RZIM's founder, the late Ravi Zacharias. Last week, we heard about how the Old Testament leader, Nehemiah, was confronted by scheming, scorn, and even outright force as he worked to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. The way he responded to those challenges is the real lesson, and Ravi will expand on that further today. What do we learn from Nehemiah's reaction to persecution? How can we apply his story to our lives? We ended last week's program with Ravi talking about gossip and dissension in today's churches. In fact, he called it Satan's fifth columnist.
He picks up on that thought today. Here is Ravi. I was preaching at a conference that I shall leave unnamed. Three thousand delegates in front of me. I'd preached in the Philippines the previous three weeks at three conferences simultaneously morning, afternoon, and evening. When I arrived in this city, after traveling for nearly 28 hours, I arrived only to find out my suitcase hadn't arrived, and I had nearly 200 pages of rough notes, and I had to preach the next morning from those rough notes. I was going to write my sermon through the night.
My suitcase never arrived. And as I stood in front of that prestigious audience, I was nervous. I was really frightened. My body had still not caught up with the time zone. And as I was struggling and embarrassed because there were such powerful leaders in there, I know as surely as I stood there, I made a complete mess of that sermon.
I really did. My mind didn't flow. The thoughts didn't seem connected. My body was so weary, it was not able to keep up with the demands. I was so disappointed in what I had done.
I took the next plane and flew back to New York where we made our home. And I really, when my wife asked me how it went, I said, I suppose it would have to be one of the saddest experiences of a preacher to deliver a sermon before such an important audience and be such a colossal failure in the process. And she said, are you being serious? I said, yes.
She said, oh, you're really so hard on yourself and so on. Till a few days later, I got a letter from a man I've never met who was in the ministry. I've never met him since. And he wrote this letter to me.
He says, dear brother Zacharias, I just want you to know that after listening to your sermon, there are only two words that would describe it. It was an impressive failure. Can you believe that? I remember sitting in my office looking at it and wondered, why would anybody want to do that?
And I don't know. As I was sitting reading it and my eyes had filled with tears, there was a knock on the door and it happened to be my closest colleague next room, the professor of New Testament. And when Bill came into the room, he said, I'm sorry, have I come in at the wrong moment? I said, that's all right, Bill. And I handed him this letter.
When he looked at it, he was in a state of shock. It is hard enough to face the opposition from outside. Please let us not tear one another from the inside. If the world treats God as dead, let us show them he is alive. The force, the scheming, the scorn. Nehemiah faced this kind of a threefold opposition and he had a threefold marvelous response. Number one, he said to them, look to God, look to God. And ladies and gentlemen, that is the simplest truth I can say to you. Through all of the struggles of secularism, pluralism and privatization and all these isms and schisms that are there.
May I suggest to you that they only find new faces with which to dress themselves. They basically are the same sinful hearts. If you don't believe me, get a book written about John Wesley by a man called John Wesley Brady, England before and after Wesley. Now, I don't know if you've ever read Wesley's biography.
If you haven't, please do yourself a favor and read it. Do you know what John Wesley did in a lifetime? He preached 40,000 sermons. You know, that's an awful lot.
You may not realize it. Can I put it in perspective? Dr. Oswald J. Smith passed away a few months ago at the age of 94 or something like that. In his lifetime, he preached 12,000 sermons, which is an awful lot of sermons. But if 12,000 in the technological age is an awful lot, 40,000 in the horse and buggy is a little better. 40,000 sermons. He traveled on horseback. He was called the first sermon on the mount, traveling around preaching. All right, traveling around preaching. 40,000 sermons. He traveled 250,000 miles by horseback preaching the word of God.
That's amazing, isn't it? He worked with 15 different languages, produced 600 pieces of literature at the age of 83. He was angry with his doctor because his doctor didn't let him preach more than 14 times a week. At the age of 86, found written in his diary with these words, laziness is slowly creeping in.
There's an increasing tendency to stay in bed after 5.30 in the morning. One man, one man, if you read anybody's version of England in the 18th century, anybody's version, you cannot read that without Wesley being mentioned. Even Churchill very reluctantly tells you that this man had a life transforming impact upon the nation around him. Do you know where the word cockpit comes from? From the cockfights of Wesley's day. There was a 74% infant mortality. Part of the reason was the corruption in the church. They were killing away babies who had been left in their guardianship so they could keep the money and get rid of the lives. The highest sales in gin, it was called the gin age.
The sports that people went to see was, animals were sent into the arenas with crackers wrapped around their body and thousands would pay a lot of money to see the animals explode before their eyes. This was Wesley's day. And the historian Leckie says that the revolution that destroyed France would have been also the revolution that destroyed England except there was a man by the name of John Wesley. He looked to God and his whole life was that God word type of worship. And ladies and gentlemen, as simple as it sounds, with all of the opposition, we face, I say to you, look to him.
Not to men, not to women, not to men, not to the pulpit, but ultimately look to him. When my father passed away in 79, my younger brother who's a surgeon was not able to handle it because he was so sure about the surgery skills of St. Michael's hospital where my dad had gone in for surgery and my brother had done his heart surgery routine right there. He said, you know, this is the best hospital there is. Dad will be all right. When my father died following that surgery, my younger brother could not handle it. I'm not sure he has still completely come to grips with it. I think if he were here, he would say to you, he has never been the same. And I remember that day after he came back from the hospital because of our cultural expressions to express love, physical love, brother to a brother, it's not always as easy to do this.
So please understand it in that context. He wrapped his arms around me, put his head on my shoulder and he sobbed and sobbed and sobbed like a little boy. And he kept saying, Ralph, I was sure he would get better.
I was sure he would get better. How he hammers and hurts him and with mighty blows converts him into trial shapes of clay that only God understands while his tortured heart is crying and he lifts beseeching hands. Please hear me. When belief in God becomes difficult, the tendency is to turn away from him, but in heaven's name to what?
Keep your eyes fixed upon him. Secularism is a minor pushover for God. Secondly, reflect on the issues. What is at stake for the church of Jesus Christ not to respond is to lose her voice. I was going to give you a rather terse illustration on this, but I will back off for certain reasons.
But let me just say this to you, that as you see pluralism and many other ideologies beginning to make inroads, if we do not speak up and reflect on the issues and what is at stake, we may lose an awful lot. And let me read this parable for you that'll explain what I mean. It's written by a Jewish writer, by the way, Eli Wetzel. One of the just men came to Sodom determined to save its inhabitants from sin and punishment. Night and day he walked the streets and markets protesting against greed and theft, falsehood and indifference. In the beginning, people listened and smiled ironically. Then they stopped listening. He no longer even amused them. The killers went on killing.
The wise kept silent as if there were no just men in their midst. One day a child moved by compassionate for this unfortunate teacher approached him with these words, poor stranger, you shout, you scream, don't you see that it is hopeless? Yes, I see, answered the just man. Then why do you go on shouting and screaming? I'll tell you why, little boy. In the beginning, I thought I could change man. Today I know I can't. If I still shout today, if I still scream today, it is to prevent man from ultimately changing me. We have no option. What is at stake?
What are the issues if we cease to present the gospel of Jesus Christ? Jeremiah Denton, America's highest ranking senator, was captured by the Vietcong. His story is written in the book called When Hell Was in Session.
I believe Denton is now a senator from Alabama. Mr. Denton, an admiral shot down by the Vietcong and put into solitary confinement and tortured. He says he was put into this small place and they were torturing him and torturing him to try to elicit national secrets about America, but he could not betray his country.
He would not even give his bio sketch about his family as a matter of principle to protect the dignity of the land that he loved. And they tried and tried, they humiliated him, they embarrassed him, they punished him, they deprived him till finally their only option was to starve him steadily and systematically so that his insides would be like a volcano of fire under eruption, unable to contain the pangs of hunger. Days and days and days went by till finally the anguish was so great that his agony was intense and he recognized that it was only a matter of time before he died. He would etch out through the Morse chord to the hall next to him, the uncontrollable pain that he was in. Finally they told him they were going to cut his starvation now because they couldn't break him anymore. And then they went into a room and brought something on a tray. Denton said he was so hungry and yet so dehydrated he was not even sure he could salivate as his hunger pans were so strong. And as they brought the tray in and uncovered that tray, respect for the pulpit keeps me from telling you what was on that tray as they uncovered it, with all the strength they could muster up, he turned and shoved that tray away and begged them to please take it away.
They had brought him to his lowest point of indignity and humiliation and punishing him mentally. After they went away, he said he reflected on Mary as she stood before the cross and he wrote these words. Her face showed grief but not despair. Her head though bowed had faith to spare and even now she could suppose his thorns would somehow yield a rose. Her life with him was full of signs that God rides straight with crooked lines, dark clouds can hide the rising sun and all seem lost when all be one.
Ladies and gentlemen, if a man like Denton can withstand all this ignominy for the sake of a nation whom he loved, how much more can you and I for the Lord whom we love. Reflect on the issues. Look to God, reflect on the issues and lastly we have to be prepared for whatever it is that will come.
In Nehemiah's terms, he said they kept a guard to watch and keep an eye on what was coming. I don't know what it is that it will take in your life but can I take all these massive volumes of thought that we have tossed and ask you to focus in on this one idea now. Generally, there is one desire or one habit that keeps us from enjoying than tasting the fullness of God.
I don't know what it will be in your life. It could be lust that's keeping you from a pure walk. It could be greed you're always pursuing and pursuing and pursuing the elusive material euphoric success story. It could be pride where you think you're so big and so strong that nothing will ever cut you down. May I ask you to develop in your life the kind of guard that will keep you from falling in that area in which you seem so vulnerable.
Am I making sense? Take that one thing. I know what it is in my life.
I don't have to share that with you. I'm sure there are issues in your life and what I do each morning as I submit it to prayer in God. I know the issues that tempt me. I know the temptations that stalk me. I know the weaknesses that would seek to do away with my spiritual life and I even remember before one of the missionaries left India from Canada, it had such a profound impact on my life, John Tabe from Calgary, Alberta. On one of the last days he was in the country, he took me out to a restaurant for dinner and after that dinner was over, he grabbed a hold of my wrists and he said to me, a big man he was, grabbed a hold of my wrists and he said to me, Ravi, you will either move full steam ahead and make a great impact for God someday or you will stumble over yourself and you will become your greatest threat. And I knew and he knew what we were talking about. You know the area of your life. Guard it with a holy and a sacred trust and commit it afresh to God every day and I want to tell you, when you keep close accounts with God, his good hand will be upon you.
Look to God, reflect on the issues beyond in readiness and we will be able to challenge the axioms of this world. Two weeks ago when I was speaking in York on the life of Moses, I closed with a story that I would like to close with tonight on a final theme. It's a true story. It's a story of a monk by the name of Telemachus. Telemachus was a diminutive man who lived amongst flowers and nurseries and reclusive settings and one day the word of God came to him and told him to go to Rome. He did not want to go to Rome. He was not a city man.
He despised the clanging and the noise and the bustle and the artificiality of city life. He wanted to live in his monastic reclusive setting but God has strange ways. He raised Moses in a palace in order to use him in a desert.
He raised Joseph in a desert in order to use him in a palace. He takes Telemachus out of a reclusive setting in order to use him in Rome and Telemachus says, all right God, if you want me to go, I'll go. I don't know why you want me to go but I'll go and he's marching into the streets of Rome quite overwhelmed by its monumental buildings and its spectacular edifices all over the place, the bust of so-and-so and the paintings of so-and-so and all the marvelous marble sculptures of man glorifying himself in self-worship. And as he was walking, he saw a huge crowd elbowing its way into the Coliseum.
Telemachus didn't know where they were going but he was almost involuntarily dragged in by them and he entered this to his utter credulity as he sat in the bleachers there. He looked down and he saw that what was going to entertain these sadistic masses was bloodletting orgies of hatred and sadism as you were going to see the gladiatorial spectacles and fights, human beings tormenting and butchering one another. He couldn't believe it and as soon as the first sign of that violence was shown in this huge amphitheatrical setting, he rose to his feet and screamed out, in the name of Christ, forbear. In the name of Christ said he stopped this thing and that amphitheater had the ability to carry even a whisper to a marvelous crescendo of sound and here it was as he screamed, everybody hearing him. He ran down the stairs, bolted over into the center arena all along shouting, in the name of Christ, stop this thing. He became a kind of an innocent sideshow and one man yelled from the stands, run him through. A muscle-bound gladiator heaved him away and finally took his spear and sent it into the body of Telemachus and as he bent over, clutching himself, the blood spilling out of his body moments away from his death, the crowd now listening carefully, he speaks audibly once more for everyone to hear, in the name of Christ, stop this thing.
There was silence and one man stood up and walked out, then two, then three, then the thousands and everybody had left the Coliseum, they were gone and the historian writes this and I quote, many other factors were brought to bear but the death of Telemachus crystallized the opposition so that never again was there a gladiatorial fight ever fought in the Coliseum. One man from a reclusive setting sent into Rome and I say to you tonight, as we look to him, as we reflect on the issues, as we get prepared personally and corporately to keep a guard on our own lives and our corporate lives as a family of God, we will be able to stop that thing also and the Church of Christ like a winged thunderbolt will stride through the ages without rival or without peer. It'll march on like Martin Luther said, you know that a mighty fortress is our God and though this world's with devils filled should threaten to undo us, we will not fear for God has willed his truth to triumph through us and he goes on to say how one little word shall fail him. I wish you as a body of believers God's blessing and I wish you personally the quality of a Christian life that'll help God build a wall to keep the forces of darkness out and the force of righteousness in. What a stirring story of how God used one man to stop brutality in the most advanced culture of its day. Could God use you to make such an impact?
Would you let him if you wanted to? You've been listening to RZIM's founder, the late Ravi Zacharias, and the conclusion of his message, Is There Not a Cost? There are times when you need a little more time to meditate on the complex issues presented on RZIM's radio programs. A resource you can hold in your hand and review whenever a question arises.
RZIM's Just Thinking magazine is just that resource. Editor, Danielle Durant. We have an amazing global team of speakers. A number of those speakers are actually published authors.
Oz Guinness, John Lennox, Alistair McGrath, Ravi Zacharias. We have a number with PhDs who have dissertations and scaling them back to smaller books for a more general audience. It's humbling and encouraging to work with our team members because they're very down to earth people. They are able to speak in a university and have a dialogue with an atheist or a person from another world view and have a deep, intense conversation. And yet they recognize as well that really we have to speak to the heart as well as the mind. Sign up for email delivery of Just Thinking at RZIM.org.
Are you facing any opposition to your faith? Nehemiah's story can be an encouragement as you face the challenges of today. If you would like to order a copy of this message, call us at 1-800-448-6766 and ask for Is There Not a Cost or order online where you can find resources from our entire RZIM team. That web address is RZIM.org or RZIM.ca for those in Canada. I think one of the best ways to talk about the uniqueness of RZIM is summed up in a story I've heard Margie Zacharias tell several times. Someone said to him, Ravi, if I want to invite an evangelist to come and speak here, there are lots of names I can think of.
And if I want to invite an apologist to come here to do something on the more technical side, there are many names I can think of. But if I want to find someone who is both an evangelist and an apologist, someone who has the knowledge and the insight and the understanding but married to an evangelist's heart, the only person I can really think of is you. And I think that's always been the unique side of RZIM is that we want to be serious with people's concerns, serious with their struggles, think deeply and hard about difficult things, wonder how we can communicate into a culture that can be hostile or indifferent or closed, but to do it with the heart and the passion and the calling of an evangelist, where the ultimate goal isn't simply to leave people with a bunch of knowledge and ideas about something, but hopefully to leave with them having met the person of Jesus Christ, the only one who can change and transform the heart and the mind. And in that sense, we take a very strong understanding of that verse in Scripture about, see to it that you're ready to give an answer to everyone who asks you for the reason for the hope that we have. And when you ultimately boil it down, what is the reason as to why we have hope?
Is it because we have better philosophy, theology, morality, history, archaeology, or whatever? As important as those disciplines are, and we call on them as apologists all the time, that's not the reason we have hope. The ultimate reason we have hope is because of Jesus Christ, his life, his death, his resurrection, his coming again. That is ultimately why we have hope in this world. And therefore, our apologetics has to flow to or flow from the cross of Christ.
And that's one of its unique things. And it's amazing to be part of something which isn't just simply seeking, therefore, to inform the world, but by relying on God and the power of his Spirit and the truth of his word to see the world transformed through the glorious gospel that's being revealed and given to us in the person of Jesus Christ. Let My People Think is a listener-supported radio ministry produced by RZIM in Atlanta, Georgia. And it is your prayers and gifts that help keep this program on the air. Thank you for supporting RZIM as we strive to share the gospel with those around the globe and provide thoughtful answers to difficult questions.
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