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How Should the Church Respond to the Ravi Zacharias Scandal?

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier
The Truth Network Radio
January 6, 2021 1:00 am

How Should the Church Respond to the Ravi Zacharias Scandal?

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier

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January 6, 2021 1:00 am

Episode 614 | Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier answer caller questions.

Show Notes

1. I recently heard a pastor say that for anybody to speak against him would be speaking against The Father. Is speaking against a pastor speaking against God? 

2. I have heard some say that the Apostle Paul was still performing Jewish ceremonies and even sacrifices after his conversion to Christianity. For example, in Acts 21:26, it says that “Then Paul took the men, and the next day he purified himself along with them and went into the temple, giving notice when the days of purification would be fulfilled and the offering presented for each one of them.” What is your take on this?

3. I just learned in Sunday School class about the illicit sexual conduct that Ravi Zacharias had. I don’t keep up with the daily news so I hadn’t heard any of this.  It hit me in the gut pretty hard. We’ve been studying Romans and specifically have parked on Romas 5:20 that talks about ‘where sin abounds, grace abounds more’.  Last night this played over and over in my mind as I tried to sleep and think about Ravi.  How can someone defend the Gospel so well, as he did, and do the things he did?  Does he qualify as a false teacher now? What do I do with this information? I have so many questions and deep disheartening emotions. Trust is waning. Do I even trust you?  Who do we trust now?  I know we all fall and none of us are without sin.  I know that grace abounds so that forgiveness covers all sin that also abounds.  How does one keep on sinning at the same time they are defending the Gospel?

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Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault by Justin Holcomb

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Recently it's been confirmed that the late Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias sexually abused women over many years when prominent Christian leaders are shown to be leading a double life. How should the church respond best is one of the questions will be answering on today's addition of core Christianity hi this is Bill Meyer, along with my good friend Pastor Israel Sanchez and this is the radio program where we answer your questions about the Bible and the Christian life every day. You can call us right now with your question. At 833 the core that's 1-833-843-2673. You can also post your question on our Facebook, Instagram or twitter account and you can email us at questions at core, first step today we have a good news story to share with you when Bryson Gault turned 11 years old. A few weeks ago. He didn't ask for video games or brand-name athletic shoes instead he spent his birthday money buying food for the homeless. Bryson took the $150 in checks the receivers birthday. Went to a local AAA restaurant and bought 20 meals for the homeless in his town of Augustine Georgia well. AAA heard about Bryson's good deed and they have invited him to their Atlanta headquarters to star in a commercial. The spot will be airing sometime later this month. I love that and I love Chick-fil-A yeah me too members dipping sauces just the best Bryson failure. We commend you for your good deed that is so beautiful.

Let's get to our first question of the day.

April we received this email from Andre. Andre says I recently heard a pastor say that for anybody to speak against him would be speaking against the father is speaking against the pastor really speaking against God.

Hey Andre it when I hear stories like this are of pastors who are saying you know you can't speak out against me.

Otherwise, you're you're touching the Lord's anointed. That kind of thing. I get really uneasy. No speaking out against the pastor is not necessarily speaking out against God. Now for speaking out against the word of God for the pastors faithfully teaching what the Scriptures teach and we don't like that we reject God's word that that's a different story. But the focus needs to be off of the pastor. This individual and onto the word and with the word of God says. And so we have to be careful because I think that Christian leaders so-called Christian leaders can be wolves abusive and that there are situations where individuals will try to leverage their authority, their power, their influence in order to control others and one of the ways that they'll do that is by instilling fear in the sheep and saying you can't question me at all about how the Peruvians in the book of acts are commended because they search the Scriptures to see if what the disciples preached what they proclaimed. If what they were saying was true, and I think that's how we need to act as well.

As Christians we need to be Paris and we need to search the Scriptures so that when our pastor or some other Christian leader says something we can say okay is this in line with the Bible teaches. And if anyone says you shouldn't do that because I'm I'm the Lord's anointed. I would say run run as fast as you can because that's not what God has us doing as pastors and escrow should not not what we should be doing is pastors and Christian leaders, and so on. I would say brother no. Now that that doesn't mean you know that we are free to just be disrespectful or rude him in a week. We want to be respectful.

We want to be charitable to our pastors and to the people in authority over us wherever they might be what we don't want to confuse them with the Lord himself, certainly not know we are servants as Christian ministers in the church and we all together as the body of Christ ought to be submitted to the word of God, not to a particular individual to the word of God first and foremost, and either let me ask you as a pastor. How do you deal with negative feedback that you might receive about something in one of your sermons or something.

The church is done yeah ad I think every pastor can give sort of relate Ravi a lot of times is not necessarily negative feedback. It might just be someone comes up to after the service and says hey. I don't agree with how you handled that passage of Scripture right.

I take a different interpretation that kind of a thing, and personally I actually enjoy having those conversations because it gives me another opportunity to dig into the word of God with the people in my church and I think that's okay. I think in humility we we ought to listen to the people who come to us with criticism. That doesn't mean that there always going to be right on the money sometimes that the criticism doesn't necessarily land but we want to be humble. We don't want to be defensive and I think that's that's something that can happen is you know somebody criticize you, and immediately you get on the defensive. Well before you do that, I think it's really helpful to stop and to pray and to say Lord, are you trying to teach me something. Here is there is there an area where maybe I have a blind spot where I can be helped by this individual and I think if in humility were willing to invite honest feedback from the people around us and they're not afraid that if they give us that honest feedback were going to come back at them in a way that would be rude or harsh or over the top that kind of thing and it creates a healthy environment so we should be willing to listen to the criticisms to the constructive criticism even to the challenges of others with humility and say Lord, teach me, help me to grow but we also don't want to be so consumed with the criticism of others that were not confident in ourselves and what God ultimately has said in his word.

So there's a balancer we want to be willing to listen with humility, but at the end of the day. That doesn't mean that every time we get it. It's 100% true. And that's where we have to be discerning and humble and asked for God's help great counsel. This is core Christianity with pastor Israel Sanchez and let's go to a call that came in at 833, the court, and I'm calling from my sorry California. I have a question concerning the apostle Paul. There are many verses in the Bible that alluded to the fact she continued to make blood sacrifice after the death of our Lord and Savior.

I was hoping you could clarify that if you need a specific example verse 26 says that you like preparing the claim himself and is going to give notice of one or going to sacrifice so if you could please answer that I will be awesome thank you. Acts chapter 21 verse 26 then Paul took the men in the next day he purified himself along with them and when in the temple giving notice when the days of the purification would be fulfilled in the offering presented for each one of them. You know this is a really good question is sort of interesting because if anybody right has made it absolutely clear throughout his letters that we as Christians don't need to participate in the Old Testament old covenant rituals. It's the apostle Paul and you think about the letters he wrote in particular the letter to the Galatians, for example. This is one of the things that came up over and over and over again in the New Testament church because with the arrival of the new covenant you had the setting aside of the old covenant. It's been replaced.

Ultimately, even in the Old Testament right that that the old covenant was I'm speaking here about the Mosaic covenant was never meant to endure forever. Now just to make this point absolutely clear that if you go over to the book of second Corinthians in second Corinthians chapter 3. Listen to what the apostle Paul said there second Corinthians chapter 3, beginning in verse four, such as the confidence that we have to Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who is made us sufficient to be ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the spirit. For the letter kills, but the spirit gives life.

Now the ministry of death carved in letters on stone came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses's face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end right right there. Paul makes it very clear that the old covenant this Mosaic covenant was at one point going to become obsolete and in terms of the rituals and the sacrifices will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory.

Paul said, for if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation. The ministry of righteousness must far exceed in glory. Indeed, in this case. What once had glory has come to have no glory at all.

Now I think that you understand Jason that that the old covenant has been set aside that now Paul is as he said there is a minister of the new covenant. So the question is why do you see the early disciples at times to participating in some of these Old Testament rituals going to the synagogues in the temple to pray those kinds of things while we have to understand that the old covenant with the system was dying out. It was fading away. One of the code point to is in the book of acts. The next chapter 15, you have the Jerusalem Council and it becomes very clear there that counseled that people don't need to receive circumcision in order to be a part of the church that was one of the big controversies in the early church do converts to Christianity need to be circumcised. Essentially, do they need to become Jewish in order to join the church and the disciples decided together in unison know that's not the case will then what's so interesting is in the very next chapter next chapter 16 note, Paul did. He had Timothy circumcised now why, why would he do that if if the old covenant has been set aside. Well, it had to do with his relation to the Jews at that time it was part of the fact that Timothy was serving as a missionary to Hebrew people in it.

Ultimately it was their own conscience so that they might receive the word of God is there. This idea becoming all things to all people as the apostle Paul says elsewhere.

So when the disciples participated in these rituals in in the life of the synagogue, if you will, the temple, it was always for the purpose of advancing the gospel of Jesus Christ. They weren't saying in those moments, take these old covenant rights. This system has religious legitimacy in the sense that it's still standing.

No Paul makes it very clear throughout the Scriptures that it was passing away like that text that I I've just mentioned there in second Corinthians chapter 3 and four times in the book of acts. You see, the disciples going to the temple at the hour of prayer, and then that kind of a thing, because what they're doing is they're engaging with the Hebrew people in order to advance the gospel among them. So I think that there's a principle here right is the principle that all mentions the idea becoming all things to all people accommodating ourselves to them. Ultimately, for the hope of advancing the truth of the gospel. Jason, thanks so much for your call your listener core Christianity with pastor Israel Sanchez and just a reminder starting on Monday the 18th you'll be able to call in with your questions. At 1:30 PM central 11:30 AM Pacific time and can I just encourage you if you listen to coroner blessed by the program. Really excited about the live interaction were to be able to have your beginning on the 18th but I want to ask for your prayers.

Would you pray that the Lord would continue to advance his gospel throughout the world. Through this program, which you pray to God.

I know I need the grace and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. So would you say a prayer for me as were answering these questions live on the air we really want to communicate the truth of God's word in a way that is clear and encouraging for everyone who listens this. I really really appreciate your prayers as we move forward in this direction. Also let your Christian friends know that they can call him starting on the 18th with any questions they have and interact live with a drill on the year. By the way, if you are a person who just started reading the Bible for the first time.

The fact is some Bible reading plans can be really complex and daunting, but never fear we have just a plan for you. We do we create a Bible reading plan that could one help someone new to the Bible cultivated joy for reading the Bible and to help someone who may have lost that joy to find it again a minute it so important that I don't know where you are in your own Christian life. Whether or not Bible reading daily Bible reading is something that you worked into your own schedule, but it is so important for us to be in the word God speaks through the Scriptures and the court Christianity Bible reading plan is a free resource when you sign up for a weekly newsletter. It'll take about 10 minutes every day to complete and it lasts for one year through it. You will be introduced to the big narrative and the grand themes of the Bible. This plan won't take you through the entire Bible in a year, but it will help you develop a sustainable habit of reading the Bible for one whole year. After all, it's better to read a little every day and to read a lot, only occasionally as sharp or is it you will as we get into this new year be committed to growing in the Scriptures and want to help you with that. And so head over to court, to find our Bible reading plan. Again, you can download plan, a drill, here's an email that came in from one of our listeners named Leah she says I just learned in Sunday school class about the illicit sexual conduct that Robbie Zacharias was involved in it hit me in the got pretty hard.

We been studying Romans 520 that talks about where sin abounds. Grace abounds more last night displayed over and over in my mind as I tried to sleep and think about Robbie.

How can someone defend the gospel so well was he didn't do the things that he did this to qualify as a false teacher. Now what do I do with this information I have so many questions and deep disheartening emotions who can I trust now I know we all fail and none of us are without sin. And I know grace abounds to the forgiveness covers all sin that also abounds. But how does one keep on sinning at the same time they are defending the gospel. Elia, this is absolutely devastating and and I know you're not the only one who is been really troubled when Christian leaders. People who are well-known defenders of the faith, pastors, preachers, when they engage in this kind of behavior. It's so devastating because you know that there are sheep who look up to them and whose faith is injured. If you will, by the actions of these Christian leaders and so it's something that that we have to address and I'm I'm grateful that you asked this question because this isn't the first time that this is happened and it won't be the last time and so we need to understand clearly how we as Christians should respond. The first thing I'll say is this Leah we don't ever want to minimize the sinful actions of individuals every few people say all you know.

Well Robbie was such a great guy and know so many godly men throughout the Scriptures have failed and fallen, and yet the Lord still use them mightily as a way of sort of minimizing what took place at I think that is an absolute tragedy is wrong. Frankly, there are victims here victims of abuse. There are the immediate victims and these people who were abused and then more and more information is coming out now and they need to be cared for and sought after. Often times when when something like this happens all of the attention goes on the individual really the abuser and not on the people who have been her wounded who really need for care and the focus of the church in this time as we want to minimize the sin, the abuse and we don't want to lose sight of the victims. The other victim here is always the church of Jesus Christ in so far as Christian leaders do this and they bring great scandal to the bride of Christ. And because those outside of the church to looking to point the finger to sightsee. See you guys are all hypocrites. It really brings us great shame is a week we can't minimize the sin and we have to help the wounded.

The victim's those who are hurting and one of the reasons why so many hurt in situations like this. Leah's is just like you say, how could this be how could this person who seem to have this robust faith amended were so intellectual when they defended the gospel there on college campuses you need seen those YouTube videos of of Robbie Zacharias doing this. How could he do this and does that invalidate what he said does his life invalidate the message. People begin to question the message because of the messenger.

The psalmist says in Psalm 118. It is better to trust in the Lord and to put confidence in man, and I think we see that over and over and over again. Pastors and ministry leaders are called to have integrity are called to be qualified you think about the qualifications that Paul gives in first Timothy three and Titus chapter 1 and it's coming out more and more that this individual that Robbie Zacharias didn't meet those qualifications and that's a tragedy and were he still alive that would need to be addressed through the course of the church, but does that mean what he said the way in which he defended the faith, the truth of the gospel are invalidated know there was actually Leah this great controversy in the ancient church known as the Donatist controversy. There were these groups of people that had turned away from the faith.

Christian leaders actually during a time of great persecution and what that date is it called into question. For many, you know whether or not their ministries were ever legitimate and it was really a pressing question, especially for those who had been baptized by these Christian leaders because people were asking this question. Eight. The pastor who baptized me has since abandoned the faith. He's become an apostate was my baptism legitimate was this person's ministry legitimate well the sinful actions of individuals, even if they go on to deny the faith, or be shown to have engaged in in things that were totally heinous in and out of line with the truth of the gospel that doesn't make the gospel less true picture shows that there was a huge disconnect between the message that they proclaimed in the lives they lived. That's a horrible thing that's a tragic thing that's something that we need to identify and repent of in our own lives where it where that's the case right now our focus needs to be on those who are suffering and those who were victims of the abuse we need to care for them. The church needs to focus on them extending love, care, whatever it is that's needed to help bring healing that's I think where were Christ calls us and we need to double down on our focus on the fact that ultimately Jesus is our hope we put Christian leaders on a pedestal when we when we fix our eyes on them with things like this happen in our faith can become devastated because our faith was ultimately in the individual and not in the message. The faith needs to be in the word of God and the promise of the gospel. Individuals will fail. That's not it.

A justification that doesn't make it okay and and as I said Christian leaders are called to a higher standard. One of integrity and we should hold them to that standard. But at the end of the day the gospel stands because it's true because it's the word of God, because Jesus actually did die and rise again from the dead, and that's where our hope rests, and so Leah we can have. I think peace even while we mourn, even while we mourn the sin and and and the failure of the fall the abuse that we see at the hands of some so-called Christian leaders.

Our hope is in Jesus and so in Christ, let us go and love those who have been hurt and let's hold each other accountable. God bless you sister in order. I'm so glad we've addressed this controversy on the program and we know it's tough for a lot of people who were followers of Robbie and all of his apologetics work. I think the other thing. This brings up is the importance of accountability. We have so many Christian leaders and sometimes pastors of big churches that are not really being held accountable for their actions are not really answering to anybody a course are entering to God ultimately bought from our church perspective from a Christian organization perspective. Can you just comment on why that is so critical will yeah because when you don't have accountability stuff like this happens even with accountability. Frankly, we need all the help we can get has fallen sinners and it's a huge red flag when an individual whether there a Christian leader or not you notice a Christian in the church, but especially for Christian leaders for ministry leaders when they won't answer to anyone that's a problem that's a huge problem. You think even that the disciples as they were establishing these churches throughout the New Testament times. They established churches with a plurality of elders and I think that there there's a reason for that because they recognize that accountability was and is so important for us to have me think about the question that we had on the front end of this program.

Bill were you know some ministry leader was things of the like. If you question me.

You question God will that's a lie and any pastor who puts up that front who acts like that out there that should be a huge red flag for us.

We should pursue long for accountability because we can say it like that. The words of that great him come, thou fount of every blessing we can say prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love. Here's my heart out take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above, we know that we are fickle that we are weak that we need the grace of God.

Minutes only by the grace of God that we stand and that he gives us brothers and sisters to help us be accountable to grow together in the light to walk in the light together and so Bill, you're absolutely right that the importance of accountability in situations like this. And so we pray for all of our listeners for you that you are in a good church where you have that kind of accountability with our people who care for you and watch over your soul and were they to being cared for and they are accountable and ultimately were all accountable to the chief Shepherd Jesus Christ was the only one to never fail to always be pure and holy. We look to him. We hope in him and looking to Jesus. We walk arm in arm as the body of Christ in the light. These kinds of things aren't opportunities for us to grow arrogant or prideful their opportunities for us to remember our own frailty.

God have mercy upon us, and have mercy on those who have been hurt, healed us through the blood of your son, Jesus Christ. Thanks for listening to core Christianity to request your copy of today's special offer. Visit and click on offers in the menu bar or call us at 1-833-843-2673 that's a 33, the court when you contact us. Please let us know how you been encouraged by this podcast and be sure to join us next time. As we explore the truth of God's word together

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