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Life's Inescapable Questions, Part 1

Let My People Think / Ravi Zacharias
The Truth Network Radio
June 6, 2020 1:00 am

Life's Inescapable Questions, Part 1

Let My People Think / Ravi Zacharias

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June 6, 2020 1:00 am

What kind of questions do you think a Christian Apologist gets during Q&A sessions? The questions are vast, and often tough. This week on Let My People Think, Ravi Zacharias will take us through the book of Habakkuk, where we see a profound series of questions.


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You can find out more about Ravi Zacharias and the team at Questions are tough. In apologetics, we call them soft, which are general and easy to answer, hard, which are more pointed to the particular one you're defending. In the book of Habakkuk, we have a profound series of questions. Apologists are trained to never duck a question, and we might pity them their fate. Yet everyone has to deal with his or her fair share of questions too. Hello and welcome to Let My People Think. For 40 plus years, Ravi Zacharias has traveled the globe to share answers to life's tough questions. You could say questions are his stock and trade, and he's studied for years to be able to answer them with clarity and conviction.

But there are some questions that aren't just for apologists. This week, Ravi begins a message on those questions from the Old Testament book of Habakkuk. Let's listen as he begins. I don't think there's a place in the world that I go to where one of two things is not mentioned by somebody, either a book or the radio program, that they read it somewhere or heard the message somewhere. We may be a total stranger to them, but through the power of the printed page or just hearing the voice over the air in these phenomenal times, now it's of course YouTube and this tube and that tube. I don't know what all goes on. I really am not part of any of that. If I got onto it, I think my computer would rebel. The only button I really use there repeatedly is the undo button. As soon as I've done something wrong, that's one of the great blessings. In fact, my colleague from England, Michael Ramsden, says he has come up with a suggestion for YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook to come together, and they could be called the

I think that would be a great combination. Even I could follow and understand that. Questions are the hazard of an apologist's life. I'm sure you know what apologetics is or at least have heard the concept somewhere. Apologetics really comes from the Greek word apologia which is literally the meaning that we carry into apologetics. It's transliterated into the English as apologetics. It is the same word that Peter used in his sermon at Pentecost when the people were thoroughly confused. He said, let me explain to you what it is that has just happened. Let me give an apologia. Then in 1 Peter 3, 15 and 16, he comes out with more pointed use of the word.

He said, always be prepared to give an apologetic for the hope that is within you and how to do that with gentleness and respect. Apologetics has a broad sweep of two central concepts, giving an answer and giving an explanation. It clarifies truth claims. It doesn't muddy the waters. It doesn't make your answers confusing and difficult. You have to come to the level of the questionnaire because more than answering a question, you're always answering a questionnaire. Somebody is behind that question.

And if you answer the question without answering the questionnaire, you may come through as being very erudite or very knowledgeable, but you've really not been persuasive to the one who's looking for the answer. I remember I just landed in New York. I'd come from Bangkok, I think, which is about a 14-hour flight. Coming back, your worldview changes a few times along the way. You feel like you should celebrate your birthdays a few times along the way. And when you're getting off that, the most disheartening thing is that you look exactly like a passport picture and you never, never ever wondered if you did look like that. So there's no problem recognizing it. So I left the international terminal, was going to the domestic, and I walked over to the gate and it showed a different city on the marquee. We live in Atlanta and it showed another city. So I just walked over to the lady sitting at the end and I said, Excuse me, is this plane going to Atlanta or what it says on the marquee? She said, No, it's going to Atlanta. I said, That's good.

Thanks. And I just hobbled off to go and get myself a coffee or something. There was still 40 minutes to boarding and I heard the patter of feet behind me. And all of a sudden I turn around and she is coming right behind me. She says, Excuse me, are you Ravi Zacharias? And I said, I'm afraid so.

She said, That's amazing. I didn't know you also had questions. I did not make up this story. I could not have made it up. And as I just smiled at her, I said, You know, ma'am, that is one of the simplest questions I have ever asked.

Is it going to Atlanta or another place? Anytime you raise a family, you have a lot of questions. And even if you don't raise a family, it's these two fellows who are having a bet once.

And one guy says to the other, I'll make you a bet. I'm going to ask myself a question. And if I answer it, you buy me a Coke. He said, What do you say? He said, I'll ask myself a question. If I answer it, you buy me a Coke. He said, That doesn't make sense.

He said, No, no, no. Then you ask yourself a question and you answer it. If you answer it, I'll buy you a Coke.

We'll keep going this way till one of us asks ourselves a question we can't answer. The other fellow says, This is the strangest bet that I've ever heard. He said, No, it's fun.

It's fun. Just let's go ahead. So the fellow says, All right, since you proposed it, you go first. So he says, All right, my question to me is this.

How does a rabbit burrow a hole deep into the ground without throwing mud onto the outside of the ground? He said, That's my question to me. He said, My answer is start digging from the inside.

The fellow looked at him and he said, How can it do that? He said, I don't know. That's your question. Questions are tough.

In apologetics, we call them soft, which are general and easy to answer hard, which are more pointed to the particular one you're defending. In the book of Habakkuk, we have a profound series of questions. I will just read for you a couple of verses that pinpoints the three questions. You don't even need to turn to it.

It's hard to find, but let me just give you a couple of verses. Habakkuk's complaint. How long O Lord must I call for help? But you do not listen or cry out to you violence, but you do not save. Why do you make me look at injustice?

Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me. There is strife and conflict abounds and the lowest paralyzed and justice never prevails. The wicked heaven, the righteous, so that justice is perverted.

You would think he wrote this in our time. Violence, injustice, evil. How can you allow all this to go? Un recompensed and you watch it all happening. Destruction and confusion abound before us. How long must I cry out to you? And you're not going to listen.

I know many of us probably felt like that when we watched on the screen, what happened in that calm, beautiful celebratory day of men and women who discipline themselves to run that 26 miles plus and bring their families and enjoy it. And all of a sudden the sound of explosion and amongst the others, one little boy whose life is just pulverized. And then all of the talking begins, all of the searching begins, and then all of the legal experts come in and we'll watch the same mental gymnastics going on once more. And whatever side we stand on in this, we begin to ask the same question. Violence, injustice, and evil. The answers are not as easy, but at least I think, and I want you to listen to me very carefully now.

When you come at the same question from different answers, you're invariably coming from different assumptions. And what the Judeo-Christian worldview does almost every time when its answers are pertinent, relevant, and right in keeping with this worldview, hear me carefully now, it's explanatory power of a reality is much more in keeping with life's inescapable questions. It's explanatory power, the power to explain not just a particular issue, but within the context of a broader spectrum of issues. More often than not, you'll find it's explanatory power, far more real, far more relevant than the naturalistic materialistic worldview can ever give to you in times like this. In fact, to the sheer naturalist, to the sheer materialist, we are nothing more than the product of the random collocation of atoms, just a blip on the radar screen of time, almost what Jean Paul Sartre, the existentialist would have said, an empty bubble floating on the sea of nothingness. But it is that very emptiness that drove a man like Sartre in his veteran years as he's dying to say, I find it difficult to cling to my atheistic existentialist position anymore because it has no explanatory power.

Maybe pragmatic help for certain situations in life, but in the broad picture, it's not there. That's why in the 1980s, the best known atheist was a man by the name of Anthony Flew. A lot of my postgraduate work when I was doing my studies in philosophy and all, if you really want to get the most powerful of atheists, it was a handful of them. And Anthony Flew was one of them right at the point of the era. And what happens a few years ago?

Flew says he no longer can hold on to his atheism. Why? Again, the explanatory power is just not there for some of the inescapable questions that life brings to you. So answers can still be meaningful without being comprehensive. If you take a child to a doctor and you're giving a jab and the child screams and wants to ask the mom, why are you doing this?

The mother cannot give a comprehensive answer, but she can give a meaningful answer enough to comfort the child till in the broader context, the child grows up and understands what it was that was really going on. And I think the same is going to be with us. God gives us three questions through the mouth of Habakkuk. Violence.

If you think Habakkuk had reason to ask about violence, think of our day. Just look at the last four centuries, the statistics in the microcosm of Europe alone, not the whole world, just Europe. In the 17th century in warfare, 3.3 million were killed in Europe. 18th century in warfare in the continent of Europe, 5.2 million. 19th century, 5.5 million.

3.3, 5.2, 5.5. 17th, 18th, 19th century in the continent of Europe alone. In the 20th century, which became the bloodiest century in history up to 1970, 28 million were killed in Europe alone.

If you take the full toll of the 20th century and go to China with its 60 some million, Russia with its scores of millions, Cambodia with its about 3 million, and who knows all the slaughter that goes on behind the scenes, which never even make the statistical study. And it was in the year 1900 at the top end of the 20th century that the philosopher, the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche made the comment, as he's the one who popularized the phrase, God is dead. He's the one who said God has died in the 19th century, meant philosophically indefensible anymore, the existence of God. But he went on to say this, if God indeed is now dead, then he said the 20th century will become the bloodiest century in history and universal madness will break out. He took the first step and spent the last 13 years of his life insane. Ironically, his father was a pastor, both of his grandfather's were ministers. It's amazing, our modern day vociferous atheists can talk a lot about antitheism and so on.

They're nowhere near as honest as a Nietzsche, for that matter, even a Darwin who said if his physics and his biology was right, the metaphysics of it all was going to breed untold violence because nature was red in tooth and claw. Quite a graphic metaphor and a description. I don't know how many of you have ever visited a death camp. If you visited the death camps in Poland, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about, the poor death camp of Auschwitz, where Adolf Hitler was eliminating them at the rate of 12,000 every day in that one camp, one camp alone, 12,000 every day. So if you've got a little over 1,000 people in this meeting here tonight, 12 times as many as the number present here tonight were being eliminated in one death camp alone. What is it Eichmann said, one death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.

We just cannot fathom something like this. But you see violence we sometimes think is just restricted to warfare and out on the battlefield in front of the barrel of a gun, who knows all the violence that goes on behind the scenes every day. Violence oh Lord, how long must I cry to you and you don't seem to listen. But then he goes on, he doesn't only cry out for violence, he says injustice.

Look at all the injustice that goes on. You know the Greeks did not have a personal God, I'm talking about the big three, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. They talked more about the ideational summum bonum, the maximum good. They may have quantificated an idea, but it was left to the Hebrews to really talk so clearly about a personal moral entity, the divine being. But the Greeks certainly talked a lot about truth, beauty, and goodness, liberty, equality, and justice. Those six ideas, truth, beauty, goodness, liberty, equality, justice.

Ideas by which we judge, ideas by which we live. And the principle pillar for the big three, mainly Aristotle for example, he says this about justice. He says, justice alone of all of the virtues is really taught to be for another's good because it is related to my neighbor for it does what is advantageous to another. So the worst man is he who exercises his wickedness, both towards himself and towards his friends. And the best man is not he who exercises virtue towards himself, but he who exercises it towards another.

For this is a difficult thing to do. Justice in this sense then is not a part of virtue, but virtue in its entirety, nor is the contrary injustice a part of vice, but vice in its entirety. But vice in its entirety, what actually Aristotle is saying is no matter all the virtues and all of the ethics that you put side by side, he at least thought that justice was at the peak of it all. And I think it was Plato who said that justice is the firmest pillar of good government.

What's happened to the justice in our land? Think about it. When I was at Princeton University a couple of weeks ago doing an open forum, a young man came up to the microphone and he said, what do you think is the difference between what the Garden of Eden was like and what it is like now? Well, he was trying to steer me into explaining some kind of reality that is so unreal and the way we think. And I said, you know what? I can give you a very simple illustration of this.

I said, forget all of the ways you want to distort it, but here's what I want to tell you. In the Garden of Eden, there were two things very clear. Your fellowship with God.

God was near. But number two was this, the laws were so simple, there was only one prohibition. Only one prohibition. Not to eat to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. I said, why? Because in the day that you do it, you shall be as God knowing good and evil. What it really means is this, you shall play God defining good and evil. The philosopher of ethics said this, ours is an age where ethics has become obsolete. It is superseded by science, deleted by psychology, dismissed as emotive by philosophy. It is drowned in compassion, evaporates into aesthetics and retreats before relativism. The usual moral distinctions between good and bad are simply drowned in a mottled emotion in which we feel more sympathy for the murderer than for the murdered, for the adulterer than for the betrayed, and in which we have actually begun to believe that the real guilty party somehow is the one who caused it all and not the perpetrator of the crime. The victim is now the one who caused it all, not the perpetrator of the crime. It's amazing.

It's amazing. This is exactly what happens when what is legal takes the place of what is lawful. Justice, the firmest pillar of good government.

Why is it that America experimented with the most difficult thing any nation has ever attempted to wrestle with? To reconcile liberty with law. To reconcile liberty with law. This has been the noble pursuit of the founder of this, you know, and you hear it in the songs, you see it in its writings, but it all began with one fundamental assumption that our rights are not self-given.

They are endowed by our creator, which means the pointer of that which is right is the creator himself. And the more we talk today about human rights, the less we seem to know what it means to be human or the right to be human. So you've got in the beginning, the whole specter of violence.

The second you've got injustice. And thirdly, he says evil, unmitigated evil. We see evil all around us surrounded by evil. And the reason we are not able to define it anymore is for a very simple reason.

I want you to listen now. Try defining evil without first assuming what life's purpose is. Try defining evil without purpose because purpose is the foundation from which deviation can be established. If I take a car and use it as a weapon to run over somebody, I'm violating the purpose of what an automobile is all about.

If I take this body and use it purely for my own pleasure, I'm violating its purpose. That's why the quintessential hedonist, Oscar Wilde, who lived without any moral boundaries for himself, the term to describe Wilde was dandyism. I wrote a book on an imaginary conversation between Oscar Wilde and Jesus called Sense and Sensuality. And Wilde, while he's dying in his forties in Paris, looks to his lover, Robbie Ross, and he looks at him and asks him the most shocking question that a hedonist could have asked. He says, Robbie, did you ever love any one of those young boys for their own sake?

What? All of a sudden love is being defined by a hedonist? Did you ever love any one of them for their own sake? Robbie Ross says, no, I didn't, Oscar. He had two men in their relationship and he says, Robbie, neither did I. Bring me a priest.

And in his poem, The Ballad of Reading Jail, he compares the life of him in prison there to a woman with the alabaster ointment who comes with an ointment and pours it at the feet. And he said, for only Christ is big enough to cleanse this heart. Only blood can wipe away blood, he said.

The blood of Christ can wash away my own blood. You know, ladies and gentlemen, evil starts without understanding purpose. Evil begins with a denial of purpose, a powerful stopping point for today's message. You can listen to this episode again by visiting our website at and clicking on the Listen tab. And if you're listening in Canada, that web address is

You can also purchase this entire series by calling us at 1-800-448-6766. At RZIM, we strive to reach students on college campuses, encourage churches and provide thoughtful answers to difficult questions. And if you would like to support our ministry financially, you can call us or visit our website to donate online. Guilt is a universal fact and feeling that compels all of us either to deal with it or to find a convincing means to just explain it away. The first response that one may have to guilt is to expel personal and public guilt with a brazen irreverence. This is a posture that implies that nothing in life is essentially sacred and that guilt is a conditioned response orchestrated by religion. What they argue is that religion is something manufactured to control others with guilt and fear.

Even legal theorists are now calling for the appearance of wrong rather than calling something wrong. And yet, guilt haunts, does it not? Absolute irreverence destroys the very individual who tests it out. We see this replayed again and again. We laud somebody for being a great speaker or athlete or actor, but disregard an irreverent lifestyle behind it. Can this really be a coherent path for civilization?

Friends, the answer to that is no. Why? Because mockers do not play by their own rules when the tables are turned and something they regard as sacred is vilified. Far too much damage is done when we deal irreverentially with matters that to many are sacred. Those who mock the sacred and deny the reality of guilt will find themselves desacralized and nobody guilty for treating them as such in a world of horrors. At some point, guilt must be acknowledged or else the irreverent will end up victimizing everyone including themselves.

In short, expelling guilt by irreverence makes life unlivable. You've been listening to Let My People Think, a listening supported radio ministry that is furnished by RZIM in Atlanta, Georgia.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-10 10:30:18 / 2024-03-10 10:39:26 / 9

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