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Is There Not a Cause?

Let My People Think / Ravi Zacharias
The Truth Network Radio
October 24, 2020 1:30 am

Is There Not a Cause?

Let My People Think / Ravi Zacharias

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October 24, 2020 1:30 am

What are you passionate about? Having a cause helps give your life meaning, but is there one cause that's more important? This week on Let My People Think, RZIM's Founder, the late Ravi Zacharias, takes a look at our purpose in life.

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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. You will notice at key moments in history, it has been the individual that has emerged in order to blaze the trail and carry on the task.

And the program almost becomes secondary. It has taken us 2000 years to start writing textbooks on evangelism. For 2000 years, evangelism has been done. Is there more purpose to life than just going through the motions? Without a cause, our lives lack meaning.

What is it that drives you? Would you like to discover the ultimate cause that we can have as believers? There are a lot of causes that people have. Helping and rescuing those who are less fortunate, protecting the environment, ending starvation, you name it, and there is someone fighting for it. Though many of the causes out there are often very good, RZIM's founder, the late Ravi Zacharias, wants us to take an even deeper look at the purpose of life. Is there a single most important cause that we need to take on?

Is there one that rises above all the others? Ravi argues yes, and we're going to discover what it is as he presents his message. Is there not a cause?

Here's Ravi. My message to you tonight is hopefully a meaningful one entitled, Is there not a cause? Is there not a cause? And obviously it is raised in a rhetoric sense, so that you and I would agree with the fact that there is a cause that demands the attention of the church of Jesus Christ. Jesus and his work and the work of God have never been caught off guard. Just in case you and I think we are all of a sudden faced with a perplexing antagonism of secularism, what are we going to do? Please do not forget that the early church grew in the womb of a contrary philosophy in Greece and in the womb of Judaism, where there were many struggles in the receiving of the Messiah. After Peter's sermon at Pentecost, if you could take in all of the Christians and put them in one place, they would have fitted in one of our larger churches of today. But today, when you see the great strides that have been made, you begin to realize that the church has flourished in spite of tremendous opposition and the church will continue to grow. As a matter of fact, one of the surest ways to guarantee church growth is to try to persecute it.

I think history has proven that. I'm going to read for you from the book of Nehemiah chapter 2. In the month of Nisan in the 20th year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought before him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before, so the king asked me, why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart. I was very much afraid, but I said to the king, may the king live forever. Why should not my face look sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins and its gates have been destroyed by fire? The king said to me, what is it you want? Then I prayed to the God of heaven and I answered the king, if it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it.

Then the king with the queen sitting beside him asked me, how long will your journey take and when will you get back? It pleased the king to send me, so I set a time. I also said to him, if it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Transufrates so that they will provide me with safe conduct until I arrive in Judah. And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the king's forest, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy. And because the gracious hand, I think this is so important here folks, please listen to this, because the gracious hand of my God was upon me, the king granted my request. So I went to the governors of Transufrates and gave them the king's letters.

The king had also sent army officers and cavalry with me. When son Ballot the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about this, they were very much disturbed that someone had come to promote the welfare of the Israelites. That second chapter, early verses from my text, Nehemiah was a civil engineer and I think that's good to know. He wasn't a trained theologian, that is also good to know. Although he had the assistance of a man like Ezra who led in the priestly responsibilities, Nehemiah had that shrewd ability to gain into positions of leadership and learn to rest it to his own advantage for the glory of God. There is nothing against striving towards position of leadership if the goal within your mind is to use that position for God's glory. When you realize that Moses was in a very privileged position in the palace and how God used him.

When you look at Paul, how he was well learned in all of the philosophies around him and that's why he stood on Mars Hill there and challenged the axioms of the Greek philosophers. Here we've got a man placed in a very high position as the cup bearer to the king. One of the things the cup bearer did was taste the food before the king would consume it and the fascinating thing to me is that here a Persian monarch has a Jewish man as his closest confidant.

This is one of his enemies but you see integrity is such an admirable quality that even your enemies will trust you if they know you're a man of integrity. And so here he is in the Persian palace gaining such position of ascendancy but there is something about the mind that can be preoccupied with priority issues and Nehemiah was a preoccupied man. So his brother Hanani comes to visit him one day and his first question is Hanani how is the city of my fathers? How is Jerusalem? Remember the word of God in Isaiah it says this can a woman forget her suckling child that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb. Yea they may forget yet I will not forget thee behold I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands thy walls are ever before me. The psalmist says if I forget thee oh Jerusalem let my right hand forget her cunning if I do not remember thee let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth if I prefer not Jerusalem to my chief joy. Jerusalem was a city which could not be enunciated even as a name without stirring up emotions within her faithful. Now Jerusalem has been trampled under the Babylonians had really laid it to ruins the temple had been desecrated by the troops that had come in and a hundred years hundred and forty years have gone by since that desecration. Nehemiah is in a foreign land he is still thinking of his beloved city of Jerusalem.

How is Jerusalem doing? And Hanani says Nehemiah you're gonna be sorry you asked the city of your fathers lies in ruins the gates thereof are badly burned the walls are in complete disarray. Nehemiah we are a byword to our enemies. That happened in the month of December five months later the king looks at Nehemiah and says why are you constantly looking so upset?

What is bothering you Nehemiah? And Nehemiah said king and he says this by the way he says the first thing I did was pray to the God of heaven and he says king if I were to tell you what is on my heart you may not be too pleased to hear it but I cannot live here in the comfort of your palace while my city my home city lies in ruins. The king says what is it you want? He says will you please send me back and allow me all that I need give me letters for all the resources that I need and send an army to protect me so that I can get back and rebuild the walls of the city of Jerusalem. Do you know what he was asking the Persian to do? He was not only asking for privilege to go back and build he was asking for the Persian to pay the bill. That's nothing short of audacity but he says because the good hand of my lord was upon me the king granted my request it would be like having me take a letter from Ariel Sharon to go to Ayatollah Khomeini and ask him to build a resort center for Sharon's holidays. He's going to the Persian monarch and asking him to build the Israeli walls a nation that they had dominated but the first principle I want to leave with you is a very very pivotal principle and the principle is this you will never lighten any load until you feel the pressure in your own soul.

You will never lighten any load until you feel the pressure in your own soul. Nehemiah personally sensed the pressure to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and he was going to play a leadership role in this. Please hear me my dear friend in our modern day philosophies of church growth we are unhealthily preoccupied with programs and I suggest to you programs are always secondary to people. God prepared a person before he implemented a program we create a program and then find the person.

You will notice at key moments in history it has been the individual that has emerged in order to blaze the trail and carry on the task and the program almost becomes secondary. It has taken us 2,000 years to start writing textbooks on evangelism for 2,000 years evangelism has been done and the reason is we have become sort of in a kind of a academic preoccupation we think if I teach the student how to tell his faith then he will go ahead and tell his faith evangelism is one of those things that is better felt than telt and Nehemiah sensed the pressure in his own soul and he was willing to go and rebuild the walls. Listen to what the famous British poet John Donne the great poet preacher said in one of his prayers he says this what see could furnish mine eyes with tears enough to pour out if I should think that of all this congregation which looks at me in the face now I should not meet even one at the resurrection or of the right hand of God when at any midnight hour I hear a bell toll from the steeple must I not say to myself what have I done at any time for the instructing or rectifying of that man's conscience who lieth now ready to deliver up his own account and my account to almighty God. When Dr. Graham's letter had come to me requesting that I speak on the lostness of man at Amsterdam 86 he had underscored the principle that the evangelist more than anything else needs to recognize that man without Christ is lost and if he doesn't recognize this he has got no message left.

Did you hear that? The evangelist more than anything else needs to recognize that a man and a woman without Christ is lost and that to me is the cardinal belief in my own evangelistic posture in trusting the word of God in committing my life to Jesus Christ I have chosen to believe what Jesus Christ has said about man and when Jesus Christ says I am the way I am the truth I am the life no man comes unto the father except through me it is an absolute unqualified statement I may choose to say Jesus is wrong and take the consequences but I cannot choose to say Jesus did not say that he believed in the fundamental lostness of man his entire mission statement is summed up in that one statement I am come to seek and to save that which was lost. I don't know if you've ever perceived the sense of lostness in any physical structures I remember preaching in Vietnam 1971 I was there to preach to the American boys in military hospitals I was there to preach to the prisoners of war lying there I remember going through a ward where there were soldiers two of them to each bed because there was such a shortage of beds watching the maimed and the mangled and all of the heartache and the loneliness of soldiers who are now going to live with these scars upon their mortal bodies and I remember one night getting carried away at a meeting even though we knew now we were going past curfew hour and one of the colonels said to me said Ravi the meeting is so important people are listening but the risk we are going to take after this is this curfew there's going to be darkness and we will we are not allowed to travel the roads but I'd be willing to take the risk and continue on and I'll personally drop you back where you live we carried on that meeting and at about 11 11 15 at night I got into his open jeep and as we were driving through the darkness and a blackout in that city all of a sudden we came to these huge iron gates of the missionary compound where I was living and I said to him you better hurry up and move on because you're going to be even later than I am so he left me at the gate it was pouring rain and as he made a u-turn and turned around I suddenly realized the only lights I had were his headlights and they were turned and he was gone and looking at those gates and recognizing they were locked clutching onto my sermon notes to protect them from the pouring rain suddenly listening to the sound of a Vietnamese patrol that was coming by and the clanging of their rifles and the footsteps heavy on the soil there with pouring rain and they had presented me with a long knife as a parting gift before I left Vietnam I'm standing outside this iron gate after curfew with a locked gate and a sword in my hand not knowing how I was going to get in not knowing how I was going to get out I didn't know whether to hide but then if I were caught all of a sudden I'd be in worse trouble or to make myself obvious without a single word of Vietnamese to my vocabulary and as I stood there the paralysis of the darkness became at that moment a kind of a blanket upon me as I didn't know how to open the gate didn't know where to leave it was a complete sense of confusion I was a lost individual with no privilege of communication and really not knowing how to get in if you transfer that confusion into man's mind where he doesn't know where he came from he doesn't know where he is going and he finds different avenues with which to tranquilize his boredom and the only place he really becomes honest is either at the altar or in front of a television screen where he pretends to play a role you will begin to understand the spiritual darkness and the dilemma within I think I have for you one of the finest illustrations to show to you how a recognition of man's lostness serves as a propelling force. The first missionary America ever sent overseas was Adoniram Judson if you have not read his biography please read it one of the finest minds America has ever produced he was so brilliant when he was 12 years old he was teaching the adult Sunday school class the book of Revelation from the original language now if that's not intimidating I don't know what is. He was so brilliant that people became petrified of Mr. Judson and rightly so when he got into college he made the fatal mistake of thinking he was more brilliant than God and his intellectualism got to him till he disavowed his faith and then he became a terror he went to Providence College in Rhode Island he became a terror to his classmates who were Christians because Judson was so powerful in debate that he would knock them off any of their beliefs and they would avoid him he had a roommate a fellow by the name of Jacob Ames Jacob Ames and Judson became very close Jacob Ames came into Providence College professing to believe in Christ he graduated out of Providence College professing to be an atheist and he gave the credit to Adoniram Judson his mother didn't know how to deal with him so she just prayed for him father tried to talk to him but he figured he'd knock the faith out of his own heart so he decided to leave Judson alone. Many years went by and the faculty members kept a close eye on Judson wondering what such a genius was going to do with his life and one day was riding to the city of New York to be trained for theater at the end of his interview he was riding back to Boston and it was a long long ride back he was so exhausted he stopped in at an inn and asked the manager if he could check in for the night and the manager says sir we really can't give you a room they're all full. Mr Judson says Mr manager I'm so tired I'm falling asleep would you let me sleep in the front hall I'll get up before it's dawn and leave here because I'm so tired I'll pay the price of a room I just need to lie down he said Mr Judson I do have a room that's available but I wasn't going to rent it out because adjacent to that room is a man who's very sick from his body is emanating a stench of decay he's dying and he's crying in alternate fits of stupefaction and raving and profanity but if you want that next room and he won't bother you I'll give it to you Judson said he won't bother me but Judson lay awake at night listening to this profanity listening to a man in untold agony crying out for help and Judson tried to smother the sound tossed and turned and gradually the sound subsided and Judson fell asleep next day as he was paying his bill he said what happened to the man feel better he said no Mr Judson the man died he died in the early hours of the morning Judson says out of curiosity what do you do a stranger's come into your inn and he dies on your hands he said yeah it does pose a problem but I'll tell you something as I've looked over his papers and trying to contact the next of kin I cannot put together how a man of his credentials and his his brilliance has died such an ignominious death all alone in these conditions he was a honors graduate from Providence College in Rhode Island Mr Judson his name was Jacob Ames and Judson paused for a moment and said what did you say his name was and he said his name was Jacob Ames a Providence College graduate Adoniram Judson in his biography entitled to the golden shore says this I got onto my horse and I started to ride back and I could not see in front of me for the tears began to pour down my face and as the tears were pouring down my face two words were pounding into my heart as the hooves of the horse were pounding into the ground and the two words were death hell death hell death hell he says I got off my horse and knelt on the dusty road repented bitterly of the way I had betrayed my God for Jacob Ames now laid delivering up an account of his own soul because I had knocked out any faith that he'd had in God he checked out of the United States and went to India was kicked out of Calcutta and went into Burma do you know that his first wife died out of an oriental disease her body had contracted for which she had no sense of immunization and out of sheer loneliness he remarried his second wife died three or four of his children died his missionary colleagues died and this man was laboring almost in a funeral director's camp losing all of his colleagues till finally he himself realized he was in an awesome battle it took him seven years to lead the first Burmese to Jesus Christ and yet if you read Don Richardson's book eternity in their hearts he will tell you something that Judson did which Burma will always be indebted to as a matter of fact if you go to Adoniram Judson's hometown today in Malden Massachusetts you see Judson was imprisoned by the Burmese authorities because of a successful preaching of the gospel as many many started to turn to Christ and Judson was was put into a boat after being imprisoned for 18 months and people could not recognize him anymore and the Burmese authorities knew he was going to die a few days away so they put him in a boat to send him back to the United States he never made it he died on route back in Malden Massachusetts there's a small gravestone that says Adoniram Judson born such and such died such and such the ocean is his sepulcher the Burmese bible is his monument his record is on high he translated the bible into Burmese his wife translated the bible into Thai and Don Richardson points out that in Burmese folklore there is a grim reminder to the people that the answer and Judson didn't know this by the way and Don Richardson points out that in Burmese folklore there was a belief that someday a man was going to come with a book which would have the truth in it and Judson spent years and years and years producing that book death hell death hell death hell unless you and I recognize that the person out there without Christ is lost we will never carry a burden and a personal pressure within our own soul and my friend may I challenge you tonight to seek God for that burden there was a second principle that emerged from Nehemiah's life as soon as he sensed this burden in his own soul the first thing he decided to do was pray and spend that time with God as we were sharing time over lunch today which I so thoroughly enjoyed again with several of you I was sharing with the brethren that one of my great concerns has been that in talking to many many Christian people the biggest flaw in their lives as far as I can see when they share it is that they have no personal devotional life prayer is a distant experience for them and yet when you see the giants in the faith whether you move to a man like Wesley or you go to a man like Judson or you go to Henry Martin that great Methodist missionary and so on you you begin to see some of these great ministers of the faith and you begin to see that every man who has been successful in his spiritual life has been successful first in his personal life alone with God preaching in Cambodia Phnom Penh and bottom bong bottom bong was the first city to fall in Cambodia I remember preaching to a group of Cambodians in an arena and my interpreter was a young Chinese gentleman Daniel Lum at the end of every day as we'd go back to this tall building where we occupied the top room very meager conditions it was 1974 just a few months before Cambodia fell every morning at 4 a.m. his alarm would go off Daniel's alarm would go off no matter how exhausted we were and he'd wind his way up to the roof of that building and every day in a language that I couldn't understand but a pathos that I could this man began his day with a tremendous pouring in prayer if you study the history of the church in Cambodia here's what you'll find out between 1923 and 1968 our denomination the Christian admission alliance had 80 baptized believers in 45 years in 1923 1968 for 80 baptized believers in three churches in Phnom Penh two years in the last two years before it fell over 3,000 came to Christ and 24 new churches were planted in Phnom Penh alone in one series of 10 days we had 650 come and respond to the invitation to follow Jesus Christ and I do not believe it is because methodologically we had done anything different but it had been bathed in prayer by those who had preceded us if we walk in Christ's footsteps and follow his cause he will make amazing things happen because guidance doesn't guarantee an easy path but he promises to provide the strength and wisdom to persevere if we trust in him would you like to take up the most worthwhile cause possible this message will help to guide you in your pursuit to order your own copy of this message we invite you to call us at 1-800-448-6766 and ask for the message titled is there not a cause you can also order any of our resources online where you'll find many items that can help you in your daily walk with Christ that web address is at rzim.org or rzim.ca for those listening in Canada did you know rzim has a global team of speakers with offices all around the world a fundamental part of our mission is to train men and women to defend the power and coherence of the gospel of Jesus Christ our hope is to empower you to engage in earnest conversations with those who have questions about the Christian faith find out how you can partner with us by calling us or visiting our website let my people think is the list of supported radio ministry and is furnished by Aussie I am in Atlanta Georgia
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-02 02:22:12 / 2024-02-02 02:32:03 / 10

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