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Is There Not a Cost?

Let My People Think / Ravi Zacharias
The Truth Network Radio
November 7, 2020 1:00 am

Is There Not a Cost?

Let My People Think / Ravi Zacharias

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November 7, 2020 1:00 am

Have you ever been mocked for your Christian beliefs? Did you ever think about how standing up for God might cost you something? To find the answers, RZIM's Founder, the late Ravi Zacharias, looks at someone in the Old Testament who faced similar opposition. That's this week on Let My People Think.

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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 need to understand that whenever you find somebody who says for the sake of God, let us arise and build, I will guarantee you, you will always have somebody who will say, let us stand up and destroy. Standing up for God and fulfilling his calling on our life often demands a cost. Today we're going to look at that cost, what it involves and how we can each cope with it.

Hello and welcome to Let My People Think as we hear from RZIM's founder, the late Ravi Zacharias. In the Old Testament we're told of a man by the name of Nehemiah who set out to rebuild the ruined walls of the city of Jerusalem. As we're going to learn in Ravi's message this week and next, Nehemiah's story still has powerful applications to our lives as believers nearly 2,500 years later. What cost did Nehemiah have to pay in his struggle to rebuild the wall? What cost will we have to pay if we follow God faithfully?

Let's listen in now to his message titled, Is There Not a Cost? I'm reading from the book of Nehemiah chapter 2 and I'm reading from verse 10. Nehemiah chapter 2, and I'm really going to read a few scattered verses if I may, and please follow me, I hope it doesn't seem rather disjointed to you, there is a reason for what I'm doing. Nehemiah chapter 2 and I'm reading from verse 10.

Here is what has happened. Remember now that Nehemiah is coming in at a time in history where the government is very unstable. There is a tremendous sense of insecurity amongst the foreign land of Persia that has dominated Israel and other nations. There was bloodshed at the highest offices of the land, kings were getting killed, they were being usurped by their own children. In other words, the Persian government had to take every precaution to be very secure in itself.

And one of the ways in being secure was controlling the nation of Israel itself. But here is an enormous request from a man of God. And as I said to you what I really like about Nehemiah is, as hard as he worked, he knew that the ultimate blessing was from God. And he said, because the good hand of God was upon me, the king granted my request. The hand of God upon our lives is indispensable to the granting of our request before almighty God. And when God's hand is upon you, it's a valuable experience. So here he is going to the Persian king, asking him to pay the bill for the rebuilding of Jerusalem's walls.

But as soon as he decides to go, he faces problems. And I would like to highlight some of them for you. Look at verse 10, chapter 2. When Sanballat 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. Verse 19. When Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arab, one more is added now, heard about it, they mocked and ridiculed us.

What is this you are doing, they asked? Are you rebelling against the king? Please look at chapter 4 and verse 7. First it was Sanballat and Tobiah, then it was Sanballat, Tobiah, and the Arab. Now notice verse 7 and chapter 4. But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, the men of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem's wall had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. But please notice, but we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.

You need to understand that whenever you find somebody who says for the sake of God, let us arise and build, I will guarantee you you will always have somebody who will say, let us stand up and destroy. You will never ever reach a position of leadership and direction and power and ministry without the opposition and those who would try to root out and pull down what you have done. This is true of any noble endeavor in life.

It is not without its opposition and its difficulties. I like what Theodore Roosevelt said about the critics who tried to destroy the good work that some would like to do. He says this, it is not the critic who counts. It is not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. Why the credit belongs to the man who is in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again because there is no effort without error or shortcoming. Who does actually try to do the deed, who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion and spends himself in that worthy cause, who at the worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. Far better it is to dare mighty things and to wish glorious triumphs, though checkered by failure than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the great twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat. Far better, it says, to suffer much while triumphing and attempting great things than to live in the great twilight of those who neither know any victory or defeat. Dr. A. W. Tozer said it, and I'm afraid to repeat it sometimes, but he said it, whom God would use greatly, he will hurt deeply. I do not know who wrote the following words, but I strongly suspect the woman who wrote them was either raised in the home where somebody was in the ministry or was close to someone who was in the ministry.

This is the way it goes. When God wants to drill a man and thrill a man and skill a man, when God wants to mold a man to play the noblest part, when he yearns with all his heart to create so great and bold a man that all the world might be amazed, watch his methods, watch his ways, how he ruthlessly perfects whom he royally elects, 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, how he bends but never breaks when his good he undertakes, how he uses whom he chooses and with every purpose fuses him with mighty acts induces him to try his splendor out, God knows what he's about. When God wants to drill a man and thrill a man and skill a man, watch his methods, watch his ways. Nehemiah is a man being drilled, thrilled and skilled and what's the power that God is going to fuse into him and what he is going to face in the process.

There were three kinds of obstacles Nehemiah faced and three reminders he gave his people. The first was the obstacle of scorn. They will scorn you for what you believe. I have so often entered arenas where I am to speak and I already know the scorners that are there. The first sermon I ever preached and my early teens there was a sermon entitled The Cross of Jesus Christ and I'll never forget preaching it to a university setting in Madras, India.

I was a teenager. I had barely known any knowledge of God's word and as I walked up with a teen team onto the platform and this voluntary audience of over 200 sitting before us, some of them sitting in the back row began a slow hand clap in as many words telling us to shut up and get out. And your young minds become so intimidated and so fearful because we are scorned in what we believe and what we are going to say. But let me try and give them the benefit of the doubt for a moment.

Why is a Christian scorned? Why is it that if you were to stand in the street corner tonight or in some audience that is going to give you a hearing and say to them something like this, the ultimate answer in life is not political. The ultimate answer in life is not governmental. The ultimate answer in life is not educational, sociological, psychological or philosophical.

The ultimate answer in life is the fact that your heart is rebelling against God and Jesus Christ is the only one who can transform you. How will an audience respond to that? Many will scorn if for no other reason than for this because our message by definition and proposition is exclusive.

We have no other door and option to give to them. There is no other name given under heaven whereby we must be saved than the name of Jesus Christ. And when people hear that, the response is one of scorn because of our exclusive claim. Now, if I were to stand up in many, many audiences and say Jesus Christ is one of the options amongst many other options, most of the scorners will stop scorning us.

Am I not right? Preaching in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I'd finished preaching to a large audience and that night the wife of the man who had written the national anthem in Cambodia had come to Jesus Christ. And after this large audience had responded, the year was 1974, I'd finished preaching through my interpreter and then a young army major who was my interpreter asked me to be seated. He was now going to say something to them. And for about 20 minutes he talked and he became loud. He became emotional and he was obviously saying something that had a lot of pathos in it. And I noticed that as he kept talking, some people were getting up and walking away. And at one point I said, I don't understand the language, but I sure wish he wouldn't ruin what has already been done. I don't know what he's saying that is getting some people to get up and walk away.

And after that evening was over and he was driving me back, I finally dared to ask him. I said, brother, what was it you were doing after the sermon was over? He said, Ravi, most of these people come from a different religion and he named it for me. And he said, the problem with preaching in Cambodia is after you finish the message, many of them add what you have said to what they already believe. And all I was trying to tell them was be sure before you leave tonight that you are not only receiving Christ, but you're willing to reject everything that's contrary to him. And he lost part of his audience. It was only a few days later I sat talking to a Buddhist priest by the name of Bhangtan, 18 years of Buddhist priest in the monastery there.

And late and late and late into the night we talked. And the hardest decision that he faced was the fact that for him to give a cent to Christ was to repudiate the faith of his fathers and the faith of many in his nation and so on. And we must try to understand that one of the reasons we are scorned is because of the exclusiveness of the gospel. But when our people have understood it, they will only have understood it if they know that the claim is exclusive. There is no compromise. We have to say it lovingly.

We have to say it gently. But truth, by definition, cannot include everything. If it includes everything, there's no such thing as falsehood. If there's no such thing as falsehood, there's no such thing as truth. One of India's most famous philosophers, Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, who once upon a time became the president of India and prior to becoming India's president held the chair of Eastern philosophies at Oxford for many years. Dr. Radhakrishnan said this about his own belief in Hinduism and he said, the only thing that scares me about my belief is this, the arms of my religion have been opened so wide that they are trying to absorb everything which could ultimately result in its own strangulation.

The arms have been opened so wide that they are trying to absorb everything which will ultimately result in its own strangulation. We cannot absorb contrary views. Jesus claimed to be the way and let us believe him to have been stating the truth. One reason we are scorned is our exclusiveness. Second reason we are scorned is because we see the unseen.

Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness. How many times I've been at meetings where somebody will stand up and talk about a financial bankruptcy or he will talk about a debilitation in his body, or he will talk about the loss of a loved one. I remember being at one meeting where a man's 10 year old girl was run over by her neighbor's car and just literally completely mangled and died before their eyes. So horrible was the mutilation.

Nobody even dare lift up the vehicle that had done the damage. And yet the same man bitter initially. And yet as he began to commune with God and as the tears were washing away, some of the grief said that he was the stronger and the better and the more devoted to God through that experience. The unbelieving man doesn't understand this. He has seen the unseen like the Bible talks about Moses. He saw him who is invisible.

What it really means is he perceived the reality of that which is not sensible by our mere transitory senses. We are scorned because of exclusiveness. We are scorned because we see the unseen. We are scorned because we challenge the sovereignty of man. Moses before Pharaoh, John the Baptist before the rulers of his day, Jesus before Pilate. And you go on and on and on and we point the finger against those who claim sovereignty against God and as a result we get our scorning. And lastly we are scorned because we claim to have a morality that transcends this world. So Mary talks about being a virgin and conceived in her womb of the Holy Spirit is Jesus Christ and to the unbelieving man it has become the joke of the jokester, the pun of the punster, the mockery of the comedian and yet to you and me it is one of the most treasured truths of the Bible that she was overshadowed by God. Look at all of this and look at Nehemiah.

Why was he scorned? If I forget the Jerusalem let my right hand forget to do her cunning. Jerusalem, O king, is the holy city. I want to have walls for it.

She's an exclusive land. He was scorned because he saw the wall even before it was built. They said look after you build it a fox will jump over it and knock it over and on and on but he saw the wall before it was built in his mind's eye and in 52 days he had built it. They scorned him before he completed it. He was scorned because he challenged the sovereignty of man and said to the Persian monarch, O king, how can I live in your palace comfortably so long as the walls of my father's city lies in ruins?

Please let me go back. He went there claiming a higher morality seeking to serve the God of heaven. Time and again Nehemiah refers to God not as God but the God of heaven, the God of heaven, the God of heaven. They scorned him and you and I will face scorn from an unbelieving world. There is a second kind of an opposition he faced.

He faced the opposition of force. There are people who have tried through the use of the sword to do away with the gospel. Islam tried it. Islam in nearly 100 years tried to wipe off Christianity of the face of the earth. Its story is written in history.

It is true. Marxist regimes have tried it. It has not worked. Russia has tried to smother it so much it has not succeeded. China tried to smother it. It has not succeeded. Vietnam is trying to smother it. It is not succeeding. Burma tried to smother it.

It has not succeeded. And there are many, many parts of the world where the blade has been used in order to do away with the gospel. 1971, at the age of 25, a young single man, I was doing my first overseas meetings. The city was Bamithot, just very close to the demilitarized zone. And I remember sitting there at night after the meetings watching an amber colored sky with the firepower in the air, so often driving past highways where dead bodies was strewn after having walked on mines.

It was a young life trying to handle a nation at war. And I remember the first day I arrived there, I asked if I could walk over to the graves of missionaries. And I forget the exact number, but there near a pile of rubbish was a gently marked off grave with chains around it and green and white stone, if I remember. And carved on stone were the names of these five or six missionaries of the Christian and missionary alliance who had been brutally murdered. I think the year was 1968 as the Viet Cong marched in and did away with them callously, brutally, and without any consideration of dignity for human life.

We lost them to the atrocities of men. But we don't just talk anymore about an eight Saint, about these missionaries who died in 68. A few years ago, I was going into Cambodia to preach and a tall lanky fellow who was my classmate in my undergraduate goes Fiji, a Dutchman.

He worked for Overseas Missionary Fellowship. He and I had graduated and became very, very close, very close as buddies. As a matter of fact, the day we graduated, four of us young men and our fiancés at that time held hands and we prayed. And one of the promises we made that each of us would pray for the other three every day of our lives goes became a very dear friend of mine. He and his wife, Colleen, were the first guests in our home after Margie and I were married.

1974, going into Cambodia, I wanted to tell Coase I was going to be in Thailand for just one night, but he lived so far away from Bangkok, I didn't want to trouble him. And lo and behold, as I walked outside the glass doors in Bangkok here overnighting in Bangkok, this tall lanky figure of Coase stands there and he grins and he says, you thought you'd get away without seeing me, didn't you? We checked into a hotel that night and Coase lay in that bed next to me, hands behind his head. And he talked to, he was an unusually godly man. One of those rare individuals whom you get to know, who you know is made of extraordinary stuff.

And really, the other three of us were not made of the caliber Coase was, and I don't say that with any false sense of humility or anything like that. He was truly an extremely dedicated man. Before I left that night, we lay all night in bed as we were talking and then he said to me, Ravi, please pray for me. He said, I've always been bold and I'm fighting against my own personality and I'm being threatened by some Thai young people that they're going to do away with me if I continue to preach.

That was 74. Every time his prayer letter would come, he'd jot a note down to me at the bottom saying, please pray for me. My life is in jeopardy. When we were in Nyack about three years ago, a letter came from him, please pray for me.

My life is in jeopardy, but God's doing great things and Satan is trying to resist. He and I were of identical age, I believe, in the same mail in which we got a letter from Coase in Thailand asking us to pray for him was a letter from OMF in Toronto, Canada in memoriam with the picture of Coase Fiji in the center of the page. He'd finished preaching at a prayer meeting, walked out, a young man with a gun in his hand filled his face full of bullets and killed him. And you always think martyrs are made of decades ago or somebody whose age seems twice as yours.

You don't think of the man who sat next to you in a classroom taking notes and systematic theology and evangelism and world religions suddenly being done away with. And the fascinating thing to me about Coase's life is immediately after they killed him, his wife was so deeply hurt when the message came, she did not even want to go and recognize the body. She was so confused by this young children. I believe they had three young children, one a baby in arms. His brother Bill went over to see the spot and recognize his brother's body and identify it.

And today in the same city where Coase was murdered, his brother Bill Fiji is a missionary. Scorn, they can't knock it off. Force, they can't knock it off, which leaves them with just one option.

And that is more satanic than all the others. Nehemiah faced the scorn. He faced the force. And then the one thing that he found the greatest difficulty was internal scheming, scheming from his own people. If you read chapter four, you will see the details of it. One of his own men had teamed up with one of the enemies and tried to lure Nehemiah into a secluded setting to lure him into a lonely spot and do away with him.

Nehemiah refused to go, but it crushed Nehemiah's heart when he found out that one of his close supporters was scheming in order to do away with the task. I'd just like to leave with you one or two of these thoughts in this area. As a man who is now working in a sense in an organization seeking to challenge the thinkers and the successful of this world, there are few people who have been a greater encouragement to me than the men and women who stand on our board and our council of reference. 80 of them will be coming to Atlanta to gather around us, only to express their love to my wife and to myself, to spend a weekend as we pray together, as we rehearse together, as we share our love with each other. And it is one of the grandest experiences of my life as I say to you, to know that there are people who love us and stand with us and we desperately need that as we try to serve him together. Your pastor has said to me two times in the last 24 hours, you don't know what a privilege it is for me to be leading a people such as these at Manor Brethren in Christ.

May it always be that kind of a relationship. I have been in churches where people have betrayed one another, where the infighting becomes like a cancer and there's always a broken heart and sometimes the ones whose hearts are broken most are the young children who do not understand the political ramifications of religious convictions. Stand firm together brethren, let there be no scheming. If ever you have something against somebody, go to that person, don't go behind that person's back. Listen to what Sid Lobeckster says, it seems an awful thing to say yet it is true that there are betrayers like Shemaiah and Noah Dyer in most Christian congregations today. Men and women who have professed conversion to Christ who share in the fellowship and labors of the saints who nevertheless seem to find cruel pleasure in the fall of a Christian leader. To his face they are friendly, fussy, saintly but behind his back they are mischief makers.

They profess loyalty and concern yet if he slips or falls they love to gossip it among the brethren and talk it around the town. Oh what heart pangs such disloyal brethren give to the Christian ministers, pastors, superintendents and leaders, they are Tobias Quislings, Satan's fifth columnists. With that striking quote from Sid Lobeckster, we conclude the first part of Ravi Zacharias' message, Is There Not a Cost? Are you facing any opposition to your faith?

Although Nehemiah faced evil words and actions, his story can be an encouragement as you face the challenges of today. If you would like to order a complete copy of this message, call us at 1-800-448-6766 and ask for Is There Not a Cost? Our number again is 1-800-448-6766. You can also order online at rzim.org or rzim.ca for those in Canada. You can also email us at rzim at rzim.org or write to our headquarters office in the US at rzim p.o.

box 1820, Roswell, Georgia, 30077. Suffering, God's silence, the existence of truth. Those are just a few of the topics covered in RZIM's Just Thinking magazine. Editor, Danielle Durant. I'm often encouraged by letters we receive regarding just thinking.

You never know what one sentence can do in the life of an individual. We've gotten a number of letters from those who are outside of Christianity, but they found something intriguing in just thinking and said, I want to read more. Sign up for email delivery of Just Thinking at rzim.org. Let My People Think is a listener-supported radio ministry and is furnished by RZIM in Atlanta, Georgia.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-29 15:09:33 / 2024-01-29 15:19:36 / 10

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