The Tragedy of Ravi Zacharias

It’s the question that many Christians are asking right now. Is Ravi Zacharias in heaven?

Ravi Zacharias was a brilliant apologist. If you’ve seen his debates, read his books, or read his articles you would know that Ravi was brilliant. Thousands of people came faith in Christ through Ravi’s ministry. And many Christians relied upon Ravi’s speeches and materials to help them answer tough questions about their faith and how to defend the faith against its detractors. Ravi was not like the prosperity preachers we see today, taking millions in personal income through bad theology. Ravi wasn’t a prosperity guy. And his theology wasn’t bad. But, he did lead a double life.

So, knowing that Ravi had a major problem with sexual sin, and victimized so many women, would it be safe to say that he wasn’t really a Christian? I don’t know. This is a really hard case. Jesus said, “Every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit” (Matthew 7:17). But Ravi had good fruit in his ministry. Actually, he had fantastic fruit. He was one of the most gifted apologist in history. But then he lead a secret life of sin and deception. So how are we to judge these things? At this point, I’m not really sure. The whole thing is just so tragic. Was he a wolf in sheep’s clothing? Some people seem to think so. But I don’t know.

Could it be that he was just a Christian who loved the Lord but he had an extreme struggle in this area of sexual sin in his life? How many of us have done things that we keep secret out of embarrassment and shame, yet we move forward with our lives always repenting, then falling, then repenting, then falling. Thank goodness my salvation is based on God’s grace and not my successes or failures.

Many pastors have fallen into sexual sin and worse. But we don’t think that they are not Christians just because they fell. Even those who fall repeatedly. It’s just that they struggled greatly in overcoming a specific sin problem. Which applies to Ravi? I just don’t know. First Corinthians 4:5 says,

“Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.” 

I think this is one of those things where we have to give somebody the benefit of the doubt as regards their salvation if not their sanctification. But we must acknowledge how bad their sin was.

As for the women who waited to come out, I tend to believe them. They might have been afraid to come forward. And that’s something we should always take into account. Their lateness of coming forward doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re lying or should not be heard it just means that they were late in coming out and they should’ve done it earlier. One woman did come out early on. But Ravi’s Board of Directors wouldn’t believe her. And so she was stuck until others came forward tragically waiting until after Ravi died.

Ravi’s sin has destroyed his ministry, the ministry that helped so many thousands of people. His fellow apologists, employees, and partners are all in shock. Many associated with his ministry have already removed their partnership from RZIM. His books are being pulled. I’m sure his Youtube videos will disappear soon. That is tragic, because he was such a solid apologist, though in one area of his life, he was as weak as can be.

I have noticed that great men of God are often tempted by great sin and endure great struggle. Their moral failure doesn’t mean they are not going to heaven. David sinned terribly—adultery, murder, abuse of power. Yet, his repentance was a sign that even though he failed, God was gracious to him. 

Ravi failed greatly. If his videos and writings are any indication, I’m willing to bet that he struggled with this sin greatly over and over again. His struggle didn’t mean he wasn’t saved. It meant that he struggled. And being the man he was, I’m also willing to bet he was greatly afraid of the shame that would overcome him if he had been discovered before he died. So, is Ravi Zacharias in heaven? Hoping for the best, solely because of God’s grace, I’m willing to be gracious to him too. But, I just don’t know.

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