When the Dust Settles

Christians don’t have only statements and creeds on which to stand. We stand on holy ground, before a holy God. And as Moses, Daniel, Mary, Zechariah, Elizabeth, and countless others have discovered, it is a place of both awe and intimacy before the very One who describes and makes sense of all reality.

I would like to begin by telling a story about an event that took place some years ago when I was beginning my studies, an event that has had a major impact on my life and my approach to engaging others to this day. I had a neighbor who was deeply committed to a version of the New Age movement. He and I had many conversations about God in the course of several months. He was a highly educated man with a couple of PhDs to his name, and so he provided me with an opportunity to test my training. But the training I was receiving in apologetics was good, and I soon realized that I could not only answer the questions he was asking about my faith in God, I could also poke holes in his worldview in a way that forced him to check books out of the local library to try and put his worldview back together. And I was feeling very good about myself. I was actually getting it!

Finally I decided to challenge him to consider giving his life to Christ. His reaction surprised me. He did not seem to care at all about what I was telling him. So I said to him, “Can you please explain to me what is going on? You don’t seem to care about what I am telling you.” His answer was even more baffling to me. He said to me, “Listening to you asking me to become a Christian is like listening to a naturalist asking me to become a naturalist.”

I said to him, “What in the world do you mean? I just asked you to consider giving your life to the God who created you, and you are accusing me of being an atheist? What do you mean?”

He said to me, “All you Christians have are statements and creeds. You think that if people accept those statements and creeds, everything will be okay. When I pray, I get in touch with powers that you know nothing about.”

And that was one of the most convicting things anyone has ever said to me. Because what this man was saying to me was essentially this: “Yes, you can say a lot of very convincing things about your faith, but does your faith really rise beyond well-argued propositions?”

In his book Beyond Opinion, Ravi Zacharias says that the greatest obstacle to the reception of the gospel is not its inability to provide answers; rather, it is the failure on the part of Christians to live it out. J.I. Packer writes similarly in his classic book entitled Knowing God:

From current Christian publications you might think that the most vital issue for any real or would-be Christian in the world today is church union, or social witness, or dialogue with other Christians and other faiths, or refuting this or that -ism, or developing a Christian philosophy and culture…. [It] is tragic that … so many in our day seem to have been distracted from what was, is, and always will be the true priority for every human being—that is, learning to know God in Christ.1

Whatever your position of faith, it is helpful to occasionally step back and ask a similar question of priority. Whatever your calling in life, what is the ultimate goal of all that you do? As Jesus wisely observed, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).

Indeed, the Bible addresses this question in many places, in both the Old and New Testaments, but none so much as in the person of Christ himself. If there is a message we hear loudest in his coming to earth it is this: the primary call of God is to know God, to be near God, not to argue on God’s behalf. The end is knowing God. Even the Scriptures were given to us as a means to that end. For when all is said and done, when the dust settles, it is the eternally incarnate Son of God who lies behind the hauntingly inescapable question, “Who do you say that I am?” It is a question each of us must answer, with our words and with our lives. There is no neutral ground.

No, Christians don’t have only statements and creeds on which to stand. We stand on holy ground, before a holy God. And as Moses, Daniel, Mary, Zechariah, Elizabeth, and countless others have discovered, it is a place of both awe and intimacy before the very One who describes and makes sense of all reality. How wonderful it is when the curtain is pulled back, and we see God for who God truly is, and we are able to say with Peter, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

 

John Njoroge is a member of the speaking team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

1J.I. Packer, Knowing God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 279.

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A Powerful Apologetic Method: ABDUCTIVE Reasoning!

"What in the world is 'Abductive Reasoing'?" Well, abductive reasoning is employed by crime scene detectives, car mechanics, and your medical doctor.  Abductive reasoning is when you look at all the known facts, and seek to form the best explanation to explain the data.  Abductive reasoning seeks to find the "inference to the best explanation" for the known facts.   

This is a vital way of thinking and investigating that all serious Christians should be engaged in....

 - Pastor J. 

Engaging the Happy Thinking Pagan

Do you know people who are very content with life without bothering about the question of God?

 Ravi Zacharias sat down with Danielle DuRant to discuss the idea of the “happy thinking pagan.” To hear the interview, go to 

Just Thinking Broadcast Archive

Danielle DuRant: You’ve spoken about the “happy thinking pagan.” What do you mean by this phrase?

Ravi Zacharias :I think the first time I heard that term was about three decades ago. It was from Os Guinness and he talked about the fact that this was the emerging new way of thinking. That is, “I don’t believe anything but I’m very happy. What does it matter?” And of course, it was also along the time of slogans such as “If it feels good, do it” and “Don’t worry, be happy.” Then the whole question came up about what does the so-called happy pagan actually believe, and it was borderline radical skepticism: not really taking any view of the transcendent seriously but just the pursuit of happiness, raw and unbridled. This sometimes moved into radical hedonism, other times just to contentment. So I mean people who are very content with life without bothering about the question of God.

DD: Philosopher Peter Kreeft argues that “the most serious challenge for Christianity today isn’t one of the other great religions of the world, such as Islam or Buddhism.” Rather, it is paganism, which he defines as “the religion of man as the new God.” Would you agree with him?

RZ: Partly. I don’t think I’d agree with him completely though Kreeft is a much wiser man and a better informed man than I am. I suppose I would wonder what he means by that in the pervasive sense of a belief system. Yes, paganism can be especially daunting with the revival of certain types of Gnosticism and mysticism. Yes, the numbers in the West are growing, but in terms of a threat to stability and freedom, I don’t think that’s the greatest threat we face. I think the whole Islamic worldview has a real challenge and I’ll tell you why. It has a challenge because it is comprehensive. It is political. It has a moral theory. It has a cultural theory. It has a financial theory. So I think in its core the Islamic worldview would pose a greater challenge to the life and the lifestyle of the Western worldview because in the Western worldview you are given the freedom to believe and disbelieve. It’s not always true in Islamic nations. So I would say in terms of the freedom of these things, the greater challenge to the world right now is coming from that worldview, but in terms of the pervasiveness of belief systems, paganism is certainly a daunting one. I don’t think it’s as fearsome but it is real.

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