Ravi Zacharias and Abdu Murray Open Forum at University of Miami Explore God Miami

[applause] ABDU MURRAY: Well thank you
very much for the warm — the production
and the warm welcome. It’s very much appreciated.
I — you know, I’m Lebanese. So I speak with my hands
and I have to use this microphone today
because of a technical glitch. So you’ll pardon me. I literally am doing
my job with one hand tied in front of my back,
as it were. And if I wave the hands
and gesticulate wildly, that’s just my culture,
but it’s also gonna create a, you know, Doppler
effect a little bit. But hopefully that won’t
happen too much during the course of our time. It’s a pleasure to be
with you talking about a very heavy, very tough
topic in some senses. Because this is
the question upon which all other questions
actually hinge. When we talk about
our origins and the idea that maybe God
exists or doesn’t exist, it informs who you think
you actually are based on the answer
to that question. Is there a God? So and if we think about
this question: Is there a God? I’m reminded of sort
of a lighter story. It’s a story of a guy
who’s walking through a town much like Coral Gables,
by the way. He’s walking through
this nice downtown area. And he goes by a travel
agency, and he sees a sign in the window and it says,
“River cruise. All expenses $100.” He thinks, “That’s a steal.
Is that true?” So he walks into
the place and he says, “River cruise, $100?
Are you serious?” And they said,
“Yeah, all expenses.” He pulls out a crisp $100 bill, puts it on the table, and slides it over.
He says, “Count me in.” And the minute he says that, bonk on the back of his head. Knocked out cold. He wakes up to find
himself floating in a barrel down a river, rubbing his head. And he looks over
and 25 feet away from him and he sees another
guy bobbing down a river, the same barrel,
rubbing his head. He go up to the guy and he says, “Hey, is there a show
on this cruise?” And the other guy says, “Well, there wasn’t last time.” And the idea there
that’s being conveyed is that the second guy
should’ve known better, because he’s already done this. And people often think
of religious belief much like that second guy. He’s under a delusion is
that despite all the evidence, he keeps coming
back to the well, or back to the cruise, trying to figure out
is this really real if he constantly engages
in wishful thinking. In other words,
his beliefs are delusional. We ought to know better. People think oftentimes
people who believe in God think this way. That there’s strong contrary
evidence to belief in God, and yet we keep
going back to Him over and over again, deluded. It was the atheist
Richard Dawkins who wrote in his book “The God Delusion”, “A delusion is a persistent false belief held in the face of strong contradictory evidence, especially as a symptom
of a psychiatric disorder. God is a delusion,
and a pernicious delusion. When one person
suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people
have suffered from it, it is called religion.” That’s a harsh statement. But is belief in God
really like that? What I wanna offer to you today, in the short time before we get into the Q&A
and hear from Ravi, is that there are multiple
lines of evidence to show that God
actually exists. But what I wanna begin
with is the assumption is that when we make the claim that belief in God
is delusional, there’s an inherent assumption
being made by the objection. And the inherent
assumption being made is that human beings
are rational, that we have the capacity
to actually assess evidence, we have the free will to draw our own conclusions, and that those
who do so in favor of God have done so wrongly,
but those who have rejected God have used their higher order brain functions in order to rationally reject the idea that there’s a God. That’s an assumption being made
that we have that capability. But that assumption is challenged when you think about if there is no God, then what is humanity
really all about. Do we have this capacity? Because if we’re just
biochemical machines, sophisticated
biochemical machines, or exceptionally gifted chips, we really don’t have that capacity at all, do we? We just have the ability
to respond to external stimuli. We don’t come
to rational conclusions. We just respond to the stimuli. The way our chemicals
have decided that we’re going to respond, that’s how we respond. We don’t decide based
on rationality and evidence and
observation and inference. You just respond on instinct
or based on chemical reaction. In fact, Francis Crick,
who was the — one of the ones that him
and James Watson discovered the structure of human DNA,
the double human structure, a Nobel laureate, he says
this about how reductionistic, how if there is no God
and essentially all we are is physical,
this is what he says about you and about me
and about himself. “You, your joys and sorrows, your memories, and your ambitions, and your sense of personal identity, and your free will are, in fact, no more than the behavior of a vast assembly
of nerve cells and their associated molecules.” A vast assembly of nerve cells
and their associated molecules. Do you think
of yourself that way? You know, when you think
about the couple who gets together
and they go to the altar and they’re going to vow
to each other to commit their lives together,
do you think that in the back of their mind
they’re thinking — the husband says out loud
to his wife to be, he says, “I, Stan, take you, Carol,
to be my vast assembly of nerve cells
and associated molecules.” [laughter] That’s not how it works.
Or a new born baby. You think, “What a really adorable assembly of nerve cells
and associated molecules.” There’s something
more to us than this that we all recognize it. And by the way, we’ve used
our God-given free will in order to recognize
that rationality, as well. And it was two atheist thinkers,
Thomas Nagel, a philosopher out of New York University,
and Raymond Tallis, a neuroscientist and
an evolutionary biologist, who said that,
in their respective books, that the biologistic or
the purely natural explanation of human consciousness
is found wanting. There is no way to actually explain why human beings are conscious,
have rationality, have morality using
evolution or neuroscience. In other words,
they’re saying this, that though we believe
in evolution and neuroscience, those things are not adequate to explain the kinds
of beings that we are. And what they show in their
books is that they think that there might be,
one day, an explanation. They’re hoping for
an explanation without God. But they admit in their books that no such explanation for why you and I can
actually rationally think is forthcoming without
appealing to God. It is not coming soon,
and it may not come ever. If that’s the case, then why reject the possible hypothesis that there is a God who
endows us with our faculties? You know, when you
think about this, is that the idea that human beings, we are the effect. We did not cause ourselves.
We are the effect. And if we, as the effect,
have a rational mind capable of rational thought
and drawing inferences and all these things, how could it be possible that we, these super intelligent beings, somehow wrote
from non-intelligence, from a blind, pitiless, indifferent universe that neither knows nor cares? It can’t out think us,
yet it can create us? Maybe the reality is that
human beings capable of such leaps of logic
and such boundless creativity are the effect because
the first cause is supreme mind, not a mindless universe. But what do we do
with that mind? We engage in the sciences. And it’s often been the quip
that science has disproven God, or the more scientific
discovery we have, the more and more
they’ll find out that there’s no more
room for God. We’ve filled in
the gaps of our knowledge. We don’t need God
to explain things anymore. And, you know, He can leave
the room, thank you very much. This is a common view
that science is disproving God. But the reality
is that they’ve just shown the very endeavor of science itself isn’t even possible unless there’s
a being who infused us with the ability to be rational. We simply can’t engage
in any of the process in the [inaudible 00:08:11] enterprise. And so isn’t it ironic that
those who claim that science disproves God are actually
using the very method that the pantheon
gods’ existence to disprove His existence?
And what do we do? We think to ourselves that maybe the Bible or Christian belief sort of discourages
scientific discovery, when the reality
is that it encourages it. When you look at the Bible,
you see this interesting phrase. There’s this interesting
passage in Proverbs 25:2. I love this passage of scripture
because it actually highlights the way the Bible actually encourages scientific discovery. The Bible says, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter. It is the glory of kings
to seek things out.” It is the glory of God
to conceal the matter. It is the glory of kings
to seek things out. In other words, God doesn’t conceal things from us so that we’ll never discover it. God conceals things
from us so that we engage in the process of discovery
and then have the delight of getting it.
You had it. [applause] ABDU: You’ve had
that experience where you’ve worked on something difficult and suddenly it just snaps in your mind. And that elation is amazing, that the light
you have is amazing. That’s a gift
that God gives to us. I remember long ago
when my son — all three of my kids are here. My wife is here as well. And back when my son
was our only child, he showed an affinity
for letters and numbers. And like a very good
overzealous first time father, I went overboard and bought him every single toy having to do with
letters and numbers. So I bought him this thing.
It’s a laptop. It’s not really a laptop. It’s one of those
Speak & Spells that looks like a laptop to fool a kid into thinking he’s got a computer. And he’s sitting there
playing on his laptop, or his Speak & Spell. And my wife and I are talking, at the kitchen table and he suddenly said a word. I believe the word was fat.
He said fat. I look at the screen
and sure enough, F-A-T is on the screen.
I’m like, “Oh my goodness. My son just read something.” So I hit the next word button
and he reads the next word, cat. He reads that. Then he reads rat
and all these words. But I’m hitting the button
as fast as possible so he can read
as fast as possible. He is squealing in delight
over the discovery. I can guarantee you,
of the two of us, I was far more
delighted than he was. Because that is
what this picture is painting in Proverbs 25,
is that God delights in your delight of discovery. And so far from
being a science stopper or a science discourager,
the Bible actually tells us that God conceals things
to impel us to fulfill our God-given sense
of wonder and curiosity. And what do we do with that? What have we done
with the scientific impulse we have within us?
The desire to explore. We’ve discovered three things. Well at least
two things scientifically, one thing historically. That as He’d give us
the signals of transcendence, to quote Peter Berger,
the signals using the physical realm
of the transcendent, the one who made
the physical realm. The first thing we discovered
is that there is evidence of God’s divine power. Now the standard
model for the creation of the universe, the standard Big Bang cosmology tells us that
the universe had a beginning. For a long time, scientists thought the universe had no beginning,
it was eternal, but then it was
discovered some time ago, through Einstein and
a lot of different theories, that essentially the universe has a beginning. All matter, energy, space,
and time began to exist at a finite point in the past. Now this is interesting,
because it sprang from literally nothing. There was no things
there to cause it to exist. Yet matter, all matter,
all energy, all space, and all time began to exist. Now what can cause
all matter, energy, space, and time to exist
when there was nothing? A being who is immaterial,
who has more power than all the energy
put together in the universe, a spaceless being,
and a timeless being. What does that sound like? That sounds vaguely familiar,
or maybe eerily familiar. It sounds like
a being who transcends this physical universe. And that is evidence
of God’s divine power. But then we go and we see
that in this universe that was created,
when matter, energy, space, and time were created,
they were organized, and choices were made,
which shows you that there is evidence
of a divine mind. When you look at our planet, we’re able to call it the Goldilock zone,
a habitable zone where we’re just far enough but
not too far away from our sun. And our sun happens to be
just the right kind of sun to allow life
to exist on this planet. We have a gas giant, Jupiter, within our solar system that pulls us away from that
sun so we’re not too close, but isn’t so strong
that it pulls us too far away from that sun,
so we’re not too cold. And because we have all
the liquid water we have, just the right amount of liquid water, life is possible. And there’s hydrogen and oxygen and all these nitrogen and various compounds
within the atmosphere that allow life
to exist on this planet. It’s a just so planet. The conditions
are right for life. Again, Francis Crick,
not a Christian, not even close,
makes this statement. He says, “An honest man,
armed with all the knowledge available to us now,
could only state that in some sense
the origin of life appears, at the moment,
to be almost a miracle. So many other conditions
which would have had to been satisfied
to get it going.” Almost a miracle. I’m not sure what
qualifies as a miracle if this is almost a miracle.
But there you have it. The conditions are there. In other words,
it looks like choices were made with the universe. The powerful being has a powerful mind and devised things in such a way that
life could exist. When you look at the biochemical
makeup of DNA and the way this 3.1 billion bits
of information specified in its complexity
to perform a function — it’s not just complex.
Complex does not mean design. It’s specified
in its complexity. In other words,
it’s complex and has a function. I’ll give you an example. Suppose I had a box
of alphabet cereal in my hands and I threw that box
up in the air, and all the alphabet
cereal landed on the floor. There would be a very complex array of different letters. They wouldn’t
really say anything, but it’d be a very
complex array of letters. If I threw that box up
in the air millions and millions of times more,
I would never duplicate the exact array of letters
that fell on the ground. It’s complex.
But it’s not design. But if I threw
that box up in the air and the letters landed and part of them spelled out this — Good morning, Abdu. Hope you’re enjoying
your breakfast — you’d think something was up. [laughter] There was a mind behind it. DNA is 3.1 billion bits
of information strung together to create a human being. How is it that it could be
a mindless accident? But then we look
and we see also, in the structure
of living things, we see information. Not just in
the underlying blueprint but in the actual
macrostructure of the way living things actually work. There’s a field of study in
engineering called biomimetics, where our finest engineering minds solve modern day engineering problems
by looking to the way animals actually function. They look and try
to solve aerospace and aeronautical problems
by looking at the wings of birds or the wings of bees. They look at the microscopic tiny little motors that are underlying
the flagellum of single-celled animals
and seeing how those things navigate themselves in
the fluids in which they live. Here’s my point on this. It’s that if our finest engineering minds draw inspiration from nature,
then how is it possible that nature is a result
of a mindless accident? And the Bible says something about this specifically. [applause] ABDU: You look at the book
of Job and you see these words in Job 12:7-9. “But ask the beasts
and they will teach you, the birds of the heavens
and they will tell you, or the bushes of the earth
and they will teach you, and the fishes of the sea
will declare to you. Who among all these does
not know that the hands of the Lord has done this?” We look at nature
to get our design ideas. Thousands of years ago,
the Bible said we would be doing that.
And here we are. Because a divine mind
has set this in motion. You see evidence
of God’s divine power in the creation of the universe. We see evidence of God’s
divine mind in the choices He’s made to create life. But then we see evidence
of God’s divine heart in the way in which
life is created. So I’m from Michigan, and we escaped Michigan yesterday, and it is currently blanketed
in a thick layer of snow. So I have a lot of sweaters. You’re in Miami. You probably
don’t own one sweater. I have a lot of sweaters. But I have one particular sweater in my home that is my prized
possession in my home. But it’s a useless sweater because it won’t even fit on my right hand. It’s this little purple
sweater that my mother was knitting when her belly
was swollen with me. When she was pregnant,
she knitted this little purple sweater
to bring me home from the hospital
in that sweater. I brought home all
my kids from the hospital in that same sweater. Aw. [applause] ABDU: Now when
I say that word knit, what image pops in your mind? Something like this. Something intimate. Something soft
but also designed. You think of this —
my mother did that from a template,
a design template. But she did it and she knit it together in an intimate way, thinking with
every one of the — whatever you do when you knit. When she was doing that,
she thought, “My boy. My son, Abdu.”
It was intimate. See, the Bible
doesn’t say you were built. It doesn’t say
you were constructed. It doesn’t say
you were designed. Psalms 139 says,
“You were knit together in your mother’s womb. You were fearfully
and wonderfully made.” [applause] ABDU: Let me bring
this down to a close. One last bit of line
of evidence for you. We see evidence
of God’s divine power in the creation of the universe. We see evidence for God’s
divine mind in the choices He’s made to create life. We see a hint of God’s
divine care and compassion in the way
He’s knit us together. But I would say this. It’s that the evidence
for God’s character and what He thinks of you and
of me comes not from science. It comes from history.
It comes from history. You know, a friend
of mine who is an atheist, we sat together
at dinner and he wondered. He said, “How can I possibly believe that this God thing you believe in is good
or values my mother when He let her die
when I was a young kid? I was ten years old
and He let her die. How can you tell me about
the good God who values? How can you do this?”
It was an honest question. It was a good question.
It was the right question. What do you do at that moment? Do you go into sort
of a logistic thing and talk about biology
and all these things? Or do you pray, like I did, and offer him something
that was relevant? You see, 28 years of atheism hadn’t given him an answer to his mother’s death
because Richard Dawkins would say, “It is
a meaningless tragedy.” It’s a direct quote
from Richard Dawkins, that this world is full
of meaningless tragedies. Lawrence Krauss would say that, “Your mother is just a bit of cosmic pollution and we,
as a collective human species, are completely irrelevant. So her death and her life essentially have no meaning.” So I asked him this question. How do you know
how valuable anything is? My friends,
that little purple sweater is extremely valuable to me. If there was a fire in my house,
I’m getting my wife and my kids, and we’re getting out of there. And that sweater will burn
because I’m not going to make my children fatherless over it. But if my kids are
in there and they’re trapped, or my wife is in there
and can’t get out, you better believe
I will risk everything I have to get them out. You know how valuable
something is by what you’re willing to pay for it. And a mindless, blind,
pitiless, indifferent universe never pays for you and for me. But the God of the universe paid
an infinite price on the cross to spent an infinite
eternity with all of us. [applause] ABDU: So there’s the signal
who this God actually is. So you can look
at the universe and say, “There is a God,”
or look at life and say, “There is a God.” But now the question
becomes: Which? Which God? I did not come from
a Christian background. But when I looked at
the evidence that I saw, that the God of the Bible described not only in the words of the Bible but in the actual reality of history, as a self-sacrificial God who dies on the cross to pay
a debt that I owe — you see, you and I
were made in God’s image. We have separated ourselves
from His relationship with us because He created us to be
in a relationship with Him. We rejected that relationship because we didn’t
wanna be with Him. We wanted to be Him. And then a debt was incurred, much like a criminal
owes a debt to society. But we can’t pay that debt
and not be separated from God. And so what Jesus does, God sends the one who is perfect. His son, who is God incarnate, and He has no debts of His own to pay
because He’s perfect. So He can pay your and my debts. Now if He died and stayed dead, you have no reason
to believe Him. But if He died
and rose from the dead, you have every reason
to believe Him. I can tell you this. Time does not permit me to go into the evidence right now. Maybe we’ll do it during Q&A. Who knows? But there is spectacular
evidence that Jesus rose from the dead,
not as a matter of mere hope, but as a matter of history
that undergirds the hope. And because of that reality,
you and I can know not just that God is powerful, not just that God has a mind, but that God has a heart
and He cares for you and for me, and His imprint is on
every corner of the creation. It was the poet Joseph Plunkett who said these words. [applause] The Irish poet Joseph
Plunkett puts it so beautifully when he sees the indelible
mark of God in all of creation. He says, “I see
His blood upon the rose, and in the stars
the glory in His eyes. His body glows in eternal snows.
His tears fall from the skies. I see His face in every flower. The thunder in the singing
of the birds are but His voice. And carven by His power,
rocks are His written word. All pathways
by His feet are warm. His stirring heart beats
the ever beating seas. His crown is woven
with every thorn. His cross is every tree.” My friends, I would urge you
to think about — there’s no way
to exhaust the evidence I could possibly give for God
in 20 or so minutes tonight. But I urge you to think
about if you value yourself as more than
an assembly of nerve cells and associated molecules,
if you see yourself in that way, there’s
a justification for why. And it isn’t because of biology, as valuable as it is. It’s because of the one
who made biology possible. Thank you so much.
We’ll hear from Ravi. [applause] [applause] RAVI ZACHARIAS: What a very
pleasant good evening to you. We’re delighted
that you’re here. And after listening to Abdu,
I don’t think I have anything left to say. He has said it —
Wherever you are, due thanks very much,
well pulled together. But the whole idea
of is there a God. The fact of the matter is,
that question defines everything else about you
in the way you answer it. Many years ago, there was
a 52-volume series written by Encyclopedia Britannica,
and it was called “The Great Books
of the Western World.” And the first 50 volumes
are various authors, all the way from
Plato and Socrates and Augustine
and Gibbon and so on. And then two volumes
are called “A Syntopicon.” That is really
the conjoining of two words, a synthesis of topics. And the way
it works is like this. When you take
the first 50 volumes, you’ve got great authors who’ve
commented on great themes. It’d be something
like history, law, war, philosophy, ethics. And then at the end
of each of those major essays, there are pages of footnotes. For example, if you wanna know what Plato said about law, it’ll tell you exactly
where he said it in the closing pages of that particular essay on law. And the fascinating
thing is this. In the Syntopicon,
you can look at any subject you want to that
has been addressed in “The Great Books
of the Western World.” And if you want
to know what Augustine said about such and such,
you would turn to volume 18 and see what Augustine said
on this particular theme. It was a beautifully
put together set. The editor in chief
was a lawyer by the name of Mortimer Adler. And years ago, the talk
show host Larry King was interviewing Mortimer Adler. And he said this to Adler. He said, “Professor,”
he said, “I noticed in all of the great themes
that are covered there, the longest chapter is on God. How do you explain that? The longest chapter of all
of these great themes addressed by the great western minds,
the longest chapter is on God. How did that happen?” And Adler put it
in a very simple way. He said, “Because, Larry,
more questions for your life fall from that one issue
than any other issue you can think of.” The logical entailments,
the rational inferences, the choices that you make,
how you make the determination of your ethics,
even to the point of the person you marry,
the way you spend your money, what you do with your taxes,
how you answer questions in a court of law,
all of these things are directly related to
your belief or disbelief in God. The consequences of your life follow enormously from this particular issue. And so I say to you,
when we are dealing with this question
“is there a God?” you have either explicitly
or implicitly already answered that question,
or you’re struggling in your life to find an answer to that question, because you know the entailments
and the logical outworkings of what your answer
really will have you do. And so this question
is an all-defining, all-encompassing question
for life and destiny. And so what I wanna do is,
in the little time that I have, is do this in a rather
convoluted way. We Indians are very
confusing thinkers. We don’t make
things very simple. But I wanna do this with you
and put it in this way. There are four answers in life
that we give when we are asked a particular question,
to which the only question that justifies those answers
is the same question which will also tell you
why Jesus Christ is the only way to God.
Let me repeat that for you. We give answers
to certain questions, and those answers hinge upon
the legitimacy of that question. And those questions only
are legitimate if the answer is also as legitimate
in why Jesus Christ is the answer to life itself. And I’ll try
and sustain this for you, as difficult
a challenge as it may be. For example, the problem
of evil, the problem of pain, the problem of suffering. You know, I can’t imagine
a conference of border collies gathering together
on a doggie convention saying, “We’ve been struggling
with this issue of pain. Why do we, as dogs,
suffer so much?” You don’t hear of animals having conferences in that way. But when we ask questions,
the questions that we ask invariably assume
certain things. And I am going
to demonstrate for you how those assumptions
are only legitimate if you also make the assumption that Jesus Christ is the only answer
to those questions. It’s a very difficult
way to get to the answer, but I’m gonna try
and do that as best as I can. The first question
we raise is on the reality and the mystery of evil. We truly do not know how to explain what evil is all about. We use the term. We try and describe
people as evil, but we are not quite
sure what we exactly mean. When President Reagan
was leading this nation, he described the Russian Empire as sort of an evil empire in what they had done
in the building of the world. And if you listen
to the speakers in Iran, they define America as an evil kingdom or an evil nation. So we use this term
loosely and freely. We are never quite sure what we
actually mean by the term evil. Is it somebody I don’t like
or is there an objective point of reference
that defines for me the difference between
what is essentially good and what is essentially evil? There was an article
written some years ago in the New York Times
by a man called Benedict Carey. And the article is titled this: “For the Worst of Us, the Diagnosis May Actually
Be Defined as Evil.” And then he goes on to say this. “For the worst of us,
the diagnosis may actually be defined as evil. Predatory killers
often do far more than commit merely a murder. Some have lured their victims into homemade chambers for protracted torture. Others have exotic tastes
for vivisection, sexual humiliation, burning. Many performed their
grizzly rituals as much for their pleasure
as for any other reason. Among themselves,
a few forensic scientists have taken now
to thinking of these people as not merely disturbed, but actually
describing them as evil. Evil in that their deliberate, habitual savagery defies any psychological explanation
or attempt at treatment. Most psychiatrists assiduously avoid the word evil, arguing that to use the word evil would precipitate a dangerous slide
from clinical to moral judgment that would put people
on death row unnecessarily and obscure the understanding
of violent criminals. Did you hear that line? Psychiatrists are nervous about
calling a predatory killer evil because just in case you’re wrong about your judgment, you could send them
to a death chamber and that would be what?
Immoral. Evil. So they don’t want to use
the word by telling us that we may actually
end up doing exactly what we are denying
in the usage. Do you follow what
the argument is? They know it would be evil
to unjustly send a man or a woman into
capital punishment, because that would be
the wrong thing to do, and therefore we do not want
to describe anybody as evil, lest we end up
committing evil ourselves. This is how inescapable
the reality of evil actually is. I’ll never forget
an experience I had. People often ask me,
“You know Ravi, how was your life shaped? How did you make the decisions that you did in life?” And I remember as a young
man sitting in my living room, listening to Radio Ceylon, which
is now the country of Sri Lanka, and night after night listening to the English music coming out of there. And I recall one song that
came again and again and again. And it had an eastern chant
to it in the backdrop and was sung by a well-known
singer in the 60s and 70s. His name was Ed Ames.
This is how it went. From the canyons of the mine,
we wander on and stumble blind, wade through the often tangled maze of starless nights and sunless days, hoping for some kind of clue, a road to lead us to the truth. But who will answer? Side by side two people stand,
together vowing hand in hand that love’s embedded
in their hearts. But soon an empty feeling starts to overwhelm their hollow lives. And if they asked
the how’s and whys, who will answer? As high upon a lonely ledge a figure teeters near the edge, while jeering crowds
collect below to egg him on with “Go man, go.” And none will ask
what led him to his private day of doom. And who, and who will answer? As ‘neath the spreading
mushroom tree the world revolves with apathy, while overhead a row
of specks roars on, drowned out by discotheques. And if the secret
button’s pressed because one man
has been out guessed, who will answer? If the soul is darkened
by a fear it cannot name, if the mind is baffled when
the rules don’t fit the game, who will answer?
Who will answer? Who will answer? The thing that fascinated me about this song while I was 15 and 16 years old is that the refrain was not “What is the answer?” The refrain was,
“Who will answer?” Assuming in the land
in which I was raised, of 330 million deities, that one of them
would have the answer. But you realize there are no answers to evil and suffering in pantheistic religions. It’s the law of cause
and effect called karma. You pay your karma and
every birth is a rebirth. There is no explanation
for the origin of evil. But in the 1980s
I was in Poland, and for the first
time I walked through what was known as a death camp. I had been through
concentration camps before. I had never been to a death
camp in Auschwitz. For the first time, the German chancellor Angela Merkel very recently went to Auschwitz, and she was horrified at what she had seen
and stood before the world and apologized for all
that had happened under the Third Reich, under
the leadership of the Nazis. When I walked through
that death camp, I noticed the numbers. They were being eliminated
at the rate of 12,000 every day. I don’t know what
the audience size is here, 7,000-8,000, I don’t know. 12,000 every day. You know how it was done? They were taken
into gas chambers. And I want to read for you Rudolf Hess’s description in his journal
how it was carried out. “I was not properly conscious
of the first gassing of human beings. Perhaps the procedure
as a whole made too much of an impression on me. I remember much better
the gassing of 900 Russians soon afterwards
in the old crematorium, since using block 11 would’ve caused too much trouble. While they were still being unloaded from the trucks, several holes were simply knocked out through the earth and the cement
ceiling of the morgue. The Russians had to undress
in the outer room, and they all went quite
calmly into the morgue, since they had to have
been told actually that they were going
to be deloused in there. The whole transport walked
right into the morgue. The door was locked and the gas
poured in through the openings. How long the killing took,
I do not remember. The hum could be heard
for quite a while, however. When they were thrown in, somebody would
suddenly cry out, “Gas.” And the great roaring began
and the rush of the crowded room to both doors to break it open. But the doors
withstood the pressure. After several hours,
the room was opened and aired out. Then I saw the gassed corpses amass for the first time. But I must be frank. This gassing actually had
a very calming effect on me, since the mass extermination of
the Jews was due to begin soon. And neither Adolf Eichmann
nor myself knew at that time what method of killing could be
used on these expected masses. Now we had discovered the gas and the procedure, as well. And the saddest room
was to walk to pass the room where you’d see
children’s suitcases, children’s toothbrushes, children’s clothes. And I recall standing
and looking at that and saying to myself, How did any human being reach the stage of doing this not just to one,
not just to two, not just to three,
not to 12,000 a day, but in the end,
to millions of them? Evil. It’s called evil.” Some time ago,
when the slaughter was going on in Rwanda,
the world’s leading figure was taken there to see
what was actually happening. And he told the pilot to keep the engine still running, because he didn’t
want to take too long to see what had been going on. And so the engines
were still kept running. This world leader goes,
sees what had happened, tens of thousands
who had been slaughtered, and he walked back
to the plane and he spoke to the press reporters
and he said, “You know what? I didn’t know. I didn’t know all
this was happening.” And the Canadian general
of Nato responded this way. “You didn’t know? You didn’t know
what was happening? I’ve spent my entire
life in Nato, sir, and I know I have known
Nato planes were overhead. And I knew what was happening. I’m haunted now by dreams
by the eyes of thousands and thousands
of Africans, disembodied, staring out of
the African darkness. You can’t just walk away
from something like that saying I didn’t know. You cannot just
Pontias Pilate 800,000 people.” See what’s happened now? It has moved from a positive
act to an absence of acting. And if you take it
right down the funnel, here’s what you will find out. Ultimately, sin is at the heart of the human condition, and that includes you and me. So when we talk about evil
and we ask the question about evil, we cannot really
raise the question about evil without,
at the same time, positing an absolute moral law. And you cannot posit an absolute
moral law without positing an absolute moral law giver. So the reality of evil,
positive and negative, ultimately has to point
to the fact that we have a moral law giver,
and violating that moral law is personal and corporate,
and the Bible calls it sin. That’s the reality. No other worldview will
describe it that way. No other worldview will
describe it that way. So when you raise
the question of evil, you actually end up
positing the reality of God. You may say to me,
“Wait a minute, Ravi. How did you go from
a moral law to a person? How did you arrive
at a moral law giver just by talking
about a moral law?” Here’s the answer
to your question. The answer is pretty straightforward. Every time you raise
the problem of evil, it is either raised
by a person or about a person. It is either raised by
a person or about a person, which means the question assumes
intrinsic worth to personhood, which naturalism cannot afford. Intrinsic worth is only
assumed in a transcendental, personal, moral first cause. You and I have essential
worth before God, both particular and general. And the Judeo-Christian worldview is the only worldview that pays you
the compliment of saying you and I are created imago Dei,
the image of God. No other worldview pays
you that compliment. [applause] RAVI: And so, when you
raise the question of evil, you have to end up
positing the reality of God. Secondly, the question
of justice. One of the news reporters
was asking us before, “Do you find now,
as you travel around, the issues of justice
are raised?” Absolutely. And let me point out to you
millennials out here, you are the ones who raised
that question the loudest, and rightly so. You raised the
questions of justice. And to you, justice
is much broader than just going
into a court of law. To you, justice means having
some sense in which we balance out the reality of how we deal with one another
as human beings. Years ago, during
the Bosnian war, a 14-year-old boy by
the name of Dinya wrote this. “So many people have been
killed fighting for justice, but what justice? Do they even know what
they are fighting for? The weather is
growing colder now. No longer can you hear the singing of birds in my country. Only the sound of children
crying for a lost mother or father or brother or sister. We are now children
without a country. We are children
without any hope.” Aristotle said this:
“Justice, of all the virtues, is thought to be
for another’s good, because it is related
to our neighbor. For it does not do what
is advantageous just to another, either a ruler or a copartner. But the worse man is he who
exercises his wickedness both towards himself
and towards his friend. And the best man is not
he who exercises his virtue towards himself
but he who exercises that virtue also
towards another. For this is a difficult task. Justice of this sense
then is not part of virtue, but virtue in its entirety. Nor is the contrary
injustice a part of vice, but vice in its entirety.” Many years ago, I had
a friend from South Carolina, a man who was a judge. And they said he was tipped
to be in the Supreme Court someday but passed away
quite young. And I remember his wife wrote
to me after Brent McKnight had passed away and said,
“My husband loved you so much. My boys will be graduating
one day from high school. They’ve been listening
to you, growing up, every day on the radio. Would you be willing to come
and speak at their graduation?” So my colleague Sanj
and I went, and I promised that I would speak
at the graduation. And I went and did that
and had a quiet dinner in the family home. And I looked at the three boys. I said, “I wanna
tell you something. There’s one thing
your dad said to me that I’ve never ever forgotten. I asked him what’s
the most difficult thing about being a judge. He said, Ravi, the most difficult thing about being a judge is when you have
to pronounce the law correctly and sentence somebody
who has broken the law, even though your
heart says to you, I don’t feel like doing it.” And Brent McKnight said
to me many a time, “Ravi, I would make my judgment
and watch a man or a woman who was going to face the rest of their life in jail and I’d go back into the back chambers and put my head in my hands and sob and cry
my heart out for what it is I just had to do because
of the power of the law. And justice is
the right thing to do.” Ladies and gentlemen,
we cry out for justice but we had dare not cry out
for justice unless we know the judge
of all the earth and the will that He has
and the moral law on the base of which our laws ought
to be written as well. [applause] So when you raise
the question of evil, you posit the reality of God. When you raise
the question of justice, you posit the reality of God. This brings you
to the third thing, and that is the issue of love. The most beautiful thing
in the world that you and I look for is love. I mean, you’ve heard
the joke, haven’t you? What do you get when you get
a country music song playing backwards? Well you get your pickup
truck back. You get your house back.
You get this back. You get that back. All of country music is on
love and it’s on romance. My wife and I’ve been
married for 47 years. [applause] I know I don’t look it. I just look 25
or something like that. [laughter] But you know what? I’ll never forget
the day I met her. She was 16 and I was 20.
I’d just come from India. She was from Canada. And when I looked at her,
I wasn’t listening much to the sermon that day. I was looking at her
across and I thought, “That’s the one I want to meet.” And strangely enough,
she thought the same thing. And now, after 47 years — in fact, coming up in two or three months will be 48 — as Margie and I have been wed, I want to tell you
two things about love. It’s hard work.
[laughter] It’s hard work. You see, when you put
the ring on that finger, it is a tourniquet
to stop your circulation. [laughter] When you say yes to her,
you’re really saying no to everyone else. Do you realize it’s the greatest
compliment you pay a human being when you take them at their word when they say, “I do?” Do you realize that? Young people, let me tell
you something. G. K. Chesterton
put it this way. Free love is a black and white contradiction in two words. Love was never
intended to be free. [applause] It is the nature of love
to bind itself. It is the nature of love
to bind itself. And the consummate expression
is the most sacred expression of all, physically,
which actually represents the spiritual consummation
of two people saying, “I do.” C. S. Lewis says there are four kinds of love: Agape love, the love of God. Storge love, parental love,
which is protection. Phileo, which is brotherly
love, or friendship love. Eros, which is romantic love. Agape, storge, phileo, eros. And the other three
have no point of reference without the first. They have no point of reference without the first. You cannot really define
love until you understand the one who has
created you and me. For God so loved the world
that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. You cannot love without giving. And God gave to us the most precious gift of all in His son. Love cannot be
defined apart from God. And if our culture is messed up, it’s messed up right here. We have no longer
a definition or a point of reference for love.
You love your car. You love your house.
You love your dog. You love blue.
You love Italian food. You love Indian food.
You love your wife. Same word. Not so for the Greeks. They had agape, storge,
phileo, eros. And the last three hung
on the peg of the first. And if you are living
with a broken heart today because of a broken love,
you probably had that love broken because somebody
didn’t hang love on the peg of the eternal
love of God Himself. [applause] So you cannot define
evil without invoking God. You cannot define justice
without invoking God. You cannot define love
without invoking God. And then I have the last
thing to say to you. You cannot really
talk about forgiveness without talking
about the atonement. You cannot forgive
without somebody paying. You cannot forgive
without somebody paying. The price has to be paid. Either the one
who has been victimized or the other way around. I’ll close with
this simple illustration. There was a very famous
speaker in India from the United States. His name was E. Stanley Jones. Brilliant speaker. When I was
a brand new Christian, I heard E. Stanley Jones and
he spoke for well over an hour without a scrap of paper
in front of him. He was renowned and respected; it was in the Delhi YMCA. I went and heard the man and
I was profoundly moved by him. Mahatma Gandhi knew him,
and Mahatma Gandhi referred to him as a saint. He’s one of the saintliest men you would’ve ever known. Indian leadership
so revered him. He told the story of an
Indian politician who looked at him one day and said,
“Mr. Jones, I can accept a lot of what you say. I just don’t understand
this business of atonement, this business of sacrifice,
this business of somebody else paying the price for me.
I must pay. I am paying my karmic price. You have no right
to pay it for me. I must pay it myself.” And he kept arguing with
Stanley Jones the whole time, not for a moment thinking
that our problem really wasn’t ultimately moral. It is not that Jesus Christ
came into the world to make bad people good. He came into this world
to make dead people live. He never, ever paused to think that he didn’t have what it took to pay. But the one day, he fell into
an adulterous relationship, and he was found
out by his wife. And it was a horrible story. And he came to her
on bended knee and said, “Please forgive me.
I have done wrong. I have wronged you.
I want your forgiveness.” And finally, the wife looked
at him one day and said, “I love you, too,
and I’m willing to give you another chance.
And I forgive you.” But then something
bothered this man. He said, “How could she
just forgive me like that? How could she just
look into my eye and say I’ve forgiven you?” That bothered him.
It haunted him. Until one day he came back
from work earlier than planned, and he walked into the house,
and he heard a woman sobbing, screaming in pain. And he walked
towards the bedroom and he saw his wife
on her knees, crying out to God saying, “Please help me to forgive this. Please help me to forgive this.” This man said,
“I finally found out it wasn’t that easy. Somebody had to pay
the price to allow the other one to go scot free.” I sometimes think
about the cross and shut my eyes and try
to see the cruel nails, the crown of thorns,
and Jesus crucified for me. But even could I see Him die, I would but see a little part
of that great love, which, like a fire,
is always burning in His heart. Evil, justice,
love, forgiveness, every time you raise
those questions, you are actually assuming
a moral framework, and you’re actually
assuming truths that only the gospel of Jesus Christ offers to you and to me. For God gives you
that moral framework. God reveals to us His justice. God shows to us His love,
and God offers His forgiveness. So next time
somebody talks about any one of these four things, question their answers. Ask them where these
answers actually come from. They come from
the assumption of a worldview in which also
answers the question, Jesus Christ is the way,
the truth, and the life. No one comes unto
the Father except through me. So the four questions are only legitimate if they also answer the same question why Jesus Christ is the only way to God. So my answer to you today
is: Is there a God? Yes. And He’s revealed
Himself in Jesus Christ. It’s proved to you and to me
by the questions that we ask. And He is the answer.
God bless you. [applause] WOMAN: Everyone, another
round of applause please for Ravi and Abdu. [applause] WOMAN: And now
it is your turn to be a part
of the conversation. We want this to be
an open discussion, a judgment free zone, where you
can ask any question you want, whatever you believe,
whatever questions have been hard
to get answers for. We encourage you
to come forward. There’s a microphone
in the middle, a little housekeeping. You can also, if you can’t make it to the one microphone, which we have some staff
there helping everyone out, we also have the opportunity
to send your questions. So we encourage you —
we’re gonna put it up on the screen shortly. It’s pigeonhole.at,
the event code UM2020. So if you’re up
in the rafters right now, you’re still part
of the conversation. We want you to send
in your questions. And for those of you up here, the staff is helping
those folks out. Screeners will be there. [Speaking Spanish] My mom is out here
a little nervous because I’m testing
out my Spanish. So we want to
encourage everyone. Those of you who
only speak Spanish… [Speaking Spanish] So, for all my
friends in Spanish — yeah, did I do it, mom?
Wherever you are? Yeah?
Mama Mary. All right, I pulled that off. So we’re welcoming everyone, including those
who speak in Spanish. We’re gonna be
a translator as well. We’re gonna start
with a question. There it is.
Password UM2020. We’re gonna start with
a question right now that was sent to us, while those
of you come to the microphone, that have been sent to us already while this discussion was taking place.
And there it is. “I’m an agnostic. How can you know that anything exists past this life? The only people who really know are those who have died. Isn’t it arrogant
to assume you can know? How are you confident?”
That’s the first question. ABDU: Thank you
for the question. It’s an excellent question. I think about
agnosticism quite a bit. I always think
about this worldview, or actually this disposition
to take of agnostic. It’s interesting because
the word agnostic means a-, the negation, and -nosis,
or know, I can’t, know. But agnosticism actually
implies knowledge, is that you know you can’t know. And there’s a position
in which you have to actually ask yourself, “Do you believe
in a soft agnosticism?” In other words, a soft agnostic is someone who says, “I don’t know, yet. I don’t have enough
information, yet. But maybe I will
have it one day.” A hard agnostic
is someone who says, “There’s no way to know.
I can never know.” But you have to know
that you can never know. So there is a confidence
in that as well. So I think that’s
something to reassess. So I think that the issue
with the Christian faith, and why I’m so confident, isn’t
a matter of arrogance. You know. It’s not this kind of thing
born of an arrogance where, boy, I’m so bright or somehow
I’ve come to these conclusions because of the brilliance
of my own mind. If you heard me speaking —
you did — you know that’s not true.
It’s not about that. It’s about making
rational inferences from the evidence available. And so everyone has
to come to a position. You know, there’s a band
that was very popular. It’s still —
the band still exists. One of the members
just recently passed away. And it was very
popular in Detroit. It’s called Rush.
The band Rush. Have you heard of this band? And they have a song
called “Free Will.” And in that song,
there’s this line that says, “You may choose a ready guide
in some celestial voice, but if you choose not to decide,
you still have made a choice.” What I would say to you is this, is that if you come to a decision that I know enough about why there’s a God, that is not an arrogant position. All you’re doing
is saying humbly that I can have confidence, given the evidence I have, that there must be something beyond this world. And you don’t have
all the answers. It’s a mistake to think
that the Christian, having arrived at a position that I have a matter of faith, has all the answers.
That’s not what it’s all about. No one will tell you
they have all the answers. Because if I knew everything, then I would be God. And I can tell you
right now, I’m not. But we know enough.
We have enough good reasons. You can take the inferences
from the creation of the world, and from the specified complexity in the world, from the historical evidence
for the resurrection and say, “Does this prove it beyond
all possible doubt that there’s a God?”
The answer is no. But does it prove it
beyond reasonable doubt, or enough evidence for me
to put my faith in it? The answer is definitely yes. As a lawyer, I can
tell you I deal with burdens of proof
all the time. That was my position professionally. And oftentimes
we put people in jail. We put people in jail
or we make them liable for millions of dollars
for someone else’s pain based on evidence
that doesn’t reach an absolute certainty model. That’s impossible. We put them in jail
or we set them free or whatever it is based
on a reasonable doubt model, or of a ponderance
of the evidence. Nobody ever makes
a decision based on certainty. So what I would say
to you is this. If this is you,
if you’re taking a position as an agnostic,
though you currently don’t know but you’re
open to the evidence, all I would suggest
to you is this: Do not wait to make a decision before all of your questions are answered, because
that’ll never happen. You will choose
not to decide, and in that, you will have made a choice. What I would urge you
to do is find out what is enough evidence,
and then use the questions that you have remaining
as the compelling factor or the impelling factor
of your life to continue to seek out the answers. You can know enough
to put your faith in God, that there is a God,
and that He has revealed Himself in His Son, Jesus Christ. But you don’t have
to have all the answers before you come
to that conclusion. In fact, if you say,
“I will not bow my knee until I have all the answers,” that is an arrogance
all of its own. [applause] WOMAN: And we would like
to get to the questions of the folks on the floor.
Hi, what’s your name? JAVIER: Hello, I’m Javier.
WOMAN: Hi, Javier. JAVIER: Thank you guys
for your time. I tremendously appreciate it.
So this world is very flawed. If there’s a problem in pain, there’s a problem in pleasure. And I think it’s that way because in order to have the ability to love,
we also have to have the ability to hate. Now I couldn’t imagine
a different world, but wouldn’t an all-powerful,
all-knowing God create a world, or be able to, yeah,
be able to create a world without the flaws
that we have but keeping our autonomy intact? RAVI: All right. Theoretically,
the answer is yes. So let me give you
the possibilities. Okay? There are only
four possibilities that we in our
finite minds can think of of the possible
worlds that we have. One is to have no world,
no creation at all, number one. Number two is to have a world where there was no such
thing as good or evil. Number three is to have a world
where we would only choose good. No creation, no such thing
as good or evil, amoral world, number three,
where we would only choose good. Number four, where there’s
the possibility of good and evil, which is this world. And of the four worlds,
this is the only world in which love is possible. And so if love
is the supreme ethic, this is the best
of all possible means to the best of all
possible worlds. We cannot come out
with any other — philosophers have racked
their brains and said, “If love is the supreme ethic, this is the only world in which love is possible,
where there’s a possibility of good and evil,
and where the individuals are given that freedom. Otherwise, in the other three, love is not even possible. So yes, theoretically,
you may say there’s an infinite number of worlds, but our minds have not been able to come up with that. If love is the supreme ethic, God has created the world where it’s the best
of all possible means to the best of all
possible worlds. And so enjoy love and serve Him and you’ll find, ultimately,
the confirmation of love in a relationship
with God alone. JAVIER: Thank you. [applause] WOMAN: Thank you Javier.
Hi, what’s your name. SERGIO: Hi, my name
is Sergio Nivea. How you doing?
WOMAN: Hey, Sergio. SERGIO: Good, good.
This question’s for Ravi. I’m a big fan.
Okay. If we could have both of your perspectives, I’d love that. This question is from a friend that I hold very dearly, and I’m just gonna
read it off. It’s a lengthy question
but I hope you can understand what he’s trying to say. “I have trouble grasping
the concept of eternity, and more than that the concept
of eternal suffering. On average, 54 million people
on average die every year. According to a quick
Google search, approximately 27% of those people say they’re Christian. That means 47 million
people die every year that aren’t Christian and go
to hell suffer for eternity. The idea of 47 million souls burning in eternal hell for eternity for, let’s say, never fully knowing, believing that Jesus
is God, they will burn in eternal suffering forever. What would you say to someone that can’t fathom eternity and the concept
of eternal suffering for the actions made
in an 80-year lifetime?” I’m sorry. RAVI: You want me to answer
that is what you said? [laughter] SERGIO: Please. RAVI: You have just added
to my suffering. [Laughter and applause] RAVI: I’ll let Abdu
also follow through on this. I think rattling off statistics like that doesn’t make the problem easier to understand if there were even one who were going
to suffer eternally for the choices they have made. It is a complete misunderstanding of what heaven
and hell are all about. It seems to imply that hell is a place
that God chooses for us. But that’s not the case at all. Hell is actually a choice to be
permanently separated from God. And so for the person who
wants to be separated from God, even heaven would be
hell for them, because they’re not getting
what it is they actually want. They want to be
separated from God. The fact of the matter is, what C. S. Lewis says
is so powerful. Actually, not Lewis.
It’s Dostoevsky. Dostoevsky made the comment,
he said, “To me, hell would be
the inability to love.” It would be
the inability to love. So let me put this in perspective for you. Okay? Every worldview,
not just the Christian faith, every worldview
has a destiny for those who have not either
done what is right or believed what is right. Every worldview, not just
the Christian worldview. Even an atheist,
for example. I would say to the atheist, “You’ve raised that question and you’re telling me
that Adolf Hitler and Mother Teresa end up
in the same place? One who gave her life
for the masses and the other
who killed the masses. They both end up in oblivion? They both end up without
any sense of existence? Where is the justice in that?” All a person has to do is commit all kinds of heinous crime, and then bang, bang,
finish himself or herself off. Justice is a vital part
of God’s character. The freedom to choose
is the greatest privilege He’s given to you and to me. And in the end, we get
exactly what we chose. We cannot blame
God for that. Statistics don’t make
any difference in the process. SERGIO: Thank you. [applause] WOMAN: Thank you. We have another question coming
in from the nosebleed sections. “How do I hold onto God
in times of suffering, pain, and anguish? How can I keep myself
from giving up?” SCOTT: I’m asking
my question. I am. I’d like to say
something real quick. This young woman wants
to avoid my question, which is fascinating to me. WOMAN: Oh no,
then we need to have it asked. RAVI: No, she’s not.
She’s doing her job. SCOTT: She’s doing
her best to make — to circumvent my question. She’s actually the one
in front of me a moment ago. RAVI: Can we take — FEMALE STAFF: Yeah,
we’re gonna take the question on their part. WOMAN: Yeah,
so just to explain, we wanna give those folks
that didn’t have a chance to come down, whether it be
disability or other reasons, so we’re going back and forth. You absolutely are
the front of the line. I guarantee you that your question will be asked. I just wanted to give
someone the opportunity to ask their question that sent it
in actually before this started. They sent it in
during your speeches. So if we could have
that question answered first, and I promise you —
first of all, what’s your name? Scott? SCOTT: Yes. Scott.
One moment, please. And after this question,
then your question will be answered. ABDU: Let me take
a stab at this one. This is an important one
because I think, you know, when you think about this idea
of how do I hold onto my faith in God
in the midst of suffering, C. S. Lewis had an interesting
quote when he said this in his own book,
“The Problem of Pain.” And C. S. Lewis was no stranger
to pain, by the way, having lost his wife very tragically
and very suddenly, and then lost his
own life early. He didn’t live
very long, as it were, compared to the rest of us.
He made a statement. He said, “God speaks
to us in our conscience, He whispers to us
in our pleasure, but He shouts to us in our pain. It is His megaphone
to rouse a deaf world.” I want you to think
about this for a moment. When someone wins the lotto
or they win the NBA championship or they win
the national championship, as your football team
is famed for doing, no one ever says,
“Why, God? Why?” Have you noticed this? Pleasure never causes you to ask the big questions of life.
It’s suffering. People ask why questions, they seek the fundamental answers
to their existence, why they’re going through this.
Is there a God who cares? They wake up to the
realities of their life, not because of pleasure,
but because of pain. So what I would say
to you is this. Is that if you’re
having this tough time, struggling in the midst of pain
and hanging on to your faith in the midst of this kind of pain,
or why should I just — you know, how do
I keep from giving up? Let me suggest this to you. One thing. One. Your pain actually is
the signal of something. It is pointing you
to that which is transcendent, that you’re looking for
and impelled to look for answers that are beyond this life. It’s not gonna be satisfied
by booze or alcohol or experiences or sexual trysts,
whatever it might be. That will not do it. Pleasure does not
make up for this. It is the love of God,
who Himself, by the way, suffered and never gave up. [applause] And the second
thing I would say is this. Is that what does pain
actually tell us? Now this might not be
the issue for the person asking the question,
but let me put it to you this way. Someone who lost a child
asked this question of me. How do I hold onto my faith in the middle
of such immense pain? I wish I could wish it all away. You take a look at someone
like Eckhart Tolle in his book “The Power of Now,” a New Age guy who
was made popular by Oprah Winfrey. His book goes on there and
he’s talking about basically he takes pantheistic thinking, he takes a mish mash
of Hinduism and Buddhism, throws in some American words
so he can sell to western people, and then has a worldview
he comes up with. And this is what he says
about how to deal with the pain. This is what he says.
He says essentially this. Suffering is this
illusion you hold onto, and the key to enlightenment
personally chosen or constantly chosen
is to let go of the past and stop worrying
about the future, and make the now the
main focus of your life. It means to dwell in the state of presence
rather than in time. And then he says this. “You then don’t
need pain anymore. How much more time
do you think you will need before you can make that choice? How much more pain
do you think you need before you can be free of it?” My question for him is this,
with all the seriousness I can possibly muster.
Are you serious? Here’s why I ask the question.
I’m serious about this. He says that you dwell in
the state of presence rather than time.
Don’t worry about the past. Don’t worry about the future.
Dwell in the now. Well the now is awful.
It’s terrible. You lose a child
and you say forget about the past you had
with that child? Don’t worry about the future, the graduations
you’ll never celebrate, the weddings you’ll never see? Don’t worry about that.
Dwell in the now. How is that a cure for anything? Because you know
what it’s suggesting? Is that you detach yourself
from that which causes you the pain. But the reality is this: Detachment doesn’t
free you of pain. It frees you of value. The reason why
when you lose someone you feel this intense
anguish of that pain is not because they meant nothing to you. It’s because they
meant so much to you. Pain is the signal of value. [applause] Now I’m not saying
you shouldn’t try to cure that pain or deal with the pain. I’m not saying we
shouldn’t try to do that. What I’m saying is understand
the value sometimes that pain can
actually offer to us. It signals value. It causes us to ask
the why questions. And it actually is,
in one sense — a woman named Melinda Salmez
once put this in a statement where she says,
“Pain is not meaningless. It is not the kind of thing
that leaves you without hope. Because it is through
pain that we image the body of our Savior,
and it is through His scars that He was made
known to Thomas.” In other words, doubting Thomas
knew the character, quality, and person of His Lord, not because He was
sinless and spotless — which was true —
but because when He resurrected, He still bore the scars
for each one of us. There is meaning and
there is depth in pain. I don’t know what your pain is,
if you’ve asked this question. I don’t know what
you’re going through and I don’t know why
you’re going through it. That would be arrogant of me
to say such a thing. But what I do know is
that it’s not meaningless. It’s not out there for nothing.
Hang in there. Put your faith in God. Because the question
becomes this: If you abandon your faith
in God in the midst of pain, where would you go? The blind, pitiless,
indifferent universe neither knows nor cares.
Julian Baggini said this. I’ll close with this.
It’s an atheist quote. Julian Baggini said it this way. He said there was this
billboard that was happening, essentially, that was
happening in the UK. And it had — the statement was,
“There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying
and enjoy your life.” There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying
and enjoy your life. He says, “Can you really
tell that to two parents who lost a child
of 17 years old to suicide after years and years
of depression? Stop worrying
and enjoy your life?” He says, “Basically
if there’s no God, life is bleak and you have
to face up to that.” So what I would say
to you is this: If you’re struggling with pain, and maybe your faith in God
is wavering because of that, I would just urge you, hold onto it
because in heaven’s name, what else will you cling to? There are no answers out there. The universe yawns at your pain. But the God of the Bible stretches out His arms and dies on the cross
for your pain. [applause] WOMAN: Thank you. Scott. SCOTT: Yes, thank you. On your suggestions
of good and evil and all we face in this world,
you didn’t bring up the devil. It was interesting. But you spoke a lot about God. And obviously,
typically in most religions, at least the
Abrahamic religions, they determine evil
comes from the devil and good comes from God. In fact, those words
are based on each other. The word God comes
from the word good. The word evil comes from
the word devil, and vice versa. But if it wasn’t for evil,
would we know and understand good? If it wasn’t for black,
would we know white? If it wasn’t for light,
would we know dark? If it wasn’t for male,
would we know female? So my question is:
How do you explain Isaiah 45:7 of the Bible? “I form the light
and create darkness. I bring prosperity
and create disaster. I, the Lord,
do all these things.” Are these dualisms
not intrinsically united? Good and bad are just
variations of each other, just like cold and hot. They’re degrees of the same thing, temperature. Bible says God
does these things. Does that mean
the devil doesn’t exist or does that mean God
is also the devil? I’d also like to ask you — FEMALE STAFF: You gotta
stick with one question. SCOTT: Okay.
She’s cutting me off. Answers. RAVI: I’ll take it, and Abdu will, too,
because he’s bigger and you’re bigger than me.
All right. Let me understand
your question well. And only one question
per person. Are you saying Hitler’s evil
was really a shade of good? I’m wanting you to answer it,
but briefly. Is Hitler’s — what Hitler
did was a shade of good? SCOTT: I’m saying
what the obvious is, when you adjust your light fixture
in the dining room — RAVI: No, no, no, no.
I understand then. SCOTT: And you can dim it.
RAVI: I understand that. SCOTT: There’s different
variations of light. RAVI: I understand that.
SCOTT: Until it goes dark. RAVI: So — SCOTT: Same with
the temperature on your thermostat,
on your faucet. RAVI: So what Hitler
did was a degree of good? Is that what you’re saying?
SCOTT: Well let me ask you. RAVI: No, no, no.
I’m asking you. Because I’m questioning
your question. Yeah. So. SCOTT: Divine and evil are different
degrees of the same thing. RAVI: Okay.
All right. SCOTT: Cold and hot.
Light and dark. Male, female. On a magnet they have
a north and south pole. In the very center,
there is a point of equality, a point of neutrality.
RAVI: Okay. I get it.
I get it. SCOTT: When you cut
the magnet in half — RAVI: I get it. I get it.
I get it. I get it. You’re confusing categories. It’s not a difference
in degree, sir. It’s a difference in kind. And the temptation
in the garden was very simple, very straightforward. In the day that you eat
of the knowledge of the tree of good and evil,
you will be as God, knowing good and evil, meaning you will be as God
defining good and evil. So what happened in the garden was not a different
degree of good. What happened in the garden
was playing God and redefining good and evil. And that’s where
the problem ends for me, because I do not believe
it’s a difference in degree. You may believe
it’s a difference in degree. I don’t think you’d work either
in a court of law or at home. SCOTT: [Indiscernible]
RAVI: No. No. I am defining Hitler
as doing evil, and you are saying
it’s only a degree. SCOTT: [Indiscernible] RAVI: Yes, and that’s —
WOMAN: Thank you, Scott. We wanna give everyone a chance. We do appreciate your questions. Thank you, Scott. RAVI: Thank you. Yeah. [applause] WOMAN: And the next
question, please. What’s your name? Hi. LUNA: Hi, my name’s Luna. And I just wanted to ask —
first of all, thank you. Okay, I grew up Islam and,
you know, my country Somalia, it’s all Muslim. And now there
are a few Christians. What I wanna know is,
I struggle, you know. Sometimes I think, you know,
Jesus is the way, and then at times,
when I speak with my family, it becomes like I really
have to do Salah or pray to find help from Allah. What I wanna know is,
quickly, can I love Jesus and still serve Allah?
Can I be both? Because I do love both. And also, Allah, in Arabic,
this means god. So the god of Islam that my
ancestors pray five times a day, then every day they could,
is that the wrong god? Or is it the same as God
that we call Abba, Father, which Jesus serve? So what made you, you know —
like, I’m confused. Can I love —
right now I’m just like, pray both.
But it’s exhausting. [applause] ABDU: Thank you.
Thank you. I’m glad we got
to your question. It’s an important one. So let me ask you —
can I ask you a question back? I’m gonna take a risk now
and ask you a question back. Okay? So please answer it shortly.
LUNA: Yes. ABDU: When you say you
love Jesus, what do you mean? LUNA: I just love that He
said husbands love your wife like I love the church. [applause] ABDU: Good. And?
And? LUNA: And I love that
He said where Islam says you can have four wives. ABDU: Okay, good.
LUNA: Yeah. And the way He just, you know,
because also the way — when I argue with my aunt,
I said to her — she say, “No.
Jesus, no, no, no.” And I told her,
“Did He walk the dead?” She say yes. I say, “Did He heal the blind?” She say yes. Is He coming back?
Which is Islam. Yes. And I said to her,
“What do you think? Isn’t that sound like God?”
And she say no. ABDU: Yeah. And that’s as interesting,
because oftentimes people will go to that. So do you believe that He’s divine, that Jesus is divine? LUNA: Yes.
ABDU: Okay. LUNA: I just don’t know
if He’s God and He can really help me. ABDU: Well if He is divine,
then He is God. So what I’m saying is, is this. Is that the one verse
that you quoted was really super
interesting to me, because when I asked you,
“What do you love about Jesus?” You said that He says,
“Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church.”
And you missed one part. “And gave His life for it.” LUNA: Okay.
ABDU: Okay? There’s a fundamental
difference between the way Islam conceives of Jesus and the way the Bible
conceives of Jesus. It is that in Islam,
Jesus is al-Masih. Right? Now what that word means, Masih,
it’s an Arabic word for Messiah. But it actually doesn’t really have
any potency in Islam, because we don’t know
what that word actually is meaning. It’s almost like a title
or like a last name. It’s not His name. He’s not al-Masih
as if Masih is His last name. He is Jesus the Messiah. The Messiah is a title
for what He actually is. He is the deliverer
of people from their sins. Now the question becomes
does Islam teach that? It does not. It does not teach that,
which is why your aunt says, “No, I don’t wanna believe
in Jesus in this way.” Because what she’s saying is,
“I don’t wanna believe in a prophet who is also God, who gives His life
for the sake of the world.” That is a fundamentally different idea of who Jesus actually is. Now, to the word you used,
Allah for example, now if you look in Christian Bibles
that are in Arabic, almost all of them — in fact, I can’t think
of one that doesn’t use the word Allah
in place for God. Because in Arabic,
you have two words. You have al, meaning the,
Allah, meaning God. Allah, there you have it. Right?
So the word isn’t the issue. That isn’t the
fundamental problem. The thing you have
to wrestle with is: Is the character of the being
being described using that word Allah the same? So, in Islam for example,
you have a being who is one. God is one. He is one in His nature
and one in His person. He is an absolute unity. There is no differentiation
of any sort within God within Islam. So He’s an
undifferentiated unity. Then you have a God also
who does not condescend. He doesn’t even speak
to Muhammad directly. He speaks to Muhammad
through an angel. He won’t condescend
to humanity. He won’t do it. And then you have a God
who is not self-sacrificial. He would never sacrifice
of Himself for His humanity because He’s so far
above that humanity doesn’t affect Him in this way. So He would never
sacrifice for them. That is an accurate picture
of what Muslims believe. Everything I just said is the exact
opposite in Christianity. Every single thing. God is one in Christianity,
but He’s three in His persons. He’s one what in His nature,
one what, one thing, but He is three
in His divine consciousness. And this actually shows me
that God is truly great, in the fact that God
is a Trinity. So for example, Muslims
say Allahu Akbar. Right? You’ve heard this phrase. You all have heard
this phrase, Allahu Akbar. And what this literally
means is “God is great.” Now for the Muslim,
they want to believe in a God who is truly great,
the greatest possible being, which is why someone says,
“I don’t wanna believe in Jesus as God,
or that God is a Trinity,” because that somehow
insults God’s greatness. What I discovered was this,
is that the very idea of the Trinity demonstrates God’s greatness. Let me sustain that
for you for a moment. If God is one, 100% one,
there’s no differentiation within Him whatsoever,
Muslims believe He is uncreated. He’s the only uncreated
thing, right? And so do Christians.
Everything else was created. God is uncreated. Muslims also believe
the 99 names of God. He is Al-wadood,
the loving kind. He is Ar-rahmaan.
He is Ar-raheem. He is Al-Halq.
He is Al-Adl. He is all these things. All of those things are
personal qualities, right? So He is a personal being.
He is a relational being. So He’s uncreated
and He’s personal. Same thing in the Bible. He is uncreated
and He’s personal. Here’s the issue though. When there was nothing
but God, there was no angels. There was no people.
There was nothing but God. Who was He being
relational toward? Relationship always requires
a relater and the related to. It always requires
a subject and an object. And so God has to create something to exist so He can love it
and be just to it and be merciful
and beneficent to it. So He needs to create
something if He’s just one. The Trinity solves the issue, because God is one
in His nature, and three in His centers
of consciousness. The Father eternally
loves the Son. The Son eternally
loves the Spirit. And the Spirit
eternally loves the Father. And they have
this community of love from eternity in the Trinity. So God never needs to create
something to be relational. He already is.
He defines love. He defines relationship
and doesn’t need anything. So if God is truly great,
God would be a Trinity. And because of that,
why does He create you and me? He doesn’t create you and me
because He needs relationship. He’s not lonely.
He’s not selfish. He doesn’t need worshippers. He’s not an egotist where, “Gosh, I don’t feel
good about myself. Maybe people will worship me.”
He doesn’t need that. Why? Because He’s a Trinity. Father, Son, Holy Spirit
eternally love each other. So why create you
and why create me? Not because
He needs relationship. He defines relationship. He creates you and me
so we can have relationship. It’s an utterly selfless act.
That’s a God who’s great. [applause] But let me end this
on one other note, okay? Because it goes back to
the line you used in the Bible, how husbands love your wives
as Christ loved the church and gave His life for it. This is the part that I think
was the pinnacle for me. This was the ultimate
pinnacle for me. If God is great,
as all Muslims believe, then He would be the greatest
possible being, right? What would the greatest
possible being express? He would express the greatest possible ethic, which is love. And He wouldn’t do it
in a half-baked way. He would do it in
the greatest possible way. So you see how that follows? The greatest possible
being would express the greatest possible
ethic, which is love, in the greatest possible way. What is the greatest possible way to express love? It’s not a mystery.
It’s self-sacrifice. So if God is truly great,
He would self-sacrifice. And the only place where God
sacrifices is at the cross. If you wanna worship
a God who is truly great, I invite you to that one. Thank you so much
for your question. WOMAN: Thank you so much. And while we bring up
our next speaker, I just wanna point out
we only have time, unfortunately,
for a couple more. Come on up. But in the meantime, everyone,
there’s a reception afterwards. And it’s right through those
doors at the back where this conversation continues,
and those questions can continue to be answered.
So by no means is this over. We also have a website
afterwards that you can send these questions in if you
cannot attend the reception. Which, by the way, there’ll
be food and drinks for those of you getting hungry. Let’s go ahead and address
the next question. Hi, what’s your name? DARA: Hi, my name’s Dara.
Nice to meet you guys. I am a fan, especially seeing people of color and Indian, you know, men in Christianity
is very inspiring. So thank you. My question is that I sort of — I grew up Hindu. I’m sort of, like,
everything and nothing. You know. Kind of, like, I feel that
all faiths can share — intersect in many ways. And I think that the idea
of God, even with the religion that’s said to be
with so many gods, at the end of the day we all want that salvation of God and whoever that is. And how can, like,
there be a more inclusive talk about that in
Christian communities? Because it’s just important
to me, I think, you know. Like it’s not like you don’t
belong, or, you know — it can become
construed like that. So that’s my thought
and question. RAVI: I wanna make
sure I understand. I wanna make sure I understand what you’re saying. That in the Christian
relationship with God, if it’s exclusive,
how can you really be talking about God’s love?
Is that the question? DARA: No, no, no.
I definitely believe. But I’m saying that there’s
many faiths, right? So how can —
like, not how but do we — can that be acknowledged
that there’s many good — like many good paths
that lead to the same God? You know. RAVI: Okay, I think
that’s a very fair question. And obviously it’s
a very tough question. When Jesus talks about
being the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes under
the Father except through me, He does not talk
about many ways. He talks about only
one person, and that’s God, and the revelation
in Jesus Christ. If you talk about many ways,
you actually have to end up believing in contradictory ways. And the law of non-contradiction applies to reality. You cannot believe something
that is contradictory and true at the same time. So if you go, for example, to the pantheistic ways of karma, they tell you you work
your way into nirvana or you work
your way into moksha. And actually, if you talk
about the Buddhist way, in Buddhism there
isn’t even a God. There is no God. And that, by the way, is really what the other gentleman was mistaking before. The fact is that human life
is essentially valuable. And anyone who violates human life is committing an evil. But how does that life
become valuable? That becomes valuable only if
we are truly a creation of God. Otherwise, if we are
the random product of time plus matter plus chance,
we’re not essentially valuable. We are given value by state
or by society or by our family. This value is given
to us by God. And that’s why when
the Christian talks about good and evil,
for example, it’s a very different definition to Buddhism, or Hinduism. In Buddhism it’s
an ethical system. It’s the right way
and the wrong way. It’s not so much as
the good way and the evil way. So when you come to Christ
and you’re making your choice to follow Christ, you’re making your choice to follow Him who is the sole creator of your very being, and the one who gives you
the option of coming to know Him. So all ways cannot be right. All ways —
if all ways were right, there would be no reason
for there to be any other way. All you need to do is just
find one way and you’ll be okay. But all ways are not right.
Some ways are wrong. So when Jesus says, “I’m the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes unto the Father
except through me,” He is providing the way. Because ultimately
you don’t need a guru. I don’t need a guru.
You don’t need a teacher. I don’t need a teacher. You need a savior
and I need a savior. And that savior is provided
in the person of Jesus Christ. And to say why not any other
way would be like saying, “Why doesn’t God give me
the choice of loving many wives, many women?” I should be thanking Him
for the privilege of loving one. That’s the way God
has designed marriage to be. And so rather than complaining that He hasn’t given
us many ways, we ought to thank Him
that He has provided one way, and that way is in
the person of Jesus Christ because of the sacrifice
offered for you and for me. And by the way,
the fact of the matter is, all religions are exclusive. All of them are exclusive,
but there’s only one that provides a savior. And that’s in the person
of Jesus Christ. Okay? DARA: Thank you. [applause] WOMAN: Hi. Final question,
which by the way, I just have to pause
and say how powerful this is. And you see the line of people that we wish we could get to every question in this room. But it’s wonderful that we can beyond these doors and also the power
of the internet, that we can reach out
to each other beyond today. What’s your name? NALANI: Nalani. WOMAN: Hi.
What’s your question? NALANI: First off,
I wanted to thank you guys for the message.
It was really good. I know that Christians like
the story of doubting Thomas. We’re not supposed to doubt
that God exists. And up there the title is —
sorry, I’m scared. [laughter] ABDU: You’re doing very well. NALANI: Thank you. The title is “Does God Exist?” And I just wanted to know that
if we’re not supposed to doubt, then why are we doubting
while asking that question? [applause] ABDU: Excellent question. WOMAN: In the words
of babes. ABDU: Yes, indeed. WOMAN: From
the mouths of babes. ABDU: We should
just go home now. [laughter] No, I thank you
for the question. I appreciate it. And what I wanna say
to you is this. Is that when we say
we’re not supposed to doubt, I think that that equates the
idea of doubting with somehow that’s a sin in some way. Okay. Because there’s different
levels in which you can actually question something.
You can say, “You know what? I wasn’t raised
in a Christian home, so I have very
serious questions. And I wrestle with them a lot.” And if one thing that we tell our young people like you, that you know what? Don’t doubt.
Don’t question. Well then people will run
away from the faith, because everyone gets their
questions answered eventually. Whether it’s a good
answer or a bad answer, it’s going to come. And when you’re
told never doubt, and you’re told
don’t have a question, never ask a question,
a serious one, don’t express doubts, what that
does is that it suppresses you. It basically says to you,
“Be afraid of questions.” And what I wanna offer
to you and everybody here — and if you’re not a Christian, and there’s plenty
of you who are not — the freedom to ask
the questions, that’s what that
microphone is there for. That’s what Pigeonhole
was there for, is to ask the questions with a
sincere mind and a sincere heart. We can ask those questions.
I asked those questions. So what I wanna say
to you is: Doubting, if it’s done
with a certain attitude, there’s nothing wrong
with it whatsoever. But I wanna use two words. I wanna describe
these to you, okay? Because they’re very important. There’s a difference
between being a skeptic and being a cynic. Okay? So a skeptic is someone
who doesn’t believe until there’s enough evidence. So Thomas —
you brought up Thomas. Great example.
Here’s Thomas. Think of the story of Thomas. Thomas lives and works
with Jesus for three years, and He sees all the miracles
Jesus is doing. He sees them all. And then Jesus dies on a cross, disappoints Thomas. It shatters him. He is so upset about this,
he goes and hides in a locked room
with his friends. That’s what he does.
And what does Jesus do? He rises from the dead
and He enters into the room. But before that, all of his
buddies were telling him, “I saw Jesus raised. I saw Him with my own eyes.”
Now that’s evidence. That’s evidence. As a trial lawyer
I can tell you, we locked people up based
on that kind of evidence. People — it’s called eyewitness testimony. I saw it. We either believe it
or we don’t. And so he had multiple people, many people telling him, “I saw the Lord
with my own eyes.” And he said, “I won’t believe
it until I can see and feel the scars on His body.”
What does Jesus do? He doesn’t walk
into that locked room. He walks right through
the door, by the way, because of His glorious body. And you know what that word
glory actually means in Hebrew? It means heavy. Jesus was so glorious that
His body was so heavy that the wooden door was like
vapor compared to Him. And He walks through that door. And He doesn’t say to Thomas, “You get out. I’m done with you.
You’re a doubter.” You know what He does? He walks in, and you know
what the words He says? He says, “Shalom aleichem,”
or “salam alaikum” in Arabic. Peace be to you. And He shows him the scars
and the wounds in His side. In other words, “My resurrection is your peace, Thomas. I know you’ve been doubting,
but have peace in this.” [applause] ABDU: What does
Thomas do in response? He falls to his knees and
he says, “My Lord and my God.” And that same Thomas,
by the way, who was a doubter, is so inspired and so filled
with hope and peace by the evidence
he’s been given by Jesus that he goes to India and he’s martyred there for his faith, trying to preach the gospel
to those who don’t have it. He’s that willing to give
his life up for something, because he sees his Lord
and his God. That’s a skeptic who gets
his questions answered. But then you have Pilate, Pontius Pilate. Jesus is standing
in front of him. And he could ask Jesus
any question, and he asks Jesus, who is the way, the truth,
and the life incarnate, he asks Him the best question you can ask a guy. He says, “What is truth?”
But you can ask it two ways. You can say, “What is truth? I want an answer,” or you
can say, “What is truth?” and then walk out and try
to end the conversation. You see, there’s a skeptic
and a cynic. A skeptic, like Thomas,
who won’t believe until there’s enough evidence. A cynic, like Pilate,
is someone who won’t believe, even when there is. And so the question we have
to ask ourselves is: Do we have a skeptic’s heart
or a cynic’s heart? And if you’re a skeptic,
this event is for you. If you’re a cynic,
I can’t help. But I can tell you this from
my own personal experience. I teetered between both
skeptic and cynic. I doubted and
then I was cynical. And then I found answers
and then I ran from them. And then I embraced them,
and then I ran from them again. It took me nine years
to become a Christian, not because the answers
were hard to find, but because the answers
were hard to accept. [applause] ABDU: So don’t be afraid
of questions if they’re part of a sincere search
for truth. Okay? But guard your
heart against cynicism, because that leads
to a sense of despair. Excellent question.
Thank you so much for it. NALANI: Thank you.
[applause] WOMAN: Thank you
for that final question. RAVI: A closing statement? We want to end this evening
by thanking you all very much for being here and for
taking so much time out of your evening
to attend this. I wanna thank Abdu,
my colleague, for joining me, and all of those who have
worked very hard behind the scenes to make
this event possible. And to that closing question, may I say to the lady, there’s always a difference between asking a question and doubting an answer. It is very important to question,
to ask the right question. And by the way, if Thomas hadn’t
submitted his life to Christ, my people would never have
heard the gospel in India. Because that’s exactly where
he went, to the south of India. So questioning
is a good thing. Doubting you have
to take more seriously, because that deals
with substance. Questioning is dealing more
with the periphery. I wanna close this
by saying this to you. When you study
the gospels very carefully, here’s what you find out. You find out that
the heart of the gospel is a different definition and
description of who you and I are. It’s not so much
that we read the gospel as much as the gospel reads us. And the gospel doesn’t just talk about us as good or evil. It talks about us as sinners. We have violated the law of God and a need of forgiveness. That’s the first thing. The second thing is the
Bible talks about us as a need, not just of a doctrinal belief, but a need of a relationship with Jesus Christ. When I was 17 years old,
on a bed of suicide, I opened the Bible
for the first time and found my relationship
with Jesus Christ. So it describes who you are. It provides for you
that relationship. And finally, it reminds you
of the hope that Christ offers to you and me by
the resurrection from the dead. When you put all
of these together, it gives your life meaning. And so, only in the
Judeo-Christian worldview are you given that essential
worth and essential value, imago Dei. And the fact
of the matter is this. We are to respect
our fellow human beings as created imago Dei as well.
But we’re all fallen. And I will close with
this little illustration. There was a song years ago
sung called “Desert Pete.” It was about a man going
through a desert and consuming all the bottles
of water that he had, ’til he had emptied it all out. So he saw a pump
in the middle of the desert and lunged towards it. As he lifted the handle
and brought it down, he heard the sound
of metal upon metal. There was no water. But then he saw a tin
can around the pump and a message inside the pump. It said, “Dear traveler,
there’s enough water in here. Just follow the directions. Directly under the nozzle,
go down about a foot in the sand and you’ll
see a bottle of water. It should be full. Empty it out into the cylinder
of the pump and keep priming it. As you prime it, the suction
system will start to work. You will get all
the water you want. Drink all the water you want. Don’t forget to fill up all the rest of the bottles you have. And the one bottle
you found here, fill it up and put it back for the next person who passes by. If you disbelieve this note
and consume that one bottle of water on yourself,
you will soon be thirsty again. Empty it out as instructed, and you will have
all the water you want, and so will everybody
else who follows you.” And so when you come
to the person of Christ, your temptation is to consume your life upon yourself and you will soon
be thirsty again. But if you hand
your life over to Him, you will have all the living water that He offers to you, and through you
to everyone else. So don’t consume
your life on yourself. Empty it out into His hands
and you have the joy and peace and eternal life that
He offers to you and to me. God bless you. WOMAN: We’d like to
welcome Pastor Rich Wilkerson back to the stage. Let’s give him
a big round of applause. Thank you, gentlemen.
Thank you so much. On behalf of everyone here, including myself, thank you. [applause] RICH: Hey,
would it be okay tonight, before we slip out of here,
if we just took a moment of prayer? But one more time, can we thank
Ravi Zacharias and Abdu Murray? Just, I don’t know about you
but I’m gonna remember this night for a while. But if you could stay
for a second, maybe just bow your head
for a moment wherever you are. I feel like tonight
the presence of God is here, and there’s a moment
for us to respond. That the gospel
has gone forward, the word of God
has gone forward. The Bible says that God’s word, it does not return void. God loves you. And tonight, I don’t know
what you came in here with. I don’t know what type
of questions you have. But I know this. I know that a man who has
an argument is always at the mercy of a man
who’s had an experience. God is real. And He is here tonight, and He
wants a relationship with you. And the truth
is that you can run but you cannot hide
from this God. And we all have to come to terms
with do we believe or do we not. Jesus said, “I’m the way,
the truth, and the life. No one gets to the Father
but through me.” He wasn’t simply
being exclusive. He was being very specific. He was giving you the way home. He was giving you
peace for your soul. And all of us have a God-shaped hole on the inside of us that we lay our heads down
on our pillows at night, and if we haven’t settled
the questions of our soul, no amount of success,
no amount of accolades, no amount of money
in the bank will be able to settle the questions
of a heart. But tonight,
you have an opportunity. You can respond to the gospel, to the good news of Jesus. He came and He loves you. He said yet to all who received
Him and believed in His name, He gave them the right
to be called sons of God. I mean, you can’t achieve Jesus.
You can only receive Him. It’s called grace. It’s the unmerited favor of God. What did we deserve? We deserved death,
but instead, because of Jesus, He exchanges and He gives us
life and life more abundantly. And I believe that we’ve
heard the word tonight. But with our heads bowed and
our eyes closed for a moment, just to simply have a private moment with our creator. Maybe you’re here and you
don’t believe in God. Okay. He still believes in you.
He has a plan for you. And I believe He’s brought
you here to this moment not by coincidence,
but by divine appointment. And on the count of three,
if you’re here today and you’ve never made your peace
with God, you’ve never accepted and made Jesus Christ the Lord and Savior of your life, the word says
believe in your heart and confess with your mouth. Before we get out of here,
before we continue to sing and have a great concert,
if you’re here and you have never prayed that prayer,
I wanna give you an opportunity in this moment
to respond to Jesus. So on the count of three,
if that’s you, I just want you to be bold. I want you to lift your hand up
high enough and long enough, just so I can see it. I just wanna include you
in this prayer of salvation. We’re gonna pray and then we’ve
got some great things planned. We’re gonna continue
to celebrate. But we think it would be
a tragedy if you came tonight and you weren’t given
an opportunity to simply say, “I believe in God
and I believe God is Jesus.” If that’s you,
on the count of three, would you be bold and would you lift your hand up high enough and long enough? On the count of three,
if that’s you — hands are already going up.
I love Explore God, because we’ve been praying
for a year for you, for this moment. But if that’s you, ready. One. The Bible says, “Today
is the day of salvation. Don’t wait for another moment.” Other moments, the Holy Spirit will speak to you, but I don’t know if it’s gonna be better
than this moment right now, where He is doing something
on the inside of you. Two. Don’t look at your neighbor. Forget about your neighbor. It’s a private moment
between you and your maker. He wants a
relationship with you. Here we go.
Ready? One, two, three. If that’s you,
just lift it up. That’s me.
That’s me. That’s me, Rich.
That’s me. That’s me.
I believe. I believe.
I believe. Thank you, Jesus.
Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Holy Spirit. I’m gonna wait about five
more seconds here. If that’s you —
that’s me. That’s me, Rich. I’m raising my hand tonight,
making a confession that I wanna follow Jesus. That’s awesome. All over this room, can we just pray
this prayer out loud together? Can we do what
the scripture says? We’re gonna put the words from
our heart into the atmosphere. We’re gonna declare,
we’re gonna confess in front of one another. Say, “Dear Jesus,
tonight I surrender. I ask that you would
forgive me for all my sins, for all my mistakes,
past, present, and future. I believe Jesus.
You are God. I believe you went to the cross and you died for my sins, and three days later, you resurrected so I could have eternal life with you. I boldly confess that you
are my Lord and my Savior. Tonight I choose to follow you.
Thank you for saving me. I love you, Jesus.” In Jesus’s name, everybody said.
Hey, come on. Can we go ahead and make
some noise for all the people who just prayed that prayer?
Come on, Miami. Can we make some noise?
God bless you, guys.

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