John MacArthur attacks Ravi Zacharias’ Salvation

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   Many people have this question: where did Ravi Zacharias go? Did he go to heaven or did he go to hell? Asking such questions would be unfathomable a year ago. We are here and asking. It is good. Ravi is our subject, not our object. Our great Savior Lord Jesus Christ is a wonderful Savior. How does he deal with someone like Ravi? 

John MacArthur weighed on this question and questioned whether Ravi Zacharias was even saved. I posted the link and you can watch the video. John MacArhtur is a highly respected pastor and teacher of the Bible. I like his candor for delving into controversial topics like this. 

     First of all, we should understand how we are saved through our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans chapter 10 is a good place to start. 

That if thou shalt confess with thy 

mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe

 in thine heart that God hath raised him

 from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 

For with the heart man believeth

 unto righteousness; and with the mouth

 confession is made unto salvation.

                            Romans 10:9,10

-there are two conditions for salvation: you should believe in the resurrection of Jesus in your heart, that God raised him from the dead. Then, you should confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus. 

Those are the two conditions: 

  1. The resurrection of Jesus 
  2. The divinity of Jesus 

If you do those two things, you are saved. That is our soteriology. The technical word for the study of salvation. 

  When we believe in the resurrection of Christ, we are making a personal connection to Christ. It is not an isolated event. I realize that Jesus died for my sins, I repent of my sins and put my faith in Him. He is able to save me and I realize that truth when I stand at the empty tomb. He is a savior who he claimed to be. 

   When I was saved, three things happened: Justification, Sanctification and Glorification. In Christ, I am justified before God. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. In Christ, I am sanctified before God, as though I never sinned in my life. In Christ, I am also glorified. In Christ, I am already in heaven. That’s just a mind-blowing truth of the gospel of our great Savior Jesus Christ. 

   So, when I got saved, I repented, I believed, I was justified, sanctified and glorified. With that backdrop, let us see the arguments put forward: 

  1. Ravi never repented of his sins: this argument is fallacious and presumptuous. First, post-salvation repentance is not a requirement for salvation. Post-salivation repentance is a sign of salvation. It is not a requirement. There is a subtle yet profound difference between the two.  You confess your sins continually because you are saved, not to get saved. If you go to heaven tomorrow, God would not say, ‘Yesterday you were jealous of your neighbor. You did not confess your sin yesterday. So, you are not getting in’. If God behaves like that, heaven will be empty. We confess our sins, we struggle with our sins because we are saved, not to get saved. 

Ravi did not repent of his sins. How do you know? He had a full 100 days of terrible pain as he fought his cancer. I have some patients fighting cancer. They are in terrible pain. Some patients get desperate and ask me: doctor, please help me, this pain is unbearable. Sometimes I take liberty and ask my patients, how is your spiritual life? One patient told me, ‘You know all my life I never believed in hell. But now I believe in hell because if God allowed this kind of pain to torment me in this world, he is capable of tormenting me for an eternity in hell’. I never forget that conversation. I just sat by his bed. He lost his hair, he lost his strength, his whole body is in pain, he loved milkshakes all his life, now they don’t taste good, his body is sweating, I can’t stand on his own, he can’t pee, he can’t take a shit, he is bound to bed. When I see these patients, I feel terrible. He said, now I believe in hell because if God allowed this kind of pain to torment me in this world, he is capable of tormenting me for an eternity in hell.’ Ravi went through that kind of torment for over 100 days of his final stage of life. Maybe he begged Lord Jesus as he laid on his bed, ‘Lord Jesus, I abused some many women, I abused your call to preach the gospel. I abused your money. Please forgive me’. 

  People say Ravi never asked God for forgiveness. That is highly presumptuous. Did Ravi call you and say, ‘hi, I am going to die soon and I did not ask the Lord for forgiveness’ Maybe he did or maybe he did not. We don’t have that information. 

   In the book of Isaiah, we see King Hezekiah got sick. On his bed, he turned to the wall and wept to the Lord and asked God for mercy. Sickness shakes all of us and we beg God for his mercy. Ravi was a sensitive person and it is highly likely he wept over his sins and asked God for forgiveness. 

  1. John MacArthur said Ravi cheated so many people at so many levels to continue his sins. That is true. Ravi lied to his wife, to his children, to his staff, to his victims and to his fans like myself. 

A Christian would not have to sin. God give us power to conquer sin if we beg him for help. Had Ravi gone on his knees and asked God for help, he would have gotten it. Ravi did not do that. He deceived people. That is the nature of sin. When Abraham lied about his wife Sarah, he was deceiving his hosts. When Jacob’s sons lied about what they did to their brother Joseph, they were deceiving their dear father. When David took Uriah’s wife Bethsheba he was deceiving lot of people. When Ananias and his wife Sapphira lied about the sale of their land, they were deceiving the apostles and the Holy Spirit of God as we read in Acts chapter 5. Ravi probably told some of these women, ‘I love you’. He did not mean it. He just wanted to use her as long as he stays in that town. So, Ravi deceived these women with his lies. 

John MacArthur has a point that willfully cheating on people for so long is not a fruit of genuine salvation. Still, we have no liberty to consign Ravi to the eternal flames of hell. As he laid on his deathbed, Ravi probably invited the Lord into his life as the Savior for the very first time like the dying thief who asked Lord Jesus for forgiveness during the final minutes of his life after a lifetime of murders, rapes and robberies. Who knows? That argument does not prevent Ravi from going to heaven. 

  1. Then, John MacArhtur said, I met Ravi a few times. I told him, ‘Ravi, you don’t quote the scriptures in your sermons. It is all about philosophy, literature and that sort of thing’.

This argument goes like this: Ravi did not quote much scriptures in his messages. So, Ravi must be false teacher and we should assume he went to hell. 

There are many problems with this argument. 

Imagine Ravi never quoted scriptures to any one in his life, but had he invited the Lord for the very first time into his life on his deathbed, he would still go to heaven. Quoting scriptures is not a requirement to go to heaven. The only two requirements are believing in the divinity of Lord Jesus and in his resurrection. 

   Also remember John MacArthur is a pastor and Ravi was an itinerant evangelist. John MacArthur goes by verse by verse and his audience is very well grounded in the scriptures. Ravi did not have that luxury. Today, he would speak to Christians, tomorrow to atheists, next day to Hindus, next day to Buddhists, next day to Muslims. Hindus don’t know much about the Bible so when you talk to them for the very first time it is better to start with some common truths like moral law. Apostle Paul would quote lots of scriptures when he would go to a synagogue because his Jewish audience would know what he was talking about.  In Acts chapter 17, Paul was on the Mars Hills speaking to pagan Greeks. Paul did not start his sermon with the Hebrew bible. He started with Greek Philosophers and drew lines to Christ. Ravi took that approach because many of his gatherings around the world did not have a Christian background and scriptural knowledge. 

    Also it is not fair to say that he did not use much scriptures. The sermons he preached to Christian audiences such as , Convictions that conquered the world; I, Isaac, take you Rebecca; lessons from the royalty, the prophet marries a prostitute, Jesus among other Gods are intensely scriptural. 

    We should also remember that all truth is God’s truth. Whether it is in the Bible or science or philosophy or poetry, all truth came from God. One day I was listening to Ravi on the radio. He spoke about his visits to the camps in Poland which were set up during the Second World War. Under the leadership of Dr. Josef Mengele, doctors were conducting medical experiments on little children in those camps. They used a logical argument: the end justifies the means. The results of our medical experiments on the dying children will benefit the whole humanity. After listening to Ravi, I booked a trip to Poland, visited those camps and studied what those doctors and scientists did to those helpless babies in the name of science and progress. I learned that lesson: the end never justifies the means. Don’t abuse your patients in name of greater good to the society. That was a great lesson in medical ethics I learnt after listening to Ravi. All truth belongs to God. 

Ravi not quoting much scripture does not make him a bad preacher, let alone obstruct his path to heaven. 

  So, as a whole if you look at John MacArhtur’s arguments to doubt the salvation of Ravi Zacharias, they are not good arguments. My personal opinion is that Ravi got genuinely saved, then fell in sin, God exposed him, punished him, shamed him and called him to heaven. It is only my personal opinion. I could be wrong. Please share your thoughts in the comments section. don’t forget to visit our web site and subscribe to our YouTube channel. 

Remember God will not ask you about Ravi’s sins. He will ask you about your sins. If you are not saved today, put your faith in our great Savior Lord  Jesus Christ and get saved. May God richly bless you.

5 thoughts

  1. There is no real proof that Ravi Zacharias was guilty of any of the accusations made against him. Besides the fact that all of these allegations have been made “after” his death! How convenient! Ravi’s organization has evicted his widow from her home, which to most objective observers would seem to indicate the heart attitude behind their actions! I would suspect monetary gain is the prime motivation!

    1. i agree i came to the same conclusion –something is very very fishy that he was accused after he died.— his widow did a complete search of all his papers etc and found nothing—…the thing is she was told she could stay in the house until she died but she was kicked out soon after because of ravis” indiscretions. —who wanted that house? and why?

  2. Only soteriologies that render us automatons insist that all “true” Christians will, by and large, succeed. Justification is absolutely God’s work. It is Paul’s foundation which no one other than Christ can lay. Free at last from the law, we are free to succeed for Him in building on that foundation. And we cannot be free to significantly succeed if we aren’t free to fail. This principle is true to all human endeavors. Sex is a dominating sin among believers and unbelievers alike, as is deception. Thus we are told that “some are saved, but as by fire:” their works will not be rewarded at the Judgement Seat of Christ, but, to reiterate Paul, they themselves are saved. Why? Because God did not die just for his successful Christians. When God dies, He pays the entire price of entry into God’s presence. Believers who think otherwise are selling Jesus Christ short!
    The Puritans gave us a wonderful work ethic; they also passed on a legacy of legalism that lead to self-righteous popery as exemplified by John MacArthur. HOW DARE HE consign anyone to anywhere? Once again, Catholicism is in bed with the Reformed Movement, a bed of legalism, pride and hypocrisy pontificates and excommunicates. If Ravi trusted Christ at anytime in his life, and I believe that occurred after His attempted suicide as a teenager under the guidance of his grandmother, the Gospel of John, and the Holy Spirit, then He is saved. But as Shakespeare wrote in Julius Caesar, the evil men do lives forever; the good is interred with their bones.

    1. Keep in mind, however, that Dr. MacArthur’s conclusion is in keeping with the scriptures related to telling a tree by its fruit. Based upon “observable” evidence, Ravi was not a believer. However, and this is the real takeaway from this article, we do not have the “unobserved” evidence. That belongs only to God. Dr. MacArthur is correct, Reformed or not, in applying the criteria for believers in this situation. What is incorrect is that Dr. MacArthur suggests he has all the evidence necessary to apply the criteria, which he does not. The Puritans did not make blanket statements but investigated and met with the accused. If MacArthur sat at Ravi’s bedside and talked with him over his last 100 days, then Dr. MacArthur might have the evidence to make this conclusion, based upon Ravi’s own testimony. Instead, Dr. MacArthur has made a conclusion based upon limit information.

  3. I wonder if Ravi ever said to himself “The things that I know I should do, I do not do and those things that I know I should NOT do… I do”. That would put him square in the 7th chapter of Romans where Paul clearly lays out the warring factions of flesh and spirit for control of the believer.

    It is estimated that between 80 and 90% of men struggle with sexual sin of some kind OTHER than ‘lusting in their hearts’. Ie., there is an active sinful sexual impulse that is leading them into sin. I got this figure from a professional counselor, BTW. At a Promise Keepers conference years ago participants were asked if they had viewed pornography in the past week. Roughly half of those men, the men whose participation in PK would seem to indicate some degree of serious spiritual direction, indicated that they had viewed pornography in the last 7 days. Are these men not saved?

    And what of OTHER sins? Why are sexual sins seen as the most egregious? What of all the other sins that seem to never cause one to question salvation? How many stories have appeared about the death of some evangelist who was a gossip, claiming they could not possibly be a true believer because they gossiped?

    And one more thing. God did NOT create men with a desire for lying, drugs, alcohol, money, possessions, idolatry, income tax evasion, fighting, being ill-tempered, cursing and conducting dishonest businesses. God DID create men with a sexual appetite. It is His intent that we want to have sex. Clearly we have failed as a culture to tame these desires and with rare exception, the men I have known, really known, in the 45 years that I have been an adult – these men have almost always had a sexual struggle of some sort. This includes ‘normal guys’, pastors, and me.

    I say he who is without sin should cast the first stone.

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