I remember one particular instance when I was at a Christian bookstore speaking to one of the employees. It was a few years back, when Josh Hamilton was still playing baseball and it was for the Texas Rangers. This must’ve been around 2010 or 2011, because it was when he was at the height of his career and he was relatively scandal free at the time. He was also my favorite player. Josh Hamilton’s autobiography came out in around ‘08-’09. This was the book me and the bookstore employee were looking at. I remember this employee looked at Josh’s eyes and said, “There is evil in those eyes. I don’t believe he is actually done with his demons.” Which I didn’t like, because Josh was my favorite player and played for my favorite team!
There have been times myself when I looked at people as if I could tell what was going on in their mind and heart. As a parent I wish I could see what is bouncing around in my daughter’s mind and heart, so I could help her, or just say, “Stop thinking about that!” As a pastor I share the same sentiment. “No that is not right! Stop thinking about that and do this!”
By now you probably know or have heard something about the Ravi Zacharias scandal. I’ll admit, sometimes when I see his picture pop up online, or I see one of his books with his picture on it, I try to examine what’s going on in his head by looking at his eyes. I don’t know what his standing was with God during his life. I don’t know if he truly made a real faith commitment in Jesus or not. When it comes down to it, it’s not up to me whether or not he got into heaven, or not.
I bring this up, because I have been posed the question, as have many others in the previous weeks, “Where is Ravi now?” My simple answer is, I don’t know? We’ll find out one day. However, it’s not my intent to harp on that particular question. Instead, I want to talk about what we should see from the lives of people who call themselves Christians. So churches, pastors, church leaders, it’s imperative that we do a better job teaching the church what it means to follow Jesus (and more specifically for the topic at hand) and what evidence should flow from their life.
Evidence of a Christian
Rather than our churches have a conveyor belt mentality to evangelism (say this prayer…move it along), we need to teach, train, point out scripture, and just walk people through life to know how to follow Christ.
Understand the Gospel
First and foremost, the church and anyone exploring becoming a Christian needs be fed a steady diet of the gospel. Pastors, do your people know the gospel? Do they know why they need Jesus? Do they understand sin? Do they understand they are not saved by works? Do they understand how to be saved? Do they understand how to share their faith with someone? Get to know your people and find out how confident they are if they were asked by someone what they need to do to be saved. So as evidence of someone who is saved, it doesn’t seem far-fetched to say that a saved person should know the gospel. Right? If not, what did they believe (Rom. 10:13-14)?
There Should Be Fruit
The Christian should see this in themselves and others should see it too. This is the most outward, clear sign you think of when we speak of evidence or fruit in a person’s life. “What exactly are they physically doing and saying?” So there are things we should be seeing in each other. Galatians 5 comes to mind in regards to the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The Bible actually tells us to examine our lives to see whether we’re in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). The very fact that Jesus tells us, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 7:21), should be sufficient fuel to wake us from complacency and thinking everyone understands the truth. Jesus speaks of what we should see in our lives in the second part of that verse, “but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” So what is the fruit we should see in our lives and in the lives of all believers? Love of God and obedience to His word.
They Should Hate Sin
I single this one out, because I think it naturally comes from being obedient to God. The more you fill your life with God, His word, and the things of His kingdom, the less room there is for the stuff of this world. I always tell people that they have to know they need to be saved before anything else. If you don’t know you are broken, then you won’t come to Jesus. Follow this train of thought. Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” The place to start is to see that you need help and forgiveness. Then Proverbs later goes on to give us a little more detail on what fearing God entails. “To fear the Lord is to hate evil (Pr. 8:13).”
We Need Accountability
“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ (Gal. 6:1-2).” James reminds us as well to pray for each and confess our sins so we can be healed (Jas. 5:16) There is a calling and responsibility to being a follower of Jesus. There is also a responsibility we have towards each other as believers and leaders. We must take this seriously. We have His words to live by. He tells us plainly to obey them and that when we do, it shows we love Him because we trust Him.
Was Ravi Zacharias saved? I can’t answer that. What his hidden sin, that is now in the light, should do for us who are still here is push us to be more intentional. Be more intentional about knowing the truth of scripture. Be more intentional about taking His command to obey His word by turning from sin, repenting of sin, and confessing it to other believers. I’ve heard the statement many times: God is good…all the time. And all the time…God is good. Those words don’t even begin to express how true that statement really is. But let’s take the calling to live for God fully. We cannot lean heavy on the grace side to the neglect of His justice and wrath. God is good all the time. As a perfect and holy God, He calls for His people to follow Him by obeying Him and loving each other enough to not turn a blind eye to sin.