When Legends Die—Thank You, Ravi Zacharias

I remember sermons by Ravi Zacharias years ago on the radio. I’d put a cassette tape in, hit “record” when “Let My People Think” came on, and listen to it later. Maybe more than once.

Ravi was different. He was such an intellectual thinker, yet he was tender.

He kept my attention and helped grow my faith.

And he stayed faithful himself until the end.

“Even in his final days, until he lacked the energy and breath to speak, he turned every conversation to Jesus and what the Lord had done. He perpetually marveled that God took a 17-year-old skeptic, defeated in hopelessness and unbelief, and called him into a life of glorious hope and belief.”
– Sarah Zacharias Davis, Zacharias’ daughter

Now he has no more words to say to us here. Ravi died Tuesday, May 19, 2020. But we can still listen to words he left behind.

Ravi’s departure reminded me of another great spiritual influence that left us around this time 7 years ago: Dallas Willard. Despite the absence of new material, his old material continues to feed me and fill me.

Here are some things about Dallas that I posted after his death in 2013.

Dallas Willard In Memoriam web[3]

You couldn’t read Dallas Willard’s words lightly or quickly. His words took time to sink in. But, oh, they were worth it.

Even if you haven’t read Dallas Willard’s books yourself, you’ve likely been influenced by them through someone else who has.

His books have been some of my favorites: The Divine Conspiracy, Renovation of the Heart, The Spirit of the Disciplines, The Great Omission.

Willard sent a clear and consistent message in all his writings:

  • Our kingdom life has begun now.
  • Be an active disciple of Jesus Christ.
  • Deep soul transformation is possible, if pursued, because Christ is with us.

His last words are reported to have been, “Thank you.”


A few favorite words I’m keeping from Dallas Willard:

~ Grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning. Earning is an attitude. Effort is an action.

~ Any time ritual and compassion (for example, for hunger) come into conflict, God, who gave the law, favors compassion. That is the kind of God He is.

~ The greatest need you and I have—the greatest need of collective humanity—is renovation of our heart.

~ “Knowledge” in biblical language never refers to what we today call “head knowledge,” but always to experiential involvement with what is known—to actual engagement with it.

~ Human life cannot flourish as God intended it to . . . if we see ourselves as “on our own”—and especially if we struggle to preserve ourselves that way.

* * *

Did Ravi Zacharias influence you as well? Dallas Willard? Who do you wish were still here to teach us? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

13 thoughts on “When Legends Die—Thank You, Ravi Zacharias

  1. bill (cycleguy)

    I wish I had listened more to Ravi but since I’m not much of a radio listener while driving (except music) I didn’t listen. But I know his material will be timeless and I look forward to reading it in the future. Nice tribute to both Lisa.

  2. Laurie

    I am not familiar with Ravi Zacharias but I was a fan of Dallas Willard. You are right, his writing has to percolate for a while to really sink in. I love reading books by writers who make me think. The quote you shared about grace is a perfect example.

  3. Martha J Orlando

    While I’ve heard of both these great men, I’d never read anything by them. Think I will remedy that soon!
    The person I wish was still here to speak to us is C. S. Lewis – love his writings!
    Blessings, Lisa!

  4. Barbara Harper

    I’m sad to think of Ravi gone. He was one who made the best use of his time on earth. I didn’t catch his radio broadcasts often, but I thoroughly enjoyed his testimony in his book Walking From East to West: God in the Shadows. I’m thankful he left a great deal of his material for others to read and listen to. I appreciated that he didn’t cut corners on doctrine, but he expressed himself kindly.

    Another that I miss is Nabeel Qureshi. I was so moved by his testimony in Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus. He probably would have been poised to step into Ravi’s shoes, but he died at age 34. Yesterday on Twitter someone posted a photo of Ravi and Nabeel together and said something about their being reunited in heaven. Almost made me cry.

    But probably the one I most wish was here to teach us is Elisabeth Elliot. There are a lot of great women speakers and writers, but no one quite like her. I’m thankful she also left behind a lot of material, and BBN Radio is replaying her radio programs.

    May God continue to raise up people to share His truth clearly and compassionately.

  5. Lynn D. Morrissey

    Tx so much, Lisa. I posted a short tribute on FB. He was such an inspirational apologist, who fought for truth, but not as a combatant. He was compassionate to the end. Thank you for your own beautiful tribute. We need more like him.

  6. ~ linda

    I will miss this man of God too. He was a deep thinker and yet spoke with clarity to my simple ears. I had even heard a sermon by him just days before he died on the car radio. Ravi will be missed by many around the world. I am grateful that the Lord gave him the words to speak to us for these many years.

  7. Lois Flowers

    Good question, Lisa. I don’t think I’ve ready anything by either man but am familiar with their ministries. I read “Mere Christianity” for the first time about two years ago and loved it. I wish I could read the book again, but with my dad so I could get his insights on it. I also wonder what C.S. Lewis would be saying right now if he were still here.

  8. Elena Wiggins

    I loved these two books by Ravi: Jesus Among Other Gods and The Grand Weaver, which has a quote I especially loved: “ God the Grand Weaver seeks those with tender hearts so that he can put his imprint on them. Your hurts and your disappointments are part of that design, to shape your heart and the way you feel about reality. The hurts you live through will always shape you. There is no other way.”

  9. Karen Friday

    Lisa, Ravi ministered to me so many times, his words often spoke straight to my heart through an anointing from the Holy Spirit. I’m almost finished with his book, “The Logic of God: 52 Christian Essentals for the Heart and Mind.” I have friends who read it like a normal chapter book. But I’ve taken it on as he meant it to be. One reflection each week for a year. And I’m so thankful I have. Ravi was so brillant and so compassionate for those who were lost and needed a Savior and for believers to gain spiritual knowledge, it takes a week to let his words through God’s Word permeate the soul.

  10. Jean Wise

    Nice tribute to both men of God. I just heard of new book about Dallas Willard called Renovated. Ordered it today – maybe it is one you would like too. Since I know we both love to read and who needs more books? LOL

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