Passion 2016: Apologist Ravi Zacharias Says American Song Led Him to the Bible in India

Christian apologist and author Ravi Zacharias speaks to tens of thousands of young adults in Atlanta's Philips Arena on Sunday, January 3, 2016. Students in Houston were able to watch Zacharias through livestream for the first time in Passion's 19 year history. | (Courtesy of Passion Conference/Bobby Russell)

Apologist and author Ravi Zacharias spoke to tens of thousands of young adults from around the world at the 2016 Passion Conference in Georgia and Texas, sharing with them how a song written by an American led him to the Bible in the 1960s during his desperate search for the truth.

Speaking at the conference venue, Philips Arena in Atlanta, Zacharias told the crowd that his journey to Christianity began with a series of questions in the 1960s while he was growing up in New Delhi in India.

The three-day conference, helmed by Pastor Louie Giglio, founder of the Passion Movement and pastor of Passion City Church in Atlanta, Georgia, and being attended by students mostly between the age of 18 and 25, ends Monday.

Zacharias, a defender of traditional evangelicalism, continued, saying he was in a hospital bed when he listened to Ed Ames' song, "Who will answer," on Radio Cylon.

The Indian-born Canadian-American apologist recited the lyrics of the song: "From the canyons of the mind, / We wander on and stumble blindly / Through the often-tangled maze / Of starless nights and sunless days, / While asking for some kind of clue / Or 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 imbedded in their hearts, / But soon an empty feeling starts / To overwhelm their hollow lives, / And when they seek the hows and whys, / Who will answer?

"On a strange and distant hill, / A young man's lying very still. His arms will never hold his child, / Because a bullet running wild / Has struck him down. And now we cry, "Dear God, Oh, why, oh, why?" / But who will answer?

"High upon a lonely ledge, / a figure teeters near the edge, / And jeering crowds collect below / To egg him on with, "Go, man, go!" But who will ask what led him / To his private day of doom, / And who will answer?

"… Is our hope in walnut shells / Worn 'round the neck with temple bells, / Or deep within some cloistered walls / Where hooded figures pray in halls? Or crumbled books on dusty shelves, / Or in our stars, or in ourselves, / 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?"

Zacharias said two things amazed him about the song. One, an American singing this song, as he would think until then that had he got a chance to move to the West, he wouldn't have all the questions he had, as his life would become comfortable. Two, the way the song was worded, especially about who will answer.

He soon turned to the Bible, and prayed to Jesus that if He is what He claims to be, then he would do all he can to pursue Him.

"Young people, truth is the most valuable thing in the world," Zacharias told the crowd, and asked, "Does the truth matter to you?"

It doesn't seem to matter in the political or cultural arena and in so many other pursuits, he said.

He then drew the youngsters' attention to Jesus' statement, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

Truth, Zacharias added, can be verified by three things: logical consistency, empirical adequacy and experiential relevance.

The apologist focused on experiential relevance, saying we could look at the description of the human condition by Jesus. "No one describes your heart and my heart more accurately than the person of Jesus," he said.

Talking about the human potential for evil, as was reflected in the gas chambers used as a method of mass execution by Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime in the 1940s, Zacharias remarked, "The problem of evil is not so much that it's so pervasive and so strong out there, but the fact that it is deep inside your heart and mine too."

Zacharias then talked about the truth of the Resurrection of Jesus.

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