Ravi Zacharias – Liberty University Convocation

Ravi Zacharias – Liberty University Convocation

October 19, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


>>DR. RAVI ZACHARIAS: Thanks, David. Thank you so much. Thank you. All right, there’s a gentleman there who’s
a masochist because on that little board there he says, “I want to meet Ravi.” Uh, may the Lord have mercy on you. [AUDIENCE LAUGHTER] Uh, which actually reminds me of a story from
Billy Graham, uh, when he was, I think, preaching in Pittsburg, years ago. [AUDIENCE CHEERS] Uh, we was- uh he was in the elevator and
a group of businessmen in there, and one of them leaned over to the other and said uh,
“I hear Billy Graham is staying in this hotel too.” And one of the other men who had recognized
Dr. Graham just pointed to him and said, “That’s him.” And the original man who voiced the comment
to meet him say- saying he had heard he was in the same hotel looked at Dr. Graham and
said, “What an anticlimax.” [AUDIENCE LUAGHTER] That story was told by Billy Graham himself,
and uh what a beautiful story of a life so beautifully lived with Dr. Graham. If I may just for a moment go back to a personal
moment I had with him, my wife Margie was with me and it was 1983. I was in my 30’s, speaking at Amsterdam
’83 for the first time of the three Amsterdams, ’83, ’86, and 2000. And Dr. Graham, whom I’d never met before,
here he’s larger than life going from table to table as you well said, David. He came over to our table, put his hands on
my shoulders, and said to me, “Your message that you’re going to give, I have read the
manuscript. It’s the finest treatment of the subject
I have ever read.” And I was blown away by that comment. I said, “This is amazing, coming from Billy
Graham.” So next day we were having some coffee with
Leighton Ford and the whole team around, and I said, “I’m still shaken up by what Dr.
Graham said to me, that that’s the finest treatment of the subject he’d ever read.” And Leighton Ford looked at me and said, “He
says that to everybody about every sermon he has ever read.” [AUDIENCE LAUGHETR] And I think that’s true. And it was true of Dr. Graham no matter what
you said, when you said it, and where you said it, he was such a self-effacing man that
he always wanted you to feel very comfortable in his presence, and would make some kind
of comment to set you at ease. Uh, what an amazing life. I don’t think anyone human being will ever
replace Billy Graham. And as he has gone on to meet with the Lord-
in fact, in a one-on-one interaction I saw him have with a press reporter, the press
reporter looked at him and said, “Mr. Graham, I have heard many preachers better than you. Why is it that God has chosen you to be the
evangelist to the world?” And Billy Graham looked at him and said, “When
I get to heaven that is going to be my first question.” [AUDIENCE LAUGHTER] I have no doubt that now he is the presence
of the Lord. Uh, I doubt he would have any questions. I am positive that there’ll be silence when
you come face to face with the Lord because he himself is the answer. Proposition answers will be reduced to a very
secondary status as he kneels before him. [AUDIENCE APPLAUSE] So, the hymn writer said, “And Lord, hasten
the day when the faith shall be sight, and the clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, the Lord shall descend. Even so, it is well with my soul.” For a man like Dr. Graham who wrote on heaven,
uh the trump has sounded, and he is now in God’s presence. Uh, do remember the family, uh his impact
will obviously live on for generations to come. No one has spoken to more people in recent
memory than anybody like him. David, thank you for having me here. I’m really honored to be here at Liberty,
your faith and your fame is spoken over all over the world, and you’re a very intimidating
audience. To be standing in front of you, I’d rather
be sitting there and let Chris or David be doing the speaking, and tell them I’d be
praying for them rather than be standing here and being prayed for with this awesome responsibility. After 45 years of itinerant work, people ask
me a lot of questions. In fact, questions is the nature of Christian
apologetics. Some years ago, when I was in New Jersey,
I had just come back from Bangkok and passing through New York to head back to Atlanta. Uh, when you get off a long 14-hour flight,
you look like a passport picture. [AUDIENCE LAUGHTER] So I had just gone to the gateway, and I noticed
a different- the marque gave a different airline number. So I look to the lady at the corner and I
said, “Is this flight going where it says it is on there or is it going to Atlanta?” She said, “It’s going to Atlanta.” I said, “That’s good.” So I went back to get a cup of coffee, I heard
the patter of feet behind me running. And it was the same lady, she came and tapped
me on the shoulder, and she said, “Excuse me, are you Ravi Zacharias?” I said, “I’m afraid so.” She said, “That’s amazing, it’s absolutely
amazing. I did not know that you had questions as well.” [AUDIENCE LAUGHTER] Really? Really? She said it to be very kind and very complimentary,
but you and I live through every day with questions. Some of them are never completely answered. We get to the root of our very being, and
the questions of origin meaning, morality, and destiny, in one way or the other, will
haunt you your entire life, because those are the four questions that you ultimately
put your answers to that formulate your worldview. The questions of origin, meaning, morality,
and destiny. But as I have covered this globe over the
last many years, I have asked myself this question, “How has apologetics changed?” Has your approach to the questions changed
in any way? How do you deal with the rigorous questions
that in many ways are the same, but they come from a different context, or a different reality
that has just preceded the question and the questioner? If you go to Florida immediately after the
shooting, the question is not just going to be a theoretical one, it is going to be a
very deeply personal one. And I realize again and again as we cover
this globe how what Malcolm Muggeridge said is true, “All new news is old news happening
to new people.” “All new news is old news happening to new
people.” And in many ways you hark back to the older
answers, but you have to do it within the framework and the relevance of the immediate
question and the questioner. If you answer a question without responding
to the questioner, you’ve never really brought a satisfactory response, because behind every
question is a questioner who brings to you within their life the confluence of tragedy,
reality, struggle, pain. And Dr. J. Jowett once made the comment, he
said, “If you speak to a hurting people, you will never lack for an audience.” “If you speak to a hurting people, you will
never lack for an audience.” It’s so true that the reality of struggle,
pain, and questioning goes on and on, and we ask the same questions but within the framework
of our own personal struggle. So let me try to be general in the questions,
but specific in the answers that I would like to make. What are the questions of our time? Somebody writing from Canada years ago described
how culture has changed in the last half-a-century. He said this, “In the 1950s kids lost their
innocence. They were liberated from their parents by
well-paying jobs, cars, and lyrics in music that gave rise to a new term, the ‘generation
gap’. In the 1960s kids lost their authority. It was the decade of protest. Church, state, and parents were all called
into question and found wanting. Their authority was rejected, yet nothing
ever replaced it. In the 1970s kids lost their love. It was the decade of me-ism dominated my hyphenated
words beginning with ‘self’. ‘Self-image’, ‘self-esteem’, ‘self-assertion’. It made for a very lonely world. Kids have learned everything there is to know
about sex, have forgotten there is to know about true love, and few have had the nerve
to tell them that there is indeed a difference. In the 1980s kids lost their hope, stripped
of innocence, authority, and love. Plagued by the horrors of a nuclear nightmare,
large and growing numbers of this generation have stopped believing in the future.” I added this, “In the 1990s kids have lost
their power to reason. Lost in a world of cyberspace they have now
personalized objects and totally subjectivised reality, and imprisoned now by their aloneness
in front of a machine.” So you moved from the ‘50s all the way to
the last decade of the last century, and you see how they move from the loss of authority,
and love, and hope, and meaning, and when you stand in front of a university audience
as today, I can guarantee you this, when you get to the issue of meaning they are sitting
there riveted with the tension, hoping you can give them some kind of a clue to an answer
for that. Just a few weeks ago at the University of
Florida in Gainesville, on a midweek night, 7,280 in attendance on the subject that my
colleague Vince Vitale and I were addressing on the loss of truth, and the search for meaning. But you look across the last five decades,
how did this all happen? You can never, ever pinpoint with any degree
of exactitude, but you can get hints in the direction of how we ended up where we are
today. In the year 1900, the German philosopher Friedrich
Nietzsche passed away. He was born in 1844, died in 1900. Died at the age of 56. He died as an atheist. Ironically his father was a pastor, both of
his grandfathers had been in the ministry, but somewhere along the way philosophically,
experientially, he lost his way in his pursuit of God. And he looked at the piano once and said,
“That piano has more of a soul than I do.” In the last 13 years of his life, he spent
moving between total oblivion in his thinking, to struggling with what he remembered in his
childhood, every now and then quoting scriptures after days and days of silence. But he is the one who popularized the phrase,
“God is dead.” And dying in 1900, when you move across the
20th century, he became prophetic of what the 20th century would be like in ironic terms. He said, “Because God has died in the 19th
century, two things will happen in the 20th century. The 20th century will become the bloodiest
century in history, and a universal madness will breakout.” Why? He said, “Is there any up or down left? Will lanterns have to be lit in the morning
hours? Are we not straying through an infinite nothing?” All these metaphors that he used were the
fact- were phrased upon this one line when he said, “Do we realize what a monstrous
deed we have actually committed, what we have done when we wiped away the horizon? When we killed God, have we realized what
it is we’ve actually done?” Now he stood by that conviction, but when
he said a universal madness would break out, and the 20th century would become the bloodiest
century in history, the fact of the matter is in the 20th century, modern times, while
we were supposed to be coming through the Industrial Revolution, and all the progress
of the computers and so on, we killed more people in warfare in the 20th century than
the previous 19 centuries put together. And that metaphorical sense, he himself spent
many of his hours away from reality. What happened? How did all this change come about? It is fascinating to me how we look at great
heroes of our time. We’re approaching the 50th anniversary of
the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, and he in his speech when he received the Nobel Prize
for peace made the comment, “Unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final
word in reality.” Remember that phrase. “Unarmed truth and unconditional love will
have the final word in reality.” If you go to a secular university today, where
the queen of the disciplines are the sciences, can you tell me which science gives you the
imperative of truth and love? Which of the sciences will give you the imperative
of truth and love? They are imperatives that are born from different
disciplines, so if unarmed truth and unconditional love is going to be the final word in reality,
we better look to some other discipline other than the mere sciences. As good as they are, as profound as they are,
as helpful as they are, science can tell you what happens when you mix this with that,
science cannot tell the scientist why he or she should tell the truth about what happens. That comes from a completely different area. Maybe metaphysics, if not, ultimately spiritualty. So I want to deal with the three major changes
that took place in the last century and the responses that I would like to make to it. The first major change is the popularization
of the death of God, and the willingness to live with its ramifications. The popularization of the death of God, and
the willingness to live with its ramifications. It was not at all accidental that in the 20th
century under the scourge of Nazism how many millions and millions were exterminated. And when we- when I visited Auschwitz for
the first time many years go in the 80s, I remember the words of Adolf Hitler placed
outside the room with the gas in there. He said, “I wish to raise a generation of
young people devoid of a conscience, imperious, relentless, and cruel.” And there at Auschwitz alone, they were being
obliterated at the rate of 12,000 every day. If you go into the cemeteries in the area
in many parts of the world now that memorialize the numerous tens of thousands dead, and you
walked into the cemetery where some of these young Nazis had given their lives, on the
outside of the cometary are these words, “Melancholic rigor.” Almost an oxymoron. It was the rigor, and the animus, and the
imperative of destruction and decimation. Some of them were 18 and 19 years old when
you look at the markers on their gravestone. They were young, vibrant, hopeful when they
were conscripted to a cause where death and destruction was really in their path. I was in my 20s when I was in Vietnam. I went to volunteer, served alongside the
chaplains, and it changed my life. I saw the horror of what all kinds of brutalities
can do, and I remember as I got onto the plane Leitrim first and then in Saigon to take off,
as a young 25-year-old asking myself the question, what is my calling to a world such as this? What does God want me to do in a world such
as this? Ladies and gentlemen, the problem is only
magnified in how desperately the world is longing for leaders right now. But with the problem that of nature’s philosophy
which had created Atheism, we are now willing to live with the ramifications of all that
is that we see going on, and a blatant sense of disregard of any up or down, any sense
of absolutes. And so when a young man walks into a school
and mows down young kids or teachers, I think of the words of Anne Graham Lotz who had the
most appropriate response years ago when somebody asked her the question, “Where was God?” She said, “Look, we’ve kicked Him out
of our schools. We’ve kicked Him out of our courts of law,
we’ve kicked him out of politics, we’ve kicked him out of any arena of ethical thinking,
then when something like this happens, we won’t know where he is.” We don’t bring him anymore into the ideas
of our absolutes, and so to you young men and women, I want to say to you, leaning both
the easy and the hard way, form the source of your absolutes, the up and the down, the
right and the wrong, and flee even any semblance of evil because even the semblance of evil
can stalk you and hurt you very deeply. The reason God gave us a moral law with the
two imperatives right at the beginning, to love the Lord our God with all our heart and
soul, and all our mind, and all our strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves, it’s
because the second follows from the first command. To love the Lord your God. He is the source of your right and wrong,
he is the source of what life is all about. He is the source of telling us that deep in
your innermost being you are an inviolable individual. [AUDIENCE APPLAUSE] That you cannot be violated, the moral law. But the fact of the matter is you cannot really
come to terms with the moral law because the moral law was given to a people after they
had been rescued from Egypt. Redemption always precedes an understanding
of what righteousness is all about. And then redemption righteousness precede
worship. But if we don’t understand what the reality
is in our time, we’ll never be able to come up with suitable answers. In fact, it is in 18- in 1900 that Nietzsche
died, in 1999 in an interview, Richard Dawkins made this incredible comment. He doesn’t like me quoting this whenever
I quote it, but here’s exactly what he said in an interview. He starts off by saying, (READING) “The
scientific method of thought, of logical rationalism, cannot help us think through our moral beliefs
to detect inconsistencies, you can-” uh, I’m sorry, “can help us think through
our moral beliefs to detect inconsistencies.” But then he goes on to say, “But you cannot
use science to say fundamentally what is right or wrong. You cannot use science to demonstrate it’s
wrong to kill or hurt people. That comes from somewhere else. So while science may help you detect inconsistencies
and so on, moral reasoning has to come from somewhere else.” Then he gives this example, “For example,
there was a well-known television chef who did a stunt recently by cooking human placenta
and serving it up as a pâté, fried with shallots, garlic, and lime juice and everything. Everybody said it was delicious. The father himself had 17 helpings.” Now here’s his statement. “A scientist can point out as I have done
that this is actually an act of cannibalism, worse since cloning since cloning is such
a live issue at the moment because the placenta is a true genetic clone of the baby. The father was actually eating his own baby’s
clone. Science cannot tell you if its right or wrong
for you to eat your baby’s clone, it can tell you that’s what you are doing. Then you have to decide for yourself whether
you think it’s right or wrong.” See what he gave with one hand, he took away
with the other. He says science can tell you what you’re
doing, but you have to ultimately make the decision. And my question is, who dictates your conscience
in that? Where does that come from? It has to come from a transcendent, moral,
first cause that gives us the very reason for our being. So, this implications of atheism have become
deadly in our time. I’m not by any means saying that an atheist
is an immoral person, that’s not what I’m saying. I am saying this, that an atheist ultimately
loses the solid footing of finding a rational reason for why it is that we ought to do this
and not any other. Survival itself is not a good enough argument
for that. Secondly, it’s a gathering storm—it’s
a gathering storm of how western culture was disoriented by a pluralist worldview that
was emerging here. We in the west have suddenly been rudely awakened
to other worldviews, to understand these worldviews, and we don’t understand many of them. And so when we questioned about it, we don’t
know how to exactly come back with an answer. I do not have sufficient time to dwell into
this, but I do want to say this to you, that in a world of pluralistic thinking how critical
it is for us to understand what the other person believes. I was in one country recently that I shall
leave unnamed when the major ideolog behind the Jihadist movement of our time was in a
meeting with myself and three others of my colleagues. I can’t give you any more details than that,
except to tell you one thing. The man who lead in the discussion, my colleague
from Egypt, looked at this man whose ideology has resulted in the slaughter of tens of thousands. He looked at this man and said this to him. He said, “For you, sir, you cannot separate
a person from his or her belief. And that’s why you go around killing a person
whose belief you actually disagree with.” He said, “For me as a Christian, I must
separate the person from that belief. While I disagree with the belief, I have to
love that person and reach that person with the love and the message of Jesus Christ.” [AUDIENCE APPLAUSE] It was an incredible opening, and the only
way this man could have said it is because he understood the counter perspective. He understood exactly what the other person
believed, and for the next two and a half hours, that was the item of discussion between
this man with a killing ideology and the three of us, and he’s brought two other friends
with him. Understand counter perspectives, especially
in your university days. Take the trouble to understand from primary
sources what your questioners actually believe. But then the third reality of our time is
the power to inform through the visual. How it is that we now see with the eye rather
than through the eye. William Blake had reminded us about the vulnerability
of the eye gate. He says, “This life’s dim windows of the
soul distorts the heavens from pole to pole, and goads you to believe a lie when you see
with and not through the eye.” “This life’s dim windows of the soul distorts
the heavens from pole to pole, and goads you to believe a lie when you see with and not
through the eye.” We’re intended through the eye, with the
conscience. But if you see with the eye devoid of a conscience,
reality become disfigured and configured to serve the perpetrators wish rather than providing
you with the imagination parameters with which you can process these truths. Truths primary property is in propositions. We have now made it individual. What was it that um, uh Simone Weil had something-
said something like this, “In reality, nothing is so beautiful and powerful as the truth,
nothing so monotonous and boring as evil.” “Nothing as so powerful as the truth, nothing
so monotonous as evil.” But with our media today we have reversed
this that truth has become boring and flat, and evil has become varied, intriguing, attractive,
and full of charm. The tantalizing allurement of evil, and then
you come away with your hand empty and say, “How did I ever go into this?” Last weekend we were doing a meeting in Las
Vegas, and I flew back on Sunday night. Somebody made the comment as we were leaving,
“You’ll find the flight back very quiet.” On the way in it was very noisy, everybody
waiting to get to the tables, get to all that they do when they’re there, with all the
liquid refreshment and all that stuff. And the gambling, building their life on a
deck of cards. They were right. It was so quiet in the plane when you finished
that moment of ecstasy, and whether you’ve lost or won you come away with the same feeling. You say, “Is this all there is to it? Is this what I’m really living for?” One woman he saw sitting at the table, she
was gambling $200,000. 200,000 dollars’ worth of chips in front
of her while the world is in desperate need, and think of the number of young women and
men you can help globally in understanding reality and making something out of their
life as you’re burning paper and burning coins and so on. Ladies and gentlemen, what I’m going to
say to you I want you to understand very, very carefully because I don’t want you
to misunderstand me. Malcom Muggeridge years ago was in Biafra
and he saw the execution of some political prisoners. And as the executioner stood with their guns
down on their side, and the lead executioner shouted, “Ready, aim,” and they put their
rifles up, somebody shouted, “Cut! My camera is dead.” His battery was gone, and so the cameraman
filming the proceedings had to call a halt so that he could get a fresh battery pack,
and there stood the political prisoners, bound with the back- at the back having to wait
another few moments and go through the ordeal of about to be executed. Muggeridge who was a media man made the most
astute comment in his book “Christ and the Media” and he said this, “People may question
wherein lay the greatest barbarism, on the part of the demagogues, on the part of the
executioners,” he said, “some wise person would plump for the cameras.” What he was really saying is, the power of
the camera is so great to take us to the heights of bliss and glorious and imaginative thinking,
but it also imbued with the power to minimize the horror of what evil is really all about. Beware, you’re moving in that genre of thinking
where thinking in circumscribed and framed for you. Be discerning in what you watch, because logic
may come in through the front door of reason, but the imagination is assaulted from the
back door of desire, and sensuality, and all of that. [AUDIENCE APPLAUSE] Imagination is a glorious thing. It’s a glorious thing. I watch my grandkids growing up with an incredible
imagination. My six-year-old grandson when he was only
three his mother Naomi, um you’ve had- uh I know some of you remember Naomi, my daughter,
coming and speaking here. She works with the hurting of this world. And her little son, Jude, who was little beyond
three-and-a-half one day when Naomi lost her car keys she was rummaging around the house
looking for it, then stopped, slapped her forehead and said, “I must be losing my
mind.” And young Jude comes and stands in front of
her and says, “Mommy, whatever you do please don’t ever lose your heart, because I’m
in there.” [AUDIENCE “AWW” & LAUGHTER] Who told him that? Who told him to say that? It’s the idea of a pristine imagination,
“For out of the mouths of babes you have ordained praise.” So you see the death of God, you see the pluralistic
rise of worldviews, you see the power of the imagination. I’ll give you three quick responses in particular. The question is this, how do you reach a generation
that listens with its eyes and thinks with its feelings? How do you reach a generation that listens
with its eyes and thinks with its feelings? Number one, you have to let them not just
hear the gospel, but see it. [AUDIENCE APPLAUSE] They have to be able to see the gospel. “Let your light so shine before men that
they may see your good works and glorify your Father, who is in heaven.” David Hume, the Scottish skeptic was going
to hear George Whitfield speak, and putting on his raincoat hurriedly on sidewalk somebody
said to him, “Where are you going in such a hurry?” He said, “I’m going to hear George Whitfield
speaking.” Somebody says to him, “You don’t believe
what Whitfield does, do you?” He says, “No, but I want to hear a man who
does.” I want to hear and I want to see a man who
does. The world is longing to see the embodiment
of the Christian message, the love of God that we talk so much about. Almost every Muslim that comes to Christ-
I have two of my dear friends here from Syria, they’ll sustain it for you, uh they’re
students here. Almost every Muslin that comes to Christ,
if you ask them how it happened they will tell you in one of two ways. Number one, God spoke to them in a dream using
their own worldview to get through to them. Or number two, they saw the love of Christ
in somebody. They saw the love of Christ in somebody. I have so many that I talk to around the world,
so many. And they’ll always say, “There was ‘so-and-so’
that was my friend,” “The loved that he showed me,” “The love that she showed
me,” “The loving relationship that they had for my family and for my friends,” they
are waiting to see what the gospel is all about. And when you bind the wounded, when you are
there for the hurting, and you love people from counter perspectives, they are willing
to see what it is that you’re really talking about. You know, uh the famed missionary Jozef Damien
from Belgium ministered in Hawaii in the island of Molokai, where all the people with leprosy
from Hawaii were sent to be treated. And Damien went in place of his brother who
had suddenly passed away. So he arrives into Molokai, one of the most
beautiful islands in the world, and he’s treating these people with leprosy. My wife and I had the privilege of going to
Molokai and seeing what kind of work he’d established. He built a chapel there. He would put his arms around them. He would embrace them. Every morning he would have a chapel for them. All of a sudden one day he’s pouring a kettle
of boiling water into a cup, the cup comes- water comes swirling out and falls also his
bare foot. He noticed for the first time he had no feeling. He was stunned. He took the same kettle, gently pours it onto
the other foot. No feeling. He knew what had happened. He’d contracted leprosy. That morning nobody in the audience knew why
he said what he did. He always began his sermons by saying, “My
fellow believers.” This morning he began by saying, “My fellow
lepers.” “My fellow lepers.” There’s a grave there that marks his burial
site, so I asked the guide, “So this is where Damien is buried?” They said, “No, he was, but the Belgian
government demanded that his body be flown back. He was a hero to them, and they asked for
the body to be sent back.” The people resisted, but the Belgian government
had its way to get the body back. But the people there with leprosy said, “Could
you cut off that right hand,” or that right arm, one of the two, “and bury it here,
and take the rest of the body back? Because that was the hand that touched us.” “That was the hand that touched us.” It is ironic and current today to look at
the- all of the horrible things that went up on the mountain at the temple of Aphrodite
stood there, and right at the bottom of that mountain is the church at Corinth, and outside
that church carved in stone is 1 Corinthians 13, that great chapter on love. The counter perspective sat there, one against
the other. They’re going to have to see. Number 2, it’s going to have to be a message
that’s not merely argued but also felt. It has to be felt. There has to be that conviction. We have so little of this these days it’s
troubling me, so that everything becomes cerebral and so little of that personal walk with Christ
that he calls us to. You see, I came to know Christ on a bed of
suicide when I was 17. In fact, I’m standing by any moment now
to hear or get a telephone call from Calgary because the man who sent the individual with
the Bible in his hand to come to my hospital from in Delhi while I was a teen facing hopelessness
and therefore tried to take my own life, this man by the name of John Tabe in Calgary, Alberta,
is in his last hours of life. And three months ago on a phone, he said to
me, “Would you do me the favor of coming and preaching at my funeral when I’m gone.” So these last two days we’ve been talking
back and forth of John Tabe in his final hours. What I want to say to you is this, I was a
man who was lost. I was a man who was headed in the wrong direction,
and this Bible was brought into my hospital room, and I give my life to Jesus Christ. That moment didn’t end at that moment. That has lasted me over all these decades
of life and kept me going. That as a lost individual, Christ sent somebody
to my room with the Word of God which I had never owned and never opened in my life, that
God cared enough for me to send a message to me in my hospital room. And that’s why Francis Thompson writes,
“Oh world invisible we view thee, oh world intangible we touch thee, oh world unknowable
we know thee, inapprehensible we clutch thee! Does a fish soar to find the ocean? An eagle plunge to find the air? Do we ask of the stars in motion if they have
rumor of thee there? Not where the wheeling systems darken, and
out benumbed conceiving soars! The drift of pinions, would we harken, beats
on our own clay-shuttered doors. The angels keep their ancient places touched
but a stone and The angels keep their ancient places; turn
but a stone and start a wing! ‘Tis ye, ‘tis your estranged faces, that
have missed a many-splendored thing. But (when so sad, thou canst not sadder) cry
an upon thy so sore loss shall shine the traffic of Jacob’s ladder pitched betwixt Heaven
and Charing Cross. Yea, in the night, my Soul, my daughter, cry
clutching by the hems. Lo Christ walking on the water, not of dear
Gennesaret, but Thames!” [AUDIENCE APPLAUSE] Francs Thompson lived between Thames and Charing
Cross. He lived between Thames and Charing Cross,
he would buy his drugs on Charing Cross – he was homeless by this point – wrapped his
raincoat around him by the River Thames, and would go to sleep at night by that. “Yea, in the night, my Soul, my daughter,
cry clutching by the hems. Lo Christ walking on the water, not of dear
Gennesaret, but Thames!” He is nearer to you than you realize, and
this conviction must stay within your heart. How real is this Christ to you? How real is her near to the deepest feeling
of your life? Here’s what I want to say, when you feel
the conviction of sin it’s not just here, it’s here. You feel it here. “Intense is the agony when the eye begins
to see, the ear begins to hear, the heart begins to throb, and the pulse begins to feel,
how when the soul feels its flesh, and the flesh feels its chains.” That’s intense! If sin begins intense as a real feeling, why
not the indwelling presence of God Himself? We must understand it is not just here, it
is the knowledge of Christ’s presence of your life and mine. So it’s not going to only have to be heard
it’s going to have to be seen, it’s not merely going to have to be argued but it’s
also going to be felt. And lastly, we need an approach that doesn’t
only rescue the end to bring men and women to Christ but also rescues the means. We rescue the very Word of God in the eyes
of people. Recently in one of the television programs,
one entertainer made the comment about our Vice President, mocking. Mockery has become- mockery has become humor
because when genius is lost, mockery takes its place. [AUDIENCE APPLAUSE] When the genius of humor and creative humor
goes you have to insult, you have to use foul language, you have to do- where is real humor? So they mocked our Vice President for not
merely talking to God, but thinking God can speak to him. Ain’t that amazing? And I say to them, so that’s what you really
think of the Bible? They were mentally ill people who wrote the
Scriptures? That the Holy Spirit of God moved and revealed
to them who the Christ was and what he said- so is that what they’re really now telling
us, that the Scriptures are enscripted by mentally ill people? That’s where they’re headed. That’s where they’re headed. Oh, an apology came, but one wonders if it’s
a genuine apology, or if it’s really that the Freudian slip comes out, and you make
the comment that God doesn’t really speak. God speaks to you and me through His Word. And so my question to you as students with
all the marvelous privilege- what an incredible campus you have. It is impossible to drive through this and
not be overcome and overwhelmed by the tremendous vision Dr. Falwell had in his lifetime to
see a place like this. And he may have seen it like a mustard seed,
today it’s a full blown tree, and more and more to come. And tens of thousands of lives have been touched. With all of the incredible privilege you have
of an education, never forget it is built on one precept, “Thy Word is truth, and
the Scriptures cannot be broken.” [AUDIENCE APPLAUSE] That’s the foundation. That’s the fire within your bones. And so my challenge to you is, however you
go through the rest of these days, make your priority every day getting into God’s Word. Everyday. Make sure you get into God’s Word, whether
it’s the beginning or the end or both or however you do it. We must rescue the respect and love for God’s
Word. I have a friend who is a Jewish convert who
shared the platform with me when we spoke at the death of my colleague Nabeel Qureshi. Huge loss, huge loss. Nabeel was one of our colleagues, died at
34. Many of you read- may have read his book,
“Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus.” It was very hard to stand in front of that
coffin and speak. I never even went over to that coffin. It was hard to think of Nabeel in this world
in the past tense. But this professor and Rice University, also
a close friend of Nabeel, Dr. Jim Tour made the comment from the platform. He said, “Give anybody the gospel of John
and tell them to read it through three times without any prejudice.” “Give anybody the gospel of John and tell
them to read it through three times without prejudice, and watch the miracles take place.” I had took- taken that to heart, and everywhere
I go when people ask me, “What can we read?” I tell them take the gospel of John, read
it through three times without prejudice, and watch the miracle take place, how God
will turn your blindness into sight. That Word, which is rich and abides forever,
the Scriptures cannot be broken. “Heaven and Earth may pass away, but your
Word shall not.” It abides forever. Take it seriously, embrace it, and the more
you read it the more you will find the empowerment of the Holy Spirit within you to defend it. The year was 1939, the world was on the brink
of a very gruesome war. A stuttering king, King George the sixth,
was going to speak to the whole world on Christmas Day. He dared with that stuttering voice to get
behind a microphone. His twelve-year-old daughter, the present
Queen Elizabeth, handed him a piece of paper. And in that paper she wrote these words- anybody
who has heard the speech forgets the rest of the speech, they do not forget these word. But very few people know it was given to him
by his 12-year-old daughter to include in the speech. “I said to the man at the gate of the year,
‘Give me a light that I may walk safely into the unknown’. He said to me, ‘Go out into the darkness
and put your hand into the hand of God. It shall be to you better than the light,
and safer than the known’.” “I said to the man at the gate of the year,
‘Give me a light that I may walk safely into the unknown’. He said to me, ‘Go out into the darkness
and put your hand into the hand of God. It shall be to you better than the light,
and safer than the known’.” The reality of Atheism and willing to live
with its ramifications. Being overwhelmed by a pluralistic worldview
and not being able to defend your own. Looking through the eye gate and forgetting
how important it is that it be circumscribed by truth. How do we respond to a generation that listens
with its eyes and thinks with its feelings? They’re wanting not to hear alone, they
want to see the gospel. You have to not just speak of it with argument,
you have to speak of it with the experience and the reality of the Christ within your
own hear. And you have to rescue not only the goal of
bringing them to Christ, but defending the Word of God by loving it, embracing it, imbibing
it, and living with it. These are the three approaches that I have
reduced it to. To live it, to sense it, to be able to defend
it, by getting myself into God’s Word. Will you pray with me, please? (PRAYING) How beautiful, how beautiful the
sight of thee must be. Thy endless wisdom, boundless love, and awesome
purity. Prostrate before thy throne to lie and gaze,
and gaze on thee. God, I think of a great saint who is now in
your presence, Billy Graham. You loaned him to this world for these decades. He has heard your divine accolade well done. But many of us stumble and flounder, fall
along the way. Please pick us up. Pick us by the hand, Lord. We have no way to stand except with your strength. I pray for every student here, especially
those who are struggling deep inside. Maybe those who even don’t know you, that
today Lord Jesus you will reveal yourself through your Holy Spirit, that they may call
upon you and be saved. Bless these young men and women. Incredible talent, how wonderful it would
be if it’s in your hands. Bless this institution. Make its greatest days ahead of them. Thank you for the leaders, for the faculty,
for the administration, for the donors, those who give so that many others might be blessed. Father, we don’t know when that moment will
come where you will call us into your presence. May we be ready, always ready. We long for your touch, we long for your conviction,
we long for your presence. This nation is in desperate need. Our leaders don’t even talk to each other. How much we need you. May this nation rise to great strength because
of you, for righteousness will exalt a people, and sin be a reproach to any people. God, I know there are so many nations represented
here this morning, or online. Speak Lord, speak to leadership, speak to
political leaders. Our trust is in you. And like a giant oak, may our roots go deep
so that we will withstand the storms of life. Let your benediction rest upon these men and
women. Thank you for the courtesy they’ve given
me in speaking to them, and for those who have invited me. Lord, I’m not worthy of this, I’m not. You alone are worthy, and it is because of
your worthy name we stand before men and women and we long to see your name exalted so that
your will will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. In Jesus’ name, Amen. [AUDIENCE APPLAUSE]>>DAVID NASSER: Amen.