World-renowned Christian apologist and author Dr. Ravi Zacharias urged 2013 Liberty University graduates Friday night to “train their hunger” to savor the things of God and resist the pitfalls of life.
“You can only learn so much from books. You can only learn so much from education,” Zacharias said. “Ultimately, it is the wisdom of God that will carry you through in the toughest situations.”
Zacharias was the keynote speaker at Liberty’s 2013 Baccalaureate, which was attended by several thousand people at the Vines Center. He was presented with an honorary doctorate by Liberty Chancellor and President Jerry Falwell, Jr.
Falwell pointed out how many influential institutions of higher education started out by embracing traditional Christian values.
“It is an indisputable, historic fact that American higher education was founded by Christians and based upon a Christian worldview,” Falwell said. “The Baccalaureate service made it clear that universities welcomed God, the author of all knowledge into the university. This tradition has always been an overt demonstration of the biblical foundation upon which this nation — and the educational system — was founded.”
Sadly, many institutions now exclude God from graduation, he said, adding one of the privileges of attending Liberty is that Baccalaureate, “which overtly honors Jesus Christ, has not fallen prey to activist judges or political correctness.”
“This service is our moment to officially remind you of your ultimate purpose in life — to know Jesus Christ and to make him known,” Falwell said. “It is our opportunity to admonish you one last time to always live your life in obedience to the great commandment of Jesus Christ.”
Zacharias’ sermon focused on the challenges facing young people, ranging from a tough job market to negative influences like readily available online pornography.
“Graduates, you are facing a tough world. You are facing a changing world,” Zacharias said. “You are facing a hostile world. But, you know, the Gospel story is used to rising up. Take the message, it is alive and powerful.”
Zacharias said it has been the fervor of the faith that compelled evangelical giants like the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, Sr. and Chuck Colson to reach beyond themselves and become influencers of the broader society.
In 1971, Falwell, Sr. founded Liberty, which now boasts nearly 100,000 students in its residential and online programs.
The Class of 2013 is Liberty’s 40th graduating class. Its more than 15,000 graduates represent the largest graduating class in school history.
Zacharias asked graduates to take into account the biblical story of Daniel, who resisted momentary personal gain to stand for a higher common good.
“Daniel knew where to draw the lines,” he said. “Daniel marched to a different drummer. The lines he drew were to become a world changer.”
Zacharias said Daniel made decisions to draw lines of resistance to temptations likely to have negative consequences.
“We often make small decisions in the early days of our lives that put deep desires in us that are not good in the long haul,” he said. “In this era of mass communications and computers, there are many dangers out there for our young people.”
The ceremony included music by the Liberty University Wind Ensemble and performances by the Liberty University Chamber Singers and the Sounds of Liberty. Pastor Jonathan Falwell, senior pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church, closed with a powerful benediction prayer.