University mottoes fascinate me. They bear a silent witness to the original faith and motivation of a school. So, think for a minute, a great school, Columbia University, founded in 1754. It’s motto is In Thy Light We Shall See Light. That’s actually taken from Psalm 36:9. Dartmouth University, the motto is The Voice of One Crying in the Wilderness. You know what’s a reference to? It’s actually out of John 1:23 and it refers to John the Baptist, the prophet, saying, prepare the way of the Lord. Or how about Glasgow University in Scotland. It’s motto is Via, Veritas, Vita. The Way, The Truth, and The Life. You know where that’s from? John 14:6. Or Frieburg University, The Truth Shall Make You Free, that’s their motto. John 8:32, a direct quotation. Or how about the University of Aberdeen? Their motto is The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom, from Proverbs 1:7. Or in Canada, McMaster University. Its motto is All Things Cohere in Christ, Colossians 1:17. Oxford University, Dominus Illuminatio Mea, from Psalm 27:1, The Lord is my light, The Lord is my light and my salvation. Harvard University, it’s original motto, it’s been shortened, but is Veritas Christo et Ecclesiae, Truth for Christ and His Church. And it’s interesting how these old mottos reflect that there was a God-centered, Christ-centered impulse at the beginning of the university enterprise. So when we think about the motto of CCU, χαρις και αληθεια, from John 1:14, we have just another instance of a Christ impulse that gives birth to a university. So this summer at CCU we refreshed our logo, and made our mission statement a little more concise, redid all our signs. I hope you noticed. Our IT team did a great job, and marketing team, and they were great, but there was already something substantive at the very, very core. The very core is Christ-centered higher education transforming students with grace and truth to impact the world. So when we think about this and when we think about you, and when we work and prepare, and faculty dream and pray and study hard to get ready for a new academic year. We also dream about students who will be world changers for Jesus Christ and for his kingdom serving him in all kinds of professions and interests for the glory of God and the good of people. And we pray that you will be like those early Christians and turn the world upside down for Christ. Or maybe in our time, we wanna say turn the world right side up for Christ. And so the question in my mind is always, well, how in the world can we do this? How can we make a difference? And the answer I think is so obvious, it’s right in front of our eyes, the answer is with grace and truth. With grace and truth.
So I wanna take just a few minutes and unpack that little statement that we have as our motto. It actually comes from John chapter One, verses 14 to 16. Let me read it for you. This is great opening to John’s Gospel, and it says, the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we have seen his glory. The glory of the One and Only who came from the Father full of grace and truth. John testifies concerning Him, he cries out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, “He who comes after me has surpassed me, “because He was before me. “And from the fullness of His grace, “we have received one blessing after another.” Wow. Fascinating passage speaking about the glory of Jesus Christ. The Eternal Word enters this world, comes down to our level, takes on human flesh, is the light and life of human beings. He is God himself and in John chapter One, of course, you have real specifics, of course, Jesus is the Word, He is God himself, He’s Light, He’s Life. And John ends that chapter by saying, “He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” And this same John, I believe wrote the epistle to John, and he said, “We’ve not only seen Him.” Remember in First John, he said, “We’ve heard Him. “We’ve seen Him, We’ve looked at Him, we’ve touched Him, and this we proclaim to you concerning the Word of Life, the one who’s Jesus.” He changed everything. Everything. And so John is speaking about the glory and the majesty of Jesus. This one of a kind glory which is a reflection of the Father. And when he wants to sum it up, he says why He was full of grace and truth. As the light of the world He brought truth to a world that’s in darkness. As the Savior of the world, He brought grace to needy sinners. And His net impact according to verse 16, is from Jesus flow one blessing after another, which is why when we think about Jesus and CCU, we want tell you as students, don’t miss Him. He is the source of life. So grace and truth. Who needs grace and truth? Let me give four quick answers. First of all, we need grace and truth. Every one of us sitting in this room. That’s what we need as individuals. We have, many of us have a truth deficit. That is we lack convictions or foundational beliefs. Does truth really make a difference in our lives? And of course grace without truth breeds moral indifference. And sometimes it keeps people from seeing their true need of God and we’re kind sometimes, but we’re not honest. But we also have a grace deficit. We sometimes are so consumed with ourselves that we have truth, but not grace. And it breeds a kind of self-righteousness. It destroys credibility. We’re honest, but we’re not kind. We’re not gracious, we’re lopsided. Where can we go, lopsided people that we are? And Scripture answers to Jesus, who offers the truth of His word, and the grace of the gospel.
And these grace and truth, some have said, are like two wings of a bird. The two wings of the gospel. The gospel flies on these two wings. It goes forward on these two wings. And if you wanna know what it means to be a Christian, a Christ follower, you could sum it up by saying why it involves grace and truth. It’s what we need. It’s also what our churches need. Very much so in our time. There’s so many churches these days that are walking away from the truth of God’s word. It’s very sad when you see it. And in some churches they haven’t walked away from it, but there’s literally a famine for the word of God where people are more interested in other things. So often we lack a rootedness in the truth to see through the deceits of our time. And Jesus of course said it’s the truth that sets us free. And as we embrace the truth of who God is of and His word, and of the gospel, we find this new freedom. So churches desperately need truth today. And they also need grace today. The mark of the Christian is grace. Jesus said, “By this, people will know you’re my disciples. “That you love one another.” And it’s strange of course, when churches lack this grace, but it’s really awkward and it’s not right. And so the Church desperately needs grace and truth as we have watched the scandals unfold in the last month in different churches around the country, we realize how much shepherds really do need to care for the flock. They need grace. And how much the church needs truth. Truth like what Jesus said that it’s better for a man to have a mill stone around his neck and be cast into the heart of the sea than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. And where can we find this grace and truth for the Church. It’s in Jesus. The Church desperately needs Jesus. And then think for a moment about our country, thirdly. Our culture needs grace and truth.
Two great challenges of our times, I think, are there’s a truth crisis and a grace crisis. The truth crisis, well you can see it all over the place. It didn’t start with the politicians, it started in the universities when they began giving up on truth, and they embraced world views, and a radical relativism, that pushed the truth to the side. And they started to promote a view saying, There’s no ultimate truth. It’s just your truth and my truth. There’s no ultimate reality, there’s just your reality and my reality. And that takes root in a culture, and now it’s showing itself in the political life of our nation on all sides. We have a truth crisis. But we also have a grace crisis. Narcissism is a focus on the self. We get the term from Greek Mythology, where you read about a man named Narcissus who’s looking in a pool and he sees his own reflection, and he loses track of everything else, but he’s enamored with himself. Just glued to his reflection. And many people have said this is us at this point in history. We’re so self-obsessed. We’ve gone from the me-generation to the I-generation. And narcissism is graceless. It’s only interested in itself. Who will deliver us from this cultural swamp that we’re in? And only Jesus Christ has the resource to do that. He’s the one who is full of grace and truth, who says, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” And He says, “Deny yourself, take up your cross, “follow me, and love one another.” Jesus has the resources. He can change us. And then finally, it’s what the university needs. The university desperately needs grace and truth. Not just all those universities out there, but even Colorado Christian University. And isn’t it interesting how in the early years of our school, 1914 to be exact, Clifton Fowler, the first president of what was then Denver Bible Institute, our first Heritage school, he decided to take this as a motto. He named the magazine of the university Grace and Truth. What did he see? He saw into the future. He saw what the church needs, and what the university needs, and what Christian needs, and what our culture needs. And he said it so simply, and it stuck with us for these 104 years. It still is our motto today. So students, when we plaster it up on the wall, it’s something we aspire to. We’re not there. But it’s something laid out for us by Jesus. It’s not easy to achieve. But it’s the way forward. It’s the way to transform our lives, and to transform our world. As I close, let me just say at the beginning of the 2018-2019 academic year, I remind you that we can’t do this apart from Him. But we need desperately His grace and truth. So I want to end with a benediction and a prayer, and the benediction is simply this. This semester, this year, may you see His glory. This semester, this year, may you grow in your love for truth. This semester, this year, may you grow in your love of God’s grace. May it transform you through and through so that you know the blessings that flow from Jesus. So that you grow in the grace and the knowledge of Christ. Lord God, it is such a great privilege to get to do what we do. From a faculty and staff perspective, and from a student perspective. So this year, we offer ourselves to you. We say to you Lord God, Holy Spirit, come into this place. Move among us. Change us. Blow your breath upon us. Raise us up from spiritual death to spiritual life. Awaken us. Revive us. Use us. We want to bless you, glorify you and be used by you in the days ahead. So we ask this humbly, but boldly. In the name of Jesus Christ, and if you agree with this prayer, would you just say a big hearty Amen. Would you stand…