Summary: How did God get a self-sufficient, highly educated pagan and atheist to change his life around? And what do we need to know and do to take part in this miracle of conversion that takes place with men like Phil Robertson?
OPEN: ([https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XP4r4sXmqmo] - from "time marks" 4:48 to 8:45.
We opened the sermon with this video cut from a CBN TV interview with Phil and Kay Robertson. After we played the clip, I entered the auditorium dressed in camouflage hunting gear. After reading the text and praying the opening prayer I began to preach the sermon)
One of the things that caught my attention in that interview we played was Phil Robertson’s comment: "My life was spiraling out of control in a hurry. It's literally what Jesus said, 'from darkness to light.'"
And I thought “darkness to light? When did Jesus say that?
Well, right here in Acts 26:17b-19 Jesus says to Paul:
“…I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from DARKNESS TO LIGHT, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”
These words are our battle cry as Christians.
These words represent our objectives in the war for the hearts and minds of men and women.
• We are called to open peoples’ eyes
• To turn them from darkness to light
• To turn them from the power of Satan to God
• To offer them God’s forgiveness of their sins
• and to supply them with a safe place where they can practice their faith.
And when we succeed in those goals we end up converting people like Phil Robertson. A man whose life was dramatically changed from the darkness of sin to the light of God.
There are 4 things here I want you to notice in Phil Robertson’s conversion.
1st - He was a self-sufficient man. He didn’t feel he needed anyone. He could do whatever needed done and was literally a self-made man. As a high-school athlete, he’d earned All-State rankings in football, baseball, and track, which earned him a football scholarship at Louisiana Tech. There, Phil played first-string quarterback. Does anybody know the name of his “backup” quarterback? (Terry Bradshaw of the Pittsburg Steelers).
He earned a Bachelor's degree in Physical Education and a Master's in Education and he spent several years teaching in Louisiana schools. He was considered to be an excellent teacher by his students.
He could be whatever he wanted to be and do whatever he wanted to do… but he gave it all up to go back to his first love - fishing and hunting.
2ndly – Phil Robertson had no love for God. He kicked a preacher out of his bar. Rejected wife’s church-going and said she was too “goody goody” and “Holy roller” for him. And he threw her and the kids out of the house because she refused to change.
3rd - He pretty much ruined his own life. By his own admission sex, drugs and rock & roll nearly destroyed him. He beat up a bar owner and his wife… and was on the run from the law for some time because of that. And he had been so opposed to God that he nearly destroyed his marriage and his family because of his hatred of it.
(PAUSE) But 4th, and most importantly I want you to notice what drew him to Christ.
ILLUS: When he finally came back to Kay to try to rebuild their marriage, Kay suggested that he speak to the preacher he’d kicked out of his bar some time back. Phil remembers that the preacher asked ‘What do you think the Gospel is?’ And I said ‘I guess I don’t know’...
“So when he went through Jesus coming down…dying on the cross, being buried and being raised from the dead, I’m like ‘How in the world did I ever miss that?’
Now the question for us this morning is this: How did that simple message change the heart of a man like Phil Robertson?
He was a self-sufficient, athletic college trained, atheist and pagan. If you got him mad at you he’d probably just as soon shoot you as look at you.
How did that preacher get this man into Christ?
(PAUSE) Well… he didn’t
The preacher didn’t get that done.
God got it done.
The preacher just happened to be there at the time.
The preacher was faithful and God used his faithfulness.
1st thing I want you to notice here is that preacher believed God could change anyone.
Do you believe God can change anyone?
In our text this morning, we find Paul being standing before a king named Agrippa, a man known in history for his incestuous relationship with his sister Bernice.
But Paul was not intimidated by this man.
It didn’t matter if was a king.
And it didn’t matter that his sex life was revolting and evil.
This King needed Jesus… and Paul believed Jesus could change him.