Prominent preacher James Robison shares Liberty’s heritage
The Rev. James Robison delivered an impassioned and personal message during Liberty University’s 44th Baccalaureate Friday night.
Robison, the founder of LIFE Outreach International, has spent the last 55 years spreading the Gospel around the world. He has spoken face-to-face to more than 20 million people in hundreds of citywide evangelistic outreaches. Along with his wife, Betty, he reaches millions every year through LIFE, which includes their television ministry, LIFE TODAY, and highly effective mission outreaches.
“The Rev. James Robison is one of the greatest orators of our generation,” President Jerry Falwell said. “I have fond memories from my childhood of his preaching at Thomas Road Baptist Church when I was 10 years old and he was 28. My father would often say that James Robison was the most anointed preacher of our generation.”
A longtime friend of Liberty University and its founder, the late Dr. Jerry Falwell, and the Falwell family, Robison said he has witnessed the vision for the world’s largest Christian university come to fruition.
“I helped pray this mountain into existence,” he said. “I came up here when there was nothing. Dr. Falwell said, ‘I want this mountain.’ So we started praying.”
He said that today’s graduates, family members, faculty, and staff are the fulfillment of the vision that he remembers praying with Dr. Jerry Falwell for in the early stages of planning the university. Liberty, he said, is making an impact like no other.
“You’re the ones who send the Gospel around the world,” Robison said. “I want to say thanks to you because without you, your prayers, your faithfulness and support, the Gospel outreach would be so limited. You are the ones who have sent the missionaries who planted their lives in the midst of suffering and put the arms of Jesus around a hurting world. And that is precisely what the body of Christ is to do today.”
He encouraged the packed crowd in the Vines Center to not be swayed by the lies of Satan that can distract you from fulfilling what God has called you to do.
“Satan’s intent is not to destroy you, students, graduates, family members,” he said. “His intent is to destroy the Kingdom’s purpose of God through your life. He hates any possibility of you fulfilling the very reason God has placed you here on this earth as overseers and stewards of His creation.”
Robison said the only way God’s purpose can be fulfilled on Earth is when His “Kingdom comes,” which is done through pointing people back to Jesus through our own walks and by coming together as one body in Christ.
“Don’t let the devil tell you that you’re unqualified,” he said. “There are no small, insignificant members of the body of Christ.”
In closing, he asked the audience to stand if they wanted to give their whole lives to Jesus and be a vessel to complete their purpose with the help of the Holy Spirit. Thousands throughout the arena stood boldly to their feet to declare their commitment.
Baccalaureate is a longstanding tradition at Liberty. Falwell explained the history of the service, which he said was part of the foundation of many universities, dating as far back as early as the 15th century, and was intended to show honor and reverence to God before Commencement.
“As the American academy became increasingly secularized, the time-honored tradition of the baccalaureate services were de-emphasized,” Falwell said. “The sad fact is that God has been steadily uninvited to commencement at most universities in America. But not here. At Liberty University, God is still the guest of honor.”
Falwell also spoke about the original vision for Liberty — to not only prepare students for the ministry as other Christian colleges did, but to train students who would go out into the world in every profession. “Our vision was to train doctors, lawyers, engineers, businessmen, politicians, nurses, and pilots, and we are doing all that and more now,” he said.
Falwell said that although the landscape of the campus has changed over the last four decades, the university’s mission to serve has not. He highlighted how students have volunteered more than 950,000 hours each year through community service work, sent teams to assist in humanitarian aid efforts through LU Send Now, and saw 1,500 students come out to serve the local community during Serve Lynchburg, a one-day service event last month.
“Our fervent prayer for Liberty University is that it will remain true to its Christian roots in perpetuity and that your children, grandchildren and generations of their descendants will sit in a service just like this one to thank God for their Liberty University education,” Falwell said.
Five individuals received honorary doctorates during the service. Wallace and Eleanor Turnbull were presented with honorary Doctor of Divinity degrees for their missional work in Haiti and their many years of work with Haitian Liberty students through the Turnbull Foundation. New York Times best-selling author Karen Kingsbury received an honorary Doctor of Letters degree not only for her prolific works, which have been adapted for television and film, but for how she has impacted the Liberty student body as a parent of Liberty students and as an adjunct professor, teaching master classes on English, writing, publishing, and research. Campus pastor and Senior Vice President of Spiritual Development David Nasser received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree and was recognized for his years of successful ministry and for leading Liberty’s student body in missions and service. Robison was also presented an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree.