WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–The church that is faithful to Scripture must preach the Gospel boldly and without discrimination, even if it may cause division or opposition, Johnny Hunt said during Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s spring convocation.
Hunt, pastor of the Atlanta-area First Baptist Church in Woodstock, exhorted the seminarians to follow the example set forth by Paul and Barnabas in Acts 13:42-47 in his Jan. 31 message at Southeastern’s Wake Forest, N.C., campus.
In that text, Paul and Barnabas boldly proclaimed the Gospel to the Gentiles, even though such an act met with disfavor among jealous Jews.
“Why would the Jews be so envious, so jealous, and so hot toward the Apostle Paul?” Hunt asked. “One reason is because the synagogue was filled up with people that were not like them.
“Be careful in saying, ‘I’m going to build a church just for this type of people,’” Hunt counseled, noting that his church has made a priority of reaching people from all different socio-economic strata, from surgeons and governors to people who live in the projects.
In fact, when the church began a ministry to reach people in a nearby mobile home park, Hunt considered it a major step forward for the congregation; “we were moving up as far as I’m concerned.”
Hunt also reminded the seminarians that the Gospel may meet with opposition from those who do not believe, which will sometimes include people closest to a new believer.
“I want to remind you that Jesus Christ was a preacher who oftentimes brought division to families,” Hunt said, recounting the advice he gave to a young man who told him that if he trusted Christ, his Muslim father and Catholic mother would be angry: “This is more important that what your mother or father think of you.”
Subsequently, Hunt said, that young man trusted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, prepared to face whatever consequences came his way.
“I am amazed at the power of the Gospel. I know of nothing like the Gospel that can break through to hard hearts,” Hunt said, urging the students “to a recommitment in the Gospel.”
Being faithful to the Gospel, he said, involves a commitment by the pastor to the lordship of Christ in his preaching, when he submits to preach His words and commits to honor and serve Him in the sermon he delivers.
“The question is not, ‘Do they want to hear?’” Hunt said. “The question is, ‘Will we tell?’”
The pastor must spend hours of serious labor in study as he prepares to rightly preach the Word of God -– a hard task, by all accounts, Hunt said; if the pastor does not labor over the text, the sermon he delivers will be noticeably wanting.
“Pray that God will help you in your preparation like in your presentation,” Hunt said, recalling some advice he once received from the late Adrian Rogers: “If it’s not hot back there when you’re in the study, God help you in the pulpit!”
Hunt also said pastors should never apologize for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a worship service. It should be central to all the church does, he said.
“Be faithful, be bold and tell the truth to everyone,” he declared in closing.
Earlier in the ceremony, newly elected faculty members Alan O’Dell, Ferris (Chip) McDaniel and Brent Aucoin signed the Abstract of Principles and the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. Southeastern requires all of its professors to sign these documents, formalizing a covenant between themselves and the seminary that they will teach according to the core doctrines of the Christian faith and the two Baptist confessions.