Johnny Hunt, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Ga., spoke to the Southeastern family from 1 Peter 4:10 about spiritual gifts. In his March 29 chapel message, Hunt said, “There are students who are studying to serve the Lord, but who aren’t serving the Lord right now. Peter says, ‘The end of all things is near.’” Because no one but God knows when the end is coming, Hunt said believers should be diligent to share their spiritual gifts with others. “God supplies the message, the power, everything for the journey. What God has given me he has given me to share unto others, that God may be glorified through Christ Jesus.”
Hunt said every Christian has received a spiritual gift, and the purpose is to edify the body of believers. “God has given me a spiritual gift and its divine enablement to serve the church,” Hunt said. “Take what he’s given you and use it for the glory of God. In the name of Jesus, be who you are. Don’t give in when God has gifted you.”
Gifts are given by the Holy Spirit, Hunt said, and they are discerned through service. “We don’t gain or determine our gifts through introspection.” For seminary students, he said this means that candidates for pastoral ministry should not move through academic preparation waiting for the call. Instead, they should get the call (to ministry) in the context of service for Jesus Christ.
Every Christian not only has spiritual gifts, but has the responsibility to use them for the good of the church. Hunt said too often, Christians forget that the church is the bride of Christ, and they love Jesus, but not his bride. “I love Jesus, and I love his church. You can’t love the head and hate his wife,” Hunt said.
It is within the context of serving in the church that Christ develops men and women, often in roles of obscurity, Hunt said. Just as God developed David while he was serving as a shepherd, God often leads believers to obscure places of service for their development. “You will have more authority if you can speak about how you served before you had a title,” Hunt said. “Then, God will move you from a place of obscurity to a place of adversity.”
By God’s grace and strength, Hunt said every believer has the responsibility to use their spiritual gifts well, being a good steward of the blessings God has given. This means being ready both in season and out of season to serve and to do what God has called you to do. “If you’re not serving your purpose now, why do you think you’ll serve your purpose later? You may be called home or Jesus may come back again.”
Even if believers are ready to use their spiritual gifts in season and out of season, it will only be possible in the Lord’s strength. “If God is to be glorified by ministry in his name, it must be ministry done in his strength. This teaches dependence on God and confidence in him.
“Serve in such a way that God is glorified, and others are encouraged,” Hunt said. , When believers serve faithfully in places of obscurity and adversity, then they will be able to look back and be grateful for those opportunities to serve the church and glorify the Lord.
The mission of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Southeastern is an institution of higher learning and a Cooperate Program ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention.