Tap the 'sixth sense' of faith, Johnny Hunt exhorts seminarians
WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)--Johnny Hunt urged Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary students to exercise their sixth sense of faith through love and rejoicing in Jesus.
Hunt, pastor of the Atlanta-area First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Ga., said God has endowed each person with five recognizable senses: hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting and touching. Yet, each Christian is equipped with a sixth sense, known as faith, Hunt said in a Nov. 8 chapel message on the Wake Forest, N.C., campus.
"The sixth sense can be referred to as sensing, knowing or hoping. It is the God-given sense of faith," Hunt said. "I believe that faith sees, faith produces and faith receives."
Hunt's message focused on 1 Peter 1:8-9, which states, "... whom having not seen, you love. Though now you do not see him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith -- the salvation of your souls."
Hunt recounted that the people of the time were being persecuted by King Nero because of their faith in Christ, and the apostle Peter wrote to encourage them to look to what is reserved for them in heaven while at the same time to rejoice in their salvation.
"The people in 1 Peter had been beaten up, bruised and battered," Hunt said. "[But] in verse 8, Peter tells us that with the eye of faith, they could see someone that was invisible to the naked eye, and not only see him but love him and bless him."
Hunt pointed to 2 Corinthians 5:7, which states, "For we walk by faith and not by sight," noting that enduring tribulation victoriously can be a reality based on a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Contrast, complement and conviction were three words Hunt used to describe how the sixth sense of faith magnifies the Savior's love.
There was contrast between the believers in the book of 1 Peter because they, unlike the disciples, did not physically witness Jesus' miracles of love, Hunt said; the Christians of 1 Peter believed by faith. Jesus pronounced a special blessing on those who have never seen yet believed without having Thomas' privilege of seeing the scars on the Savior's hands and feet, Hunt noted.
Through conviction, the recipients of Peter's letter put their trust in Jesus because of the gospel message, even though they were unable to see him in their earthly lives, Hunt said, noting, "2 Corinthians puts it this way, '... we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.'
"Endurance in faith is based on one's ability to look beyond the physical to the spiritual ... beyond the present to the future ... beyond the visible to the invisible," Hunt said. "This is not love at first sight. This is love at heart sight."
To the seminarians, Hunt declared that the prerequisite of being a good pastor is loving the Chief Shepherd.
"You can't be a good pastor without loving Jesus, because the sheep can be hard to deal with at times," Hunt said. "You'll get your focus on sheep and the whole context of ministry will be moving from one flock to the next to find good sheep. When you love the Chief Shepherd, you'll love the sheep. The Bible said, 'If you love me, tend my sheep. If you love me, feed my sheep.' The prerequisite in loving sheep is loving Jesus."
To know Jesus is to love him, and in order to know him better, Hunt emphasized the importance of studying God's Word.
"The study of God's Word reveals his nature and how much he loves us. As we study the Word of God, we become submissive to the Holy Spirit and, as a result, we have spiritual vision.... God grips our hearts for the one we are proclaiming," Hunt said.
"The great thing about Bible study is that the more you study about [Jesus], the more you love him, and the more you love him, the more you study about him and it becomes a beautiful cycle," Hunt said. "So faith, with the object being Christ, plus the written Word of God, gives us a present, personal knowledge, even to the point of loving him. And then he said when you're loving him, you're trusting and believing in the Savior and you're rejoicing in the Savior."
Hunt then explained that rejoicing in the Savior -- as stated in verse eight, "you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory" -- is a joy given by Jesus defying verbal expression.
"So the Bible says to rejoice. The word 'rejoice' means to express a deep emotion. It is a spiritual joy that is so deep and personal that it cannot be adequately formulated into words. It is full of glory; it means that your joy is glorified. The word 'inexpressible' denotes a joy which may be experienced but it is of such a nature as to defy adequate verbal expression."
Concluding his message by focusing on verse 9's words, "receiving the end of your faith -- the salvation of your souls," Hunt noted that Christians are waiting to receive the full salvation of eternal glory in the redemption of their bodies.
"The audience of Peter's letter was in desperate need of this message," Hunt said. "Peter urges his readers to exercise love, faith and rejoicing so they may experience some of the glory of heaven in the midst of suffering now."
Hunt asked in closing, "Whom, having not seen, do you love?"