Announcer: You’re listening to Evangelism with Johnny Hunt, a podcast from the North American Mission Board that equips you and your church to share the gospel. Now here are your hosts.
Kevin Ezell: Well, thanks for joining us. I’m Kevin Ezell along with Johnny Hunt. Brother Johnny, September 8th is Baptism Sunday for the SBC, and our president, J.D. Greear, is challenging every church to participate by planning to hold a baptism service. Would you want to explain to pastors who are listening today what the purpose of Baptism Sunday really is?
Johnny Hunt: You know, when we think about baptism, we want to show once again the importance of baptism. Often I hear someone say, “I trusted Christ, but you know, baptism’s not really a big deal. It doesn’t take you to heaven.” We need to say, “Well, first of all, Jesus commanded it. Secondly, Jesus emulated the principle and truth of baptism by submitting Himself to baptism.” I want to talk a little bit about that. What I think happened in Mark 1 and the baptism of the Lord Jesus. Then also, it’s really the story of the gospel, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is made real and comes alive in baptism. If there were one overarching word about, “Why Baptism Sunday,” it would be the word “obedient”. What pastor does not wish to call his people to a life of obedience?
Kevin Ezell: How would you say a pastor could use Baptism Sunday as an evangelistic opportunity?
Johnny Hunt: Well, since I’ve been privileged to lead Woodstock in Baptismal Sunday, and we plan to do the same again on September the 8th, we’re already talking to our people about the Who’s Your One?, sort of marrying the two together. Why don’t you begin to encourage your Who’s Your One? to come now? Then every Sunday we’re standing up and saying, “We’re going to have a big baptismal day, and we’re calling those of you that have never repented of your sins, placed your faith in Christ. No better time than right now to surrender your life to Jesus. Secondly, many of you have trusted Christ in recent days. Some have made the decision but not gone public with it. Some years ago you received Christ, and for whatever reason you haven’t been baptized.”
Johnny Hunt: J.D. and I were talking about the ones that have their baptism on the wrong side of their salvation. They never trusted Christ until recent days, but they were baptized as a child. They think, “Well, I was already baptized.” Not true. Baptism symbolizes that you have died with Christ, you have been buried with Christ and you’ve been risen to new life in Christ. If that is not a reality, it is not New Testament baptism. So on that particular day of Baptism Sunday, whether you do the 8th or another day, I literally preach a brief message on the gospel and the emphasis of being obedient, that once you believe to be baptized, and then encourage them to respond right then.
Johnny Hunt: We eliminate all excuses. We go and buy a good number, and a lot of different sizes, of white shorts and T-shirts. We have our robes there, but if we run out, we’re fine with the shorts and T-shirts. We have extra hairdryers. We have everything that a man or a woman would need to be baptized. We call them spontaneously, immediately. “Why don’t you come and settle this right now?” I have been absolutely amazed at the overwhelming number of people that respond. Then rest assured, when they respond, we have trained workers. We’re going to deal with every individual, just like we do on any given Sunday, to make sure they understand the decision that they’re making.
Kevin Ezell: Well, how would you suggest for pastors to actually plan for a Baptism Sunday? I mean it comes natural for you, but some guys may have a difficulty in doing that.
Johnny Hunt: Well, here we are. We’re a couple of weeks out. If they did choose to go with the day that J.D. and many others of us are going to do as well on September the 8th, but I would begin to talk it up now. I would make sure that I had plenty of trained counselors. That is something we should have anyway, but if not, we should have, to help them walk through the steps, questions to ask, those that are responding. Then make sure you have what’s necessary for them that day. All your extra towels, and shorts, and T-shirts and robes, so you can eliminate any excuses. Then in the message itself, preach your message on baptism, on the fact of Jesus’ baptism, the Great Commission. Realize that in the Book of Acts, every person that received Christ was baptized immediately.
Johnny Hunt: I’m sharing the message, Lord willing, on September the 1st at Woodstock on the Ethiopian eunuch. If you’ll remember, when he trusted Christ he posed a question. “See, here is water. What does hinder me to be baptized?” Philip responded, “Nothing, if you believe with all your heart,” and his simple profession of faith was this. “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God,” and he baptized him. I love the language there. It uses a word for the water that runs down off the Mountain of Jerusalem down through the desert area. That’s where he was. It’s a little word, wadi, which really is a mud puddle. This guy really, really wanted to be baptized, and so he baptized him there. You find it over and over again with the jailer that came to Christ, and then his family, and they were all baptized.
Johnny Hunt: So I would say call the people forward, be prepared to receive them that day. We had such an overwhelming response that we literally had two baptizers in the pool at the same time. It was a very encouraging, a very blessed service in that just one would baptize after saying a word about the individual, and then the other. They were just back to back, and the service went way over. No one was leaving. There was a real spirit of rejoicing. It was the talk of the community that week. I think every pastor would be surprised at how God would honor the obedience, first of all, of the pastor, and then the obedience of the people.
Kevin Ezell: Well, Johnny, J.D. Greear and yourself also have encouraged guys to consider spontaneous baptisms on others. There are comments both ways on that. Hey, would you want to just take a moment, and talk about spontaneous baptism, and if so, if someone should do it, how they should go about doing that?
Johnny Hunt: All right. On spontaneous baptism, on the very Sunday … Remember there’ll be a lot of people there that have not been there the week previous or maybe at all, and yet here you are now calling for them. In a way, it’s like your sermon is an invitation. You introduce the morning by just saying, “Hey. Today is baptism service and sermon,” and you talk about what baptism is, and then you present the gospel. They overlap, I mean literally. The gospel presents baptism, baptism presents the gospel. For instance, when Jesus was baptized, the question would be asked, it said he was baptized to fulfill righteousness. So the question would be, “Give clarity,” exactly what that means.
Johnny Hunt: I believe that when Jesus Christ stepped into the water of the Jordan, He was first of all, identifying with those that he came to change, to save. I believe when Jesus was baptized, I believe He preached a gospel. I believe that when He went under the water, it was Jesus saying, “I have come to die for the sins of the world.” I believe that when He was buried, it was still that beautiful picture, that He was buried to take our sins away, and then He rose to remind us that He came to give us life. So I think when we, I mean honestly, take 10 or 12 minutes because we really believe that people are going to respond. Plus there’ll be others that have already made decisions to be baptized. That’s what’s happened at Woodstock.
Johnny Hunt: We have already a good number of people waiting to be baptized on that day. And then the ones that will be added to it, which I believe in every church in our denomination, more than you already have scheduled will respond. God will honor that, and remember pastor, you’re calling them to obedience. Baptism’s not an option. It’s a command. I’ve always said that baptism is the person’s first opportunity to preach the gospel. They don’t say one single word because everyone that sees them in the pool sees that, “Here’s my friend. Here’s a person I know identifying with Christ. Here’s a person that is saying, ‘Christ died for my sins. He was buried for my sins, and he rose from the dead to put me in right relationship with the Father.'”
Kevin Ezell: Hey, Brother Johnny, I know you pastored for many years, as I had, and there were often funny things that happened. Talking about spontaneous baptism, I’ve had more weird things happen in the baptistry. What’s the funniest thing you remember that ever happened in the baptistry?
Johnny Hunt: Oh my. I think there’s several, but I do remember a young boy I was baptizing. I was really new in my first church, and I was already nervous. He comes to the edge of the pool, and I reach out my hand to receive him, to help him down the steps. He has other plans. He literally dives in head first, and so it really messed my plan up. It brought laughter, which probably relieved some of my nerves, but that would be one. Others, I have had big men to just about take me under with them.
Kevin Ezell: Do you remember First Baptist Daytona Beach used to have a baptistry that goes all the way down to the floor. I don’t know if you remember that. The glass goes all the way down. It’s beautiful. You see people go all the way under, and all the way back up. Well, the funniest thing is, one guy had not been in church very often, was being baptized, and Brother Bobby Welch was there at the time. The guy went out of the baptistry the wrong way. Over to the women’s side. Well, he realized that after, but Brother Bobby had started on the next guy. He thought, “Oh my word. Oh my word. I got to get back to the men’s side.” So he goes underwater, and swims past Brother Bobby to the men’s side.
Johnny Hunt: Oh man.
Kevin Ezell: I love those stories. Well pastor, we hope that every church will take part in Baptism Sunday on September 8th. To view the entire baptism video series by Brother Johnny and J.D. Greear, visit namb.netbaptismsunday. You will also find some additional resources for Baptism Sunday on the website. Thanks for listening. If you have any questions, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will try and answer it on a later episode.