Executive director of Texas Baptists speaks at Wayland Holy Week chapel service

PLAINVIEW, TX —Dr. Julio Guarneri used Romans 1:16 on Wednesday to present the Gospel of change through Jesus as the Holy Week chapel speaker at Wayland Baptist University’s Plainview campus.

Dr. Guarneri was selected in September 2023 to serve as executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, which is commonly known as Texas Baptist. Prior to his selection, he was elected to serve two terms as BGCT president.

“Life is full of changes. Sometimes those changes are involuntary and sometimes we do have a choice whether we will experience change or not,” he said. “I want to talk to you about that because we are thinking of the suffering of Jesus. I want to talk to you about the best change that anyone could ever experience.”

Dr. Guarneri said the Gospel has power to bring change and offered three changes — inability into power, brokenness into wholeness, and unbelief into faith.

He contrasted the good news of Christ with the fall to sin in the Garden of Eden.

“The day that Adam and Eve disobeyed God they died spiritually. There was a separation that took place between them and their Creator,” he said. “A lot of what we see in the world today is a result of the brokenness that happened in disobedience. We inherited inability. We are unable be pure, unable to be holy, unable to be innocent on our own, unable to relate to God, and unable to relate to each other. We are unable to remove our guilt and shame and live our lives to the fullest capacity for which God created us.”

However, Dr. Guarneri said the good news is because of Christ “our inability has been changed into power — the power of God to change us and save us.” He said it is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. “It is the power that gives us life when we were sentenced to death.”

He asked students whether they had come to the place in their life where they have met the resurrected Jesus.

Gospel changes brokenness into wholeness, Dr. Guarneri said. “It’s the power to bring salvation. … It’s about rescuing, redeeming, and deliverance from danger and evil. Christ decided to be broken at the cross so that He could make us whole. He was willing to do it. It wasn’t the nails that kept Him there. It was His love for us.”

Dr. Guarneri said he could not imagine what it was like to have nails driven through his hands and to hang on a cross. “Jesus did it because He loves you and He loves me. He died and was buried, but on Easter Sunday we are going to celebrate that He rose again. He opened the way for our brokenness to be done. Where there is guilt and shame, the Gospel brings forgiveness.”

Noting how he accepted Jesus as a boy while looking at a “gloomy picture” of the crucifixion in his mother’s Bible class, he said, “It wasn’t the first time I had seen a picture like that, but it was the first time it connected with me. It was the first time it went from something I knew and heard to something I needed forgiveness for.”

Concluding, Dr. Guarneri said the Gospel changes unbelief into faith but “that power of salvation requires a response. It’s God that does the transformation, but He won’t force it on us. He wants us to be open to what He wants to do in our lives.”

He used an illustration of his father-in-law getting onto an airplane to show the difference in belief and trust. “It is staking our lives on what Christ did for us,” he said. “It’s a faith that trust ourselves to Jesus and allows Him to be our Lord. We enter into salvation by faith, and we continue in salvation by faith.”

“The Gospel of Jesus redeems every aspect of your life,” Dr. Guarneri said. “If you believe, He will redeem you today. It is the best change you will ever experience.”

For a limited time, a livestream of Dr. Guarneri’s presentation can be viewed at https://www.wbu.edu/about/spiritual-life/chapel/index.htm .