ANAHEIM, Calif. (BP) – “Is it possible that the reasons our congregations have been so thrust against the winds and the waves, is because we have not ground them in the Word of God?”
Juan Sanchez posed the question in his June 15 convention sermon to Southern Baptists gathered at the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting.
“The church has been tossed about by every wind of doctrine, by human philosophies, by conspiracy theories, by worldly opinions,” said Sanchez, senior pastor of High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin, Texas. “Pastors, if we want to ground our members, we must ground them in the Word of God. Church members, receive the Word of God in your church. Are you growing in maturity and Christlikeness? Are you growing to look more and more like Jesus?”
Sanchez posed that many have a view of the church that is too small, as he himself once held.
“The apostle Paul blows up our small view of the church. He helps us to see that God’s eternal plan is to exalt His son Jesus Christ as King and Lord over all things in heaven and on earth,” Sanchez said, referencing Ephesians 1. “He helps us to see that in Christ the Father is uniting all things … in that He is placing all things under Christ. … We (the church) are the fulness of Christ on the earth.”
Christ unites all things that have been fractured by sin, Sanchez said, especially a fractured humanity.
“In Chapter 2, he talks about Jew and Gentile coming together as one new man. And this multiethnic assembly, we’re told in Chapter 3, verses 8-11, that as we live together as this unified, diverse church, we display to the cosmic powers the manifold wisdom of God, the wisdom of God’s eternal plan in exalting Christ, and bringing together this fractured humanity under Christ, and under His authority.”
With Ephesians 4:11-16 as his main text, Sanchez encouraged pastors to build congregations on the Word of God.
“Here’s my argument for us this morning. A healthy church is built on the Word of God, that we might look like the Son of God for the glory of God. And we see this laid out in Ephesians 4:11-16,” Sanchez said. “First of all, we want to look at the structure of Word ministry, in verses 11 and 12. Secondly, we’ll look at the goal of Word ministry in verses 13 and 14, and thirdly we’ll look at the practice of Word ministry in verses 15 and 16.”
God has structured the church for its work, Sanchez said, placing spiritual gifts in the church body for jobs including a foundation of apostles and prophets, evangelists to spread the Word and pastors and teachers as shepherds of the Word.
“We cannot build the church on any other foundation,” Sanchez said. “If our primary end is merely church growth … we will be tempted to build on other foundations. We’re tempted to build our churches on the foundation of music styles or age-graded ministries or even politics or social justice or even our own personalities.
“Growth that comes by something other than the Word of God and about Jesus is not lasting, nor is it God-glorifying.”