With a new year upon us, I’ve been contemplating previous years. I hope this year is one of great growth in Christ, one of great repentance and faith in Him. One thing I realize as I grow older is that I am more sinful than I previously thought, and God’s grace is greater than I previously thought. Thus, I repent and I am repenting. Specifically, I repent of my rhetoric.
I’ve been blogging “off and on” since 2005. My articles and comments have not always been helpful. My rhetoric has not always been in line with Scripture or in the tone of love for God and my neighbor. At times, I have said, “Scripture is sufficient,” while denying this truth through my use of unloving rhetoric for God and my neighbor. Thus, I publicly repent of depending on my rhetoric (my ability to craft arguments or turn a phrase) to change the hearts of individuals. If Scripture, Christ, or the gospel offends, so be it. But, if I offend apart from Scripture, Christ, or the gospel, I am hurting the cause of Christ. Therefore, I repent and continue to repent of depending on my rhetoric to convince others. Brothers and sisters, if I have needlessly offended you by my words (not Scripture), then I ask your forgiveness. If you are not a Christian and I have needlessly offended you, I ask for your forgiveness as well, but I also plead with you to consider the claims of Christ as Lord alone based on His identity and arguments and not the inadequacies of His followers. What will do with Jesus Christ sinner (John 3:16)?
For the purpose of clarity, I am not condemning the use of rhetoric or the perfecting of one’s rhetoric and argumentation. These things are God-honoring when connected to Him and under the Lordship of Christ. I am also not condemning my convictions, strong beliefs, or my desire to defend the truth and convince others. I think the church needs more boldness, not less. Nor am I bowing to the ungodly rhetoric of my brothers and sisters or unbelievers. Their ungodly rhetoric actually helps me to see my own. I am only condemning my dependence upon myself. Where the Bible speaks, God speaks, but where I speak apart from Scripture, only I speak. And I am what is wrong with the world…not merely my sins, but me (Rom. 3:9-26). My rhetoric separated from the Lordship of Christ is idolatry. Thus, my plea is for more of Christ, more of His sanctifying work in and through me, and less of my old self. My goal is to bear Christ’s cross and follow Him, not to bear a cross I have created apart from Him. My rhetoric has no power to save, convince, raise the dead, or sanctify the believer. God’s word, however, is sufficient for all Christian faith and practice and all human flourishing (2 Tim. 3:15-17). May my use of rhetoric proclaim the Lordship of Christ and not undermine it.
From now on, may others say of my writing, of my rhetoric, “Jared speaks the truth in love with a tone and words that are in line with Scripture. Praise God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit!”