Originally published on Feb. 8, 2020. License: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
Like a farmer who waits for the seedlings he’d planted to grow, and thus I have also waited for my ideas for Swordsman of the Word to grow — under the nourishment of my studies, prayers, and leisure activities. And like an engineer endeavoring to design an efficient manufacturing process, and thus I have also struggled — slowly — to create a clear and coherent whole out of my many and developing ideas.
Despite the sense of guilt that kept telling me that I should be working hard, I didn’t rush writing this essay because of its importance. Because like with my previous essay, Running this Blogging Race Once Again, I’m continuing to lay down the path for the future — for myself and this ministry. So it’s better to be delayed and sure of my direction, than to be hasty and miss the way.
And what I’ve realized is this: Swordsman of the Word is now the culmination of two separate works: (1) the work that God has been doing in my life all these years, and (2) the work that I’ve done for it so far. That is, I’ve been redefining the ministry in the light of who and what I am now as a Christian (the result of the Holy Spirit’s sanctification of me), and also in the light of my experiences and the results of my efforts since I started this blog a year and a half ago.
In computer programming imagery: All that has gone before were only the planning, coding, and testing stages. This is now the finished product, ready for distribution.
Consequently, as the outcome of this redefinition, Swordsman of the Word is now an even more vivid expression of my Christian life and faith. This covers at least the following aspects:
First, this ministry will bear the fruits of my talents, gifts, passions, and training that I’ve received from God.
Second, my work on this ministry will be an integral part of my life. This is not something that I do “outside,” like a job.
And third, because I’d spent a long time without a church — and therefore I empathize more with people, and I also know much about the ways of the world — this ministry then will not be immersed in the Christian subculture. Instead, it will be relevant and important to many — Christians and non-Christians alike.
It is this third point that this essay mostly talks about.
During my struggle of trying to create an overall picture of what Swordsman of the Word is, the breakthrough came from two places, and I just want to acknowledge them before I continue.
Firstly, I want to thank John MacArthur for his sermon series on Leadership, which contains his expositions on Paul’s view of the ministry. According to MacArthur, the Apostle Paul viewed his ministry in four dimensions. Towards God, it is service. Towards the Church, it is teaching. Towards unbelievers, it is evangelism. And towards himself, it is sacrifice.
And secondly, I want to thank The Gospel Coalition for their book, The Gospel as Center, which was given to us for free in Bible school. The book is about their advocacy — gospel-centered ministry — and it contains, among other important resources, a blueprint for such a ministry.
Now, I would have been happy to pattern Swordsman of the Word after one of these two models, because my work would have been much easier. For sure, I wouldn’t have taken six weeks just to write this one essay. Unfortunately, what I have here is a blog — a website on the internet — and not a local church made up of flesh-and-blood people, and so I could not really do that. Furthermore, I already had some work done on what and how this blog should be; I was not starting from scratch. Nevertheless, these two models have helped me reformulate and improve my own model for Swordsman of the Word.
And so, what is my model? It is this: Swordsman of the Word is a God-centered, people-oriented blogging ministry.
Nature and Authority
This is a quick review of some of the things I’ve already declared in my essay, Running this Blogging Race Once Again.
The first and most basic question that someone might ask is, “What is this?”
Swordsman of the Word is my personal blog where I serve God through my essays and reflections. I write about God, about his Word, and about my own personal and spiritual life. And together with my Patreon creator account, where you can subscribe (for a monthly fee) for more of my writings, I also earn part of my living with it. Therefore, on the inside this is a Christian ministry, but on the outside (that is, on the official records) this is my personal business.
As an entity in general, Swordsman of the Word is independent. It’s not part of any local church or Christian organization. This means that I am accountable to God alone, and that the only authority I recognize is his Word, the Bible. Thus, I try to conform my beliefs, my teachings, and my practices to this authority. (Of course, as commanded in the Bible, I also submit to the lesser authority of the government, particularly in regard to the business side of this ministry.)
Being independent — with me accountable only to God and his Word — is part of Swordsman of the Word being God-centered. And out of this God-only regard for its guidance and authority will this ministry work outwards — toward the Church, and toward the world. Toward people.
As a Christian ministry, Swordsman of the Word seeks to be orthodox. I recognize historic Protestant Christianity and its rich heritage, including the diversity in its traditions. (However, I’m still studying theology, and I’m still in the process of discovering and affirming my own beliefs, and so I cannot yet be more specific than this.)
Yes, my final authority is the Bible, but I read it using orthodox glasses, because I only want to teach what is true and accepted. You see, I don’t have the desire to start my own religion, nor do I want to be labeled as a false teacher, and so emphasizing orthodoxy in my writings is very important to me. I’m only here to serve and glorify God, and that begins with humility, especially in accepting the teachings of those were/are much greater than me in their knowledge of the faith.
Mission, Vision, Spirit
This is now my new mission statement: Through this blogging ministry, Swordsman of the Word, I aim to become part of the discipleship of believers, the Church, and I also aim to share the hope of salvation in Jesus Christ to the world.
My works then are that of a pastor and an evangelist, and my medium is the written word. However, these works are within the limitations of this online platform and of my available time.
And as to my new vision statement, it is simple: As a blogger, I hope to win a large audience of both Christians and non-Christians, and I also hope to generate sufficient income to make this ministry/business self-sustaining.
As I have explained in my essay, Running this Blogging Race Once Again, God has already called me to do other things for him besides blogging, and so I no longer have any “big” plans for Swordsman of the Word.
The above statements are nothing special, I know, but that is all right, as long as they are in accord with what God wants for me. What sets me apart though from other Christian bloggers or ministries is the spirit with which I write and teach, and that is the balance between truth and grace. Yes, this is not new; people talk about speaking the truth in love. However, in my case, balancing truth with grace is my passion.
The full name of this blog is Swordsman of the Word: Rightly wielding “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph 6:17). This name or title has a rich meaning behind it.
According to Jesus, the truth of God (or the Word of God) sets people free (John 8:32), and yet it is also described as a sword that can have a profound effect on a person’s soul.
For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and is able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart. — Hebrews 4:12 WEB
Implicit in this statement is the potential for destruction if God’s Word is used carelessly. And so rightly wielding the sword of the Spirit — that is, being a Swordsman of the Word — involves more than just knowing the truth. It also involves wisdom, caution, love, and expertise in proclaiming it, so that the truth builds up rather than tears down — brings people freedom rather than piles more burdens on them.
And the truth is, humanity is a fallen and sinful creation. We are living in rebellion against our Creator, and we are very far from what he intended us to be. And even when a person is saved by faith in Jesus, the next step — becoming holy and Christlike — is a lifelong and difficult process.
We are all sinners. We all have failed. We all have made mistakes. No one is getting a perfect score. No one is making a perfect performance. Not even us Christians. “Works in progress” are what we are. And so when writing, I’ll always keep these facts in mind — I’ll be uncompromising in truth, yes, but also rich in love and understanding. Rich in grace.
The balance between truth and grace. This the essence of Swordsman of the Word, and it is part of this ministry being people-oriented.
Audience, Purpose, Focus
My declarations above about the nature, authority, mission, etc. of Swordsman of the Word are in general terms. They answer the question what? Now I will go into more specific details and answer the question how? I will start with my audience.
As a people-oriented ministry involved in both discipleship and evangelism, Swordsman of the Word has a clear definition of its audience. And as the blogger behind it, I always keep that audience in mind (as well as balancing truth and grace), and I tailor my writing accordingly.
This is my target audience: People who are either Christians or non-Christians, 20 to 60 years old, of different nationalities, and who can understand English well (at least college level). Furthermore, because I don’t have a high Christian education (i.e., seminary training) and for now seek only sufficient readiness to serve God, I write primarily for the common people — not for pastors, or teachers, or scholars. Still, I hope that other ministers will find this blog useful and helpful.
As a blogger, unlike in church preaching or in evangelistic meeting, I cannot separate my readers into groups of believers and unbelievers — anyone can access my blog posts on the internet. Therefore, my writings must address both groups. This means that my use of Christian jargon should be minimal. This also means that I should avoid esoteric topics and discussions that only Bible students and theologians can appreciate. Most important, this means that I should think about the needs and expectations of those who are just curious or searching for answers; however, I should do that in a way that will not turn off those who already believe and are looking for deeper understanding. In short, this means a delicate balance in considering my two groups of readers. (Based on my blog followers to date, I can say that I’m capable of achieving this balance.)
And so now, how exactly am I going to fulfill my mission in discipleship and evangelism through this blog? This question now raises the matter of purpose, which is, like authority, also part of this ministry being God-centered.
As a God-centered ministry, Swordsman of the Word has only one overriding purpose, and that is, to help people know God more. Through his Word. And through my own life.
This is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and him whom you sent, Jesus Christ. — John 17:3 WEB
I had recognized early on that if I’m going to do something like this for God, then it must agree with my own strengths and passions. Or else, working will feel like a chore, and I’ll be much less effective and less productive. And indeed, you will find that this purpose is in perfect harmony with that I want and love to do.
Writing about my personal life, especially about my own walk with God, is what I do best. I am not afraid to dig deep… and to reveal much. Also, to know much more about God and his Word is my consuming desire. And so my writings for Swordsman of the Word will bring these two together, for God’s glory.
This then is the one distinctive characteristic of this ministry: My willingness to go beyond the facts and statements of truth in the Scriptures — to not only expound on the Word of God and its possible applications, but also to let you see how these truths are applied and lived in one particular life — mine. There will be no hypocrisy here, my friends. I write about the things I personally know and practice.
And now, with purpose also comes focus. And this focus brings together the God-centered and people-oriented elements.
The fact is, this is only a blog on the internet, not a church, and I am only one man — there is only so much I can do. I need to be focused to maximize my impact. So what follows now is my focus in writing that is based on my purpose of helping people know God more.
Knowing God through his Word means knowing the revelations he’s given about himself in the Bible. That means doctrines. That means theology. Specifically, I’m talking here about systematic theology, especially of the Reformed tradition.
Like I said, I’m still discovering and affirming my own beliefs, and so I can only say for sure that I’m seeking to be orthodox. But I already know in my heart that I’m conservative, and so I’m using Reformed theology as the baseline for my teaching.
Knowing God through his Word, however, doesn’t necessarily mean knowing the content of the Bible inside out. And it surely doesn’t mean knowing lots of information about the Bible. And so things such as Bible stories, and cultural and historical information, will only be secondary.
But knowing God does mean loving him and obeying him, and so there will be plenty of applications of biblical truths to real life, especially to my own life.
To sum up then, this is my focus in writing: Doctrinal expositions of selected passages from the Scriptures, with lots of real life applications from my own life, and, because I write essays and not sermons, with plenty of my personal opinions also.
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So there it is. What Swordsman of the Word is. To give you an overall view, below is a diagram that summarizes the things I’ve said.
Ministry model of Swordsman of the Word
My friends, I’ve done my best to discover and to write what God wants for this ministry. I can only hope that I’ve made no mistakes, and I’m looking forward to really start blogging again. However, there is still one essay that I need to write before I can do that — an essay on what it truly means to me, personally, to be a Swordsman of the Word. That is my next assignment.
I will close with these two announcements:
First, the “overcoming essays” that I’d planned to write and announced in one of my original founding documents will continue to be shelved. And that is because that kind of writing, I belatedly realized, is already under counseling, and I am far from ready to be anyone’s counselor.
And second, I will resume my planned work of writing for my two essay collections, Faith Foundations and Light to My Path. Most of my blog posts in the next few years will fall into either of these two categories, along with my occasional single essays and reflections (musings).