DiM | “Hope in Front of Me” by Danny Gokey

Presentation1Today is “Discernment in Music” (DiM) day here at Faithful Stewardship.

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)
4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

At the time of this writing, the K-Love top songs chart had not been updated from last week; therefore, we will be using 20 the Countdown Magazine’s chart for today’s DiM post. I can’t tell how often this chart is updated, but the top song on the chart is Danny Gokey’s “Hope In Front Of Me”. As it turns out, this song was at #4 on the K-Love chart last week, and would have been the next song on our list to review anyway, so here we go. Let us begin with a refresher for those who might not have heard this song on the radio:

[youtube http://youtu.be/O5GFiDdGGGM]

 

Hope in Front of Me | Lyrics (via Metro Lyrics)

I’ve been running through rain
That I thought would never end
Trying to make it on faith
In a struggle against the wind
I’ve seen the dark and the broken places
But I know in my soul
No matter how bad it gets
I’ll be alright

There’s hope in front of me
There’s a light, I still see it
There’s a hand still holding me
Even when I don’t believe it
I might be down but I’m not dead
There’s better days still up ahead
Even after all I’ve seen
There’s hope in front of me

There’s a place at the end of the storm
You finally find
Where the hurt and the tears and the pain
All fall behind

You open up your eyes and up ahead
There’s a big sun shining
Right then and there you realize
You’ll be alright

There’s hope in front of me
There’s a light, I still see it
There’s a hand still holding me
Even when I don’t believe it
I might be down but I’m not dead
There’s better days still up ahead
Even after all I’ve seen
There’s hope in front of me

There’s a hope still burning
I can feel it rising through the night
And my world’s still turning
I can feel your love here by my side

You’re my hope
You’re the light, I still see it
Your hands are holding me
Even when I don’t believe it
I’ve got to believe
I still have hope
You are my hope

Songwriters
HERMS, BERNIE / JAMES, BRETT / GOKEY, DANIEL JAY

Published by
Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.
Read more: Danny Gokey – Hope In Front Of Me Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Positive Elements

Well, it is definitely an attempt to give encouragement to any and all who are going through hard times. If you bring in the Official Music Video, you get a sense of rescue for those who are struggling with hopelessness in various circumstances… and then they end up broken down in the middle of a country road and just need to keep walking… *sigh*. The song is vague. Danny Gokey has professed to be a Christian, he did so while he was competing in American Idol (Season 8) where he finished in 3rd place, which is quite an accomplishment. He has an absolutely tremendous voice and a great sense of musical style and delivers his music with power and emotion. This song also points toward a wonderful community outreach of Sophia’s Heart Foundation, named in honor of his late first wife. What they do here is undoubtedly a good work for the poor and the down-trodden, and this song Hope in Front of Me is undoubtedly anthemic for those being touched by this ministry. These are all positive elements and deeply commendable, but the vagueness of the messaging still looms. Before we move on to specific concerns, I want to share a video from Danny Gokey’s Homepage that really helped me tie this song to the Sophia’s Heart Foundation.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffivEQpbUZA]

Concerns

Our goal here is to practice Biblical discernment in the songs we hear played on the radio (maybe even sing along with) so that we are fully aware of what we are filling our hearts and minds with. The song has some very strong religious/spiritual keywords such as: faith, soul, belief, hope, light, and love. Each of these words resonate with religions of all flavors, even the godless ones (e.g. humanism and buddism). The vagueness is a problem here because at no time in the song or in the Official Music Video is the object of the singers faith identified nor is the hope articulated beyond a generic positive confession of “better days” and “I’ll be alright”. There is also a quirk that pops up in the use of the pronoun “you”. As with most modern-day spiritual songs, the “you” is at times implying God (or at least a higher power) but might also refer to an earthly person (love interest), but the quirk comes in where “you” suddenly shifts to the hearer. Well, that’s a problem since we also have the other two possible “you”s in the song. Vagueness is the key issue with this song. The Gospel isn’t remotely vague. Scripture isn’t vague. “Spiritual songs” are vague to appeal to the widest possible audience for sales. The song does not provide any answers, no gospel, and not really any Law, just an appeal to Hope.

To get any meaning out of the song, you first have to put real meaning into it. Let’s see if we can’t manage some salvaging of the song from the Scriptures.

Faith. Faith is not a thing unto itself. If we are using a strictly Biblical definition of faith, only believers have faith. We see in Romans 10:17 (ESV) “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ”. Therefore, apart from the Gospel of Jesus Christ there can be no faith. In fact, when Paul describes the state of sin of mankind in Romans 1, he lists “faithlessness” as one of their attributes.

Romans 1:28-32 (ESV) 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

In the modern-day church we often use “faith” and “belief” interchangeably. If we are to do that, then we need to understand that there is only one True faith (faith that comes from hearing the Word of God), and all other faiths (or beliefs) are false. For the sake of redeeming this song, we must hold to the Biblical definition of faith, that is, faith in the Person, Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Hope. Since this is the main thrust of the song, I want to focus on salvaging this term. I could not do so without first properly anchoring the term Faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In the same way that faith requires an object, we need to properly identify the object of our hope. Our hope is in Christ, and in Christ we have a hope. I think Peter does a great job of encapsulating it in the introduction of 1 Peter.

1 Peter 1:1-12 (ESV) | Born Again to a Living Hope
1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

Our hope is in an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading… and that inheritance is kept for us in heaven to be revealed in the last time. The hope of heaven, that we will gain entrance into heaven through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. That this sinful flesh will finally be put away from us in death, and that by His blood we will join physically in His resurrection as He gives us perfect, new, sinless bodies as part of our inheritance. That is our hope. And it is so marvelous and such an occasion for rejoicing that the various trials may cause us grief in this life are brief and temporary. The Hope of Heaven and the Hope of the Great Day of Christ’s return is the Hope in Front of Me. Unfortunately, there are lines in the song that wrongfully anchor this hope in the temporal. I’m not saying there won’t be any good times while on this earth, the promise is that we who are in Christ will face trials of many kinds, and that our faith will be tested, for this fallen world Hates God. If your hope is anchored in this life, you’ve anchored it on a sandy floor that shifts with storms and seas. At the risk of belaboring the point, “your best life now” is NOT a Christian confession. Our inheritance (our Hope) is kept for us in Heaven. While on Earth, God the Holy Spirit comforts, helps, sustains, and nurtures us… but He does so for purposes that extend well beyond this present life, and beyond our own understanding. He is building up the Bride of Christ, of which we who believe are all members.

Conclusion

This song is vague, and at-best simply a spiritual song. It doesn’t really proclaim the Gospel or uphold the Law. It is a generically “positive” song, sung extremely well. I can become a teaching point if the conversation lends itself to you sharing the Gospel by explaining faith, hope, and love as they are defined by the Bible rather than humanism. But the song doesn’t do that on its own.

I was deeply moved by the EPK film, the background behind Sophia’s Heart Foundation… but even in that film we heard too much of “my story” rather than the Gospel. We touched on the problem of teaching that Christians are supposed to share “their story” rather than His when we reviewed Casting Crown’s teaching videos. I was moved by the good works of Sophia’s Heart Foundation, and I have no problem sharing what they are doing. But good works apart from the Gospel are temporal. Preach the Gospel, so that those who hear the words of Christ might obtain faith in Christ and through Christ be assured of the Hope that lies ahead, the hope of that upward call of Christ on the Last Day.

Jude 1:24-25 (ESV)
24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

In Christ,
Jorge

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