DiM | “Jesus Loves Me” by Chris Tomlin

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.

There has been a lot of movement in the Top 20 Charts. Today we will be taking a look at the #5 song “Jesus Loves Me” by Chris Tomlin. Overall, I think this is a nice chorus for Believers, but not a great song for evangelism to the unbeliever.

Official Music Video

Lyrics (via KLove Website)

Jesus Loves Me

Chris Tomlin from the album Love Ran Red

I was lost
I was in chains
The world had a hold of me

My heart was a stone
I was covered in shame
When He came for me

I couldn’t run, couldn’t run from His presence
I couldn’t run, couldn’t run from His arms

Jesus, He loves me, He loves me, He is for me
Jesus, how can it be, He loves me, He is for me

And it was a fire
Deep in my soul
I’ll never be the same

I stepped out of the dark
And into the light
When He called my name

I couldn’t run, couldn’t run from His presence
I couldn’t run, couldn’t run from His arms

He holds the stars and He holds my heart
With healing hands that bear the scars
The rugged cross where He died for me
My only hope, my everything

Publishing: © 2014 Worship Together Music / sixsteps Songs / S.D.G. Publishing (BMI) / 9T One Songs / Ariose Music (ASCAP) / SHOUT! Music Publishing (APRA)
Writer(s): Chris Tomlin, Reuben Morgan, and Ben Glover

Positive Elements

The Love of Jesus. The first thing that stands out in this song is that it is unambiguously declaring that Jesus Loves us. It begins with a confession that we are born with hearts of stone, covered in shame, and chained to the world.

Ephesians 2:1-10 (ESV) | By Grace Through Faith
1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Paul is reminding the Ephesians of what Christ has done for them and who they were before the Gospel of Jesus Christ came to them, they were dead. Similarly, Chris Tomlin’s song starts as a reminder for what we all were before we heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ and before that hearing granted us saving faith in Christ Jesus.

Now, yes, Jesus does love us and there is no running from His presence nor His arms. The context here is odd, because there is a past-tense “couldn’t” of being in His arms and in His presence that suggests this was a positive truth prior to conversion/salvation/Gospel of Jesus Christ. The fact that we cannot escape the presence of God is a comfort to Christians walking in Grace, but it’s not a comfort for those walking in darkness of rebellion. We’ll explore the concern side of this later. For now, let’s look at the assurance we have once we’ve encountered the Grace of God in His Gospel.

John 3:16-21 (ESV) | For God So Loved the World
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

John 10:24-30 (ESV) 24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

Notice in the underlined portions point to the negative side of the inescapable presence of God. For the unbeliever, this is a judgement in that the one who rejects the Gospel stands condemned already, for we were all born condemned… dead in sins and trespasses. That is not to say that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a mere litmus test whereby we can make a one-time check to see if someone is saved by God, but by God’s Grace those who believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ will be saved and those whose hearts are never penetrated by the Truth of God’s Word will continue in their condemned state and receive the due penalty of sin.

The Cross of Jesus. I was relieved to hear in the bridge the reference to the rugged cross of Jesus, where He died for our sin. On that cross, He atoned for the sin of mankind, so that all who believe in Christ might be saved.

Concerns

In this song, part of the message of the Gospel, the “brothers, what shall we do?” portion, is coded. Let’s look in Acts to see to what it is I’m referring, and then we’ll flesh it out in the song.

Acts 2:36-41 (ESV) 36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” 37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

What is missing from the song is the call to Repentance. The conversion of the singer is coded in the second verse of the song

I stepped out of the dark
And into the light
When He called my name

Now the “when he called my name” can be lined up to Acts 2:37, “…when they heard this they were cut to the heart…”. The “I stepped out of the dark and into the light” is where I get concerned, do we do this? Is this the answer Peter gave? Repent and be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins… There are a couple of doctrines that attempt to explain what goes on “behind the scenes” of salvation that point to the “automaticness” of salvation based on election, but even those doctrines acknowledge the call to repent.

Luke 24:44-48 (ESV) 44 Then [Jesus] said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.

Conclusion

Chris Tomlin writes many songs, choruses of praise and worship that are used in corporate worship. He is a premier figure in the Passion Conferences which focus on teens and college youth. Tomlin writes songs that are easy to sing along with as a congregation. He has written so many songs, all tend to be short and focused on an area of encouragement, worship, praise, or attitude. For corporate worship, the songs are not bad, but they rarely carry a full Law & Gospel message. If you are singing his songs in a church that teaches sound doctrine, where both Law and Gospel are rightly preached, then this song is a song of encouragement. But this song, on it’s own, doesn’t give the full Gospel, in that it doesn’t give the call or encouragement to Repent. When played on the radio, there is no reason to expect a context of balanced theology (although, I’d love it if more Christian Radio DJs intentionally balanced the song play for more complete theology), so outside of the Church setting, the song gives an incomplete picture, particularly to the unbeliever. You can’t “sell” the Gospel to the unbeliever by focusing on “all of the benefits” without presenting the Truth of the Law of God. That they are a sinner, born dead in sins and trespasses, and that they must repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.

1 Peter 4:1-11 (ESV) | Stewards of God’s Grace
1 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. 3 For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. 4 With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; 5 but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.

7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

To God be the glory, Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

2 thoughts on “DiM | “Jesus Loves Me” by Chris Tomlin

  1. Great post! Jorge, what do you think of these lyrics in the song:

    And it was a fire
    Deep in my soul
    I’ll never be the same

    What is he saying there? Is it mystic?

    • Thank you for commenting. It is indeed mystical in form, because its meaning is coded and unclear. However, given its context in this song, granting its best construction, this is a description of the regeneration of the heart. Unfortunately, knowing Tomlin’s church affiliation, we know that this is anchored in emotional decisional salvation rather than a salvation purely by the grace and work of God on our hearts through the preached Gospel of Jesus Christ. I say “rather than”, because it can’t be both. Either it’s God’s Work or it’s something we do. Tomlin is definitely referring to regeneration in that portion, but notice how the next line goes back to “I”.

      Thank you for reading and for taking the time to comment. God bless!

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