Today is “Discernment in Music” (DiM) day here at Faithful Stewardship (2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)).
September 8, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “There is Power” by Lincoln Brewster which currently sits at #4 on the KLove top 10.
Lincoln Brewster is one of the Integrity Music stars who cranks out a lot of music intended for houses of worship. He falls in the Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman category. This song is one such song aimed at corporate worship, intended to lift up the Name of Jesus. In some ways it is successful, though there is some stuff to look out for regarding how Scripture is being represented. In the end, there is just so little sound doctrine to be found in the actually lyric of the song, and the new-age Presence theology is so heavy-handed, that I find myself disapproving of this song entirely for radio airplay, much less for corporate worship.
Probably one of the biggest warning signs is that the song was a part of the NBC debacle known as “A.D. The Bible Continues”… which didn’t even remotely follow the Bible.
NBC’s A.D. The Bible Continues (video available until 9/20/2015)
Integrity Music Official Lyric Video
Lyrics (via KLove)
There Is Power
Where two or more are
Gathered in His name
He is there
For all who come
Who run to Him in faith
He is there, He is there
There is power
In the name of Jesus
There is power
Power in His name
No fear, no lie
Can stand against us now
He is here
The Word has come
To silence every doubt
He is here
One name, one name can save
One name breaks every chain
One name, always
One name, Jesus
One name, one name remains
One name, we will proclaim
One name, always
Publishing: © 2014 Integrity’s Praise! Music/BMI & Worldwide Echoes/BMI (all adm by Integrity Music via CapitolCMGPublishing.com) & Sony/ATV Tree Publishing/Upside Down Under/BMI
Writer(s): Lincoln Brewster & Mia Fieldes
Verse 1. The first verse is using the phrase “where two or more are gathered” in a manner typical of “Presence” theology… the idea that Jesus is present when two or more are gathered. This is to set the stage (in corporate worship) for the mindset that since we are gathered together in Worship, we can now expect Jesus to be in our presence.
Matthew 18:15-20 (ESV) | If Your Brother Sins Against You
15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
Note: Which translation you are using will largely determine how you read this passage, simply by how it breaks up the paragraphs (ESV;NIV;NASB). The ESV keeps these verses together as one passage, keeping it all in within the context of church discipline. The NIV isolates verse 18 and further separates verses 19-20 as a third thought, while still maintaining all 3 paragraphs under the section heading “Dealing with Sin in the Church”. The NASB inserts a break before verse 18, treating verse 18-20 as a separate teaching on Prayer. Their heading for this passage is “Discipline and Prayer”. It matters which version you use, and it is important to remain consistent, but it is also important to take note on which passages have been interpreted differently even between good translations.
Since we now use the ESV here, I will continue with the view that the entire passage falls under Church discipline. For backing in this view, let us look to chapter 5 of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians:
1 Corinthians 5 (ESV) | Sexual Immorality Defiles the Church
5 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife.2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.
3 For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. 4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.
6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”
Church Discipline. This is definitely not something you’ll find in the Precious Moments® section of Hallmark™. As for the “two or more gathered” part of the phrase, many point back to the Law of Moses.
Deuteronomy 19:15-21 (ESV) | Laws Concerning Witnesses
15 “A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established. 16 If a malicious witness arises to accuse a person of wrongdoing, 17 then both parties to the dispute shall appear before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who are in office in those days. 18 The judges shall inquire diligently, and if the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely, 19 then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. 20 And the rest shall hear and fear, and shall never again commit any such evil among you. 21 Your eye shall not pity. It shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.
This is a strong case in support of the ESV’s treatment of the Matthew text. Now, as far as the song goes, are we saying the God is NOT present when the saints gather together? No. We know that believers are sealed by God the Holy Spirit and that He is with us always… even when we are alone. But we know this because Jesus promised us that He would not leave us alone, that He would send the Holy Spirit to be with us.
Matthew 28:16-20 (ESV) | The Great Commission
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Therefore, we do not need to invoke the presence of God the Holy Spirit by finding another Christian. It is good to fellowship, to gather together for corporate worship and for church discipline, but we don’t need to pluck this verse out of context to know the Truth of God’s Word regarding fellowship and assembly. I don’t think the NIV and NASB are mistreating the text with how they divide up the paragraphs; I think there is plenty of sound teaching to be explored in the efficacy of corporate prayer according to the Will of God that extends beyond the area of church discipline, but it has to be done carefully so as not to slide into the new-age “Presence” theology that tends to treat the Holy Spirit as some sort of wish-granting genie where 2 or more are needed to rub the magic lamp.
Acts 2:37-39 (ESV)
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.”
Acts 3:2-8 (ESV)
2 And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. 3 Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. 4 And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” 5 And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. 6 But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” 7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. 8 And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.
Acts 4:7-12 (ESV)
7 And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, 9 if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, 10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
It is by the Name of Jesus, and by that Name alone, that forgiveness and righteousness is made available to us. Amen. Does the chorus of this song convey this understanding of the power that is found in the Name of Jesus? Nope.
Verse 2. Here the song cheers the congregation on about how they are overcomers. But here we see again a clever slight-of-hand inserting the new-age Presence theology. Jesus is indeed the Word made flesh (John 1:14) but this song is tying in the claim of the first verse that Jesus is present wherever two or more are gathered. Now that the song has built up, it is claiming the Presence of Jesus is now going to defeat every lie, every fear, and silence ever doubt. That doesn’t happen by proximity alone, for if it did Judas Iscariot wouldn’t have betrayed Jesus unto the cross. It happens by faith, not by proximity.
Rom 10:17 (ESV) So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
This is the biggest error in so-called Presence theology… you don’t gain faith by singing hypnotically repetitive affirmations and declarations inviting the presence of God. The Word of Christ must be preached for the eyes of the blind to be opened by the Grace of God.
Bridge Loop. It doesn’t say anything wrong… but repeating these lines doesn’t do what it is claiming to do. Preaching the Name of Jesus isn’t truly achieved by repeatedly saying “I will preach the name of Jesus”. It is at this point of the song where my head flips over to the song “Break Every Chain” by Jesus Culture (from the Bethel cult).
This song does not edify the saints. There is room for those who have never been exposed to the new-age teaching of Presence theology to at least focus on the importance of preaching in the Name of Jesus. However, I find the influence of Presence theology so overwhelming in this song that I cannot recommend it for casual listening.
Romans 15:13 (ESV) 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
In Christ Jesus,