DiM | “Good Good Father” by Chris Tomlin

Today is “Discernment in Music” (DiM) day here at Faithful Stewardship (2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)).

November 10, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Good Good Father” by Chris Tomlin which currently sits at #19 on the 20theCountdownMagazine.

The song opens up with an appeal to mystical direct-revelation much like that of Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling. We will do our best to rescue the song a bit from this mystical interpretation, but given that this is intended as a song for corporate worship that has gained popularity on the airwaves, it warrants a disapproval because it simply does not stand on its own. It fails to point the listener to Christ, it doesn’t call the sinner and saint to repentance and forgiveness so it isn’t fit for public consumption without contextual setting. As far as Corporate worship in a church setting goes, it does at least have a solid confession of the Goodness of God. However, there is a lot of junk in there and the song is not instructive for the Church; rather, it is quite mystical and contemplative in nature.

Chris Tomlin VEVO Lyrics & Chords Video

Lyrics (via KLove)

Good Good Father

Oh, I’ve heard a thousand stories
Of what they think You’re like
But I’ve heard the tender whisper
Of love in the dead of night
And You tell me that You’re pleased
And that I’m never alone

You’re a good good Father
It’s who You are, it’s who You are, it’s who You are
And I’m loved by You
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

Oh, and I’ve seen many searching
For answers far and wide
But I know we’re all searching
For answers only You provide
‘Cause You know just what we need
Before we say a word

You’re a good good Father
It’s who You are, it’s who You are, it’s who You are
And I’m loved by You
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

Cause You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways to us

You are perfect in all of Your ways
Oh, You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways to us

Oh, it’s love so undeniable
I, I can hardly speak
Peace so unexplainable
I, I can hardly think
As You call me deeper still
As You call me deeper still
As You call me deeper still
Into love, love, love

You’re a good good Father
It’s who You are, it’s who You are, it’s who You are
And I’m loved by You
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

You’re a good good Father
It’s who You are, it’s who You are, it’s who You are
And I’m loved by You
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am
You’re a good good Father

You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways

Publishing: ©2014 WorshipTogether.com Songs / sixsteps Music / Vamos Publishing / Housefires Sounds (ASCAP) / Capitol CMG Paragon / Common Hymnal Digital / Tony Brown BMI Designee (BMI) (admin. at CapitolCMGPublishing.com)
Writer(s): Pat Barrett and Tony Brown

Discussion

Chris Tomlin is indeed the most prolific songwriter in our day.  Much of what he’s written is marketed as “Praise and Worship” music intended for modern, contemporary, evangelical services. It’s rather impressive when you see the sheer volume of songs credited to him, until you start to look for substance in the lyric. Sadly, it is these songs that are most likely to pop up on one of these Top20 charts… rich theology isn’t what gets top billing in Christian radio airplay.

First off, the song is absolutely correct in its confession that believers serve a Good Good Father. In fact, God the Father is the standard by which we measure Good.

Mark 10:17-22 (ESV) | The Rich Young Man

17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

We know that Jesus, being God the Son, is Good; therefore, He is calling attention to this man’s pride and self-righteousness. Jesus exposes the man’s belief that he is good in his own sight, thus his definition of Good isn’t a proper one. When our definition of “good” is downgraded to a comparative goodness to our neighbor, it paves the wide path of self-righteousness which runs counter to the Gospel of Repentance.

The intended audience of a song written for corporate worship is those attending church. I wish that I could say “believers” but with so many churches these days running with the “churching the unchurched” model, that cannot be assumed. Evangelicalism is awash in entertainment and confusing attendance with regeneration… if you can just get sinners to keep coming back they are as good as “saved”. If you don’t preach Law and Gospel, you’re just entertaining unbelievers and giving them false-assurance of salvation by works (attending, volunteering, giving).

No Gospel in this Song

Nowhere in this song is Christ, the cross, sin, or repentance mentioned. The world doesn’t have a problem giving ascent to the idea of a Loving God when they are granted ample leeway to define what that Love looks like. They’ll sing along and really belt out “I am loved because its who I am” for as long as you want to repeat the Bridge… they can even declare His perfection in His Ways… as long as their sin is never addressed and they are never called to repentance.

No Biblical Instruction

Getting back to the problem of mystical direct-revelation, the first stanza doesn’t refute the lies of the world with Scripture… no… it appeals to tender whispers of love in the dead of night. /sigh.

There is also the truism of the refrain that “I am loved”. I say truism, because it is true in a broad sense that isn’t specifically salvific.

John 3:16-18 (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.

Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

God’s perfect Love for us drives His Grace in delaying the judgement until the second coming of Christ and in giving His Only Son Jesus as an atoning sacrifice for sin. But salvation comes by grace through faith… and those who lack Faith in Him who bore our sins and transgressions in our place on the cross will taste the second death, the final judgement.

The Holy Spirit calls us to repentance and points us to Jesus Christ, the Only begotten Son of the Living God. There is a very awkward (contemplative/mystical/sensual) repetitive section in the song that I want to address regarding the as you call me deeper still into love. Let’s look to the Gospel According to John where Jesus gives the Promise (and teaches the role) of God the Holy Spirit.

John 14:15-31 (ESV) | Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. 18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. 25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.

Now, our human self-righteousness tends to hijack the language here regarding the “keeping of His commandments and His Word”. We all sin. This isn’t saying that one has to be sinless to love the Father. Wrong sense of the word “keep”. We should be reading this as in cherishing the Word of the Lord in our hearts in the Proverbs sense of the word.

Proverbs 1:1-7 (ESV) | The Beginning of Knowledge

The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:

To know wisdom and instruction,
    to understand words of insight,
to receive instruction in wise dealing,
    in righteousness, justice, and equity;
to give prudence to the simple,
    knowledge and discretion to the youth—
Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
    and the one who understands obtain guidance,
to understand a proverb and a saying,
    the words of the wise and their riddles.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
    fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Even if I can get past the nonsensical repetition of what can only be assumed a tender whisper of love in the dead of night from (Hopefully God the Holy Spirit), “come deeper still into love”… there is no instruction for the Believer in how to answer that call. King Solomon and his father King David pointed to the Word of the Lord. The Written Word of the Lord, even while they had a Prophet of the Lord in their midst. Psalm 119 is a great example, too. Bear in mind, though, that King David and King Solomon were also under the Law of Moses, so they were under obligation of the Law in addition to the Law of Faith. The Chris Tomlin song isn’t pointing to the external Word, the Written Word of God, it is pointing to some internalized emotional experience… an indulgence of whispers in the dead of night. Brothers and sisters, this is dangerous… and no where in Scripture are we instructed to seek God in this manner. We are instructed to seek Him in His Word. To grow in the fullness of the knowledge of Christ.

If only the we’re all searching was descriptive of the Church studying the Word of God. But no, that’s not where contemplatives search for God. They operate under the false-notion that if they engage in “spiritual disciplines” they can find God apart from Scripture… and so this confession of we’re all searching is one of a mystical approach… a fleshly, sensual, emotional one. No one seeks after God. God draws sinners by His Word. If His Word isn’t being preached, no one is seeking Him… they seek replacements for the God they’ve rejected.

Romans 3:9-31 (ESV) | No One Is Righteous

What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written:

None is righteous, no, not one;
11     no one understands;
    no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
    no one does good,
    not even one.
13 “Their throat is an open grave;
    they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14     “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15  “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16     in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
18     “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

The Righteousness of God Through Faith

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

Law and Gospel. Law identifies sin, Gospel grants forgiveness by grace through faith.

Conclusion

The pendulum of “progressive Christianity” is still swinging left here in the US and we are actively exporting this brand of religion around the world. There are some who are trying to reverse the trend, trying to point out the error in slipping away from Sola Scriptura and instead turning to the schemes of men. I’m praying for a revival or reformation of evangelicalism to return once more to the written Word of God, to preaching Law and Gospel, sin and Grace, repentance and forgiveness in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Jude 24-25 (ESV) | Doxology

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, 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.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

4 thoughts on “DiM | “Good Good Father” by Chris Tomlin

  1. I would just like to offer, in my humble opinion and from personal experience, that this song is experienced by different people at different stages of their walk with Christ. I was raised in a faith that believes ANY music from instruments is sin and will send you to hell. I’ve moved away from that faith as an adult and was active in a church that included praise and worship. I love love listening to sermons that have deep meat (connecting all parts of the bible together, the dissection of words in their original language, applying truths from long ago to today), but I find I NEED the praise music such as this to enter into His presence. I have been unable to attend church for the past year and a half for health reasons, and it’s the first time in 48 years. I don’t know when I will be able to go back, or if I will. Walking through the very very recent death of my dad after a protracted illness, this song and several others met me right where I was in my grief, depression, and anxiety. It reminded me of places in Scripture where I had read that He is good. That He loves me. And sometimes that’s all I need to focus on because that’s all that can be in my head in those moments of loss when I am overwhelmed by everything else. I just need to be reminded that He’s good, He loves me, and it flows into my brain that He works all things for good for those who are called according to His purpose. And therein lies the peace to get through. I believe God has gifted these songwriters and singers with what He knows some people need. Whatever it takes. He wants us all with Him and He wants to reach us all. And we are all snowflakes. He knows what we need exactly when we need it. It’s not an accident. TobyMac’s “Keep Walkin'” is the only thing that gets me out of bed some days. Knowing that God isn’t finished and yes this is hard but He is still good and He is still working.

    • Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and feelings on the matter. I’ll not argue what you feel or what you feel you need; however, what I will say is that the fact that you draw emotional support, encouragement, and motivation from this song does not make the song itself Biblically sound. It’s emotional and bathed in mysticism.

      That’s why we took the time to review relevant passages of Scripture to help clear up the theology around the better points of the song and to correct some of the worse points. I pray you continue to find encouragement from the Scriptures more and more, and from these appeals to emotional experiences less.

      In Christ,
      jorge

  2. Jorge, Thank you for your faithfulness in an area that is needed but not full of accolades.

    I am in total agreement with your analysis of this song. I would take it one step further though… I find this song sung most often in a breathy voice. I think it is a highly sexual song that is very degrading in describing the good Father He truly is. I find it to be on the verge of incestuous love and cannot sing it.

    I love God the Father but I endeavor to never cross the boundaries. I read Isaiah 40 almost everyday to start my devotions just to remind me who He is and who I am.

    And a PS- My favorite of all verses— and my life verse is Jude 24 and 25!!!! It’s ALLLL about Jesus! Woo hoo!

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