DiM | “Deliverer” by Matt Maher

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

January 5, 2016. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Deliverer” by Matt Maher which currently sits at #10 on the KLove’s top 10 chart.

Welcome to a new year and our first DiM post for 2016. Over the Christmas holiday there were a few songs that popped up on the top CCM charts, but it seems the charts have reset a bit in the new year, favoring the more popular songs of 2015. We’ll see how the charts are adjusted next week. For today, though, we take a look at the new song from Matt Maher. I have to admit that this song is confusing, theologically. It’s about half-right… but even in that, its tough to pin down the theology being presented since Matt is a Roman Catholic evangelical. We’ll get to that after listening and reading the lyrics.

Matt Maher VEVO Lyric Video

Lyrics (via KLove)

Deliverer

I was a drifter, I had nowhere to go
I was hanging by threads of dust and bone
Every angel I knew was singing, son, come home
But the melody was hard to sing along

Oh, God, You’re my deliverer
The One, the One who carries us
God, You’re my deliverer

I was on trial for everything I did
And there’s no way I could make a stand and win
When you realize the verdict is already in
You let go of the brokenness within
Well, there’s only One who could ever stand and win

Oh, God, You’re my deliverer
The One, the One who carries us
Oh, God, You’re my deliverer
The One, the One who carries us

And now I’m like a child at night
Who never has to think of why
We’re free to love and live and die
And there’s no need to justify
The sinner that’s inside of me
Has lost all his control of me
My God, from the flood and from the fire
You brought me out, I am alive
With a faith just like a child
I’m not afraid, I’m running wild
For everything that will be done
I am Yours and You are my

Deliverer
The One, the One who carries us
God, You’re my deliverer
The One, the One who carries us
Oh, God, You’re my deliverer
The One, the One who carries us
Oh, God, You’re my deliverer
The One, the One who carries us
God, You’re my deliverer

I was hanging by threads of dust and bone

Publishing: © 2015 Sony/ATV Tree Publishing / I Am A Pilgrim Songs (BMI) All rights on behalf of Sony/ATV Tree and I Am A Pilgrim Songs administered by Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC. / Belton Bronco Music (BMI) (adm. by Bluewater Music Services Corp.) / Holy Smoking Gun Music (BMI) (adm. by Bluewater Music Services Corp.)
Writer(s): Matt Maher, Bo Rineheart, Bear Rineheart

Discussion

Who is the target audience for this song? Who is the singer representing? I can’t quite make it out. When was the singer a drifter? When he was an unbeliever? Before hearing the Gospel? Before his baptism? Before he was a Christian? Or is this some sort of drifter phase where the individual is only partially saved. I say that because of the Roman Catholic synergism, where its faith+works (sacraments + purgatory) that leads to heaven. The reason this is a question is because the song has a dramatic shift or supposed correction of the singer’s confession from one of being condemned to having been delivered. That point of conversion isn’t expressed at all. That’s a problem unto itself, but for now if we could establish the starting point of the song it could help to rescue the song at least for some. Sadly, it just isn’t clear where he’s put the starting point. This is intentional in decisional evangelicalism, where the altar call is like the New Year countdown on New Year’s Eve… just come to the front and make your “new life resolution” of becoming a totally committed follower of Christ or rededicating your life to the Lord. But this is not a Biblical understanding of regeneration and salvation.

Now the line, Every angel I knew was singing, son, come home, is lyrically interesting. Perhaps due to my recent study of Revelation, but here Matt is using imagery to convey a lot of meaning in a short line. I don’t think he’s going the route of Beni Johnson by claiming he knew actual angelic beings, I think he’s borrowing a bit from Revelation where the angels of the 7 churches represents the leadership of those churches.

Revelation 1:12-2:7 (ESV)

12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest.14 The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.

17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. 19 Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. 20 As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

To the Church in Ephesus

To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.

“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works ofthe Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’

Jesus didn’t have John write a letter to an angelic being, nor was the letter addressed to a symbolic church, it was written to the leaders of the church of Ephesus and their disciples… to that congregation of believers, to the Body of Christ in Ephesus. Likewise, I think Matt Maher is using “angels” here to represent faithful believers who were calling to the singer to come home. I think it was a masterful lyrical tool. Sadly, I’m still not clear if these were calling to the singer to faith in Christ or just to get his act together (meaning he’s a believer who is struggling).

The biggest problem in this song is the lack of Repentance. I’ve been slow-playing it a bit, but ultimately that’s where it all leads. Whether the singer is an unbeliever at the beginning or a believer who is struggling with sin, the remedy for the sin is the same… repent and be forgiven in Jesus’ Name. Those who have not yet been baptized in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit need to be, but what I’m getting at is that solution to the problem of sin in our lives is the same, penitent faith in Jesus Christ.

Acts 2:37-40 (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.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.”

Wow, we are not making much progress on this song. The next section begins with I was on trial for everything I did. Not completely accurate, but it does fit Roman Catholic theology on sin (particularly how they separate categories of sin. source). What I’d like to draw attention to here is in the half-truth that we are condemned by “everything we did/do”. That’s only partly true. We are also condemned by what we don’t do and our lack of faith… indeed by our identity as those who are dead in sins and trespasses. The lyric is correct that we stand condemned in sin, it just doesn’t go far enough.

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.

You see, we aren’t condemned solely by what we’ve done that is sinful. We are born into condemnation, into death, as a part of our nature.

Ephesians 2:1-10 (ESV) | By Grace Through Faith

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 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— 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.But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 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. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

That’s what bothers me so much about the line You let go of the brokenness within… that brokenness isn’t something we hold onto consciously. It is our sinful nature. It is the direct consequence of sin in our flesh. It cannot be “let go” so much as it has to be put to death under the Law and forgiven by the Gospel of Grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus on the cross. We must die to our sinful flesh daily.

Romans 6:1-11 (ESV) | Dead to Sin, Alive to God

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

So then the song launches into the refrain, Oh, God, You’re my deliverer, The One, the One who carries us. Indeed He is. It is God alone who delivers us from sin, death, and the grave. It is God alone who carries us. Evangelicals tend to employ an emotional “footprints in the sand” understanding of the notion of God carrying us… but I think it is Biblically better to think in terms of drawing us to Him.

John 6:41-47 (ESV)

41 So the Jews grumbled about [Jesus], because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves.44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.

The Greek word translated “draws” here (ἑλκύω helkýō) is primarily a literal dragging or moving by force. Like when Peter drew his sword to cut out the ear of Malcus (John 18), the sword had no ability on its own to move, Peter drew it and then struck with it. While the Strong’s does include a metaphorical sense of the word, the only use that fits that sense is one of being “dragged into the courts” (James 2:6). Even in that sense, the metaphor preserves the notion that one is being dragged where they do not wish to go as opposed to being enticed to come willingly. The drawing of the Father isn’t a metaphor for “convincing us to set our will in His direction”. Those who are dead are incapable of “choosing” to be alive without God first regenerating them.

It is at this point that the song just gets weird. It’s like a bridge of the song where suddenly it gets kicked into anthemic evangelical overdrive. Again, we have no repentance or the forgiveness of sin. It just surges into declarations of freedom, life, and a no need to justify our sinful natures. Odd wording, to be sure, and not completely accurate. Christ is our justification, He died in our place so that by faith we are joined with Him, baptized into His death on the cross and resurrection from the grave, and sealed with a promise of eternal Life. But we still sin and must contend with our sinful natures as long as we walk this earth. We must die to ourselves daily, repent of sin, and be forgiven as part of our daily bread. The song bears none of that. It’s a pep-rally cheer that declares “I’m awesome” and “the past doesn’t matter anymore”. While it is true that sin no longer has control of the eternal fate of the believer, it is also true that our sinful flesh is being put to death according to the Law of God. We. Will. Die.

Hebrews 9:24-28 (ESV)

24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

And like every evangelical “worship” song, there’s a portion designed to allow the worship team to repeat ad nauseam until the auditorium has been sufficiently whipped up into an emotional frenzy.

Conclusion

The song doesn’t stand on its own. It’s a bit odd in its theology, though there are a couple of lines that convey some Truths in part, on the whole it comes up lacking, particularly in addressing the problem of sin. The song glosses over repentance and the forgiveness of sin in Jesus’ Name and simply dives headlong into evangelical anthemic self-esteem overdrive. The song is emotionally driven, as such its lyric is largely forgettable, because it doesn’t carry any real meaning. Shortly after hearing the song, all that is left is the refrain, Oh God you’re my deliverer… (which at least is a nugget of Truth) and the vocal run (deliverer…ER-er, er-er, er-er) at the end of the line. Is the song dangerous for believers? That’s a judgement call that I’ll leave to you. I will say that I don’t think it serves any teaching purpose nor does it soundly reinforce any Biblical doctrine; therefore, it shouldn’t have any place in corporate worship, and that would apply for both Romanists and Protestants alike. The song stays in the squishy evangelical middle area… some might call it a doctrine-free zone of self-esteem and feel-good empowerment.

Romans 16:24-27 (ESV) | Doxology

25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

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