February 02, 2016. Today we’ll be taking a look at “It’s Not Over Yet” by For King & Country which currently sits at #14 on the 20theCountdownMagazine.
This song is based on a questionable premise, that perseverance in the faith comes as a result of effort or endurance of the will. Without the Gospel, the encouragement to keep the Law better, a little longer, do more, fight on becomes a crushing burden, a heavy weight that none can carry. Christ already paid the price and grants us forgiveness by Grace through Faith in Him.
For King and Country TV Video
Lyrics (via KLove)
They are inside your head
You got a voice that says
You won’t get past this one
You won’t win your freedom
It’s like a constant war
And you wanna settle a score
But you’re bruised and beaten
And you feel defeated
This goes out to the heaviest hearts
Oh, to everyone who’s hit their limit
It’s not over yet, it’s not over yet
And even when you think you’re finished
It’s not over yet, it’s not over yet
Keep on fighting
Out of the dark, into the light, it’s not over
Hope is rising
Never give in, never give up, it’s not over
Yet, whoa, yet, whoa
Game, set, match
Time to put it in your past
Feel the winter leaving
It’s redemption season
Long live the young at heart
Cheers to a brand new start
We’re revived and breathing
To live a life of freedom
Until the kingdom comes
We’ll run till the race is won
Don’t you ever give up
No, no never give up
Until the kingdom comes
We’ll run till the race is won
Don’t you ever give up
We will never give up
Publishing: Warner Tamerlane, Dayspring Music, LLC, Kilns Music, Shaun Shankel BMI Publishing Designee (BMI) (All rights on behalf of itself, Dayspring Music, LLC, Kilns Music & Shaun Shankel BMI Publishing Designee adm. by Warner Tamerlane/WB Music Corp., Word Music, LLC, Method To The Madness, Shankel Songs (ASCAP) (All rights on behalf of itself, Word Music, LLC, Method to the Madness & Shankel Songs adm. by WB MUsic Corp.)/9T One Songs, Ariose Music (ASCAP) (Adm. at CapitolCMGPublishing.com)/RIWAY Music Publishing (ASCAP)/Kylsey Publishing (ASCAP)
Writer(s): Luke Smallbone/Joel Smallbone/Ben Glover/ Tedd Tjornhom/Kyle Rictor
It isn’t completely clear in this lyric whether the target audience is believers or unbelievers. If the target audience is unbelievers, the song fails hard. That’s because of the flawed basic premise of the song that suggests we are fighting a war on our own account. There’s no Gospel here, only Law and an encouragement to keep the Law (don’t give up). Now, insisting the target audience is Believers doesn’t quite remedy the situation. The flawed premise is still there, suggesting that it is by effort of will that we are to remain until the end. Those in the Reformed camp aren’t worried about losing their faith, but there is still this notion that Sanctification comes as a result of effort of the will, keeping the Law, doing and not-doing. The song encourages more hard work, and hints at the Gospel, but provides no rest in Christ Jesus. Let’s work through the lyrics.
Verse 1. We’re dismissing the idea that this song has anything to offer unbelievers. Particularly with the “you won’t win your freedom”… well yeah, the unbeliever cannot win his freedom. He needs a Savior to step in on his behalf. For the believer, what is this first verse describing? What are the voices in our head? I don’t like the idea of entertaining the notion of voices in our heads. Instead, let’s take this as a personification of the temptation to sin that remains in our flesh. Our hearts are wicked, self-seeking, and sinful. Our flesh craves sin. Unbelievers have nothing else going for them, for they are dead in sins, slaves to it. Believers have been regenerated by the waters of the Holy Spirit, granted saving faith, brought to life in Christ Jesus through that faith in Him. The hope of salvation is sealed for us in the Resurrection by God the Holy Spirit… a Day that remains in the future, while we live in the today… still contending with the body of flesh in which we walk as aliens, sojourners, exiles in a fallen world. Simul Justus Et Peccator is a Latin phrase which translates to “simultaneously justified and sinner”. It is how we refer to how Luther taught regarding the state of Christians here on this earth. Let’s take a look at Galatians 5 where Paul demonstrates a distinction between the works of the flesh and the works of the Spirit.
Galatians 5:16-26 (ESV) | Keep in Step with the Spirit
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Okay, so in this sense one might consider the first verse of this song to be describing the battle-worn Christian in this war within seeking to deny ourselves (the sin in our flesh) and keep in step with the Spirit. This is Law, and it is Good Law. This is Godly. It is also something we cannot fully grasp while we walk this earth in our present, fallen, bodies. With that last line, This goes out to the heaviest hearts, as a bit of a pre-chorus I’m hoping for the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the answer to the problem… for the rest the individual so desperately needs.
Chorus. The closest the chorus comes to the Gospel is in the cryptic line Hope is rising. I say cryptic because I know that I’m reading the Gospel into the word Hope by thinking of the following passage:
1 Thessalonians 5:6-10 (ESV) So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.
1 Peter 1:3-7 (ESV) 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, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 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.
However, the remainder of the chorus’ answer to the battle-weary Christian is… it’s not over yet, keep fighting, never give in, never give up. That’s not rest. That’s not the Gospel. Reread the two passages above… who did the work in the underlined portions? God is. Let’s also revisit the beginning of Ephesians 2.
Ephesians 2:8-10 (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. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
While we are indeed called to crucify the sinful flesh daily or in other words consider ourselves dead to sin (Law), it is only achievable through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by the Grace of God the Righteousness of Christ is imputed to our account (granted to us) by Faith. That is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That by His blood, we are forgiven of our sin… daily… not just a one-time thing in the past that wiped our slate clean. The Gospel doesn’t just give us a fresh start so that we can then get to keeping the law by effort of will. The letter of the Law kills, but he Spirit (the Gospel) give Life. We don’t find rest in the Law, we find conviction of sin unto repentance. Rest can only be found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Christians need to hear the Gospel regularly, routinely, we need to hear “your sins are forgiven in Jesus’ Name”. On the day of Judgement, when Jesus Christ our LORD and Savior returns to judge the living and the dead, Believers will at last hear the final Absolution, when our sins will be no more, and we will be granted new, perfect, sinless bodies and enter bodily into God’s Rest. Amen.
Verse 2. Instead articulating the Gospel during the chorus, it was sort of hinted at and now in verse 2 we find ourselves somehow on the other side of whatever battle was being waged. This, in my mind, dilutes the message from one of eternity, persevering until the Day of Christ’s Return, to one of simply enduring the day… surviving a temporal trial. But no mechanism has been articulated. Is this pushing a sort of “positive affirmation” theology or “proclaim and declare” victory and it will be sort of thing? I don’t know. Nevertheless, here we are… on the “whew, it’s over and we won” side of everyday life. It closes out with more encouragement to endure, to run, to persevere. It wouldn’t be a problem if somewhere in this song was articulated the mechanism for our perseverance, for our Hope of Salvation, the Gospel of Jesus Christ the author and perfecter of our Faith.
The song does not stand on its own. It is all law, no Gospel. It’s not a “bad song” per se, and that’s not necessarily what we mean whenever we disapprove a song (though that is generally the case). It’s a positive song, encouraging folks to keep fighting, keeping doing good works, keep resisting the works of the flesh… but it doesn’t offer the Gospel… the only True Hope of Salvation and of Rest. While in a homecoming pep-rally, it sounds great to cheer on the home team, chanting D-FENSE and extolling the Offense… it’s exciting and exhilarating… but such pep-rally chants do little to comfort the home team during the game when their offense keeps turning over the ball… and the defense is tired and getting run over out on the playing field. We fail. We fall short. We sin. The Law doesn’t grant what it requires of us… We need the Gospel of Jesus Christ to bring us forgive us our sin, and bring us into Life in Christ… to grant us Peace and Rest in Christ Jesus.
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.
In Christ Jesus,