CCM Radio Edition.
March 22, 2016. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Diamonds” by Hawk Nelson which currently sits at #15 on the 20theCountdownMagazine.
This is one of those songs or messages that can be true and even helpful for certain situations and circumstances, but it is not particularly helpful in the broad sense. There are a couple of issues at work here, the first is the skipping of Law entirely and the second is in presenting a theology of Glory rather than a theology of the cross. Not every trial and tribulation is designed to make us shine like diamonds in this life… sometimes they come as the result of sin so that we might repent (the ongoing work of the Law in our lives). A theology of Glory is the false hope that being a Christian will make us successful and nearing perfection in this temporal life. God’s Word doesn’t promise that. That’s not the point of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are promised Eternal Life, reigning and ruling with Christ in the Kingdom of God in the resurrection, yes… and that is an established Hope secured by God the Holy Spirit. All that takes place here in this temporal life is to Glorify God and to testify of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There are times when we must endure trials of many kinds so that Christ’s Grace, Love, and Mercy can be displayed through us… there are other times when we join in His suffering and we simply won’t know or see how it works to His Glory… like with Job. Let’s give the song a listen and then look through the lyrics.
Hawk Nelson VEVO
Lyrics (via Air1)
Here and now I’m in the fire, in above my head
Being held under the pressure, don’t know what will be left
But it’s here in the ashes
I’m finding treasure
He’s making diamonds
He’s making diamonds out of dust
He is refining
And in his timing
He’s making diamonds out of us
I’ll surrender to the power of being crushed by love
‘Til the beauty that was hidden isn’t covered up
It’s not what I hoped for
It’s something much better
Oh The Joy of the Lord
It will be my strength
When the pressure is on
He’s making Diamonds
I won’t be afraid to shine
I won’t be afraid to shine
I won’t be afraid to shine
‘Cuz He’s making diamonds out of dust
Making diamonds out of us
Publishing: Atlantis Underwater Music (SESAC)/FairTrade Tunes (SESAC) (both admin. by Fair Trade Music Publishing c/o Music Services, Inc.)/Sony/ATV Timber Publishing (SESAC)/ Open Hands Music (SESAC)/ Forest For The Trees Music (SESAC)
Writer(s): Jason Ingram, Matthew Bronleewe, Jon Steingard
Okay, so for us to put the best construction on this song, we need to acknowledge a couple of base assumptions. Firstly, we have to assume the listener is a regenerate believer, a Christian. That assumption HAS to be made because this song doesn’t even entertain the notion of the Law of God nor of sin. It seeks to jump straight into the proclamations of the Promises of God. Secondly, we have to assume that no matter what the listener feels he/she is going through, it is God’s work of sanctification (making holy) on the individual. While there are differences in confessions regarding sanctification, we cannot really get into those because of what is lacking in the song… the Law of God. What we can infer from the language of the song in being changed from dust (carbon, yes, but appeal to poetic license) to diamonds is that the theology under the hood is one of progressive sanctification through external trials and tribulations. There is a sense where this is accurate, Biblically, so let’s look at some of those references (again, given our assumptions on the audience):
James 1:1-4 (ESV)
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
James is writing to the Twelve Tribes in the Dispersion (notice he’s using the reference to the 12 Tribes of Israel in a way that includes the Gentile believers, for we are all included in Israel by faith) and he encourages them to count it all joy when they meet trials of various kinds, that they may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. This language certainly fits the song’s narrative of becoming diamonds, particularly since we measure diamonds by their perfection and clarity, etc. However, to keep this notion of “diamonds” properly grounded in scripture we need to keep reading in James to see what is included in this perfection and completeness, lacking in nothing.
James 1:5-18 (ESV)
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
Notice the first point of lack James addresses is wisdom. When we study the book of Proverbs, we see Solomon urging his son to seek Wisdom and it points to Christ. Christ IS Wisdom, the Word of God made flesh. Also notice the instruction to the lowly brother and the rich, that they are to both boast in the perfection and completion being brought by the LORD. Are both being made rich? Not temporally. The rich is being humiliated… and that is to be a point of boasting. I must say this is not easy to accept or even to understand, but it is so. James clarifies by reminding his reader of the temporary state of this life… fleeting and perishing. The rich man will fade away. Don’t place your hope in the riches of this life, where moth and rust destroy and thieves steal. The crown of life is our inheritance in Christ Jesus, by Grace through faith.
Again, I’m not refuting the first part of James 1, and we’ll look at what Peter had to say on the matter, also. I just want to make sure our approach to scripture is kept in context here. We’ve seen 1 Peter 1:3-9 before, it’s one of my go-to encouragement passages:
1 Peter 1:3-9 (ESV) | Born Again to a Living Hope
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. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Notice here that Peter’s endgame focus isn’t of being made a diamond here in this life, he’s looking beyond the resurrection to the salvation of our souls through faith in Jesus Christ. This is the theology of the Cross. Though our testing for a little while may lead to physical death, it pales in comparison to an Eternity in Christ Jesus. We rejoice in this hope of salvation, sealed by God the Holy Spirit. I recommend taking time to read through all of 1 Peter, since most of it addresses the role of suffering in this life for the Christian, but let’s close this notion out with the following:
1 Peter 4:12-19 (ESV) | Suffering as a Christian
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And
“If the righteous is scarcely saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.
Lot’s of great things in here. Notice how the encouragement to rejoice in present suffering is anchored fully in the Name of Jesus Christ. This is something sorely lacking in the Hawk Nelson song. It doesn’t reflect back to the object of our faith, the source of our justification and sanctification, the Person and Work of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. That’s a HUGE oversight in the song, and precisely why it doesn’t earn an “Approved” rating. One might argue that the Joy of the LORD is Jesus, but that requires a great deal of Scriptural knowledge to interpret an allusion to Christ in the song lyric (by taking God’s proclamation of Jesus at His baptism (Matt 3:17) and transfiguration (Matt 17:5), “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased“).
Peter also makes a distinction between reasons for suffering. If we suffer for Christ’s sake we are blessed… go ahead with the diamonds thing as long as it is anchored in Christ and the hope lay in the resurrection, not in this present life. However, if we are suffering for wrongdoing… that is the work of the Law killing this flesh of sin in us. That requires repentance and forgiveness in Jesus’ Name.
So we do see and have acknowledged some good that can come from discussing the song. The lack of any reference to the Person and Work of Jesus is a major problem, also the blanket application of James 1:2-4 without specifying the audience is also a problem. In order to give this song its best construction, we had to assume a target audience that isn’t clearly identified. God isn’t turning unbelievers into diamonds. Those who die in unbelief will perish eternally.
Even if your theology is solid, I think the song’s emphasis on the result of trials being YOU become a precious gem can get our eyes off of Christ and the exaltation of His Name. I won’t flatly disapprove of it because I do recognize a narrow application where this song can be of benefit in encouraging a brother or sister in Christ who is struggling with hardship, facing a fiery trial. Do so with Heaven and the Resurrection as our Hope, not in this present, fading life.
Jude 24-25 (ESV)
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.
In Christ Jesus,