DiM | “Never Too Far Gone” by Jordan Feliz

CCM Radio Edition.

disapproveJune 7, 2016. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Never Too Far Gone” by Jordan Feliz which currently sits at #17 on the20theCountdownMagazine.

Let’s start of by acknowledging the wonderful Truth conveyed in the title of this song, “No one is out of reach of God”. We’ll discuss this in more detail, Biblically, during the discussion of this song’s lyrics because I think this idea is what the singer was trying to convey and it is probably the driving thought behind its popularity. If the Gospel of Jesus Christ were simply the fact that God loves you, this song would be awesome.

John 3:16-18 (ESV) “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 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. 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.

While it is good news to hear that God loves us, that isn’t the whole Gospel. Sadly, this world has a very warped and twisted view of love, so simply saying “God Loves You” isn’t enough to convey the Gospel of Salvation.  We’ll also discuss this point. Let’s take a listen to the song and then dive into its lyrics.

Jordan Feliz VEVO – Lyric Video

 

Lyrics (via Air1)

I have loved you from the start
I have seen your hurting heart

And you feel so lonely
But you keep on hiding
Cause you feel so guilty
For what you’ve done but

(chorus)
There’s no distance too far
That I can’t reach you
There’s no place that’s so dark
That I can’t find you
Anywhere that you are
If you need proof
Take a look at these scars
And know I love you
Doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter
Doesn’t matter what you’ve done
You are never, you are never
Never too far gone

You have run down every road
And you’ve lost your way back home

And you feel so dirty
You know you’re unworthy
Feeling undeserving
Of any love but

(chorus)
There’s no distance too far
That I can’t reach you
There’s no place that’s so dark
That I can’t find you
Anywhere that you are
If you need proof
Take a look at these scars
And know I love you
Doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter
Doesn’t matter what you’ve done
You are never, you are never
Never too far gone

You will never outrun my love, my love, my love
You will never outrun my love, my love, my love
You will never outrun my love, my love, my love
You will never outrun my love, my love, my love

(chorus)
There’s no distance too far
That I can’t reach you
There’s no place that’s so dark
That I can’t find you
Anywhere that you are
If you need proof
Take a look at these scars
And know I love you
Doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter
Doesn’t matter what you’ve done
You are never, you are never
Never too far gone
Never too far gone
Never too far gone

Publishing: © 2015 CentricSongs (SESAC)/Sony-ATV Timber Publishing, Open Hands Music (SESAC)/Colby Wedgeworth Music & Fair Trade Music Publishing (ASCAP)

Writer(s): Words and Music by Jordan Feliz, Jason Ingram and Colby Wedgeworth

Discussion

The Video. I don’t want to spend too much time on the video here, but I did want to point out that the video demonstrates an over emphasis on geographical distance. Our separation from God on account of our sin is far greater than what can be portrayed geographically. But I do think that it is helpful to remember that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is for all people, all nations, all of the corners of the Earth.

Ephesians 4:4-6 (ESV) There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

While there remains within our flesh a devious, persistent, self-centeredness, a default view that we are the center of the world, even the focal point of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Truth is that the Body of Christ is identified in Him, not us. Sadly, neither the video imagery nor the song lyric come to any sort of conclusion or bottom line. For all intents and purposes, this could simply be another “We are the world“, only instead of people singing to each other, the singer is presuming to be voicing Jesus.

The Song. Well, this point didn’t strike me until about the third time I listened to the song on repeat. It suddenly dawned on me… he’s singing from God’s perspective, from Jesus’ point of reference… he’s putting words in God’s mouth. With so many of His Words available to us in the Written Word of God, why take the risk of ad lib? Then I started noticing the tone and tenor of the lyric… this is intended to be a love song from God to the listener. Sarah Young’s book Jesus Calling came to mind. Yep, this is something like that, only less mushy (thankfully). I’m worried about who the target audience is supposed to be. Is this intended for the regenerated, believing Christian who is doubting his own forgiveness in Jesus’ Name, or is this supposed to be to the mythical “seeking unbeliever” (we’ll get to that).

Verse 1. Okay, so to give this verse its best possible construction, it is a very thin/weak depiction of our sinful state. It barely touches the surface of the issue, focusing more on the emotional concept of guilt or shame. Yes, there is an emotional response to guilt and shame that most of us experience, and sometimes this emotional response can be triggered or manipulated wrongly (guilt trip). But when it comes to a conversation we might have with Almighty God regarding sin, it goes far beyond an emotional feeling. We truly ARE guilty. It’s a fact. There is no avoiding that fact. Our sin is why the Earth is corrupted, why everything in creation dies, and why this world will one day be brought to an end. Man-made climate change? yep, it’s found in Genesis 3.

Yes, God has loved us from the start and He knows every thought we’ve had and ever will have. He is God. In modern evangelicalism, we like to talk about God seeing our hearts because we like the notion of being okay deep down inside despite how we live, talk, even what we confess. I don’t want to belabor the point too much, but I did want to point out that this is often code talk for “getting a pass”. It’s what the secularists do when they say “he/she means well”. But our hearts aren’t good. In fact, our hearts are the source of our sin and defilement.

Matthew 15:16-20 (ESV) And [Jesus] said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”

But if we are going to pull the intended meaning back away from sin and salvation, back to just the emotions, are we now saying that God will take away every heartache? That’s true in Eternity, but it’s certainly not something Christ has promised for us in this life. Finally, if this song is intended for the Believer, what is the source of hurt or the reason for the distance that’s going to come into play in the chorus? If the problem is a lack of faith or underdeveloped faith, it is most likely due to poor or even errant teaching… something that needs to be remedied with sound doctrine, not emotional-level platitudes.

Chorus. Yes, the love of God knows no boundaries. There is nowhere He can’t go to call His sheep to Him. I’d also like to make explicit that which only hinted at vaguely… there is no sin that Christ’s Atoning Sacrifice hasn’t covered. And here is where I get so frustrated with this song. Jesus didn’t die on the cross so that you could feel loved; He died on the cross to pay the full price (the full-on Wrath of God) of your sin, that you deserve, in your place so that by His Blood you might be pardoned, forgiven, adopted as sons and daughters of the Most High God. Our guilt isn’t merely a feeling or perception, it is real and it is eternal. That is why God the Son (Jesus) stepped into our place and paid the price no one else could pay, so that we can have an eternal life we don’t deserve.

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. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

And all of this He did by His design for His purpose, in keeping with the Law and the Prophets.

Isaiah 53 (ESV)
53 Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he has borne our griefs
    and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
9 And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
    and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
    he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
   and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
    and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
    and makes intercession for the transgressors.

That is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So you see, this is why I get frustrated when folks try to sum up all of the Gospel into “God loves you even when you don’t feel loved”.

Verse 2. So we’re back to Jesus wooing the listener, letting him/her know “I’ve seen all that you’ve had to endure…” all about the sinner, nothing of the Savior. A common defense for these songs is that listeners really felt emotional relief in hearing them, and that’s fine, but emotional salve can also be found in secular music, too. There is no lasting comfort in focusing on ourselves and our emotions/feelings, not when we have an opportunity to preach the Gospel (which is what these CCM radio stations claim to be doing whenever they’re asking for financial partners). But this verse ends up in a highly romanticized notion that the point of the Gospel is to let God love you even though you don’t deserve it? No. Repentance and Forgiveness of sin is what we need. Whether the target audience is a believer or an unbeliever, it is repentance and forgiveness we desperately need. Those who reject Christ and refuse repentance have deemed themselves unworthy of eternal life.

Acts 13:44-49 (ESV) The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him. And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, saying,

“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region.

Acts 18:1-8 (ESV) After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them, and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks.

When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” And he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. His house was next door to the synagogue. Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized.

So, you see, there is more to the Gospel than the Truth of God’s Love. It isn’t His Love that fails, we reject Him because of our own sin, our own fleshly, guilty, transgressing hearts. And unregenerated hearts cannot choose or seek after Christ. It is the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that saves, by God’s Grace, through faith, not by any of our works.

Romans 3:9-19 (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, as it is written:

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

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.

So, by the time the second chorus rolls around the song has made its pitch and now focuses on building to the emotional climax… the zeal boost it was intended to be. I’d be more impressed by the reference to Christ’s wounds if they were presented as an objective, external indicator of the price He paid for our forgiveness. However, given the emotional focus of a love song being sung supposedly from God’s perspective, the song ends up just romanticizing the notion of His nail scarred Hands and Feet and pierced Side. Point to the cross, point to the empty tomb, point to a Risen Savior who has declared “your sins are forgiven”.

Conclusion

The song will likely serve as an emotional placebo, and I will no doubt lead many to feel like “this is just the encouragement I needed to get through my circumstance…” but this song doesn’t convey the Gospel. Yes, it is true that God’s Love is infinite, but that’s not the Gospel of Forgiveness, the Gospel of Salvation in the Name of Jesus Christ.

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,
Jorge

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