DiM | “Jesus” by Chris Tomlin

Presentation1CCM Edition.

September 06, 2016. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Jesus” by Chris Tomlin which currently sits at #18 on 20TheCountdownMagazine. There is some good in the song, or that can be made of the song. Where this song suffers is in how these attributes of Jesus are being presented as a veiled promise that calling on the Name of Jesus will yield a temporal fix to your problem. It doesn’t clearly proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, so it doesn’t stand on its own. This song is only as good as the theology being applied by the listener.

In this long review we’ll spend a lot of time brute-forcing a best construction by looking at the Scripture passages being referenced by the short lines of the songs. If we focus on what Scripture is teaching in these passages, we should be better suited to guard against false teaching.

ChrisTomlin VEVO (Lyrcs & Chords)

 

Lyrics (via KLove)

Verse 1
There is a truth older than the ages
There is a promise of things yet to come
There is one born for our salvation
Jesus

Verse 2
There is a light that overwhelms the darkness
There is a kingdom that forever reigns
There is freedom from the chains that bind us
Jesus, Jesus

Chorus
Who walks on the waters
Who speaks to the sea
Who stands in the fire beside me
He roars like a lion
He bled as the lamb
He carries my healing in His hands
Jesus

Verse 3
There is a name I call in times of trouble
There is a song that comforts in the night
There is a voice that calms the storm that rages
He is Jesus, Jesus

Chorus
Who walks on the waters
Who speaks to the sea
Who stands in the fire beside me
He roars like a lion
He bled as the lamb
He carries my healing in His hands
Jesus

Bridge
Messiah
My Savior
There is power in Your name
You’re my rock and my redeemer
There is power in Your name
In Your name

Climax Chorus
You walk on the waters
You speak to the sea
You stand in the fire beside me
You roar like a lion
You bled as the lamb
You carry my healing in Your hands

You walk on the waters
You speak to the sea
You stand in the fire beside me
You roar like a lion
You bled as the lamb
You carry my healing in Your hands
Jesus

Publishing: sixsteps Songs / Worship Together Music / S.D.G. Publishing (Admin. at CapitolCMGPublishing.com) / Alletrop Music (BMI) (admin. by Music Services)
Writer(s): Chris Tomlin and Ed Cash

Discussion

Let’s begin by recognizing the good in the song lyric. What is said about Jesus in the song isn’t wrong. That’s a good thing. The lyric pulls from a few passages of Scripture that point to Christ, one of which is a good example of seeing Christ in the Old Testament.

Verse 1. To put the best construction on this song, I thought we’d try a brute-force, heavy-handed attempt at completely super-imposing Scripture over this verse in hopes that whenever you hear this song play on the radio, you think of the Scriptures first, and treat this lyric as a breath of a cliff’s note. Modern-day evangelicalism suffers from post-modern gnosticism (secret-knowledge) infecting everything, so I don’t want to leave vague open ended allusions to Scripture floating without an anchor.

John 1:1-18 (ESV) | The Word Became Flesh

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

This is the Salvation that Jesus brings to us, the right to become children of God. Christ, who was with God in the beginning and Is God, became flesh and dwelt among us for our Salvation. How did He save us? John the Baptist announces, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”(John 1:29 ESV). How did He take away the sins of the world? By paying the full price of sin, by bearing Himself the full wrath of God against the sins of the world in our place.

Verse 2. For the first part of this verse, we are still in the first chapter of John. But then it shifts to speaking of the Kingdom that forever reigns. Guard yourselves against “kingdom theology” that flows from Dominionism (which is dominant in NAR teaching, and present in Hillsong, Passion theology but is generally more spiritualized in their gnosticism). The error is in looking for an earthly Kingdom (whether political or oddly spiritualized dominion) where the Earthly Church is victorious and in charge, as if she would create a throne upon which Jesus might return. Jesus never talked about returning for a church like that, nor did He speak of a world where the church dominated in such a way. In fact, Jesus gave the opposite prophecy, a world where if He didn’t cut the days short none would survive (Matthew 24). But let’s look now to what Jesus preached at the start of His earthly ministry, as we see recorded in the Gospel According to Matthew.

Matthew 4:12-17 (ESV) | Jesus Begins His Ministry

12 Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. 13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
16 the people dwelling in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death,
on them a light has dawned.”

17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

The Kingdom isn’t an earthly kingdom of dominion, but the Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom of the Gospel of Grace, the body and blood of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of Sins. And this Kingdom is here now, not something we are responsible for building or establishing, or ushering in. Christ came to us, died for us, resurrected from the dead ahead of us, ascended to the Right Hand of the Father for us and will again return for us to judge both the Living and the Dead. We have been baptized into His death and resurrection and have been sealed by God the Holy Spirit. His is the kingdom that forever reigns. Focus on this promise of the Gospel, that you’ve been baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection so that in the Last Day you will be with Him in Glory. Amen.

Chorus. The list of demonstrated abilities found in this chorus is out-of-order. We’re going to address them in order, because the point of these events is to point to Christ alone. If we get sloppy with how we pull together references to scripture, we can end up implying promises that aren’t there. All of Scripture points to Salvation, the forgiveness of sins, through Jesus Christ our Lord as both the beginning and the end of the story.

He speaks to the sea. Yes, He does.

Matthew 8:25-27 (ESV) And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”

Jesus is revealing Himself as the Son of God to the disciples and to us who now read the Scriptures and hear them preached. Faith comes through hearing the Word of Christ. Not a faith of its own existence, Faith in Christ Jesus, God the Son. Notice how Jesus first rebuked the disciples and then rebuked the winds and sea? They were afraid for their lives, for they lacked faith. Should they have expected Jesus would quiet the storm? No, that’s not what the text is pointing us to, the text is pointing us to Jesus. We are being called to have faith in Jesus through the circumstance, not faith in a favorable outcome in the circumstance. What does it matter if they perish in the storm? They are literally in the presence of God. Christ IS our salvation, that’s is the anchor of our faith, not the notion that “if we have enough faith then God will save us from the storm”. When it comes to perishing or living, the storm is irrelevant. Jesus was sleeping from it, and then rebuked it after rebuking the men for their lack of faith in Him.

Jesus walked on the water. Because He is God, and His disciples needed to understand that Truth.

Matthew 14:22-27 (ESV) | Jesus Walks on the Water
Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

I really wish the visible church would stop allegorizing this text and so quickly taking the focus away from Christ, Son of the Living God, and onto some empty promise that you can walk on water just like Peter does in the next portion. That is not the point of the text. Not even remotely. The point of the text is made clear in closing verses of this account:

Matthew 14:32-33 (ESV) And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

That’s the point. That is the only point. Stop with the narcissistic eisegesis that only leads to bondage. Peter failed at walking on water, even with Jesus right there in the flesh. We all fail at walking on water. We aren’t called to do it. Stop trying. Focus on Christ and His promises that are articulated in Scripture.

Who stands in the fire beside me. Okay, so kudos for rightly understanding Jesus in the old testament, but this has already been allegorized a bit in a way that minimizes what the text is saying. We’ll be pulling portions from Daniel 3.

Daniel 3:12-18 (ESV)There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, O king, pay no attention to you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. So they brought these men before the king. Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

This is a very real life-and-death trial. It infuriates me to hear this treated allegorically such that whatever temporary setback or disappointment in our daily lives suddenly becomes a fiery furnace encounter. But this story isn’t pointing to the resolve or determination of these three Jews; rather, it is pointing to Christ saving us from an eternal punishment for sin.

Daniel 3:19-25 (ESV) Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated. And he ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics, their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace. Because the king’s order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace. Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”

Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God was that fourth man, the one like the son of the Gods. This was before He had taken on human flesh, but Christ is there, the same Christ who later took on human flesh, died on a cross, paid our penalty for sin, and rose again on the third day. This is pointing to Salvation in Christ Jesus, salvation from the fiery pit of eternal punishment. In Christ Jesus, the flames have no charge over us, not even the smell of smoke, because in Christ we’ve been washed clean and forgiven completely.

Daniel 3:26-29 (ESV) Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.”

Indeed, there is No Other who can Save. In Daniel 3, we see the faith of these men was in God who has the power to save eternally, and temporally, but their hope wasn’t set on God saving them simply from the fiery death. Their hope was in the God who Saves. Contrast that a bit with the men in the boat we looked at, whom Jesus rebuked before rebuking the storm. We serve a God who Forgives and Saves eternally, graciously, and perfectly. These men didn’t even smell of fire… and when God forgives you of your sin, it’s forgiven, buried, forgotten in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Christ bled and died on the cross as the substitutionary sacrifice, the perfect sacrifice, for the sin of the World. It is Finished. In Revelation, John recognized the Lamb who was slain, but His return will not be humble, it won’t be meek, it will be as King, LORD, a roaring lion. He will return in the clouds with a shout of command, and this will not be a secret return. All of Creation will stand still and bow… those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of Life will rejoice, the rest are condemned already for their unbelief. Some may plead, bargain, curse Him, but He has already told us what He will say to them.

Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV)“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

He carries my healing in His hands. Indeed, He does. The one promised to us is the healing from sin, death, and the grave. The stain of Adam. The condemnation of hell, the Wrath of God. Christ heals us from all of that, that promise is sure, in Jesus Christ our Redeemer, Savior, and Healer. In Christ we will be given new bodies, perfect bodies, eternal bodies, forever healed of sin, suffering, and death. That’s real healing. That’s the healing promised to all who call upon the Name of the LORD. The promise of scripture is eternal. It is often lifted out of context to make it a temporal promise, one that the word-of-faith (WoF) crowd push as they demand your money. But doing so ignores the context found within the single verse, much less the whole chapter 53 of Isaiah:

Isaiah 53 (ESV)

1 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.
3 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.
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.

And we get a similar teaching, with the same contextual focus, from the Apostle Peter:

1 Peter 2:23-25 (ESV)When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

So please, stop tossing this passage around like it’s some sort of blank-check for temporal healing, or worse, some sort of litmus test as to whether or not you are “truly living in faith”. Bondage. Blasphemy. Lies. This promise of healing is of eternity. We will all die here, for our flesh is still corrupt and it must be put off. Some of sickness, some of persecution, some of old-age, but all will die. This Promise of healing is far more important and far greater in value than what the WoF and prosperity-false-gospel wolves are selling you. Focus on the Healing that Scripture Promises, the Healing that is assured. Pray for earthly healing, too, but as a petition, a request. Scripture doesn’t give us room to make demands of temporal healing from an Eternal God.

The rest of the song is intended as a crescendo of repetition building up to the climax of the allegorizing of all of the Scripture passages into the notion that “and Jesus will do all these things for me in my circumstances, too”… at least, that’s how it comes across to me. It is what we should expect from folks whose doctrine of “worship” fits this formula. Every song that ends with trailing musical instrumentals with repeated choruses (or anthemic bridges) is following this formula. It’s emotional manipulation designed to give the impression that the Holy Spirit is moving in the room. If reading the lyrics straight doesn’t convey the message, it’s an emotional experience, not Biblical worship.

Conclusion

There is some good in the song, or that can be made of the song. Where this song suffers is in how these attributes of Jesus are being presented as a veiled promise that calling on the Name of Jesus will yield a temporal fix to your problem. Scripture doesn’t promise to rescue you temporally, His promises are eternal. God is all-powerful, and nothing can tie His hands from acting in time and space, and God’s Word testifies to His Lordship over all of creation. God’s Word also teaches us to focus on eternal things, to lay up treasures in Heaven, not on Earth. We will face trials of many kinds, testing the genuineness of our Faith in Christ Jesus. When we stumble and doubt (we will), we have a God who is ready to forgive and restore those who humble themselves and repent in Jesus’ Name.

Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV) Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

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