DiM | “King of the World” by Natalie Grant

Presentation1CCM Edition.

January 17, 2017. Today we’ll be taking a look at “King of the World” by Natalie Grant which currently sits at #5 on 20TheCountdownMagazine. It looks like the top 20 chart is starting to stabilize a bit, as most of the list looks the way it did before the Christmas season. It isn’t overrun with COWO (Contemporary Worship) songs.

This song falls into the middle category because it doesn’t share the Gospel, nor does it grant the listener an indication to return to the Gospel, repent, and be forgiven of the sin of being your own god. This song is Law (pointing out error) and the implied answer is to do better about not forgetting that God is God (more law). The song stays on the lighter side of this error, more on the anxiety, worry, business side of forgetting that Christ is King of the World, but leaving out the Gospel leaves the listener in despair (for having failed again) or mysticism (try to experience God more directly in a “Jesus take the wheel” sense).

Official Lyric Video

 

Lyrics (via GooglePlay Music)

(verse 1)
I try to fit You in the walls inside my mind
I try to keep You safely in between the lines
I try to put You in the box that I’ve designed
I try to pull You down so we are eye to eye

(chorus)
When did I forget that You’ve always been the King of the world
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the King of the world
How could I make You so small
When You’re the one who holds it all
When did I forget that You’ve always been the King of the world

(verse 2)
Just a whisper of Your voice can tame the seas
So who am I to try to take the lead?
Still I run ahead and think I’m strong enough
When You’re the one who made me from the dust

(chorus)
When did I forget that You’ve always been the King of the world
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the King of the world
How could I make You so small
When You’re the one who holds it all
When did I forget that You’ve always been the King of the world

(bridge)
You set it all in motion
Every single moment
You brought it all to be
And You’re holding on to me

(chorus)

When did I forget that you’ve always been the king of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world
How could I make you so small
When you’re the one who holds it all
When did I forget you’ve always been the king of the world
You will always be the king of the world

Written by Becca Mizell, Natalie Grant, Samuel Mizell • Copyright © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Music Services, Inc, BMG Rights Management US, LLC

Discussion

So, let’s begin by discussing the overall point of the song. The point being made in general is how foolish it is for someone to acknowledge and confess Christ as the King of the World yet constantly live in anxiety and worry and striving as though they were in charge of their lives. There is a sense where this sort of self rebuke is warranted, when we wreck ourselves with worry over things that are outside of our ability to control. God is God, He is in control. In that sense, I agree with the overall theme of the song, or at least its chorus. In this discussion we are making 2 assumptions: the King of the World reference is to Jesus, the Messiah/Christ, the second person of the Trinity, and the target audience is to confessing Christians.

Chorus. Part of our sinful nature is the desire to create god in our own image, so to speak. Christians aren’t immune to this, we just have the clear preaching of Law and Gospel to address it. Daily. As sinners, we often take matters into our own hands, even our own justification/sanctification where we are constantly trying to prove ourselves to God through our own good works. Do more, volunteer more, sin less, give more… and we try to do this in our own strength, which is the killer. We can’t. That is the Law doing its work on us and in response our flesh is trying to keep the Law on its own. We can’t. It’s beyond us to keep the Law perfectly. I think this song is trying to address that problem, but it seems to lack the vocabulary or clear doctrine with which to do so. If you’ll notice, there is no clear proclamation of the Gospel here. There’s no repentance and the forgiveness of sins here, and I think that can be expected from our modern evangelicalism which treats the Gospel as something unbelievers need to hear until they decide to become believers. The setup in the song falls short of calling out backsliders, the mood of the song doesn’t get that dark. But even if it did, would we expect to see the Gospel of Grace and forgiveness emphasized or just more Law with the heat turned up? To answer in this specific case would be to venture into speculation, but it’s a question worth pondering whenever we are dealing with evangelicals reaching out to professing Christians. Is the Gospel still relevant for believing Christians or is it something that you “needed to get in, but staying in is all on you”? Let’s look at some Scripture before we dive into the verses.

Regarding Christ as the King of the World, let’s look to 1 Timothy:

1 Timothy 6:13-16 (ESV) I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

There are two ways we can look at the problem of “trying to take life back right out of the hands of the King of the world”, the first is what I’ve already alluded to regarding anxiety and worry over things we cannot control. I think the best place to look for this is to look at Christ’s teaching in the Sermon on the Mount:

Matthew 6:25-34 (ESV) | Do Not Be Anxious

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

There is also a darker sense of “taking life out of the hands…” in which we lose sight of the Gospel completely and start relying on our own actions/efforts/striving for our salvation. Remember, we aren’t talking about unbelievers, we’re essentially talking about backsliders. Not the rebel ones who fall into hedonism, but the backsliders who’ve fallen into the pit of pietism and works-righteousness, like those foolish Galatians who had fallen into the false teaching of the Judaizing heresy.

Galatians 5:1-12 (ESV) | Christ Has Set Us Free

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!

So, we see that in light of these passages there is a good point to be made by the chorus of this song. The answer needs to be to turn our attention away from whatever has distracted us from the Truth of the Gospel and back to the Written Word of God. I have a concern with all of the mysticism infecting CCM that many will choose to “look within” and try to feel God more or hear Him more directly in a sort of “Jesus take the wheel” sort of stunt. That’s not what Scriptures teach, so please, don’t go there.

Verse 1. The answer to each of the errors being confessed in the first verse is to look for God in His Word. That is where God has revealed Himself to mankind. There is nowhere else one can look that isn’t committing the exact same errors being confessed in this verse.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV) All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Verse 2. This one is getting a little heavy on the poetically vague side. The main problem with this is the lack of clarity. What exactly is the error being poetically described by us “taking the lead… running ahead”? I’m sure we could come up with interpretations that are theologically sound and others that are dripping in sensual mysticism. It’s not objectively right or wrong, it’s just vague.

Bridge. The song seems to be building up to a climax focusing on the emotional rather than the objective and doctrinal. Yes, there is a sense where can discuss the objective truths of Scripture pointing to God the Holy Spirit sealing us, drawing us to Christ, and securing the salvation won by Christ for us on the Cross. But we must at least caution the overly emotional/sensual concept of “Presence” theology, a New Age concept of somehow finding God with our senses and our emotional experiences. That’s a dangerous road to follow. Don’t do it. I’m not saying she’s doing this intentionally with this song, but the industry is drowning in mysticism posing as Christianity so this is a very real pitfall building in this song.

Conclusion

The build up of the song comes to an emotional close, rather than to a doctrinal one. This is where the repetitions become more meditative and take on a slightly mystically vague form. It’s as though the point of the song is to build up a sense of open surrender, like a “Jesus take the wheel” experience. When it comes to the Law / Gospel distinction, this song is all Law. There is no Gospel in the song. While it is safe to assume the intended audience for the song is believing Christians, the overall focus of the song is the error of being our own gods rather than trusting Christ in our everyday matters. For decision-theology folks, this is dangerous particularly given their synergism. If my decision to follow Christ is necessary for salvation, then my decision to keep Him in the driver’s seat is necessary for me to remain saved. Such a trap of despair with no hope of assurance, for these same folks leave the Gospel behind as something they needed to become “born again” but not something that can help them “today”. The only answer for the conviction of the Law isn’t “try harder, decide better, want better”, the answer is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Repentance and the Forgiveness of sin. Yes, for you, too, born-again believer in Christ… you who sin are in need of forgiveness. Repent, and know that you are forgiven in Jesus’ Name.

Romans 3:20-26 (ESV) For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

The redemption that is in Christ Jesus isn’t something you dip into one-time and hope you can hold onto it by your own strength. This Blood is FOR YOU, for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus paid the price of sin IN FULL. In this life you will have many struggles, and most of them are of your own sinful doing. Repent. Be forgiven, 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

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s