DiM | “Bulletproof” by Citizen Way

Presentation1CCM Edition.

July 11, 2017. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Bulletproof” by Citizen Way which currently sits at #6 on 20TheCountdownMagazine.

Musically, this song is fun. It has a bit of that Bruno Mars’ retro-chic feel, which is nice. Citizen Way does a good job of performing this genre, though it’s really hard to match Bruno’s vocal ability. This is one of the better songs I’ve heard on the CCM charts of late. There is a mention of the cross, but the song spends so much time in pep-rally, “I’m untouchable” mode that it stays in the middle category on our list. There is truth to the main point of the song, but it has to be properly framed, because what’s missing from the song is the fact that in this life we will face struggles of many kinds, and we don’t always win in the temporal sense. Let’s give the song a listen and then read through the lyrics.

Official Lyric Video

Lyrics (via MetroLyrics)

(Verse 1)
I used to live like I was under attack
Dodging arrows from my past
I had no hope for tomorrow
Felt too much pressure
Yes, I thought I would crack
But now there’s no looking back
I’m moving forward cuz’ I know

I got my armor now
No fear, no doubt can shoot me down, yea
I got my armor now
No fear no doubt
Gonna shoot me down down down down down down down…

(Chorus)
I’m bulletproof
Because of you, because of you
And I’m bulletproof
Because of you, because of you
Your love ain’t away
Now I’m not afraid
No matter what the world may say
Or what they do
I am bulletproof
Because of you, because of you you you

(Verse 2)
I know you got this whole thing under control
My soul is untouchable because you’ve already won me
My victory is not in this flesh and bone
It’s in the cross that I know, nobody’s taking it from me

I got my armor now
No fear, no doubt can shoot me down, yea
I got my armor now
No fear no doubt
Gonna shoot me down down down down down down down…

(Chorus)

(Bridge)
And I don’t have to fear no more, worry no more (4x)

(Chorus)
(Bridge 4x)

Discussion

Overall, the song is an attempt to encourage Christians in the Promise of the Gospel. I get it. We need the encouragement of the Gospel daily. What we don’t need is an attempt to present the Promises of the Gospel as if they are aimed at temporal victory/glory. The Promises of the Gospel are eternal. Christ bore our sin and died on that cross in our place, rose from the grave and ascended into heaven so that by His Grace through faith we might be resurrected in Him to eternal life rather than the eternal punishment we justly deserve. Everything that takes place in our temporal lives is in service to this eternal Gospel, and nowhere are we promised a temporal life of victory or invincibility. It isn’t we who are bulletproof, it’s the Promise of Salvation through Jesus Christ that is bulletproof. The focus on the singer being bulletproof (thus the listener singing along) is a problem in this song. They do attempt to anchor that invincibility in the second verse to the cross. However, the overall tone of this “bulletproof” anthem presents a shiny and polished cross, where the truth is far less glamorous. Let’s work through the song quickly and then examine some Scripture.

Verse 1. A common theme in CCM and American Evangelicalism as a whole is the idea that your mindset determines your reality. This is a pagan notion that is prevalent in the Word of Faith (WoF) movement. Your mindset only affects your perception of reality, it doesn’t determine it. Putting on rose-colored glasses doesn’t change the world pink, you’ve intentionally made it so everything looks pink to you. I write this in response to what is going on in the first line of this verse, I used to live like I was under attack. Dear Christian, you are under attack, whether you are aware of it or not. Having a change in mindset doesn’t change the reality of the war that is being waged. It’s odd that the writer(s) would make this something of the past while talking about now having the Armor of God. Again, the Armor of God doesn’t make the attacks cease. The attacks don’t stop, the arrows/darts keep flying, our flesh still craves sin.

Pre-Chorus. The turn in the pre-chorus follows the whole “positive confession” model. Where you declare something to be the case in hopes that it will actually be true. We see this in the culture that says, “you can be whatever you want to be” or “don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something”. It’s pep-talk fodder. Self-esteem boosting flattery. The truth is that we each have gifts and talents and they are not all the same, and there are things we cannot do, no matter how badly we might want to. No fear or doubt can shoot you down? Are you not still living in a tent of flesh? Sin still lives in your members, in your flesh, and that flesh wages war against the Spirit. The truth of the Christian life isn’t of bulletproof victory in this temporal life, but of repentance and the forgiveness of sin.

Chorus. Putting the best possible construction on this chorus necessitates a clear defining of the word “bulletproof”. It isn’t that we aren’t actually being shot at, it isn’t that there isn’t a concern out there, or that there is no war, but that we are safe in Christ, eternally speaking. This distinction is important to maintain, because the reality is that our flesh is constantly drawn us to step outside of that protection and into sin. That draw is constant. Our flesh is corrupt. That is why we die in the flesh and why it is so important that we maintain an eternal perspective when holding onto the Promise of the Gospel.

Verse 2. So this verse brings in the reference to the cross. I’m very grateful for its mention. There is also a helpful distinction made about our hope not being in our flesh and bone. I just wish there was somewhere in this song a mention of repentance, or at least the acknowledgement that we do still sin, still stumble, still fail, even as Christians. That’s honestly. That’s reality. That’s Biblically sound.

Okay, so let’s look at what Scripture has to say regarding this life and the Promises of the Gospel.

John 6:35-40 (ESV) Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

1 John 5:10-12 (ESV) Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

1 Peter 1:3-12 (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. 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. Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

The promise of the Gospel is in eternity. Now, in the interim between being dead in sins and trespasses and the Resurrection of the Saints in the Last Day, we are alive in the Spirit by the Grace of God while still walking in sinful flesh. This calls for daily repentance, mortification of the flesh and it’s passions/desires.

Luke 9:23-26 (ESV) | Take Up Your Cross and Follow Jesus

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

Romans 6:1-11 (ESV) | Dead to Sin, Alive to God

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Romans 7:14-25 (ESV) For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

This struggle of being simultaneously sinner and saint (latin: simul justus et peccator) is the every-day reality for Christians. It is in this sense that we much take up our crosses daily. Too often we take Christ’s words to be pointing to our need to do some sacrificial good work, but it’s more than that, we are to consider ourselves to sin and resist the urges from within our very own flesh. This is the work of the Law of God in our hearts, this is why we must still hear the preaching of the law, full-force, with none of its edges smoothed out. Our sin is immeasurable and true sanctification in this life will be an endless revealing of the depth of our sin. Praise be to God for the Promise of the Gospel, for Christ Jesus’s death and resurrection, for our baptism into that death and resurrection, being made clean by the washing of the water with the Word, for all who are in Christ have been clothed in His Righteousness, so that in the last day we will be raised again to new and eternal life with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

The song is on the better side of most of CCM, but it still is stuck in that pep-rally, over-emphasized positivity that I fear sets up false expectations for walking in this temporal life as Regenerate Christians. The hardships don’t go away, but we are not without hope. It is a fun song, and I hope that I’ve given you some keys to giving this fun song a best-possible construction.

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

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