DiM | “Who You Say I Am” by Hillsong Worship

Presentation1CCM Radio Edition.

October 11, 2018. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Who You Say I Am” by Hillsong Worship which currently sits at #2 on the Top20 chart at 20theCountdownMagazine.

This is a song by Hillsong Worship, who recently declared themselves to be a denomination. This song does have nuggets of the Gospel, which we will point out in the discussion of the lyrics; however, the song’s focus is still on glorifying “me” and “who I am”. Because of the Gospel nugget, this song lands in the middle category. Let’s give it a listen and then work through the lyrics.

Video

Lyric (via KLove)

Verse 1:
Who am I that the highest King
Would welcome me
I was lost but He brought me in
Oh, His love for me
Oh, His love for me

Chorus 1:
Who the Son sets free
Oh, is free indeed
I’m a child of God
Yes, I am

Verse 2:
Free at last
He has ransomed me
His grace runs deep
While I was a slave to sin
Jesus died for me
Yes, He died for me

Chorus 2:
Who the Son sets free
Oh, is free indeed
I’m a child of God
Yes, I am
In my Father’s house
There’s a place for me
I’m a child of God
Yes, I am

Bridge:
I am chosen
Not forsaken
I am who You say I am
You are for me
Not against me
I am who You say I am

Publishing: Hillsong Music Publishing (APRA) (admin. in the US and Canada at CapitolCMGPublishing.com)
Writer(s): Ben Fielding & Reuben Morgan

Discussion

Let’s open up with an acknowledgment of the Gospel Nugget in the song:

While I was a slave to sin
Jesus died for me

In this little nugget, we have Law (I was a slave to sin) and Gospel (Jesus died for me). This alone is enough to keep the song in the “middle category”. However, it is exceedingly frustrating that the rest of the song is so “me-centric” rather than focusing on Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Let’s build out this nugget with some Scripture:

Romans 5:6-11 (ESV) For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Verse 1. So, right at the beginning, we have an interesting question of “Who am I…?” This question pops up a few times in the Old Testament. The first is when God, speaking to Moses from the Burning Bush, calls Moses to rescue Israel out of Egypt.

Exodus 3:7-15 (ESV) Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”

Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.

This was Moses trying to back down from the call because he’s a nobody in the eyes of Pharaoh. Notice that God’s response isn’t to tell Moses who Moses is, but who God is. Moses is type and shadow of Jesus Who would later come to rescue the Church (Israel) out of slavery to sin (Egypt). Another place we can look for the question of “who am I” is King David, who also prefigures Christ, decides he wants to build a House for the LORD (2 Sam 7). But the Word of the LORD come to Nathan and tells him to go and speak to David a Word of the Lord. The LORD tells David he will not build the LORD’s house, but the LORD will build his house.

2 Samuel 7:12-16 (ESV) When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’”

Here we see the LORD speaking of His Son, Jesus, the Messiah… born in the City of David, descended of David. Let’s look at David’s response:

2 Samuel 7:17-29 (ESV) In accordance with all these words, and in accordance with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David. Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord God. You have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind, O Lord God! And what more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Lord God! Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have brought about all this greatness, to make your servant know it. Therefore you are great, O Lord God. For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears. And who is like your people Israel, the one nation on earth whom God went to redeem to be his people, making himself a name and doing for them great and awesome things by driving out before your people, whom you redeemed for yourself from Egypt, a nation and its gods? And you established for yourself your people Israel to be your people forever. And you, O Lord, became their God. And now, O Lord God, confirm forever the word that you have spoken concerning your servant and concerning his house, and do as you have spoken. And your name will be magnified forever, saying, ‘The Lord of hosts is God over Israel,’ and the house of your servant David will be established before you. For you, O Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, have made this revelation to your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house.’ Therefore your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. And now, O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant. Now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you. For you, O Lord God, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed forever.”

Notice that David understands that this isn’t about him, or who he is, but about God and Who He is. He believes the Promise of God through Faith in His Word. So when this song starts off with this question of “Who am I”, I’m hoping the answer to the question that will be pulled from the song will be along the lines of “it’s not about who I am, but about who God is.”

The song doesn’t really answer it, though. The song just winds up saying how great I am, I’m set free, I’m a child of God, I’m ransomed, He loves me… but the focus is all about “me”. This isn’t preaching a theology of the Cross; rather, it is promoting a theology of glory. Look at how great “ME” is thanks to Jesus.

Chorus. The Gospel nugget is in the chorus, and we’ve covered that. The Chorus is building up to the driving point of the song, I am awesome.

Bridge. This is the main point of this anthem, it’s all about self-affirmation. The mystical format of the song (emotional manipulation) sets up this bridge as the driving point of the song:

I am chosen
Not forsaken
I am who You say I am
You are for me
Not against me
I am who You say I am

While each of these themes can be rightly preached, these are just ear-tickling soundbites set to an emotionally charged rhythm. We’ll look at how we might fill out the doctrine here a bit in our conclusion section, in an attempt to somehow salvage this “me-fest”.

Conclusion

While the song does contain a Gospel-nugget, the focus of the song isn’t the Gospel of Jesus Christ; rather, the focus of the song is “self-esteem” through soundbites set to a mystical form of music.

How would I correct this one? Well, I wouldn’t recommend replacing any Traditional hymn or doctrinally rich song with this “me” anthem in church, that’s for sure. But, if we understand that the answer to the question of “who am I” is ever and always, “I am a poor miserable sinner in need of God’s Grace and Forgiveness and Mercy”, then we can set our minds on Thanksgiving to God that isn’t self-aggrandizing. For this, let’s look at Paul’s opening in his letter to the Ephesians:

Ephesians 1:1-2:10 (ESV)

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

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.

Don’t look to “me” for the answer of “who am I”… Look to Christ and Who He Is and His finished work on the Cross for your sin and mine.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

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