DiM | “All My Hope” by Crowder

ApprovedCCM Radio Edition.

March 22, 2018. Today we’ll be taking a look at “All My Hope” by Crowder which currently sits at #2 on the 20theCountdownMagazine.

Today’s song has a good chorus in that it is focused on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The verses are weak and a bit vague, but minus the first verse they aren’t horrible. This song lands tentatively in the Approved category for having a good chorus with a strong focus on the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the answer for our sin. Let’s listen to the song and then work through the lyrics.

Lyric Video

Lyrics (via K-Love)

I’ve been held by the Savior
I’ve felt fire from above
I’ve been down to the river
I ain’t the same
A prodigal returned

All my hope is in Jesus
Thank God my yesterday’s gone
All my sins are forgiven
I’ve been washed by the blood

I’m no stranger to the prison
I’ve worn shackles and chains
But I’ve been freed and forgiven
And I’m not going back
I’ll never be the same
That’s why I sing

There’s a kind of thing
That just breaks a man
Break him down to his knees
God, I’ve been broken more than a time or two, yes, Lord
Then He picked me up
And showed me what it means to be a man
Come on and sing

Publishing: sixsteps Music/Worshiptogether.Com Songs/Inot Music (ASCAP) (Admin. at CapitolCMGPublishing.com)/Alletrop Music (BMI) (admin. by Music Services)
Writer(s): David Crowder and Ed Cash

Discussion

This song takes the form of a “testimony” type song, where the singer shares with the audience his/her theology or testimony of God. Such testimonies should always be focused on Christ as revealed in His Word. I’m very happy that this song didn’t slide into the humble-brag category of really being “about me” while claiming to be about “what God has done for me”.

Verse 1. The song opens up very poorly with a weak and empty verse appealing to emotional experiences.

I’ve been held by the Savior
I’ve felt fire from above
I’ve been down to the river

By faith, we have been saved by the Savior, brought to life by God the Holy Spirit delivering faith to us through the preached Word of Christ, washing us clean by water mixed with the Word in Baptism. The singer has not actually been held by the Savior in a literal sense, not yet. So, this is an emotional appeal in spiritual symbolism. Also, the singer hasn’t “felt fire from above”. This particular emotional symbolism is quite common in charismatic circles where they claim their emotional experiences are equal to what took place in the upper room on Pentecost in Acts 2.  The scriptures tell us there were tongues of fire descending upon them as they were given the miraculous gift of speaking in other languages, the praises of God. Let’s look at the text because I want to point out how clearly the Scriptures describe the event.

Acts 2:1-12 (ESV) When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?”

This isn’t something these people had to imagine happening, these things actually happened. The divided tongues of fire appeared to them and rested on them. They were actually proclaiming the mighty works of God in clear languages, languages that actually existed, languages that were listed in the text. No symbolism need be invoked, this actually happened. This stuff isn’t happening today, particularly not in churches where false doctrine is being plainly taught. So, the singer is claiming to have felt fire from above, when what has really happened is the singer felt a sense of euphoria and wants to believe it was this sort of “presence of the holy spirit”. We’ve talked about the references of “being down to the river” in CCM before. As a Lutheran, I want to believe this is a reference to Baptism; however, it’s most likely a reference to the symbolism that creedal baptists believe baptism to be. Given the rest of Crowder’s theology, this is a symbolic reference to what they think baptism represents, not a direct reference to Baptism. As with the rest of this first verse, it is spiritual imagery or an appeal to an emotional experience.

I ain’t the same
A prodigal returned

The best construction I can give these 2 lines is that this is an allusion to repentance. As the prodigal son realized the error of his ways and remembered his father and repented of his sin. “And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son” Luke 15:21 (ESV).

Chorus. The chorus is a strong point in this song.

All my hope is in Jesus
Thank God my yesterday’s gone
All my sins are forgiven
I’ve been washed by the blood

All our hope is in Jesus. The Apostle Peter’s letter comes to mind first:

1 Peter 1:3-7 (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.

All our sins are forgiven, indeed. Now, Crowder goes back to symbolism in our having been washed by the blood. This is good symbolism and it is clearly laid out in Revelation talking about John’s vision in the resurrection. Let’s look at chapter 7.

Revelation 7:9-14 (ESV) After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Now this is a vision and in these visions in the Revelation of Jesus Christ there are lots of symbols. Let’s look at the Institution of the Lord’s Supper as recorded in Matthew, specifically at His words regarding the cup:

Matthew 26:27-28 (ESV) And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Amen. So we have the symbolism in Revelation and the reference to the substance in the Lord’s Supper, Christ’s blood of the New Covenant, poured out for the forgiveness of sins. Now, I mentioned earlier in the discussion of verse 1 how I’d like to think Crowder was directly referencing Baptism. Christ washes His Bride (the Church) in Baptism as we see the Apostle Paul reference in his letter to the Ephesians.

Ephesians 5:25-27 (ESV) Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

I understand that not everyone who reads this blog is Lutheran, so this is how I’d go about connecting “down to the river” and “washed by the Blood”… I’d point to Holy Baptism.

Verse 2. The second verse is allegorical but these are metaphors most of us can relate to emotionally, at least at some level. We have an idea of prison, shackles, chains, and we have an idea of being set free from temporal bondage and being forgiven of wrong.

I’m no stranger to the prison
I’ve worn shackles and chains
But I’ve been freed and forgiven
And I’m not going back
I’ll never be the same
That’s why I sing

The problem here is the idea that it’s an all-or-nothing thing for Christians in this temporal life, completely sanctified or still-a-sinner. The Truth is that it’s both, simultaneously sinner & saint. As long as we walk in fallen bodies of flesh, we are sinners. By faith we are saints, not because of what we have done, but solely because of what Christ has done already for us in our place at the cross. That is why our hope is in the Resurrection, when at last Christ will be revealed, we will be saved, and we will be given new bodies free of sin. Until then, we live in the simul, simultaneously sinner & saint.

Verse 3. I think this third verse/bridge gets a little bit sideways.

There’s a kind of thing
That just breaks a man
Break him down to his knees
God, I’ve been broken more than a time or two, yes, Lord
Then He picked me up
And showed me what it means to be a man
Come on and sing

We were doing okay up until this point (I’m still happy with the chorus), but now we seem to have externalized sin a bit, making it the boogie man on the outside of us breaking us down to our knees. While we do have an external enemy in the devil, our primary ill is our own sinful flesh, our black hearts filled with sinful passions craving sin and waging war against the Spirit within us.

Romans 7:15-25 (ESV) 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.

Galatians 5:16-17 (ESV) But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

There is also one other thing that is missing from the discussion in the third verse, and that is the discipline of our Heavenly Father against our sin that breaks us down. Indeed, the LORD disciplines us as sons/daughters. We see this proclaimed clearly in Hebrews.

Hebrews 12:3-11 (ESV) Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
    and chastises every son whom he receives.

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Amen. So this third verse gets sideways by only painting part of the picture of what breaks us down, for God, our Heavenly Father disciplines us as sons/daughters. This third verse in the song also wrongly externalizes the sin problem as merely external circumstances rather than our core sin issue which is in our very flesh.

Conclusion

Given this song’s clear focus on the Gospel for the chorus, the pale allegorical nature of the verses get overshadowed and I’m placing this song just into the Approved category.

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.

Amen. In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Friday | Conversation with Costi Hinn

frisermonWe come to the end of another week. Last week I shared a couple of phone interviews I had with Table Talk Radio and the Bible Thumping Wingnut. This week, I thought we’d listen in on an interview of Costi Hinn by Chris Rosebrough of Fighting for the Faith to discuss the new book “Defining Deception”.

Fighting for the Faith has started sharing more Youtube content lately, which is very exciting for our Friday segment.

 

For a link to the audio version of this interview and other Fighting for the Faith Resources visit Fighting for the Faith: Costi Hinn Interview (Audio Version)

This is a great conversation focusing on the theology in play. I pray you find this conversation helpful. If you’d like to purchase this book on Amazon, check out the link below.

DiM | “O’Lord” by Lauren Daigle

Presentation1CCM Radio Edition.

February 26, 2018. Today we’ll be taking a look at “O’Lord” by Lauren Daigle which currently sits at #2 on the 20theCountdownMagazine.

Today’s  song is an older one. I’m curious as to how this has risen to the #2 spot now. Lauren Daigle has an amazing voice. The melody is catchy and anthemic. The song is a pep talk that addresses the Lord as someone who is coming to make everything better… for the singer who is standing her ground where hope can be found. We’ll get to why this is a problem in the lyric, but first let’s give the song a listen and read through the lyrics.

Music Video

Lyrics (via K-Love)

Though times it seems
Like I’m coming undone
This walk can often feel lonely
No matter what until this race is won
I will stand my ground where hope can be found
I will stand my ground where hope can be found

Oh, O’Lord O’Lord I know You hear my cry
Your love is lifting me above all the lies
No matter what I face this I know in time
You’ll take all that is wrong and make it right
You’ll take all that is wrong and make it right

Your strength is found
At the end of my road
Your grace it reaches to the hurting
Still through the tears and the questioning why
I will stand my ground where hope can be found
I will stand my ground where hope can be found

Oh, O’Lord O’Lord I know You hear my cry
Your love is lifting me above all the lies
No matter what I face This I know in time
You’ll take all that is wrong and make it right
You’ll take all that is wrong and make it right
(Right, so right)
Make it right
(Right, so right)
Make it right, right

I will stand my ground
I will stand my ground

I will stand my ground where hope can be found
I will stand my ground where hope can be found

Oh! O’Lord O’Lord I know You hear my cry
Your love is lifting me above all the lies
No matter what I face this I know in time
You’ll take all that is wrong and make it right (take all what is wrong)
You’ll take all that is wrong and make it right
(Right, so right)
Make it right
(Right, so right)
Make it right, right

Writers: Joe Williams and Paul Mabury

Discussion

It’s clear that the aim of this song is to serve as a blanket encouragement to the listener. It is unclear if this encouragement is aimed at believers only or if its aim is more universal. The song is an attempt to share a gospel of wrongs being made right without any mention of the Law. The problem presented in the song is purely emotional and circumstantial. The singer feels undone, lonely, weak. The answer presented is to “stand my ground where hope is found”. What does that mean? Hope in what, that my circumstances will turn around? That I won’t be lonely anymore? That my life will be brought back together? Is that the Hope of the Gospel? These are not the Gospel, though each might be a by-product of the Gospel. The problem of our lives isn’t limited to us being victims of a fallen world… our primary problem is that we are sinners, guilty of sin and deserving of God’s Wrath.

Ephesians 2:1-3 (ESV) 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.

The problems cited in the song… the malady the song seeks to remedy for the listener… is a symptom, a byproduct of our primary problem… of sin.

Romans 5:12-14 (ESV) Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

Our problem is sin. Death is only in this world because of sin. And it isn’t just our problem… but all of creation.

Romans 8:19-21 (ESV) For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

With this in mind, and only with this in mind, are we ready to present the Hope of Salvation, the Hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the wrong that He has righted… Our wrong, our guilt, our transgression. We are not mere victims, we are the guilty party. And the Christ has already atoned for our sin in His finished work on the cross.

Romans 5:15-21 (ESV) But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

This is what we need… we need grace, we need forgiveness, we need justification, we need reconciliation. This is our deepest need and the very Hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Colossians 1:9-20 (ESV) And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Amen. This is the Hope of Salvation from not only temporal death, or loneliness, or weakness, or despair… but from the very Wrath of God. Christ gave Himself to atone for our sin or reconcile us to Himself for eternity… making peace by His blood on His cross in our place.

Ephesians 2:4-10 (ESV) 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.

Conclusion

The song isn’t an evil song filled with false doctrine, it’s an empty song pushing an empty gospel. I decided to leave this song in the middle category, because I wanted to discuss Law and Gospel. The Promise of the Gospel is far greater than the improvement of temporal circumstance, it is the Promise of being made right with God, reconciled to Him, and forgiven of our sin, and the Hope of the Resurrection in Christ Jesus to eternal life.

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.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Some Interviews/Podcasts

frisermon

While the blog site has been rather quiet since last September, there have been a couple of interviews posted recently that serve as some backstory to this blog and to my reformation, my coming to the Lutheran Confessions. As we begin to get this blog back into regular updates, I think now is a good time to share those interviews with those who follow this blog.

Table Talk Radio| Called by the Gospel

01/09/2018. This first audio interview was recorded back in September of 2016. I was still quite new to the Lutheran Confessions and the emotions were all quite raw. I still get emotional listening to the questions and answers, so I suppose the emotions will remain quite raw for some time.

In our next installment of Called by the Gospel, we hear from Jorge tell his story for Pentecostal/Charismatic and New Apostolic Reformation theology. (Table Talk Radio)

BTWN Episode 275 | Is Christian Music Broken?

10/07/2017. Tim Hurd of the Bible Thumping Wingnut (BTWN) is a Reformed Baptist who got to know me a bit while I was coming out of the NAR and working through the historic confessions of the Christian Faith. While I was investigating the Reformed Baptist confessions, I spent a lot of time listening to BTWN and other Reformed resources and it was also during this time that the DiM work here at Faithful Stewardship started gaining traction. After some unforeseen delays, we finally found time to meet online to discuss the DiM work and the state of the Christian Music Industry. We had a great conversation and I was able to share some of the why and how we go about this DiM work.

http://biblethumpingwingnut.com/2017/10/17/christian-music/ 

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “Control” by Tenth Avenue North

disapproveCCM Radio Edition.

February 19, 2018. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Control (Somehow You Want Me)” by 10th Avenue North which currently sits at #1 on the20theCountdownMagazine.

It’s been a while since we last took a look at the top 20 chart, so we have several new songs on the list we’ll need to review. Today, we start at the top of the chart with a song from Tenth Avenue North that really is all about “me”. This song leverages the “relationship” metaphor to make the listener feel special that the King of Heaven wants me. Apparently, the point is to feel wanted by God, even though you don’t deserve it. Let’s listen to the song and then work through the lyrics to see why we are giving this song a disapproval. Hint: the premise is wrong.

Official Lyric Video

Lyrics (via K-Love)

Here I am, all my intentions
All my obsessions, I wanna lay them all down
In Your hands, only Your love is vital
Though I’m not entitled
Still You call me Your child

God, You don’t need me, but somehow You want me
Oh, how You love me, somehow that frees me
To take my hands off of my life and the way it should go
Oh, God, You don’t need me, but somehow You want me
Oh, how You love me, somehow that frees me
To open my hands up and give You control
I give You control

I’ve had plans shattered and broken
Things I have hoped in, fall through my hands
You have plans to redeem and restore me
You’re behind and before me
Oh, help me believe

You want me
Somehow You want me
The King of Heaven wants me
So this world has lost its grip on me

Oh, give You control
Oh, I want to give You control
I give You control

Publishing: © 2016 Fellow Ships Music (SESAC) / So Essential Tunes (Adm. at http://www.EssentialMusicPublishing.com); No Alibis Publishing (SESAC) (Adm. by Fun Attic Music, LLC) (SESAC); Unsecret Songs (Adm. by Showdown)
Writers: Mike Donehey, Jason Ingram, Matt Bronleewe

Discussion

Based on the setup in the first verse, I think this song is intended for a “born again” audience. At least, it needs to be otherwise there are some serious theological problems with claiming that unbelievers could be considered children of God. So, this song is meant to be a sort of confession/promise of the believer to do some things for God so that God can do some things for the believer. The song doesn’t do it in a crass way, but let’s work through the parts of the song. The overcooking of the relationship model winds up focused on “me” rather than Him.

Verse 1. Here we have some disjointed lines somewhat confessing intension and obsessions need to be laid down. As we’ve already noted, this song aims at the Christian who is already “saved”, so the one sin we aren’t talking about directly is the sin of unbelief. But what tends to happen in so much of American Christianity is that once we’ve “been saved” we lose all language of sin, repentance, and our desperate need for forgiveness of sin. As though “once saved” all that remains is “doing better”. That’s generally where the relationship paradigm comes in, it suggests that there is a “getting saved” that equates to no longer being a stranger to God, but now we need to “go deeper in our relationship with Him” and that takes work on our end. Are our intentions inherently sinful? Do we need to lay down all of them? I’m sure our obsessions must be wrong, right? Or is it a matter of getting ourselves to obsess over the right things? Instead of teaching sound doctrine, it’s easier to romanticize these ideas and work them into the relationship paradigm, where the problem isn’t the obsession, it’s merely the object of that obsession. This premise fails because of two things. Firstly, it lacks a real understanding of the problem of sin and our need for continual forgiveness. Christians still sin and it is still sin, not merely mistakes or generic “brokenness”. Secondly, there is the problem of the vagueness of “relationship”. All of mankind has “a relationship” with God… either they stand condemned for sin and unbelief, or they are forgiven by Christ. There is no “other” category. The cross is still relevant for Christians, we still need the Holy Spirit to deliver the forgiveness of our sins won by Christ on the Cross to us and for us regularly. The Christian walk is one of repentance. Romanticizing and softening that language is unhelpful. When we lose sight of our sin, we also lose sight of the urgency of Christ’s forgiveness. We see this in the very generic reference to God’s love being only what’s vital. Yes, God’s Love is vital, and it was displayed fully for us at the cross, where Christ bore the full brunt of God’s Wrath against sin… our sin… in our place… so that we might be saved.

Chorus. So when we lose sight of the cross, we start to lose our bearing when it comes to talking of God’s love. This get’s a little sideways when we start to rely too heavily on relationship paradigms because as earthly people we tend toward romantic love and physical intimacy. Our society only has one word for love but that word isn’t enough. In some ways we recognize our own selfishness in others, so we don’t always trust those who love us because they need us. At the same time, we also don’t trust those who love us even if they don’t need us. We don’t trust those who love us because they need us. It’s not enough to be loved, we need to feel wanted. So, in this chorus we have been given just that… and overture of how God wants us even though He doesn’t need us. I do appreciate the confession in the song that God doesn’t need us. It is an important distinction that must be made when flirting with the whole “relationship” paradigm.

But this song is a Christian song, right? So why are we playing dumb in the whole “somehow that frees me” line? Have we gone so artistically vague that we no longer confess the Gospel even to ourselves? This is for Christian, isn’t it? We’ve definitely overcooked the emotional bit of this relationship model. And now we have the promise being made to God, a promise we can’t actually make, by the way. A promise to give God control over our lives. What does that even mean? Remember, we should be speaking as scripture speaks, of resisting and fleeing from sin, of confessing and repenting of sin, and asking God for forgiveness. The Apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 5 of how we are to walk in the Spirit.

Galatians 5:16-26 (ESV) But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions,envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

And this is a continual thing, a temporal constant in the life of Christians who still remain in sinful flesh walking in a sinful and fallen world. It is by God’s Grace that we have been regenerated to new life and have been filled by the Holy Spirit Who bears fruit in His children. We still sin, our flesh actively wars against the Spirit, and we still need the Law to mortify our flesh, convicting us of our present sin. Faith repents and receives the forgiveness of sin through Jesus Christ our LORD.

The chorus repeats the need/wants bit, but if we look at how Scripture speaks we realize this simply isn’t a neccessary language. God loved us so much He sent His Son to save us.

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.

Verse 2. I get the desire to make these songs open-ended and vague, hoping to broaden the potential audience so that anyone hearing the lyrics can think, “that’s totally me”. But this verse is making the dilemma about my “broken and shattered” plans and hopes that slipped through my fingers. Remember earlier when I was talking about intentions and obsessions? Same deal here. The turn in the verse isn’t going to examine whether or not those things were good or bad, just that they didn’t work out and now the person needs to pursue God’s plans and hopes for us. This rings of that dream-destiny nonsense from Robert Morris and those influenced by him. There are also hints at common evangelical prooftexts ripped out of context often to demand (declare) that God is going to make me a winner. But the song doesn’t actually give any guidance. It’s vague encouragement.

Bridge. Back to the wanting talk, but now we have the line The King of Heaven wants me
So this world has lost its grip on me. This manages to talk around Christ’s finished work on the cross such that we get a vague connection between God wanting me and somehow the world losing its grip on me. While it is true that Christ has set us free from the grip of the world, this line only addresses the external actor (the world) in our sin. We have not confessed our sinful flesh. We have not repented of our sinful desires. We have not asked for forgiveness. Instead, we’ve lamented broken plans, how I need to lay down my intentions and obsessions, and how badly and inexplicably God wants me.

Conclusion

The punchline of the song and the tie-in for the title is that because God wants me, I’m going to give Him control over my life. Brothers and sisters in Christ… God IS in control over our lives. This isn’t something you have to grant Him. Scripture doesn’t speak of a relationship that requires our surrender; rather, we are adopted children through the Blood of Jesus Christ, and in His Love, God disciplines us when we sin. The language of Law and Gospel, sin and grace, repentance and the forgiveness of sin is what we see throughout Scripture. In closing, let us look to the exhortation in Hebrews 12 immediately following the hall of faith in Hebrews 11.

Hebrews 12 (ESV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears. For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.

Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge