DiM | “Hard Love” by Need to Breathe (feat. Lauren Daigle)

disapproveCCM Edition.

September 19, 2017. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Hard Love” by Need to Breathe (feat. Lauren Daigle) which currently sits at #6 on 20TheCountdownMagazine.

The version that is on the Top20 track isn’t the album version, it is the version done for the movie adaptation of the heresy-filled novel, “The Shack”. We’re not here to debate the book or the movie, but if this is news to you here is a good article that goes over the basic problems of the movie. For more on the book click here. Let’s give the song a listen and read through its lyric.

“The Shack” Version (Audio Only)

Lyrics

Trading punches with the heart of darkness
Going to blows with your fear incarnate
Never gone until it’s stripped away
A part of you has gotta die today

In the morning you gon’ need an answer
Ain’t nobody gonna change the standard
It’s not enough to just feel the flame
You’ve gotta burn your old self away

Hold on tight a little longer
What don’t kill ya, makes ya stronger
Get back up, ’cause it’s a hard love
You can’t change without a fallout
It’s gon’ hurt, but don’t you slow down
Get back up, ’cause it’s a hard love

You know the situation can’t be right
And all you ever do is fight
But there’s a reason that the road is long
It takes some time to make your courage strong

Hold on tight a little longer
What don’t kill ya, makes ya stronger
Get back up, ’cause it’s a hard love
You can’t change without a fallout
It’s gon’ hurt, but don’t you slow down
Get back up, ’cause it’s a hard love

When the wolves come and hunt me down
I will face them all and stand my ground
‘Cause there’s a fire burnin’ in me
They will see my strength in this love I found
Oh

Hold on tight a little longer
What don’t kill ya, makes ya stronger
Get back up, ’cause it’s a hard love
You can’t change without a fallout
It’s gon’ hurt, but don’t you slow down
Get back up, ’cause it’s a hard love

It’s a hard love, it’s a hard love, it’s a hard love, it’s a hard love
Oh, it’s a hard love, it’s a hard love, it’s a hard love, it’s a hard love
Oh, it’s a hard love, it’s a hard love, it’s a hard love, it’s a hard love

Hold on tight a little longer
What don’t kill ya, makes ya stronger
Get back up, ’cause it’s a hard love
You can’t change without a fallout
It’s gon’ hurt, but don’t you slow down
Get back up, ’cause it’s a hard love
‘Cause it’s a hard love

Songwriters: Nathaniel Rinehart / William Rinehart
Hard Love lyrics © Downtown Music Publishing

Discussion

Well, now… that’s an example of confusing Law and Gospel. The Law isn’t the Gospel, nor should it ever be presented as such. There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, the Law kills. That’s what it does. Under the Law everything that isn’t Holy is destroyed. Only God is Holy; therefore, under the Law everything is destroyed. There is nothing you can do to avoid it, because there is nothing in ourselves that is Holy. The ONLY hope is in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He’s the Only One (both fully God and fully Man) who fulfilled the whole Law in our place. Jesus paid the full price of sin in our place, as our substitute. He drank the full Wrath of God against all sin, and with His dying breath on that cross He declared tetelestai, “It is finished”.

John 19:28-30 (ESV)

After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth.When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Colossians 1:13-23 (ESV)

[God the Father] 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. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds,he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

2 Corinthians 5:20-21 (ESV)

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

The second reason this confusion of Law and Gospel should be avoided is that it makes the person, the sinner, the star of his own salvation. This is the glaring problem of this song, it focuses entirely on the person enduring this “hard love” and makes the person the hero of his own journey. Whatever this is, it isn’t the Gospel. This falls right in line with the nonsense that is “the Shack”.

Ephesians 2:4-9 (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.

The full work of salvation is the LORD’s, not ours. None of it is our own doing, and no one may boast in it.

Now, some might argue that this song isn’t about “getting saved” but about sanctification. To that I would like to say that the song isn’t overtly Christian. So, to try to rescue the song by claiming it to be an exhortation to sanctification is to ignore the primary fault in the lyric… it’s appealing to a sanctification that is focused on the sinner rather than the Savior. It’s generally assumed to be delivering a Christian message since it is being played on “christian” radio stations and was highlighted in a “christian” movie based on a “christian” book. In fact, the book was abysmally heretical (more), the movie is slightly toned down in its heresy, but it’s still there, and the song is theologically no better than Katy Perry’s Roar or David Guetta’s Titanium. That is to say that the song glorifies the singer and the listener. If we’re to make this “hard love” a stand-in for God’s love, we’ve completely and totally missed the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Total confusion of Law and Gospel.

Conclusion

This song fails on every count. A complete confusion of Law and Gospel and its focus is on the sinner rather than the Savior. What’s worse, is that this particular version of the song serves to promote a heretical movie based on an even more heretical novel. Full disapproval in this DiM.

Jude 17-25 (ESV)

But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

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

DiM | “The Comeback” by Danny Gokey

disapproveCCM Edition.

September 12, 2017. Today we’ll be taking a look at “The Comeback” by Danny Gokey which currently sits at #7 on 20TheCountdownMagazine.

Today’s song lands in the “Disapprove” category simply because there is nothing of Scripture being taught, supported, intimated in its lyric. It’s a purely earthly motivational song.

Official Lyric Video

Lyrics (via KLove)

After a season of nightfalls and pushbacks
After the heartache of wrong turns and sidetracks
Just when they think they’ve got you game, set, match
Here comes the comeback

Just cause you laid low, got up slow, unsteady
Don’t mean you blacked out or bought out you’re ready
Just when they think there’s nothing left running on empty
Here comes the comeback

(chorus)
This is your time, your moment
The fire, the fight, you’re golden
You’ve come so far keep going
Here comes the comeback, comeback

You feel the lightning, the thunder, your soul shakes
Under the roar of the heaven, the tide breaks
And from the ashes you will take your place
Here comes the comeback

(chorus)
This is your time, your moment
The fire, the fight, you’re golden
You’ve come so far keep going
Here comes the comeback, comeback

There is no mountain you can’t face
There is no giant you can’t take
All of your tears were not a waste
You’re one step away

Just when they think they’ve got you game, set, match
Here comes the comeback

(chorus)
This is your time, your moment
The fire, the fight, you’re golden
You’ve come so far keep going
Here comes the comeback, comeback

Publishing: © 2016 BMG Platinum Songs/Creative Heart Publishing, Admin. by BMG Rights Management (US) LLC. (BMI); Red Red Pop/Capitol CMG Amplifier, Admin. by CapitolCMGPublishing.com (SESAC); Hello Darling Music (BMI). Used by Permission. All Rights Reserved.

Writer(s): Danny Gokey, Josh Silverberg, and Cameron James

Discussion

Well, this song is purely a motivational piece. A pep talk for everyday life. The video shows athletes, and I suppose it could apply to folks in the business realm, but that’s it. The lyric doesn’t present any Christian theological truths. Nowhere in Scripture are we promised that we will have a “comeback” in our vocations or everyday, temporal life. This song is no more theological than Rachel Platten’s Fight Song.

So what do we do with this one? Let’s have a chat about the purpose of this DiM work a bit. This work isn’t about determining “what a Christian is allowed to listen to and remain Christian”. A Christian who is exercising proper discernment can listen to “secular” music and remain Christian. Most Christians do a decent job of recognizing bad theology or carnal thinking in so-called secular music as long as they’ve taken the time to consider the lyrics. They can listen to music for its artistry or maybe a raw description of life in a fallen world, or an opportunity to vent some emotional frustration. Whatever the reason for listening, most Christians aren’t tuning into Imagine Dragons looking for some Biblical truth. If you are doing that… stop it.

The problem with songs like today’s song by Danny Gokey, is that when they get played on a Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) radio station, they are given an artificial blessing of being “biblically sound”. The industry isn’t being run by theologians, pastors, or seminarians. They are business executives pushing a product. The artists themselves are rarely seminary trained, much less pastors (there are a few). This CCM industry isn’t about teaching the faith, it’s about promoting the next album/concert/single just like every other musical genre within the industry. The best thing that can be said of this song lyrically is that it’s “clean”. It’s a song about how great “I” am, or going to be soon. There are times when I’d like to have my own “theme song guy” or “hype man” in everyday life. Just please, whatever you do, do not try to draw some Christian meaning from it, because it’s focus is all wrong for that. The Scriptures point to Christ, not you. The Scriptures preach Christ and Him Crucified for our sin, buried and rose again on the third day, ascended into Heaven and returning once more for His Church and to judge both the living and the dead. That is the central focus and theme of Scripture. The Promise of Scripture is that Christ will come back one day, the Last Day.

1 Peter 1:3-13 (ESV) | Born Again to a Living Hope

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. Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

Today’s song earns a “Disapproved” rating, because it falls outside of what we are looking for in these songs. There’s nothing of Scripture being taught in this song. Now, if you find the song entertaining or are specifically looking for a “pump me up” kind of song to motivate you to “try, try, again”, by all means enjoy the song for that purpose. Just don’t go baptizing it, okay?

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

Best CoWo songs?

September 4, 2017. The DiM work here focuses primarily on Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) that plays on the airwaves. The goal is to encourage Christians to exercise Biblical discernment when a song plays on the radio. If you’re just listening for entertainment, then keep your guard up and treat every song as a “secular” song. What is the theology being presented in the lyric? Indeed, even secular music presents theology.

With so many Contemporary Worship (CoWo) songs making their way onto the CCM charts, we’ve had a lot of interest in the issue of CoWo (as opposed to historical didactic hymns). As I engage folks in conservative churches, I’m finding a lot of people insisting that the CoWo they have in their church is biblically solid. The problem is that they rarely name these songs. I’m interested in doing more evaluation of CoWo songs, but I want to deal with the songs folks genuinely believe to be biblically solid.

I would like to ask my readers to Contact Us or comment below with what you consider to be Biblically solid CoWo songs that cannot be found in a traditional Hymnal. This has nothing to do with the accompaniment. Trading an organ for a band without changing the lyric is perfectly fine to me and does not make it CoWo. The focus absolutely must be in the content of the lyric. If a contemporary band does a cover or remake of an old Hymn, I will be looking for what was removed from the song and what was added to it lyrically.

My comment section is moderated, so if you don’t want me to post your comment let me know in the comment. I’m asking for help on the research end of CoWo. If you think your church does excellent CoWo, I’d love a list of songs/artists you guys use.

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

DiM | “O Come to the Altar” by Elevation Worship

Presentation1Evangelical Worship Edition.

August 22, 2017. Today we’ll be taking a look at “O Come to the Altar” by Elevation Worship which currently sits at #3 on 20TheCountdownMagazine.

Elevation Worship is the house band for Elevation Church where Steven Furtick presides. There are lots of problems with Elevation Church and with Steven’s preaching (additional info: herehere, and here). We’ll be focusing on the merits of this song that was clearly written for Elevation’s worship sets but finds itself on our CCM charts.

I have to admit, I was surprised by this song. Its lyrics are better than I expected. The Gospel of Forgiveness bought by the Blood of Jesus is in the chorus of this song. What is lacking is a clear understanding of what needed to be forgiven, so the Law is muddled. I’ll do my best to acknowledge the good and share my concerns in the lyric such that someone who has never heard of Elevation or Stephen Furtick can examine the lyric for themselves. I do not recommend anyone attending Elevation church, nor supporting that organization by buying their music.

Elevation Worship Video

The video is very polished. I thought it was just going to be another “House Band rock concert” video, but they brought in clips from their mass baptisms that were very compelling. I wish I could say that this demonstrates a proper understanding of Baptism, but Elevation was caught fabricating/manipulating “spontaneous baptism” events. There is also the extremely troubling fellowship between Furtick and T.D. Jakes, who is a non-trinitarian. Why is that relevant here? We are commanded to make disciples baptizing them into the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. If you reject the doctrine of the Trinity, you’re practicing a different baptism. Now, the song keeps mentioning the Altar, the video focuses more on baptism. I’m not going to complain too much here since the evangelical “altar call” at the house band concert would really be just coming up to the stage… and that would expose the “Finney altar call” for the spectacle it is. After we read through the lyrics, I want to come back to this video’s focus on baptism.

Lyrics (via YouTube)

Are you hurting and broken within
Overwhelmed by the weight of your sin
Jesus is calling
Have you come to the end of yourself
Do you thirst for a drink from the well
Jesus is calling

O come to the altar
The Father’s arms are open wide
Forgiveness was bought with
The precious blood of Jesus Christ

Leave behind your regrets and mistakes
Come today there’s no reason to wait
Jesus is calling
Bring your sorrows and trade them for joy
From the ashes a new life is born
Jesus is calling

Oh what a Savior
Isn’t he wonderful
Sing alleluia, Christ is risen
Bow down before him
For he is Lord of all
Sing alleluia, Christ is risen

Bear your cross as you wait for the crown
Tell the world of the treasure you’ve found

Discussion

As I said in the intro, I was very surprised to have found the chorus of this song so good. Let’s start there for now because there is a clarity here I just don’t see in most of the songs on the CCM chart.

Forgiveness was bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ

Here we have a central message of the Gospel. I so wish the song made use of the verses to finish proclaiming the Gospel. Sadly, it doesn’t, which leaves this excellent line in the chorus floating without an anchor point. Forgiveness for what? This is where the song falls flat, by softening the Law and emotionalizing it.

Verse 1Are you hurting and broken within overwhelmed by the weight of your sin. Sin is our problem. Our flesh, our very being is sinful. In fact, we were dead in trespasses and sin (Eph 2:1). The opening lines of this verse focus on the “hurting” and “broken within” and “overwhelmed by the weight” of sin. This is already taking the mystical turn of spiritualizing everything. Sure, the word “sin” is in there, but what is being described points more to an emotional awareness of guilt, or the emotional effect of guilt/shame. The next line takes it a step further with, Have you come to the end of yourself. This is a truism you won’t find in Scripture, it points to the whole “let go and let God” type of sentiment. Have you tried everything else, but to no avail? Well, try this! Do you thirst for a drink from the well. This is one of those lines that gets thrown out there to really grab those who are familiar with some scripture. Now, because I want each of you to be more familiar with scripture so that you can think of Scripture rather than this song, let’s look at what this line is alluding to.

John 4:7-14 (ESV)  A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

This is a Gospel passage. The problem is that the person who needs to hear the Gospel doesn’t intuitively know what it means to “thirst for a drink from the well”. We aren’t intuitively aware of the Gospel. Just as this Samaritan woman didn’t understand at first, we today don’t understand the depth of our need nor do we get the Gospel. So, a line like this might lead someone to think, “it’s scriptural”, though the song isn’t actually conveying a complete thought.

Verse 2. Okay, so we’ve come from the chorus that speaks of the Forgiveness bought by Christ’s Blood, and the next line we get is, Leave behind your regrets and mistakes. Here we have a muddled Law, a muted problem of sin. It leaves the impression that the point of Forgiveness is for “regrets and mistakes”. These are some of the symptoms of sin, but they are not the actual problem of sin. The third line has the same sort of emotionalizing of the problem of sin with, Bring your sorrows and trade them for joy. Trade sorrows for joy, though I would argue that Biblically speaking, Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, not merely some emotion. In our modern context, I don’t think we’ve maintained such distinctions in language. It’s romantic mysticism, a feel-good sentiment floating in the verse. Now, to anchor this sentiment into a Biblical promise, we need to look past this temporal life and into the New Heaven and the New Earth after the Resurrection.

Revelation 21:1-5 (ESV) Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

But we aren’t finished with this verse. This next line makes my blood boil. From the ashes, a new life is born. Can we please stop pulling language from the Phoenix mythos? I mean, this is in your “worship” set, for crying out loud. Stop with the Greek mythology. Just stop it.

Verse 3. Random tidbits of truth here, I suppose. I really like Sing Alleluia, Christ is risen, though, that is very good. By this time in the song, the point isn’t so much the lyric but the swell in the trance-like musical euphoria building toward a spiritual climax. This verse can be repeated like a second chorus as the audience sways back and forth at the leading of the singer, emotions stirred up into a frenzy, arms swaying to the rhythm of the song… because this is the “experience” that somehow translates to “worship”. At least, that is what these bands are led to believe. They are ushering in the Spirit, they are bringing heaven down to earth. At least, that is what the stated goal of this “worship” album is:

EDITORS’ NOTES
On this spiritual soundtrack, Elevation Worship attempt to prove that heaven is indeed a place on earth…(ref: iTunes)

This is purely emotional manipulation by very highly skilled musicians, some of whom might genuinely believe that this emotionalism is “true worship”.

Bridge. There’s no basis in the song for understanding what it means to Bear your cross as you wait for the crown. Let’s look at some Scriptures for a better understanding of what might be going on here.

Matthew 16:24-27 (ESV) Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.

James 1:2-12 (ESV) Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits. Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

1 Peter 5:1-11 (ESV) So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

To deny ourselves is to resist temptation, to humble ourselves, and to confess that we are powerless, desperately in need of a Savior this and every day here on this Earth. No room for temporal triumphalism here. The Apostles didn’t preach such temporal victory, they preached Christ’s return for His Church, for the crown of Life in the Resurrection in Christ Jesus.

What Altar? I find it curious when these mega churches sing about ‘coming to the altar’. Their altar is a stage, where they perform their rock concerts and TED talks. In historical, orthodox, Christian churches, the altar is where the elements of Communion are kept. Long before Charles Finney and his “New Measures” (which were horrible) and his awful “altar call” nonsense… the Church understood the idea of coming to the altar as a call to Communion, where Christ served His Church His Body and His Blood.

Matthew 26:26-29 (ESV) Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 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. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

This song isn’t referring to an actual altar, there isn’t even a representation of an altar in the Elevation Auditorium/Concert hall. It’s purely mystical, purely emotional, completely spiritualized and as such there is no solid meaning to the idea of coming to the altar in this song. I encourage you to consider how Scripture talks of Communion in 1 Cor 11. We need to divorce ourselves from the notion of the “altar call” where we “make a decision for Christ”… primarily since Scripture nowhere talks like that. Instead, we should consider what it is we are receiving in Communion. That may be tough for those of you in churches that don’t go up to the front to receive communion, but it’s at least a Scriptural basis for the idea of “coming to the altar”.

Baptism. A common doctrinal error regarding Baptism is viewing Baptism through the lens of the Law rather than as a gift of the Gospel. Baptism is something Christ does for us, not something we do for Him. For non-Lutherans, I know that’s an odd way to speak of Baptism without first spiritualizing it, but in some way, I think the editors of this music video recognize that there is something special going on in Baptism. While the song makes an appeal to come to the altar, they don’t have a clue how to demonstrate that or represent that in any meaningful way, so they look to Baptism. This is so close to being a good thing… so close. Yes, Baptism is God’s work and it comes with a Promise.

Acts 2:36-39 (ESV) Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

Conclusion

The song does have problems, particularly in its emotionalizing of sin such that the emphasis is on the effect of sin rather than sin itself. We are guilty of sin, regardless of whether or not we “feel it”, it is fact. The Law points out our sin and we’ve all fallen short. The song does have essential elements of the Gospel, that Christ shed His blood for our Forgiveness and that He has Risen from the grave. With a lot of work, this song can be a reminder of the Gospel for those hearing it playing on CCM radio.

Please don’t go to Elevation Church, don’t sit under Steven Furtick’s teaching, don’t buy this “worship album”. This song isn’t the reason I don’t recommend that organization. I’ve listened to several sermons, read through several controversies, and he’s aligned himself with heretics such as T.D. Jakes and Joyce Meyer. Pray for Steven Furtick and avoid him. If you have friends who think highly of Elevation church, don’t try to win the argument with this song review. You’ll need to address the false teaching and Furtick’s mishandling of Scripture (additional info: herehere, and here).

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

 

DiM | “Old Church Choir” by Zach Williams

disapproveCCM Edition.

July 25, 2017. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Old Church Choir” by Zach Williams which currently sits at #5 on 20TheCountdownMagazine.

Today’s song is a nostalgia bomb of Revivalism lacking substance and misusing the term “gospel”. This won’t be a long review, as I could find very little to salvage in it. I am surprised that this is charting so high this week, though. Let’s give the song a listen and then read through its lyric. I’ll be posting a link at the end to discuss Revivalism of the 1700s, so do please check it out.

ZachWilliamsVEVO (Official Lyric Video)

Lyrics

There’s revival and it’s spreading
Like a wildfire in my heart
A Sunday morning hallelujah
And it’s lasting all week long

Can you hear it? Can you feel it?
It’s the rhythm of a gospel song
Once you choose it, you can’t lose it
There ain’t nothing
There ain’t nothing gonna steal my joy

I’ve got an old church choir singing in my soul
I’ve got a sweet salvation and it’s beautiful
I’ve got a heart overflowing cause I’ve been restored
No there ain’t nothing gonna steal my joy
No there ain’t nothing gonna steal my joy

When the valleys that I wander
Turn to mountains that I can’t climb
You are with me, you never leave me

There ain’t nothing
There ain’t nothing gonna steal my joy

I’ve got an old church choir singing in my soul
I’ve got a sweet salvation and it’s beautiful
I’ve got a heart overflowing cause I’ve been restored
No there ain’t nothing gonna steal my joy
No there ain’t nothing gonna steal my joy

Clap your hands and stomp your feet
Till you find that gospel beat
Cause He’s all you’ll ever need
He’s all you’ll ever need
I’ve got an old church choir singing in my soul
I’ve got a sweet salvation and it’s beautiful
I’ve got a heart overflowing cause I’ve been restored
No there ain’t nothing gonna steal my joy
No there ain’t nothing gonna steal my joy

Lyric Video by Zach Williams performing Old Church Choir (Official Lyric Video). (C) 2017 Provident Label Group LLC, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

Discussion

This is an anthem for Revivalism, not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The whole week-long tent meeting model of revivalism where Finney left his mark. Decision theology. Emotionalism. There’s not really a lot we can work with here by way of “best construction”. Let’s work through the verses briefly and then we’ll look at the problems with the Revivalist movement of the 1700s.

Verse 1. A “revival” spreading like wildfire in the heart, a rhythm of a gospel song, that one must choose. No mention of faith. Faith isn’t an emotion. It isn’t a feeling. It isn’t a rhythm of a song. It’s not clear if this is even going to try to distinguish between “revival” as in people returning to God or folks “getting saved”. It’s just a “gospel pep-rally” thing.

Chorus. An old church choir singing in my soul. How Old? What is it singing? I ask this because the revivalism movement is rather new in the history of the Church, 18th~19th Century. In our old church, we sing older hymns, some that date back to the 4th Century. But this song isn’t really drawing on antiquity or orthodoxy, it’s a nostalgia piece for the old “sawdust trail” of the late 1800s.

Verse 2. In this section we get a “you” reference we want to connect to Christ. Unfortunately, the emphasis of the song is revivalism, not specifically the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When the word “gospel” is used, it’s referring to a type of music that accompanied many a tent-revival meeting.

Verse 3/Outro. In this section of the song, the “call to action” portion isn’t a call to the Gospel. I think this falls short of even revivalist synergism, in that it doesn’t even ask the listener to make a decision for Christ but it’s aiming for the listener to “find that gospel beat”, supposedly to get that old gospel choir singing in your soul.

The song is a mess, I’m thoroughly frustrated with it. Listen, we examine music here often. But what we focus on here is the content of the lyric, above all else. Whether you like bluegrass, polka, hand bells, rock & roll, or Gregorian chant is really a matter of Christian liberty. Scripture doesn’t speak for or against any particular style of music. It’s about the doctrine that is being taught.

So, before we close out let’s look at what the Apostle Paul urged his readers concerning the Gospel.

Romans 10:1-17 (ESV) Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

The focus is on the Preaching of God’s Word. Paul encourages Timothy to do just that.

2 Timothy 4:1-5 (ESV) I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

There is no sense in looking for or promoting waves of revival movements. The Church isn’t a movement, it isn’t a fad, it isn’t a campaign, or a circus. The Church is the Body of Christ, and gathers around the Preaching of God’s Word. Revivalism is a circus act, a man-made attempt to make God popular. In our modern-day context, instead of looking like Barnum and Bailey big tents, it looks like an NFL production ala Joel Osteen or anything Hillsong. Now, I’ll concede that there are some revivalists who actually do preach the Gospel to some extent. Folks are finding saving faith in spite of the revivalism because God the Holy Spirit does what He says He does, granting saving faith by hearing of the Word. This is in spite of Revivalism, not a result of it.

For more information on the history of Christianity in America: Rationalism and Revivalism of the 1700s.

Conclusion

This song earns a Disapproval. There’s nothing here but a promotion of Revivalism. The word “gospel” is pointing to a style of song or tent meeting, not the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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