DiM | “Hills and Valleys” by Tauren Wells

Presentation1CCM Edition.

June 21, 2017. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Hills and Valleys” by Tauren Wells which currently sits at #8 on 20TheCountdownMagazine.

This the first song I’ve heard/reviewed from this artist. I genuinely like this song. I’m considering adding it to one of my youtube playlists for background music. It doesn’t earn an “Approved” status because it doesn’t stand on its own theologically, it doesn’t proclaim the Gospel in any meaningful way. However, what it does accomplish is serving as a reminder to doctrinally sound Christians of the promise that Christ is with us and that our Hope is in Him and that Salvation belongs to the LORD. Let’s give the song a listen and read through the lyric.

TaurenWellsVEVO (Official Lyric Video)

Lyrics (via KLove)

I’ve walked among the shadows
You wiped my tears away
And I’ve felt the pain of heartbreak
And I’ve seen the brighter days
And I’ve prayed prayers to heaven from my lowest place
And I have held Your blessings
God You give and take away
No matter what I have, Your grace is enough
No matter where I am, I’m standing in Your love

(chorus)
On the mountains I will bow my life to the One who set me there
In the valley I will lift my eyes to the One who sees me there
When I’m standing on the mountain I didn’t get there on my own
When I’m walking through the valley I know I am not alone
You’re God of the hills and valleys, hills and valleys
God of the hills and valleys
And I am not alone

I’ve watched my dreams get broken
In You I hope again
No matter what
I know I’m safe inside Your hands

(chorus)
On the mountains I will bow my life to the One who set me there
In the valley I will lift my eyes to the One who sees me there
When I’m standing on the mountain I didn’t get there on my own
When I’m walking through the valley I know I am not alone
You’re God of the hills and valleys, hills and valleys
God of the hills and valleys
And I am not alone

Father You give and take away
Every joy and every pain
Through it all You will remain over it all

On the mountains I will bow my life
In the valley I will lift my eyes

(chorus)
On the mountains I will bow my life to the One who set me there
In the valley I will lift my eyes to the One who sees me there
When I’m standing on the mountain I didn’t get there on my own
When I’m walking through the valley I know I am not alone
You’re God of the hills and valleys, hills and valleys
God of the hills and valleys
And I am not alone

And I will choose to say
Blessed be Your name
And I am not alone

Publishing:© 2016 Be Essential Songs/Crucial Music Entertainment/Jord A Lil Music (BMI)/So Essential Tunes/Not Just Another Song Publishing (SESAC) All rights admin. at http://www.EssentialMusicPublishing.com
Writer(s): Tauren Wells, Chuck Butler, Jonathan Smith

Discussion

To give this song its best possible construction, we have to assume this song is being sung by a Believer, a member of the Household of Faith in Jesus Christ, and that this song is referencing Him. The statements being made in this song are reflective of several of the Psalms.

Psalm 23 (ESV) | The Lord Is My Shepherd
A Psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.

Psalm 3 (ESV) | Save Me, O My God
A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.

O Lord, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me;
many are saying of my soul,
“There is no salvation for him in God.” Selah
But you, O Lord, are a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head.
I cried aloud to the Lord,
and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah
I lay down and slept;
I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.
I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
who have set themselves against me all around.
Arise, O Lord!
Save me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
you break the teeth of the wicked.
Salvation belongs to the Lord;
your blessing be on your people! Selah

There are more related Psalms we could discuss, but I think these 2 cover the song well. I would also encourage the reader to examine Psalm 65. In reading through the Psalms selecting good sources for this song, the clear proclamation of the Gospel in this Psalm really struck me, particularly in the very first stanza:

Psalm 65:1-4 (ESV) | O God of Our Salvation
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. A Song.

Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion,
and to you shall vows be performed.
O you who hear prayer,
to you shall all flesh come.
When iniquities prevail against me,
you atone for our transgressions.
Blessed is the one you choose and bring near,
to dwell in your courts!
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house,
the holiness of your temple!

Amen.

So, in the introduction, I connected this song to the promise of God to always be with us, those who have been baptized into His death and resurrection unto eternal life. I was pulling primarily from the close of the Great Commission.

Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV)

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Conclusion

As I said in the intro, I genuinely like this song. I find no fault in the individual statements made throughout the song. These are a valid source of encouragement for the doctrinally sound Christian. They aren’t particularly instructive in themselves, but they are not untrue. I think the author does a good job of mitigating the “me” focus with reminders of God’s willing and working. It’s a good song. It doesn’t meet our “approved” criteria of having the Gospel in it. If you are concerned or confused by this designation, be sure to check out our Music Archive page for more info.

In closing, I’d like to share what is commonly referred to as Christ’s High Priestly Prayer from the Gospel according to John. Christ prays for the Apostles and for us, the Church, who’ve come to saving faith in Christ Jesus through their teaching.

John 17 (ESV) | The High Priestly Prayer

When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “Beloved” by Jordan Feliz

disapproveCCM Edition.

June 13, 2017. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Beloved” by Jordan Feliz which currently sits at #6 on 20TheCountdownMagazine.

Today’s song is a good example of how presenting a “nice” song as a “christian” song creates a problem of unclear messaging. Our purpose here is to examine these top-charting CCM songs for Gospel content and sound, Christian, doctrine. If you’re just looking for “nice songs” to listen to for entertainment, there are such songs in every musical genre both secular and ostensibly “christian” radio stations. This song is generally pretty, and nice, but does not teach sound doctrine.

JordanFelizVEVO

Lyrics (via KLove)

Head full of questions, how can you measure up to deserve affection, to ever be enough
For this existence, when did it get so hard your heart is beating, alive and breathing and there’s a reason why
You are essential, not accidental and you should realize

(chorus)
You are beloved
I wanted you to know you are beloved
Let it soak into your soul
Forget the lies you heard, rise above the hurt and listen to these words
You are beloved
I want you to know you are beloved you are beloved

Sometimes a heart can, feel like a heavy weight it pulls you under, and you just fall away
Is anybody gonna hear you call but there’s a purpose, under the surface
And you don’t have to drown let me remind you, that love will find you
Let it lift you out

(chorus)
You are beloved I wanted you to know
You are beloved let it soak into your soul
Forget the lies you heard, rise above the hurt and listen to these words
You are beloved I want you to know
You are beloved you are beloved

Don’t be afraid, don’t let hope fade keep your eyes fixed on the light above
In the heartbreak, in your mistakes nothing can separate you from love
Don’t be afraid, don’t let hope fade keep your eyes fixed on the light above
In the heartbreak, in your mistakes nothing can separate you from love

(chorus)
You are beloved I wanted you to know
You are beloved let it soak into your soul
Forget the lies you heard, rise above the hurt and listen to these words
You are beloved I want you to know you are beloved
You are beloved you are beloved

Don’t be afraid, don’t let hope fade keep your eyes fixed on the light above
In the heartbreak, in your mistakes nothing can separate you from love

Publishing: © 2015 CentricSongs (SESAC) / Colby Wedgworth Music & Fair Trade Music Publishers (ASCAP) / Annie and Clyde Music (ASCAP)
Writer(s): Words and Music by Jordan Feliz, Colby Wedgeworth and Paul Dun

Discussion

So let’s begin the discussion by acknowledging that God is nowhere found in the lyric of this song. This song was written about Christians being God’s beloved, though that is undoubtedly how the song is being portrayed and played on Christian airwaves. The song is written for Jordan’s daughter, Jolie. Here is a bit from an interview from 2015:

Hallels:  I believe the title cut “Beloved” was written for your daughter.  Tell us a little about your family and why you decide to write a song for your daughter.
Jordan: My wife and I met when we were both 15 years old and dated long distance for the first four and a half years. When she turned 20 she moved to California, a year later we were engaged and a year after that we were married. We had a beautiful little girl named Jolie nine weeks ago and she has completely rocked our world. I did write the title track for Jolie. After realizing that we were having a little girl I kept thinking about how much I was gonna love her, but the thought of what the world was gonna tell her kept coming to mind also. Things like ‘you’re not pretty enough,’ or ‘you’re not skinny enough.’ The list goes on and on. I wanted to write her a song that let her know no matter what this world tells her, she is loved not only by me, but by the savior of the world. Now that I understand the love a father feels for his child, I have found a whole new respect for God’s love for us. So even though ‘Beloved’ is written for Jolie, it holds meaning for the way Christ feels about us!

Sweet story of a father excited about his daughter. That’s wonderful. He wrote this song for her. He was worried about how the world will mistreat her and lie to her. It’s true, the world will hate her as it hates us. So let’s discuss this first as an encouragement for our children.

Jordan sets up the problem of a world that is going to lie to his daughter, that she’s not pretty enough or skinny enough, that she’s not good enough. We see this concern echoed in the first lines of the song, “how can you measure up to deserve affection, to ever be enough for this existence…” The answer he’s providing for his daughter is his assurance that no matter what the world says of her, she is beloved. As parents, this is natural to our way of thinking, “just know that I love you” and this should be enough. While the messages “I love you” and “you are loved” are vitally important for our children to hear and accept growing up, they don’t make everything go away. Frankly, my daughter knowing I love her isn’t always going to be enough for her to wrestle with the world. The chorus also tells her to “forget the lies” and “rise up from the hurt”. Okay, but the problem with these lies is that they are easily internalized and become less and less obviously untrue. Our children are going to need more. They need Christ and Him crucified for our sin, resurrected and seated at the Right hand of the Father, interceding for them, washing them, reconciling them, returning for them. Jordan doesn’t quite go the full route to encouraging his daughter in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He gets vague enough to hint at it a bit with quasi-spiritual phrases like “Let it soak into your soul” (where “it” means “that you are beloved”) and “keep your eyes fixed on the light above”. Well, okay, sure… the world often refers to “the man upstairs” and several spiritual people make references to divine light. This vague spiritualeze doesn’t point to Christ or His promises and it doesn’t intrinsically empower a young lady to ignore the lies of the world and focus on her earthly father’s love. Jordan is young and is quite the artist type, so he’s grown up in an age where “self-esteem” and “self-worth” are the hallmarks of a healthy individual.

The song is a fatherly love song, an encouragement to rest in the knowledge that daddy loves her. That’s a good thing. There is nothing wrong with that. If anything, it is incomplete and lacking in objective promises. When your feelings betray you, looking to your feelings is a dead-end. It’s a rare person who can compel herself to feel differently on command. We need objective truths, objectively discernible promises for us to take refuge under and to take comfort in. We look to the external Word of God for this purpose.

2 Timothy 1:3-14 (ESV)

I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me. Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.

Paul is writing to Timothy as a spiritual son, and makes clear reference to Timothy’s faithful upbringing. This is taking the message of “you are beloved” to a greater and more concrete level than merely, “know that I love you”. This is a very touching love song, but stays in the shallow end with Bruno Mars’ “Just the way you are”. Come to think of it, Bruno’s lyrics actually had more promises to hold onto, though it is decidedly more romantic in nature.

Now to the matter of why we do these DiM posts, why these songs are played on Christian radio stations that claim to be Gospel ministries. Jordan is well aware of how this song will be played on this album as he makes his closing statement about the song, “So even though ‘Beloved’ is written for Jolie, it holds meaning for the way Christ feels about us!” Perhaps this holds true for a generic idea of God, but the One True God has revealed His love for us in such a substantial, objective, and far superior way than merely affirming that we are “beloved”.

1 John 3:1-3 (ESV) See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

1 John 3:16 (ESV) By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

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.

Ephesians 5:1-2 (ESV) Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ must not be minimized and distilled into merely “something you need to believe so you don’t go to hell”… it is the very definition of Love, of God’s Grace and Mercy to us, our adoption as sons and daughters into the Kingdom of Heaven, the Household of Faith, heirs and joint heirs with Christ. This song doesn’t proclaim the Gospel. Doesn’t even point at it. At best it could be allegorized into a generic appeal to some benevolent deity, but it doesn’t clearly proclaim the One True God. And it wasn’t initially intended to be. On this point, my ire is not pointed at Jordan, but the CCM industry. All of the times I’ve heard this song played on the radio, I’ve never heard a DJ point out that this song was written to his daughter. That’s some important context, I think. It at least keeps the song firmly in the realm of earthly entertainment and “feelz”.

Conclusion

As a fatherly love song, this song isn’t bad. Too vague for my liking, but it’s not bad. The dude has a great voice and the production quality is very good, very polished. But these DiM posts aren’t about whether or not a song has artistic merit. This is about looking for a proclamation of the Gospel in songs that are topping the CCM charts. In that regard, this song is disapproved. Yes, God loves us, and no, that isn’t the Gospel.

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.

So, while this is a generally nice song, it fails the test of teaching sound doctrine, particularly that of the Gospel.

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

DiM | “Unfinished” by Mandisa

disapproveCCM Edition.

June 7, 2017. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Unfinished” by Mandisa which currently sits at #5 on 20TheCountdownMagazine.

Today’s song by Mandisa continues in her line of motivational and inspirational anthems aimed at boosting the listener’s self esteem and offering what the world keeps calling “empowerment”. We’ll address the biblical concept the song is trying to convey, by way of a best possible construction, but on its own this song does not stand. Not only is the Gospel not in this one, the focus of the song is on the christian rather than the cross. Let’s check out the lyric video and then work through the lyric.

Official Lyric Video

Lyric (via KLove)

​Not scared to say it
I used to be the one
Preaching it to you
That you could overcome
I still believe it
But it ain’t easy

‘Cause that world I painted
Where things just all work out
It started changing
And I started having doubts
And it got me so down

But I picked myself back up
And I started telling me
No, my God’s not done
Making me a masterpiece
He’s still working on me

He started something good
And I’m gonna believe it
He started something good
And He’s gonna complete it
So I’ll celebrate the truth
His work in me ain’t through
I’m just unfinished

I know His history
And the kind of God He is
He might make it a mystery
But He’s proven I can trust in Him
And yeah, I believe it

Still working
Still, still working on me
He’s still working
Still, still working on me

Publishing: Ariose Music / 9t One Songs (Admin. at CapitolCMGPublishing.com) / Colby Wedgeworth Music / Fair Trade Publishing (ASCAP) (Admin. by Music Services)
Writer(s): Ben Glover and Colby Wedgeworth

Discussion

We can assume the target audience is the singer’s fan base or listeners, ostensibly Christian. The opening lines of the song serve as a bit of a confession that the singer used to proclaim the “overcomer” message, but times got tough. She assures us that she still believes in the message she preached, but it’s tough. The picture of the world she had painted for her listeners started changing and it took her down. This is the setup of the song, that the artist has now experienced disappointment in life, but she’s not letting go of her message. I really wish the message was the Gospel of Grace and Forgiveness in Jesus’ Name, but this song is more a revivalist anthem. Theology of glory.

The turn in the narrative of this story happens in the first verse, though. We don’t have to wait for after the first chorus, the artist doesn’t want to dwell in defeat. This is an anthem, after all. It’s the turn that has me the most worried. But I picked myself back up
And I started telling me… who turned it around for her? She did. Who started talking to her? She did. On the surface level this falls into our pop-culture’s hyper-individualism, where I make the calls, I seek my own truth, I decide what’s real and what’s not… me. The visible church has absorbed much of this through the Revivalist movements of the early 1800s and 1900s by focusing on “a direct, personal relationship with God” as of higher importance and significance that orthodoxy. From here on out in the lyric there are many mentions of work God is doing, going to do, in the artist, but the credit for holding onto those promises is given to the artist in this turn. She picked herself up. She gave herself a pep talk. And now she’s motivating you.

Unfinished. There is a sense in which this theme of us being unfinished, or with God not being finished with us yet rings true, and that is in the context of the Last Day, passing from this temporal life into eternity. That is not the context of this song’s narrative, but I want to pause that for right now. Let’s look at the Apostle Paul’s opening in his letter to the church in Philipi.

Philippians 1:1-11 (ESV)

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

I’ve highlighted the verse that first comes to mind when the topic of “unfinished” popped up in the song, but notice how that verse ends. Where is the completion of this work? At the day of Jesus Christ. Paul’s focus is in eternity. Paul isn’t doing concert tours here… he’s in prison. As we continue in the letter:

Philippians 1:12-14 (ESV)

I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

Paul’s comfort is in the advancement of the Gospel. Paul’s imprisonment is for Christ, and the church has become more bold to speak the Word without fear. And to finish out the opening introduction of this letter, let’s move forward a bit:

Philippians 1:21-30 (ESV)

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again. Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

Notice Paul is encouraging the church to stand as one body, united in the faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is no room for hyper-individualism. The Body of Christ is made up of many members (Romans 12).

So, with respect to the idea of us being “unfinished”, or God not yet being finished with us, this is Biblically true in the eternal sense. We will not see completion in this life. In this life we still struggle with our own sinful flesh and the corruption to which all of creation is enslaved as a result of sin. So, if the artist is preaching a world “where things just all work out” in an eternal sense by the Grace of Jesus Christ Our Lord and Savior, she does well. But this song seems focused on this temporal life and our earthly circumstances.

Regarding the Gospel, however, I take exception to the notion of God being “unfinished” with me. To my mind, this notion runs directly counter to the proclamation made by our LORD in His final breath on the cross, “Τετέλεσται“.

John 19:30 (ESV) When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Conclusion

While I appreciate the desire to motivate Christians to persevere in the faith and unity in the Gospel, this song follows the worldly model of encouragement and “empowerment” we see in songs like Katy Perry’s Roar, though at least Mandisa is appealing to God as a source rather than her own femininity. What is missing from the song is an eternal anchor and a clear appeal to the Truth of the Gospel, that in Christ we have forgiveness of sin and assurance of salvation. This focus on the temporal circumstances actually distracts from the eternal maters of far greater import than our fleeting vocational successes, trials, set-backs, and struggles. In this life we will face trials of many kinds… but our Hope is in the LORD, who declared “It is finished”. Those of us in the household of Faith are strangers in this life, hated by the world who first hated Christ. We are not promised success and victory in this temporary life.

“Self empowerment” and “self motivation” is empty and unstable. This is a major problem of revivalism… it looks to law-keeping as a source of hope and comfort. No matter how many times you re-commit yourself to believe more, stand more firmly, do more, sin less… you will fail and fall short. The truth is that by God’s Grace we don’t fully see and understand the depth of our depravity. As we grow in faith, the Holy Spirit reveals more and more of just how wretched our flesh is, and this He does to demonstrate more and more what Christ took upon Himself on that cross in our place, securing for us reconciliation with God in eternity.

1 Peter 1:3-12 (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.

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

-Jorge

DiM | “Oh My Soul” by Casting Crowns

Presentation1CCM Edition.

April 17, 2017. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Oh My Soul” by Casting Crowns which currently sits at #12 on 20TheCountdownMagazine.

This song and the heartfelt discussion with Mark Hall are a great example of the limitations of finding assurance inside of yourself when you are the one who has been rocked by trials. Revivalism doesn’t leave anywhere to go except “try harder, hold on longer, lay it all down”. It’s a beautiful song from a real place of hurt and struggle. But it lacks clear answers and solid assurance in the external Word of God. I’ll do my best to bear this out. There are also some statements in the song that I think are unhelpful, biblically speaking. Let’s listen to the song and let Mark Hall explain the story behind it. Then we’ll work through the lyric.

Official Lyric Video

Story Behind the Song with Mark Hall

Lyrics (via KLOVE)

Oh, my soul
Oh, how you worry
Oh, how you’re weary, from fearing you lost control
This was the one thing, you didn’t see coming
And no one would blame you, though
If you cried in private
If you tried to hide it away, so no one knows
No one will see, if you stop believing

Oh, my soul
You are not alone
There’s a place where fear has to face the God you know
One more day, He will make a way
Let Him show you how, you can lay this down
‘Cause you’re not alone

Here and now
You can be honest
I won’t try to promise that someday it all works out
‘Cause this is the valley
And even now, He is breathing on your dry bones
And there will be dancing
There will be beauty where beauty was ash and stone
This much I know

Oh, my soul
You are not alone
There’s a place where fear has to face the God you know
One more day, He will make a way
Let Him show you how, you can lay this down

I’m not strong enough, I can’t take anymore
(You can lay it down, you can lay it down)
And my shipwrecked faith will never get me to shore
(You can lay it down, you can lay it down)
Can He find me here
Can He keep me from going under

Oh, my soul
You’re not alone
There’s a place where fear has to face the God you know
One more day, He will make a way
Let Him show you how, you can lay this down
‘Cause you’re not alone
Oh, my soul, you’re not alone

Publishing: © 2016 Be Essential Songs (BMI) (adm. at EssentialMusicPublishing.com)/My Refuge Music (BMI) (adm. at CapitolCMGPublishing.com)/Songs of Universal, Inc. (BMI)/G650 Music (BMI)
Writer(s): Mark Hall, Bernie Herms

Discussion

So let us begin our discussion with the video of Mark sharing the story behind the song. Cancer is rough. Cancer is a product of the fall and the curse of sin on all of creation. When I was young, I watched my father battle cancer for 7 years. The LORD showed mercy on our family by healing my dad. The doctors had only given him 1 year to live. This was almost 30 years ago. While this was a truly dark period of my childhood, and a scary time in our lives, and while God did heal my father… our theology as a family did not come out soundly. During this time, we fell into the NAR under Bill Hamon, and my parents are still caught up in this system. That God heals is a wonderful act of grace and mercy upon us, but it isn’t a sign that our theology is right. We know that our theology is right when it lines up with what the Written Word of God teaches. Mark references something King David wrote. Let’s look at Psalms 42 and 43.

Psalm 42 (ESV) | Why Are You Cast Down, O My Soul?

To the choirmaster. A Maskil of the Sons of Korah.
42 As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
3 My tears have been my food
day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”
4 These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
a multitude keeping festival.
5 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation 6 and my God.
My soul is cast down within me;
therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
from Mount Mizar.
7 Deep calls to deep
at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
have gone over me.
8 By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.
9 I say to God, my rock:
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?”
10 As with a deadly wound in my bones,
my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”
11 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God.

Psalm 43 (ESV) | Send Out Your Light and Your Truth

43 Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause
against an ungodly people,
from the deceitful and unjust man
deliver me!
2 For you are the God in whom I take refuge;
why have you rejected me?
Why do I go about mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?
3 Send out your light and your truth;
let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
and to your dwelling!
4 Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God my exceeding joy,
and I will praise you with the lyre,
O God, my God.
5 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God.

So, a minor point here is that this was probably not a Psalm of David; rather, it was by the sons of Korah, who were among those David placed in charge of the service of song at the Tabernacle (1 Chronicles 6:31-48). The 43 Psalm is a conclusion or extended answer to Psalm 42. Read through the struggles and you’ll see that this refrain, “Why are you cast down, O my soul…” is a call to place your trust not in your own strength but to Hope in God. I think Mark Hall gets this mostly right, but there’s still this focus on “what I need to do to endure until God steps in” that I think is missing the point. The goodness, kindness, and mercy of God isn’t contingent upon whether or not He sees fit to heal us (or a loved one) of cancer or rescue us from prison in this temporal life. These Psalms aren’t telling us to somehow realign our faith and “things will get better”. They are telling us to Hope in God who is our Salvation. This is looking long-range, the consolation of Israel and beyond, to the Return of Christ Jesus.

1 Peter 1:3-12 (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.

As long as we push goal line beyond our temporal horizons and place our trust in God for our eternal salvation, this song bears good encouragement. The problem area in this song is when we try to apply eternal promises to temporal situations. God hasn’t promised temporal healing or prosperity… He has promised these things to His Church in Eternity. Now, let’s look at the lyric of the song.

Verse 1. Well, it’s honest. As a youth Pastor in American Evangelicalism, he’s supposed to have all of the answers. He is supposed to have it all figured out. Sure, we want him to admit he has “struggles, trials, doubts” because that’s how we want our church leaders to present themselves, but they are supposed to be living the triumphant Christian life. That’s why they can teach about “5 steps to overcoming {insert bad habit}” or “One thing you can do to hear God’s voice” or “how to know when God is opening that door”, etc. Youth Pastors don’t teach what the Word of God says, they are expected to teach the youth how to apply God’s Word to their every day lives. At least, that’s how the evangelical industrial complex and those who push these “leadership training” conferences at mega churches would lead us to think is expected of dynamic youth leaders. In that system or paradigm of “doing church”, it is indeed understandable for someone to consider hiding the fact that such a terrible calamity has fallen upon you, the youth leader, and it has completely rocked your world and plummeted you into despair. Or let’s kick it up a notch, and say that instead of a seemingly random calamity of cancer, instead the leader realizes he’s caught up in grave sin. Maybe it’s that DUI, drug or alcohol addiction, or maybe it’s that one-night-stand, or homosexual temptation, or maybe it’s a secret sexual relationship suddenly comes to light or produces a pregnancy? These are all major problems currently wrecking havoc on the visible church here in the west (Perry Noble, Clayton Jennings, and Tullian Tchvidjian). Why am I including these problems when Mark Hall was only writing about his battle with despair over his diagnosis of cancer? The lyric of the song is general and doesn’t specify the source of the singer’s sorrow. In that vagueness, which is intended to cover a variety of situations similar to what the writer is thinking about, there is a lot of room for sloppy application of this song to comfort folks without confronting their sin.

Chorus. There’s a place where fear has to face the God you know. It sounds profound. What happens when the God you know isn’t really the God of the Scriptures, but is the product of revivalism and false promises pushed by folks on TBN or presented by Joel Osteen? While there is room for inner monologue, a sense of reminding ourselves to look to God for our salvation for He is our salvation, it’s not enough to keep looking within for that encouragement. When it is our very soul that is downcast, what good is it to look within our soul for the God we know to lay down our fear? It’s the equivalent of telling someone else to “snap out of it” when they are legitimately stricken with grief. That sort of thing only works with a person who is foolishly grieving. Genuine grief isn’t so easily shaken. They need hope, they need the Gospel preached to them from an external source, something that isn’t contingent upon their internal struggling, they need to hear it from the Written Word of God. Where God has placed His promises. One more day, He will make a way. I think this is my least favorite line in this song. It’s an empty promise fueled by a misunderstanding of the Gospel. Firstly, there’s no guarantee that God’s way isn’t to let the person die. Secondly, the hope of the Gospel isn’t to “hold on for one more day”, it’s to know right now, today, I’m forgiven of my sin in Jesus’ Name. It is the Biblical assurance of my salvation through Faith in Christ Jesus and His finished work on the Cross that grants me the strength to die in peace, or hold on for one more day, or one more decade, whatever the LORD has ordained for me in this temporal life. This thought is somewhat addressed in the next verse with the line, “I won’t try to promise that someday it all works out” but it ends up feeling like double-speak. What is being expressed is a “just hold out for one more day” motivation. He’s trying not to promise that anything good will happen in that next day while simultaneously pushing for a motivation to hold on one more day. Just preach the Gospel, encourage the listener to keep their faith firmly planted and rooted in the Promise of eternity.

Verse 2. The song continues with the honesty thing of sharing doubts and reservations. We already acknowledged the attempt to caveat the promise of temporal resolution to whatever circumstance. Very tired of these revivalist artists continuing to eisegete Ezekiel 37.  God clearly provided the interpretation of that vision in that chapter. Please read it. If you are a believer, it is only because God has raised you from the dead state of sin you were in. He did that already by His Grace and Mercy, granting you saving faith.

Bridge. The point here is to turn from the honesty of having doubt to an anthem of encouragement, to pick yourself back up and be motivated to shake off the despair of the soul. The reference to the shipwrecked faith here isn’t good. Within the revivalism of the modern church, he’s talking about faith as the will do do what is good. That’s not really the Biblical definition of Faith, and when the Bible talks about shipwrecked faith, Paul is writing concerning those who’ve been led astray by false teachers (1 Tim 1). A shipwrecked faith needs the clear preaching of Law and Gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit to bring such a person to contrition and faith.

James 5:19-20 (ESV) My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

Conclusion

It’s a beautiful song, and my heart goes out to Mark Hall and his family. Cancer is scary for everyone involved. I pray that LORD continue to show grace and mercy to him and his family. I can genuinely appreciate the honesty in this song, and CCM could use more honest writing concerning real doubts and fears we face in this fallen world. However, that alone doesn’t make it a great song for Christian edification as there is no clear pointing to the Gospel. The listener is pointed to his own efforts to submit his fear to his faith in the God he knows. The song falls in that “hang in there” vein. I think the song also lacks clarity in distinguishing the anguish of the soul that results from conviction of unrepentant sin or false teaching from the anguish of earthly trials and struggles such as cancer. The listener has to do a lot of work to keep the song within Biblical limits. It can be done. For the listener who regularly hears the preached Word of God rightly divided (both Law and Gospel), this song can bring encouragement in times of struggle.

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 | “Home” by Chris Tomlin

Presentation1CCM Edition.

April 4, 2017. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Home” by Chris Tomlin which currently sits at #11 on 20TheCountdownMagazine.

Today’s song is a refreshing change from the CCM norm, in that it rightly focuses on the eternal Promise of the Gospel. Too often we find CCM attempt to encourage listeners by ripping promises out of eternity and misappropriating them into this temporal life. Tomlin doesn’t do that here, so I’m happy to review this song with the sole purpose of filling out the theology, what Scripture teaches, in this song to better equip the listener. For the right audience, this song is a welcome encouragement. For the unbeliever who rejects the idea that he has sinned, this song offers nothing to correct him, the Law is not preached in this song. We’ll look at the Law in this review to set the stage for the Gospel in all of its sweetness.

ChrisTomlinVEVO

Lyrics (via Genius)

[Verse 1]
This world is not what it was meant to be
All this pain, all this suffering
There’s a better place waiting for me
In heaven

Every tear will be wiped away
Every sorrow and sin erased
We’ll dance on seas of amazing grace
In heaven, in heaven
I’m going

[Chorus 1]
Home
Where the streets are golden
Every chain is broken
Oh I wanna go
Oh I wanna go

Home
Where every fear is gone
I’m in Your open arms
Where I belong
Home

[Verse 2]
Lay down my burdens, I lay down my past
I run to Jesus, no turning back
Thank God Almighty, I’ll be free at last
In heaven, in heaven
I’m going

[Chorus 2]
Home
Where the streets are golden
Every chain is broken
Oh I wanna go
Oh I wanna go

Home
Where every fear is gone
I’m in Your open arms
Where I belong

[Bridge]
Blinded eyes
Will finally see
The dead will rise
On the shores of eternity

The trump will sound
The angels will sing
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
I am goin’

[Chorus 2]
Home
Where the streets are golden
Every chain is broken
Oh I wanna go
Oh I wanna go

Home
Where every fear is gone
I’m in Your open arms
Where I belong
Where I belong

[Outro]
I’m goin’ Home
I’m goin’ Home
I’m on my way Home
I’m goin’ Home

Discussion

Overall, there is indeed some encouragement to be found in the song. There are some details I do want to run through in the lyrics, though.

Verse 1. The world is in a far worse state than even this first verse captures. My main issue is with the language of intended to be. The world was created perfect. It was created by a perfect God to be His perfect creation. Man sinned against God and brought judgment upon all of creation. Since the song spends so much time on the Promise of eternity, we’re going to spend some extra time here in the problem of sin and how we brought on the curse.

Genesis 3:17-19 (ESV)

And to Adam [GOD] said,
“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”

Genesis 5:28-29 (ESV) When Lamech had lived 182 years, he fathered a son and called his name Noah, saying, “Out of the ground that the Lord has cursed, this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands.”

Genesis 6:5-8 (ESV) The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

Before we move on, it is critical to note exactly how bad things had become and whose fault it was… ours. I urge you to consider also that mankind has not improved at all, but has indeed become worse. This is before Sodom and Gomorrah, before Nineveh, before Nero, Stalin, Hitler, before ISIS. All of mankind bears responsibility for this sin, for every intention of the thoughts of his heart is only evil continually. This is original sin.

Romans 1:28-32 (ESV) And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips,slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Romans 8:20-22 (ESV) 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. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.

I know there is more to this verse but I’m going to move straight into a shortfall of this song that is found in its Chorus/Refrain. As we see in this last Romans passage, the Apostle Paul is pointing out that it isn’t merely us who are suffering from the effects of sin, but the whole of creation suffers. It was subjected to futility. The whole creation has been groaning together. All of creation will be redeemed by Christ. How are we reconciled to God? Through His Son, Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:16-21 (ESV) From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 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 next lines in the first verse jump to the Promise of an end to sin and tears, but it’s not just about spending the rest of eternity in heaven, God has Promised to create a New Heaven and a New Earth. All of Creation made new without sin.

Revelation 21:1-8 (ESV) | The New Heaven and the New Earth

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.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

Amen. This is home, not just us being in Heaven to see God face to face, that will indeed happen, but that God will make His dwelling place with us in the New Earth. THAT is our home in eternity, by the Grace of God through Faith in Christ Jesus.

1 Peter 1:3-12 (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.

Chorus. So, bearing in mind Revelation 21, we see the only shortfall in the chorus of the song is it stops prematurely. Yes, we will be with God in heaven, but in the end, He will make His dwelling with us in the New Earth. Tomlin isn’t wrong about the saints going to heaven, he just doesn’t carry the thought all the way to its end.

Verse 2. There are a couple of passages we can draw on to bring clarity to the line “lay down my burdens, lay down my past“. Beginning with the second phrase in that line, I think the author is pulling from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians.

Philippians 3:12-14 (ESV) Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

The other passage examines the sin nature that we all carry in our flesh. While we have been born from above, baptized into Christ, our sin washed away in the waters of our baptism, our flesh yet remains until we die or until Christ returns (whichever happens first). Scripture doesn’t encourage us to improve our flesh; rather, it urges us to lay it down, to mortify it, to crucify it in repentance of Faith.

Romans 6:1-11 (ESV) What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. or if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:1-11 (ESV) There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

1 John 1:6-10 (ESV) If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Conclusion

While this song doesn’t clearly present the Gospel, I did find encouragement in it. We’ve taken the time here to expand on what the scriptures have to say regarding eternity, and specifically what our sin has earned us and what our sin has done to all of creation. Our “Approved” category is really for songs that have a clear declaration of Law and Gospel. While this song falls short in that regard, it is nonetheless a good song for encouraging the believing listener with the Promise of eternity in Jesus Christ, our LORD.

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