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

Presentation1CCM Radio Edition.

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

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

Video

Lyric (via KLove)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Discussion

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

While I was a slave to sin
Jesus died for me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

Ephesians 1:1-2:10 (ESV)

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

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

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

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

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

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “You Say” by Lauren Daigle

disapproveCCM Radio Edition.

October 02, 2018. Today we’ll be taking a look at “You Say” by Lauren Daigle which currently sits at #1 on the Top20 chart at 20theCountdownMagazine.

Lauren Daigle is a gifted singer with an amazing voice. She could sing the menu at McDonald’s and keep my attention… and probably move me to order a meal as a result. It’s too bad she has been taught a version of “Christianity” that praises “me and my identity” rather than Christ crucified for our sin. This song falls into the category of “theology of glory” rather than a Theology of the Cross. I’m sure there will many who read this and try very hard to fix the theology of the song by eisegeting (adding to the text) the full preaching of Law and Gospel, but this isn’t about what we can turn the song into; rather, this is about what is in the song. Based on what we find in the lyric of this song, it falls well into the category of Disapproved.

Video

Lyrics (via K-Love)

I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough
Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up
Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low
Remind me once again just who I am, because I need to know

You say I am loved
When I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong
When I think I am weak
You say I am held
When I am falling short
When I don’t belong
You say I am Yours
And I believe
I believe
What You say of me
I believe

The only thing that matters now is everything You think of me
In You I find my worth, in You I find my identity

Taking all I have and now I’m laying it at Your feet
You have every failure, God, and You’ll have every victory

Oh, I believe
Yes, I believe
What You say of me
Oh, I believe

Publishing: © 2018 See You At The Pub & CentricSongs (SESAC) / So Essential Tunes & Fellow Ships Music (SESAC) / Flychild Publishing & So Essential Tunes (SESAC)
Words and Music by Lauren Daigle, Jason Ingram and Paul Mabury

Discussion

Verse 1. I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough So from the beginning we start with a presentation of the problem. Inner voices saying “I’m not enough”. Everyone can relate to this thought of “not being enough”… you don’t even have to be Christian to have these thoughts. Heck, even Nike plays on this theme… their solution “just do it”. Let’s see if the song gives us something more specific. Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up Is this a lie? Depends on what is being measured and by what standard. If you’ve read through some DiM, you probably know where I’m headed with this, so let’s finish out the verse. “Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low Remind me once again just who I am, because I need to know” Now here we get a typical minimization of the problem of sin as merely “a low” but greater than that error is the overall focus of the problem in the first verse and where the singer is turning for the solution. The focus of the problem is “how I measure up” being different from all of the lies being told her. She’s going to attempt to convey a gospel without acknowledging the truth… that we don’t measure up, that we aren’t enough, and if we were the sum of only our highs we’d STILL fall short of the Glory of God, which is the standard of the Law.

James 2:10-13 (ESV) For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Romans 3:21-26 (ESV) But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

We cannot move on to the Gospel by skipping the Law. The Gospel doesn’t invalidate the Law, it is the answer to the Law. The only answer.

Chorus. The chorus is a string of platitudes supposedly God’s affirmation of “me” despite anything I might think of myself, feel of myself, or am told about myself. The singer is leaving a lot of room for the listener to read him/herself into the lyric and finding “encouragement” in these platitudes… but, again, we’ve completely skipped what the Law has clearly revealed about us in our fallen, human nature.

You say I am loved

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.”

When I can’t feel a thing relying on emotion to discern truth is an error. At least, in this case, the song is indicating that our feelings lie.

You say I am strong When I think I am weak We don’t just think we are weak, we ARE weak.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (ESV) But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

1 Corinthians 1:26-29 (ESV) For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.

You say I am held When I am falling short Right back to emotional language. We’ve already addressed the fact of Scripture that all have fallen short due to sin. This isn’t merely a “past tense” situation… this is true “today” for Christians, we sin and fall short daily. Now, there is room here for a greater discussion of where Christians look for comfort. A careful reading of John 16 is a great place to look. Jesus is preparing the Disciples for what is about to come and already teaching them (and us) the role of God the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit isn’t an emotion or a feeling, but a Person of the Trinity, God the Holy Spirit.

John 16:7-15 (ESV) Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

What remains in the Chorus is filler, emotional manipulation in mystical form (repetition of self-affirming platitutes) to a soothing score as if to communicate to the listener that “this is the answer”. The focus is “belief”, but not clearly belief in Christ the Son; rather, a belief in what the singer is saying God says of “me”.

Verse 2. This isn’t a full verse… it’s designed to add some thoughts and loop right back into the chorus. “The only thing that matters now is everything You think of me In You I find my worth, in You I find my identity” So the singer is reinforcing her proposed solution to the stated problem of the lying voices of doubt in myself. But this problem has been so poorly framed, that now we’re also jettisoning what Scripture clearly teaches to be true of us… that we’re sinners who fall short daily and we need to be forgiven of our sin. Typical of CCM, this song tries to affirm the listener’s “self esteem” without preaching Law and Gospel. Trying to share the Gospel while skipping over and even ignoring the Law doesn’t work… because the Old Adam (your sinful flesh) simply asserts its self-worship, the extolling of our own virtue, our own worth, with a thin veil of “this is how God thinks of me”. There is an errant view of Salvation at work here that ignores the simul (that we are simultaneously sinner and saint as Paul lays out in Romans 1-8). So that the Christian Life, rather than being a life of repentance, becomes a life of “meaning” or “worth”, that the point of being a Christian is finally “being someone” or “having value in God’s eyes”. Clearly these are by-products, so to speak, of Christ’s Saving work, but the focus of the Gospel is that Christ has paid the price for our sin, that He took our place on that cross to pay the full price of not only our sins before, but the sins we continue to commit in our weakened flesh (weakened by sin) until the Day of His Return, the Resurrection. This song’s focus is on “self-esteem” rather than on Repentance and the forgiveness of sin by Grace alone, through Faith in Christ alone. Self-esteem is what our sinful flesh is always craving, always self-justifying, always demanding… but a life of repentance is a denial of self.

Luke 9:23 (ESV) And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

Bridge. Taking all I have and now I’m laying it at Your feet You have every failure, God, and You’ll have every victory Well, this is mystical language. We aren’t actually “laying everything down”, this isn’t like the Israelites bringing their sacrifices to the Temple. What does it mean to bring God “every failure”? Well, if CCM had a proper understanding and doctrine of Sin, this wouldn’t be less ethereal and could simply be phrased as “Confession and repentance of sin and receiving the Absolution (Forgiveness of sin)”. God has every victory already, so we see this wrong notion that somehow God cannot bless us *unless* we let Him. Revivalists and Charismatics have this very strange (unbiblical) notion of a God who cannot do unless we let Him. Again, this is a theology of glory, in our glory, our sacrifice, our surrendering of… well, really just emotions and doubts of our own self worth? The context of the song is off-center, the Gospel isn’t that Christ died on the cross so that we can have better self-esteem.

The song closes out with a refrain that I believe what God says of me… this is like Joel Osteen’s pseudo-creed of “…this is my Bible, I am what it says I am…” The focus of the Scriptures is Christ, not us.

John 5:39-40 (ESV) You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

Conclusion

It’s little wonder how this song made it to the #1 position on the CCM charts. It’s all about pumping up the listener’s self-esteem by saying how awesome God says the listener is. No Law, no sin, no confession, no repentance, just a declaration of how awesome the listener is despite how the listener feels, what the listener think, or what anyone says about the listener. Who’s NOT going to want to hear that message sung by such an amazingly beautiful voice? Sadly, the doctrine at play is self-centered and quite carnal. This message of self affirmation is one the world proclaims daily… and it is dying in sin and trespasses. In the very first verse, the artist talks about the lie of “not measuring up”… but nowhere in the song does the artist clarify the measuring standard or how far we truly fall short, or that we do so daily. When you avoid the Law you leave no room for the Gospel.

Romans 16:24-27 (ESV) Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “I Just Need U” by TobyMac

Presentation1CCM Radio Edition.

May 04, 2018. Today we’ll be taking a look at “I Just Need U” by TobyMac which currently sits at #1 on the 20theCountdownMagazine.

This is probably one of the better TobyMac songs I’ve reviewed. I found the writing to be quite honest and well-intentioned. The Psalms he drew from weren’t being stretched out of context and the song doesn’t make false promises. This song finds itself on the positive side of the middle ground. It falls short of a full Approval because it lacked a clear Gospel, but at least it bore a confession of needing God. Let’s listen to the song and read the lyrics.

Video

Lyrics (via K-Love)

I Just Need U
I just need U.

Last night put the heavy on me
Woke up, and I’m feeling lonely
This world gotta a way of showin’ me
Some days it’ll lift you up
Some days it’ll call your bluff
Man, most of my days I ain’t got enough

And all I know is You’re my only hope

When I’m up, when I’m down
When the wolves come around
When my feet hit the ground
I just need, I just need U
On my darkest days, when I’m losing faith
No, it ain’t gonna change
I just need, I just need U
Lord, I need U
Yeah, I just need U

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I will fear no evil for thou art with me
Thy rod and thy staff …
They comfort me when I’m beat down broken
Hold my heart when it’s split wide-open
Turn these eyes to my sole protector
And break the will of this born defector

When You pull me closer I come to life

Ain’t no way this thing gon’ change, it’s U
I need on my darkest days, when I’m losing faith
I need U every single day, every breath I take
I need U

Publising: Achtober Songs (BMI) (Admin. at CapitolCMGPublishing.com) / So Essential Tunes / RELWOF (SESAC) (Admin. at EssentialMusicPublishing.com) / Blake NeeSmith Publishing Designee (BMI)
Writer(s): Toby McKeehan, Bryan Fowler, and Blake NeeSmith

Discussion

Overall, the song isn’t bad. The Premise of the song is a little bit wonky, as it seems to be a song about Toby dealing with popularity and the highs and lows of it all.

Verse 1. The first verse frames the discussion oddly.

Last night put the heavy on me
Woke up, and I’m feeling lonely
This world gotta a way of showin’ me
Some days it’ll lift you up
Some days it’ll call your bluff
Man, most of my days I ain’t got enough

The focus is on how he can’t live up to the world’s expectations but stops short of calling the world evil. We’re not seeing the problem of sin being set up here, just sort of a cry of not “being enough” or not “having enough”. The problem is in the underlying theology. This follows the notion that being a Christian means having access to power once we’ve reached the end of ourselves. We turn to God when we need a life raft as if we didn’t need Him long before we were aware of our need.

Chorus. Now, the chorus does include “when I’m up”, so one might argue that this clears the song of what I just pointed out as a problem. However, the emphasis on the first verse and the rest of the song is on being down.

When I’m up, when I’m down
When the wolves come around
When my feet hit the ground
I just need, I just need U
On my darkest days, when I’m losing faith
No, it ain’t gonna change
I just need, I just need U
Lord, I need U
Yeah, I just need U

For the most part, this is a good confession of an enduring need for God. Odd that it goes from the thought of “losing faith” to “it ain’t gonna change”… how is the artist attempting to resolve the thought of losing faith? I don’t think TobyMac knows quite what to do with that. I think that’s why TobyMac memes and most of his lyrics amount to “dedicate yourself harder”, “do more”, “love more”, “strive/endure/persevere”, etc.

Romans 10:11-17 (ESV) 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.

Galatians 3:2-9 (ESV) Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

I bring these passage up because they are critical to understanding Law and Gospel properly distinguished. In each letter, Paul is teaching these Churches (predominantly Gentiles) the proper distinction between Law and Gospel. Faith is a Gift from God working through His Word. Both saving faith and growing in faith, which is why I brought in the passage in Galatians. Too many treat the gift of faith as something necessary to “get saved” but then rely on works to grow to maturity. Paul rebukes that thoroughly. So, my point in bringing this here is that I genuinely believe TobyMac is looking for an answer to building faith in spite of trouble, and he keeps looking to the Law. I’m not calling him unsaved when I say the problem is that TobyMac needs to hear the Gospel preached to him and for him, today and every day of this life until Christ returns.

Verse 2. Toby pulls lines from Psalm 23. It’s a wonderful Psalm.

Psalm 23 (ESV) | A Psalm of David.
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2     He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3     He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
4 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.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.

The promise in Psalm 23 has an eternal focus. We are so tempted to invoke this Psalm for our temporal well being and comfort, but remember the Apostles and the 1st-century saints.

Bridge. It’s really just a mantra, nothing of substance.

Conclusion

This song is an honest appeal to faith during the struggle, a confession of our need for God. The closest we get to identifying which God is by quoting pieces of Psalm 23. I find it frustrating that Jesus has to be assumed in so-called “Christian” songs, though. I’ll not apologize for that frustration. The song does a good job of being honest about our internal struggle with doubt, I just wish it did a better job of resolving that doubt. I do believe that even here, we should see an acknowledgment that our primary issue is sin and the only resolution is Christ crucified for our sin.

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 | “Whole Heart” by Brandon Heath

disapproveCCM Edition.

November 1, 2017. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Whole Heart” by Brandon Heath which currently sits at #7 on 20TheCountdownMagazine.

This song is a synergistic mess, a humble brag, and an empty promise to a very weak understanding of God. Seriously, whichever god this song is appealing to isn’t the God of the Bible who is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. We’ll discuss this below, but for now, let’s get the whole “listening to the song” over with and move straight into the lyric.

BrandonHeathVEVO (Lyric Video)

Lyrics (via K~Love)

Well I called Your name a long time ago
And You sprung a well from a heart of stone
But I was careful then what I let You see
Only thought You wanted the best of me

The less I trust You the less I grow
The more You love me the more I know
I don’t have to be afraid to show
All of me, all of me

Where there’s hurting
You show me what healing can do
Where there’s hatred
You show me how kindness can move
Where there’s fear deep inside
I won’t run, I won’t hide
I’ll give You all of me
So that You can see
Every broken piece
And open up my whole heart, whole heart
And love You with my whole heart, whole heart
My Whole heart

So I’m ready now gonna let You in
All the way to the scars beneath my skin
And You don’t look away cause You understand
And You hold my heart with a gentle hand

The less I trust You the less I grow
The more You love me the more I know
I don’t have to be afraid to show
All of me, all of me

Where there’s hurting
Oh where there’s sorrow and shame
Enter into the pain

Publishing: © 2017 Haidaway Music (BMI) (admin. by Songs of Kobalt Music Publishing); EGH Music Publishing (BMI)/Be Essential Songs (BMI) (admin. at http://www.EssentialMusicPublishing.com); Fair Trade Music Publishing (ASCAP). All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Writer(s): Brandon Heath, Ethan Hulse, Colby Wedgeworth

Discussion

Synergism. *sigh*

Verse 1Well I called Your name a long time ago And You sprung a well from a heart of stone… A heart of stone cannot call upon the Name of the LORD. The order of these lines is backward. God regenerates us, saves us, softens our hearts, granting us faith. He springs the well before we call on His Name.

Ephesians 2:1-10 (ESV) | By Grace Through Faith

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Romans 10:10-17 (ESV) 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 beginning of faith is external to us, our will, our decisions, our thoughts, our desires, our dedication, our speech. The beginning of faith is in the Word of God. It is God who saves, God who regenerates, God who grants faith by His Grace, through His Word. This is monergism, only One does the work and that One is God.

But I was careful then what I let You see Only thought You wanted the best of me… you cannot truly think that you are successful in hiding anything from God, right?

1 Samuel 16:7 (ESV) But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.

Proverbs 17:3 (ESV) The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts.

Romans 8:22-27 (ESV) For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

I made this point in the intro, God sees, searches, knows our hearts. There is no hiding ANYTHING from God. God is God. The only way to think about this line in the song is “I withheld confession and repentance” in certain areas of my life. God knows this. He knows our hearts. Our hearts are wicked. We are so vain we actually think we can keep secrets from God.

Pre-Chorus. The less I trust You the less I grow… here we see a theology of “infused righteousness”, a notion that “getting saved” is a starting point that infuses us with the ability to grow into sanctification. Failure to trust God is a breaking of the first Commandment, and is sin.

Matthew 22:36-38 (ESV) “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.

So, yes, one doesn’t grow toward God in sin. But the problem is so much bigger than simply “stalled growth”, sin kills. Doubt, worry, anxiety, run contrary to faith.  The other problem with this wording, is that it is unclear on how to do the opposite in order to grow. How does one “trust God more”? Well, the song will present a sort of “commitment” thing where you make God empty promises. Scripture points us to dying daily to the flesh, repenting of sin, including the sin of failing to trust the Lord our God with all our hearts and soul and mind. This isn’t a one-time declaration sort of thing, it’s daily.

Luke 9:23-24 (ESV) And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

Paul’s teaching to the Romans on this point is excellent. All of Romans needs to be read as one teaching, though this portion from Romans 6 through Romans 8 is a great place to examine the “how we grow in Christ”. It’s not glorious in this life, it’s frustrating, it’s painful, we sin when we don’t want to as Christians because our still sinful flesh craves sin. The Law convicts us of our sin and sentences it to death. The Gospel grants us repentance and the forgiveness of sins and a Promise of the Hope of our Salvation in Christ Jesus. We remain connected to Christ by Grace through Faith, not of our own doing, there is no room for anyone to boast in their justification nor sanctification.

The more You love me the more I know… Really hate what is being implied here. So, two things:
— firstly, there is simply no room for anyone to complain that God didn’t love them enough. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 ESV) No one gets to make that complaint.
— secondly, it seems to be pointing to a demand that God keep doing things for the singer “the more You love me” so that he’ll know who God is. I’m sorry, but we are called to trust in the LORD our God despite our circumstances. The early Christians expected to die as martyrs for their faith… many did just that.

I don’t have to be afraid to show All of me, all of me We’re back to this nonsense of being brave enough to show God “all of me”. *sigh*. I think this comes mostly from the really bad “relationship paradigm” of drawing from earthly romantic relationships as a model for faith in God. It’s nonsense. Stop trying to woo God or sing about Him wooing us through our emotions. Cut it out. Faith isn’t an emotion.

ChorusWhere there’s hurting You show me what healing can do Where there’s hatred You show me how kindness can move… This is a form of mysticism. Looking for God in our experiences/emotions rather than looking to where He has revealed Himself to us fully, in His Word. Please note, I’m not saying God doesn’t heal, He does. We are ask (not demand or command) for healing in prayer. We pray for these things. We do not make our faith in Christ contingent upon having those prayers answered in this life. Christians are persecuted by hatred, even killed. Christians suffer from disease, sickness, injury, mental illness, and God’s Truth still remains. We are not guaranteed temporal healing, but eternal healing IS guaranteed for all who are in Christ Jesus when He returns.

I won’t run, I won’t hide I’ll give You all of me So that You can see Every broken piece And open up my whole heart, whole heart And love You with my whole heart, whole heart My Whole heart The rest of this chorus is empty promises. This is the humble-brag I mentioned above. When we make such grand gestures, oaths, of what we are going to do for God, it makes us look/sound so pious, so committed, so godly. But it is pure arrogance to suggest that God is somehow hoping and waiting for us to give Him “all of me”. That’s not how Scripture talks of any of this. Let’s look at how Paul opens his letter to the Colossians. In this letter, he opens with encouragement in the Gospel to Christians.

Colossians 1:3-14 (ESV) We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit. And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

The focus isn’t on their inside secrets or fears; rather, the focus is on Christ, His Word, the Gospel, and what Christ has done and is doing among them. We should do likewise. This business of “giving God all of us” or “showing Him all of the stuff we’ve been hiding” is nonsense, folly, a distraction. God sees it all, and He has already bled and died for those sins. Confess, repent, and Trust in what Christ has already done for you on the cross, in your place.

Verse 2. So I’m ready now gonna let You in All the way to the scars beneath my skin More of the same junk. This seems to be building a case for the synergistic “re-dedication” altar call bit, where this time you’re really gonna let God into your life… blah, blah, blah. You don’t get to play that sort of role here. God is God. Jesus is LORD. You don’t “let God” be Lord of your life in stages. Nowhere does Scripture speak like this about God. He is Sovereign over all creation, and He is the Head of His Church. Those who were baptized into the Name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit have been baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection (Romans 6). Now, in this life, the sinful flesh wages war against the Spirit, and we must take up our crosses daily, dying to sin and walking in the Spirit. It’s hard. This temporal life is one of repentance. And You don’t look away cause You understand And You hold my heart with a gentle hand There’s a nugget of truth here. Sadly, it’s buried beneath a lot of false premises. There isn’t enough here to salvage the song, not by a long shot, but I do want to acknowledge that God is a loving God.

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.

We don’t need additional proof of His love, we simply need to look to the proof already provided at the Cross of Jesus.

Conclusion

This song is just awful. Don’t try to make bargains with God to secure healing and victory in this life by offering to then show him what he already knows… He knows you better than you know yourself. Don’t bargain with God, humble yourself. Confess your sin. Repent. Trust. Repent again for failing to trust. It is God alone who saves.

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.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “Word of Life” by Jeremy Camp

disapproveCCM Radio Edition.

October 24, 2017. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Word of Life” by Jeremy Camp which currently sits at #5 on the20theCountdownMagazine.

Generally speaking, I’m a fan of Jeremy Camp’s music. This song gets a Disapproval for a couple of reasons, the most prominent is the synergism in the lyric, that it isn’t Christ alone saving us, we have to do something. The other problem is the implied notion that there is something more that we must do beyond being brought to eternal life in Jesus Christ our LORD. This is a song of revivalism, which places the emphasis on “what I’m going to do once God moves in me”.

JeremyCampVEVO (Lyric Video)

Lyrics (via K~Love)

Speak to my weary heart
Strengthen my broken parts
Lead me to Your open arms
Word of truth
Illuminate all these lies
The enemy speaks inside
In freedom I will rise

‘Cause You called me out from the grave
So I can live like I’ve been changed
There is a new song in my soul
And it begins
When I breathe in
Your word of life

Spirit of God
Take me to a deeper place
Take me out of what is safe
I will not be afraid
Spirit of God
Fill me with joy again
Springing up from within
It cannot be contained

The old has gone away
Only Your love remains
I am alive today
‘Cause You called me out

Publishing: Only In You Publishing (ASCAP) (admin. at CapitolCMGPublishing.com) / EGH Music Publishing / Be Essential Songs (BMI) (Admin. at EssentialMusicPublishing.com) / Colby Wedgeworth Music / Fair Trade Music Publishing (ASCAP) (Admin. by Music Services)

Writer(s): Written by Jeremy Camp, Ethan Hulse, and Colby Wedgeworth

Discussion

Okay, so let’s begin our discussion with who the intended target audience might be. There are no clear articulations of Law and Gospel, repentance and the forgiveness of sin. There are poetic references to salvation themes, so my guess is that this song is aimed at the weary Christian. So, before we go verse-by-verse, what is it that weary Christians need to hear the most? The clear Gospel of Jesus Christ, preached to them and for them. Which leaves us with a problem… no clear Gospel in this song. There are allusions to Gospel themes, I’ll grant the song as much, but when we are beaten-down and weary, we need clarity, assurance, and rest that can only be found in Christ Jesus.

Verse 1. The first verse is setting up our ‘weary Christian’ target audience. The setup is emotional, which leaves it open to any interpretation of what it means to be a weary Christian. That’s not a problem yet, I just want to acknowledge the writing here. The song opens with a desire for someone to speak directly to the singer’s weary heart. Strengthen my broken parts is vague, but it works lyrically and poetically, so we need to see where this is going. Lead me to Your open arms is also vague, and follows more of the romantic mysticism we get in CCM and Evangelical/Contemporary Worship (CoWo) these days. So, the first three lines have set up the relationship paradigm of understanding our need for a Savior and how we are to relate to Him. It’s a poor picture that relies too heavily on emotionalism rather than the clear Word of Truth we see in Scriptures. While there is a right way of speaking about our relationship with God, this approach brings a lot of baggage with it. What does it mean to be “led into Christ’s open arms”? This relationship metaphor bears a sense of proximity that is unhelpful in understanding Christ, and ultimately has to be turned into an “emotional proximity” which is purely subjective and easily manipulated by circumstance, fatigue, temperature, and disco lights. Christ gave us a Promise in the Great Commission that we need to bear in mind whenever someone tries to invoke the relationship metaphor of needing to be “close to God”.

Matthew 28:19-20 (ESV) 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.”

Christ promised to be with us always, to the end of the age. That’s a promise that remains true whether we feel it or not. As far as a rescue mechanic might go, or “best construction”, we’d have to de-mystify the subjective emotionalism and translate Lead me to Your open arms into “Remind me of Your Gospel”, and understand Speak to my weary heart as something the Holy Spirit does WITH the preaching or reading of the Word of God, not as an appeal for an unmitigated direct revelation experience.

The next line in the song is Word of Truth, which is being treated as a Name of God that can be applied to Christ and the Written Word of God as the Revelation of Christ. I’d like to have it made more explicit, though, God works through the means of His Word to deliver the Grace, Forgiveness, Faith secured for us on the cross. So, we can work to insert this understanding here, that the singer is telling us we need to be in God’s Word looking for the clear Gospel of Jesus Christ for the answer to our weariness and broken parts (I really hope this isn’t a stand-in for sin). The song, however, continues in a mystical/poetic form with the request that the Word of Truth Illuminate all these lies The enemy speaks inside. The best thing we can do with this is to ground it in Scripture and the role of God the Holy Spirit.

John 16:13-15 (ESV) When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

I really want to highlight what Jesus said of the Holy Spirit, that He will not speak on his own authority. The Holy Spirit testifies and Glorifies the Son, Jesus, our LORD and Savior. The Holy Spirit delivers us faith in Christ Jesus, and He does this primarily through the means of the Preached Word. Romans 10:17 (ESV) So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. The wording of the lies the enemy speaks inside is troublesome. If you have a poor understanding of sin, the “enemy” is only going to be demons, evil spirits, tempting us to sin. But Scripture makes it clear that our very flesh is sinful, constantly desiring to do evil.

Romans 7:21-25 (ESV) So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

There is a really bad habit with pop evangelicalism of flipping Law and Gospel inside out, they externalize sin (the devil keeps trying to make me do something I don’t truly want to do) and internalize the search for God through our emotional proximity to Him. What we should be doing is recognizing that it is our hearts of flesh that are sinful and tempting us to sin and looking to the external Word of God for His Grace and Forgiveness.

The final line of the verse bothers me, In freedom I will rise. Within the context of this first verse, we have nothing to anchor this line. Rise from what, a weary heart? from the lies of the enemy inside? Is this an appeal to Christ’s Return? The Resurrection? Or is this just a part of the “I can do this” revivalism?

Chorus. ‘Cause You called me out from the grave -yes! So I can live like I’ve been changed -no! I mean, living differently is an outflow of having been granted saving faith and eternal life in Christ Jesus, but it’s not the reason God called us from the grave. We’re still playing around in metaphors in the lyric of the song, so there is the whole matter of the simul, the already and the not-yet. Eternity is the focus, the reason behind Christ calling us from the grave. And He will do it literally for all who fall asleep in Christ in the Resurrection into eternity.

1 Peter 1:3-9 (ESV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

The problem of this so being anchored in this temporal life is that it places the focus back onto the believer’s ability to “live a changed life”, it places the focus back onto the law. The Gospel carries us into eternity in Christ Jesus. Don’t let folks turn the Gospel into only a “fresh start” where you’re supposed to finish the rest on your own.

Galatians 5:2-5 (ESV) Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.

Now, I’m not speaking against the notion that our lives should bear fruit. I’m saying that’s not the focus of the Gospel, it is an outflow of the Gospel. Saving Faith will bear fruit because God’s Word has Promised. So love and serve your neighbor, share the Gospel with peace, joy, and thanksgiving. Walk humbly before God in repentance, waiting for the Day of Christ’s return. Don’t make ‘doing good works’ the point of your having been saved. There is a new song in my soul And it begins When I breathe in Your word of life these are words that don’t convey any clear meaning. It’s part of the poetic mysticism, spiritualizing everything leaving it up to the listener to figure out what it means and how to apply this to their own lives. The new song in my soul could be a reference to having regenerate spirits by Grace through Faith in Christ Jesus. If that’s the case, though, the song is there even when we’re run down, weary, and have “broken parts” and even when we feel far away from God. As we discussed earlier, regardless of how we feel, Christ has promised to be with us, so He is. Let’s look at another passage:

Romans 6:3-5 (ESV) Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

The Apostle Paul taught that we are united with Christ’s death and resurrection in our baptism. The reference to “breathing in the word of Life” is a metaphor within a metaphor, that is not really helpful. I think it’s pointing to the Holy Spirit delivering saving Faith to those who are in Christ, but it’s buried several layers deep in metaphor. Lyrically, I think it’s building to the start of the second verse, too.

Verse 2. Spirit of God take me to a deeper place… again with the proximity relationship metaphor thingy. The mystic is always looking for deeply hidden truths, secrets, revelations, etc. The romantic mystic is looking for deeper relationship, connectedness, togetherness, but it always gets internalized emotionally. It also suggest a progression beyond salvation, a constant climbing of some ladder to get to God, to reach that next level of “Christian”. Dear, Christian, stop climbing ladders. Christ has done it all. It is finished. He IS our propitiation, our reconciliation, our adoption into the Kingdom of Heaven has already been won by His Blood. There is no “deeper” in our right-standing with God. It is in Christ, and that is more than enough. Your good works aren’t for God or for your position with Him, they are for your neighbor.

Take me out of what is safe I will not be afraid… Well, we have to deal in the subjective with this metaphorical language, otherwise we’re left wondering, “didn’t this song start out with you being weary and broken? Shouldn’t we stay in a safe place, securely in Christ Jesus?” Frankly, it feels like the start of this verse is an homage to Oceans (where feet may fail). Suddenly, the metaphor is now of our external circumstances, sort of a “get me out of my comfort zone” language to go do good works, don’t be safe, take risks, I will fear no evil sort of stuff. The Gospel is sort of a charging station where you get healed up, and then you’ve gotta get “out there” and “fight the good fight”. It’s a terrible way to consider the Christian Life or what it means to be In Christ Jesus. Christ isn’t just a charging station, He IS our Sabbath Rest, He IS our Salvation, He IS our bulwark, our Shield, our safe place.

The second half of the verse returns to the internalized, emotional metaphor, looking for joy (emotional version) that cannot be contained springing up from within. I cannot help but see this being presented as a condition that follows stepping out of the safe places and not being afraid. It’s the wrong focus. This is Revivalism, folks.

Conclusion

So, I hope I’ve at least explained where I see the problems in this lyric and where we can look in Scripture for a corrective lens. Believers need to be pointed to Christ, not just as an example of what they should be trying to emulate, but as their Savior, their propitiation, their reconciliation, and their Sabbath Rest (Hebrews 4). For now, I’d like to leave you with an encouragement written by the Apostle Paul, to the Colossians.

Colossians 2:6-23 (ESV) Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

Colossians 3:1-4 (ESV) If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge