DiM | “King of the World” by Natalie Grant

Presentation1CCM Edition.

January 17, 2017. Today we’ll be taking a look at “King of the World” by Natalie Grant which currently sits at #5 on 20TheCountdownMagazine. It looks like the top 20 chart is starting to stabilize a bit, as most of the list looks the way it did before the Christmas season. It isn’t overrun with COWO (Contemporary Worship) songs.

This song falls into the middle category because it doesn’t share the Gospel, nor does it grant the listener an indication to return to the Gospel, repent, and be forgiven of the sin of being your own god. This song is Law (pointing out error) and the implied answer is to do better about not forgetting that God is God (more law). The song stays on the lighter side of this error, more on the anxiety, worry, business side of forgetting that Christ is King of the World, but leaving out the Gospel leaves the listener in despair (for having failed again) or mysticism (try to experience God more directly in a “Jesus take the wheel” sense).

Official Lyric Video

 

Lyrics (via GooglePlay Music)

(verse 1)
I try to fit You in the walls inside my mind
I try to keep You safely in between the lines
I try to put You in the box that I’ve designed
I try to pull You down so we are eye to eye

(chorus)
When did I forget that You’ve always been the King of the world
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the King of the world
How could I make You so small
When You’re the one who holds it all
When did I forget that You’ve always been the King of the world

(verse 2)
Just a whisper of Your voice can tame the seas
So who am I to try to take the lead?
Still I run ahead and think I’m strong enough
When You’re the one who made me from the dust

(chorus)
When did I forget that You’ve always been the King of the world
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the King of the world
How could I make You so small
When You’re the one who holds it all
When did I forget that You’ve always been the King of the world

(bridge)
You set it all in motion
Every single moment
You brought it all to be
And You’re holding on to me

(chorus)

When did I forget that you’ve always been the king of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world
How could I make you so small
When you’re the one who holds it all
When did I forget you’ve always been the king of the world
You will always be the king of the world

Written by Becca Mizell, Natalie Grant, Samuel Mizell • Copyright © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Music Services, Inc, BMG Rights Management US, LLC

Discussion

So, let’s begin by discussing the overall point of the song. The point being made in general is how foolish it is for someone to acknowledge and confess Christ as the King of the World yet constantly live in anxiety and worry and striving as though they were in charge of their lives. There is a sense where this sort of self rebuke is warranted, when we wreck ourselves with worry over things that are outside of our ability to control. God is God, He is in control. In that sense, I agree with the overall theme of the song, or at least its chorus. In this discussion we are making 2 assumptions: the King of the World reference is to Jesus, the Messiah/Christ, the second person of the Trinity, and the target audience is to confessing Christians.

Chorus. Part of our sinful nature is the desire to create god in our own image, so to speak. Christians aren’t immune to this, we just have the clear preaching of Law and Gospel to address it. Daily. As sinners, we often take matters into our own hands, even our own justification/sanctification where we are constantly trying to prove ourselves to God through our own good works. Do more, volunteer more, sin less, give more… and we try to do this in our own strength, which is the killer. We can’t. That is the Law doing its work on us and in response our flesh is trying to keep the Law on its own. We can’t. It’s beyond us to keep the Law perfectly. I think this song is trying to address that problem, but it seems to lack the vocabulary or clear doctrine with which to do so. If you’ll notice, there is no clear proclamation of the Gospel here. There’s no repentance and the forgiveness of sins here, and I think that can be expected from our modern evangelicalism which treats the Gospel as something unbelievers need to hear until they decide to become believers. The setup in the song falls short of calling out backsliders, the mood of the song doesn’t get that dark. But even if it did, would we expect to see the Gospel of Grace and forgiveness emphasized or just more Law with the heat turned up? To answer in this specific case would be to venture into speculation, but it’s a question worth pondering whenever we are dealing with evangelicals reaching out to professing Christians. Is the Gospel still relevant for believing Christians or is it something that you “needed to get in, but staying in is all on you”? Let’s look at some Scripture before we dive into the verses.

Regarding Christ as the King of the World, let’s look to 1 Timothy:

1 Timothy 6:13-16 (ESV) I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

There are two ways we can look at the problem of “trying to take life back right out of the hands of the King of the world”, the first is what I’ve already alluded to regarding anxiety and worry over things we cannot control. I think the best place to look for this is to look at Christ’s teaching in the Sermon on the Mount:

Matthew 6:25-34 (ESV) | Do Not Be Anxious

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

There is also a darker sense of “taking life out of the hands…” in which we lose sight of the Gospel completely and start relying on our own actions/efforts/striving for our salvation. Remember, we aren’t talking about unbelievers, we’re essentially talking about backsliders. Not the rebel ones who fall into hedonism, but the backsliders who’ve fallen into the pit of pietism and works-righteousness, like those foolish Galatians who had fallen into the false teaching of the Judaizing heresy.

Galatians 5:1-12 (ESV) | Christ Has Set Us Free

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. 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. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!

So, we see that in light of these passages there is a good point to be made by the chorus of this song. The answer needs to be to turn our attention away from whatever has distracted us from the Truth of the Gospel and back to the Written Word of God. I have a concern with all of the mysticism infecting CCM that many will choose to “look within” and try to feel God more or hear Him more directly in a sort of “Jesus take the wheel” sort of stunt. That’s not what Scriptures teach, so please, don’t go there.

Verse 1. The answer to each of the errors being confessed in the first verse is to look for God in His Word. That is where God has revealed Himself to mankind. There is nowhere else one can look that isn’t committing the exact same errors being confessed in this verse.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV) All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Verse 2. This one is getting a little heavy on the poetically vague side. The main problem with this is the lack of clarity. What exactly is the error being poetically described by us “taking the lead… running ahead”? I’m sure we could come up with interpretations that are theologically sound and others that are dripping in sensual mysticism. It’s not objectively right or wrong, it’s just vague.

Bridge. The song seems to be building up to a climax focusing on the emotional rather than the objective and doctrinal. Yes, there is a sense where can discuss the objective truths of Scripture pointing to God the Holy Spirit sealing us, drawing us to Christ, and securing the salvation won by Christ for us on the Cross. But we must at least caution the overly emotional/sensual concept of “Presence” theology, a New Age concept of somehow finding God with our senses and our emotional experiences. That’s a dangerous road to follow. Don’t do it. I’m not saying she’s doing this intentionally with this song, but the industry is drowning in mysticism posing as Christianity so this is a very real pitfall building in this song.

Conclusion

The build up of the song comes to an emotional close, rather than to a doctrinal one. This is where the repetitions become more meditative and take on a slightly mystically vague form. It’s as though the point of the song is to build up a sense of open surrender, like a “Jesus take the wheel” experience. When it comes to the Law / Gospel distinction, this song is all Law. There is no Gospel in the song. While it is safe to assume the intended audience for the song is believing Christians, the overall focus of the song is the error of being our own gods rather than trusting Christ in our everyday matters. For decision-theology folks, this is dangerous particularly given their synergism. If my decision to follow Christ is necessary for salvation, then my decision to keep Him in the driver’s seat is necessary for me to remain saved. Such a trap of despair with no hope of assurance, for these same folks leave the Gospel behind as something they needed to become “born again” but not something that can help them “today”. The only answer for the conviction of the Law isn’t “try harder, decide better, want better”, the answer is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Repentance and the Forgiveness of sin. Yes, for you, too, born-again believer in Christ… you who sin are in need of forgiveness. Repent, and know that you are forgiven in Jesus’ Name.

Romans 3:20-26 (ESV) For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. 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.

The redemption that is in Christ Jesus isn’t something you dip into one-time and hope you can hold onto it by your own strength. This Blood is FOR YOU, for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus paid the price of sin IN FULL. In this life you will have many struggles, and most of them are of your own sinful doing. Repent. Be forgiven, in Jesus’ Name.

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 | “Touch The Sky” by Hillsong United

Today is “Discernment in Music” (DiM) day here at Faithful Stewardship (2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)).

July 07, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Touch the Sky” by Hillsong United which currently sits at #16 at 20theCountdownMagazine.

I’d like to begin by openly admitting that I have a negative bias against all things Hillsong, due to their false teaching, bible twisting, and repeated failure to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ faithfully. I will do my best to give this song a fair evaluation, but I wanted to clearly acknowledge my bias up front. Having said that, this song has some powerful production power, wonderfully mastered and hypnotic vocal dynamics. Lyrically… the song is self-indulgent, mystically emotional, nonsense. I look forward to the day when Hillsong United puts out a theologically sound piece of music that makes it onto the top20 charts. Not so much for their sake, but for the sake of the millions who blindly follow them.

Lyric Video

Lyrics (via KLove)

Touch The Sky

What fortune lies beyond the stars
Those dazzling heights too vast to climb
I got so high to fall so far
But I found heaven as love swept low

My heart beating
My soul breathing
I found my life
When I laid it down
Upward falling
Spirit soaring
I touch the sky
When my knees hit the ground

What treasure waits within Your scars
The gift of freedom gold can’t buy
I bought the world and sold my heart
You traded heaven to have me again

My heart beating
My soul breathing
I found my life
When I laid it down
Upward falling
Spirit soaring
I touch the sky
When my knees hit the ground

Find me here at your feet again
Everything I am
Reaching out
I surrender come sweep me up in
Your love again and my soul will dance on the
Wings of Forever

Find me here at your feet again
Everything I am
Reaching out
I surrender come sweep me up in
Your love again and my soul will dance on the
Wings of Forever

My heart beating
My soul breathing
I found my life
When I laid it down
Upward falling
Spirit soaring
I touch the sky
When my knees hit the ground

My heart beating
My soul breathing
I found my life
When I laid it down
Upward falling
Spirit soaring
I touch the sky
When my knees hit the ground

Find me here at your feet again
Everything I am
Reaching out
I surrender come sweep me up in
Your love again and my soul will dance on the
Wings of Forever

Upward falling
Spirit soaring
I touch the sky
When my knees hit the ground

Publishing: © 2014 Hillsong Music Publishing (APRA)
Writer(s): Joel Houston, Dylan Thomas & Michael Guy Chislett

Discussion

As I said in the introduction, these lyrics are self-indulgent. The focus of these lyrics are not on God they are on the singer. Not focused on the Gospel of Jesus Christ but on the piety/discoveries of the singer. As with most Hillsong material, there are allusions to or themes from scripture. No doubt the creative writing process might have even begun with some of these passages (most likely taken from the Message parody). Let’s look at a couple that I could recognize while reading through the lyrics.

“I found my life when I laid it down”

Mark 8:34-36 (ESV)

34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?

So, once we look at the reference we see a glaring difference between what is being sung and what we find in Scripture. This statement is recorded in each of the Gospels, and in each Jesus is talking about losing your life for His sake. Hillsong United has turned this idea into a mystical discipline not unlike “emptying oneself” as we see in the eastern religions.

“Find me here at your feet again”

Luke 10:38-42 (ESV) | Martha and Mary

38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Mary chose to sit and listen to Jesus’ teaching, and it was the good portion that will not be taken away from her. This passage is sometimes misrepresented as an appeal for Christians that vocation, hard work, and discipline are distractions from so-called spiritual living. In contemporary services, often times allegory invoked places “praise and worship” as the good portion and the faithful, exegetical teaching of the scriptures as the “anxious and troubled about many things”. You’ll see this whenever a church leader describes his service as “relevant”, “relatable”, “young”, or “young” (The Man Behind Hillsong: Brian Houston).

John 12:1-3 (ESV) | Mary Anoints Jesus at Bethany

12 Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

For this song, I think this is more the imagery they are going for, which moves us into the mystically emotional quality of the lyrics. This is a very intimate moment, one of deep thanksgiving (Lazarus was there after having been risen from the dead by Jesus) and it leads directly into death and burial of Jesus Christ. That is the focus of this event, because Jesus would have to be buried before His body can be properly anointed and washed… the very reason the women go out to the tomb on the third day, finding it empty… Christ had risen. But the song lyric doesn’t go in that direction… instead, it gets a bit indulgent, almost emotionally romantic… Everything I am, Reaching out, I surrender come sweep me up in, Your love again and my soul will dance on the, Wings of Forever. We don’t have the singer sitting at the foot of Jesus in repentance, for teaching, or even out of thanksgiving; rather, the singer is invoking surrender language for being swept up in a loving embrace so her soul can dance on the wings of forever. Emotional drivel.

The rest of the song is a hypnotic poetry of nonsense verse. My soul breathing… upward falling… I touch the sky when my knees hit the ground… it’s artistic, but it doesn’t convey any real meaning, not in any Biblical sense. The hearer is free to interpret these lines in any way that seems to fit at any given moment. That might be fine for secular music, but shouldn’t be a mainstay of Christian music.

Conclusion

This song shouldn’t be sung in any church because the object of the song is the self, not God. I would argue that it shouldn’t be on the Christian airwaves, because there is nothing in it directly identifying the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This song could have been written by a Native American spiritualist, a Hindu Yogi, or Far-eastern Buddhist. The music quality is phenomenal, but that only serves to obfuscate its lyrical pablum.

To God be the glory, Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “Come as You Are” by Crowder

Presentation1Today is “Discernment in Music” (DiM) day here at Faithful Stewardship.

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)
4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

There has been a lot of movement in the Top 20 Charts. Today we will be taking a look at the #8 song “Come As You Are” by Crowder. I’m not sure who his target audience was, but this song is for the Christian who has lost sight of the Grace of God and is being crushed by a burden he could never bear. For the Christian who has been led astray into works-based false theology (purpose driven, word of faith, prosperity, or graceless legalism), this is the call to return to the Only Gospel of the Jesus Christ, to the Grace of God. To the prodigal son and the foolish Galatians alike… come as you are.

VEVO Music Video

Lyrics (via KLove Website)

Crowder from the album Neon Steeple

Come out of sadness from wherever you’ve been
Come broken hearted let rescue begin
Come find your mercy
Oh sinner, come kneel

Earth has no sorrow
That Heaven can’t heal

So, lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face
Oh wanderer, come home
You’re not too far
So, lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are

There’s hope for the hopeless
And all those who’ve strayed
Come sit at the table
Come taste the grace
There’s rest for the weary
Rest that endures

Earth has no sorrow
That Heaven can’t cure

Come as you are
Fall in His arms
Come as you are

There’s joy for the morning
Oh sinner, be still

Earth has no sorrow
That Heaven can’t heal

Publishing: © 2014 sixsteps Music / worshiptogether.com Songs / Inot Music / 9T One Songs / Ariose Music (ASCAP) / Valley Of Songs Music (BMI) (Admin. at CapitolCMGPublishing.com) / Thankyou Music (admin. worldwide at EMICMGPublishing.com, excluding Europe, which is admin. by Kingswaysongs) (PRS)
Writer(s): David Crowder, Matt Maher and Ben Glover

Positive Elements

I listened to this song about fifteen times this morning. The message of this song is one that every Believer needs to hear as often as they find themselves in need of forgiveness and restoration (that should be daily). Yes, we need to hear Law and repent of sin, but we also need to hear “you’re forgiven” and “come as you are”. As I listened to the song, I couldn’t help but think of the Prodigal Son.

Luke 15:11-24 (ESV) | The Parable of the Prodigal Son
11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need.15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything. 17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

My mind also went to Galatians 3, where Paul is urging the Galatians to guard against false doctrine.

Galatians 3:1-14 (ESV) | By Faith, or by Works of the Law?
1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 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— 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? 7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 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.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. 10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written,“Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

Dear Christian, come out of sadness from wherever you’ve been, come brokenhearted let rescue begin, come find your mercy, Oh sinner, come kneel. Earth has no sorrow that Heaven can’t heal. So, lay down your burdens lay down your shame. All who are broken lift up your face. Oh wanderer, come home, you’re not too far. So, lay down your hurt… lay down your heart… come as you are. Focus on the picture Jesus painted of Our Heavenly Father. Come as you are, come home, you’re not too far. Have you been worn down with graceless law (asceticism, Dominion theology, Hebrew roots, etc.) or other false theology of works (word of faith, soul ties, purpose-driven-seeker), or you simply aren’t being fed the Gospel on a regular basis. “Being Saved” isn’t the just a one-time deal that happened a long time ago when you first believed the Gospel of Jesus Christ… The Gospel is home, it’s where the Father’s table is set, where we live and breath, and where we find rest. We live in the “already” and the “not yet”, where we are simultaneously “justified” and “sinner”… until the last Day, when Jesus Christ will come for His bride…

1 Corinthians 15:51-53 (ESV) 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.

While the Lord, Jesus Christ, tarries… we must remain hidden within Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church. The Gospel is the bread and water of Jesus Christ, the Promise. Jesus Christ is the mana from heaven in the wilderness, the rock from whom water flowed… He taught us the Law more perfectly, and He IS the Gospel. So come home, lay down your burdens, and enter into His rest.

Hebrews 4:11-16 (ESV) 11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. 14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Concerns

This song might be dismissed as an evangelistic song for unbelievers… that would be a mistake. The song doesn’t preach Law and Gospel, it doesn’t call the unbeliever to repentance, it doesn’t declare the message of the Gospel, because without the Law the Gospel resolves a problem the unbeliever doesn’t acknowledge. This song is for the believer who has succumbed to condemnation, shame, or false doctrine. While all of the promises in this song are available for the unbeliever if he would believe, repent, and be saved by the Gospel of Jesus Christ… the problem of unbelief is that they don’t believe they are sinners, or that they need Jesus. This song is calling to the individual who knows they need Jesus but have bought into the lie that they have to first earn the Grace of God by some work. The call of salvation is the call out of the kingdom of darkness… a call that can only be made by the Word of God, not the will of man.

The song isn’t specifically Christian, in that it doesn’t name Jesus outright, so it could be easily hijacked by any false religion. That always seems to be a concern here, in that there is an assumption that everything played on a “Christian Station” must be Christian. That isn’t always the case, so this concern bears mentioning.

Conclusion

I love this song. I cannot get enough of it. I know so many hurting Christians who suffer from malnutrition.  They attend church week after week hearing only Law (and mostly man-made law at that) and aren’t faithfully reminded, grounded, and restored in the Gospel of Grace.  Worse yet, there are so many who’ve been led astray after false doctrines and false teachers selling empty promises blaspheming the Name of Jesus. Pray for them, reach out to them, remind them to “come home” to the Gospel of Grace, Jesus Christ. This isn’t a song for the unbeliever… though the unbeliever might actually really like it. It doesn’t preach Law and repentance.

To God be the glory, Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “How Can It Be” by Lauren Daigle

Presentation1Today is “Discernment in Music” (DiM) day here at Faithful Stewardship.

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)
4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

There has been a lot of movement in the Top 20 Charts. Today we will be taking a look at the #7 song “How Can It Be” by Lauren Daigle. Overall I think the song is okay for Christians with solid Biblical foundation but it is sufficiently vague in all the right places to be dangerous for one whose doctrine is incomplete or shaky.

VEVO Lyric Music Video

Lyrics (via KLove Website)

How Can It Be

Lauren Daigle from the album How Can It Be (Single)

I am guilty
Ashamed of what I’ve done, what I’ve become
These hands are dirty
I dare not lift them up to the Holy one

Chorus
You plead my cause
You right my wrongs
You break my chains
You overcome
You gave Your life
To give me mine
You say that I am free
How can it be
How can it be

I’ve been hiding
Afraid I’ve let you down, inside I doubt
That You could love me
But in Your eyes there’s only grace now

Chorus
You plead my cause
You right my wrongs
You break my chains
You overcome
You gave Your life
To give me mine
You say that I am free
How can it be
How can it be

Bridge
Though I fall, You can make me new
From this death I will rise with You
Oh the grace reaching out for me
How can it be
How can it be

Chorus
You plead my cause
You right my wrongs
You break my chains
You overcome
You gave Your life
To give me mine
You say that I am free
How can it be
How can it be

Publishing: © 2014 Sony ATV Timber Publishing (SESAC) / Sony ATV Timber Publishing & Open Hands Music (SESAC) / Ponies Riding Shotgun (ASCAP
Writer(s): Words and Music by Paul Mabury, Jason Ingram and Jeff Johnson

Positive Elements

Okay, so for the Christian with solid Biblical foundation, this song points to a lot of Truth. If your doctrine is flawed, you’ll still find it very comforting but the “why” might be askew (I’ll expand on that later). For now, let us look at all of the great inferences that can be made by those who know what Scriptures say.

I am guilty. Confession. We are guilty. This guilt isn’t limited to what we’ve done, but extends to who we are as descendants of Adam, born into his sin. We are fallen, born dead in sins and trespasses.

Ephesians 2:1-3 (ESV) 1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 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— 3 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.

Romans 3:20-25 (ESV)20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 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.

I dare not lift [these dirty hands] up to the Holy One. This line is more of a lie the enemy tells us, the condemnation he tries to lock us down in. As we saw in Romans 3:20, through the law comes knowledge of sin. There is a portion of scripture that the enemy might use to levy his condemnation on Christians, “I desire that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands”, thus blocking Christians from praying due to their unholy hands. But remember, the enemy is a liar and he twists scripture. Let’s turn to 1 Timothy 2.

1 Timothy 2:1-10 (ESV) | Pray for All People
1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. 7 For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. 8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; 9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire,10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.

Chorus. This is a positive because the song moves from this condemnation from the enemy right into the chorus where the singer is declaring the Truth of the Gospel (if we are assuming the “You” is Jesus Christ). I highlighted the Gospel portion in the passage above. You plead my cause (…there is one mediator between God and men), You gave your life (who gave himself as a ransom for all). The message of the Gospel is that Christ paid the penalty of our sin, and He who had no sin became sin in our place.

2 Corinthians 5:20-21 (ESV) 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

The second verse falls back into sharing some of the shared struggles we have with condemnation again, for the sins we commit. Again, the enemy seeks to break our worship and prayer by keeping us in despair thinking we’ve let God down. God knows our hearts… and His Word makes clear that He loved us even when we were lost sinners. Since our salvation is not a result of our works, it cannot be undone by our lack of perfection… it wasn’t our doing to begin with.

John 3:16-18 (ESV) | For God So Loved the World
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 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. 18 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.

By Grace we are saved, through faith. Whoever believes in Jesus Christ is not condemned. The bridge reflects back the availability of forgiveness and restoration when we fall. The “How Can it Be” reflects the Mystery of the Gospel.

1 John 1 (ESV) | The Word of Life
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 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. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Colossians 1:24-29 (ESV) | Paul’s Ministry to the Church
24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

For the Christian who is firmly planted in the Word of God, this song brings to mind many a great promise of the work of Christ on the cross. However… for the one who lacks knowledge found only in the Scriptures…

Concerns

This song is vague. The Name of Jesus isn’t named. The only non-pronoun reference is “the Holy One”. Now, the line “you gave your life” helps narrow it down to a Christian message, for only Christianity grants the message of God laying down His life to save creation. While we pointed to several Gospel texts and asserted that various lines in the song made inferences to them, the song itself doesn’t explain any of it.

There is no repentance. The only hard claim is the first line I am guilty. Any subsequent reference to sin is emotive (a feeling of dirty, disappointment, shame) or softened (I fall, let you down). The only reference to the Holiness of God is couched in a sense of condemnation. In fact, if you throw out the sound doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement, you lose sight of the fact that Jesus took the full brunt of the Wrath of God as payment for our sin. What remains is a language of sin as though it is a person and our enemy directly, apart from the Holiness of God. You get a Joel Osteen-esque language of sin being a system of “mistakes” or “blemishes” that Christ died to clean up for us. An improper view of sin (Law) undermines the Mystery of the Grace of God in the Gospel.

Conclusion

I wish the song had been written more explicitly, naming the Name of Jesus and calling for repentance. The song is written vaguely enough to suggest that everyone is forgiven already because of Christ, and that our biggest problem is the feeling of guilt/condemnation. It is so close to the Truth… but not quite there. For the Christian, particularly the one with sound doctrine filling in the blanks, this song is great. I believe it only needed some minor additions or adjustments to stand on its own. The problem comes when we encourage Christians (and unbelievers) declaring them forgiven without calling them to repentance. This is a major problem in the visible church and a common issue with these top-20 songs.

To God be the glory, Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “Jesus Loves Me” by Chris Tomlin

Presentation1Today is “Discernment in Music” (DiM) day here at Faithful Stewardship.

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)
4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

There has been a lot of movement in the Top 20 Charts. Today we will be taking a look at the #5 song “Jesus Loves Me” by Chris Tomlin. Overall, I think this is a nice chorus for Believers, but not a great song for evangelism to the unbeliever.

Official Music Video

Lyrics (via KLove Website)

Jesus Loves Me

Chris Tomlin from the album Love Ran Red

I was lost
I was in chains
The world had a hold of me

My heart was a stone
I was covered in shame
When He came for me

I couldn’t run, couldn’t run from His presence
I couldn’t run, couldn’t run from His arms

Jesus, He loves me, He loves me, He is for me
Jesus, how can it be, He loves me, He is for me

And it was a fire
Deep in my soul
I’ll never be the same

I stepped out of the dark
And into the light
When He called my name

I couldn’t run, couldn’t run from His presence
I couldn’t run, couldn’t run from His arms

He holds the stars and He holds my heart
With healing hands that bear the scars
The rugged cross where He died for me
My only hope, my everything

Publishing: © 2014 Worship Together Music / sixsteps Songs / S.D.G. Publishing (BMI) / 9T One Songs / Ariose Music (ASCAP) / SHOUT! Music Publishing (APRA)
Writer(s): Chris Tomlin, Reuben Morgan, and Ben Glover

Positive Elements

The Love of Jesus. The first thing that stands out in this song is that it is unambiguously declaring that Jesus Loves us. It begins with a confession that we are born with hearts of stone, covered in shame, and chained to the world.

Ephesians 2:1-10 (ESV) | By Grace Through Faith
1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 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— 3 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. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Paul is reminding the Ephesians of what Christ has done for them and who they were before the Gospel of Jesus Christ came to them, they were dead. Similarly, Chris Tomlin’s song starts as a reminder for what we all were before we heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ and before that hearing granted us saving faith in Christ Jesus.

Now, yes, Jesus does love us and there is no running from His presence nor His arms. The context here is odd, because there is a past-tense “couldn’t” of being in His arms and in His presence that suggests this was a positive truth prior to conversion/salvation/Gospel of Jesus Christ. The fact that we cannot escape the presence of God is a comfort to Christians walking in Grace, but it’s not a comfort for those walking in darkness of rebellion. We’ll explore the concern side of this later. For now, let’s look at the assurance we have once we’ve encountered the Grace of God in His Gospel.

John 3:16-21 (ESV) | For God So Loved the World
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 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. 18 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. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

John 10:24-30 (ESV) 24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

Notice in the underlined portions point to the negative side of the inescapable presence of God. For the unbeliever, this is a judgement in that the one who rejects the Gospel stands condemned already, for we were all born condemned… dead in sins and trespasses. That is not to say that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a mere litmus test whereby we can make a one-time check to see if someone is saved by God, but by God’s Grace those who believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ will be saved and those whose hearts are never penetrated by the Truth of God’s Word will continue in their condemned state and receive the due penalty of sin.

The Cross of Jesus. I was relieved to hear in the bridge the reference to the rugged cross of Jesus, where He died for our sin. On that cross, He atoned for the sin of mankind, so that all who believe in Christ might be saved.

Concerns

In this song, part of the message of the Gospel, the “brothers, what shall we do?” portion, is coded. Let’s look in Acts to see to what it is I’m referring, and then we’ll flesh it out in the song.

Acts 2:36-41 (ESV) 36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” 37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

What is missing from the song is the call to Repentance. The conversion of the singer is coded in the second verse of the song

I stepped out of the dark
And into the light
When He called my name

Now the “when he called my name” can be lined up to Acts 2:37, “…when they heard this they were cut to the heart…”. The “I stepped out of the dark and into the light” is where I get concerned, do we do this? Is this the answer Peter gave? Repent and be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins… There are a couple of doctrines that attempt to explain what goes on “behind the scenes” of salvation that point to the “automaticness” of salvation based on election, but even those doctrines acknowledge the call to repent.

Luke 24:44-48 (ESV) 44 Then [Jesus] said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.

Conclusion

Chris Tomlin writes many songs, choruses of praise and worship that are used in corporate worship. He is a premier figure in the Passion Conferences which focus on teens and college youth. Tomlin writes songs that are easy to sing along with as a congregation. He has written so many songs, all tend to be short and focused on an area of encouragement, worship, praise, or attitude. For corporate worship, the songs are not bad, but they rarely carry a full Law & Gospel message. If you are singing his songs in a church that teaches sound doctrine, where both Law and Gospel are rightly preached, then this song is a song of encouragement. But this song, on it’s own, doesn’t give the full Gospel, in that it doesn’t give the call or encouragement to Repent. When played on the radio, there is no reason to expect a context of balanced theology (although, I’d love it if more Christian Radio DJs intentionally balanced the song play for more complete theology), so outside of the Church setting, the song gives an incomplete picture, particularly to the unbeliever. You can’t “sell” the Gospel to the unbeliever by focusing on “all of the benefits” without presenting the Truth of the Law of God. That they are a sinner, born dead in sins and trespasses, and that they must repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.

1 Peter 4:1-11 (ESV) | Stewards of God’s Grace
1 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. 3 For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. 4 With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; 5 but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.

7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

To God be the glory, Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge