Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 27:57 thru 28

bibleLet us continue our walk through the Gospel According to Matthew. Last week we worked through Matthew 27:11-56.

Last week’s look within Matthew 27 took us from Pilate to the Cross. Today we’ll be closing out the Gospel According to Matthew. It’s been a long journey through this Gospel, and I’ve really enjoyed our time in the Word these several weeks.

Matthew 27:57-28:20 (ESV)

Matthew 27:57-61 (ESV) | Jesus Is Buried

57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59 And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.

Matthew 27:62-66 (ESV) | The Guard at the Tomb

62 The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63 and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 64 Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” 65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.

Notice how the chief priests and the Pharisees still insist in their unbelief that Jesus was an impostor. Their motivation is one of fear and envy, though. Notice that they were not the least bit comforted for having put a blasphemer to death (such was the false-accusation against Christ). Had their actions been borne of faith in a Living God, what would they have to fear of an “impostor”? But they lacked faith, and the god they served was not the One True GOD. As Jesus told them directly, they served their father the devil, who was a liar from the beginning.

John 8:39-47 (ESV) | You Are of Your Father the Devil
They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are doing the works your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

And now these schemers find themselves in opposition to the Son of God. They now scheme to prevent the prophecy of Christ’s Resurrection from coming to pass… as if the will of men could in any way hinder the Will of God. These men have deluded themselves into projecting onto the disciples some scheme of stealing the body and claiming the resurrection. The protection they set in place is overkill for preventing a band of Galileans from stealing a corpse… yet it is a pathetic attempt to stop the Hand of God.

Matthew 28:1-10 (ESV) | The Resurrection

28 Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.

The guards fainted. It is so frustrating to hear modern-day false prophets/teachers speak so flippantly about encounters with heavenly beings. Now, as for the women, the angel told them not to be afraid and gave them the good news of His resurrection. Yet, as they departed they were still with fear and great joy. Interesting how such seemingly opposing emotions can coexist for a time. Clearly the fear experienced was as great as the joy brought by the good news. Notice here that Jesus appears to them again to tell them “Do not be afraid”. That’s awesome. Jesus showed up, while they were on their way filled with fear and joy, to comfort them and confirm the word of the Lord spoken to them by an angel.

Matthew 28:11-15 (ESV) | The Report of the Guard

11 While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. 12 And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers 13 and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.

And still not a hint of repentance to be found. Truly these chief priests and the elders were condemned in their unbelief. A miraculous sign, and angelic being, and an empty tomb in keeping with the prophecy of Jesus concerning His own death and resurrection was performed in front of a most hardened and credible witness… the very guard they put in place to secure the tomb… and their hearts remained of stone. Indeed this lie persists unto this day, in many forms, some even within groups claiming to be the church, denying the real death and bodily resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, our atoning sacrifice.

Matthew 28:16-20 (ESV) | The Great Commission

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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,20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

At this point, Matthew has presented the story of Christ’s fulfillment of the prophecies of the Messiah to his Jewish audience. Where other writers share more of what takes place after the resurrection, Matthew sums it up rather quickly and then closes with what we refer to as the Great Commission. The Apostle Paul summed up the sequence of events succinctly in his letter to the Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 15:1-11 (ESV) | The Resurrection of Christ

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

Indeed we can rest assured that the account of His death and resurrection is credible, reliable, and true.

Until Next Week

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be looking at foreshadowing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ found in the Old Testament as we move into advent season and Christmas. I’m not yet sure how our Gospel Wednesday will proceed after this holiday season, but we will continue spending time in God’s Word and sharing it with the readers of this blog.

Jude 1:24-25 (ESV) | Doxology

24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Amen, indeed.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “Good Good Father” by Chris Tomlin

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

November 10, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Good Good Father” by Chris Tomlin which currently sits at #19 on the 20theCountdownMagazine.

The song opens up with an appeal to mystical direct-revelation much like that of Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling. We will do our best to rescue the song a bit from this mystical interpretation, but given that this is intended as a song for corporate worship that has gained popularity on the airwaves, it warrants a disapproval because it simply does not stand on its own. It fails to point the listener to Christ, it doesn’t call the sinner and saint to repentance and forgiveness so it isn’t fit for public consumption without contextual setting. As far as Corporate worship in a church setting goes, it does at least have a solid confession of the Goodness of God. However, there is a lot of junk in there and the song is not instructive for the Church; rather, it is quite mystical and contemplative in nature.

Chris Tomlin VEVO Lyrics & Chords Video

Lyrics (via KLove)

Good Good Father

Oh, I’ve heard a thousand stories
Of what they think You’re like
But I’ve heard the tender whisper
Of love in the dead of night
And You tell me that You’re pleased
And that I’m never alone

You’re a good good Father
It’s who You are, it’s who You are, it’s who You are
And I’m loved by You
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

Oh, and I’ve seen many searching
For answers far and wide
But I know we’re all searching
For answers only You provide
‘Cause You know just what we need
Before we say a word

You’re a good good Father
It’s who You are, it’s who You are, it’s who You are
And I’m loved by You
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

Cause You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways to us

You are perfect in all of Your ways
Oh, You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways to us

Oh, it’s love so undeniable
I, I can hardly speak
Peace so unexplainable
I, I can hardly think
As You call me deeper still
As You call me deeper still
As You call me deeper still
Into love, love, love

You’re a good good Father
It’s who You are, it’s who You are, it’s who You are
And I’m loved by You
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

You’re a good good Father
It’s who You are, it’s who You are, it’s who You are
And I’m loved by You
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am
You’re a good good Father

You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways

Publishing: ©2014 WorshipTogether.com Songs / sixsteps Music / Vamos Publishing / Housefires Sounds (ASCAP) / Capitol CMG Paragon / Common Hymnal Digital / Tony Brown BMI Designee (BMI) (admin. at CapitolCMGPublishing.com)
Writer(s): Pat Barrett and Tony Brown

Discussion

Chris Tomlin is indeed the most prolific songwriter in our day.  Much of what he’s written is marketed as “Praise and Worship” music intended for modern, contemporary, evangelical services. It’s rather impressive when you see the sheer volume of songs credited to him, until you start to look for substance in the lyric. Sadly, it is these songs that are most likely to pop up on one of these Top20 charts… rich theology isn’t what gets top billing in Christian radio airplay.

First off, the song is absolutely correct in its confession that believers serve a Good Good Father. In fact, God the Father is the standard by which we measure Good.

Mark 10:17-22 (ESV) | The Rich Young Man

17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

We know that Jesus, being God the Son, is Good; therefore, He is calling attention to this man’s pride and self-righteousness. Jesus exposes the man’s belief that he is good in his own sight, thus his definition of Good isn’t a proper one. When our definition of “good” is downgraded to a comparative goodness to our neighbor, it paves the wide path of self-righteousness which runs counter to the Gospel of Repentance.

The intended audience of a song written for corporate worship is those attending church. I wish that I could say “believers” but with so many churches these days running with the “churching the unchurched” model, that cannot be assumed. Evangelicalism is awash in entertainment and confusing attendance with regeneration… if you can just get sinners to keep coming back they are as good as “saved”. If you don’t preach Law and Gospel, you’re just entertaining unbelievers and giving them false-assurance of salvation by works (attending, volunteering, giving).

No Gospel in this Song

Nowhere in this song is Christ, the cross, sin, or repentance mentioned. The world doesn’t have a problem giving ascent to the idea of a Loving God when they are granted ample leeway to define what that Love looks like. They’ll sing along and really belt out “I am loved because its who I am” for as long as you want to repeat the Bridge… they can even declare His perfection in His Ways… as long as their sin is never addressed and they are never called to repentance.

No Biblical Instruction

Getting back to the problem of mystical direct-revelation, the first stanza doesn’t refute the lies of the world with Scripture… no… it appeals to tender whispers of love in the dead of night. /sigh.

There is also the truism of the refrain that “I am loved”. I say truism, because it is true in a broad sense that isn’t specifically salvific.

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.

Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)

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.

God’s perfect Love for us drives His Grace in delaying the judgement until the second coming of Christ and in giving His Only Son Jesus as an atoning sacrifice for sin. But salvation comes by grace through faith… and those who lack Faith in Him who bore our sins and transgressions in our place on the cross will taste the second death, the final judgement.

The Holy Spirit calls us to repentance and points us to Jesus Christ, the Only begotten Son of the Living God. There is a very awkward (contemplative/mystical/sensual) repetitive section in the song that I want to address regarding the as you call me deeper still into love. Let’s look to the Gospel According to John where Jesus gives the Promise (and teaches the role) of God the Holy Spirit.

John 14:15-31 (ESV) | Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. 18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. 25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.

Now, our human self-righteousness tends to hijack the language here regarding the “keeping of His commandments and His Word”. We all sin. This isn’t saying that one has to be sinless to love the Father. Wrong sense of the word “keep”. We should be reading this as in cherishing the Word of the Lord in our hearts in the Proverbs sense of the word.

Proverbs 1:1-7 (ESV) | The Beginning of Knowledge

The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:

To know wisdom and instruction,
    to understand words of insight,
to receive instruction in wise dealing,
    in righteousness, justice, and equity;
to give prudence to the simple,
    knowledge and discretion to the youth—
Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
    and the one who understands obtain guidance,
to understand a proverb and a saying,
    the words of the wise and their riddles.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
    fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Even if I can get past the nonsensical repetition of what can only be assumed a tender whisper of love in the dead of night from (Hopefully God the Holy Spirit), “come deeper still into love”… there is no instruction for the Believer in how to answer that call. King Solomon and his father King David pointed to the Word of the Lord. The Written Word of the Lord, even while they had a Prophet of the Lord in their midst. Psalm 119 is a great example, too. Bear in mind, though, that King David and King Solomon were also under the Law of Moses, so they were under obligation of the Law in addition to the Law of Faith. The Chris Tomlin song isn’t pointing to the external Word, the Written Word of God, it is pointing to some internalized emotional experience… an indulgence of whispers in the dead of night. Brothers and sisters, this is dangerous… and no where in Scripture are we instructed to seek God in this manner. We are instructed to seek Him in His Word. To grow in the fullness of the knowledge of Christ.

If only the we’re all searching was descriptive of the Church studying the Word of God. But no, that’s not where contemplatives search for God. They operate under the false-notion that if they engage in “spiritual disciplines” they can find God apart from Scripture… and so this confession of we’re all searching is one of a mystical approach… a fleshly, sensual, emotional one. No one seeks after God. God draws sinners by His Word. If His Word isn’t being preached, no one is seeking Him… they seek replacements for the God they’ve rejected.

Romans 3:9-31 (ESV) | No One Is Righteous

What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written:

None is righteous, no, not one;
11     no one understands;
    no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
    no one does good,
    not even one.
13 “Their throat is an open grave;
    they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14     “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15  “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16     in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
18     “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

The Righteousness of God Through Faith

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. 26 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.

27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

Law and Gospel. Law identifies sin, Gospel grants forgiveness by grace through faith.

Conclusion

The pendulum of “progressive Christianity” is still swinging left here in the US and we are actively exporting this brand of religion around the world. There are some who are trying to reverse the trend, trying to point out the error in slipping away from Sola Scriptura and instead turning to the schemes of men. I’m praying for a revival or reformation of evangelicalism to return once more to the written Word of God, to preaching Law and Gospel, sin and Grace, repentance and forgiveness in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Jude 24-25 (ESV) | Doxology

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “All I Need is You” by Lecrae

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

November 5, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “All I Need is You” by Lecrae. This song held the top spot on the Top Billboard Gospel Songs for the week of September 6, 2014. The Billboard chart really loves Lecrae, who held 4 of the 15 spots on the chart that week. Why are we reviewing this song today? Because I was driving my car this past Tuesday…

I’ve mentioned it before, but there are 2 main Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) stations in my area (Augusta, GA), WAFJ 88.3FM and Air1. I generally have my radio set to WAFJ, but I frequently have to switch to Air1 to dodge Beth Moore or some advertisement for a heretic coming to the area to speak at a local conference/church. Sometimes I just have to turn off the radio altogether. I don’t always remember to flip back to WAFJ, since while I’m driving that’s my priority… driving. This past Tuesday, while I was grabbing some fast food on my way back from errands, this song played on the radio. I was completely confused by it. Since I was in my car, waiting in the drive-thru line, I didn’t take the time to look up the back-story of the song… so I took to twitter with my first reaction after the song finished and the lyrics still tumbled in my mind…

confusedtweets

The first tweet went out just before I was handed my food. Once I got to my desk I finalized the DiM post for Tuesday and then started researching this Lecrae song to find some backstory. While this song does stay firmly in the “disapprove” category, I want to clearly state its intended context up-front. It was not properly setup by Air1 either in an intro or outro, so just hearing these lyrics in the mix of other vaguely “Christian” songs immediately tripped by “Jesus is my bearded girlfriend” brand of false-worship alarm. The lyrics themselves don’t clear it up, unfortunately, but I found an MTV interview that clarified Lecrae’s intent with the song. Not stellar, but at least it clears up the focus of the song… it’s to/for/about his wife, not God.

Let’s be honest — for all the great things that hip-hop has achieved culturally, shining a positive light on monogamous relationships certainly isn’t one of them. The genre has faced plenty of criticism for being misogynistic, and while we have to accept that a sizable portion of that is purely for entertainment, there are still very few artists waving the flag for healthy relationships. Lecrae hopes to change that, beginning with a song like “A I Need is You.”

“When you see Jay Z and Beyonce, [you think], okay, marriage is cool now. They set a trend and I think that’s healthy,” he explained. “It’s just continuing with that trend of — what if we’re monogamous? What if we’re consistent in our relationships? What if we tell the truth? What if we don’t lie? What if we don’t cheat? What if we love somebody and we’re not afraid to say it in a hip-hop song? You’ve gotta continue to set trends and be different.” Read More

Lecrae also did an interview with Billboard Music where this track was discussed a bit:

“I just want to be able to die saying I gave it my all in terms of being a voice,” says Lecrae. “All this stuff is nice to me — being seen and heard and all that stuff — and I’m sure that’s the dream for a lot of people. But for me, they’re hammers and nails. So it’s like, the Grammy is a hammer, but what am I going to build with it?”

Lecrae is well aware that the fans who have carried him this far — from the Christian music community to the stadium locker rooms — may worry that he will leave the inspirational message behind as he eyes the mainstream. “Some people assume that you’re now going to be talking about whatever appeals to culture,” says Lecrae. “Like, ‘Now you’re going to be talking about drugs and sex.’ I’m not going to do that. But I will be talking about things that both people in the church and out of the church are concerned with and think about. Love. This whole video shoot is about love and being in love, and everybody can relate to that.”

As if on cue, Darragh enters the kitchen carrying their son, who has just been woken up from his afternoon nap. The little boy is not happy about this, aggressively rubbing his eyes and fighting consciousness.

“Hey, champ!” whispers Lecrae. “I love you!” Darragh hands the toddler to Lecrae, and the child nuzzles his head into his father’s chest and seems to relax. “Consistency, man; integrity, character — [I’m just] representing those aspects that are not, for whatever reason, within hip-hop culture,” he continues. “It’s almost like people can’t even believe that they can coexist. That’s a win for me, for people to be able to say, ‘Faith, fatherhood, monogamy exists in hip-hop.’ Yes, we’re here.” Read More

While these interviews give enough clarity for me to back down from my first tweet regarding this song, it doesn’t tip me in favor of this song being played on Christian Radio. Why? Because I struggle to find any Christian message in either of these interviews. Sure, the label “Christian” pops up here and there, but not pointing to Christ. The word “gospel” gets mentioned, but the Gospel isn’t being proclaimed. There was even mention of a cross… the one that Lecrae bears (a stigma of being a bible-thumping Christian), not the Cross of Jesus Christ. With all of this in place, let’s now look at today’s song.

Lecrae Reach Records Video

Lyrics (via Air1)

All I Need is You

By my side, thick and thin
Highs and lows, don’t let go
We gone ride, we gone win
Don’t know how, all I know
(All I need is you)

Keep me in my timezone when my mind’s gone
When I’m flying home
And I’m stressed out and I’m tempted to get that styrofoam
And go pour it up, but you know what’s up
And you know that ain’t gone solve nothing
I mean Lord forbid I might fall or something
And I’m all or nothing cause (all I need is you)
To hold me down like bed straps to the psych ward
It’s killing me but you still with me when I fight hard
And (all I need is you)
You diggin’ me when I’m iggin’ you
Get with me when my card’s pulled
Coulda dealt with me but you fell for me ‘for I fell for you
To keep me on that right path and the right math
Cause you plus nothin’s everything
You my everything, saying
(All I need is)
You, ain’t gotta question my allegiance
Cause the way you love me I could never leave ya, I need ya

You, you’re all I ever needed
You’re all I ever needed

You, you’re all I ever needed
You’re all I ever needed

How did I fall in this?
No condition that get a mention but you offer this
Unconditional love, I swear I sell it all for this
I’m tryna keep it together, forgive my awkwardness
But umm, often it’s just you and me off in this
Valley of shadows and I know they tryna pick me off in this
But all I need is you
It’s funny just how off I get when I ain’t riding with you
No adjectives for yo’ awesomeness
They burning one for that burn out
This life done got ‘em all turnt out
Took time out to put time in so I turn to you when I’m worn out
All I need is you
You slow me down cause you know me now with my phony smile
And I’m acting like it’s all copacetic
It’s so pathetic, so juvenile
Know what you do
You keep me cool in the summer
When they be dressing less and I be wantin’ to show off and stunt
There ain’t nothing to want, you give me all that I need
All I need is you to keep that fire burning for me
All I need is you

You, you’re all I ever needed
You’re all I ever needed

You, you’re all I ever needed
You’re all I ever needed

Ain’t nobody gone get in the way
Put that on my money in the bank
Cause you do what them others can’t
And I love that, yea
We gone ride till the wheels fall off
Above it all, we can never fall, yea
Hold my hand, we can have it all
Hold my hand, we can have it all

You, you’re all I ever needed
You’re all I ever needed

You, you’re all I ever needed
You’re all I ever needed

You always pick me up when I’m feelin’ down
You always make it better for me some how
All I need is you, cause all I need is you
(All I need is you)

Publishing: Fellowship of The Unashamed (BMI) A Man Broke Free (ASCAP) Dramatic Pen Publishing/Almo Music Corp (ASCAP) Unashamed Music/Joseph Prielozny Music (ASCAP) Before I Die Publishing (BMI)
Writer(s): Lecrae Moore, Dustin Bowie, Latasha Williams, Joseph Prielozny, Chris Mackey

Discussion

God doesn’t even get an honorable mention in this song. There is a “Lord forbid I might fall or something”, but that’s just a turn of phrase like “heaven forbid” or “goodness knows”. The hook is “All I Need is You” with a backup track that echos “you’re all I ever needed”… when played on a CCM Radio station, I’m thinking the “you” is intended to be God the Father, the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Our LORD and Savior. But I’m thankful that is not the case, considering how many of the lines would fall into works-based self-righteousness in that setup. However, since this is a song sung to his wife, we have a different set of problems. The song has several lines of praise to his wife that leave Jesus out of the picture:

To keep me on that right path and the right math, Cause you plus nothin’s everything, You my everything, saying (All I need is)

You, you’re all I ever needed

But umm, often it’s just you and me off in this Valley of shadows and I know they tryna pick me off in this But all I need is you

There is no context given to frame this praise that could leave any room for a Christ-honoring relationship. I get the desire to promote monogamy, but God created marriage and He did so to point us to Him. The Apostle Paul anchored his admonishment for married couples in Christ, and we should do the same…

Ephesians 5:15-33 (ESV)

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Wives and Husbands

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is fully articulated in Paul’s teaching on the marriage relationship. So how can a Christian artist get through an entire love song to his wife without even mentioning our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? By focusing on appealing to MTV and Billboard while “bearing the cross” of them assuming certain things about his Christianity… like that he would talk them through the Bible. Well, there’s no bible in this song. Sure, the Valley of Shadows gets a mention, but it’s okay… Lecrae only needs his wife… no one else. Never mind that when David wrote Psalm 23, the “You” is the LORD, not one of David’s wives.

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

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

Conclusion

I find myself quite angry once again, only this time my anger is pointed more at Air1 for playing the song than for Lecrae for producing it. It’s our job to be discerning. Read through the MTV and Billboard interviews… Lecrae is aiming for secular relevance… his profession of Christianity is what he relies on to make him look unique in a sea of hip-hop.

“I always liked the content of a Common, but the commercial viability of a Lil Jon,” says Lecrae, who along with Washer (the two had no formal business background) launched Reach Records in Dallas in 2004. “And I would say, ‘Why don’t those worlds ever come together?’ So for me it was like, ‘Let’s do that.'” Read More

There is a need for Christian Music to preach Law to expose sin in all areas, including sexual purity, marriage, and fidelity… but CCM is seriously lacking in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Instead it is awash in legalism, man-made law, and mysticism and idolatry. Your marriage is a gift from God intended to point you to Him. Our sinful flesh will always strive to worship the created rather than the Creator (Romans 1). Humble yourselves in repentance, and know that Christ died to pay the penalty for our sin, so that by His Grace we are saved through Faith in Christ Jesus.

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 (ESV)

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Gospel Wednesday | Matthew 27:11-56

bibleLet us continue our walk through the Gospel According to Matthew. Last week we worked through Matthew 26:30-27:10.

Last week’s look at the remainder of Matthew 26 flowed into the beginning of 27 so that we could close the loop on Judas. His life ended in a repentance that only led him back to the murderous, unbelieving chief priests and elders who paid Judas to betray the Christ. Judas then took his own life in condemnation. The witness of the Gospel accounts confirms Judas, the betrayer, did not truly repent and indeed died in his unbelief.

Matthew 27:11-56 (ESV)

As we continue working through Matthew 27, we see Jesus standing before Pilate. There were legal limits imposed upon the Jews as a result of the Roman occupation. Crucifixion was a Roman form of execution, not a Jewish one, so these chief priests and elders sought the most destructive, painful, and disgraceful form of execution in the known world, and they needed Rome to do it.

Matthew 27:11-14 (ESV) | Jesus Before Pilate

11 Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You have said so.” 12 But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” 14 But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.

Jesus was innocent of every charge. His silence was a necessary part of His obedience to God the Father unto death. The fact of the matter is this: Jesus couldn’t be guilty of blasphemy because He is, in truth, God the Son. Jesus is the pure and spotless Lamb of God.

Matthew 27:15-23 (ESV) | The Crowd Chooses Barabbas

15 Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. 16 And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. 17 So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” 18 For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. 19 Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.” 20 Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” 22 Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” 23 And he said, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”

Your flesh chooses sin, it doesn’t choose Jesus the Christ, Son of the Living God. It is corrupted by sin and drawn to itself rather than to God. Here, the chief priests and the elders have led Israel to destroy the Son of Man. Unjustly. Praise be to God for His Grace and Mercy in allowing this to happen, so that by His stripes, we are healed from our death and sealed with the promise of new life in the Resurrection. I know, I’m getting ahead of myself, but I can’t help it.

Matthew 27:24-26 (ESV) | Pilate Delivers Jesus to Be Crucified

24 So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” 25 And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” 26 Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.

I wonder if Pilate modeled the ceremonial hand washing of which the chief priests chastised Jesus and His disciples for skipping before eating (Mark 7:1-8). The Tradition of the Elders had invented ways of washing off the uncleanliness that may have been transferred onto them from those in the market place, so that they would not be made unclean in eating with unclean hands. None of it is Scripture, it’s from the so-called Oral Tradition (Pharisaical). Interesting how even in being dead in sins and trespasses, we have an inkling of an understanding that we need to have our sins and transgressions (Baptism) but this is a work that God must do for us, not one that we can do for ourselves. Pilate is no more innocent of blood for having washed his hands than the elders who seek His crucifixion. It is eerie to see the people declare boldly, “His blood be on us and on our children!” No doubt this pierced the hearts of all who listened on the day of Pentecost when Peter declared the following:

Acts 2:22-23 (ESV) “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.

Peter points out that the Jews crucified Jesus by the hands of lawless men (the Romans who are not under the Mosaic Law). Yet, God in His Mercy and Grace to His creation… made this the very means by which our sins and transgressions are washed away… by the Blood of Jesus… shed on the Cross.

Matthew 27:27-31 (ESV) | Jesus Is Mocked

27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. 28 And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. 31 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.

Matthew 27:32-44 (ESV) | The Crucifixion

32 As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross. 33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), 34 they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. 35 And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots.36 Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. 37 And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”38 Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. 39 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41 So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, 42 “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.

Matthew 27:45-56 (ESV) | The Death of Jesus

45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”47 And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.”48 And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. 49 But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” 50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.

51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 54 When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”

55 There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, 56 among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

Truly this is the Son of God! The detail of the curtain of the temple is vitally important. The significance of this is something the Jewish readers of Matthew’s account would have recognized immediately. Being a Gentile, I’m very grateful for the writer of Hebrews expounding on this for us so beautifully. If you wish to understand the covenants, read through Hebrews as a single document. In the interest of time, we’ll read through portions pertaining to the curtain of the temple and the significance of its rending at Christ’s death on the cross.

God’s Promise to Abraham

As Christians we are made sons of Abraham by faith, into the Promise that God made to Abraham after he did not withhold his son, his only son Isaac.

Genesis 22:14-18 (ESV) So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”

We’ll be revisiting this passage as a foreshadowing of Christ in the Old Testament in the weeks following our closing of the Gospel According to Matthew. But this is the backdrop for what we will  now read in Hebrews.

Hebrews 6:13-20 (ESV) | The Certainty of God’s Promise

13 For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, 14 saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” 15 And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. 16 For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. 17 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, 18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. 19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

The writer of Hebrews is delineating the Mosaic Covenant from the New Covenant of Christ’s Blood, so in this next portion where he writes “the first covenant” he’s referring to that of Moses.

Hebrews 9:1-10 (ESV) | The Earthly Holy Place

Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness. For a tent was prepared, the first section, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence. It is called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a second section called the Most Holy Place, having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail. These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation.

Hebrews 10:1-4 (ESV) | Christ’s Sacrifice Oncefor All

For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Hebrews 10:12-14 (ESV) But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

Hebrews 10:19-25 (ESV) | The Full Assurance of Faith

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Amen. The rending of that curtain isn’t just about showing God’s power, but about the end of the first covenant… because it was now superseded by the Blood of Jesus Christ and His finished work on the Cross.

Until Next Week

Next week we’ll be working through the remainder of the Gospel According to Matthew. I do hope you join us for that. In the meantime, spend some time in the Word and in fellowship with the Body of Christ. Love God, Love Neighbor, repent and be forgiven in Jesus’ Name.

Jude 1:24-25 (ESV) | Doxology

24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Amen, indeed.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “Just Be Held” by Casting Crowns

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

November 3, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Just Be Held” by Casting Crowns which currently sits at #15 on the 20theCountdownMagazine.

I tend to hold bands like Casting Crowns to a higher standard because they are not simply musicians, they are youth pastors.  Whatever song they (and other “youth pastor” bands) put out is going to be assumed to carry a Christian message because, for one, the song will play on Christian radio stations, and doubly-so because Mark Hall is a youth pastor (article). The context of these DiM posts remains unchanged, we take each song individually to see if it squares with Scripture. We check the messaging of the song to see if it indeed conveys a Christian message (Law and Gospel) to a recognizable target audience (unbeliever or believer or both). While this song falls short, it is important to remember that Casting Crown still produces themed albums, and the vagueness of this song might be addressed more fully in the remaining songs of the album. Such is outside of our context here.

Casting Crowns Official Lyric Video

Lyrics (via Casting Crowns Website)

Just Be Held

Hold it all together
Everybody needs you strong
But life hits you out of nowhere
And barely leaves you holding on

And when you’re tired of fighting
Chained by your control
There’s freedom in surrender
Lay it down and let it go

So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your worlds not falling apart, its falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held

If your eyes are on the storm
You’ll wonder if I love you still
But if your eyes are on the cross
You’ll know I always have and I always will

And not a tear is wasted
In time, you’ll understand
I’m painting beauty with the ashes
Your life is in My hands

Lift your hands, lift your eyes
In the storm is where you’ll find Me
And where you are, Ill hold your heart
I’ll hold your heart
Come to Me, find your rest
In the arms of the God who wont let go

Publishing: © 2013 Sony/ATV Tree Publishing (BMI) All rights on behalf of Sony/ATV Tree Publishing administered by Sony/ATV. / My Refuge Music (BMI) (adm. at CapitolCMGPublishing.com) / Songs of Universal, Inc. (BMI) / G650 Music (BMI) / Songs for Emily Music Publishing (ASCAP). All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Writer(s): Mark Hall, Bernie Herms, Matthew West

Discussion

After listening to this song for the first time, I had some strong concerns over the shallowness of the message. After last week’s DiM post, I wanted to make sure that I was giving each song a fair shake, so I asked my wife to assist me in this review. Now before we discuss the song for ourselves, let us review what Casting Crowns share on their website regarding this song.

“I was out with my students surfing in Florida once and we were just learning how to get up and how to do this thing. I never mastered it, but when I got the closest to getting on the board a wave hit me and I went rolling.  I rolled so many times that I realized I didn’t know where up was. I couldn’t figure out where the air was. The light was going everywhere and that was a terrifying feeling of no control (absolutely no control). I think when life’s storm hits us, that’s what we’re looking for. We’re looking for something we can grab onto and steady ourselves…we may even look at our faith that way. I need to grab onto God and steady myself, but what I’m finding even in our recent storm of life with our little girl Hope, and all the things that she’s been through medically, is that I just can’t grab a hold of something. What I’ve got to understand is that God is taking a hold of me. Instead of being the ‘fixer Daddy’ that grabs a hold of whatever I can and makes this work, I’ve got to understand that I’m already in His hands. I’m already being held and I’m already in His control and in His protection, even in the chaos. This song, to me, reminds me that I am being held by Him. As crazy as it is when I look around me, I’ve got to rest in that truth.”

My wife gave the song a listen and after listening to the song, we discussed several points we will be exploring later in this post. Then I asked my wife to read the above description, and her response was, “Well, so the song is a positive secular song with a really moving back-story performed by a professing Christian“. I quite agree.

So, let’s take a look at the lyric of the song. Who is the target audience of this song? Based on the back-story and some context clues in the chorus and in the second verse, I think it is safe to assume this song is intended for believers. While that doesn’t mean we don’t need to hear the Gospel in this song, it merely means that we needn’t make allowances for how this song comes across to an unbeliever. We don’t expect this song to be played for the unbeliever to understand, and that’s okay, as long as we are aware of this.

Verse 1. The general theme of this first verse is that the listener is living his (or her) life as he sees fit,  under his own control and that in so doing he is resisting God from taking care of things for him. There is an odd separation between the Christian life and the “life” that  supposedly hits us out of nowhere. But life doesn’t come out of nowhere… it’s always right here, in our faces. Sure, we sometimes engage in escapism and choose to ignore life for a season, but we are the ones taking a leave of absence… life continues. More importantly, “life” isn’t some impersonal cosmic force like fate or karma. There is no such thing as “life” separate from God. There is only the Creator, the created, sin, death, grace, forgiveness, and the resurrection for those who Believe. So the song is addressing an errant worldview in the listener, but it isn’t identifying that worldview as errant. Instead, it attempt to provide an answer within the framework of that worldview, that the believer who is struggling to keep “life” under control should instead simply let go of his struggling. While some might argue that the message here is to cast your cares on Christ, that isn’t the language of the turn at the end of this verse. The main problem with this verse, is how it encourages the notion that when things get tough, it’s because of something you did or didn’t do, and the solution is to let go and stop holding on. As a blanket problem & solution statement, it falls flat.

James 1:2-4 (ESV) | Testing of Your Faith

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Steadfastness isn’t really the same as let go and stop holding on. It’s more of a hold on and stand firm idea. There is also the phrase, “there is freedom in surrender”… not found in Scripture. But it does seem to be a popular charismatic theme… the idea of “surrendering to the spirit” is central to New Age Presence theology. For most, the idea of discerning the spirits runs contrary to this finding freedom in surrender to the spirit. On a practical level… just what is the listener supposed to do with the notion of “surrendering or letting go”? Sound theology tells us to confess sin, repent, and place our faith in Christ Jesus. In his closing remarks to his second letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul writes, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (ESV)

Chorus. The chorus doesn’t help provide any clarity, really. Sure, the listener is on his knees (either in prayer or in worship), but looking for answers? We look to the scriptures for answers, we pray for strength, forgiveness, mercy, and grace… but prayer is a one-way street. We pray to God, and trust in Him to provide for our needs according to His Will and for His Glory. But when we take this line of the chorus and flip it, what do we get? We get an assumption that spending time on our knees in prayer should produce answers. Do we worship God to get answers or do we worship Him because He is God? No, don’t look to Victoria Osteen for the answer, she’s way off-base. We pray to God because He is God. We make our petitions known to Him, we confess our sins and ask forgiveness, and we worship and trust Him because of Who He Is.

The line in the chorus that really stands out as problematic for me and doubly-so for my wife, is Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place. Presumptuous blanket assertion. Dear Christian, the world is falling apart. It’s going to be utterly destroyed. Your world isn’t yours… and while there are times when things will be better and make sense in this life, that isn’t always the case… because this world is not our home.

1 John 2:15-17 (ESV) | Do Not Love the World

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

If the goal is to rescue the messaging of this song, then I say focus entirely on letting go of Your World. Let go of your dreams, aspirations, self-proclaimed destinies. In this way, we can at least save 2 lines of the song, for God is on His throne. When you hear “just let go” instead think, “do not be anxious for anything”. Our hope is not in our selves, or in our circumstances, our hope is in the Lord.

1 Peter 1:3-9 (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. 6 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.

Peter wasn’t puffing up his readers with false hope in everyone’s world “falling into place” in this life. Peter was pointing them to the Resurrection, to the Kingdom of Heaven. We should do likewise in our speech, prayer, and songs.

In the end, we get the call to just be held. Well, that’s great… I’m sure this is quite the comfort for the believer enduring real trials and tribulations in this life. This is where we need the body of Christ, our brothers and sisters in the household of faith. To encourage us in the Word, to extend grace and good works for the up-building of the body of Christ.

James 2:14-17 (ESV) | Faith Without Works Is Dead

14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

So, while the song directs the listener inwardly or surrendering in a mystical sense, God’s word urges us to love one another in Christ Jesus. Modern Evangelicalism is drowning in self-focused emotional mysticism… some of it even taking on a sensual note (thankfully, not in this song).

Verse 2. The second verse is better than what we’ve seen thus far in the song. However, there is still the subtle conditional statements that seem to hinge knowledge of the truth upon what the listener does. IF your eyes are on the storm you’ll doubt…, but IF your eyes are on the cross you’ll know… The target audience of this song is already suffering from thinking they need to do something to merit favor… and the song has given the listener empty commands to “just let go” and “stop holding on” and “just be held”… when the listener needs to hear, “your sins are Forgiven you, You are Mine, no one can take you out of My Hand, I am coming back soon, this world is not your home, I’ve gone to prepare a place for you, etc” the real Promises of God to His Bride, to His Body, to His Children. My point being that the truth is the truth even if your eyes are fixated on the storm. Tell me the truth to get my eyes off of the lie, don’t place the truth behind a contingency of me first getting my eyes off of what I’m fearing. That’s too much like “seek God and then the Gospel will set you free”… which is backward.

Bridge/Close. The best line in the entire song is Come to Me, Find your rest. I have a feeling that this was the intended message of the entire song… but it faltered in its execution. Trying to comfort a believer who is burdened by a false worldview without correcting that worldview is an exercise in futility. It’s like trying to treat an infected wound without removing the foreign object. When it comes to finding rest in Christ Jesus, I think the best place to look is Hebrews 4.

Hebrews 4 (ESV)

Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said,

“As I swore in my wrath,
‘They shall not enter my rest,’”

although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” And again in this passage he said,

“They shall not enter my rest.”

Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.”

For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.

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.

Jesus the Great High Priest

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.

Amen. This rest doesn’t come by striving, or by escaping, or by lying to yourself (so-called “positive thinking”); rather, this rest comes by Grace through Faith in Christ Jesus.

Conclusion

If the best line in the song could have been made more clear earlier in the song, I probably wouldn’t have disapproved of it. In fact, I’m still somewhat torn on the disposition of this song on the list, but the errors in the song are significant. We can’t just allow such a sloppy worldview to persist while seeking to encourage a struggling brother/sister in Christ. In the end, the problems outweigh the marginal benefits of vague appeals to churchy sayings like “let go and let God” or “find freedom in surrender” or other such nonsense. As Stewards of God’s Grace and His Written Word, we can do better than that. We must do better than that… Preach the Word, both in season and out of season.

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 (ESV)

16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge