DiM | “Magnify” by We Are Messengers

Presentation1CCM Edition.

September 20, 2016. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Magnify” by We Are Messengers which currently sits at #20 on 20TheCountdownMagazine.

Musically, the song is quite nice. Emotionally impactful. The singer has a great voice. Lyrically, the song is missing one major ingredient, the Bible. God’s Written Word. The revelation of Christ to His Church. This sort of Bible-less Christianity is the result of American Christianity having been infected by gnostic mysticism. To rescue this song, the listener needs to already know where to look to see Christ. Not in our emotions (not even the positive ones), not in nature (though it declares His Glory), but in the Word of God. As we read Scripture, we rely on God the Holy Spirit to open up our eyes to the Truth that is there, in plain sight. Let’s take a look at the Official Music Video and then the Lyrics.

Official Music Video

 

Lyrics (via Air1)

Verse 1
I’ve been trying to make sense of the sorrow that I feel
Holding on for life to the only thing that’s real
I’ve only scratched the surface, I’ve barely had a taste
But just a glimpse draws my heart to change
And one sight of you lays my sin to waste
I don’t need to see everything just more of you

(chorus)
Take it all, take it all away
Magnify no other name
Open up, open up my eyes
To you

Take it all, take it all away
Magnify no other name
Open up, open up my eyes
To you

Verse 2
My sight is incomplete and I’ve made you look small
I’ve been staring at my problems for way too long
Re-align where my hope is set, until you’re all that’s left
But just a glimpse draws my heart to change
And one sight of you lays my sin to waste
I don’t need to see everything just more of you

(chorus)
Take it all, take it all away
Magnify no other name
Open up, open up my eyes
To you

Take it all, take it all away
Magnify no other name
Open up, open up my eyes
To you

Bridge
Oh God be greater, than the worries in my life
Be stronger, than the weakness in my mind
Be louder, let your Glory come alive
Be magnified

Oh God be greater, than the worries in my life
Be stronger, than the weakness in my mind
Be louder, let your Glory come alive
Be magnified

(chorus)
Take it all, take it all away
Magnify no other name
Open up, open up my eyes
To you, to you

Take it all, take it all away
Magnify no other name
Open up, open up my eyes
To you, to you

Publishing: © 2015 Dayspring Music, LLC (BMI) / So Essential Tunes, Not Just Another Song Publishing (SESAC) (All rights on behalf of So Essential Tunes and Not Just Another Song Publishing adm. by Essential Music Publishing LLC) Produced by Jonathan Smith & Casey Brown
Writer(s): Darren Mulligan/Casey Brown/Jonathan Smith

Discussion

The problem being presented in the song is real. We, sinners, are distracted by our temptation to sin. To worry. To despair. It’s a very real problem that is addressed in Scripture. Let’s look at what Christ taught.

Matthew 6:25-33 (ESV)“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.

What does it mean to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness? It means to seek Christ and Him crucified for your sin, repent and be forgiven in His Name. The righteousness of God is the forgiveness He gives to you in exchange for your sin. This is by faith alone in Christ’s finished work on the cross. When our flesh tempts us to earn our own righteousness by lawkeeping, well… that’s when the anxiety, fear, and condemnation sets in. Such is the concern we see the Apostle Paul having for the Galatians who were misled back into works-based righteousness by submitting to the Law of circumcision. Paul isn’t only concerned about this unnecessary surgical act, but in the return to Mosaic Law-keeping rather than faith in Christ Jesus.

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!

These are extremely strong words from Paul, because this is a serious issue.

But, Jorge, what does this have to do with the song? Good question. This is only the first point I want to drive home, that Scripture teaches us to look to Christ and His kingdom rather than ourselves, our good works, our provisions… because to look to anything else is to be severed from Christ. If we’re giving this song its best construction, we have to view the over arching appeal of the song to be anchored in this truth. So, this is a strength in the concept of the song, that we are to be focused on Christ, not our circumstances, emotions, fears, or our own good works (or utter lack thereof).

The problem with the song is in its offered solution. It suggests that we are somehow supposed to see Christ directly. There is absolutely no mention of finding Him in His Word. The video doesn’t suggest it in any way… nor does it even suggest finding Christ among fellow believers gathered around the Preaching of God’s Word (definition of the Church). This is a giant hole in the theology of this song. To presume to see God apart from where He has revealed Himself is to engage in Mysticism. There is a bit of gnosticism rumbling in the background of this American ideology that is currently driving this closed-Bible Christianity, or even anti-Bible preaching of Andy Stanley.

It is important that we counter and guard against this gnostic mysticism. God has revealed Himself to us. Let’s examine this in steps. God the Father has revealed Himself fully in God the Son, Jesus.

John 14:1-9 (ESV) | I Am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

We don’t see Jesus in the flesh today, for He is in Heaven at the Right Hand of the Father. He will return. His Promise is sure. What we have is Christ fully revealed to us in Scripture. To make this case, I’d like to first pull a very clear teaching of Christ to His disciples, one from Luke’s account of the sending out of the Apostles, and another from John’s account of the night He was betrayed.

Luke 10:16 (ESV) “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

John 13:20 (ESV) Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

And where do we find the teaching of those whom Jesus sent? In the New Testament. Most of the Epistles were written by the Apostles themselves, and the others contain their teaching. Receive their teaching and you receive Christ. Receive Christ and you receive God the Father. How do we receive this? By the work of the Holy Spirit in preserving God’s Word, drawing us, granting us Faith, and delivering the forgiveness and the Righteousness of God (Jesus Christ) to us. He saves us by Grace through Faith.

Romans 10:17 (ESV) So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

The flip side of this is that if we reject the teaching of Christ’s Apostles we reject Christ and God the Father. Sidenote: There are no living Apostles. Only charlatans and blasphemers claiming a level of authority they weren’t given, making promises in the name of God that He doesn’t make, twisting scripture to gather disciples unto themselves. These are the same as those against whom Paul was writing to the Galatians. 

Is it wrong to want to see Christ? Absolutely not. We all long to see Him return in the way He has promised in His Word.

Acts 1:10-11 (ESV) And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

But to attempt to reach around where Christ has told us to find Him (In His Word and in the teaching of His Apostles) is to repeat the error of Thomas.

John 20:28-31 (ESV) Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His Name.

So this is the great error of this song. The attempt to skip right over the Scriptures and to demand to see Christ directly. Those singing the song haven’t seen Him directly, yet they present this as the goal or solution to the problem being presented in the song.

Conclusion

On its own, the song lyric fails to present the Gospel in any meaningful way. However, if we reshape the arch of the song to have all points leading to the Scriptures as the sole solution to the problems presented, we can rescue most of the themes in this song. I’m happy that this song can be rescued, but frustrated that it relies solely on the listener’s solid theology to rescue.

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 | “Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace)” by Hillsong Worship

disapproveEvangelical Worship Edition.

August 25, 2016. So, it’s been a while since we last took a look at an Evangelical Worship song. Today we’re taking a look at “Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace)” from Hillsong Worship. I pulled this song from the “popular songs” list found at WorshipTogether.com, a website that pushes a majority of the “contemporary worship” music to music leaders around the world. They promote all things Passion, Hillsong, Jesus Culture (Bethel), and those who mimic their style. None of these “ministries” preach sound doctrine, yet countless churches around the globe are using their songs in their services.

The theology coming out of Hillsong isn’t a theology of the Cross (though the cross gets mentioned); rather, it is a theology of glory. They preach the christian and the christian life rather than Christ crucified for our sins. We’ll see that in today’s song. We’ll also see that Hillsong avoids sin, repentance, and forgiveness. Hillsong doesn’t preach original sin Biblically, instead they preach of our innate potential for greatness that is broken, until we give ourselves to God and then He’ll put us back together and set us on our destined path to greatness that will itself shine a light to the broken people of the world, so that they, in turn, might also do what we have done to become what we can become. Theology of Glory.

Official Lyric Video

Well, the video runs through the lyrics of the song in under 4min. However, it’s a 9:28min video. What’s going on for the remaining five and a half minutes? Emotional manipulation. The Hillsong doctrine of worship is to “invite the Presence of the spirit” through emotional ‘worship’. Music is powerful, and moves the flesh like nothing else on earth.

Lyrics (via WorshipTogether)

VERSE 1
All these pieces
Broken and scattered
In mercy gathered
Mended and whole
Empty handed
But not forsaken
I’ve been set free
I’ve been set free

PRE-CHORUS
Amazing grace
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost
But now I’m found
Was blind but now I see

CHORUS
Oh I can see You now
Oh I can see the love in Your eyes
Laying Yourself down
Raising up the broken to life

VERSE 2
You take our failure
You take our weakness
You set Your treasure
In jars of clay
So take this heart Lord
I’ll be your vessel
The world to see
Your life in me

Writer(s): Joel Houston, Jonas Myrin
CCLI #: 7019974

Discussion

Now, the song pulls from the hymn by John Newton called Amazing Grace. That song serves as a reminder of the Grace of God and the assurance of the Promise of the Resurrection in Christ Jesus, an eternity in the Kingdom of God. A reminder that God’s Grace is greater than our sin. The hymn doesn’t teach a lot of Scripture, it’s purpose is to remind the congregation of what they’ve already been taught concerning salvation and the forgiveness of sin. There are 6 verses to that song which bear out the theology. Our song today from Hillsong, only pulls the one verse and uses it as a pre-chorus. This verse of “Amazing Grace” doesn’t stand on its own. It really needs the other verses for clarity. Hillsong’s verses and chorus don’t add any clarity to the doctrine.

Verse 1. This verse is a mystically muddled mess. There is absolutely no clarity in these lines. Remember the point of Hillsong worship, it is to create mental imagery, to evoke a deeply felt emotion or sensation of feeling the Presence of the spirit… it isn’t clarity of thought or teaching they seek. The less they define, the less they have to explain and the more of the burden they can place on you. But knowing enough of Hillsong’s doctrine, we can attempt to fill in the thoughts they are aiming for. All these pieces Broken and scattered is Hillsong’s replacement for “born dead in trespasses and sins” in Eph 2.

Ephesians 2:1-3 (ESV) | By Grace Through Faith

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

Hillsong doesn’t preach sin and repentance. Instead, they want to be as inclusive as possible, so instead of referencing the Law of God through which the Holy Spirit works to convict the world of sin, Hillsong will used coded language of broken pieces scattered so that those who reject the concept of sin can still play along, because everyone can relate to brokenness, no faith required for that. No repentance, either. You see, when you can cloak sinfulness as something we are a victim of, then you cannot lovingly make a call to repent. Now, are we broken? Yes. We are fallen. We are born dead in sins, and we actively pursue sin. Once we’ve been granted saving Faith in Christ Jesus, our flesh is still broken, and actively works against the Spirit. So, yes, we are broken, but not as mere victims of some external force. That brokenness is in the seat of our passions, from our fleshly hearts flow sinful desires, lusts, passions, of which we are to repent and die to, daily, in Jesus’ Name. By Faith in Him.

In mercy gathered, Mended and whole. What’s missing? Forgiveness. You can’t speak of forgiveness when you avoid speaking of sin. What is the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Forgiveness. Jesus didn’t preach “wholeness and a victorious life”, He preached “Repent! for the Kingdom of God is at hand” (Matthew 4:12-17). What we desperately need is repentance and the forgiveness of sin. Another glaring issue with this language, is that without the objective Truth of God’s Word of forgiveness of sins in Christ Jesus, we are left looking for our own mendedness and wholeness for the assurance of salvation. How absolutely horrible to bind someone to a pursuit of fleshly perfection for the assurance of his/her salvation.  Horrible. So this circles back to the goal of Hillsong worship music, to make you feel warm and fuzzy on the inside so that you can connect that feeling with being in the Presence of god (The capitalization I’m employing is intentional. They are worshiping an idol of an emotional experience, not the God of the Bible).

Empty handed But not forsaken. This seems like an attempt to offer something in the way of touching on the concept that we have nothing to offer God for our own salvation, which is absolutely true, we have nothing to offer for our salvation, except the sin that we need forgiveness for and salvation from. This thought is confused in this song, since later the song talks of giving our hearts, and Hillsong Church is quick to bind the conscience of the believer to give financially to them… sacrificially for those who are empty-handed, to the empire of Hillsong. But I digress… for now, this line is filler in the verse to get to the chorus. I’ve been set free from what? brokenness. But what if I still feel broken? Am I free?

Pre-Chorus. General pre-Chorus pulled from a popular and beloved hymn. We’ve already addressed its use in this song in the first paragraph, so let’s move on to the chorus.

Chorus. This chorus is the main thrust of the song, both in the song portion and in the extra portion at the end. Oh I can see You now Oh I can see the love in Your eyes… and here is where we get to the Sarah Young “Jesus Calling” modern mystic portion of the song. No one in the band, or in the congregation, or in ear-shot of this emotional song is seeing Jesus, nor are they seeing love in His eyes. No one. They might be imagining, or “visualizing” it, but none of them are seeing it. This is mystical nonsense. What’s sad is this is the central focus of the majority of the song (5:30min)… just keep singing and emoting until you can drum up enough emotional goo so that you can claim to (or even believe) you can see Jesus and the Love in His eyes. If you want to see Jesus, look for Him in His Word. For Christ is the Word made flesh. He is currently in Heaven and has promised to be found in His Word, in the waters of Baptism (we are baptised into Christ), and in Communion (this is my body… this is my blood). Even if you refuse to confess His presence in Communion and in the waters of Baptism, you still have Christ in His Word. Christ hasn’t promised to meet you in your emotions. Please stop looking for Him there. Laying Yourself down Raising up the broken to life. If the rest of the theology in this song were sound, I’d be tempted to give this line a pass. Christ described His death and resurrection as lying down His life and taking it back up again (John 10). But there’s the vague language of “broken” rather than “dead in sin”. If the song elsewhere connected brokenness to sinfulness, this line would get a pass.

Verse 2. Again we see stand-ins for sin, namely “failures” and “weakness”. You set Your treasure in jars of clay. What treasure might that be? The Gospel of Jesus Christ is what it should be. We’ve been given the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the mystery of the Gospel is what we’ve been given. Is that where this song is headed? So take this heart Lord I’ll be your vessel The world to see Your life in me. Nope. Theology of glory. Rather than preach the Cross, the song aims for a glorious life of example that others will see and desire for themselves. So what happens when we don’t live up to this life? We are left to question whether or not we are truly saved, whether or not we are in Christ. There is no assurance here. Such bondage. Such a crushing weight to bear. This isn’t the Gospel, this is the Law… and it is crushing.

Ephesians 2:4-10 (ESV)

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Here is where we find the assurance of Salvation, in the Written Word of God. It is by Grace, through Faith in Christ Jesus. Not a result of works… no one may boast. Whether or not you feel it, is irrelevant.

Conclusion

If you’re aim in selecting song which proclaim the Gospel, or teach sound doctrine for the assurance of salvation in Christ Jesus, I don’t recommend this song. I don’t recommend this song for anything other than elevator music in the Mall… maybe in that environment folks will get Amazing Grace in their heads (hopefully they know 2 or 3 verses). As for Church worship, this song doesn’t point to Christ or His Word, it points us to ourselves, or to those around us who are clearly more spiritual than we are… at least they seem to be really feeling the Presence more than I am.  Preach the Word. Sing the Word. Repent and be forgiven of your sin in Jesus’ Name. In closing, let us look to Romans 10 to address the error in the final part of this song lyric, concerning the treasure of the Gospel.

Romans 10:11-17 (ESV)

For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For“everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Amen. Share the Gospel and speak God’s Word for the world to hear.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “Chain Breaker” by Zach Williams

disapproveCCM Edition.

August 23, 2016. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Chain Breaker” by Zach Williams which currently sits at #20 on 20theCountdownMagazine.

This song presents a sales pitch of sorts for a “He” who is the remedy for your circumstances and your hurting. The “He” is never identified. We are left to assume the song is pointing to Jesus Christ, but is it? Is this how the scriptures present the Gospel of Jesus Christ? As an option out there that folks should try instead of trying all of the other stuff? hmm… doesn’t sound like the Gospel. Let’s give the song a listen and then look for the Gospel in the lyrics.

Zach Williams VEVO (Official Lyric Video)

 

Lyrics

If you’ve been walking the same old road for miles and miles
If you’ve been hearing the same old voice tell the same old lies
If you’re trying to fill the same old holes inside
There’s a better life, there’s a better life

If you’ve got pain, He’s a pain taker
If you feel lost, He’s a way maker
If you need freedom or saving, He’s a prison-shaking Savior
If you got chains, He’s a chain breaker

We’ve all searched for the light of day in the dead of night
We’ve all found ourselves worn out from the same old fight
We’ve all run to things we know just ain’t right
When there’s a better life, there’s a better life

If you’ve got pain, He’s a pain taker
If you feel lost, He’s a way maker
If you need freedom or saving, He’s a prison-shaking Savior
If you got chains, He’s a chain breaker

If you believe it, if you receive it
If you can feel it, somebody testify
If you believe it, if you receive it
If you can feel it, somebody testify, testify
If you believe it, if you receive it
If you can feel it, somebody testify

If you’ve got pain, He’s a pain taker
If you feel lost, He’s a way maker
If you need freedom or saving, He’s a prison-shaking Savior
If you got chains, He’s a chain breaker

If you need freedom or saving, He’s a prison-shaking Savior
If you got chains, He’s a chain breaker

Discussion

Okay, so If you need freedom or saving, He’s a prison-shaking Savior. If? We’ll get to this point in a minute, and we’ll try to give it its best possible construction, but first let’s discuss the song lyric as a whole before trying to examine individual lines.

Every line of this song in every stanza but one begins with the word “If”, and stylistically that’s cute. But what’s on the flip-side of the “if”? In computer programming, we use “if-then” statements to execute a line of code based on positively identifying a particular condition. However, when programming an “if-then” statement, you also have to capture the conditions that don’t match, so we use an “if-then-else” statement. Without the “else”, the program will just run straight through the code and never execute the “then” since the “if” never panned out. This song has no “else”, so it’s assuming it’s covered all of the “if” scenarios. So, for applying our best construction on this song, we have to assume that the “else” of the song is the unbeliever who is absolutely clueless of his sinful condition, isn’t aware of his chains, enjoys the miles and miles of same old road, believes the lies, and is unaware of the holes in his life. Basically the sinner unaware that he’s a sinner. Such an individual needs the Law of God preached, so that the Holy Spirit can convict the world of sin.

John 16:7-11 (ESV) Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

Incidentally, in this passage we see the Trinity: God the Son (Jesus) is speaking to His disciples concerning His sending God the Holy Spirit (as a Helper or Advocate) and God the Father. Notice the focus here, it is to convict the world of sin for not believing in Christ, that by the Grace of God they might repent and believe in Christ Jesus and be saved. Our song today doesn’t address the need for repentance. Not even remotely. It avoids sin and repentance completely via the unresolved “if”. That’s a problem.

Another problem is in it’s intended audience. If the goal is evangelism, then you’ve failed in not proclaiming the need for repentance. Also, the “He” is never identified in the song. We have to assume the song is pointing to Christ Jesus, but it doesn’t really, it’s pointing to someone who’s aim is apparently to give the listener a better life now and change his/her circumstances. Eternity isn’t mentioned, and that’s the focus of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

If the intended audience is believers, now we have a different problem… one of false promises. There’s a better life? When? Everything in this song points to temporal circumstances, so trying to rescue this line by saying it points to eternity is quite the stretch, particularly given the “if you need saving”… eternally speaking, there’s no room for “if”, it is a declared fact of the Scriptures that all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.

Romans 3:20-26 (ESV) | The Righteousness of God Through Faith

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.

So if you’ve got pain, He’s the pain taker is another promise that can be correct if viewed through the lens of eternity. Christ is our great physician, and our diagnosis is: dead in sins and transgressions (Eph 2:1-10). He heals us of death and grants us eternal life by His Grace through faith. This is an eternal removal of pain, suffering, heartache, and death. In this life, however, we’ve not been promised a complete removal of pain. God is still able to heal us and He certainly does so according to His Will, but He hasn’t promised us earthly lives free of pain. He hasn’t promised us lives that are “better” in this life, either. The fruit of the Spirit, of faith, most assuredly grants us better lives anchored in the Hope that is kept for us in Eternity, that’s true, but without the lens Eternity our temporal lives are hard. The world hates those of us who are in Christ Jesus because it first hated Him. Let’s take a look at Peter’s encouragement in 1 Peter 1:

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. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

The message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ isn’t merely an option out there, an alternative to worldly living that people should try so that they can find fulfillment… the Message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is one of salvation from eternal damnation, the Wrath of God against sin. Presenting the Gospel as merely an option to consider is dangerously untrue. This is part of the Pelagian heresy, the idea that people are born essentially neutral to the things of God, not saved, but not condemned. That’s patently false.

John 3:16-20 (ESV) | For God So Loved the World

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 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. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.

We were all born into the sin of Adam, born in unbelief, condemned already for that unbelief. “If” you need freedom or saving? Not if, it is certain. You need saving. Jesus Christ saves.

Now, back to that “He’s a prison-shaking Savior” line. This is likely a reference to Paul and Silas in a Philippian jail. Such a great story. Let’s take a look at it.

Acts 16:25-34 (ESV) | The Philippian Jailer Converted

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.

Such a beautiful passage of the Salvation… not of Paul and Silas being let out of jail, but of the jailer and his entire family being set free from their eternal condemnation of unbelief, rescued by the Gospel of Jesus Christ as their LORD and Savior. To point to this passage as some sort of promise that God will rescue you from your temporal situations is a lie and a distraction from the true point of the Gospel. Paul closed out his earthly ministry in a Roman prison… eventually beheaded under the Emperor of Rome. False promise is false, and should be rejected wholly. Now, the best construction is the acknowledgement that God is capable of doing anything He wills, but that’s not how this song is presenting the message. The song is fixed on the temporal, on circumstances.

The song winds down in that “whip the audience into a frenzy” of the somebody testify. Testify to what? Well, their experiences. Certainly that’s the proof we need that God is good, right? Our experiences will prove it to ourselves and to our neighbors, right? Such pep rallies do offer temporary excitement and emotional pick-me-up, and they also get many to engage in “positive affirmation” hoping that confessing the positive stuff will lead to positive stuff via some sort of spiritual quid-pro-quo mechanic. But once the emotions wane, and the adrenaline subsides, there is only empty words, false promises, and nothing of substance to carry the listener on through the trials that are coming. They’ll be chasing the next emotional high, when what they need is the Word of God, both Law and Gospel rightly distinguished, convicting of sin and comforting with forgiveness and the eternal Promise of Salvation.

Conclusion

I expect this song to get a lot of play. CCM is filled with a lot of sweet-sounding promises of temporal gifts, the “better life”, and relief from pain. That’s how the celebrity preachers get rich, they keep selling those tropes… all the while distracting listeners from the true beauty and Promise of the Gospel… Eternal Life in Christ Jesus.

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 | “Say Amen” by Finding Favour

disapproveCCM Radio Edition.

August 09, 2016. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Say Amen” by Finding Favour, which currently sits at #9 on KLove Top Songs. It seems we’ve covered every song currently on our normal Top20 chart, so this week I thought we’d check a different list.

My first question after hearing this song was, “say Amen to what?” When I read through the lyrics looking for the answer to that question, I realized there was a big problem with the focus of this song. Let’s see if you can pick it out.

Official Music/Lyric Video

Lyrics (via KLove)

This life is a journey we walk by faith
And there will always be the mountains in our way
But right here in this moment, may our strength be renewed
As we recall what God has done and how we’ve seen Him move

If there’s anybody here who’s found Him faithful
Anybody here who knows He’s able
Say Amen
And if there’s anybody here who’s seen His power
Anybody here brought through the fire
Say Amen
Anybody here found joy in the middle of sorrow
Just Say AMEN!

Sometimes through the darkness, it’s hard to see
So just be brave and follow where He leads
‘Cause greater is the one who’s in us, than he who’s in the world
So child of God remember, the battle is the Lord’s

And if there’s anybody here who’s found Him faithful
Anybody here who knows He’s able
Say Amen
And if there’s anybody here who’s seen His power
Anybody here brought through the fire
Say Amen
Anybody here found joy in the middle of sorrow
Peace in the storm, hope for tomorrow
And seen it time and time again
Then just Say AMEN!

Even in the valley of the shadow when you feel alone in the unknown
Just say Amen, Just say Amen
Even when the storms are raging, Stand and know your not forsaken
Just say Amen, Just say Amen

Is there anybody here, Tell me is there anybody here
Come on and Say Amen

And if there’s anybody here who’s seen His power
Anybody here brought through the fire
Come on and Say Amen
Anybody here found joy in the middle of sorrow
Peace in the storm, hope for tomorrow
And seen it time and time again
Just say Amen, Just say Amen!

Publishing: 2014 Universal Music – Brentwood Benson Publishing ASCAP/Songs of Emack (ASCAP). All rights for the world on behalf of Universal Music – Brentwood Benson Publishing and Songs of Emack administered by Capitol CMG Publishing. Wordspring Music, LLC (SESAC)/Farren Love & War Publishing (SESAC) All rights on behalf of itself and Farren Love & War Publishing administered by Wordspring Music, LLC All Rights Reserved. Christian Taylor Music (BMI) administered by Clear Box. Winding Way Music (ASCAP) administered by Clear Box.
Writer(s): David Blake Neesmith, Michael Farren, Kenna West & Jason Cox.

Discussion

So, let’s start this discussion with the most glaring issue, and that is the intended target audience. The artist is looking for an “amen” from anybody who has “experienced” the faithfulness of God, or who has seen His power, or who has been brought through the fire, or has found joy in the middle of sorrow, peace in the storm, hope for tomorrow… and who has seen it time and time again… Just those people. Not the ones who need to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, nor the ones who trust in the Written Word of God because they are His Word… no, the artist is calling on anyone in the crowd who can say “I’ve seen it”. This is enthusiasm, looking to our experiences and our emotions for the proof of the Goodness of God, rather than trusting by Faith in God’s Written Word regardless of and even in spite of our circumstances and what we see.

If you are in the crowd currently going through that fire, or in that sorrow, or in need of the comfort of the Gospel, well… this song ain’t for you. So, either you can “fake it” and say “amen” as a down-payment on a future experience, or you simply need to wait and hope the next song brings the comfort of the Gospel to your ears. You won’t be getting it in this song.

Most Evangelicals don’t realize they’re creating a falsely stratified Christianity, where you have Christians that are “saved” but only just so, and powerless because they’ve settled for a mediocre or average life. Most honestly think this sort of “positive self affirmation” and version of the “fake it ’till ya make it” somehow serves the Gospel. Now only the most brazen will call it such, most will baptize these concepts and rebrand them as “making a positive confession of who you are destined to be” and “declare now what you’re going to be in God’s timing”… but it’s a thin veneer, and it provides no hope. Instead, what you get is a lot of “fake it until you realize you can’t make it” and then the despair of, “why doesn’t God show up for me like He obviously does for all of these other people?”

So, let’s get to the whole “say amen” bit. What are we supposed to be saying “amen” to or about? Amen is a word of agreement or affirmation of the Truth of a statement. The singer is asking the question, “if there’s anyone here who’s seen God work, say amen” and everyone in the room is supposed to reply “Amen” as if to say “I’ve seen/experienced God work!” Now, there are a couple of lines in this song that breaks away a little from the “tell me you’ve experienced it yourself”, and attempts to offer a word of encouragement to those feeling all alone in the valley of the shadow… but the encouragement of “just say amen” isn’t grounded on the Word of God, it’s still within the context of “God has been there for everyone else in the room, just say Amen and know He’ll be there for you, too”.

How do we know this is all based on enthusiasm? How does this song provide the comfort of the Gospel for the mother who loses her child to cancer after years of praying and fighting? How does this song provide the comfort of the Gospel to the teen whose parents are getting a divorce? It doesn’t, because it can’t. This song isn’t bringing the comfort of the Gospel, it’s a call to “testimonials” based on personal experiences rather than the Word of God.

And now let’s get back to the opening line of the song, This life is a journey we walk by faith. Faith in Whom, ourselves and our experiences or in the Word of Christ? The song focuses on believing in a temporal rescue while making no mention of the eternal salvation found in Christ alone. Ignoring the reality that we all die, that often times God doesn’t rescue us from death, but instead calls us Home isn’t walking by Faith. It’s enthusiasm, and it does more harm than good. It leads to despair and in many cases it shipwrecks faith and hardens hearts against God because all of the false promises made in the name of God fall flat.

Conclusion

While I could go through this song and try to tease out the partial references to scripture, the overall context of this song is off, misguided, and focused on the senses rather than the Word of God. The Promises of God flow through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which this song seems to completely miss. This song earned a solid Disapproval.

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. 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.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “Dear Younger Me” by MercyMe

disapproveCCM Edition.

June 21, 2016. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Dear Younger Me” by MercyMe which currently sits at #19 on the20theCountdownMagazine.

I got frustrated with the song during the discussion of the lyric. This song spends most of its time, first couple of verses and even the chorus, building up to a climactic lesson or point. From the very beginning, we know there’s supposed to be a lesson, that cliche of “If I could tell the my younger self one thing…”. The artists relied on a bridge to bring the lesson home. It is almost good… almost. We’ll get to that point in the discussion, but this song could have been rescued were it not for the overwhelming self-focus in the problem and in the proposed solution.

MercyMe VEVO

 

Lyrics (via MercyMe)

Dear younger me
Where do I start
if i could tell you everything that I have learned so far
then you could be
one step ahead
of all the painful memories still running thru my head
i wonder how much different things would be
dear younger me

dear younger me
i cannot decide
do i give some speech about how to get the most out of your life
or do i go deep
and try to change
the choices that you’ll make cuz they’re choices that made me
even though I love this crazy life
sometimes i wish it was a smoother ride
dear younger me

if i knew then what i know now
condemnation would’ve had no power
My joy my pain would’ve never been my worth
if i knew then what i know now
would’ve not been hard to figure out
What I would’ve changed if I had heard

dear younger me
it’s not your fault
you were never meant carry this beyond the cross

you are holy
you are righteous
you are one of the redeemed

set apart
a brand new heart
you are free indeed

every mountain every valley
Thru each heartache you will see
every moment brings you closer
to who you were meant to be
Dear younger dear

Discussion

So who is the artist talking to? Well, the obvious answer is “himself”. The secondary target audience is anyone who has done some introspection and reflection and had the thought if I knew then what I know now. I think that idea has crossed everyone’s mind at one point or another, how we answer the question or go about answering that question is what tends to vary the most. I’ve come to the point now where I understand how the Bible describes sin and the corruption of our flesh that whenever these thoughts come to mind, the simple answer is always, “I’d not have believed myself, and would have simply gone on sinning”. We don’t get to go back and try to undo or redo anything, and we don’t need to. We have something much, much better. We have the Cross, the Gospel of God’s Grace, the promise of Forgiveness and Salvation, the Hope of Eternal Life in Christ Jesus. It is Finished.

Verse 1. Nothing particularly profound or particularly Christian in this verse. It is asking honest questions. That they are honest doesn’t make them good questions. For example, there is a hint in one of the questions that somehow we might be ahead in life if we had extra information. I don’t think that’s true for the Christian. We don’t sin due to lack of knowledge, we sin because we are sinful. The artist isn’t explicitly addressing sins of the past, and I find that troubling. Popular evangelicalism doesn’t know what to do with sin, doesn’t know how to describe it in light of the Gospel. So what normally tends to happen is sin gets treated as mistakes of the past that are now gone. That’s not completely wrong, but it’s missing the reality that as long as we continue living in this fallen world, sin is what our flesh will crave. We are born into the corruption of Adam, and our flesh bears that mark until the Resurrection, when we’ll finally be rid of this sinful flesh and granted new bodies. Our hearts and minds (flesh) bear many scars inflicted by our own sinful desires and the sinful desires of others. The song seems focused more on regret, guilt, and condemnation… so it is dealing with the hurt of past sins without naming the enemy.

Verse 2. Again, this song builds slowly. But here we see something that looks like a throw-away piece of advice, that almost seems awesome. Granted, we’ve still not seen anything in the song that is particularly Christian, but if we make that assumption based on the band and the CCM marketing model, who is out there preaching “how to get the most out of your life“? Most of popular evangelicalism is, the celebrities who preach themselves and life-tips (Greg Surratt, Craig Groeschel, Rick Warren) instead of Christ and Him Crucified. The guys making up their own creeds (Joel Osteen, Keith Craft) and rejecting Biblical orthodoxy (Andy Stanley), and just reading themselves into every possible scripture, including the ones plainly talking about God (Steven Furtick). At this line in the song I got my hopes up thinking, “wow, this song is rejecting that man-centered drivel and is going to point us to Christ”. Sadly, that thought didn’t pan out. The artist then talks about going deep… by questioning if we should really change anything in the past since those past mistakes are part of what makes us who we are. Well, great. So, going deep is to question whether or not past mistakes were really mistakes or building blocks for who we are now? /sigh. That’s not deep, that’s self-justification. At this point, I’m glad the artist isn’t clearly naming sin as the enemy, because that would make this turning point in the song very bad. As it stands, this turn in the song makes it very surface-level and thin… like wondering if I would have finished my degree according to plan right out of high school or if I’m better off having failed at college and struggled for years before joining the Army. That’s not deep… it’s self-centered, self-focused conjecture that can either lead to a self-pity-party or a self-love-fest or vacillate between the two. So far, we’ve seen nothing in the song that separates it from secular humanism. The song is further downgraded in impact when the artists claims to love this crazy life, he just wishes sometimes it was a smoother ride. Who doesn’t want a life with less pain and fewer bumps?

Chorus. So what is it that the singer knows now that he didn’t know then? It has something to do with removing the power of condemnation, and it would have provided a sense of worth greater than joy and pain. That sounds fantastic, but what is it? What would you have told your younger self sooner to have all of these powers (or maybe told your younger self if your deep thoughts concluded it was worth avoiding some hardships)? We get one more teaser toward the end of the chorus that suggests that if he’d known then what he knows now it would have been easy to figure out what he would have changed if only he’d heard (may need a chart that sentence out on a piece of paper and colored markers, lol)…

Bridge (the answer). It’s not your fault. WHAT?!?! That’s the big payoff, that it’s not your fault? What is not your fault? Your sin? Your sin is your fault. You are born in it, born into it, born a slave to it, it comes from within you, it is in your heart, it influences your speech, your thoughts, and your actions, it is yours. The message of the Gospel is NOT that we are victims of injustice, it is that in our guilt and shame God stepped in to pay the price we owe but could not pay in our place so that in Him we might be saved and made righteous.

In fairness, I’m the one that has been trying to understand the lyric from a Biblical Christian perspective. The song hasn’t been talking about sin directly. The next line mentions the cross… oddly. you were never meant carry this beyond the cross. To give this single line/thought its best construction, completely removed from the rest of the song, this could be a wonderful thought reinforcing the Truth that Christ died for your sins and has forgiven them all. Once you’ve been absolved by the blood and body of Christ Jesus, It is finished is what He spoke on the Cross, and It is forgiven is what remains of your absolved sin. That is glorious good news, Gospel. Sadly, the song hasn’t been building to this truth of the Gospel. I do believe this is intended to provide relief to the weary believer who struggles to find assurance of his salvation. That is a prevailing source of torment for the majority of professing Christians in popular American evangelicalism whose focus is always on works and self-examination, a form of Christianity that is foolishly looking to progress beyond the Gospel of Jesus Christ into human perfection under the LAW. The Gospel of Jesus Christ isn’t something only unbelievers need to hear… Christians need the Gospel preached to them continually also, Christians need to hear that their sins are forgiven constantly because we sin constantly and are constantly in need of forgiveness.

1 John 1:5-10 (ESV) | Walking in the Light

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

Now, regarding the issue of picking up old regrets, and listening to the condemnation of the enemy concerning sins we’ve already been forgiven of, that’s why we need our brothers and sisters in Christ speaking life into our lives. No, I’m not talking about “positivity” I’m talking about the Truth of the Gospel. I need to hear a brother in Christ say to me, “yes, we’ve committed the sin of idolatry in the past… but that sin has already been absolved, there is nothing more that needs to be done there, Christ has forgiven it, you need to let it go” (words my pastor spoke to me over some ice cream). I need to hear that. You need to hear it also. When the struggle is internal, you need to look to the external, objective Word of God to build your faith. Wallowing around in the mire of introspection won’t build your faith, it will distract you from God’s Word. If this was intended to be the central point of the song, it wasn’t build up well and there is no acknowledgement of the Law, no clarity in the Gospel, and what’s worse, the song simply ends in a blanket of positive affirmations and promises without a tether to Christ and Him Crucified.

you are holy
you are righteous
you are one of the redeemed
set apart
a brand new heart
you are free indeed
every mountain every valley
Thru each heartache you will see
every moment brings you closer
to who you were meant to be
Dear younger dear

Every promise pointing to how great “me” is… I’m now going to be who I’m meant to be. In the end, this is a motivational song that any secular humanist could relate to and agree with and never be convicted of sin or made aware of the Gospel. Are these fragments all part of actual promises in the Bible? Yes, they are. But they’ve been divorced from Law and Gospel and applied blindly. The focus is on the self, not on Christ. Throughout the whole song, the focus is on the self. The cross gets a small mention.

Conclusion

If this was a song intended for secular airplay, just part of everyday musical art being performed to pay the bills, it would make for a cool, positive song. I’m used to ignoring bad theology in secular songs. However, this song is written by Christians for a Christian audience, so it’s bad theology is central to the song and it cannot simply be ignored.

If I could tell the younger me something, it would be to read the Scriptures with a Christ-focus, looking for how this passage is pointing me to Christ rather than constantly trying to see “what this passage is telling me to do”. As I wrote earlier, I made the bad choices because of sin. I am where I am today because of the Grace and Mercy of God through the working of the Holy Spirit, not by anything I did or realized on my own. What I know now is because the Holy Spirit opened my eyes, and there is nothing I could say to my younger self that would help the Holy Spirit do His work any differently. Believers don’t get “do-overs” we get something much, much better… we get It is Finished; You are Forgiven.

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