DiM | “This is Living (feat Lecrae)” by Hillsong Young & Free

CCM Radio Edition

January 14, 2016. Today’s song is “This is Living” by Hillsong Worship. Now this song is going to have two separate DiM posts, this one and an Evangelical Worship Edition. Admittedly, I was quite flustered and upset toward the end of the worship review of this song, so I’m going to try to start this review with a bit of a clean slate. That being said, I’m not sure the lyric can be salvaged even for casual listening. Most of the song review will be the same from that DiM, but this one will have extra rap lyrics (feat Lecrae) and the Official Music Video attempts to provide scripture references that are, oddly enough, different from what the worship version claims. hmmm.

I’m a huge fan of techno or electronic dance music (EDM)… it’s my favorite form of music. It taps my emotions easily… which is what anyone can say of their favorite musical form. I enjoy other forms of music, too. I don’t think there’s any place for this form of music in corporate worship, but I whole-heartedly wish there was more doctrinally-sound lyrics set to this music. Honestly, I think simply setting narrative passages to this style of music would make memorization of scripture (for me at least) much easier. Despite my love for EDM, I will not be swayed in favor of this song. The lyric that is there needs to be sound.

Hillsong Young & Free Music Video (feat Lecrae)

 

Lyrics (via KLove)

Verse 1
Waking up knowing there’s a reason
All my dreams come alive
Life is for living with You
I’ve made my decision

Verse 2
You lift me up, fill my eyes with wonder
Forever young in Your love
This freedom’s untainted with You
No moment is wasted

Pre-Chorus
See the sun now bursting through the clouds
Black and white turn to colour all around
All is new, in the Saviour I am found
This is living now
This is living now

Verse 3
You lead the way, God You’re right beside me
In Your love I’m complete
There’s nothing like living with You
This life You created I choose

Pre-Chorus

Chorus
You take me higher than I’ve been before
It’s Your perfect love that sees me soar
God Your freedom is an open door
You are everything I want and more

Lecrae
Maybe I ain’t really know what living is
Is it love if it was am I living it?
Do I live in it?
So astounding
Love is an ocean you can drown me
The sweet embrace the lovely taste
I taste and see I’m under Grace
The place to be it means I don’t ever need an umbrella
I’m cool in the cold and the hot weather
Whether or never I ever understand
I’m a man in the hands of great plans
I stand with faith in a life I never known or touched
It’s still outside my clutch but
I’m like what’s to dream of and what’s to hope in
What’s to die for and live to no end
This is living
The life I’ve been given’s a gift
If I’m gonna live it I’m gonna live it to death!

Pre-Chorus

Chorus

Publishing: © 2014 Hillsong Music Publishing (APRA) (admin. at CapitolCMGPublishing.com) / Unashamed Music (BMI)
Writer(s): Aodhan King, Joel Davies, and Lecrae

Discussion

Let us begin by acknowledging the attempt at providing Scriptural context to the music video (even though it serves the radio listener no purpose). The video uses different versions of the bible, so we’ll continue using the ESV alongside the video’s versions.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT) This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

Okay, this is a much better proof-text that what was attempted in the worship version, because it at least provides a framework for what the lyrics are trying to say. Let’s look at the verse in context from a good translation.

2 Corinthians 5:11-21 (ESV) | The Ministry of Reconciliation

11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. 12 We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. 16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Such a wonderful passage. Now, I wish this had truly been the foundation of the song, but even if it was the song misses the mark. You see, the song focuses so much on the saved individual that it misses the call to be an ambassador for Christ, entrusted with the message of reconciliation. It’s a message that must be preached, it cannot be acted out or pantomimed. Your best good works fall miserably short of the Message you were entrusted with to be a faithful steward of… the Message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the ministry of reconciliation to God. I have no doubt that the folks involved in this production intended to convey this message… but failure to handle the text properly leads to mishandling the Word and veering off-course into sensuality (feeding the senses).

As good an attempt as that first proof text was, the next one over achieves in demolition. The often misquoted John 10:10… but not the whole verse, so really John 10:10b, and that not even from a Bible translation, but a parody of the Bible called The Message. So, let’s begin with a good translation, in context, with the proof-text underlined… then we’ll look at what the Parody has to say (again, proof-text will be underlined):

John 10:7-16 (ESV)

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock,one shepherd.

John 10:7-18 (MSG)

6-10 Jesus told this simple story, but they had no idea what he was talking about. So he tried again. “I’ll be explicit, then. I am the Gate for the sheep. All those others are up to no good—sheep stealers, every one of them. But the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.

11-13 “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd puts the sheep before himself, sacrifices himself if necessary. A hired man is not a real shepherd. The sheep mean nothing to him. He sees a wolf come and runs for it, leaving the sheep to be ravaged and scattered by the wolf. He’s only in it for the money. The sheep don’t matter to him.

14-18 “I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own sheep and my own sheep know me. In the same way, the Father knows me and I know the Father. I put the sheep before myself, sacrificing myself if necessary. You need to know that I have other sheep in addition to those in this pen. I need to gather and bring them, too. They’ll also recognize my voice. Then it will be one flock, one Shepherd. This is why the Father loves me: because I freely lay down my life. And so I am free to take it up again. No one takes it from me. I lay it down of my own free will. I have the right to lay it down; I also have the right to take it up again. I received this authority personally from my Father.”

Ugh. False promise inserted into the text by the parody bible. Notice that this is where we get a lot of the “dream destiny thingy” or “peter pan” doctrine we see in the song. The MSG doesn’t even attempt to convey what is in the Greek. The real passage of scripture is about being protected, cared-for, guarded, and led by Christ, the Good Shepherd. Our freedom is in Christ… IN Christ, which means that our freedom is found in serving Him and growing in His Word. It’s not a freedom that we get from Him to then live our lives as we please or to chase fame, fortune, prosperity or our dream destinies.

The video moves on from these proof texts to its own sloganeering (Young and Free) while the video itself is a montage of supposedly “young and free” youths doing their own things… it really feels like a Nike commercial or a FitBit commercial. It’s telling the young, (sub)urban viewer, “this is what you want to be doing, this is where you want to be going, this is what you want  you-being-you to look like… and then the song starts. But there is something more to the messaging that I find particularly troubling… and it comes in the timing of the video with the lyrics, particularly in the hook, “this is living now”. The video is targeting (sub)urban youth with the message that they can “live it up” like the world does, only it’s untainted when they do it because they’ve “made a decision for Christ” so it’s all cool, fun, hip, AND sanctified so come join the club. Uhm… that’s not Christianity. But it’s powerfully enticing to youth growing up in seeker-sensitive, emotionally driven churches.

Now let’s work through the song lyrics. I’m going to leave what we already covered in the Evangelical version in-place… so we’re really just going to skip to Lecrae’s addition.

Verse 1. There’s a reason all my dreams have come alive? What dreams? Jesus didn’t die on the cross to regenerate your dreams. Salvation isn’t about bringing your dreams back to life. What did you dream about before you were made alive in Christ Jesus? Sin. You followed the course of this world, the prince of the power of the air… you dreamed of carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, the passions of your flesh (Eph 2:1-10). That was what you dreamed about. Jesus didn’t die for those dreams to come alive. He died to rescue your soul from God’s Wrath to be set free from sin that controlled your heart and mind. So, you’ve made your decision? That’s great. What decision was that… to make yourself alive in Christ? We’ve covered that, that wasn’t your decision to make while you were still an unbeliever. Now, once you’ve been regenerated by the Holy Spirit and made a new creation in Christ Jesus, yes… there are some decisions that need to be made, sure. But I’m certain this line of the song is a reach back to Finneyism, decisional regeneration (I was saved because I chose to raise my hand and ‘say yes’ to Jesus).

Verse 2. Peter Pan theology. Drivel. Just… no.

Pre-Chorus. This is just some odd vision-scaping here. There is nothing real being said of Christ Jesus here. Fluff.

Chorus. Pitiful. Painting freedom in Christ as a door to Neverland, where all of our dreams come true and we never have to grow up or deal with consequences again.

Lecrae. Well, he’s skilled in the delivery of the quick-paced lyric. I’m not going to quibble with his poetic depiction of the Grace of God and the Love of God being an ocean. That’s fine. The song has been very self-centered thus far, so at least he’s pointing to God in the lyric, to some degree. But I start to recoil at the line The place to be it means I don’t ever need an umbrella. Hold the phone… are we saying that being a Christian means never having to deal with hard times? It doesn’t rain on Christians, metaphorically speaking?

Matthew 5:43-45 (ESV) | Love Your Enemies

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

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.

His lyric works its way back to the confession that the life we live is a gift from God. That is true. What if our life is hard, boring, filled with trials, tests, sickness, poverty…. still true. Evangelicalism has a very bad habit of taking promises of eternity and applying them to this temporal life simply because “I’ve made a decision for God”. That, my friend, gets a red card, foul whistle, a flag on the play. There are promises for eternity and there are promises for the temporal, learn to know which is which. Lecrae’s lyric doesn’t end with any more specific Christian encouragement than what Hillsong offered.

Conclusion

Ultimately this is just an upbeat Electronic Dance Music (EDM) track with some vague vocals that anyone can sing along and quite literally infuse any meaning they want and a quick-rap lyric to boot. The video is a montage of what every youth pastor wishes they could show of their youth group outings… beautiful people, lots of beautiful smiles, fun times, zaniness, games, yay!

I don’t think this song topped the charts because it wasn’t heavily promoted on Radio; rather, this is geared for heavy promotion on youth groups, youth conferences, etc.

Jude 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.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “This is Living” by Hillsong Young & Free

Evangelical Worship Edition

January 14, 2016. In this edition we are going to be taking a look at the next song on the top new song list for 2015 found at Worship Together. Today’s song is “This is Living” by Hillsong Worship. Now this song is going to have two separate DiM posts, this one and a CCM Radio edition featuring Lecrae. There are a couple of reasons for this, firstly I don’t want to use the radio/dance version for this review as if the majority of churches using the song have the chops to pull off such a performance. I found an acoustic version that would most likely be the form played in your average contempervant church, so we can focus more on the lyric. Aside from the tempo/style of the song, the CCM Radio version also has Lecrae throwing down some rap, which clearly wouldn’t be seriously included in evangelical worship service… the congregation simply isn’t going to keep up. If your church “worship team” is doing the up-tempo, rap infused version for corporate worship… yikes.

Hillsong Young & Free Acoustic (Audio)

 

Lyrics (via Worship Together)

Verse 1
Waking up knowing there’s a reason
All my dreams come alive
Life is for living with You
I’ve made my decision

Verse 2
You lift me up, fill my eyes with wonder
Forever young in Your love
This freedom’s untainted with You
No moment is wasted

Pre-Chorus
See the sun now bursting through the clouds
Black and white turn to colour all around
All is new, in the Saviour I am found
This is living now
This is living now

Chorus
You take me higher than I’ve been before
It’s Your perfect love that sees me soar
God Your freedom is an open door
You are everything I want and more

Verse 3
You lead the way, God You’re right beside me
In Your love I’m complete
There’s nothing like living with You
This life You created I choose

Writer(s): Aodhan King, Joel Davies
Theme(s): Adoration & Praise
Ministry(s): Hillsong
CCLI #: 7032393
Scripture Reference(s): John 8:36; Ephesians 2:4-5

Discussion

This song is a hot mess. Let’s begin with its so-called Scripture Reference(s):

John 8:36 (ESV) So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Lifted out of its context so that the 2 obvious questions can be answered in any way you want… 1. Free from what? 2. Free to do what?

Ephesians 2:4-5 (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—

This one skips our fallen state and what it deserved. There is at least some more meat here to fill in some of the “saved from what” question, but the thought is cut short. Let’s look at the immediate context of these passages.

John 8:31-47 (ESV) | The Truth Will Set You Free

31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” 34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.” 39 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, 40 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. 41 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.” 42 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. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 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. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

Free from the curse of sin, from being slaves to sin… forgiveness of our sin that can only be found in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. This freedom is the freedom to abide in the Word of Christ, to truly be His disciples. As the Apostle Paul often described it, it is the freedom to be a slave to Christ rather than a slave to sin and darkness. Considering Hillsong’s penchant for twisting God’s Word, they clearly don’t have a doctrinal understanding of what it means to be truly set free by Christ.

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

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

We were children of wrath, by nature. What does that mean? It means that our very nature from birth is born sinful and deserving of God’s Wrath because of the Fall of Man recorded in Genesis 3. That’s what is being referenced by the but in v4. But God loved us and saved us by His Grace. The “us” isn’t all of mankind, though… notice the language of separation, the “us” is Believers who have been saved out of the rest of mankind. And that salvation is purely a gift from God… we did nothing to earn it. Nothing. A dead man can contribute nothing to his resurrection.

Now let’s work through the song lyrics.

Verse 1. There’s a reason all my dreams have come alive? What dreams? Jesus didn’t die on the cross to regenerate your dreams. Salvation isn’t about bringing your dreams back to life. What did you dream about before you were made alive in Christ Jesus? Sin. You followed the course of this world, the prince of the power of the air… you dreamed of carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, the passions of your flesh. That was what you dreamed about. Jesus didn’t die for those dreams to come alive. He died to rescue your soul from God’s Wrath to be set free from sin that controlled your heart and mind. So, you’ve made your decision? That’s great. What decision was that… to make yourself alive in Christ? We’ve covered that, that wasn’t your decision to make while you were still an unbeliever. Now, once you’ve been regenerated by the Holy Spirit and made a new creation in Christ Jesus, yes… there are some decisions that need to be made, sure. But I’m certain this line of the song is a reach back to Finneyism, decisional regeneration (I was saved because I chose to raise my hand and ‘say yes’ to Jesus).

Verse 2. Peter Pan theology. Drivel. Just… no.

Pre-Chorus. This is just some odd vision-scaping here. There is nothing real being said of Christ Jesus here. Fluff.

Chorus. Pitiful. Painting freedom in Christ as a door to Neverland, where all of our dreams come true and we never have to grow up or deal with consequences again.

Conclusion

I’m sorry… I just can’t give this song any more serious critique. It’s abhorrent. I don’t want my family listening to this on the radio… and I’m a huge fan of Electronic Dance Music (EDM)… but we’ll deal with that nonsense in the CCM version of this DiM… but for playing in a Church service? Really? No. Absolutely not. Not in Youth group… No… don’t do it. Not acceptable. I’m trying to be light-hearted in my phrasing, but I’m serious… learning that this song is being passed off as praise and worship is grounds for church discipline in my view. Whew. Okay.

The standard for corporate worship should be Titus 2, not “fun factor” or “youth engagement”. This is not proper praise and worship for the God of Creation.

Jude 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.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “He Shall Reign Forevermore” by Chris Tomlin

Presentation1Evangelical Worship Edition

January 11, 2016. In this edition we are going to be taking a look at the next song on the top new song list for 2015 found at Worship Together. Today’s song is “He Shall Reign Forevermore” by Chris Tomlin.

Chris Tomlin VEVO Lyric Video

 

Lyrics (via Worship Together)

Verse 1
In the bleak midwinter
All creation groans
And for a world in darkness
Frozen like a stone
Light is breaking
In a stable for a throne
Chorus
And He shall reign
Forevermore, forevermore
And He shall reign
Forevermore, forevermore
Unto us a child is born
The King of kings and Lord of lords
And He shall reign
Forevermore, forevermore
Verse 2
If I were a wise man
I would travel far
And if I were a shepherd
I would do my part
But, poor as I am
I will give to Him my heart 

Chorus

Bridge
Here within a manger lies
The One who made the starry skies
This baby born for sacrifice
Christ the Messiah

Into our hopes, into our fears
The Savior of the world appears
The promise of eternal years
Christ the Messiah

Chorus
And He shall reign
Forevermore, forevermore
And He shall reign
Forevermore, forevermore

He shall reign
Forevermore, forevermore
And He shall reign
Forevermore, forevermore
Unto us a child is born
The King of kings and Lord of lords
And He shall reign
Forevermore, forevermore

Writer(s): Matt Maher, Chris Tomlin
Theme(s): Adoration & Praise , Call to Worship , God’s Attributes , Christmas
CCLI #: 7050416
Scripture Reference(s): Exodus 15:18, Psalm 146:10

Discussion

Again with the single-verse Scripture Reference(s). Well, let’s look at them before we start discussing the strengths and weaknesses of the song for individual and corporate worship.

Exodus 15:18 (ESV) The Lord will reign forever and ever.

Psalm 146:10 (ESV) The Lord will reign forever, your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the Lord!

Well, at least they are complete sentences. Is this truly a reference for the song? Or is it merely a justification for the hook of the song? Does this reference to scripture for the hook of the song set your heart and mind at ease that the verses of the song fall in line with this reference? The song teaches or at least enforces something about God… is that lesson referenced by these lines? Why am I so concerned about this scripture reference, bit?

In most contemporary evangelical worship services, there are no bound hymnals in the auditorium. No way to flip through the songs sung by that church to dig into the scriptural references they teach or doctrines they reinforce. Instead, they use projectors and big screens to display the lyrics with some aesthetically pleasing background animation that either serves as or complements the “light show”. Yeah. Anyway, since modern-day evangelicalism has embraced the corporate business model of “doing church”, there are copyright laws in place to protect the corporation’s intellectual property… you’ll often see song credits at the bottom of the screen for the song title, artist, CCLI# and sometimes a quick scripture reference. You’ll see scripture references in Hymnals, too… and sometimes I think they are also too narrowly referenced, so this isn’t a blind “modernization is of the devil” complaint. In the case of this song, I find it hard to believe that the whole song was written to convey these references; rather, I feels like it was the result of a quick word-search to at least cover the title/refrain/hook of the song.

From a Christian perspective, within the context of corporate worship, did we really need a proof-text of the eternal reign of God? Let’s look at the context of these passages and then see if they are indeed what the song conveys.

Exodus 15

We find the children of Israel on the opposite shore of the Red Sea, having been brought out of the slavery in Egypt by God’s Mighty Hand, led through the Red Sea on dry ground while being chased by the Pharaoh’s chariots, and God destroyed Pharaoh’s armies using the Red Sea. And these were delivered through the Red Sea (which points to Baptism) now sing the Song of Moses:

Exodus 15:1-18 (ESV) | The Song of Moses

15 Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord, saying,

“I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;
    the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.
The Lord is my strength and my song,
    and he has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise him,
    my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
The Lord is a man of war;
    the Lord is his name.

“Pharaoh’s chariots and his host he cast into the sea,
    and his chosen officers were sunk in the Red Sea.
The floods covered them;
    they went down into the depths like a stone.
Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power,
    your right hand, O Lord, shatters the enemy.
In the greatness of your majesty you overthrow your adversaries;
    you send out your fury; it consumes them like stubble.
At the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up;
    the floods stood up in a heap;
    the deeps congealed in the heart of the sea.
The enemy said, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake,
    I will divide the spoil, my desire shall have its fill of them.
    I will draw my sword; my hand shall destroy them.’
10 You blew with your wind; the sea covered them;
    they sank like lead in the mighty waters.

11 “Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods?
    Who is like you, majestic in holiness,
    awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?
12 You stretched out your right hand;
    the earth swallowed them.

13 “You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed;
    you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode.
14 The peoples have heard; they tremble;
    pangs have seized the inhabitants of Philistia.
15 Now are the chiefs of Edom dismayed;
    trembling seizes the leaders of Moab;
    all the inhabitants of Canaan have melted away.
16 Terror and dread fall upon them;
    because of the greatness of your arm, they are still as a stone,
till your people, O Lord, pass by,
    till the people pass by whom you have purchased.
17 You will bring them in and plant them on your own mountain,
    the place, O Lord, which you have made for your abode,
    the sanctuary, O Lord, which your hands have established.
18 The Lord will reign forever and ever.”

So, the website has listed the last line of the Song of Moses as a reference for Chris Tomlin’s song. Tomlin’s song doesn’t really capture the themes of this passage. The Song of Moses is a powerful song of praise to the LORD for His Salvation, not in some general sense, but in a very real and tangle sense… these people had just witnessed with their eyes the Strong Hand of the LORD in their deliverance out of Egypt and the destruction of Pharaoh’s army. We see this song referenced in Revelation 15, and it is followed there by the Song of the Lamb:

Revelation 15:1-4 (ESV) | The Seven Angels with Seven Plagues

15 Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and amazing, seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is finished.

And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire—and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,

“Great and amazing are your deeds,
    O Lord God the Almighty!
Just and true are your ways,
    O King of the nations!
Who will not fear, O Lord,
    and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
    All nations will come
    and worship you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

Amen. In all of this, however, we aren’t seeing a strong connection to the lyric of Chris Tomlin’s song. Tomlin’s song focuses on the incarnation of Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God… on His birth. The song stays planted in the child in the manger, and then skips to His everlasting reign. Notice in Revelation, the Song of the Lamb begins with His great and amazing deeds. God SAVED us through His Son Jesus… not merely by His birth in a manger, but by His Life, Death, and Resurrection. And His reign didn’t start in the manger, either… for He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. The Gospel isn’t limited to Who Jesus is, it is Who He Is AND What He Did For us, on our behalf, in our place, while we were still His enemies in sin. He shall reign forevermore, and by His Grace we will be with Him in the Resurrection. As far as referencing the Song of Moses goes, rather than have 2 verses and a bridge focused on the child in the manger, I would much rather have a verse on the virgin birth, one of Christ’s finished work on the cross, and a bridge of His ascension to the right Hand of the Father, and a final verse/outro of His Return… and then I’d reference the Exodus 15:1-18; Revelation 15:1-4.

Psalm 146

Again what we will see here is the pulling of the closing line of a song of salvation that covers a lot more territory than Tomlin’s song.

Psalm 146 (ESV) | Put Not Your Trust in Princes

146 Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
    I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.

Put not your trust in princes,
    in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
    on that very day his plans perish.

Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
    whose hope is in the Lord his God,
who made heaven and earth,
    the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
    who executes justice for the oppressed,
    who gives food to the hungry.

The Lord sets the prisoners free;
    the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
    the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the sojourners;
    he upholds the widow and the fatherless,
    but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

10 The Lord will reign forever,
    your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the Lord!

So we have a song by Chris Tomlin that references the final lines of two songs in the Bible yet manages to cover a lot less ground than either one. As with the Song of Moses, I think this Psalm could have been completely connected with the Birth, Life, Work, and Return of Jesus Christ in a powerful way. I mean this Psalm is so wonderful and points forward to Jesus. I mean, this Psalm is one of the testimonies of Jesus as LORD when He performs the miracles of literally granting eyesight to the blind and feeding the multitudes.

Conclusion

Concerns: As the song stands on its own, the Scripture references presented are misleading. While they meet the low standard of proof-texting, in that a word-search will yield results, the reference text of this song is closer to Matthew 2:1-12, though that wouldn’t cover the refrain or the title of the song. As we saw in the last Hillsong Worship song we covered, we still have void of the present. The song looks to the historical moment of Christ lying in a manger, imagines what the singer would have done if he were there, and then springs into eternity for Christ’s reign. Theologically, there is too much room for error of interpretation when the song fixates on “Baby Jesus” without declaring the works of full-grown Jesus. Too much room to inject bad theology, even aberrant christology as we see happen in Bill Johnson’s (Bethel Redding) teaching. As a corporate worship song, I find it lacking in doctrine and overly reliant on emotional imagery.

Strengths: What is directly being praised concerning the reign of Christ is good. He has reigned, and He shall reign forevermore. I think this is a good song to work into Advent/Christmas worship services where the Service itself can complete the theological picture. The Chorus has a jingle-quality to it that allows one to sing just that part while going about the day.

Jude 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.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “O Praise The Name (Anastasis)” by Hillsong Worship

Presentation1Evangelical Worship Edition

January 8, 2016. In this edition we are going to be taking a look at the next song on the top new song list for 2015 found at Worship Together. Today’s song is “O Praise The Name (Anastasis)” by Hillsong Worship.

Hillsong Worship Lyric Video

 

Lyrics (via Worship Together)

Intro
Verse 1
I cast my mind to Calvary where Jesus
bled and died for me. I see His wounds,
His hands, His feet. My Saviour on that cursed tree
Verse 2
His body bound and drenched in tears
they laid Him down in Joseph’s tomb.
The entrance sealed by heavy stone Messiah
still and all alone
Chorus
O praise the name of the Lord our God
O praise His name for ever more
For endless days we will sing Your praise
Oh Lord, oh Lord our God
Verse 3
Then on the third at break of dawn, the Son of
heaven rose again. O trampled death where is your
sting? The angels roar for Christ the King
Chorus
Verse 4
He shall return in robes of white, the blazing Son
shall pierce the night. And I will rise among the saints,
my gaze trans fixed on Jesus’ face
Chorus

Writer(s): Dean Ussher, Marty Sampson, Benjamin Hastings
Theme(s): Communion & Reflection , Resurrection & Sacrifice , Easter
CCLI #: 7037787
Scripture Reference(s): Romans 5:8

Discussion

The good news here is that nothing that is said in the lyrics is plainly untrue. What Hillsong has put together here is a string of statements pulled from Scripture, most of them accurately. The problem I have with this song is the Hillsong formula for worship and scripture reading. There is a focus on the events that took place, and painting an emotional picture of those events and an under emphasis on the meaning of those events. The song roughly outlines the Easter story and skips ahead to the Return of Christ but the focus isn’t on the core of the Gospel… repentance and the forgiveness of sin… our sins. As close as they’ve come to a really solid song, Hillsong can’t close the gap, because as a church their theology pushes Word of Faith (WoF) and Prosperity false-gospels… that Jesus somehow died so that we can be successful, healthy, and wealthy, and popular. He didn’t. He died so that we might be spared from the Wrath of God by His blood on the cross. What is most frustrating here, is that their proof text is so close to the truth… but they narrowed it to a single verse, Romans 5:8… not surprising to find it isn’t even a complete sentence.

Romans 5:8 (ESV)  but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

You see, part of the Hillsong formula is to quote portions that are vague enough to allow them to eisegete a seeker-sensitive meaning. While we were sinners, Christ died for us anyway so we can live a victorious life… something like that. Let’s look at the verse in its immediate context.

Romans 5:1-11 (ESV) | Peace with God Through Faith

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

What Hillsong does with this song does is romanticizes the ugliness of Christ’s death on the cross and skips over the ugliness of the guilt and shame of our sin. It also makes treats the cross as an event in the distant past that has to be “envisioned”. Finally, the songs skips ahead to Christ’s return… leaving a bit of a vacuum where a real understanding of what the Cross means in our everyday Christian walk… it’s the point of forgiveness for our sin… our real and ever-present sin while we walk this earth in sinful, fleshly, cursed bodies. Should the LORD tarry, we will all die as the direct result of the curse of the sin of Adam. The gift of forgiveness is one we need every day of our lives… not just on Easter.

Matthew 6:9-13 (ESV)

Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.

So that is what I find lacking in this song, and I firmly believe that it was no mere oversight; rather, it is the result of the doctrine of Hillsong. The doctrine in their music will not surpass the doctrine preached from their stages.

Having said all of that, the question we must now deal with is whether a church with sound doctrine can find a place for using this song in their contemporary worship. In this case, it might be the case, though I think another verse should be added and I’d suggest rewriting the first verse altogether. But let’s work through the verses and see where we might reference a Biblical teaching.

Verses 1+2. I really have a problem with the whole I cast my mind to Calvary. As I indicated earlier, it unduly separates our current existence from the Gospel of Jesus’s Death and Resurrection. It sets the stage for a mental exercise, a vision cast, or even a guided meditation of historic events… when we really just need to read God’s Word. Some probably overlook that as a mere turn of phrase, but when we see what is being emphasized in the details, I see His wounds… His body bound and drenched in tears, he’s all alone… these are strongly emotive words. The goal is to get the singer weepy and emotional… this is a guided exercise akin to that of guided relaxation, only with a different end state. This is the romanticizing of the ugliness of the cross I mentioned. What isn’t mentioned, is that our sin needed punishing, that had He not borne the Wrath of God against sin for us, there could be no forgiveness of our sin.

Chorus. Musically the chorus is very dramatic. It plays very well if your worship leader has a powerful singing voice. Theologically, it is a bit trite. It falls somewhere into that “I’m going to  exaggerate my worship to demonstrate my passion” that we normally see in secular love songs. I think what we are seeing here is another outflow of the problematic theology of prosperity teachers… they take promises for the afterlife and misappropriate them for this temporal life. Likewise, while it is true that we will spend endless days in eternity praising God while in His presence… to claim we do so in the here and now is to exaggerate and outright lie. So, when we rightly understand the reference found in the chorus as being that of the afterlife, in the New Heavens and the New Earth… the chorus becomes a confession of what will happen after the Resurrection. This goes back to the vacuum I mentioned earlier… this present life, where we are learning to place our full trust in Him.

Verse 3. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ. I think there is some good teaching possible here, though the arch of the song passes right over it. The phrase O trampled death where is your sting isn’t just about death not being able to keep Jesus dead. Let’s look to Paul’s discussion of the Mystery in 1 Cor 15:

1 Corinthians 15:50-58 (ESV) | Mystery and Victory

50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
    O death, where is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Did you see that? Paul connected the sting of death to our sin. The Law of the Lord is the power of sin… how so? Because God’s Holiness and Justice demands that sin be destroyed. There is no power apart from God. So, in verse 57 we understand that God gives us victory (over sin and death) through our LORD Jesus Christ, who bore the full price of sin, and over came death and the grave. Praise the Lord!

Verse 4. We do look forward to the Return of Christ. True to seeker theology, there is no acknowledgement that Christ is returning for His own. There is just an implication that as long as you think you’re in, you are. That’s seeker theology, and we don’t expect anything more solid than that coming out of Hillsong. The Bible teaches that those who are sealed by God the Holy Spirit are the Bride of Christ. Jesus isn’t just coming back to pierce the night, but to Judge both the Living and the Dead. I have no doubt that is the meaning that most pour into that verse when they think about it, but the lyric doesn’t go there, you have to do it yourself. Without sound doctrine, you won’t get all the way there on your own.

Ephesians 1:3-14 (ESV) | Spiritual Blessings in Christ

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

Suggesting that Jesus isn’t coming for everyone, though, doesn’t really fit the seeker-sensitive model of preaching.

Conclusion

Can this song be sung in your church’s contemporary worship service without teaching error? I suppose so, but my question is why not have the congregation sing a song that teaches sound theology? What is the purpose of the song set in your corporate worship gathering?  Finally, if your theology doesn’t match that of Hillsong, why would you be compelled to use one of their worship songs for your service?

Jude 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.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Friday Sermon | “The Hope That Overcomes the World” by John MacArthur

spriteToday’s sermon comes from John MacArthur via Grace To You. The sermon was given on November 29, 2015. John MacArthur takes a look at Jesus promise to send the Holy Spirit so that He would remind His Apostles of all that Jesus had taught them, and indeed to guide them (and us by means of the Written Word) into all Truth. There is some good stuff in this sermon, I pray you find it a blessing.

Sermon Audio

Sermon Text

 

John 16 (ESV)

16 “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.

The Work of the Holy Spirit

“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you.But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 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; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine;therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

Your Sorrow Will Turn into Joy

16 “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” 17 So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” 18 So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” 19 Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’?20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21 When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

I Have Overcome the World

25 “I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”

29 His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! 30 Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” 31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Grace To You Website

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge