CTT | Forgiveness by Faith

Dear friend, have you (or a friend) been led to believe that if you petition the Lord for something “with all of your heart” and fast and pray with enough faith then He will grant you your petition? Are you sometimes tempted to measure your faith or your forgiveness by your circumstances? What happens when your petition is denied or the opposite of what you ask for happens? When something you desire doesn’t come to pass, how quickly do you wonder if God is punishing you, or worse, that your faith and your very salvation are in jeopardy? Dear Christian, look not at the circumstances… but rest on the Word of God. Place your trust in Him. That’s not a throw-away feel-good line. Place your trust in Him, even when you don’t get your way, even when times are hard, and even when you feel your heart will break from the strain.

When it comes to Old Testament champions, King David is a top contender. A man after God’s own heart. It is on his throne that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ sits for all eternity. A man of great faith, but a man nonetheless guilty of sin. What separated King David from King Saul? He was a man of Faith and repented of his sin. Today, we are going to look at a terribly low point in King David’s life, one that often gets paraphrased. We are going to read through the account and its aftermath, and we will see the faith of the man after God’s Heart, Kind David.

2 Samuel 11 (ESV)| David and Bathsheba
1 In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.

2 It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. 3 And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” 4 So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she had been purifying herself from her uncleanness.) Then she returned to her house. 5 And the woman conceived, and she sent and told David, “I am pregnant.”

6 So David sent word to Joab, “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent Uriah to David. 7 When Uriah came to him, David asked how Joab was doing and how the people were doing and how the war was going. 8 Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” And Uriah went out of the king’s house, and there followed him a present from the king. 9 But Uriah slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house. 10 When they told David, “Uriah did not go down to his house,” David said to Uriah, “Have you not come from a journey? Why did you not go down to your house?” 11 Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah dwell in booths, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field. Shall I then go to my house, to eat and to drink and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do this thing.” 12 Then David said to Uriah, “Remain here today also, and tomorrow I will send you back.” So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 And David invited him, and he ate in his presence and drank, so that he made him drunk. And in the evening he went out to lie on his couch with the servants of his lord, but he did not go down to his house.

One of the biggest problems with paraphrasing this story, is that in so doing we sometimes lose sight of the fact that Uriah was an honorable man, faithful to his God, his king, and his people. He was a humble man. He did not suspect anything, nor did he see fit that he should lie in his own bed while the Ark, Israel, and Judah dwell in booths and his commander (Joab) and Joab’s men slept in the open fields. David tried to cover up his sin by having Uriah sleep with Bathsheba, so that he would think the child was his. Uriah acted nobly, and David was deeply in sin.

14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah. 15 In the letter he wrote, “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, that he may be struck down, and die.” 16 And as Joab was besieging the city, he assigned Uriah to the place where he knew there were valiant men. 17 And the men of the city came out and fought with Joab, and some of the servants of David among the people fell. Uriah the Hittite also died. 18 Then Joab sent and told David all the news about the fighting. 19 And he instructed the messenger, “When you have finished telling all the news about the fighting to the king, 20 then, if the king’s anger rises, and if he says to you, ‘Why did you go so near the city to fight? Did you not know that they would shoot from the wall? 21 Who killed Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth? Did not a woman cast an upper millstone on him from the wall, so that he died at Thebez? Why did you go so near the wall?’ then you shall say, ‘Your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.’”

22 So the messenger went and came and told David all that Joab had sent him to tell. 23 The messenger said to David, “The men gained an advantage over us and came out against us in the field, but we drove them back to the entrance of the gate. 24 Then the archers shot at your servants from the wall. Some of the king’s servants are dead, and your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also.” 25 David said to the messenger, “Thus shall you say to Joab, ‘Do not let this matter displease you, for the sword devours now one and now another. Strengthen your attack against the city and overthrow it.’ And encourage him.”

26 When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she lamented over her husband. 27 And when the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.

First adultery, then deception, now murder.

2 Samuel 12 (ESV) | Nathan Rebukes David

1 And the Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had very many flocks and herds, 3 but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. 4 Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” 5 Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, 6 and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.”

7 Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. 8 And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. 9 Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ 11 Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.’” 13 David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. 14 Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child who is born to you shall die.” 15 Then Nathan went to his house.

And the Lord sent Nathan to David, to rebuke him and pronounce judgment for his sin. David repented, was granted forgiveness, yet judgement remained. The child would die. Why must the child die? Because this sin utterly scorned the Lord, but beyond that we are given no further explanation. This is where we must learn to trust in God by faith, and not by circumstance or by sight. If David was forgiven, his life spared, then why would God take his son from him? What is David to do now? Let us pause the story and turn ahead to Psalm 51, written by King David after being rebuked by Nathan.

Psalm 51 (ESV) | Create in Me a Clean Heart, O God
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
build up the walls of Jerusalem;
19 then will you delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.

We see here David’s complete confession of his sin, and we see his repentance. Nathan had already pronounced forgiveness and judgement. David isn’t just pleading for his life, he is petitioning God for something far more precious… that he remain God’s servant. That he not be cast away. David saw what happened to King Saul once the Spirit of the Lord was removed from him. He was now well aware of the full penalty of his sin against God. David is also learning what forms of worship truly matter to God… in verse 16, “For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Repentance, in humility to God is a prerequisite for the burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings in worship.

2 Samuel 12 (ESV) cont… | David’s Child Dies
15b. And the Lord afflicted the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and he became sick. 16 David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. 17 And the elders of his house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground, but he would not, nor did he eat food with them. 18 On the seventh day the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they said, “Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spoke to him, and he did not listen to us. How then can we say to him the child is dead? He may do himself some harm.” 19 But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David understood that the child was dead. And David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” They said, “He is dead.” 20 Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. 21 Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” 22 He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ 23 But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” 24 Then David comforted his wife, Bathsheba, and went in to her and lay with her, and she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. And the Lord loved him 25 and sent a message by Nathan the prophet. So he called his name Jedidiah, because of the Lord.

King David pleaded with the Lord on behalf of the child. He fasted and prayed day and night and would not be moved for 7 days. The child died, as Nathan had prophesied. Does this mean that David wasn’t forgiven? No, it doesn’t. Was it hard? Absolutely. And God made it clear that the child’s death was a direct result of David’s sin. It is also clear that the child’s conception was a direct result of his sin. David had no business staying behind while the armies of the Lord waged war, he had no business looking upon Bathsheba as she bathed, and he had no business taking Bathsheba. Uriah was an honorable man, murdered to cover up David’s sin. Yet, in all of his sin, God forgave David when he repented… and the innocent son paid the price for David’s sin.

As we fast forward to the future… we see another son born of the house of David, only He was born of a virgin. His Name is Jesus, the Christ, Son of the Living God. He was truly born without sin, lived a perfect, sinless life, and laid down His life for you and for me.

2 Corinthians 5:16-21 (ESV) 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.

It is by faith that we receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ. By faith are we healed of our unbelief and forgiven for our sin. Circumstances will change, and we will face many trials and tribulations, many of which will be of our own doing (sin). Bear fruit in keeping with repentance, by faith in the One True God and His Son, Jesus. Walk in Him, Trust in Him, and rest in Him.

Romans 8:1-11 (ESV) | Life in the Spirit
8 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Amen. Dear Christian, don’t measure God’s forgiveness of your sin by your earthly circumstances; rather, measure His forgiveness of your sin by Christ’s death and resurrection. This forgiveness is by faith, not by works. Trust in Him to carry you through this life, even when the world distracts and condemns you.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “He Knows My Name” by Francesca Battistelli

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

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

Today we return to 20theCountdownMagazine moving to the top rated song we haven’t reviewed. Today we will be taking a look at #6 on the chart, “He Knows My Name” by Francesca Battistelli.

Why We Do This

Before we get to today’s song, I’d like to point out that while we take the time to exercise Biblical discernment here in what we listen to on “Christian Radio”, the goal isn’t to tear down these artists. The goal, is to protect you from ambiguous or false teaching conveyed by most of what we hear on the radio. I’m not lobbying for you to turn off your radios, though I think many of us should do so from time to time, my hope is that when the questionable songs start to play, that you will remember what we searched in God’s Word. Sometimes, we can salvage a vague or blah song and add Scriptural meat to it. Sometimes, we just have to outright rebuke the theology presented, and we do so also with Scripture. Either way, if we’ve done our work well here, then no matter which song pops up, your mind will go to the Word of God. If we haven’t covered the song yet, I hope that when a line catches your attention, you will try to follow the steps we take here to search out the Scriptures. There are some songs that I’ll change the channel for, others I’ll only sing with a line or two, and others I thoroughly enjoy (either because the song is great or because I can apply proper Scriptural context to correct the vagueness). As always, if you disagree with my assessments or feel I’ve not been fair, do please speak up either in comments below or in a private message via the contact page.

Francesca Battistelli – “He Knows My Name”

Lyrics (via KLove.com)

Spent today in a conversation
In the mirror face to face with
Somebody less than perfect
I wouldn’t choose me first if
I was looking for a champion
In fact I’d understand if
You picked everyone before me
But that’s just not my story

True to who You are
You saw my heart
And made something out of nothing, so

CHORUS
I don’t need my name in lights
I’m famous in my Father’s eyes
Make no mistake
He knows my name
I’m not living for applause
I’m already so adored
It’s all His stage
He knows my name
He knows my name

I’m not meant to just stay quiet
I’m meant to be a lion
I’ll roar beyond a song
With every moment that I’ve got

True to who You are
You saw my heart
And made something out of nothing

CHORUS

He calls me chosen
Free, forgiven
Wanted, child of the King
His forever
Held and treasured
I am loved

I don’t need my name in lights
I’m famous in my Father’s eyes

CHORUS

Publishing: © 2014 Word Music, LLC, Francesca Music (ASCAP) (All rights on behalf of itself and Francesca Music adm. by Word Music, LLC) / Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Upside Down Under (BMI) (All rights on behalf of itself and Upside Down Under adm. by Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC) / CentricSongs, 2 Hour Songs (SESAC) (Adm. by Music Services) Scripture quotation is from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version ® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Produced by Ian Eskelin
Writer(s): Francesca Battistelli / Mia Fieldes / Seth Mosley

Without a doubt, Francesca has an amazing singing voice. The song is very well done (this acoustic version is my favorite sounding version). Let’s see if its content matches its performance.

Positive Elements

The idea that we don’t need to be famous in this life because God knows who we are is awesome. It is important to remind Christians that regardless of your personal successes or failures, what matters is if He knows your name. Not just in His Omniscience, but in a knowing that comes from having repented of our sin and believed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let’s look at some verses.

John 10:14-18 (ESV) 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. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

Luke 10:17-20 (ESV) 17 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” 18 And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.

Revelation 3:1-6 (ESV) | To the Church in Sardis
1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. 4 Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. 5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life.I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

Matthew 10:24-33 (ESV) 24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household. 26 “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

So, we’ve explored the idea of what is truly important as far as fame and notoriety are concerned as demonstrated in Scripture. This is such an important theme for us (Christians) to grasp when this world tempts us to focus on ourselves rather than on Christ and His Gospel. While this theme is important, the song doesn’t do a good job of conveying it properly. While the lyrics include a citation of the ESV for Bible quotes, there are no Bible quotes in the song. At best, there are soundbites that can be found in the Bible, but nothing is actually quoted.

Concerns

Title. There are a lot of concerns in this song. Let’s start with the title of the song, “He knows my Name”. Firstly, we serve a God who is omniscient, who knows everything. We saw earlier that every hair on our head is numbered, and God loves us, and He knows our hearts. Also, our names are written in the Lamb’s book of Life, that is what we must rejoice in, the promise of Heaven through Jesus Christ our Lord. But why this focus on our name? The song is overly focused on us, as though God chose us because of something  possess rather than by His Grace. The only name that matters, is the Name that is above all names, Jesus.

Verse 1. So she spent time speaking to herself in the mirror. This screams post-modern progressive notion of “finding myself” or “getting to know myself”. She defines herself as “less than perfect”, well that’s pious and slightly emotive, but it is incomplete. The Mirror we should be looking in is the Law, and according to the Law we are hopelessly and irrevocably sinful, dead in our sins and trespasses.

Romans 1:18-23 (ESV) | God’s Wrath on Unrighteousness
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Romans 1:28-32 (ESV) 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Ephesians 2:1-3 (ESV) 1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

When we look in the mirror, we should recognize all of mankind. For our flesh is corrupt and our hearts were darkened by unrighteousness. That is the Law, that is the perfection of God from which we fell when Adam sinned. And it is from this state, that the Grace of God is revealed in Christ who is the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for us, so that we might have life in Him. That is the answer to this dilemma, that Christ died to rescue us from our sin (the Gospel). So this contemplative nonsense about having a conversation in the mirror is concerning. Any thought of this being merely a lyrical device evaporates in the next line “I wouldn’t choose me first if I was looking for a champion”. Uhm… the Gospel of Jesus Christ is NOT that He was looking for a champion in fallen man. God has never needed a Champion. God called and equipped Gideon and then God gave him the victory… God didn’t “find a champion in Gideon”. Same with all of the other judges and with King David. This rings of the narcissistic theology sold by Osteen, “Discover the Champion in You“. No. Soli Deo Gloria, means that everything God does is for His Glory and for His Name’s sake.

Romans 1:1-7 (ESV) 1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, 6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, 7 To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Chorus. I struggle with first line of the chorus, “I don’t need my name in lights”, because immediately my mind goes to, “that’s an easy thing to declare when your name is in lights”. I found myself also tripping over the fact that her name is prominently displayed on her album cover. Sure, it’s not “in lights” but it still trips me up. It evokes the same response as when I hear a multi-million dollar televangelist preach about how the love of money is idolatry right before insisting that if you want God to work in your life just send him “seed money”. To make things a bit less emotional and a little more scriptural, I find it to be much like the rich young ruler who claimed to keep the whole Law and wanted to follow Jesus, only to have Him say, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me (Matthew 19).” It’s easy to tell others who have not, that what you have isn’t what is important, especially if in the telling, you get to keep what you have. Now let’s get to this “He knows my name” line that gets repeated (and is in the title of the song). The disclaimer in the lyrics says it pulls quotes from the ESV Bible. Let’s search for that line in the ESV. One hit, from Psalm 91.

Psalm 91:11-16 (ESV)
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder;
the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.
14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

Did you catch what went wrong there? The “he” in verse 14 is no longer pointing to God, it is pointing to “he who dwells in the secret place” in verse 1, which points to the Messiah. This should be made clear when you realize the “I” is pointing to the deliverer of him. God is the deliverer. God is promising to deliver the Messiah and protect Him, because He knows God’s Name. Satan understood that this Psalm was Messianic, which is why he tried to twist it to tempt Jesus in the wilderness (Luke 4)

Verse 2. Now we open up the floodgate of narcissistic eisegisis, purpose-driven style.  When does the Bible call us Lions? Jesus Christ is the Lion of Judah and the Lamb of God. We are sheep. Our strength lies in knowing the Good Shepherd, hearing His voice and obeying Him. To God be the glory.

Bridge. Again, we have another self-centered, purpose-driven song that declares forgiveness without mentioning repentance or confession or even of our sin. Remember the “less than perfect” from earlier? Might as well say “I’m human, but God has forgiven me for that shortcoming and now I’m a champion”. That ain’t the Gospel, Jack. There is only one way to God, only one way to being secure in the promises listed in this Bridge, and that is through Jesus Christ (not our name, or our inner champion).

Conclusion

This song is just self-esteem pop pushing purpose-driven narcissism. I’m all for reaching out to those who feel “less-than”, but the answer is to speak the Truth in Love, not pump people up with false notions of “the champion in side of you” or “you are famous just the way you are”. The end-state of hyper-self-esteem is lawlessness. We now live in a society that has been pumped so full of self-esteem-falsehood that it is now unconscionable to tell a child in public school whether or not they are a boy or a girl. Without a doubt, Francesca was blessed with a gift from God to sing. I pray that in the future her songs be more biblically sound and clear. As for this song, I cannot recommend it to a friend.

Acts 20:28-35 (ESV) 28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. 32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. 34 You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. 35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “How Sweet the Sound” by Citizen Way

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

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

Well, it looks like 20theCountdownMagazine is the most reliably updated music chart. Having said that, I didn’t go with the highest “yet to be reviewed” song for today, I went with the song I caught myself singing in the shower. That I found it sitting at the #10 spot means that I get to review a song that I liked and hoped was a solid song.

Music Video

Lyrics (via Soundlyrics.com)

Yea though I walk through the valley
I know that You are always right beside me
And I will fear no evil
You’re my rock and my strength
You comfort me

Amazing grace how sweet the sound
I hear You singing over me
I once was lost but now I’m found
And it’s beautiful
Amazing grace how sweet the sound
It covers every part of me
My soul is silent, I am found
And it’s a beautiful sound
It’s a beautiful, beautiful sound

Carry me through the waters
Where Your peace clears away all my sorrow
And nothing can separate us from Your love
Oh Your love it will always be

Amazing grace how sweet the sound
I hear You singing over me
I once was lost but now I’m found
And it’s beautiful
Amazing grace how sweet the sound
It covers every part of me
My soul is silent, I am found
And it’s a beautiful sound
It’s a beautiful, beautiful sound

You were healing in the pain
You were shelter in the storm
Hallelujah You restore my soul
[x2]

Amazing grace how sweet the sound
I hear You singing over me
I once was lost but now I’m found
Amazing grace how sweet the sound
It covers every part of me
My soul is silent, I am found
And it’s a beautiful sound
A beautiful, beautiful sound
A beautiful, beautiful sound
A beautiful, beautiful sound

The very first line draws in the Christian with an immediate reference to Psalm 23, King James Version style. But it doesn’t really track with the 23rd Psalm, it sort of skips through a portion of it. Is that a concern? It is for the listener who doesn’t actually know Psalm 23, and even more so for the one who won’t look it up. We’ll do just that later.

The chorus immediately jumps in with “Amazing grace how sweet the sound” and my mind goes right to the old hymn, “Amazing Grace”. Does this song line up with that great hymn? Sadly, no, it doesn’t. We’ll take a look at the lyrics to that hymn (particularly for those who only know/sing 2 verses) later, also. Suffice it to say for now that the “beautiful sound” in this song seems to point to something different from Amazing Grace.

Verse 2 starts with “carry me through the waters”… Noah’s ark? Baptism? Jesus rescuing Peter from drowning? Well, the next line mentions peace, so maybe the referent is Jesus calming the storm. Either way the next thought is more clearly a reference to the security of the Love of the Father. I think this is the strongest element of the song, these 2 lines.

The bridge has me looking at my screen like Nipper (dog used for RCA logo). I’m vexed by the past tense of healing and shelter. The song is set up as a contrast between what I was before Amazing Grace and what I am now, right? So why the “were” here? It’s not a lyrical necessity, because “are” is just as lyrically sound. I have no clue, but it doesn’t sit well with me. The last line (repeated) is a return to Psalm 23. Again, I’m confused with the shift in tense, but at least this is in better keeping with the tense of the rest of the song, you restore (active present) my soul.

Positive Elements

That this song reminds me of Psalm 23 and Amazing Grace is a positive thing. The Grace of God is that He sent His Only Son Jesus to atone for the sin of mankind is indeed a beautiful sound, and that He rose from the grave and sits at the right hand of the Father until the Great Day when He will return for His Bride is just excellent. Sadly, none of this is explicit in the song. There are other nuggets of truth that can be extracted and expanded upon in Scripture (and we will do so), but unless these verses are already known to the listener, it’s like being stranded on a desert island and hoping that the pilot or passenger of a commercial airliner noticed your “help” written in the sand… from 35,000 feet.

I hear You singing over me. This line reminds me of Zephaniah 3:17, often referenced to demonstrate that we serve a Living God who loves His children exuberantly, that He sings over us. The full chapter isn’t all sunshine and lollipops, though. You see, this is a prophecy regarding the sin of Judah and Jerusalem during the time of the Exile. God, in His grace and mercy, preserves a remnant of believers who do not practice injustice. The prophecy then turns to the salvation (Jesus Christ) of Jerusalem and the Nations and finally, comes the portion of rejoicing in the Salvation of the Lord.

Zephaniah 3:14-20 (ESV) | Israel’s Joy and Restoration
14 Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! 15 The Lord has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil. 16 On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: “Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. 17 The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. 18 I will gather those of you who mourn for the festival, so that you will no longer suffer reproach. 19 Behold, at that time I will deal with all your oppressors. And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth. 20 At that time I will bring you in, at the time when I gather you together; for I will make you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes before your eyes,” says the Lord.

And nothing can separate us from Your love. Nothing can separate us from the Love of God through Jesus Christ our Savior. These two passages are very important for us to understand God’s Amazing Grace.

John 3:16-18 (ESV) | For God So Loved the World
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

John 10:22-30 (ESV) | I and the Father Are One
22 At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. 24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

Carry me through the waters. I indicated earlier that my mind jumps to Noah’s Ark being in God’s Hands as He carried it through the waters of destruction and judgement upon the face of the Earth, or Israel’s crossing the Red Sea, and how both tie directly to Baptism.

1 Peter 3:18-22 (ESV) 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, 20 because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.

Concerns

The primary concern is, again, vagueness of the message. The listener who is spending time reading the scriptures will instinctively fill in the theological gaps of the song and find it encouraging. Unfortunately, so will the listener who has no scriptural knowledge, only that individual will fill in the gaps with whatever they like, think, or have heard.

Psalm 23. While the song’s title and first line of the chorus point to Amazing Grace, it spends most of its time paraphrasing Psalm 23. Let’s look at the Psalm, and I’ll highlight the snippets of from the song.

Psalm 23 (ESV) | The Lord Is My Shepherd
A Psalm of David.
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.

Okay, so calling it a paraphrase of the 23rd Psalm is a stretch. My primary concern here is that the song attempts to pluck out the “makes me feel good for free” bits for the song, while skipping over unpleasant notions of the rod of correction, paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake, the shadow of death, or even dining in the presence of our enemies. It focuses on the encouragement bits without addressing the focus on the Lord as the shepherd and we are the sheep. Notice the song says “You’re my rock, and my strength, You comfort me”. It skips over what the psalmist clearly point to for his comfort. The rod of correction and the staff of support. While we do find comfort in who God is, the psalmist is pointing out that we also find comfort in what He does, His correction and His provision.

Amazing Grace. This hymn is a beautifully written song with several verses that are rarely sung when this song is played.

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;

’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my Shield and Portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.

You see, as soon as the song clears the first line of Amazing Grace, it shifts away from the hymn and doesn’t look aback. The hymn makes clear that we were wretches, lost, and blind to the ways of God. By His Grace, we have been made to see, and we are now found. That the Grace of God has sustained us and will sustain us for the rest of our mortal life (filled with dangers, toils, and snares) and even into the next life will we continue to sing God’s praise for His Amazing Grace. That’s powerful and it is clear. In some ways I suppose the line “It covers every part of me” might be considered a reference to all of that… but that’s quite the shoe-horn in my view.

What sound is being described as sweet and beautiful? This is probably the biggest issue I have with this song, an issue I didn’t realize until I started looking at the lyrics. Is the artist describing the sound of the Gospel of Grace (which is what the song Amazing Grace is describing as the sweet sound)? Is it the sound of God singing over His people? Or is it the sound of a silent soul? Given the pace at which New Age Mysticism is invading the modern Church, I fear the answer is a combination of the last 2 with a mere nod to the first. There is a lot of contemplative prayer being taught (falsely) in youth conferences and in a broad spectrum of churches that employ 3rd century catholic mystic monastic practices supposedly designed to tune one’s spirit in to hear the voice of God the Holy Spirit speaking. I hope that is not what these guys are into, but their website was rather cumbersome to navigate and I gave up rather quickly.

Conclusion

This song suffers from the vagueness of presenting a lawless gospel. It has a Joel Osteen quality that seeks to encourage everyone with the hope of salvation by skipping over the need for salvation, or the need to confess and repent of our sins. The truth is that without the Law, without the conviction of sin, the significance, the beauty, and the wonder of the Gospel of Grace is diminished. In fact, it becomes a different gospel altogether. This is a song that disappointed me when I actually looked at the lyrics.  I’ll be honest, I really thought that I was singing a more modern take on Amazing Grace, but I wasn’t. Is it dangerous to me? Not really (especially not after having done this work). But this song is a concern for those who aren’t willing to search the scriptures or take these thoughts captive. I do think this is worse than the past few songs I’ve attempted to rescue by better defining (Biblically) the terms used in the song. Had they not invoked Psalm 23 (highlights only) or the first line in Amazing Grace, this song would be totally forgettable. At least, that’s my assessment.

Jude 1:24-25 (ESV)
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,
Jorge

“My Grace is Sufficient”

imagesToday, I wanted to look at closing up yesterday’s discussion, especially for those who struggle with the notion that “soul ties” aren’t biblical. If “soul ties” aren’t the answer, what is? The simple answer is, “the Grace of God”. Let us begin by looking to the Apostle Paul for some insight, because Paul often taught regarding the dual nature of Christians as being both sinner and saint. In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul shares a personal plea to God and God’s answer to Paul should give us encouragement and comfort.

2 Corinthians 12:1-10 (ESV) | Paul’s Visions and His Thorn
1 I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. 3 And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4 and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. 5 On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses— 6 though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. 7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

If this reference to boasting seems a bit awkward, in the previous chapter Paul is calling out the false apostles (sarcastically calling them ‘super apostles’), particularly pointing out their abuse, their boasting, and their financial exploitation of the Corinthians. Paul closed out the previous chapter boasting, so to speak, in his afflictions and hard work on their behalf rather than take from them, and he continues here boasting in a way that demonstrates that while the false apostles boasted illegitimately, Paul could boast all the more. Paul is one of the few who have ever been taking up into heaven (as a point of clarification, no one since Revelation has been shown heaven for the purpose of revealing or teaching the Church about it, and no one who claims to share details of Heaven is legitimate).

This thorn in the flesh that was given to Paul was given for a specific purpose, it was allowed to afflict Paul “so to keep him from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations of heaven“. So, not only do we NOT get a detailed description of what Paul saw in Heaven, he was also allowed a tormentor, a messenger of Satan, to keep him from becoming conceited. You and I don’t need a thorn in our flesh, for our flesh is thorny enough on its own. Neither of us have been established as Apostles of Jesus Christ, and neither of us (I say with a great deal of confidence) have been taking up into Heaven. Notice here that if anyone had a special claim on an anointing from God the Holy Spirit, Paul did. If anyone could teach with authority the Word of Faith (WoF) doctrine, it would be Paul. But he doesn’t. We see here that he prayed three times to God that the thorn in his flesh, the harasser from Satan, be taken away from him, and God’s response wasn’t “you haven’t prayed the right prayer yet”, or “you still lack faith”, or even “this is to make you stronger”… no, God’s reply was simply

“My Grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness”

We don’t have thorns placed in our flesh, but we must contend with the flesh nonetheless. Our flesh desires sin, it chases after sin. This thorn was above and beyond Paul’s flesh, and still the answer from God was, “My grace is sufficient for you…”.

How many times have you prayed and longed for God to miraculously remove your fleshly desire to…

  • lust after scantily clad women…
  • drown sorrow or pain in food or drink…
  • take just one more dose to remove the edge…
  • covet a neighbor’s lifestyle, possession, or spouse…

In all of these things, and all the other temptations of the flesh… your flesh… the flesh that wages war against the Spirit, the flesh that desires sin even when un-prompted by an outside agent (be it a person or an unclean spirit), the answer from God the Holy Spirit remains

“My Grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness”

Can God the Holy Spirit miraculously heal addictions and mental illness? Yes. God was not incapable of removing the thorn in Paul’s flesh, and every demon and unclean spirit obeyed the commands of Jesus. The Sovereignty of God rests not only in His power, but in His Will as well. As we see in the book of Job, His Will isn’t always fully revealed to us, either. Nevertheless, we know that He works all things for good. All things… for good.

Romans 8:18-39 (ESV) | Future Glory
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Paul is not talking about avoiding pain, or tribulation, or distress, or persecution, he is pointing to the promise of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There are several verses that are pulled from this passage to push the WoF “declare victory now” over-realized eschatology, but when read in-context we know that the hope that lies ahead is far greater than our present circumstances. There will come a day when all of creation will be set free from its bondage to corruption, including our flesh. That nothing that “goes wrong” down here has any lasting consequences and that any suffering we might endure on this earth is not fit to be compared to the Glory that awaits us in Christ Jesus.

In this life we will face struggles, from outside agents and from our own fleshly desires, for it is corrupt. We must take up our crosses daily, and we must resist temptation and flee sexual immorality. But we are weak, and the Spirit of God helps us in our weakness. When we are weak, He is strong.

“My Grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness”

The Grace of God is that He gave His One and Only Son Jesus to die on the cross as payment for our sin. Sin still has consequences in this life, and our flesh is corrupt.

Galatians 6:7-9 (ESV) 7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

This isn’t about lawlessness and carnal living without consequences. This is about understanding that while we live in these fallen earthly bodies, we will sin. Our very flesh wars against our Spirit, compelling us to sin. Think of it in terms of addiction… only rather than being limited to a particular sin (drunkenness, gluttony, sexual immorality, etc.) our flesh is addicted to self-seeking, self-gratification (as a goal), and all manner of sin. The Grace of God brings our spirit to life, pulled out of the kingdom of darkness and sealed by the Holy Spirit for the Day of Christ’s Return. We must walk in the Spirit, resist the devil, and crucify our flesh daily. As Paul described it in Romans 6, we are to consider ourselves dead to sin, and alive to God, being slaves to righteousness. But we do so without condemnation, for the Grace of the Cross says that it is by His Blood we have been made righteous, not by our actions.

I pray that each of you will be set free from addictions and habitual sins. When you are going through the storm of temptation, trust in Him. The desire will be there, because your flesh craves sin, but know that the Spirit wages war against the flesh. There is no hidden secret to making the desire just go away. Trust in the Lord, God the Holy Spirit living inside of you to make a way of escape. Temptations will come… and often they come from within your very flesh. That will not always be the case. Sanctification is a life-long process, as we learn to live according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh. Press on toward the goal of the upward call of God, the Great Day of His Return. In the meantime, do not be ensnared by condemnation by the accuser. Remember the cross, remember the Grace of God, for His Grace is sufficient, and His power is made perfect in our weakness.

1 John 1 (ESV) 1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. 5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

May the peace of God reign in your hearts this day and every day,
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “Hope in Front of Me” by Danny Gokey

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

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

At the time of this writing, the K-Love top songs chart had not been updated from last week; therefore, we will be using 20 the Countdown Magazine’s chart for today’s DiM post. I can’t tell how often this chart is updated, but the top song on the chart is Danny Gokey’s “Hope In Front Of Me”. As it turns out, this song was at #4 on the K-Love chart last week, and would have been the next song on our list to review anyway, so here we go. Let us begin with a refresher for those who might not have heard this song on the radio:

[youtube http://youtu.be/O5GFiDdGGGM]

 

Hope in Front of Me | Lyrics (via Metro Lyrics)

I’ve been running through rain
That I thought would never end
Trying to make it on faith
In a struggle against the wind
I’ve seen the dark and the broken places
But I know in my soul
No matter how bad it gets
I’ll be alright

There’s hope in front of me
There’s a light, I still see it
There’s a hand still holding me
Even when I don’t believe it
I might be down but I’m not dead
There’s better days still up ahead
Even after all I’ve seen
There’s hope in front of me

There’s a place at the end of the storm
You finally find
Where the hurt and the tears and the pain
All fall behind

You open up your eyes and up ahead
There’s a big sun shining
Right then and there you realize
You’ll be alright

There’s hope in front of me
There’s a light, I still see it
There’s a hand still holding me
Even when I don’t believe it
I might be down but I’m not dead
There’s better days still up ahead
Even after all I’ve seen
There’s hope in front of me

There’s a hope still burning
I can feel it rising through the night
And my world’s still turning
I can feel your love here by my side

You’re my hope
You’re the light, I still see it
Your hands are holding me
Even when I don’t believe it
I’ve got to believe
I still have hope
You are my hope

Songwriters
HERMS, BERNIE / JAMES, BRETT / GOKEY, DANIEL JAY

Published by
Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.
Read more: Danny Gokey – Hope In Front Of Me Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Positive Elements

Well, it is definitely an attempt to give encouragement to any and all who are going through hard times. If you bring in the Official Music Video, you get a sense of rescue for those who are struggling with hopelessness in various circumstances… and then they end up broken down in the middle of a country road and just need to keep walking… *sigh*. The song is vague. Danny Gokey has professed to be a Christian, he did so while he was competing in American Idol (Season 8) where he finished in 3rd place, which is quite an accomplishment. He has an absolutely tremendous voice and a great sense of musical style and delivers his music with power and emotion. This song also points toward a wonderful community outreach of Sophia’s Heart Foundation, named in honor of his late first wife. What they do here is undoubtedly a good work for the poor and the down-trodden, and this song Hope in Front of Me is undoubtedly anthemic for those being touched by this ministry. These are all positive elements and deeply commendable, but the vagueness of the messaging still looms. Before we move on to specific concerns, I want to share a video from Danny Gokey’s Homepage that really helped me tie this song to the Sophia’s Heart Foundation.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffivEQpbUZA]

Concerns

Our goal here is to practice Biblical discernment in the songs we hear played on the radio (maybe even sing along with) so that we are fully aware of what we are filling our hearts and minds with. The song has some very strong religious/spiritual keywords such as: faith, soul, belief, hope, light, and love. Each of these words resonate with religions of all flavors, even the godless ones (e.g. humanism and buddism). The vagueness is a problem here because at no time in the song or in the Official Music Video is the object of the singers faith identified nor is the hope articulated beyond a generic positive confession of “better days” and “I’ll be alright”. There is also a quirk that pops up in the use of the pronoun “you”. As with most modern-day spiritual songs, the “you” is at times implying God (or at least a higher power) but might also refer to an earthly person (love interest), but the quirk comes in where “you” suddenly shifts to the hearer. Well, that’s a problem since we also have the other two possible “you”s in the song. Vagueness is the key issue with this song. The Gospel isn’t remotely vague. Scripture isn’t vague. “Spiritual songs” are vague to appeal to the widest possible audience for sales. The song does not provide any answers, no gospel, and not really any Law, just an appeal to Hope.

To get any meaning out of the song, you first have to put real meaning into it. Let’s see if we can’t manage some salvaging of the song from the Scriptures.

Faith. Faith is not a thing unto itself. If we are using a strictly Biblical definition of faith, only believers have faith. We see in Romans 10:17 (ESV) “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ”. Therefore, apart from the Gospel of Jesus Christ there can be no faith. In fact, when Paul describes the state of sin of mankind in Romans 1, he lists “faithlessness” as one of their attributes.

Romans 1:28-32 (ESV) 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

In the modern-day church we often use “faith” and “belief” interchangeably. If we are to do that, then we need to understand that there is only one True faith (faith that comes from hearing the Word of God), and all other faiths (or beliefs) are false. For the sake of redeeming this song, we must hold to the Biblical definition of faith, that is, faith in the Person, Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Hope. Since this is the main thrust of the song, I want to focus on salvaging this term. I could not do so without first properly anchoring the term Faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In the same way that faith requires an object, we need to properly identify the object of our hope. Our hope is in Christ, and in Christ we have a hope. I think Peter does a great job of encapsulating it in the introduction of 1 Peter.

1 Peter 1:1-12 (ESV) | Born Again to a Living Hope
1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you. 3 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, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 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. 8 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, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

Our hope is in an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading… and that inheritance is kept for us in heaven to be revealed in the last time. The hope of heaven, that we will gain entrance into heaven through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. That this sinful flesh will finally be put away from us in death, and that by His blood we will join physically in His resurrection as He gives us perfect, new, sinless bodies as part of our inheritance. That is our hope. And it is so marvelous and such an occasion for rejoicing that the various trials may cause us grief in this life are brief and temporary. The Hope of Heaven and the Hope of the Great Day of Christ’s return is the Hope in Front of Me. Unfortunately, there are lines in the song that wrongfully anchor this hope in the temporal. I’m not saying there won’t be any good times while on this earth, the promise is that we who are in Christ will face trials of many kinds, and that our faith will be tested, for this fallen world Hates God. If your hope is anchored in this life, you’ve anchored it on a sandy floor that shifts with storms and seas. At the risk of belaboring the point, “your best life now” is NOT a Christian confession. Our inheritance (our Hope) is kept for us in Heaven. While on Earth, God the Holy Spirit comforts, helps, sustains, and nurtures us… but He does so for purposes that extend well beyond this present life, and beyond our own understanding. He is building up the Bride of Christ, of which we who believe are all members.

Conclusion

This song is vague, and at-best simply a spiritual song. It doesn’t really proclaim the Gospel or uphold the Law. It is a generically “positive” song, sung extremely well. I can become a teaching point if the conversation lends itself to you sharing the Gospel by explaining faith, hope, and love as they are defined by the Bible rather than humanism. But the song doesn’t do that on its own.

I was deeply moved by the EPK film, the background behind Sophia’s Heart Foundation… but even in that film we heard too much of “my story” rather than the Gospel. We touched on the problem of teaching that Christians are supposed to share “their story” rather than His when we reviewed Casting Crown’s teaching videos. I was moved by the good works of Sophia’s Heart Foundation, and I have no problem sharing what they are doing. But good works apart from the Gospel are temporal. Preach the Gospel, so that those who hear the words of Christ might obtain faith in Christ and through Christ be assured of the Hope that lies ahead, the hope of that upward call of Christ on the Last Day.

Jude 1:24-25 (ESV)
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,
Jorge