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

disapproveEvangelical Worship Edition.

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

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

Official Lyric Video

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

Lyrics (via WorshipTogether)

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

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

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

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

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

Discussion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ephesians 2:4-10 (ESV)

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

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

Conclusion

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

Romans 10:11-17 (ESV)

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

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

Friday Sermon | “Sermon Cage Fight” via Fighting for the Faith

Today, we are going to be listening to an episode of Fighting for the Faith with Pr Chris Rosebrough. In previous Friday Sermon posts referencing Fighting for the Faith we’ve tried to focus in on just an hour or so of the show. This show, however, is important to listen to in full, so the goal here is to encourage you to work through the full episode from Thursday, January 21, 2016. *This is a re-broadcast of an older episode.

Five Illegal Uses of the Law
Email
Ed Young’s Rap Song UBU
• The Drukerites are VERY Cult like because in their thinking, there is no such thing as a valid or godly critic
Sermon Cage Fight: Rev. William Cwirla, Pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church VS. Dan Southerland, Purpose-Driven Church Transitioner & Practitioner

One Cult-Like Quality of the Druckerites

Source: http://www.piratechristian.com/fightingforthefaith/2010/02/24/one-cultlike-quality-of-the-druckerites

 

I pray this episode of F4F is helpful to you. Be blessed this weekend, do not forsake the gathering of the saints, and we hope to see you again next Monday here at Faithful Stewardship.

Romans 16:25-27 (ESV) | Doxology

Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Friday Sermon | F4F Interview of Steve Kozar

Today, we are going to be listening to a fun interview with Steve Kozar by Pastor Chris Rosebrough of Fighting for the Faith. The interview takes up the first hour of this program. I recommend sticking around and listening to the second hour where Chris reviews a talk given by Alex Kendrick (part of the Kendrick brothers who produced War Room, Mom’s Night Out, Facing the Giants, and other movies).

00:04:52 – Interview with Steve Kozar
01:39:24 – Sermon Review: The Three Battles by Alex Kendrick

Interview with Steve Kozar

Source: https://piratechristian.squarespace.com/fightingforthefaith/2015/12/the-three-battles

From the Captain’s Log (Chris Rosebrough’s blog) regarding this interview:

Welcoming Artist and Blogger Steven Kozar to the H.M.S. Aletheia

I wanted to take a few moments to formally welcome my good friend, artist and blogger Steven Kozar to our pirate ship. I’ve known Steven for XX years and have been following his blog (The Messed Up Church) for some time now. If you are a regular listener of my Fighting for the Faith podcast, you heard my recent interview Steven regarding his recent article, “When Did the Church Turn Into Amway?” During the interview we discussed his time in Evangelicalism and the Charismatic church, the changes in the church over the past 2 decades, mind control and theological diarrhea.

As we mentioned during the interview, I am also happy to announce that Steven will be the new “Master Curator” of our Museum of Idolatry and in the coming weeks he will be moving the Messed Up Church blog under the Blogs section of this website. I think you will agree with me that Steven is both funny and helpful in his understanding of the current Evangelical landscape and we are blessed to have him aboard our ship.

In addition to his swash-buckling prowess, Steven has been a full-time, hyper-realist artist since 1986. I have one of his prints (Winter Sheep) hanging in my home and it looks so real you might think it was a photograph. Since he will be helping us with our blogs and content, we wanted to feature his Signed Watercolor Prints in our Bakesale. A majority of the proceeds from the sale of each print will go directly back to Steven. So please consider buying a few prints as Christmas presents for your family and friends. His “Winter Sheep” print would be a special gift for your pastor in light of John 21:15-17.

You can read more about Steven and his paintings at stevenkozar.com. Additional Limited Edition Prints and other artwork is available at shop.stevenkozar.com.

As I said in the intro, it really is a fun interview. I have to admit that during the dark ages of my life, I was lured into Amway twice, once for Amway proper and again when they were launching Quixtar… /sigh.

I pray this episode of F4F is helpful to you. Be blessed this weekend, do not forsake the gathering of the saints, and we hope to see you again next Monday here at Faithful Stewardship.

Romans 16:25-27 (ESV) | Doxology

Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Friday Sermon | F4F Interview with Kerri Ferguson

Today, we are going to be listening to a gut-wrenching yet vitally important Interview with Kerri Ferguson. When I made the new icon for our Friday Sermon segment, I knew I wanted to get some interviews into the mix, but I didn’t realize such an important interview woulds pop up so soon. I’m looking forward to getting back to sharing sermons next week, but today’s interview is very important. The false gospel and false doctrine of C3 combined with the false ecclesiology of the CEO church model enslave people to the tyranny of the false prophets gathering unto themselves disciples by preaching for shameful gain what ought not be preached.

Interview with Kerri Ferguson

Source: http://www.piratechristian.com/fightingforthefaith/2015/11/interview-with-kerri-ferguson

Romans 16:25-27 (ESV) | Doxology

Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | Keeping It In Context

Today is Thursday, August 13, 2015.  A couple of days ago, it seems the world was introduced to our Discernment in Music (DiM) blogs all at once. It has brought a lot of questions, comments, encouragement, and concern across various social media outlets. I praise God for the opportunity to have this conversation with the Church, to encourage brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus to consider the theological merit of the music we listen to on a daily basis.

I noticed a couple of recurring concerns reflected in various comments in social media that I think are valid and warrant addressing.

The Context of the Listener

Perhaps the most common concern is one of whether or not I have the right to declare what can and cannot be used in Corporate Worship within a Church Service. This question is understandable given the 2 reviews (“Oceans” and “Holy Spirit“) that represent cross-over songs which dominate airplay and are pushed as songs for corporate worship. The primary target audience for these DiM posts is actually not Worship Pastors, though I do hope they are blessed by this work. The primary target audience is the professing Christian listening to Christian Radio, whether in their car, shopping in a Christian Bookstore, or in their home. Places where the music is generally background noise, continuously streaming what is generally assumed to be God-honoring, Gospel driven, Christian Music. That is the context of the listener which serves as the framework for this exercise in biblical discernment. That some of these songs are being imported into churches for corporate worship introduces several variables, but more importantly it now involves Elders and Overseers as Stewards of Christ’s Church.

The Approval/Disapproval Rating is not the Goal

For several months I refused to provide a list of overall approval/Disapproval ratings, because I knew that in doing so I would invariably distract from the goal of the work, which is to go through the motions listening to the song performed in its entirety, walking through the lyrics of the song, and comparing what the message of the song says to what the Word of God says. Once the list of reviewed songs got long enough to where I had to use my own search engine to check on a review, I realized I needed to provide an archive for those visiting the site for the first time. The standard is God’s Word, on that we cannot waver; however, I fully expect to have strongly held, differing opinions regarding the overall “approval” or “disapproval” of any given song played on the air.

Music Pope? No.

Okay, that comment made me chuckle when I saw it on Twitter. Brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ, I have no authority over what is played on the airwaves, in your church, or in your home. I do not decide what you can listen to without sinning, or even accuse you of sinning for liking a song, secular or otherwise. The DiM list is only an archive of the discernment work done until now. These songs are being played on the airwaves whether or not anyone is doing any discernment work. I’m not pushing to have your favorite songs banned from the radio. I’m grateful for Christian Radio and wholeheartedly pray that it continues, and improves. That being said, there is a lot of bad theology being pumped into the airwaves under a “Christian” banner that is dangerous to unsuspecting hearts and minds. Much like your local Christian bookstore, there is some good, some not-so-good, and some I can’t believe that is even on the shelf! A Christian who is mature in the faith once-delivered to the saints, rooted and grounded in solid theology, is better equipped to “spit out the bones and swallow the meat” so to speak. My authority is limited. At best, should I deem a Christian song worthy of “Disapproval”, what I’m saying to the Church is that I cannot, in good conscience, recommend or approve of listening to the song in isolation. Unless you live under my roof, are a passenger in my car, or become my student in some capacity, all I can hope for is that you will at least practice discernment for yourself or seek guidance from one of your elders or pastors. The Law defines sin, condemns it to death, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only remedy.

We Are Not Judging Your Church

In the days of Hymnity, Elders of the Church carefully examined the songs to approve of their use in corporate worship. The laity could rest assured (for the most part) that the hymns found in their Church’s Hymnal were reviewed, prayed over, and approved by the elders. These days, the visible church has mostly abandoned the Hymnals, and much of what is played in Churches comes from popular bands in mega churches. It is rare to find a Worship Leader who scrutinizes the doctrine of the songs being sung, and even more rare is finding a church member who gives the theology and doctrine of the songs they sing a second thought.  And this is within the visible Church. If these DiM posts motivate a Worship Pastor to exercise discernment, Praise the Lord! If a member of the church chooses to exercise discernment regarding a song that was included in a worship service, that is wonderful… if that is you, please go to your Worship Pastor and ask for an explanation of the theology of the song and its purpose in corporate worship. Your pastors / elders are responsible for your growth and will be held accountable to God. Keeping in mind what we pointed out regarding the context of our listener, our DiM posts are not serving as judgments against your church for having played or playing one of these songs. That is not our intent. In fact, the church setting can be a place where the vagueness of most of these songs is clarified. There are hymns that don’t fully articulate the Gospel and are not well suited for evangelical broadcast because they were expressly written for penitent believers in Jesus Christ within the context of corporate worship. Corporate worship isn’t limited to a single song in isolation (which is how we do our reviews); therefore, our “disapproval” is in no way a single-point rebuke of your church or worship leader. It is our sincere hope, that given what we discuss in light of Scripture, that these DiM posts would serve as an impetus for seeking guidance with your Worship Pastor, Pastor, or Elders regarding the theology of the songs being sung.

3 Rules of Biblical Discernment: Context, Context, Context

I learned this discernment secret from Chris Rosebrough’s Fighting for the Faith. This is vitally important when handling scripture, and it is also important for how we treat the source material or the song lyrics. I haven’t mastered it. Just yesterday I had to revise a DiM post I had messed up because I eisegeted amillenialism into Jovan Mackenzy’s song… and he isn’t an amillenialist. I do my best to treat each song fairly, but given how they are played on the airways, that means we have to limit ourselves to what is found in the lyrics in most cases. In most cases, I try my best to give a song its best construction (Soul on Fire) or infuse a bible study into the listener to focus a vague song lyric (Cast My Cares). I have to try to infuse meaning into the songs in these cases… that is eisegesis of a man-made song. My goal is not to “justify” the song via proof-text. Proof-texting is bad… it is manipulation of the Scriptures to justify a man-made idea/concept/message. Many attempts I’ve seen to justify a song I’ve reviewed negatively have involved the breaking down of the song into several disparate nuggets, and then proof-texting verses in the Bible that correlate in some way. Sometimes that is simply how our minds have coped with a vague song or rationalized really liking a song, but that is not Biblical Discernment. Where we can, we seek to examine what Scripture teaches in-context and see where the song lines up. If the song falls short, we defer to the Scripture and encourage the listener to remember what the Scripture really teaches every time they hear the song played on the radio.

What’s wrong with just liking a clean song that’s silly?

Nothing. This isn’t about what songs you should like or dislike. As long as a song doesn’t cause you to sin, or a brother or sister to stumble, I see no problem with liking a silly song. Pastor Alistair Begg often quotes lines from secular songs in his sermons… for a distinct and clearly articulated illustrative purpose. No, this isn’t about whether or not its okay to like a silly song from Family Force 5. This is about whether or not the song lyrics present a Christian Gospel Message: Sin and Grace, Law and Gospel, Repentance and the forgiveness of sin. Short of this, it isn’t a Christian song… just an arguably good song, or outright silly/harmless one. Even some of the songs I’ve disapproved are so powerfully sung I can’t help but sing along on a few lines while driving in my car. It’s true. But I know that the theology is unclear and sometimes even aberrant, so I do not meditate on those songs.

The airwaves are so full of secular music… there is no advantage to pushing a form of secular music that is supposedly “Christian”… it’s still secular music. The slide in the music industry is always to the world. Endorsing a “Christian” version of secular music is at best unhelpful, and at worst loving to our children and to the artists we propel into stardom. My heart breaks to learn of another Christian artist who has abandoned the faith. How many more will we allow to shipwreck their faith for the sake of entertainment?

Conclusion

I love music and I long for the day when every song on the Top 20 Christian Songs chart is so rich in the Gospel that there would no longer be a need for this blog to have a DiM segment. I’d also find it deeply encouraging to see others exercising biblical discernment. I invite musicians, radio DJs, and worship leaders to point out errors I’ve made and provide insight into the songs they’ve written. To the fathers out there, I hope you’ll find encouragement to engage in this material as it pertains to your children and your homes. Forgive me if I allow snark, or frustration, to overshadow the love that drives this work. I am but a humble servant of our Lord Jesus Christ, without an office in the church. I am a father to my children, husband to my wife, and brother to the body of Christ. This is not my vocation, but an extension of my personal Bible study. I pray you grant me Grace and Forgiveness, as I endeavor to humbly, lovingly, and faithfully exercise biblical discernment.

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