DiM | “Your Love Awakens Me” by Phil Wickham

Presentation1CCM Radio Edition.

May 10, 2016. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Your Love Awakens Me” by Phil Wickham which currently sits at #16 on the20theCountdownMagazine.

I have concerns regarding this artist and his music in general, though this song, lyrically, finds itself in the “middle” category. It’s very vague and it relies on the listener to fill in the lyrical gaps to piece together a message. That strikes me as mystical form and is a red-flag, so I had to read up a bit on the artist to get a better read on his doctrine. We’ll start with the artist then move to the song.

Phil Wickham is a “worship leader” in the seeker-sensitive sense. He grew up in an evangelical home and was propped up as worship leader at the young age of 12 (source). His musical influences include Keane and Coldplay, so his music goes for an ethereal musical quality. Lyrically, he’s right in line with the Bethel / Hillsong / Passion narrative of presence theology and emotional goo. In the announcement for his latest album, we see this come through in his claim of direct revelation that “God loves us”… because, you know, it’s not enough to hear the Preached Word of God or to read God’s Word to build your faith… you need a direct revelation for it to become real. /sigh.

“My friends, It’s hard to put into words how excited I am to share this with you. This is the cover of my upcoming record “Children Of God”. We officially began working on this record exactly one year ago today, and I am thrilled to announce that it will be released on April 8th, exactly 3 months from today. We poured our hearts and souls into this project over the past year, and I can’t wait to share thIS music with you all. A year and a half ago I lost my voice and was forced to get surgery on my vocal chords with the risk of not being able to sing professionally again. During the difficulty of that season, God spoke the simple yet massive truth into my heart that he loves me. That he loves us. That we are first and foremost His children. That whatever may come our way we are His children. That whatever we may be faced with we are His. Out of this new found sense of identity many of these songs were written. They are a response to His love, and a call to others who have lost sight of or have never heard this truth. We are His. we have nothing to fear. We have only hope in front of us. We are the CHILDREN OF GOD. -Phil” (source)

For a little more emotionally-driven narrative supposedly giving a “behind-the-scenes” look at the inspiration for his latest album, check out his Facebook page here.

That’s the background on this artist. He’s wildly popular in the seeker crowd, and really dresses the part of a seeker-mergent artist. Let’s give this song a listen and then examine the lyrics.

Official Lyric Video

Lyrics (via MusixMatch)

There were walls between us
And by the cross you came
And broke them down
You broke them down
And there were chains around us
And by Your grace we are
No longer bound
No longer bound
You called me out of the grave
You called me into the light
You called my name and then my heart came alive
Your love is greater
Your love is stronger
Your love awakens
Awakens
Awakens me
Your love is greater
Your love is stronger
Your love awakens
Awakens
Awakens me

Feel the darkness shaking
All the dead are coming
Back to life
Back to life
Hear the song awaken
All creation singing
We’re alive
Cause You’re alive
You called me out of the grave
You called me into the light
You called my name and then my heart came alive
Your love is greater
Your love is stronger
Your love awakens
Awakens
Awakens me
Your love is greater
Your love is stronger
Your love awakens
Awakens
Awakens me

And what a love we found
Death can’t hold us down
We shout it out
We’re alive
Cause you’re alive
And what a love we found
Death can’t hold us down
We shout it out
We’re alive
Cause you’re alive
And what a love we found
Death can’t hold us down
We shout it out
We’re alive
Cause you’re alive

Your love is greater
Your love is stronger
Your love awakens
Awakens
Awakens me
Your love is greater
Your love is stronger
Your love awakens
Awakens
Awakens me
Your love is greater
Your love is stronger
Your love awakens
Awakens
Awakens me
Your love is greater
Your love is stronger
Your love awakens
Awakens
Awakens me
Your love awakens me
Your love is greater
Your love is stronger
Your love awakens
Awakens
Awakens me

Discussion

Okay, so lyrically this song is a jumble of positive statements loosely connected in theme. The lyrical format is strongly mystical, repetitious… nonsensical, even. There is nothing being truly communicated here… just a string of platitudes. The statements being made in this song are mostly true, but slightly unbalanced in their presentation. It’s like talking about how wonderful it is when a father finds and rescues his lost child… without ever discussing the fact that the child was actually a teenager and had run away from home by stealing his father’s car in the first place.

The Cross is mentioned, that’s good. Grace is mentioned. But the message of the Gospel isn’t clearly conveyed. Given Wickham’s seeker-mergent style, we see the focus of the outcome of all that the Cross brought us remains emotional. …then my heart came alive.

The song can be somewhat rescued via sound doctrine, but the mystical nature still remains and I don’t think it is particularly helpful for mass consumption. For today’s post, I’d like to read how the Apostle Paul encouraged the Ephesians in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We’ll start in Eph 2 and read through Eph 3:13, because I think this covers the territory that the song mystically tries to manage.

Ephesians 2:1-3:13 (ESV)

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. 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.

Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.

The riches of Christ are unsearchable… they cannot be discovered introspectively, they are revealed to us in Scripture. The foundation of the Church isn’t direct-direct revelation, it is the foundation laid by the Apostles and the Prophets with Christ Jesus as its cornerstone. The foundation has been laid, and we are being built on that firm foundation into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit of God… God is doing the building. He isn’t laying any new foundations, we are being built on the foundation that has already been laid. Sola Scriptura.

Romans 10:5-17 (ESV) | The Message of Salvation to All

For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.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.

Conclusion

I urge my brothers and sisters in Christ to exercise Biblical discernment and caution regarding the music of Phil Wickham. The mysticism is problematic. The artist’s theology is problematic. The lyric in this song is salvageable with proper Biblical teaching, but it does not stand on its own. It’s a bit of a muddled mess.

Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV) Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will,working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “Be One” by Natalie Grant

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

December 01, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Be One” by Natalie Grant which currently sits at #15 on the 20theCountdownMagazine.

While we kept this song in the “middle ground” today, it could just as easily have earned a disapproval. The Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) Industry is very excited about Natalie Grant’s new album. Releasing this single just before the Christmas season is a smart marketing move. She’s been on morning talk shows and performed this first single a few times on TV (I saw the one on Fox and Friends). It’s a Law-heavy song urging the listener to good works. For any good to come from this song, we must do the work of reminding ourselves and others of the Gospel and Christ’s work in us that produces good works the song is calling for, and we also need to address some of the wording. I simply ask you , the reader/listener, to do the work of a Berean in this case and decide for yourselves.

Natlie Grant Official Lyric Video

Lyrics (via KLove)

Be One

We don’t feel ready, we don’t feel steady
Question what we really have to give

Stay where it’s safer, claim faith but waiver
Is this how we’re really meant to live

We pray but never move
We say but never do

(chorus)
It’s time to get our hands dirty
oh oh, oh oh
Be love – there’s a whole lot of hurting
oh oh, oh oh
Calling all hearts, Calling all hands
Calling all feet to take a stand
Why sit around and wait for a miracle to come
When we can be one, When we can be one , When we can be one

A little somethin’ might feel like nothin’
But in His hands it’s all we’ll ever need

To speak life to the broken
Watch the blind eyes open
It’s who He’s calling you and me to be

We can be the change – be the hope
We can be the arms that don’t let go
We can be a light in the dark
We are we are where it starts

(chorus)

We can be the light in the dark
We can be the arms that don’t let go

Publishing: © 2015 SeeSeeBubba Songs (SESAC) (admin. by Music Services)/ Maxx Melodies (SESAC)/BMG Platinum Songs (BMI)/Takin It To The Maxx (BMI) All Rights Administered By BMG Rights Management (US) LLC/ WB Music Corp./ Thankful for This Music (ASCAP) All rights admin. by WB Music Corp. (ASCAP) All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Writer(s): Natalie Grant / Sam Mizell / Becca Mizell / Emily Weisband

Discussion

The resounding theme of this song is be a miracle for someone else. Let’s start today’s discussion by first acknowledging the ways this song can be good. Our first challenge will be to reshape the notion of “being a miracle for someone else” into something more Biblically sound. Let’s look at how Jesus summarized the Law.

Matthew 22:36-40 (ESV)

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him,“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.

So, the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. This song is an attempt to call the listener to keep this commandment, to love our neighbors as ourselves. This is a good call, for it is Lawful. It is indeed a good work to love our neighbor as ourselves… the only problem is that we fail this commandment continuously. For this song to have stood on its own, it needed a clear reminder of the greatest commandment and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Okay, so we’ll address some problems in the target audience of this song in a minute, but for now let’s assume the intended audience is professing Christians. One could connect the thrust of this song to the Epistle of James.

James 1:16-27 (ESV) | Hearing and Doing the Word

16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

James 2:1-17 (ESV) | The Sin of Partiality

My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ,the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Faith Without Works Is Dead

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

Now we need to address where the song falls short. Notice that the focus of Jame’s writing is on the faith of the reader. Is James talking about creating a cascade of miracles throughout society? No. He’s saying that a genuine faith will produce works… the faith will produce works. If it doesn’t, whatever faith is being claimed is a dead one. The core of the problem of a lack of works isn’t effort, it’s faith. James rebukes the sin of showing partiality within the body of Christ, and then he makes the case that a genuine, saving faith will produce good works. James goes on to warn us to control our tongues and to avoid worldliness. He doesn’t come back around to any notion of being a miracle for other people in order to shore up your faith… because that would be works-based righteousness, which is NOT in keeping with the Gospel of Grace.

The biggest problem with this song is that anyone could meet the call of the song (on occasion) without having any positive impact on their faith or in preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Every false religion teaches a works-based righteousness, and most of them push something akin to the good works being promoted in this song… the idea of being the miracle for someone else. Even atheist humanism preaches this sort of good work, while denouncing those who sit around and wait for a miracle to come. This song isn’t pointing to God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, it is pointing to the listener saying “be a miracle”… “do something good”. Frankly, I debated disapproving the song because of this… and my only rational for not doing it is because I could see the attempt at echoing the Epistle of James in the song, though it didn’t quite make it.

Another problem with this song is the odd call to be a miracle for someone else. God isn’t calling you to be a miracle, but to be a neighbor. The idea of being a miracle is doing something out of the ordinary, something supernatural, but that simply isn’t our charge nor calling. We are called to be set apart by the Spirit of God, and to love and forgiven our neighbors as Christ first loved and forgave us. I’m so sick of the purpose-driven, prosperity drivel that denigrates everyday living and serving our neighbors in our mundane jobs as something “less than”… God’s word tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves, not “be their savior”. You don’t have to be a super star, or do something really big… love your neighbor as yourself. Sure, there are times when God places a need before us that calls for something big, but His desire is that we love our neighbor in between those big events, too. Instead of waiting for an opportunity to give your neighbor a car or a kidney… begin by extending grace, a word of comfort, and encouragement, or forgiveness. Our good works must point others to the Grace of God… for the moment it points to ourselves it ceases being a good work.

Conclusion

Dear Christian, you were called to repentance and forgiveness by the blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. He loved you, He lived a perfect life where you could not, He gave His Life to pay the price for you that you couldn’t pay, and He rose again so that in Him you might have everlasting Life. It’s Christ’s work for you and in you and through you. Place your faith and trust in Him, and love others as you have been loved by Him, forgive others as you have been forgiven by Him. God isn’t asking you to be a miracle for someone else, He’s asking you to share the good news of the miracle of Salvation with your neighbor… preach the Gospel, love your neighbor, repent and be forgiven in Jesus’ Name.

Ephesians 2:1-10 (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. 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.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “Alone (Feat. TRU)” by Hollyn

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

November 24, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Alone (Feat. TRU)” by Hollyn which currently sits at #7 on the Air1’s Top 10.

We’ve covered all of the songs on the Klove top 10 and 20theCountdownMagazine charts. Today we are looking to Air1’s Top 10 chart. What we have here is another “wooing your boyfriend song”, and the only one who mentions Jesus is the featured rapper, TRU. This song is a trainwreck. Let’s get this over with.

Hollyn Official Lyric Video

Lyrics (via Air1)

Alone (Feat. TRU)

Fell for you first day that I met you
Never dreamed that I ever could forget you
But black and white make a mess
When it turn to grey

Sunlight came sweepin’ cross the window
Rewind to the time when we were so close
Got me longin’ for yesterday

But Lord You, know me, so well
I can be a little punk sometimes

But don’t leave me, leave me alone
Bust down the door to my heart like it’s Your home
Don’t need no keys
I’m on my knees
Begging You please
I’ve gotta settle this thing once and for all
You got my heart my soul You can have it all
I’m on my knees
Beggin’ You please
Beggin’ You please, Lord
Don’t leave me alone

Through the tears, through the pain comes a new day
Blown away still amazed You pursue me
Ain’t no limit to the way You love

Don’t stop
Lord I need You like a heartbeat
Concrete
Rock solid under my feet
And You’re callin’ me You’re callin’ me up

[Rap Lyric]
I said You had me in your arms but I fell through the grasp
But yep I had You in my heart but I guess I relapsed
Like I’m livin’ for the wrong reasons, through the seasons
Tryna fall for you but then they put me on blast
It’s like I try to speak my mind because I know that I’m His
And yep I try to speak my mind but it don’t fly with them kids
Man if I’m not talkin’ bout the newest Nikes or releases
They put the mute on me
I can’t speak about my Jesus?
Like I’m living for Him
I’m slippin to sin
I turn around and make the amends
I try to fit it
I mess it up and stumble again
I’m takin’ this pen
And writing everything so I remember just how sweet that it is
Yeah man I got issues I can’t even lie
My only saving grace is knowing I got You inside
I’m done with (saving face) I ain’t gotta thing to hide
So don’t leave me alone
Keep coming day and night

Don’t leave me leave me alone
Bust down the door to my heart
Lord it’s Your home

Written by Holly Miller, Toby McKeehan, Bryan Fowler, Truett McKeehan.

© 2015 Capitol CMG Paragon/Songs of Gotee (BMI), Capitol CMG Genesis/Christopher Stevens Designee (ASCAP), Achtober Songs (BMI), Offwite Creative (BMI) all administrated at CapitolCMGPublishing.com. Produced & Mixed by Bryan Fowler for fabmusic.

Discussion

First, let’s scan through the lyrics sung by Hollyn (skipping the rap portion for now) and everywhere you see “Lord” in bold, replace it with “baby” or “boy”. And just like that, you have a Pop40 love/makeup song. That’s a big problem, because the message of wooing your boyfriend/girlfriend does NOT mirror our relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. So, epic fail on this point. Jesus is not your boyfriend or bearded girlfriend. 

The artist is describing a feeling we all know but using all of the wrong words to do it. Probably because her theology isn’t rooted and grounded in the Written Word of God. Confessing that “I can be a little punk sometimes” is a whitewash of the truth, that we are sinners deserving of destruction. That even when we’ve been regenerated by Grace through Faith in Jesus Christ, our flesh is still corrupt and we still sin. Our flesh is week, but through faith in Christ Jesus we hold onto the Promise of the forgiveness of sin and being resurrected into eternal life as heirs and joint heirs with Christ by His Blood. This song doesn’t convey that truth of God’s Word. Instead, this song presents the notion that we need to woo God not to leave us, like the boy/girlfriend who has finally “had it” with us and is threatening to leave.

The closes this song gets to pointing to a remotely Christian message comes in the rap portion performed by TRU. Again we see a lack of understanding of our sinner/saint duality while we walk this earth in corrupted flesh. That leaves a very anemic understanding of sin and grace that will inevitably lead to a man-centric, works-based approach to repentance and the forgiveness of sin. As we see in the lines “I guessed I relapsed… tryna fall for you… I turn around and make the amends”. That’s not the Gospel of Grace, that is a recipe for penance and works-based religion. We aren’t tryna fall in love with God… either we’ve been saved by Grace, or we remain enemies of God.

I find the line “I can’t speak about my Jesus” particularly frustrating. Why? This is an entire song, produced and published by a promoter of “Christian Music”, that has made its way to the top 10 of a “positive hits station” and the only line about Jesus is the line talking about how the artist is supposedly not allowed to speak about Him. Seriously? This entire song is squandered specifically because you AREN’T speaking/singing about Jesus. As is typical of mainstream rap/hip-hop, the artist isn’t “being real”, he’s merely addressing a caricature of reality that fits beat and fills the out the stanza. Even in that pseudo-complaint about being muted… the focus is on him and his career as a performer, not on preaching the Gospel to the lost and the hurting.

When we lack the proper understanding of the war that wages within Christians between our fallen flesh and the Spirit, we are left completely vulnerable to a man-centric religion of works. The book of Galatians is addressed the Judaizing heresy which sought to enslave Christians of the New Covenant of faith by the Blood of Jesus back under the Mosaic Covenant. Is the Law evil? No, but its purpose isn’t to prove your righteousness; rather, it is to prove your unrighteousness and need for a Savior, Jesus Christ. The Promise of Salvation is a gift from God. He opens our eyes and ears to the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He grants us faith.

Ephesians 2:8-10 (ESV)

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

He seals us with His Holy Spirit, safeguarding us in Christ Jesus until the Day of Resurrection

Acts 2:37-39 (ESV)

37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

We are not yet made perfect in body, for we still live in corrupted flesh and walk this corrupted earth. We still have to deal our sinful nature, not by works, but by faith.

1 John 1 (ESV) | The Word of Life

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— 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— 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. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

It is by faith alone, that we are made righteous before God. And that faith does produce good works, but the good works that flow from the Gospel of Jesus Christ are not to make amends to God, or to prove to God our love for Him, or to “give Him our hearts” as suggested in this song… our good works are to serve our neighbors.

Galatians 5:1-14 (ESV) | Christ Has Set Us Free

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10 I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. 11 But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. 12 I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves! 13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Dear Christian, stop stabbing blindly in the dark at some form of penance, or good work that will finally grant you rest… rest can only be found by faith in Our Lord, Jesus Christ. Repent daily, forgive and love your neighbor, and trust God to carry you through the Resurrection by His power and might, not yours.

Conclusion

I’m very disappointed in this song and its position on Air1’s charts. I used to listen to Air1 all the time… but so little of what they play and promote is sound Christianity. Society has completely screwed up the concept of marriage and sexual fidelity. Society has a perverse view of dating and courtship. The last thing we should be doing is taking a carnal dating song and trying to make it fit the Gospel. Jesus is not your boo. He is the King of kings, and Lord of lords, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.

Revelation 22 (ESV)
The River of Life

22 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

Jesus Is Coming

And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.”

“And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”

10 And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. 11 Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.”

12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! 21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “Glow in the Dark” by Jason Gray

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

November 17, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Glow in the Dark” by Jason Gray which currently sits at #15 on the 20theCountdownMagazine.

I’m happy to be reviewing a song that doesn’t get an immediate disapproval. The overall message of this song is not bad, though its approach to the topic is a bit murky. The artist is trying to boost SELF esteem by invoking the promises of God. The problem with that is the fact that the Christian life is one of self denial, not self affirmation, and we place our trust and faith in the LORD Jesus Christ and in Who He Is. The murkiness winds up clouding the mechanism for sharing the Gospel. We are to preach Christ and Him crucified… not “live it out” in a sort of pantomime of what Christ did for us. Letting our light shine isn’t about putting a spotlight on us, it’s about pointing everyone to Jesus Christ.

JasonGrayVEVO Lyric Video

Lyrics (via KLove)

Glow in the Dark

Sometimes the world feels like a mess
Full of drama, full of stress
And life puts a fist right in your ribs
You can hide if you choose to
And no one would even blame you
Or you can let them see how you deal with it

That even in the darkest place
His love can make you radiate

(chorus)
Doesn’t matter how deep, how dark the night is
Keep hoping, keep on shining
And they’ll see His light burning in your heart
And if the road gets rough, just keep your head up
Let the world see what you’re made of
That His love’s alive in your deepest parts
Like a flame, like a burning star you can shine right where you are
He made you to glow in the dark

Don’t be ashamed of your past
If you’re shattered like a piece of glass
The more broke you are the more the light gets through
Show your wounds and your flaws
Show them why you still need the cross
Let them see the work He’s doing in you

That even in the darkest place
His love can make you radiate

(chorus)
Doesn’t matter how deep, how dark the night is
Keep hoping, keep on shining
And they’ll see His light burning in your heart
And if the road gets rough, just keep your head up
Let the world see what you’re made of
That His love’s alive in your deepest parts
Like a flame, like a burning star you can shine right where you are
He made you to glow in the dark

(chorus)
Doesn’t matter how deep, how dark the night is
Keep hoping, keep on shining
And they’ll see His light burning in your heart
And if the road gets rough, just keep your head up
Let the world see what you’re made of
That His love’s alive in your deepest parts
Like a flame, like a burning star you can shine right where you are
He made you to glow in the dark
Glow in the dark
Doesn’t matter how
Glow in the dark
Doesn’t matter how

Publishing: © 2015 Centricity Songs & Graybird Songs (BMI) / Universal Music-Brentwood Benson Pub, D Soul Music (ASCAP)
Writer(s): Words and Music by Jason Gray and Ben Glover

Discussion

Regarding the Lyric Video, I hope to someday see our youth be brought beyond the wimpy definition of “persecution” being simply unpopular in school. There are plenty of kids who have to deal with being unpopular for a variety of reasons, some do it intentionally to feed their pity party (emo, goth, etc). Christians are going to be HATED for the sake of the Name of Jesus. The Christian Baker who lost his business, reputation, and potentially his home because a homosexual couple insisted that he bake them a “wedding” cake… that’s persecution. That’s hate. I watch the Cooking Channel and Food Network… there is no shortage of homosexual chefs and bakers. Our Christian youth don’t need to be encouraged to stand against being called weird… that’s for the mystics of Bethel and Hillsong… no, Christians need to be ready for being persecuted for holding to a Biblical standard. They’ll be labeled “bigots”, “homophobes”, “islamophobes”, neanderthals, archaic, draconian, hateful, etc. It’s a totally different form of attack… they will be vilified and presented as legitimate targets for hate and scorn. That’s what our Christian Youth need to be prepared for. And it will all be false witness against the Christian for Jesus’ Name sake all while true bigotry and hate is tolerated in the name of secularism, humanism, and islam. The world is already much darker than modern-day evangelicalism is willing to admit, and it is going to get much darker… in fact, it must get darker.

As for the overall theme of the song, I believe the artist is trying to capture a portion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in an attempt to boost the listener’s self-esteem so he/she can be a light in a dark world.

Matthew 5:13-16 (ESV) | Salt and Light

13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

I think it would be funny to hear someone try to turn the notion of being salty as a good thing in our modern setting. But I digress, in this portion of His sermon, Jesus is calling the hearers to be salt and light to the world, for the glory of God the Father who is in heaven. This is Law, by the way, for it is a call to good works. Can a lamp light itself? No. Can salt that has lost its saltiness get it back? No. Can darkness find hidden within itself light? No. So, can we who are dead in sins and trespasses do good works of ourselves? No. It is God who calls the Light into existence, who grants salt its saltiness, and who sets His people as a city on a hill, for His Glory.

John 1:1-18 (ESV) | The Word Became Flesh

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him.He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

The light we are to shine is Jesus Christ, not of our own. So, whenever this song vaguely tells you to “keep on shining”, look to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and share (with words) the message of repentance and the forgiveness of sin.

2 Corinthians 4:1-15 (ESV) | The Light of the Gospel

Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you. 13 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, 14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. 15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

Amen. Now, in the lyric of the song above, I do like the line, “Show them why you still need the cross”. But it’s not about living as openly in sin as the unbelievers do, murmuring and complaining like those who are without faith and hope. It’s about living a life that bears the fruit of repentance to God and love for your fellow-man. Forgive others as you have been forgiven. Love others as you have been loved. Confess your sins, one to another. This is how we demonstrate our ongoing need for the cross of Jesus Christ. This is what “authentic faith” looks like… which is funny since that is not what is taught by all of the inauthentic (false) teachers in seeker-mergent congregations despite their regular sales pitch of “authenticity”.

If we maintain this focus on what Scripture tells us is the Light of the world, let us be moved to love our neighbors, so that they might see our good works by faith, and give glory to God the Father.

Ephesians 5:1-21 (ESV) | Walk in Love

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

“Awake, O sleeper,
    and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Conclusion

I like the overall intent of the song, though the theology is overly self-centered. I decided to devote more time to fleshing out the teaching of Light and our call to be a Light to the world of darkness around us… not that the light comes from us or is us; rather, that we carry forward the Light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The song doesn’t stand on its own, for without proper biblical foundation it can become as empty as the secular humanist appeal to “don’t worry be happy”.

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 (ESV)

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

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “Good Good Father” by Chris Tomlin

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

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

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

Chris Tomlin VEVO Lyrics & Chords Video

Lyrics (via KLove)

Good Good Father

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Discussion

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

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

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

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

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

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

No Gospel in this Song

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

No Biblical Instruction

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

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

John 3:16-18 (ESV) | For God So Loved the World

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

Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Righteousness of God Through Faith

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

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

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

Conclusion

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

Jude 24-25 (ESV) | Doxology

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

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge