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

disapproveEvangelical Worship Edition.

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

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

Official Lyric Video

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

Lyrics (via WorshipTogether)

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

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

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

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

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

Discussion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ephesians 2:4-10 (ESV)

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

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

Conclusion

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

Romans 10:11-17 (ESV)

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

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

DiM | “In Christ Alone” by Keith & Kristyn Getty

Modern Hymn.

February 04, 2016. As a bonus for today, we’ll be taking a look at “In Christ Alone” by Keith & Kristyn Getty. During a phone call with my brother last night, he mentioned Keith & Kristyn Getty, but didn’t specify a particular song, so I grabbed the first one I recognized and liked.

As with the DiM we posted earlier today, this song earns our approval for bearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ plainly within the lyrics. It is a modern hymn in that it was written this century (2001). It follows the hymn format with 4 verses, no chorus or bridge. Let’s listen to it, read through the lyrics and then I want to highlight some controversy surrounding this song and a decision by a hymnal approval committee decided to drop it from their hymnal. I think the discussion is fascinating and worth noting regardless of which side you take on the matter.

Keith and Kristyn Getty Music Video

Lyrics (via WorshipTogether.com)

Verse 1
In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
this cornerstone, this solid ground
firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My comforter, my all in all
here in the love of Christ I stand
Verse 2
In Christ alone, who took on flesh
fullness of God in helpless Babe
This gift of love and righteousness
scorned by the ones He came to save
‘Til on that cross as Jesus died
the wrath of God was satisfied
For ev’ry sin on Him was laid
here in the death of Christ I live
Verse 3
There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
then, bursting forth in glorious day
up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
sin’s curse has lost
its grip on me
for I am His and He is mine
bought with the precious blood of Christ
Verse 4
No guilt in life, no fear in death
this is the pow’r of Christ in me
from life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man
can ever pluck me from His hand
’til He returns or calls me home
here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand
Writer(s): Keith Getty, Stuart Townend
Theme(s): Peace & Hope , Easter
Ministry(s): ThankYou Music
CCLI #: 3350395
Scripture Reference(s): Philippians 3:7-11

Discussion

I really like this song, and was frankly very impressed to learn it had been written so recently. If I’m missing an older hymn upon which this version is based, please message me or leave a link in the comments below. As I was searching for the background of this hymn, I found an interesting report in USA Today entitled “Presbyterians’ decision to drop hymn stirs debate” by Bob Smietana, EDT August 5, 2013.

The committee putting together a new Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) hymnal dropped the popular modern hymn “In Christ Alone” because the song’s authors refused to change a phrase about the wrath of God.

The original lyrics say that “on that cross, as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied.” The Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song wanted to substitute the words, “the love of God was magnified.”

There are a couple of things I find fascinating about this. Firstly, that there are still denominations working through their hymnody ensuring that every song approved for corporate worship is in keeping with their confessions and doctrine. That excellent. That needs to happen. There needs to be a process in place for ensuring that every song, sermon, teaching, doctrine, and tradition is examined against God’s Word for Truth and soundness. This is something that should be a strength of being part of a denomination, that as a body of believers we confess the same faith. This is something that the “non-denominational” movement explicitly avoids. They refuse to accept a system of examination of doctrine and refuse to be identified by specific confessions. I think that’s an error, because no denomination of Christianity can come ex-nihilo for we have already the faith once and for all delivered to the saints (Jude). Your doctrine had to come from somewhere. Every denomination claims their doctrine comes from God’s Word, the key is in knowing how, where, and whether or not it can be faithfully exegeted from the text. A church can avoid having a label for a while, but its doctrine has origins, and those origins are either from the Spirit of Truth or spirits of error.

So, regarding this Presbyterian Church committee, they opted to drop the song for the refusal of its authors to allow the phrase “the wrath of God was satisfied” found in the second verse to be changed. As we read later in the article, it wasn’t due to the word “wrath”; rather, it was due to the word “satisfied”. Please understand, dear reader, that to suggest that the song was dropped because of a single word is to over-simplify what is taking place. It wasn’t merely the word, it was the theology being expressed in this wording that the committee took issue with. Whether you agree or disagree is a next step, but please don’t trivialize the matter by oversimplifying it. The author of this article did well to include comments both for and against:

The Rev. Chris Joiner of First Presbyterian Church in Franklin agrees with that move. He said some of his church members are fans of the song and will be disappointed that it was dropped.

But the words of the song don’t work, he said.

“That lyric comes close to saying that God killed Jesus,” he said. “The cross is not an instrument of God’s wrath.”

But the Rev. Scott Sauls, pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville, disagrees. He said the word “satisfied” means that Jesus paid the whole price for sins.

“There’s no more work to be done,” said Sauls, whose congregation is part of the more conservative Presbyterian Church in America. “It is finished.”

There is more discussion in the article regarding blogger responses, but they are generalities and engage in ad hominem and strawman attacks (to be expected in a section dedicated to “controversies”). The quotes above are substantive differences of interpretation of the theology being expressed in the wording of the song. What do you think about the issue?

Now, regarding the scripture reference cited by WorshipTogether… I’m not buying it on this song. Which now makes me wonder, “who’s putting those scripture references on the website, the artist or someone else”? Let’s look at the passage cited, and then let’s look at the passage Kristyn Getty reads at the beginning of the YouTube Music Video.

Philippians 3:7-11 (ESV)

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

While it fits with the ascribed theme of the song, it doesn’t seem to me that this song was written with this specific passage in mind. I could be wrong, of course, but I’d like to move on to the passage being read in the video. Actually, I’ll highlight what was actually read, but I want to show its immediate context, because I really think this to be a better citation for this song.

Colossians 1:11-20 (ESV)

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Amen.

Conclusion

Personally, I love the song and struggle to see the problem in the line as written. I’ll chalk it up to my not being Presbyterian. I commend the committee for doing the work of evaluating their church’s worship, despite my disagreement with their conclusion on this particular song. Theology matters. What you sing and pray matters (Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi). Soli Deo Gloria.

Romans 16:24-27 (ESV) | Doxology

25 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 26 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— 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “Glorious Things of You are Spoken” by Emu Music

Updated Hymns (Reader Submission).

February 04, 2016. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Glorious Things of You are Spoken” by Emu Music which was recommended to us via Twitter.

The past couple of weeks have been a bit frustrating with regards to our DiM posts both for CCM Radio songs and Evangelical Worship songs that were most popular in 2015. We have one more song on that second list, but I thought today we’d take a break and review an updated or modernized hymn. I enjoyed looking up the history of this hymn. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is on full display in this song. The focus is on the Kingdom that is to come, of which we who believe are already members, adopted by Grace through Faith, and the have the Hope of Salvation in Christ Jesus. There are several promises in this song that we look forward to in the day of Resurrection, and we would do well to resist the temptation to claim these promises for this temporal realm before Christ’s return.

Emu Music Video

Lyrics

1. Glorious things of you are spoken
Zion city of our God;
He whose word cannot be broken
Formed you for his own abode;
On the Rock of Ages founded,
What can shake your sure repose?
With salvation’s walls surrounded,
You may smile at all your foes.

2. See the streams of living waters
Springing from eternal love,
Well supply your sons and daughters
And all fear of want remove.
Who can faint while such a river
Ever flows their thirst to fade?
Grace, which like the Lord, the Giver,
Never fails from age to age.

3. Blest inhabitants of Zion,
Washed in the Redeemer’s blood!
Jesus, whom their souls rely on,
Makes them priests and kings to God.
Ne’er again will be a barrier;
All the guilt and stain are gone,
Free to walk beside the Saviour
In the glory of the Lord.

4. Saviour, since of Zion’s city,
I through grace a member am,
Let the world condemn or pity,
I will glory in your Name.
Fading is the worldly pleasure,
All its weak pretence and show.
Solid joys and lasting treasure
None but those of Zion know.

© Words: J. Newton (1725-1807)
Music & additional words: © Luke & Vicki Woodhouse, 2009
CCLI song no. 6190404

Discussion

A good resource for the history of this hymn can be found at Hymnary.org.

Glorious things of Thee are spoken. J. Newton. [Church of Christ.] First published in the Olney Hymns, 1779, Bk. i., No. 60, in 5 stanzas of 8 lines, and entitled, “Zion, or the City of God,” Is. xxxiii. 20, 21. It has attained to great popularity in all English-speaking countries, and ranks with the first hymns in the language. It is used, however, in various forms as follows:—
1. Original text in Snepp’s Songs of Grace & Glory People’s Hymnal.
2. A cento composed of stanzas i., ii. and v. This appeared in Cotterill’s Selection, 1819, from whence it has passed into a great number of collections. It is by far the most popular arrangement of the hymn in use, and may be found in fifty or more hymnals, as in Hymnal Companion, No. 234, and sometimes with Cotterill’s slight alterations, as in the Rev. F. Pott’s Hymns, &c, 1861-67.
3. A cento composed of stanzas i., iii. and v., given in Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge Hymns, 1852, but not popular.
4. A cento, stanzas i., ii. and doxology in four lines, not by Newton, in the Cooke and Denton Hymnal, 1853.
5. A cento, in 4 stanzas of 4 lines, beginning, “Glorious things of old were spoken,” is given in Isaac G. Smith’s Hymn Book, 1855-57. It is thus composed: stanza i., Newton altered; ii., I. G. Smith; iii., Newton; iv., dox. from Cooke & Denton. This is the least successful of any arrangement.
6. The whole hymn revised by J. Keble for the Salisbury Hymn Book, 1857, and included therein, as No. 130, with the four-line doxology from Denton. This, with slight returns to the original in two places (stanzas i., v.), and the omission of the doxology, was repeated in the Sarum Hymnal (broken into two parts, pt. ii. beginning “Blessed city, holy nation), 1868; and a cento therefrom again altered, in 6 stanzas of 4 lines in T. Darling’s Hymns, &c, edition 1887. Another cento, also with alterations, is given in the Hymnary, from which it passed into the New Mitre Hymnal, 1875.
7. Cento of stanzas i., ii., iv., v., unaltered as in the Book of Praise Hymnal, Thring’s Collection, and others.
8. In the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge Church Hymns, stanzas i.-iv. with slight alterations in stanzas i., ii., and iii.
In the American collections the same diversity of use prevails as in Great Britain. Sometimes the hymn is broken into two parts, with pt. ii. beginning, “Blest inhabitants of Zion.” In addition other arrangements of minor importance are given in collections of less importance; but in most cases the original text is maintained. Stanzas i., ii., v., have been rendered into Latin by the Rev. R. Bingham, and included in his Hymnologia Christiana Latina, 1871, “Dicta do te sunt miranda.”

–John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)

One of the greatest strengths of traditional Church Hymnology is that it was not taken lightly or flippantly in days past. Not just any song was added to a Church’s Hymnal, it was a pain-staking process, for the role of the Hymns was to teach sound doctrine, confess Scripture, and to build up the Church in the Faith once and for all delivered to the Saints. It wasn’t merely a “mood setter” or a seeker-magnet. Since so much work has gone into these hymns, there is little I need to add to the discussion. Let’s look at some of the commentary available on this Hymn.

The title of Book I of the Olney Hymns, published in 1779 by John Newton and William Cowper, is “On Select Texts of Scripture,” containing hymns written on specific Scripture passages, arranged in biblical order. “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken,” written by Newton, is number 60 in this book. It is written on Isaiah 33:20-21, but there are plenty of clear references to other Scriptures, which Newton cited in footnotes, such as Psalm 87 (the first two lines of the hymn are nearly a direct quote of Ps. 87:3) and Isaiah 4:5-6 (which is closely paraphrased in the third stanza). This hymn has been called one of Newton’s finest hymns, and it is certainly one of his most popular, along with “Amazing Grace” and “How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds.”

So, let’s take a look at these references.

Psalm 87 (ESV) | Glorious Things of You Are Spoken
A Psalm of the Sons of Korah. A Song.

87 On the holy mount stands the city he founded;
2     the Lord loves the gates of Zion
more than all the dwelling places of Jacob.
Glorious things of you are spoken,
    O city of God. Selah
4 Among those who know me I mention Rahab and Babylon;
behold, Philistia and Tyre, with Cush—
“This one was born there,” they say.
5 And of Zion it shall be said,
“This one and that one were born in her”;
for the Most High himself will establish her.
6 The Lord records as he registers the peoples,
“This one was born there.” Selah
7 Singers and dancers alike say,
“All my springs are in you.”

Isaiah 4 (ESV)

And seven women shall take hold of one man in that day, saying, “We will eat our own bread and wear our own clothes, only let us be called by your name; take away our reproach.”

In that day the branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and honor of the survivors of Israel. And he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy, everyone who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem, when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and cleansed the bloodstains of Jerusalem from its midst by a spirit of judgment and by a spirit of burning. Then the Lord will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory there will be a canopy. There will be a booth for shade by day from the heat, and for a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain.

Isaiah 4 is very short. Notice that every mention of Zion is in that Great Day of Christ’s Return. The imagery in this hymn can by hijacked by dominionists who insist that the church will build Zion in order for Christ to Return and take His throne… that’s garbage. No, Zion is God’s City… in the New Heaven and the New Earth that He makes. Jesus prepared it for us.

Conclusion

I like that the English has been modernized without sacrificing the doctrine in the lyric. I’d like to see more of this sort of thing from Christian Musicians. Most importantly, we need to return Music to its proper place in Corporate Worship.

Romans 16:24-27 (ESV) | Doxology

25 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 26 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— 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “It’s Not Over Yet” by For King & Country

CCM Radio Edition.

February 02, 2016. Today we’ll be taking a look at “It’s Not Over Yet” by For King & Country which currently sits at #14 on the 20theCountdownMagazine.

This song is based on a questionable premise, that perseverance in the faith comes as a result of effort or endurance of the will. Without the Gospel, the encouragement to keep the Law better, a little longer, do more, fight on becomes a crushing burden, a heavy weight that none can carry. Christ already paid the price and grants us forgiveness by Grace through Faith in Him.

For King and Country TV Video

Lyrics (via KLove)

They are inside your head
You got a voice that says
You won’t get past this one
You won’t win your freedom

It’s like a constant war
And you wanna settle a score
But you’re bruised and beaten
And you feel defeated

This goes out to the heaviest hearts

(Chorus)
Oh, to everyone who’s hit their limit
It’s not over yet, it’s not over yet
And even when you think you’re finished
It’s not over yet, it’s not over yet
Keep on fighting
Out of the dark, into the light, it’s not over
Hope is rising
Never give in, never give up, it’s not over
Yet, whoa, yet, whoa

Game, set, match
Time to put it in your past
Feel the winter leaving
It’s redemption season
Long live the young at heart
Cheers to a brand new start
We’re revived and breathing
To live a life of freedom

Until the kingdom comes
We’ll run till the race is won
Don’t you ever give up
No, no never give up
Until the kingdom comes
We’ll run till the race is won
Don’t you ever give up
We will never give up

Publishing: Warner Tamerlane, Dayspring Music, LLC, Kilns Music, Shaun Shankel BMI Publishing Designee (BMI) (All rights on behalf of itself, Dayspring Music, LLC, Kilns Music & Shaun Shankel BMI Publishing Designee adm. by Warner Tamerlane/WB Music Corp., Word Music, LLC, Method To The Madness, Shankel Songs (ASCAP) (All rights on behalf of itself, Word Music, LLC, Method to the Madness & Shankel Songs adm. by WB MUsic Corp.)/9T One Songs, Ariose Music (ASCAP) (Adm. at CapitolCMGPublishing.com)/RIWAY Music Publishing (ASCAP)/Kylsey Publishing (ASCAP)
Writer(s): Luke Smallbone/Joel Smallbone/Ben Glover/ Tedd Tjornhom/Kyle Rictor

Discussion

It isn’t completely clear in this lyric whether the target audience is believers or unbelievers. If the target audience is unbelievers, the song fails hard. That’s because of the flawed basic premise of the song that suggests we are fighting a war on our own account. There’s no Gospel here, only Law and an encouragement to keep the Law (don’t give up). Now, insisting the target audience is Believers doesn’t quite remedy the situation. The flawed premise is still there, suggesting that it is by effort of will that we are to remain until the end. Those in the Reformed camp aren’t worried about losing their faith, but there is still this notion that Sanctification comes as a result of effort of the will, keeping the Law, doing and not-doing. The song encourages more hard work, and hints at the Gospel, but provides no rest in Christ Jesus. Let’s work through the lyrics.

Verse 1. We’re dismissing the idea that this song has anything to offer unbelievers. Particularly with the “you won’t win your freedom”… well yeah, the unbeliever cannot win his freedom. He needs a Savior to step in on his behalf. For the believer, what is this first verse describing? What are the voices in our head? I don’t like the idea of entertaining the notion of voices in our heads. Instead, let’s take this as a personification of the temptation to sin that remains in our flesh. Our hearts are wicked, self-seeking, and sinful. Our flesh craves sin. Unbelievers have nothing else going for them, for they are dead in sins, slaves to it. Believers have been regenerated by the waters of the Holy Spirit, granted saving faith, brought to life in Christ Jesus through that faith in Him. The hope of salvation is sealed for us in the Resurrection by God the Holy Spirit… a Day that remains in the future, while we live in the today… still contending with the body of flesh in which we walk as aliens, sojourners, exiles in a fallen world. Simul Justus Et Peccator is a Latin phrase which translates to “simultaneously justified and sinner”. It is how we refer to how Luther taught regarding the state of Christians here on this earth. Let’s take a look at Galatians 5 where Paul demonstrates a distinction between the works of the flesh and the works of the Spirit.

Galatians 5:16-26 (ESV) | Keep in Step with the Spirit

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Okay, so in this sense one might consider the first verse of this song to be describing the battle-worn Christian in this war within seeking to deny ourselves (the sin in our flesh) and keep in step with the Spirit. This is Law, and it is Good Law. This is Godly. It is also something we cannot fully grasp while we walk this earth in our present, fallen, bodies. With that last line, This goes out to the heaviest hearts, as a bit of a pre-chorus I’m hoping for the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the answer to the problem… for the rest the individual so desperately needs.

Chorus. The closest the chorus comes to the Gospel is in the cryptic line Hope is rising. I say cryptic because I know that I’m reading the Gospel into the word Hope by thinking of the following passage:

1 Thessalonians 5:6-10 (ESV) So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.

1 Peter 1:3-7 (ESV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

However, the remainder of the chorus’ answer to the battle-weary Christian is… it’s not over yet, keep fighting, never give in, never give up. That’s not rest. That’s not the Gospel. Reread the two passages above… who did the work in the underlined portions? God is. Let’s also revisit the beginning of Ephesians 2.

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. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

While we are indeed called to crucify the sinful flesh daily or in other words consider ourselves dead to sin (Law), it is only achievable through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by the Grace of God the Righteousness of Christ is imputed to our account (granted to us) by Faith. That is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That by His blood, we are forgiven of our sin… daily… not just a one-time thing in the past that wiped our slate clean. The Gospel doesn’t just give us a fresh start so that we can then get to keeping the law by effort of will. The letter of the Law kills, but he Spirit (the Gospel) give Life. We don’t find rest in the Law, we find conviction of sin unto repentance. Rest can only be found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Christians need to hear the Gospel regularly, routinely, we need to hear “your sins are forgiven in Jesus’ Name”. On the day of Judgement, when Jesus Christ our LORD and Savior returns to judge the living and the dead, Believers will at last hear the final Absolution, when our sins will be no more, and we will be granted new, perfect, sinless bodies and enter bodily into God’s Rest. Amen.

Verse 2. Instead articulating the Gospel during the chorus, it was sort of hinted at and now in verse 2 we find ourselves somehow on the other side of whatever battle was being waged. This, in my mind, dilutes the message from one of eternity, persevering until the Day of Christ’s Return, to one of simply enduring the day… surviving a temporal trial. But no mechanism has been articulated. Is this pushing a sort of “positive affirmation” theology or “proclaim and declare” victory and it will be sort of thing? I don’t know. Nevertheless, here we are… on the “whew, it’s over and we won” side of everyday life. It closes out with more encouragement to endure, to run, to persevere. It wouldn’t be a problem if somewhere in this song was articulated the mechanism for our perseverance, for our Hope of Salvation, the Gospel of Jesus Christ the author and perfecter of our Faith.

Conclusion

The song does not stand on its own. It is all law, no Gospel. It’s not a “bad song” per se, and that’s not necessarily what we mean whenever we disapprove a song (though that is generally the case). It’s a positive song, encouraging folks to keep fighting, keeping doing good works, keep resisting the works of the flesh… but it doesn’t offer the Gospel… the only True Hope of Salvation and of Rest. While in a homecoming pep-rally, it sounds great to cheer on the home team, chanting D-FENSE and extolling the Offense… it’s exciting and exhilarating… but such pep-rally chants do little to comfort the home team during the game when their offense keeps turning over the ball… and the defense is tired and getting run over out on the playing field. We fail. We fall short. We sin. The Law doesn’t grant what it requires of us… We need the Gospel of Jesus Christ to bring us forgive us our sin, and bring us into Life in Christ… to grant us Peace and Rest in Christ Jesus.

Romans 16:24-27 (ESV) | Doxology

25 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 26 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— 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “No Longer Slaves” by Bethel Music

CCM Radio Edition.

January 26, 2016. Today we’ll be taking a look at “No Longer Slaves” by Bethel Music which currently sits at #16 on the 20thecountdown Magazine.

This comes from the heresy house known as Bethel Church of Redding, CA. Led by the false-teacher, Bill Johnson and his wife the false-prophetess Beni Johnson. This is undoubtedly designed as one of their worship songs… how it’s found its way onto the top 20 CCM radio charts breaks my heart, and makes me mourn for the visible church. For some background on the problems with Bethel check out PirateChristianRadio.

The voices are incredible… seriously… gifted vocalists. The song is garbage. We’ll look at the lyrics.

Bethel Music Video

Lyrics (via KLove)

You unravel me, with a melody
You surround me with a song
Of deliverance, from my enemies
Till all my fears are gone

(Chorus)
I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God

From my Mother’s womb
You have chosen me
Love has called my name
I’ve been born again, into your family
Your blood flows through my veins

(Bridge)
You split the sea, so I could walk right through it
All my fears were drowned in perfect love
You rescued me, so I could stand and sing
I am a child of God

Publishing: ©2014 Bethel Music Publishing (ASCAP). All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.
Writer(s): Brian Johnson, Jonathan David Helser, Joel Case

Discussion

As with most successful cults, Bethel has mastered the art of cloaking their false theology in “churchinese”. The song hits a couple of key terms: slavery, deliverance, womb, chosen, child of God… but how it gets put together is the problem. Nothing in this song points to Christ. It points to “me” being a child of God directly. From what is the singer proclaiming he has been set free? fear. Not sin, death, and the Wrath of God… fear. How are we set free from fear? We just are, in our being, because God’s blood flows in our veins… see how the Gospel of Jesus Christ is just being skipped over here?

It is true that in having been forgiven of our sin and having been set free from darkness, death, and the Wrath of God we no longer have anything (or anyone) to fear. But that fear isn’t because the problems are all gone… sin still exists, death still reigns in our mortal flesh, and the Wrath of God will be poured out when Jesus Christ returns to judge the living and the dead… the difference is that Jesus Christ is the Hope of our Salvation. For we who are of the household of faith are baptized into His death and resurrection. In His death, He bore the full wrath of God against all sin, and His resurrection silenced the enemy and secures for us everlasting life in Him.

Verse 1. First 2 lines are throw-away lines. Those who’ve dabbled in mysticism long enough will key into the emotional/mystical/spiritually-sensual vibe of these first two lines and will likely close their eyes, maybe throw their hands out, possibly start weeping,… because the atmosphere is being filled with the Presence…. these folks don’t need the rest of the song, or any of the churchinese… they’ve moved beyond Christianity, beyond doctrine. The rest of the song is for the unitiated… for the Christian who still needs some indication that Bethel is somehow connected to the Bible. So they mention deliverance… from my enemies. Not from sin, no… that’s too legalistic… it’s more their speed to personify a purely external enemy, the devil, demons, scoffers, discernment bloggers… anyone who’d dare question the authenticity of their “spiritual/mystical experience”, or claim that the familiar spirit is God the Holy Spirit. The point of this mysticism is to numb out… mentally, spiritually, until all fear is gone… and all discernment… and all truth and reality. This is not how the God of the Bible instructs us to worship Him. Bethel records a lot of their live “worship experiences”… this is how they employ this song:

 

Chorus. Nothing more than a bold (I think the singer actually encourages the crowd to sing more boldly) declaration of self. Entitlement. Absolutely no credit to the One who bought us by His blood.

Verse 2. This verse has some more churchinese, with a reference that will remind orthodox Christians of their doctrine of election, but that’s not what Bethel teaches. And that’s not really what is being said… it’s a spiritually-sensual reference to being begotten of God. I think that’s why KLove knew to capitalize “Mother” in the lyric… or maybe Bethel gave it to them capitalized. who knows. The point here is that it’s pointing to us, not to God the Father, God the Son, or God the Holy Spirit. The verse also super-spiritualizes Jesus. Bethel has very poor Christology… well, they preach a different Jesus altogether. God the Son (Jesus) still has a body, a perfect body, but still an actual body. His blood does not flow through our veins. When we receive communion, we are given His blood and body by Grace… yes… but still His blood is not flowing in our veins. We are indwelt by God the Holy Spirit, sealed by Him for the day of Judgement for the Resurrection in Christ Jesus.

Bridge. Yeah, another hyper-sensual spiritualization of the Red Sea crossing. By this point you are either in, going with the flow, or you’ve left the auditorium. Rescued me from what? Well, according to the song “fear”. Why? So I can stand and sing I am a child of God. Yeah, that ain’t the Gospel.

I’m done with this song. But I think we need to remind ourselves of what the Scriptures say regarding the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let’s turn to 1 Corinthians 15… the full chapter.

1 Corinthians 15 (ESV) | The Resurrection of Christ

15 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

The Resurrection of the Dead

12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

29 Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? 30 Why are we in danger every hour? 31 I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! 32 What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” 34 Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.

The Resurrection Body

35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” 36 You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. 39 For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40 There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another.41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.

42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.

Mystery and Victory

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

The song is worship created and used by the heretical cult of Bethel Church in Redding. This should not be playing on Christian radio, let alone be in the top 20. Bethel preaches a false gospel, a counterfeit spirit, and a different Jesus. It doesn’t point to Christ, doesn’t preach repentance and the forgiveness of sin.

Romans 16:24-27 (ESV) | Doxology

25 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 26 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— 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge