DiM | “Ever Be” by Aaron Shust

CCM Radio Edition.

disapproveApril 26, 2016. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Ever Be” by Aaron Shust which currently sits at #17 on the 20theCountdownMagazine.

On my first listen to this song, I was immediately confused by the mystical lyrics. It’s not clear if the song is a love song to God, from God, or if it’s going to be a love song for earthly marriage. As I read the upload comment, I realized it wasn’t likely to improve. This song earned a quick and solid “Disapproval”. While this song finds itself on the CCM Radio charts, I’m fairly certain there are churches using this song in their worship services. I don’t think it fits that purpose, either.

Published on Feb 22, 2016. 

I’m excited to be sharing the official lyric video with you all! Throughout the Bible, the love God has for us is likened to the devoted covenant of a marriage. He vows to love us forever and this song (from Bethel Music) is an outpouring of worship in response to that love! His praise will be ever on my lips!

So it comes from Bethel Music, and we’ve said before that we consider Bethel to be a heresy house. Moving on from that point, we see they have their analogies backwards. Earthly marriage is the imperfect foreshadowing of the relationship between Christ and the Church. So when we speak of God’s Love for us, it is the Perfection, and we are the imperfection, our concept of the marriage covenant is the imperfect picture of God’s Perfect Love. Why is this a problem? Because this sort of confusion leads to an overly emotional/sensual/experiential pursuit of “God’s love”. God isn’t found in our emotions, He’s found in His Word.  God often describes His relationship to His people as that of a marriage, but each time He does so (except at the Last Day when Christ returns for the Church) it’s to point out our infidelity, our adultery (idolatry), and our sin.

Official Lyric Video

Lyrics (via K-Love)

Your love is devoted like a ring of solid gold
Like a vow that is tested like a covenant of old
Your love is enduring through the winter rain
And beyond the horizon with mercy for today

Faithful You have been and faithful You will be
You pledge Yourself to me and it’s why I sing

(chorus)
Your praise will ever be on my lips, ever be on my lips
Your praise will ever be on my lips, ever be on my lips

You Father the orphan
Your kindness makes us whole
And You shoulder our weakness
And Your strength becomes our own
Now You’re making me like You
Clothing me in white
Bringing beauty from ashes
For You will have Your bride

Free of all her guilt and rid of all her shame
And known by her true name and it’s why I sing

(chorus)
Your praise will ever be on my lips, ever be on my lips
Your praise will ever be on my lips, ever be on my lips
Your praise will ever be on my lips, ever be on my lips
Your praise will ever be on my lips, ever be on my lips

You will be praised You will be praised
With angels and saints we sing worthy are You Lord
You will be praised You will be praised
With angels and saints we sing worthy are You Lord
And it’s why I sing

(chorus)
Your praise will ever be on my lips, ever be on my lips
Your praise will ever be on my lips, ever be on my lips
Your praise will ever be on my lips, ever be on my lips
Your praise will ever be on my lips, ever be on my lips
Ever be on my lips, ever be on, ever be on my lips

Publishing: © 2014 Bethel Music Publishing (ASCAP)
Writer(s): Words and Music by Kalley Heiligenthal, Gabriel Wilson, Chris Greely, Bobby Strand

Discussion

Ugh, this song was painful to sit through. Having to listen to Your praise will ever be on my lips, ever be on my lips eleven times is just… overkill. And it doesn’t say anything. Are we talking about eternity? Well, yeah, we will be praising God forever. Are we talking about temporally? Well, you’re lying. In fact, while you’re repeating this line eleven times, you know what you are not actually doing? Praising God. You’r talking about what you may be / will be doing, but not actually doing it.

While we are on the subject of Praise, why will the Bride (the Church) be praising Christ forever? Because HE SAVED US. Does this song explain that? No, instead it presents God as a fairytale night in shining armor who shows up out to rescue us from our shame and guilt so that we can be called by our true name… I wonder if the Never Ending Story is driving the imagery in this song with the whole true name thing. Anyway, it presents a romanticized rescue as if God simply waved His hand and all the guilt and shame just went *poof*.  That isn’t the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Romans 5 (ESV) | Peace with God Through Faith

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Death in Adam, Life in Christ

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

This is why we Praise the LORD our God and Savoir. We have no need to romanticize or conjure up some emotional experience when we have the Truth of God’s Word clearly proclaiming and displaying God’s immeasurable and incomprehensible Love for us. The Holy Spirit will bring life through God’s Word and there will be moments when your emotions will line up with your faith and you’ll get that warm glowy feeling, or breath that deep sigh of relief that calms the soul… but when those emotions are not under control, and not submitted to the Scriptures, the Truth of this promise doesn’t change. God’s love doesn’t change, it doesn’t go away, when your emotional high wanes and you’re left having to deal with everyday life. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, unshackle your faith from your temporal and fleeting emotions, and hold fast to the external, Written Word of God, remember your baptism, and the Lord’s Supper, and trust in these means to feed, grow, and sustain your faith. Your emotions are so easily manipulated and stirred, they are a poor anchor for your faith… and your sinful, carnal flesh wants desperately to do just that, to get you completely focused on your emotions, your feelings, your circumstances, your impressions, your felt-needs.

There are a few truthy statements in there… God is indeed the Father to the fatherless and it is His kindness that makes us whole. The overall messaging, though, isn’t about what God’s Word says about Him… it’s about stirring up the imagination and moving their emotions about.

Conclusion

When this life is finally over, and our Lord Jesus Christ returns for His Bride, we who are found in Him will indeed praise Him forever and ever. It is certain. Does that make this a good song? No. This song is emotional goo. While it is presented as praise to God, it’s actually just intended to stir up the crowd into a mystically charged emotionality so that folks can walk away feeling they accomplished something spiritual… it is intended to create a good work of inviting the Presence (allegedly of God the Holy Spirit) into the place, so those present can all feel emotionally loved by God. Scripture doesn’t describe fitting worship in this way. In fact, such fleshly worship is often attributed to false gods.

I’d like to close today’s post by looking at what God’s Written Word has to say about what lay ahead for those who are in Christ Jesus by Faith. We’ll look to the last 2 chapters in Revelation.

Revelation 21 (ESV) | The New Heaven and the New Earth

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

The New Jerusalem

Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed— on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

And the one who spoke with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia. Its length and width and height are equal. He also measured its wall, 144 cubits by human measurement, which is also an angel’s measurement. The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Revelation 22 (ESV) | The River of Life

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.”

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

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

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. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

“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.”

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.

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, 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.

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

Amen, Indeed.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “God is on the Move” by 7eventh Time Down

CCM Radio Edition.

disapproveApril 19, 2016. Today we’ll be taking a look at “God is on the Move” by 7evenths Time Down which currently sits at #14 on the 20theCountdownMagazine.

This is an anthemic Evangelical motivational song. It’s intended to stir up the listener emotionally. The song doesn’t really teach anything Biblically sound. It does express a poor understanding of salvation and the Gospel, which we’ll discuss in a bit. I don’t like the song… it is a distraction from the Gospel of Jesus Christ and fixates a bit on man. That seems odd for a song that repeats “God is on the move” so many times… but let’s listen, read the lyrics, and then discuss what I think is the core problem with this song.

Official Lyric Video

 

Lyrics (via K-Love)

Any time a heart turns from darkness to light
Any time temptation comes and someone stands to fight
Any time somebody lives to serve and not be served
I know, I know, I know, I know

God is on the move, on the move
Hallelujah
God is on the move
In many mighty ways

God is on the move, on the move
Hallelujah
God is on the move
On the move today

Any time in weakness someone falls upon their knees
Or dares to speak the truth that sets men free
Any time the choice is made to stand upon the Word
I know, I know, I know, I know

God is on the move, on the move
Hallelujah
God is on the move
In many mighty ways

God is on the move, on the move
Hallelujah
God is on the move
On the move today

I see a generation
Standing on the truth
In each and every nation
God is on the move

Any time the gospel stirs a searching soul
And someone says, “Send me, here I go”
I know, I know, I know, I know

God is on the move, on the move
Hallelujah
God is on the move
In many mighty ways

God is on the move, on the move
Hallelujah
God is on the move
On the move today

I see a generation
Standing on the truth
In each and every nation
God is on the move

Publishing: Love Journey Music, Moms Like Us Too, Aevinesaintmusic, Promotion And Relegation Music, Sony/ATV Cross Keys Publishing, Songs From Exit 71 (SESAC)
Writer(s): Mikey Howard, Cliff Williams, Ian Eskelin, Tony Wood

Discussion

If we’re to put the best construction on the title and chorus of the song, “God is on the move”, we have to frame that phrasing carefully. God isn’t “moving” anywhere. He IS everywhere. So, the only right way to understand this phrase is to think of it as God drawing us to Himself. God has placed each of us where we are, and He has called us, opened our eyes and ears to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and has brought us to Life in Christ Jesus. He has done the Work, we didn’t do anything. Which leads us to a major problem with the theology presented in this song: It is a pep-talk for listeners to “choose to follow God”.

You see, Scripture calls us to trust in, have Faith in God, through the hearing of His Word. But He has to bring us out of darkness, we can’t do it ourselves. There are no seekers out there… there are only those who are dead in unbelief, and then there those who have been brought to Life in Christ Jesus through faith.

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.

When Paul wrote to the Romans, we find him quoting several Psalms to put together to completely obliterate the notion of “searching souls”, or of any form of works-based righteousness.

Romans 3:9-20 (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, as it is written:

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

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. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

For the greater context of this letter, one really has to read the full letter to the Romans. Paul is making clarifying the proper distinction of Law and Gospel in this letter. Here he is point out that God has made it clear to us in His Law that we are all sinful and unrighteous in ourselves. This is what sin has done to all of mankind. The ONLY remedy is the penal substitutionary death of Jesus Christ on the cross, the Perfect Sacrifice for our sin. By Faith (which only comes through the Word of God, the Gospel of Jesus Christ) in Christ Jesus our unrighteousness is exchanged for the righteousness of Christ.

How do go about getting people Saved? We must preach the Word of God (not our ideas, not our gimmicks, not our dreams, not our flair for entertainment… preach the Word).

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.

What must they do to be Saved? When Peter was asked this very question after preaching on the Day of Pentecost, his response was simply, “Repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins…” (Acts 2:37-41 ESV)

Acts 2:37-41 (ESV)

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?” 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. 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.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

Notice that Peter didn’t compel them to “believe” or “make a decision for Christ” or any such decisional thing? Those whose ears were opened to the Gospel, whose hearts were made alive by the Holy Spirit were granted Saving Faith. Those who were granted saving faith, repented and were baptized for the forgiveness of sin. And that Promise of Salvation, of forgiveness was not only for them, but for their children, and for all who are far off. And none of it was of their own doing in any way. It was, and is, a Gift from God.

A good place to get a condensed summary of the Gospel of Jesus Christ can be found in 1 Corinthians 15:

1 Corinthians 15:1-6 (ESV) | The Resurrection of Christ

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.

This song doesn’t convey this understanding of salvation. The song isn’t concerned with declaring the Salvation that belongs to the LORD, instead this song is attempting to stir up your emotion, your zeal, your determination to “do something”, to “follow God” because “God is on the Move.” It’s calling you to good works, but not in way that flows from the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross.

There is a dark side to the pep-talk, motivational coin. And that is the idea that if you don’t move with God, you’ll miss Him. On this side of the coin, we also see that unless you’re doing something special, or specially motivated by your choice to follow God, then you’re just living a mediocre and ordinary life, and God is less pleased by that. That’s false. It is God who places us in our vocations. God places us in our families, in our homes, in our jobs, in our culture. God saves us, reconciles us to Him, and we are to serve our neighbors. We are to preach the Gospel and server our neighbors in our vocations. Fathers need to be fathers, Mothers need to be mothers, and in everything that we do we are to do in Thanksgiving to our LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ, for His Grace and Mercy toward us.

Hebrews 13:1-17 (ESV) | Sacrifices Pleasing to God

Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said,“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say,

“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
what can man do to me?”

Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

It is only from within the framework of Salvation by Grace alone, through Faith alone (which comes through Scripture alone), in Christ alone, to the Glory of God alone that we can properly speak of good works pleasing to God. Our reconciliation with God was done by Christ… we do good works for our neighbor’s sake.

Conclusion

The song is an emotional trap. It is a distraction from the Gospel toward the Law… a works-based call to “do something” for the sake of the Gospel. The Gospel itself isn’t conveyed in the song. God is always moving in our lives, drawing us to Himself, crushing us under the Law that we might die to sin, and bringing us back to Life in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In the end, we decided this song earned a Disapproval because of its fixation on man rather than on Christ.

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.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Church History | Christianity in America (Part 6)

churchhistoryThis week we’ll be continuing the series by Dr. Dan van Voorhis entitled Christianity in America. This series covers American Christianity from the Puritans through the modern-day Emergent Church. We don’t usually go through such a long series but I’m learning so much from these lectures that I simply don’t want to stop short. The goal of this series is to figure out how the American church in its present state came to be… how did we get to where we are today?

Daniel van Voorhis, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of History and Political Thought and Assistant Dean in the school of Arts and Sciences at Concordia University, Irvine. He has a BA in Theology and earned his PhD in Modern History from the University of St. Andrews (Scotland) in 2007. (source)

Lesson #6 – The Gospel on the Airwaves

Unfortunately, Dr Dan Van Voorhis switched back to handouts (no powerpoint slides) for this episode but FaithCapo doesn’t have the the link to the handout available online.

 

Listen on MP3

 

Conclusion

We will continue this series to its conclusion. After that, we’ll get back to sharing sermons on Fridays.

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.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “If We’re Honest” by Francesca Battistelli

Presentation1CCM Radio Edition.

March 7, 2016. Today we’ll be taking a look at “If We’re Honest” by Francesca Battistelli which currently sits at #19 on the 20theCountdownMagazine.

In my opinion this is the best song by Francesca Battistelli we’ve reviewed, and it is so close to being a phenomenal song. I really like this song, though there are some key omissions in the lyrics that make it fall below our standard for Approval. This song represents the problem of dealing with the cognitive dissonance that the modern evangelical wrestles with and is so close to providing the answer… so close to granting the rest that the modern evangelical desperately longs to find. The song misses but it is starting to ask the right questions.

Francesca Battisteli Official Audio

 

Lyrics (via MetroLyrics)

Truth is harder than a lie
The dark seems safer than the light
And everyone has a heart that loves to hide
I’m a mess and so are you
We’ve built walls nobody can get through
Yeah, it may be hard, but the best thing we could ever do, ever do

Bring your brokenness, and I’ll bring mine
‘Cause love can heal what hurt divides
And mercy’s waiting on the other side
If we’re honest
If we’re honest

Don’t pretend to be something that you’re not
Living life afraid of getting caught
There is freedom found when we lay
our secrets down at the cross, at the cross

Bring your brokenness, and I’ll bring mine
‘Cause love can heal what hurt divides
And mercy’s waiting on the other side
If we’re honest
If we’re honest

It would change our lives
It would set us free
It’s what we need to be

Bring your brokenness, and I’ll bring mine
‘Cause love can heal what hurt divides
And mercy’s waiting on the other side
If we’re honest
If we’re honest

Songwriters: REED, MOLLY E. / BATTISTELLI, FRANCESCA / PARDO, JEFF
Published by Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

Discussion

Artist Backstory? Before I share my thoughts on this song, I wanted to take a shot at finding an interview somewhere that maybe had Francesca Battistelli’s take on the story behind the song. This is the title-track of her latest album, so most of this interview is covering the album, but here is a portion where she talks about this song:

SAM: With this album, If We’re Honest, is there a big idea or a key message running across the whole record?

FRANCESCA: Y’know I think honesty and vulnerability. There’s a lot in this record that came from my life, and I think there’s just a deeper spiritual sense to this record. I think I’m talking about some things that I haven’t talked about before. If We’re Honest is the title track, and the theme of that song which ties in with the record is that God has called us to live lives of authenticity. I think that means that in a culture that says: ‘Crop the perfect picture of yourself, put a nice filter on it, send it out to the world and let people think that’s who you are,’ God has called us to be raw and be real. We should be able to come to each other as brothers and sisters in Christ and say: ‘This is what I’m going through. This is what I’m struggling with. This is what I need prayer for, or help with.’ It’s so hard for us to do that in this culture, and I think God is really calling us to go back to that basic… He created us to live in community with each other. He created us to need each other. To be his hands and feet on this earth. So I really wrote it as a challenge to myself, to get outside of myself. To challenge me to know that the things I was saying and the things I was talking about on stage and singing, and who I was when I was offstage, it’s all the same. There wasn’t a facade being put up. I think the vulnerability on these songs shows up. So I would say honesty is the theme of the record.

SAM: Yeah, that definitely comes across as I listen to it, and I’m sure that your fans as they listen will be encouraged to be honest as well in their lives too.

FRANCESCA: I hope so! That’s the goal.

Overall Thoughts. I was surprised to see Francesca answer in such a broad sense given that my first impression of the song, as-written, was that it held a more intimate meaning… like between a husband and wife who are struggling with secret sins that were destroying their marriage. That’s what jumps out at me with the chorus of the song, an appeal for mutual brokenness and confession. While that was my initial read on the song, I was going to suggest we suspend that for a moment while we try to rescue it a bit with some clear doctrine, and then see how it works within the narrow sense of a marriage.

Overall there are some solid thoughts captured in the lyric of this song: each of us is a mess, each of us is broken, and failure to acknowledge this truth is a failure to be honest… because we know we’re broken. We know it in the Romans 1 sense where the world knows there is a God and it hates Him. The most powerful statement in this song is coded, unfortunately: There is freedom found when we lay our secrets down at the cross, at the cross. That’s so close to being the Gospel… but what does it mean to lay our secrets down at the cross? How is this something I do? Why is it so hard to sing the words “repent and be forgiven of your sins in Jesus’ Name?” So close. I think now we need to discuss cognitive dissonance a bit.

Cognitive Dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance refers to a situation involving conflicting attitudes, beliefs or behaviors. This produces a feeling of discomfort leading to an alteration in one of the attitudes, beliefs or behaviors to reduce the discomfort and restore balance etc. For example, when people smoke (behavior) and they know that smoking causes cancer (cognition). [source]

Modern-Day Evangelicalism holds to a man-centered definition of justification / sanctification  while giving lip service to salvation by grace through faith alone. Most of this can be traced by to the earliest church-isms of the settling of the New World. Methodism and Pietism play a major role in this forming of “American” Christianity…. but in many ways it is a return to the synergism of the Roman Catholic Church to varying degrees. Sure, they’ve dropped the Pope, but they haven’t dropped the notion that says “God did His part, but I have to do my part or else God can’t work in my life”.  So we insist that man has a free will (from birth) and that God has made a way of salvation that few will find, but if you search for it with all your heart you will find it and be made a new creature, freed from sin… and because we “bowed our heads” and “said a prayer” (Finneyism) we can now declare and decree that we are new creatures… but that was only the first step of “getting saved”. Now we have to do our part to “demonstrate our faith” is genuine, we must progress in doing good and resisting evil. That’s what evangelicalism preaches… and pushes… and advises… keep progressing, know these fundamentals… if you’ll just do these things you’ll overcome that sin… and we raise our hands, we walk down the isle, kneel at the “altar” and sob, trying with every ounce of strength we can muster to “lay our sins down at the cross”  hoping that this time… THIS TIME… we’ll mean it, it will be real, we will be set free from this besetting sin because we truly meant it… THIS time. But when we’ve left the “revival” meeting… and we find ourselves at work, or all alone… if we’re honest… we know we are still sinners. We doubt whether or not we’ll fall again… we doubt whether or not God truly loves us… given enough time and hardship… we’ll even doubt whether or not God died for us.

Incidentally… this isn’t the result of poll research or anything… this is me. At a very low point, I remember admitting to someone that I have no problem sharing the “promises of God” for everyone else… but He didn’t have those good things set out for me. I didn’t deserve them. I’d confess that I was saved, but that I was supposed to struggle… because I wasn’t progressing… I was arrogant in my youth, sloppy in my sanctification… and I was being held to a different standard. After all, my parents were pastors… God had worked huge miracles in their lives… so-called prophets always knew exactly what my brother’s calling was on his life… but when it came to me no 2 were ever in agreement… they were all over the place with me… because I didn’t have a calling, because God’s awesome promises weren’t for me… they were for everyone else. Cognitive dissonance… I simply couldn’t hold all things I was being told in evangelicalism (NAR flavor) as true while making an honest assessment of my own actions, my own thought life, my own sin. The pieces didn’t fit. Either the theology was wrong, or I was…and I was convinced that God simply didn’t want those things for me. I thank God that in His Grace and Mercy… He never let go of me.

I’m sorry for that tangent… getting back to the topic of cognitive dissonance, modern-day evangelicalism doesn’t make sense to one who is honest about their surroundings or who actually reads the Bible. It doesn’t fit together. It’s entirely too man-centric, and we are horribly messed up. And that is a strength in this song… if we’re honest, we simply cannot go on decreeing and declaring that we are healthy, wealthy, and prosperous because… we aren’t.

Repent and be Forgiven. The song takes a step in the right direction by at least acknowledging something isn’t right. We sin. There needs to be a solution to that sin. There is, but it isn’t found within us. The first line of the song that needs correction is the line everyone has a heart that loves to hide. The truth is that everyone has a heart that love to sin. To protect our sin, we hide it rather than expose it. We did it back in the Garden in Adam when he chose to hide from God after sinning, and then blaming the woman for our sin. We hide our sin rather than confess it. That is our bent, that is the impact of sin on our hearts.

1 John 1 (ESV)

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

If we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us and to cleanse us. This is where we find our rest in this life… in the Person and Word of Jesus Christ. There’s no moving on from this while we walk this earth in jars of clay. We are still sinners, saved by Grace. We sin, and the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin according to the Law and crushes us… for the letter of the Law kills… but the Holy Spirit brings life in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Don’t look to your emotions, your “brokenness”, or even your “honesty” for forgiveness… it’s not within you… it’s outside of you… it’s in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ… it’s in the Written Word of God, it’s in the waters of baptism, it’s in the bread and cup of communion. Seek forgiveness outside of you, for only God forgives… and He is faithful and just to forgive and to cleanse you in Jesus’ Name. Daily.

Where the song completely misses. The song simply cannot seem to shake itself free from looking within for answers. ‘Cause love can heal what hurt divides And mercy’s waiting on the other side Who’s love? Which divide? Are we talking simply the emotional pangs of hurt, or are we talking about sin? Are we talking about simply airing out grievances with our neighbor or are we talking about seeking forgiveness from sin? And mercy’s waiting on the other side of what? Again, God’s mercy comes to us through His Word and through Preaching… but this evangelicalism suggests that we have to do something or cross something to get to that Mercy that is on the other side of whatever it is that separates us… does this point back to the divide caused by hurt? So we need to be honest, so that love can heal what hurt divided and once that divide is healed THEN we get to Mercy? I think I might have pulled something.

The bridge of the song misfires, because the “it” points to us and our honesty. If we’re honest, then it would It would change our lives. If we’re honest, then It would set us free. If we’re honest, then It’s what we need to be. See how that is bent in on itself? Forgive me the obvious counter-argument, but there are a lot of sinners who are quite honest and brash concerning their sin. They are flagrant. In fact, and I didn’t start this discussion like I usually do by pointing out the intended target audience, but this song is clearly pointed at the evangelical Christian… because only the evangelical Christian struggles with the cognitive dissonance of proclaiming to be fully set free from sin and progressing toward perfection in Christ Jesus while having to ignore the reality of their own sin. Unbelievers don’t struggle with this level of dissonance, because they simply call evil good and good evil. They embrace their sin because they reject God.

Conclusion

If we are honest… we are sinners in need of a savior. We bring nothing to our salvation than our sinful hearts. Salvation, Faith, Repentance and Forgiveness is Christ’s work on us, and we contribute nothing to that work. Now, as believers, we share the grace bestowed upon us with our neighbors, we do good works of service to our neighbors in thanksgiving to God, knowing full well that even our best good work for our neighbor is stained by our sin. Just like the Israelites in the wilderness needed God to provide Mana from heaven on a daily basis for their daily bread, we rely on Christ’s unfailing love for us and forgiveness for our sins. Dear Christian, stop looking within yourself (or your heart/emotions) for faith, healing, restoration, rest, forgiveness… instead, look to the Word of God, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith. Your right standing before God isn’t based on what you’ve done, but what He has done for you. Your relationship with your neighbor (and getting back to the context of within a marriage) is affected by what you do. Be honest and vulnerable with your neighbor, and share the Gospel of Grace. Serve your neighbor, forgive your neighbor, and share both Law and Gospel with your neighbor, knowing that Christ has forgiven you of all of your sins, in Jesus’ Name.

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.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Friday Sermon | “Becoming Lutheran from Evangelicalism” by Bryan Wolfmueller

frisermon

Today, we are going to be looking at a lecture given by Pr. Bryan Wolfmeuller. The video was posted to YouTube back in February of 2013. For those of you who are not Lutheran, I encourage you to listen because I believe Bryan does a great job of describing the problem of modern-day evangelicalism and their confusion of Law and Gospel.

Pr. Bryan Wolfmueller is involved in several online projects, but in none of them does he really talk about himself. Here is the “about” information on his personal blog:

Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller: husband, father of four, pastor of Hope in Aurora, CO, co-host of Table Talk Radio, fan of the distinction of law and Gospel.

God’s Word is AWESOME
(Becoming Lutheran from Evangelicalism)

Pr. Bryan Wolfmueller shares his experience of coming out of Evangelicalism using the framework of Psalm 119 and also Law and Gospel. He speaks of the treasure that is the Word of God and Lutheran doctrine, treasure for the soul that is despairing from the effects of Evangelical beliefs.

Lecture Text

Psalm 119:17-24 (ESV) | Gimel

17 Deal bountifully with your servant,
    that I may live and keep your word.
18 Open my eyes, that I may behold
    wondrous things out of your law.
19 I am a sojourner on the earth;
    hide not your commandments from me!
20 My soul is consumed with longing
    for your rules at all times.
21 You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones,
    who wander from your commandments.
22 Take away from me scorn and contempt,
    for I have kept your testimonies.
23 Even though princes sit plotting against me,
    your servant will meditate on your statutes.
24 Your testimonies are my delight;
    they are my counselors.

Some additional resources:

Our journey out of evangelicalism into Lutheran doctrine took a different path than Pr Wolfmueller’s. This was such a blessing to me.

2 Thessalonians 3:16 (ESV) Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way.The Lord be with you all.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge