CTT | Become all things to all people?

CTTIt has been a while since our last Completing the Thought (CTT) post so I thought we might do one this week. Normally, I try to post these on Mondays, but this past Monday was a Holiday so I thought we’d knock this out today. I Recently received an email from a reader via the Contact Us regarding a song we Disapproved in our DiM series. While the complaint is one that is commonly shared, I truly appreciated the reader’s attempt to make a Biblical argument. Let’s take a look at the referenced text and examine it in context to see what the Apostle Paul was writing.

To Jorge,
Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9, “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more. And to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law, though not being myself under the Law, that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some. And I do all things for the sake of the gospel, that I may become a fellow partaker of it.” I think you are reading too much into this song and video. If this song catches the interest of a young person and it leads them to the Lord they can be instructed in the faith after salvation. Like Paul she is reaching out to all…

The portion of scripture being referenced is 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. In this first letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul is writing to a church that is suffering from divisions of men by ethnic differences, social status differences, financial difference, and various examples of fleshly indulgences (abusing the spiritual gifts, sexual immorality, drunkenness at the Lord’s Supper). It’s all one letter and Paul is dealing with a lot of things at once, but Paul isn’t writing to unbelievers, he’s writing to the Church in Corinth. I’m going to be quoting portions of the text, but if you feel I’ve taken anything out of context, by all means call me on it.

1 Corinthians 1:1-3 (ESV)

Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes,

To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

After a bit of greeting, Paul makes clear the purpose of this letter.

1 Corinthians 1:10-17 (ESV) | Divisions in the Church

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

I highlighted what Paul is saying is his primary calling, to preach the gospel of Christ. He isn’t saying he wasn’t supposed to be baptizing (because he did baptize and baptism is an integral part of the Great Commission); rather, he is clearly stating that he was sent to preach the gospel. He also points out that he does so without words of eloquent wisdom so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power, that by distracting folks into admiring his eloquent speech rather than the Gospel of Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:18-25 (ESV) | Christ the Wisdom and Power of God

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

This is an important point here that I believe the Apostle Paul will be reflecting back to in chapters 8 and 9. Paul preaches the Gospel plainly. The Word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but for the Church (us who are being saved) it is the power of God. So, throughout the letter, Paul is going to be addressing various divisions and distractions from the Gospel, from the Word of the cross, that are taking root within the Church. Now, with this introduction to the letter fresh in our minds, let us jump ahead to Chapter 8.

1 Corinthians 8 (ESV) | Food Offered to Idols

Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.

Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

Why are we talking about food offered to Idols? Because this is one of the key factor in one of the major divisions within the early church, the division between Jew and Gentile believers. Paul’s letter to the Galatians addresses the Judaizing heresy, and the first Apostolic Council was regarding Gentile believers and which rules they should follow. Notice Paul’s focus throughout this discussion of food. Again, he’s talking about fellow believers, brothers and sisters in the body of Christ, and his concern is the Gospel. We know that since idols are false the foods offered to them have no real significance, for we know who God is. However, not everyone has this clear understanding, so to one whose conscience is bound to avoiding foods offered to false gods, it would be a sin to burden his conscience by consuming such food. Paul goes on to say that even though he is free to eat of any food, for food does not commend us to God, for the sake of his brother he’d commit to never eating meat. Paul isn’t just addressing the Gentiles here, he’s making the argument wide enough for the believing Jews who also cannot yet see their freedom from the strict dietary laws of the Mosaic covenant. Paul is teaching them they are free in Christ to eat whatever they like, but they are also told not to abuse their freedoms and sin against their brothers. Now, let’s get to the next chapter.

1 Corinthians 9:1-12 (ESV) | Paul Surrenders His Rights

Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord? If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you, for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.

This is my defense to those who would examine me. Do we not have the right to eat and drink? Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living? Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk?

Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same? For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? Does he not certainly speak for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop. If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more?

Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ.

Now Paul is really driving home his point here. This is definitely a one-up on the matter of food and drink, and it goes to his vocation as Apostle of Jesus Christ and his right to drawing his living (food, drink, shelter) from preaching the Gospel. Paul has the right to ask for provisions from the church to whom he is an Apostle of Jesus Christ, yet he has declined these rights in their case and worked on the side to pay for his provisions so as to not put an obstacle in the way of the Gospel of Christ. Let’s continue reading through the rest of the chapter. I’ll continue highlighting the mention of the Gospel.

1 Corinthians 9:13-27 (ESV)

Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.

But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing these things to secure any such provision. For I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of my ground for boasting. For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship. What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.

For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Wow, such an awesome passage. Now, the underlined portion is the part that was quoted to me in the email. Here, we do see Paul addressing the preaching of the Gospel to Jews and Gentiles who are not yet believers “so that i might win more of them”. Indeed, to the Jew Paul became as a Jew. What does this mean? Well, in the context of all that he’s been writing, Paul would go to the synagogues and follow the Mosaic Laws (and even submit to the Traditions of the Elders like ceremonial washings and the like) so as not to become a hindrance to the preaching of the Gospel of Christ in their synagogues. Though he is free from the Mosaic Law and under the Law of Christ, these Traditions of the Elders are of no real value, Paul would observe the temple traditions so that they might listen to the Gospel he preached concerning Christ, so that by all means he might save some. Similarly, Paul would drop the Traditions of the Elders, and the strict dietary laws of the Mosaic covenant when he went into the Gentile market places to preach the Gospel of Christ, so that the Gentiles might be willing to listen to him. The unbelieving Gentiles knew full well who the Jews were, and that they were considered lesser beings because they were Gentiles. What remains constant in all of this, however, is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul preached the Gospel. He was sent to preach the Gospel of Christ, and in that he was a servant to all, regardless of their status.


Indeed, we should become all things to all people so that we may not become a hindrance to the preaching of the Gospel. But we cannot use this logic to somehow rationalize the masking of the Gospel. Whenever a preacher claims to give a sermon and fails to preach both Law and Gospel, he is failing his duty. There is no validity in trying to say “I become all things to all people so that I might save some” as justification for failing to preach Law and Gospel.

In the DiM post that was being referenced, we disapproved the song due to a failure to present the Gospel. That is what we are looking for primarily in these DiM posts to grant a song an Approved rating. The song had other problems with it, which made gave it a Disapproved rating. The artist doing that song was not being like the Apostle Paul. It was just an 80s-inspired pop song with unclear theology.

If you’d like to contact us regarding this or any other post, please feel free to visit our Contact Us page and share your thoughts. I’ll try to respond in a timely fashion, not always in the form of a blog post.

Jude 24-25 (ESV)

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

In Christ Jesus,

DiM | “Rise” by Danny Gokey

disapproveCCM Edition.

November 01, 2016. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Rise” by Danny Gokey which currently sits at #17 on 20TheCountdownMagazine.

Thematically today’s song is like a sequel to “Tell Your Heart to Beat Again“. This song is clearly a “positive” and even “emotionally uplifting” song, but it isn’t a clearly Christian song. The lyric in this song is completely bathed in theology of glory, a theology that makes the christian the hero. This is wildly popular in popular evangelicalism, but it isn’t Biblical. The Gospel doesn’t point to our own greatness, it points us to Christ. No, not even under the argument of “because of Christ… I’m awesome”. In today’s post, we’ll be focusing more on what Scripture teaches us to focus on, the Cross of Jesus Christ than on parsing every line of the song. Let’s give it a listen, read the lyrics, and then discuss the theology.

Danny Gokey Lyric Video


Lyrics (via K-Love)

There’s a brokenness inside of you
There’s a wound that still reminds you
Of the fear, shame and rejection
You have seen it, you have seen it

You know it’s time to get up
But your heart’s paralyzed, you’re so stuck
You’re past the point of trying again
You’re defeated, you’re defeated

But something inside you can’t deny
You hear the call of your creator
I made you for more, unlocked the door
I wanna restore your glory

So Rise
Breaking the dark, piercing the night
You’re made to shine
An army of hope
Bringing the world
A radiant light
A radiant light
You were made to rise, rise

Lift your head and look around you
See the dreams you lost, they have found you
And the heart that once was beating
Is coming back to life
Coming back to life

But something inside you can’t deny
You hear the call of your creator
I made you for more, unlocked the door
I wanna restore your glory

So Rise
Breaking the dark, piercing the night
You’re made to shine
An army of hope
Bringing the world
A radiant light
A radiant light
You were made to rise, rise

Shut the door on yesterday
Leave what happened in the grave
You were made to rise
You were made to shine
Creations longing for the day
For kings and queens to take their place
You were made to rise
You were made to shine

Breaking the dark
Piercing the night
Made to shine
Bring the world
A radiant light

Breaking the dark, piercing the night
You’re made to shine
An army of hope
Bringing the world
A radiant light
A radiant light
You were made to rise, rise
You were made to rise, rise
You were made to

Publishing: BMG Platinum songs, Creative Hearts Publishing (BMI) / Word Music, LLC, Howiecowie Publishing (ASCAP) / Wordspring Music, LLC, (SESAC)
Writer(s): Danny Gokey, Benji Cowart, Josh Brownleewe


So there is no mention of Christ, nothing is presented in light of the Gospel, no repentance and the forgiveness of sins. The focus of the song isn’t on Christ, it’s on (presumably) the christian. The song is a motivational pep-talk, urging the christian to do something. I take issue with what the song is telling the listener to do, namely to look inwardly for inspiration to believe in the self, the buried greatness inside that is somehow destined to rise. While Danny does invoke “the Creator”, it’s one who is speaking from inside the listener. I’ve been worried about his theology for a while, particularly with his fascination with “the Shack”.


We’ve discussed this particular concern, but considering the problematic theology in the book regarding Our Triune God, this is worth bringing up again because of how the lyric references God. Nearly every false religion also invokes a “creator”, so simply invoking a Creator does not provide clarity, particularly not in this something inside you context. When we need encouragement, the last place we need to look for it is within ourselves… we are the ones needing encouragement. Christians look to the external Word of God.

The song presents a few lines that are theologically problematic. Let’s work through them

Verse 1. I’ve already mentioned this one in the third stanza of the first verse,

But something inside you can’t deny
You hear the call of your creator
I made you for more, unlocked the door
I wanna restore your glory

If there was some possibility that the song was pointing to eternity, this one might be given a positive spin. But that’s simply not the context of the song. What glory is your creator trying to restore in you? You were born dead in sins and trespasses. That’s what these “purpose driven life” folks can’t seem to get right. The Gospel is NOT about unlocking some potential from within you, the Gospel is about rescuing from sin, for forgiveness and eternal life.

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.

We were dead in sins and trespasses. Dead. God saves us by His Grace, through Faith in Christ Jesus, and this salvation has nothing to do with our works. There is no “hidden potential” deep within you, no glory to be restored. We glory in Christ, not ourselves. So what is Paul talking about when he mentions the good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in? Paul gives general guidance in chapter 4 of his letter and then breaks down some more specific guidance for various vocations. Let’s look at the general description of this New Life we’ve been called to walk in:

Ephesians 4:17-32 (ESV) | The New Life

Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Notice that Paul closes out this thought in the forgiveness of God in Christ Jesus. Paul is not pointing to the christian’s glory, or special calling, Paul is pointing to what we might call the “third use of the Law”, where the Law informs forgiven Christians of what a Good Work is. Jesus is the Word made flesh. This is how John introduces the Gospel to his readers. He also recorded an important question and answer in Chapter 6.

John 6:26-33 (ESV) Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

The bread of Heaven is the Word of God, Christ Jesus, who gives life to the world. The external Word is where we look for life, not inside of ourselves. This is what is so wrong with “purpose driven” theology of glory. It emphasizes the christian over the Christ.

Chorus. Can the chorus be re-interpreted to be pointing to Christ? I suppose it can and even has to in order for it to be so wildly popular, but doing so requires reshaping the focus of the song. The one Rising in the song is still the listener, and the listener has to remind himself that we are NOT the light, nor are we the hope of the world, that Christ is the Light and the Hope of the World. The lyric isn’t pointing to Christ, though, it’s pointing to the christian. The lyric might also be reshaped to point to eternity, indicating that all who are in Christ Jesus have been sealed by God the Holy Spirit, by Grace through Faith in Christ, for the Resurrection in the Last Day. Though, that Day isn’t the hope of the world that hates God. That Day will bring judgment upon the living and the dead. Only those who are covered by the Righteousness of Christ will be granted eternal life.

The biggest problem in this chorus is that it completely ignores those whose vocations aren’t given to glory or success or measurable accomplishments by the world’s standards. As we saw in Eph 4, our new lives in Christ are not particularly glorious in themselves. We love, we forgive, we speak the truth. There is no such thing as “glorious vs mediocre” Christianity… there is only Christ and Him crucified for our sins.

Verse 2. Okay, some of these lines might be reshaped a bit, but the following is just bad.

Creations longing for the day
For kings and queens to take their place

Creation isn’t longing for us to do anything. That’s putting the emphasis on the wrong thing. Creation is longing for Christ’s return. We, too, are longing for that very same thing.

Romans 8:22-25 (ESV) For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Skipping over that point of what it is Creation longs for leads us to think that somehow we (kings and queens) have something to do with His Return. I get that he’s invoking the promise that those who are in Christ will “reign and rule with Him” in eternity, but notice the context:

2 Timothy 2:8-13 (ESV) Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. The saying is trustworthy, for:

If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful—

for he cannot deny himself.

The promise of the Gospel is indeed that we will rise on the Last Day (1 Peter 1:3-12). That is not to say that we are all called to temporal greatness as the world sees greatness. In the Parable of the Rich man and Lazarus the man of faith died a beggar, covered in sores being licked by the dogs (Luke 16:19-31).


To consider this song a “Christian song” requires the listener to insert Christ into the lyric or behind the lyric. The lyric itself does not proclaim Christ. It is a motivational song that vaguely invokes the creator while presenting very odd theological statements that don’t rightly square with Scripture. This song is definitely a “positive” song, and an emotionally “uplifting” song, but not specifically “Christian”. The reinterpretation needed to make it a “Christian” song would also make songs like “Fight Song by Rachel Platton” a contender for a christian song. These two songs are in the same ballpark, though Gokey’s invokes a little more “spirituality” in the lyric. This is just “positive music”. It could play on any “positive” radio station without anyone batting an eye. That isn’t the standard for these DiM posts, where we are looking for the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the lyric of the song.

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,

DiM | “Never Been a Moment” by Micah Tyler

Presentation1CCM Edition.

October 20, 2016. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Never Been a Moment” by Micah Tyler which currently sits at #20 on 20TheCountdownMagazine.

Today’s song is a subjective reflection on the goodness of God which might be sung honestly by a Christian applying solid theology to the lyrics of this song. It is not an evangelistic song, it doesn’t share the Gospel, and it really doesn’t do much in the way of encouraging other believers, it is purely subjective and introspective. Let’s give it a listen and then look through the lyrics.

Micah Tyler VEVO (Official Lyric Video)

Lyrics (via K-Love)

I’ve been sinner
I’ve been a saint
A little bit of both every single day
I’ve been lost
But somehow I’ve been found
There’s been some pain
Been some regret
Been some moments
I’ll never forget
But when I look back
From where I’m standing now

There’s never been a moment
I was not held inside Your arms
There’s never been a day when You were not who You say You are
Yours forever, it don’t matter
What I’m walking through
‘Cause no matter where I’m going
There’s never been a moment That I was not loved by You

You’ve been the rock
You’ve been the peace
Always showing Your good heart to me
My days are marked by grace I don’t deserve
You’ve been the price I could never pay
You’ve been the light that has led the way
No matter where I am, I am sure

So where could I go that I could wander from Your sight
Where could I run and never leave behind
Your all consuming
Heart pursuing
Grace extending
Never ending love
Your love
There’s never been a moment, no

Publishing: Fair Trade Global Songs (BMI) (admin. by Music Services, Inc.); Meaux Jeaux Music / Da Bears Da Bears Da Bears (SESAC) (admin by CapitolCMGPublishing.com)
Writer(s): Micah Tyler; Jeff Pardo


Okay, so in this song the target audience is presumably God. The song as a whole is targeting the Christian who can relate to a similar “experience of God” as the singer. Experiences are not objective, so they are a horrible place from which to build theology. That which is not Biblical, is not theological. As I said in the intro, there is a specific context in which a person might honestly sing this song reflecting on the goodness of God in a way that affirms scripture. However, that context is narrow and not without its problems.

Verse 1. Scripture teaches us that as Christians saved by Grace, we are simultaneously sinner and saints, not merely alternating between the two. As long as we live in these corrupted bodies of flesh, we are sinners and we sin from our hearts. But, by the Grace of God through faith, we are also saints, forgiven of our sin because of what Christ has done for us in His death and resurrection.

Romans 7:22-25 (ESV) For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

There’s a way of limiting the meaning of the opening lines of this song to fit into this Scriptural doctrine, but the listener has to do it.

The next couple of lines are playing coy with what should be an appeal to the Gospel and this frustrates me. I’ve been lost but somehow I’ve been found. This wouldn’t be a problem if the truth of the Gospel were more clearly proclaimed in the lyric of the song somewhere. Christ “finds” us, He draws us in, He saves us. He is the Good Shepherd who leaves the 99 to rescue the one that is lost (John 10:11-18; Luke 15:1-7). We are all that one that is lost. He came to rescue us, to pick us up, throw us onto His shoulders and carry us home. We were born lost due to Adam’s sin.

The rest of the verse needs to be translated into “sin”. These lines invoke modern-day evangelical speak intended to pad the punch of the Law, to soften the conviction of sin. These days you rarely hear of Sin being our primary problem; rather, you’ll hear people go on and on about “mistakes”, “regrets”, and “poor choices”. A penitent believer will see through this rhetoric as talking around the depth of our sin and depravity if looking at it through the Law of God. However, the flesh clings to the softer tones of “oopsies” and ever seek to self-justify. This first verse is very self-centered. Considering that we had an opportunity to point to the Gospel, it didn’t happen.

Chorus. The first couple of lines are truish of the Believer, if the perspective being drawn is that of God (being outside of time and space) knew His sheep from before the creation of the world, and redeemed us from all eternity for all eternity (Hebrews 10; Revelation 13:1-8). This is heady stuff and can be expounded upon Biblically, but it also can be taken in weird directions without solid theology supporting the thoughts. Without invoking the mystery of God’s timelessness, we might be led to think of this in a way that down-plays or even overlooks the fact that we are born dead in sins and trespasses and hostile to God. For those who grew up in Christian teaching that affirms paedobaptism, this intro to the chorus might also ring true as a reminder of what God accomplished for them in the waters of Baptism. For those of you who reject sacramental Baptism, this corrective measure will not aid you.

The third line, There’s never been a day when You were not who You say You are, is objectively true.

Hebrews 13:7-9 (ESV) 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.

The chorus, though, comes right back to “me”. So the eternal quality of the Love of God ends up being invoked to say how special I am… which, at least for me, distracts from Praising God for Who He Is. Guard your hearts against this theology of glory.

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

I bring this verse up to serve as a reminder of the Message of the Gospel. It isn’t merely that God loves you; it is that He loved you despite your total wretchedness, He died in your place taking the punishment you deserve, and rising again on the Third day to forgive you of your sin, in His Name. He paid the price you couldn’t pay, to give you a forgiveness you don’t deserve. That’s the message of the Gospel. Thankfully, the next verse of the song steers a little closer to this understanding of the Gospel.

Verse 2. Closer, but the message is being conveyed subjectively, as if the singer is having a special experience or revelation of God’s grace, peace, and love. I don’t think that’s the singer’s intent, but that’s how the song reads. It’s not a song that says, “hey, this is Truth from God’s Word”; rather, it is a song that says “hey, I now see that this is how God’s been to me”. That’s a stylistic choice that seeks to carve out a “personal relationship” of Christianity in a culture that tries so hard to make all “truths” subjective. Still there are gems in this verse that are worth acknowledging:
My days are marked by grace I don’t deserve
You’ve been the price I could never pay (though I’d rather it say “You paid”, because I’m not sure what going on theologically behind the “you’ve been the price”).
Adam and Eve deserved instant death for their sin in the Garden (Genesis 3). God extended His Grace to them and to all of us who were born to them.

Verse 3. This verse is a collection of descriptors of the Greatness of the Love of God. It’s not the Gospel, but it is good news and nothing that is said here is wrong.

1 John 4:8-11 (ESV) Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.


This song doesn’t clearly present the Gospel, though it does proclaim the greatness of God’s Love. There is a narrow context where this song can be a helpful reminder of the Love of God for us, but it requires a lot of solid theology on the part of the listener/singer. With its best construction, it is still a bit self-centered rather than Christ centered. It’s not a song for the unbeliever, there is really no Law and the Gospel is implied and a bit muddled (which generally happens when you try to present Gospel without the Law). Now, for a Christian who is struggling with the gravity of their sin already, being crushed by the weight of condemnation from a different source, then this song might provide some comfort… but please share the clear Gospel of Jesus Christ to just such an individual. This song doesn’t go the full distance from despair to repentance and absolution.

2 Corinthians 13:11-14 (ESV) Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

In Christ Jesus,

Friday Sermon |The Gospel… by Dr. Rod Rosenbladt

frisermonToday I thought I’d re-post a link to a powerful lecture given by Dr. Rod Rosenbladt at Faith Lutheran Church in Capistrano Beach, CA on November 7, 2010 entitled, “The Gospel for Those Broken by the Church“.

Video available on Vimeo

Audio Only version on Youtube


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,

DiM | “To Live Is Christ” by Sidewalk Prophets

Presentation1CCM Edition.

August 30, 2016. Today we’ll be taking a look at “To Live Is Christ” by Sidewalk Prophets which currently sits at #4 on KLove’s Top 10 Songs.

This song is built around a line in Paul’s letter to the Philippians. What I really like about this song is that it reminded me of this passage of scripture. What bothers me is that it spends all of its time in lofty hypothetical narrative rather than tease out what Paul was saying in his letter. So this song could have been awesome. As it stands, I think it’s only as useful as its hearer is familiar with the first chapter of Philippians. So, we’ll dive into the text so that from here on out whenever you hear this song play on the radio, you should be all set to meditate on God’s Word directly, rather than the disjointed, vague (and slightly mystical) lines of this song.


Official Audio


Lyrics (via KLove)

If I rise, let me rise on You
Not on all my successes
My esteem or my pursuits
If I lose, let me lose my life
Cause if I belong to Jesus
The flesh is crucified

For me to live is Christ
For me to live is Christ
For me to live is Christ
To die is gain

If I grow, let me grow in You
Wilt the seeds of wanting more
Ripping pride out by the roots
If I’m still, let me hear You speak
Not the tone of my transgressions
But the song of the redeemed


My great desire is to be with You
But this is the place You chose for me
This is the place You chose for me
To lift my cross and give everything
This is the time You gave to me
This is the time You gave to me


I’ll never be the same
I’ll never be the same
For me to live is Christ
To die is gain

© 2015 Dayspring Music Publishing, LLC, Run Run Milo, Pencil Prophet Publishing (BMI) / Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Not Just Another Song Publishing (SESAC) (All rights on behalf of itself and Not Just Another Song Publishing adm. by Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC)
Written by: Ben McDonald / Dave Frey / Casey Brown / Jonathan Smith


Verse 1. The first verse is vague. There is no clear doctrine being described or supported here, just lofty hypothetical, which serves a form of verbal piety, but doesn’t seem to have an anchor. The closest we get to a Gospel nugget is the line Cause if I belong to Jesus, but it’s in the hypothetical. What does it mean to belong to Jesus? You need to rightly understand the answer to that question for this to serve any comfort. There is a connection being made to having the flesh crucified, but there’s not real meaning and there is no clear order of statements or anchor for faith so what might be presented for the assurance of salvation may also be turned as a weapon of doubt. If I point you to the Word of God and the waters of your Baptism, your assurance is in the fact that God’s Word has declared  you washed, baptized into the death and resurrection of Christ, sealed by the Holy Spirit with the Promise of Salvation to be revealed at the Last Day. I realize there is no way to say all of that in a single verse of this song, I’m just being thorough for the purpose of this medium. The lines in the song don’t present a clear anchor in baptism, or in the Promise of Salvation through Faith in God’s Word, none of that. It’s merely a hanging “if”. Now, for those of you fully assured of your salvation, you might take the next line as encouragement… until the next time you are convicted of sin and have to ask the other side of this if. There’s the doubt that needs an object of faith that lies external to ourselves, a faith on the external Word of God, not our own “perfection”. There are concerns present in most evangelical songs, the concern of where vaguely alluding to the Gospel in some way might go wonky, so that rather than lead the hearer to Christ, it simply points the hearer to himself and his emotions and abilities. Granted, lines 2+3 seem to downplay the importance of our own abilities, but only hypothetically. The song isn’t saying my actions have no value, he’s saying “let me be lifted up by You not by my successes, my esteem, or pursuits”. What does that mean? The listener has nearly free rein to give those lines meaning, which is a weakness, not a strength with regards to communicating Truth.

While we’ve looked only at concerns in some of the wording, overall the first verse is disjointed from the passage in Philippians being invoked by the chorus. The hypotheticals in the first verse are not connected to the context of Philippians.

Chorus. For me to live is Christ, To die is gain. I’m not sure the repetition here is helpful. However, this line comes from the opening chapter in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the saints in Philipi. So let’s look at that chapter and focus on it before continuing through the song.

Philippians 1 (ESV)

1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:

2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

3-11 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Paul is writing to the Church in Philippi, all the saints with the overseers and deacons. There is a bad habit in popular evangelicalism to read scripture through our American hyper-individualism. While we do have individual responsibilities within the Body of Christ, these Epistles are primarily written to the Body of Christ, not just the hands or the feet. We are all connected by the body and blood of Christ, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is how Paul is talking to this church body, their partnership in the gospel, they are all partakers with Paul in his imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. We are all one body, united in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

12-14 I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

Here, Paul is instructing the church in how to properly view the trials of this life through the lens of the Gospel. This isn’t prosperity teaching nor is it some obnoxious “power of positive confession” nonsense, this is faith in the Gospel framing a proper worldview. Paul’s imprisonment is for Christ and for the sake of His Gospel. Paul is encouraging the Philippians in this Truth.

15-26 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment.What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance,as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.

So, the first part of this section is often misused to silence any who would rebuke false teachers or seek to mark them publicly. I’ve highlighted the important phrases which highlight the key to rightly understanding the left and right limits of Paul’s statement here. Christ is being preached, Christ is being proclaimed. As long as Christ is being preached, Paul doesn’t care if those doing so are harboring some sort of ill will toward Paul, personally. It’s like saying, “yeah, I know that guy doesn’t like me, my personality, or the way I talk… but he is preaching and proclaiming Christ (rightly, is implied) so I can rejoice in the preaching of Christ and I don’t care that he’s doing it to spite me or anything”. Whenever Christ isn’t being preached rightly, Paul isn’t rejoicing in that nonsense… he’s quite aggressive, just read the letter to Galatians.

Now, noticed the line in the middle of the above passage which is where the chorus of the song is pulled. Paul goes on to explain what he means. He’s in prison, and is legitimately torn between wanting to be put to death so that he can be with Christ, but also wanting to remain so that he might be able to visit the church in Phillipi to encourage them in the LORD. He has even come to the conclusion that since his continued presence on this earth will serve the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, he’s certain he will not die in prison at this time. This is why I consider the first verse to be disjointed from this context. Could it be forced into this context? Possibly by hyper spiritualizing some of the words, but that’s doing a lot of manipulation of meaning by the listener not a natural flow of communication from the songwriter. Let’s close out the chapter and move on to the rest of the song.

27-30 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

This encouragement is to the plural “you”, all the saints in Phillipi with their overseers and deacons. Is Paul saying each and every person will be put in jail? Not necessarily, but he is saying that the church body will suffer, and a body that is united in the Gospel of Jesus Christ will share in that suffering as one body, not a loose collection of individuals.

Verse 2. I really don’t like this verse at all. It seems to be dancing around the primary fruit of the Christian Life, repentance. How does God rip out pride from us by the roots? God the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin through the preaching of the Law. How does God wilt the seeds of greed? God the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin through the preaching of the Law. How do we tone down the sound of our transgressions? Believe in the Word of God, Repent, and Be forgiven in Jesus’ Name. Those who have been Redeemed by the Grace of God through Faith in Jesus Christ sing the song of the Redeemed. How does God speak to us? Through His Written Word, not through mysticism (silent prayer, visions, goosebumps, dreams, omens, divination, horoscopes, astrology, numerology, etc). Can God speak to us directly?  Yes. Is that where God promised to meet us (direct revelation)? No. He has promised to be found in His Word, so that is where we ought always to seek Him.

Verse 3 / Bridge. Now this verse/bridge seems properly tied to the Chorus and to our Philippians text. So, I like it. It’s still vague and open-ended, but in a useful way because there is no mysticism or vaulty hypothetical… it’s left open-ended a bit so that we who are in Christ can claim this Gospel mindset for ourselves. We, the Church, are exactly where God has placed us, and that as long as we live we have an opportunity to be partakers in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, through the preaching and enduring persecution for the sake of the Gospel.


If we can focus on the instruction of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 1, we can rightly enjoy the chorus and the bridge (or last verse) of this song. The other two verses are throw-away verses, really. So this song lands in the upper level of the middle-ground. Please remember that the final disposition of the song (Approved/Disapproved) is not the main focus of these DiM posts, the point is to go through the exercise of evaluating the lyric of what is being put forward as “Christian” music. We are looking for proclamation of Christ in all that bears the label “Christian”. When we find it, we rejoice. When we don’t, we lament.

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,