Heart of Worship – More Than Emotion

trebleclefIn our DiM posts, we come down hard on the focus on emotionalism that permeates Evangelical Christian Music. It is the biggest problem with so-called Worship music being pushed by Bethel, Hillsong, Vineyard, and even Integrity Music. While visiting a small local church-plant recently, I realized that something needs to be said of why this genre of music is so compelling, especially to growing churches, and to recognize its well-intentioned though misapplied reasoning. The idea being that if we can stir our hearts to experience a deeply felt emotional love for God, then we are worshiping God with our hearts and that is pleasing to Him. The intent of “worshiping God with our emotions” sounds good, but it is misguided and carnal.

The Summation of the Law

I think it best to begin at the beginning, so let us remember the Law of God. Jesus was asked what is the great commandment in the Law. Let’s see His answer below:

Matthew 22:36-40 (ESV)

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

Now, modern-day evangelicalism likes to confuse this summation of the Law (on these two commandments depend all the Law…) for the Gospel. “Love God, Love Neighbor” is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ… it is the Law. None of us live up to this law. Only Jesus Christ fulfilled this Law. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is that our entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven will be by His fulfillment of the Law imputed to us by Grace, through Faith in Jesus Christ. Does this mean the Law is no of no use to us? Absolutely not! Let’s look at what Paul puts together in Eph 2:8-10:

Ephesians 2:8-10 (ESV)

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

By Grace, through faith, we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared for us to walk in. How do we know what is a good work? The Law. So you see, while no amount of law-keeping can grant saving faith… Faith received as a Gift of God will lead us into good works prepared in Christ Jesus. This is the focus of the book of James, that a faith that does not lead us into good works in Christ Jesus is not true faith.

James 1:19-27 (ESV) | Hearing and Doing the Word

19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. 26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

James 2:14-26 (ESV) | Faith Without Works Is Dead

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

18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

You don’t get true faith by doing good deeds, you get it by hearing the Word of Christ (Rom 10:12-17) and receiving with meekness the implanted word (Matt 13:23 ESV). It is the Word of God that produces faith, and that faith should produce fruit. How much fruit will depend on your maturity and the extend to which you’ve died to your flesh, because until the Great Day of Christ’s return we continue to walk in bodies of sinful flesh and have been charged to take up our crosses daily.

Notice the focus in the Apostolic teaching is on faith, not on emotion. Neither Paul nor James calls Christians to whipping up an emotional experience of love. Our flesh has its own definition of “love”, and the world usually focuses on the feel-good emotion or physical displays of affection. God defines Love differently:

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (ESV) Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

Love isn’t an emotion; love is a Character trait, a fruit of the Spirit of God. Emotions come and go… Love never ends. Where do emotions fit in the fruit of the Spirit of God? Self-control.

Our Hearts of Flesh

Let’s talk about the condition of the heart of mankind. To put it bluntly, our hearts are wicked, idolatrous, and adulterous. We are in-fact defiled by what flows from our sinful hearts.

Matthew 15:10-20 (ESV) | What Defiles a Person

And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”

Romans 1:18-25 (ESV) | God’s Wrath on Unrighteousness

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

Now, when the Spirit of the Living God regenerates us by the Grace of God, granting us saving faith in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, our flesh yet remains and must be daily crucified in repentance until the Day of the Return of our Lord Jesus Christ. Do we have the power to change our sinful hearts? No. King David knew this, and spent a great deal of time in prayer asking the Lord to change his heart. Probably the most prominent expression of this Truth, that we need God to cleanse our hearts, is Psalm 51.

Can We Worship With Our Emotions?

When we read through the Old Testament prescriptions for Worship, we see sacrifices, statutes, and ordinances for the People of God keep in Worship of the One True God. Many like to point to the exuberant praise of King David before Lord in 2 Samuel 6:16-23. Clearly, David’s worship was received by the Lord, and Michal was made barren for her judgement against David. But we don’t see Jesus or His disciples demonstrating such worship in the New Testament. I point this out, not to say that such worship is off-limits, but to make a point that worship remains, even when such emotional exuberance is missing or subdued. In fact, had David’s heart NOT been in the right place, his exuberance would not have been received as worship. There will be times when your emotions fall in line with your worship… and it is awesome. However, there are times when our emotions will fly completely against our worship, such as when Abraham was told to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice of worship to God. If the key to right worship were found in the emotions, Abraham would have failed. Praise be to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that our emotions are not the key to right worship; rather, it is by faith that our worship can be pleasing in His sight.

Hebrews 11:4-6 (ESV) By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

How Do We Worship With Our Hearts?

Firstly, we need to adjust our understanding of what the Scriptures mean when our hearts are being referenced. It isn’t just your emotions. Your heart is the core of your being. David charged his son to value Wisdom in Proverbs 2. Let’s take a look at how he references the heart.

Proverbs 2:1-15 (ESV) | The Value of Wisdom

My son, if you receive my words
    and treasure up my commandments with you,
making your ear attentive to wisdom
    and inclining your heart to understanding;
yes, if you call out for insight
    and raise your voice for understanding,
if you seek it like silver
    and search for it as for hidden treasures,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
    and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
    from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;
he stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
    he is a shield to those who walk in integrity,
guarding the paths of justice
    and watching over the way of his saints.
Then you will understand righteousness and justice
    and equity, every good path;
10 for wisdom will come into your heart,
    and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;
11 discretion will watch over you,
    understanding will guard you,
12 delivering you from the way of evil,
    from men of perverted speech,
13 who forsake the paths of uprightness
    to walk in the ways of darkness,
14 who rejoice in doing evil
    and delight in the perverseness of evil,
15 men whose paths are crooked,
    and who are devious in their ways.

The thrust of the first several proverbs is growing in Wisdom, Knowledge, and Understanding so that the man of God will walk in the paths of righteousness. That growth comes from inclining the heart to understanding, and seeking the wisdom of God and receiving that wisdom in the heart. David isn’t just talking about emotions, he’s talking about studying, memorizing, meditating, and walking in the Word of God.

Conclusion

When it comes to corporate worship, our focus should NOT be on our emotions; rather, it should be on the Word of the Lord. Whether or not we feel that ‘puppy-love’ gushing of euphoria… we are called to worship God in Spirit and in Truth. The songs we sing, the confessions of our mouth, should be in accordance with Scripture. The world knows how to manipulate emotions… and the evangelicalism has attempted to short-cut maturity in spiritual growth by focusing on emotional manipulation disguised as “worship”. Such carnal focus only serves the worshiper’s felt needs and does not edify the church. Singing songs about how you are dancing, singing, crying, embracing, and worshiping doesn’t actually lead to Worship. There are no short-cuts… it’s time to get back to the heart of worship.

Romans 12:1-2 (ESV) | A Living Sacrifice

12 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Faith in Christ Jesus gets you there… not emotion. May the Grace of God abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “Forever” by Kari Jobe

Presentation1Today is another “Discernment in Music” (DiM) day here at Faithful Stewardship (2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)).

August 20, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Forever” by Kari Jobe which currently sits at #7 on the KLove top 10.

This is another cross-over song written for corporate worship that is very popular on Christian radio. This song does not call the hearer to repentance, but it is a song of declaration of a crucified and risen King, Jesus Christ. Overall, this song has some good stuff. It is full of emotional power, my eyes well up with tears each time I hear the song played… and since I keep the song on repeat as I work through these DiM posts… you may assume that my face is streaked with tears. I’m okay with that. Oh, how I wish there was a call to repent and be forgiven in Jesus’ Name. Without the call to repent and be forgiven… the theology behind the songwriters reflects Bethel’s Kingdom theology… which is to be avoided. Bethel teaches heretical Christology. Here, we will redirect whatever false theology lay behind the intent of the song, and re-frame it in Biblical theology. Jesus Christ overcame sin and death, so that we might repent of our sin and be forgiven in Jesus’ Name, for He bore the wrath of punishment for our sin upon the cross, and by faith in Him we might be granted the righteousness of Christ, imputed to us by an act of God’s Grace.

VEVO Lyric Video

Lyrics (via Air1.com)

Kari Jobe – Forever Lyrics

The moon and stars they wept
The morning sun was dead
The Savior of the world was fallen
His body on the cross
His blood poured out for us
The weight of every curse was broken

One final breath He gave
As Heaven looked away
The Son of God was laid in darkness
A battle in the grave
The war on death was waged
The power of hell forever broken

The ground began to shake
The stone was rolled away
His perfect love could not be overcome
Now death where is your sting
Our resurrected King has rendered you defeated

Forever, He is glorified
Forever, He is lifted high
Forever, He is risen
He is alive
He is alive

Publishing: © 2013 Bethel Music Publishing (ASCAP) / Worship Together Music (BMI) (Admin. at CapitolCMGPublishing.com)
Writer(s): Kari Jobe, Brian Johnson, Jennifer Johnson, Gabriel Wilson, Joel Taylor, and Christa Black Gifford

Discussion

The first verse declares the death of Jesus Christ on the cross.

Luke 23:39-47 (ESV) | The Death of Jesus

39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” 44 It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. 47 Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!”

Amen. But Jesus was not left in the grave.

Luke 24:1-7 (ESV) | The Resurrection

24 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb,taking the spices they had prepared. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. 5 And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.

The second verse of the song portrays Matthew’s account of the resurrection.

Matthew 28:1-7 (ESV) | The Resurrection

28 Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.”

Now, onto what is missing from the song… why did Jesus come, live, die, and rise again from the grave? For that, let us go to Peter’s sermon in Acts 2.

Acts 2:22-41 (ESV)

22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him,

“‘I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;
26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
my flesh also will dwell in hope.
27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
or let your Holy One see corruption.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
35     until I make your enemies your footstool.”’

36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

Now, I do have some minor concerns with some of the wording in parts of the song. The third line in the song describes the Savior as fallen, and we generally associate the word fallen with sinful. That is not what is being conveyed here. The picture here is one of a fallen soldier, one who has died on the battle field. Christ died and in that death He secured Victory for all eternity. This doesn’t detract from the song, but I worry that someone might wrongly use this as a disqualifier for the song, so I wanted to address it openly.

There is a portion in the second verse that asserts that Christ fought a battle in the grave. Bethel teaches some crazy mysticism and heretical Christology, so there is probably a lot of bad teaching driving this, but as I read the scriptures, the battle was won on the cross, when our Lord and Savior declared It is finished. The Resurrection is further proof of Who He Is, and awaits all of those whose names are Written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. One final point is that of death. The all will still taste the first death, and then the judgment. We who are in Christ will not taste the second death, which is reserved for the demons and the unbelievers.

Conclusion

For the most part, what is present in the song is very good. The song is incomplete as far as the Gospel goes. The context of the song as written is dubious, given its connection to Bethel. If your church is performing this song, I pray the Doctrine preached in your church is sound and sharply contrasted against Bethel’s false teaching.

Romans 15:13 (ESV) 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “Even So Come” by Kristian Stanfill

Presentation1Today is “Discernment in Music” (DiM) day here at Faithful Stewardship (2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)).

August 18, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Even So Come” by Kristian Stanfill which currently sits at #15 on 20theCountdownMagazine’s top 20 and at #2 on the KLove top 10.

This is another cross-over song written for corporate worship that is very popular on in Christian radio. This song serves no purpose for the unbelieving hearer, it is meant as a song of declaration of anticipation for the return of Jesus Christ for His Bride, the Church. We’ll discuss the merits of the song in that vein, to see how to best equip the believing Christian for maintaining a Gospel focus grounded in Biblical Truth. Overall, this song has some good stuff. The further removed from Passion/Hillsong the better, since their theology regarding the Church, the Kingdom of Heaven, Presence theology, and Word of Faith is aberrant. Whatever good can be found in this song, I strongly discourage anyone from accepting Hillsong theology.

PassionVEVO Lyric/Chords Video

Lyrics (via Air1.com)

Kristian Stanfill – Even So Come Lyrics
From the album Passion: Even So Come

All of creation
All of the earth
Make straight a highway
A path for the Lord
Jesus is coming soon

Call back the sinner
Wake up the saint
Let every nation shout of Your fame
Jesus is coming soon

Like a bride waiting for her groom
We’ll be a Church ready for You
Every heart longing for our King
We sing
Even so come
Lord Jesus, come

Even so come
Lord Jesus, come

There will be justice
All will be new
Your name forever
Faithful and true
Jesus is coming soon

Like a bride waiting for her groom
We’ll be a Church ready for You
Every heart longing for our King
We sing
Even so come
Lord Jesus, come

Even so come
Lord Jesus, come

So we wait
We wait for You
God, we wait
You’re coming soon

So we wait
We wait for You
God, we wait
You’re coming soon

Like a bride waiting for her groom
We’ll be a Church ready for You
Every heart longing for our King
We sing

Like a bride waiting for her groom
We’ll be a Church ready for You
Every heart longing for our King
We sing

Even so come
Lord Jesus, come

Even so come
Lord Jesus, come

Even so come
Lord Jesus, come

Even so come
Lord Jesus, come

Publishing: © 2015 sixsteps Songs // Worship Together Music // S.D.G. Publishing (BMI) (Admin. by CapitolCMGPublishing.com) // Vistaville Music obo Itself / Go Mia Music / Chrissamsongs Inc. (ASCAP) // Sony/ATV Timber Publishing // Open Hands Music (SESAC)
Writer(s): Chris Tomlin, Jess Cates and Jason Ingram

Discussion

To begin, it is important to note that this song is not written for the unbeliever. There is no Law/Gospel, Sin/Grace, Repentance/Forgiveness… this song does not convey the Gospel message for the unbeliever. For that, it will not get an overall Approval. The song’s message gets a little bit scattered after the first time through the chorus. Rather than a unified message, it sort of bounces between loosely related  verses, sometimes sung to God, sometimes sung to believers, so it can easily become awash in experiential emotionalism, so that bears some guarding.

That aside, as a song intended for believers to focus on the imminent return of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, I think it is quite good. Let’s work through the themes of the song and focus on the passages of Scripture being invoked.

Make straight a highway, a path for the Lord. The Prophets in the Old Testament often called Israel to repentance in light of the Promised Messiah of the Lord God. Probably the most often remembered passage comes from Isaiah 40.

Isaiah 40:1-5 (ESV) | Comfort for God’s People

40 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
    and cry to her
that her warfare is ended,
    that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the Lord‘s hand
    double for all her sins.

A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
    make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
    and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
    and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
    and all flesh shall see it together,
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Now, for the unbeliever, this is at-best a prophecy of “the end”, when God will finally be revealed. For those who have believed in the Name of Jesus Christ, we know this to be a prophetic call to repentance. If I may, we find similar words of comfort connected to repentance in Isaiah 57.

Isaiah 57:12-21 (ESV)

12 I will declare your righteousness and your deeds,
    but they will not profit you.
13 When you cry out, let your collection of idols deliver you!
    The wind will carry them all off,
    a breath will take them away.
But he who takes refuge in me shall possess the land
    and shall inherit my holy mountain.

14 And it shall be said,
“Build up, build up, prepare the way,
    remove every obstruction from my people’s way.”
15 For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
    who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
    and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
    and to revive the heart of the contrite.
16 For I will not contend forever,
    nor will I always be angry;
for the spirit would grow faint before me,
    and the breath of life that I made.
17 Because of the iniquity of his unjust gain I was angry,
    I struck him; I hid my face and was angry,
    but he went on backsliding in the way of his own heart.
18 I have seen his ways, but I will heal him;
    I will lead him and restore comfort to him and his mourners,
19     creating the fruit of the lips.
Peace, peace, to the far and to the near,” says the Lord,
    “and I will heal him.
20 But the wicked are like the tossing sea;
    for it cannot be quiet,
    and its waters toss up mire and dirt.
21 There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.”

The Promise of restoration, comfort, healing, and peace. The rest of our Lord Jesus Christ. We who are of the household of faith will enter into that rest. There is, however, no peace for the wicked.

Like a bride waiting for her groom… Here is where we need to pay attention to our theology and discern what is Biblical and what isn’t. Hillsong (and many others) push a “Kingdom” theology that declares the present church is the bride of Christ and we have a role to play in ushering in the Return of Jesus Christ. This is a false narrative. We have no part to play in spurring on the return of bridegroom; rather, our task is to be dressed in readiness and to keep our lamps lit (Luke 12:35). Hillsong hijacks the promises of God and twists them to promote their services or “worship experiences”. The end of the song with the repeating “even so come, Lord Jesus come” ends up falling into Hillsong’s presence theology, the idea that the point of worship is to invite the Holy Spirit to manifest in the church service in an emotional way… because Hillsong is a cash-cow selling an emotional high while calling it worship. The key to having the right perspective in all of this is asking one simple question… Who is preparing the Bride for her King?

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

21 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.” 10 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, 11 having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12 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— 13 on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. 14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

15 And the one who spoke with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. 16 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. 17 He also measured its wall, 144 cubits by human measurement, which is also an angel’s measurement. 18 The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 19 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, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. 21 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.

22 And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23 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. 24 By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, 25 and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. 26 They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 27 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.

God prepares the Bride, the Church of Jesus Christ. It is God who does the work, it is the Alpha and Omega who declares ‘It is done’! and it is He who allows the thirsty to drink without payment. Hillsong preaches a man-centric, works-based, theology that exalts the Hillsong brand. They are not the only ones who peddle in this false doctrine, but they are the single most influential music mogul in the world, and it is important that we recognize the theology that fuels their music. The Church has her marching orders, expressly laid out through the New Testament. Preach the Word, grow in the knowledge of Christ, keep the faith. What we’ve read in Revelation 21 isn’t about what the church is doing… or going to do… it is about what God is doing and Will do. With that in mind, let us read the last chapter of the book.

Revelation 22 (ESV) | The River of Life

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

Jesus Is Coming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is my prayer, that as the song plays on the radio and repeats the refrain, “Even so come Lord Jesus, come…” that it will be this passage you meditate on. Our Lord is coming back, and He will make all things new.

Luke 12:35-40 (ESV) | You Must Be Ready

35 “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, 36 and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them.38 If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! 39 But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

Conclusion

The song bears a great proclamation of the Promise of our Savior… He is coming soon. Be ready, bear the fruit in keeping with repentance, and walk according to the Spirit by faith in Christ Jesus.

Romans 15:13 (ESV) 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “Cast My Cares” by Finding Favour

Presentation1Today is “Discernment in Music” (DiM) day here at Faithful Stewardship (2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)).

August 11, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Cast My Cares” by Finding Favour which currently sits at #16 on 20theCountdownMagazine’s top 20 and at #10 on the KLove top 10.

This song is a goal-setting motivational song. The goal is scriptural for Christians. Unfortunately, the song doesn’t provide any indication in how to achieve the goal, nor does it share the Gospel or call people to repentance. It doesn’t stand on its own, but I think if we take some time to study what God’s Word says, we can make the best of hearing this song played the radio. Let’s give it a listen, examine the lyrics, and then search the Scriptures for the clarity this song sorely lacks.

Official Lyric Video

Lyrics (via Air1.com)

Finding Favour – Cast My Cares Lyrics

When fear feels bigger than my faith
And struggles steal my breath away

When my back’s pressed up against the wall
With the weight of my worries stacked up tall
You’re strong enough to hold it all

I will cast my cares on You
You’re the anchor of my hope
The only one who’s in control
I will cast my cares on You
I’ll trade the troubles of this world
For Your peace inside my soul

This war’s not what I would’ve chosen
But You see the future no one knows yet

And there’s still good when I can’t
See the working of Your hands
You’re holding it all

I will cast my cares on You
You’re the anchor of my hope
The only one who’s in control
I will cast my cares on You
I’ll trade the troubles of this world
For Your peace inside my soul

I’m finding there’s freedom
When I lay it all on Your shoulders

Cast my cares
I will
Cast my cares
I will
Cast my cares on You

Publishing: © 2014 Universal Music – Brentwood Benson Publishing (ASCAP) / Songs Of Emack (ASCAP). All rights for the world on behalf of Universal Music – Brentwood Benson Publishing and Songs Of Emack administered by CapitolCMGPublishing.com. Sony/ATV Timber Publishing/Not Just Another Song Music (SESAC). Shivel Songs a div of Daywind Music Publishing/Sesac (admin. by ClearBox Rights).
Writer(s): Blake NeeSmith, Casy Brown & Sam Tinnesz

Discussion

Let’s knock out the obvious… this song doesn’t bear any Gospel message. There is no call to repentance. No mention of sin. It doesn’t even clearly identify the “You”. This song most assuredly does not stand on its own. If this song is to have any value or provide any degree of encouragement, it must be heard by Christians with solid theology. The allusions to Scripture are so pale that they can be hijacked by the most amateur false teacher. Nevertheless, this song can be an encouragement for one who has a good foundation of solid theology, and for that it does not get a flat-out disapproval.

I think the best place to begin this discussion is in Peter’s letter to the Church. We are going to look at the closing chapter of his first letter, because in his closing he is leaving general marching orders to the Church. These apply to us directly, so let us examine what the Holy Spirit wrote via the Apostle Peter:

1 Peter 5 (ESV) | Shepherd the Flock of God

So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Final Greetings

12 By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it.13 She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son.14 Greet one another with the kiss of love.

Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

Peter first addresses the Elders of the Church, and he includes himself as their fellow elder.  He then addresses the need for the younger ones to be subject to the elders. Peter than shifts to “all of you” for his exhortation. Notice that Peter begins the command to Humble ourselves… casting all our anxieties on [God], because He cares for us. Is it not pride / arrogance / selfishness that motivates us to insist that we do things on our own, carry loads we weren’t meant to carry, and refuse help? Notice something else here… Peter begins with humbling ourselves, flows into casting our anxieties upon God because He cares for us, and then moves directly into resisting the devil. James also put these things together in his letter.

James 4:1-10 (ESV) | Warning Against Worldliness

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

Now James was addressing different issues, but notice the submission to God, humbling of ourselves, purifying our hearts of double-mindedness (Someone who doubts God James 1:5-8). The connection to our song is right here, I think, in the purifying of our hearts of doubt and holding on by faith as the intersection with what Peter described as casting our anxieties on God. The heart of a double-minded man is filled with anxiety and tossed by the seas of circumstance. Let us look to one more passage of Scripture found in the letter to the Philippians from the Apostle Paul. Again, we’ll be looking at the concluding portion of the letter, beginning in verse 1 of Chapter 4:

Philippians 4:1-9 (ESV) | Exhortation, Encouragement, and Prayer

Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

So much good stuff in this passage. I want to start with the highlighted portion… The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious… That’s vital. It isn’t just an empty imperative or command to “stop being anxious”, not at all… it flows as a result of the acknowledgement of the Truth that the Lord is indeed at hand. Read it as you did Peter’s exhortation to cast your cares on [God], because He cares for you. The Lord is at hand. You are not alone, you are not on your own, it isn’t your burden to carry… put your faith in Him and purify your heart of doubt (double-mindedness).

We see something else here in Paul’s conclusion that can help us in our next step… searching for the “how” in casting our cares upon God. Paul doesn’t begin with the “thou shall not be anxious”… he begins with rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Don’t make this a commandment as in “be happy or else!” because just as we saw in verse 6, Paul is making this commandment a reflection of the previous statement whose names are in the book of life. Yes, at the Resurrection every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, but Paul is urging us to rejoice always (x2) in knowing that our names are written in the book of life. We are to rejoice in the Grace God has shown toward us in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. By faith we have been redeemed and our names have been written in the book of life. Rejoice in that, brothers and sisters in Christ. The Lord is at hand… cast your cares on Him. In everything… by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving make your requests to God. Prayer and supplication require humbling yourself in the sight of the Lord. In verse 7, we see that the peace of God will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ… from whom? The devil and his temptation. We are not to be ignorant but vigilant and sober-minded, as Peter wrote. That brings us the finally of Paul’s exhortation… think about these things.

We are not ignorant of the trials and tribulations that lie ahead… in fact, we are to count it all joy (James 1). But we know that it isn’t by our strength or might that we are to face these challenges; rather, we are to cast our cares on the Lord who is at hand, because He cares for us. Rejoice in the Gospel of Grace, think on whatever is praiseworthy, and the God of peace will guard our hearts.

Conclusion

The song doesn’t stand on its own, but for those who are in Christ Jesus, it can be a reminder that we are to humble ourselves before God, casting our cares and anxieties upon Him, and trusting in Him in everything. There are some other nuggets than can be fleshed out, but I think we’ve covered the heart of the intent of the song here. Think on these things, trusting in Him who paid the price of our sin, suffered and died on a cross, rose from the dead, ascended into Heaven, and Promised to return once more.

Romans 15:13 (ESV) 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Friday Sermon | Worldliness / Godliness by Matt Chandler

MattChandlerIt has been some time since we last visited the Village Church for a sermon given by Matt Chandler. They are still in their series on the book of James. Today, we’ll be watching part 8 in the series entitled Worldliness / Godliness.

If we can have real talk with one another today, we are really perverted, dark people. We really are! Look at me. If we thought we could get away with it, we would do the most horrific of things. If we thought we could get away with it, that there would be no cost here and now and there was no judgment to come, we would give ourselves over to the most deplorable, dark things imaginable. That’s exactly what happens when you walk in false wisdom, because there’s no truth except what you decide is true. There’s no end except your personal happiness. Regardless of who gets destroyed, who gets heartbroken, who gets left behind, you’re going to be happy, and that’s false wisdom. The Bible says it ends not just with a life of conflict but also with eternal damnation. Maybe you’re a guest, and you’re like, “Oh surely you don’t believe in that archaic eternal damnation nonsense.” No, I believe the holiness of God is so serious that rebellion against it would require such, and that the punishment fits the crime. Then James also contrasts false wisdom with true wisdom. True wisdom categorically embraces God is for God, and the commands of God in Scripture are about leading me into life for his glory. What God wants for me in his commands is for me to surrender to his kingship, to his lordship, to lead me into the fullest possible life for the praise of his glorious grace. How is God most primarily about God? By growing joy in my soul toward him, like a happy marriage would encourage a confidence in the institution of marriage in those around it. This is what James says, that we have eternity in view. Those who walk in true wisdom have eternity in view. We do understand there is more coming. As the apostle Paul would argue in the midst of his suffering, his current suffering isn’t worthy to be compared to the future glory. I heard a man one time say the first second of glory will make years of suffering vanish. The first second would make years of suffering vanish. (ref: The Village Church Sermon Transcript)

Sermon Video

http://www.thevillagechurch.net/resources/sermons/detail/worldliness–godliness/

Sermon Transcript

http://media.thevillagechurch.net/sermons/transcripts/201504191115FMWC21ASAAA_MattChandler_JamesPt8-WorldlinessGodliness.pdf

Sermon Text

James 4:1-12 (ESV) | Warning Against Worldliness

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

Have a blessed weekend, and I pray you are encouraged by this sermon.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge