DiM | “My Story” by Big Daddy Weave

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

September 15, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “My Story” by Big Daddy Weave which currently sits at #18 on 20theCountdownMagazine’s top 20.

The last review we did of a Big Daddy Weave song was “Overwhelmed“. I’m quite pleased to present this song today. This is an excellent song with Law and Gospel, sin and Grace. This song has our approval. I still would like to see a reference to repentance, but the song does stand on its own. I enjoyed listening to this song several times.

BDW Official Music Video

 

Lyrics (via KLove)

My Story

If I told you my story
You would hear hope that wouldn’t let go
If I told you my story
You would hear love that never gave up
If I told you my story
You would hear life but it wasn’t mine
If I should speak then let it be

Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
To tell you my story is to tell of Him

If I told you my story
You would hear victory over the enemy
If told you my story
You would hear freedom that was won for me
If I told you my story
You would hear life overcome the grave
If I should speak then let it be

This is my story this is my song praising my Savior all the day long

Publishing: © 2015 Word Music, LLC, Weave Country (ASCAP) / Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Open Hands Music (SESAC) (All rights on behalf of itself and Open Hands Music adm. by Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC)
Writers: Mike Weaver / Jason Ingram

Discussion

I have to admit, that when I first heard this on the radio, I was worried by the first line. My first thought was, “oh, boy… they are pushing the whole ‘your story might be the only gospel some people read’ nonsense”. I was so relieved to hear the chorus, though.

To tell you my story is to tell of Him.  The song reads as a response to someone asking the singer, “what’s your story”… or in a church setting, being asked to “share your testimony”. We took a look a while back at what it means to give a testimony. Some might still twist the meaning of this song into a suggestion that telling others about ourselves is the same thing as giving a testimony about God, such twisting should be easy to spot and correct. The focus should be on man’s sinfulness and Christ’s finished work on the cross.

I love the pre-chorus line, “If I should speak then let be” and how it leads right into the Chorus.

The Bridge is a refrain from the Hymn “Blessed Assurance” by Francis J Crosby (1873). Let us take a look at our assurance as recorded in the book of Hebrews, chapter 10.

Hebrews 10:11-18 (ESV) | Christ’s Sacrifice Once for All

11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,

16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,”

17 then he adds,

“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”

18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.

Hebrews 10:18-25 (ESV) | The Full Assurance of Faith

19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Amen. Now, the writer of Hebrews was quoting from the Prophet Jeremiah. Let’s check that out, too.

Jeremiah 31:31-34 (ESV) | The New Covenant

31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

That’s awesome. You see, the New Testament teaches us how to read the Old Testament, to see Christ in all of it. Jesus is our assurance of salvation, by Grace, through Faith.

Ephesians 2:1-10 (ESV) | By Grace Through Faith

1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 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— 3 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.4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 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.

Conclusion

I think this song is much stronger than “Overwhelmed” and I’d really like to see this song stick around a while. The Church still needs to do a better job of cleaning up our language whenever we talk about “giving our testimony”. Too often it becomes an excuse to brag as the foolish do (2 Corinthians 11) and point to themselves and their own accomplishments. That isn’t a testimony. We who are called as witnesses of the Grace of God are to testify of His Mercy and Grace to us in the suffering at the cross, the propitiation for our sin.

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 | “First” by Lauren Daigle

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

August 25, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “First” by Lauren Daigle which currently sits at #15 on 20theCountdownMagazine’s top 20 and at #8 on the KLove top 10.

Let me begin by first acknowledging just how powerful and mesmerizing Lauren’s voice… particularly in the chorus of this song. To make the jump from the verse to the high note of “First” in the chorus is difficult, and she absolutely nails it. I get chills during the chorus, her voice is that awesome. I am also a fan of the break-beat techno feel. But we are here to discuss the lyrics. The song is vague, and the best construction we can put on it is a song of expressing a desire to feel a certain way about (we assume) God. Let’s listen to the song, read through the lyrics, and discuss.

LaurenDaigleVEVO Lyric Video

Lyrics (via KLove)

First by Lauren Daigle

Before I bring my need
I will bring my heart
Before I lift my cares
I will lift my arms
I wanna know You
I wanna find You
In every season
In every moment
Before I bring my need
I will bring my heart
And seek You

(chorus)
First
I want to seek You
I want to seek You
First
I want to keep You
I want to keep You
First
More than anything I want, I want You
First

Before I speak a word
Let me hear Your voice
And in the midst of pain
Let me feel Your joy
I wanna know You
I wanna find You
In every season
In every moment
Before I speak a word
I will bring my heart
And seek You

(chorus)
First
I want to seek You
I want to seek You
First
I want to keep You
I want to keep You
First
More than anything I want, I want You
First

(bridge)
You are my treasure and my reward
Let nothing ever come before
You are my treasure and my reward
Let nothing ever come before
I seek You

(chorus)
First
First
I want to seek You
I want to seek You
First
I want to keep You
I want to keep You
First
More than anything I want, I want You
First
First

Publishing: © 2014 CentricSongs (SESAC) / Sony ATV Timber Publishing (SESAC) / Sony ATV Timber Publishing & Open Hands Music (SESAC) / Sony/ATV Tree Publishing & Upside Down Under (BMI) / Sony/ATV Cross Keys Publishing & Bentley Street Songs (ASCAP)
Writer(s): Words and Music by Lauren Daigle, Paul Mabury, Jason Ingram, Mia Fieldes and Hank Bentley

Discussion

The song does not clearly identify who the “You” is. Sure, most would assume the God of the Bible, but why do we make that assumption? Because of the station that is playing the song, or because of what we think we know about Lauren Delaigle… but there is nothing in this song pointing there. In truth, there isn’t anything in this song that would distinguish between the Mormon god and the God of the Bible.

Even when we assume the audience of the song to be the One True God of the Bible, the focus of the lyric is not the audience; rather, the focus is on the singer. The entire song is a chain of vocalized desire. The desire is to want/seek the right things, namely to keep God (assumed) first in the singer’s life. It is a desire to keep the Law.

Matthew 22:36-40 (ESV)

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 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. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

 Now, the song’s hook comes more from a different passage of scripture.

Matthew 6:25-33 (ESV) | Do Not Be Anxious

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

This is the Law of God, seek Him first. As sinful, fleshly beings, we cannot in our own strength/zeal fulfill or keep this Law. It is by Grace through Faith that we are justified in Christ Jesus.

Romans 3:10-20 (ESV)

10 as it is written:

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

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

We sin, we fall short, even as believers. The unbelieving world is lost and bears the guilt of their sin fully. We pray that they might hear the Word of Christ and have their ears opened by the Holy Spirit so that they might come to penitent faith in Christ. For those who believe, we understand that while we desire to keep the Law, we must daily seek forgiveness for falling short of it.

Luke 9:18-23 (ESV)

18 Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” 19 And they answered,“John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.” 20 Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.” 21 And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, 22 saying,“The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” 23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

Romans 6:1-11 (ESV) | Dead to Sin, Alive to God

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.For one who has died has been set free from sin.Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

1 John 1:5-10 (ESV) | Walking in the Light

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

Amen. Now we have clearly explored the Law of seeking God first, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ that grants us forgiveness and Grace to walk in newness of life. Within this context, the song can serve as a motivational cheerleader of sorts… kind of like “B-E Aggressive” motivates football players on the field.

Conclusion

The song is vague and doesn’t remotely stand on its own. It doesn’t bring Glory to God, it’s a bit pious and empty without infusing a lot of Biblical context. I hope we’ve been able to provide some for the listener. In its best light, the song is an appeal to Law… don’t lose sight of the Gospel.

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 | “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

Christmas in Context: Waiting for the consolation of Israel…

Photo by Geoff Robinson

Alec Garrard, 78, has dedicated a massive 33,000 hours to constructing the ancient Herod’s Temple

Luke 2:25(NIV)
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him.

No doubt there were many in Jerusalem longing for the consolation of Israel. How long would Israel have to suffer occupation?

Now Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the town of David. Not far from Jerusalem… could there have been some stirring, some rumors, of some shepherds who were tending their flocks by night (Lk 2:8)? I’m thinking that there indeed were many a report, and that the temple was quite a buzz. Given Herod’s paranoia, I imagine the temple courts were filled with a sort of hushed excitement. No doubt teachers and scribes were searching the prophets…

Isaiah 9:2-7 (NIV)
2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.
3 You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder.
4 For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor.
5 Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.
6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.

The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

Those who looked to the Prophet Isaiah likely focused on the underlined portion above. Israel was hurting, a shadow of the kingdom it once was. Isaiah also Prophesied that the divided kingdoms that threatened Judah would be laid to waste and then Judah would be handed over to Assyria (Is 7:14-17). There were many who looked to rebellion/insurgency to fight for Israel’s freedom from occupation… perhaps looking for God to follow the redemption of the past when He would raise up a mighty man who would serve as Judge? But Israel rejected God’s Judges, and rejected His rule and asked for a king. There were others who sought political power and favor with Rome to secure for Israel a sense of freedom, to preserve their ways (while historical accounts outside the Bible attest to this, such a mentality is revealed in the Sanhedren in John 11:45-53). Herod took it upon himself to appoint his own High Priest. It was not long before the birth of Jesus that the Temple was defiled and desecrated. All this is simply to say that since the descendents of Jacob had long stopped going to God for their answers (a rebuke against Israel and Judah in Is 8:19-20) they would become a people stumbling in the darkness (leading into Is 9). The Pharisees and Sadducees were the closest thing to leadership Israel had left. No Judges, no kings, and the prophets have been silent for nearly 400 years. Yet the religious leaders of the day were not in right standing with God. God chose to reveal the announcement of the fulfillment of Is 9:6 to Shepherds rather than the Priests, scholars, and scribes. Even the Magi from the east knew to how to identify the fulfillment of the prophecy in Micah 5:2, that out of Bethlehem would be born the ruler over Israel, “whose origins are from of old, from ancient times”.  But not everyone was in the dark… and Luke kept a record of 2 who were eagerly awaiting the promise of God… the Messiah.

A man called Simeon

Luke 2:21-35 (NIV)
21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.
22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”

33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

Simeon knew who he saw brought into the Temple courts that day. He knew what was prophesied of Him who would bring salvation. He knew this Jesus was the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace. And Simeon was ready to be laid to rest… in peace. But Simeon was not alone, Praise God. Just as Simeon had finished Praising God, and speaking blessing over Mary and Joseph, there came another who was waiting faithfully upon the Lord…

A prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel

Luke 2:36-38 (NIV)
36 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

How cool is God? A man and a woman of God were waiting in the Temple Courts to see the redemption of Jerusalem, the consolation of Israel, the Revelation to the Gentiles… the Salvation of Man. I’m sure they both spread the word, as did the shepherds. So what happened? How could this young family have had any peace? Well, if you’ll remember the account in Matthew 2, the Magi came to Jerusalem looking for the one who is born King of the Jews. We don’t know exactly how old Jesus was when the Magi found Him, we just know that they were no longer in the manger; rather, they were now in a house. God sends warning to Joseph to flee to Egypt, and warns the Magi to avoid returning to Herod. So what squashed what would have been the biggest news in Israel? It was not yet Jesus’ time.

Remember Herod? No doubt between the news of what happened in the Temple Courts (the expansion of which was one of Herod’s projects), the visit of the Magi (and subsequent disappearance), and the rumors of Shepherds seeing the Heavenly Hosts… Herod was paranoid of losing his power over the Jews, and his authority under Rome. So, to make a point, he has all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity 2 yrs and younger killed. God hid Jesus in Egypt until Herod’s death (Matt 2:13-20). But when they returned home, it wasn’t to Bethlehem or Jerusalem, but to Nazareth in the north. And so, we have the context of Christmas… the Birth of a Savior.

Luke 2:40 (NIV)
40 And the Child grew and became strong; He was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on Him.

I pray you remember the Gift of God this Christmas. Don’t let earthly rituals and mammon distract you from the Message of the Birth of a Savior, who was sent to redeem all of Mankind.

In Him,
FS