DiM | “What You Want” by Tenth Avenue North

disapproveCCM Edition.

June 14, 2016. Today we’ll be taking a look at “What You Want” by Tenth Avenue North which currently sits at #18 on the20theCountdownMagazine.

Wow, what a catchy tune this song has. I’ve mentioned before that I have a soft spot, musically speaking, for EDM (electronic dance music). Tenth Avenue North has done a bang-up job on the music track. It’s progressive with a breakbeat/house feel. Quite compelling, musically. The vocal work is also very nice. So how do the lyrics fair? Well, the theology pushing the song is a bit off. It presents a picture of Christianity one of choosing to follow Jesus rather than of being forgiven by Jesus. If you’re thinking “what’s the difference” I hope to explain that a bit below. For now, let’s give the song a listen and take a look a the lyrics.

Official Lyric Video

 

Lyrics (via KLove)

Every day I’ve been feeling the pressure
I always gotta know the plan
It’s a weight that I’ve tried to shoulder
I thought I could, but I can’t

And I’m so tired of chasing dreams
When I am wired to let You lead

You’re changing my heart
To what what You want
To love how You love
And that is enough
There’s no greater plan
That I need to know
You only ask me to follow
And want what You, what You want
And want what You, what You want
And want what You, what You want
And want what You, what You want

Oh, there’s freedom in this surrender
I feel myself come alive
And the burden feels like a feather
When I let my agenda die

And I get so tired of my own dreams
When I am wired to let You lead

So many leaders
You ask for followers
So keep on leading
‘Cause You’re my Father

Publishing: © 2016 Mike Donehey Publishing Designee (SESAC) / Fellow Ships Music (SESAC) / So Essential Tunes (SESAC) (adm. by Essential Music Publishing LLC) / Colby Wedgeworth Music (ASCAP) / Fair Trade Music Publishing (ASCAP) (adm. by Music Service, Inc.). All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Writer(s): Mike Donehey, Jason Ingram, Colby Wedgeworth

Discussion

Verse 1. In the first verse we have the singer stating a problem of being unable to measure up or keep up. We don’t have a lot of context, but the singer is letting go of the idea that he (we, by extension) have to always know the plan and shoulder the burden, but we can’t. Here is the question that needs to be asked… where is this pressure coming from? Placing my best construction on this song, I’d say the pressure comes from bad theology and false teaching. The message of the Gospel isn’t that you’re going to change your world, the message of the Gospel is that Jesus Christ already has by His death and Resurrection.

Pre-Chorus. So tired of chasing dreams? Good… because nowhere in scripture is the charge to chase our dreams, and Christ did not die to resurrect dead dreams, He died so that we might have Eternal Life in Him. When I am wired to let You lead *ugh*. If this were a finely polished radio program, you’d likely hear the sound of a needle scratching across a vinyl record. In what sense are we wired to let the King of kings and LORD of lords, the Alpha and the Omega lead? If our best construction is that the song is calling out bad theology, well… here we see it being replaced with more bad theology. While there is a narrow context within which one might rightly use the phrase “follow Jesus”, it’s not the center of our confession. The disciples literally followed Jesus and were discipled by Him directly, and we sit under their teaching preserved for us in the Written Word of God. Whenever we hear preachers today talk about “following Jesus” I’ve noticed it rarely ends with preaching Christ and Him crucified; instead the discussion normally ends in the Law, and sometimes not even Biblical Law. We’ll get to that in a minute, but for now let’s take a moment to see how Scripture talks of following Christ and what it means for us today.

Following Christ

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

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

I like to start here to point out another problem with today’s slogan of “following Christ” or “being a totally committed Christ-follower”… it’s not pointing to the Gospel, it’s often intended to establish a sort of piety pecking order. It was taking place in Corinth in Paul’s day, and it remains with us today. Paul isn’t preaching against baptism here, he’s saying the focus is in the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We see this reinforced in his letters to Timothy.

1 Timothy 4:1-6 (ESV)  Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer. If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed.

2 Timothy 1:8-14 (ESV)Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.

The Apostle Paul had a laser focus on the preaching and teaching of the Gospel, the sound words and good doctrine of Salvation through faith, not because of our works, but because of His own purpose and Grace in Christ Jesus. False teachers will often point to the idea of “following Christ” directly, while surreptitiously inserting themselves and their machinations as intermediaries for explaining and even evaluating your walk or your level of commitment in “following Christ”. Naturally, you should be following them.

There is a context within which we might treat Christ as an example to be followed, and the Apostle Peter points us in that direction in his first epistle.

1 Peter 2:13-25 (ESV) | Submission to Authority

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

In His suffering. Or as the Apostle Paul put it, joining in Christ’s suffering.

Colossians 1:24-28 (ESV) | Paul’s Ministry to the Church

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.

And we’ve come full circle back to the very center of the Apostle Paul’s focus for ministry, not in trying to imitate God, but in preaching Christ and Him crucified for our sin.

Getting back to the pre-chorus discussion, I’m struggling to find a corrective mechanic for the notion that we are wired to let God lead us. Our flesh is corrupted by sin, bent in on itself… it is wired to serve itself. The Spirit desires the things of God, but we remain simultaneously sinner and saint, with the war waging in our members. So, it’s difficult for me to find a clear way to correct this line, and it is the thought that turns the song into its chorus.

Chorus. With the chorus, I’ve pretty  much abandoned my attempt at giving this song its best construction. At best this is an attempt to say that the work of the Holy Spirit within us is to change our desires such that they align with God’s. The flip-side of that coin suggests that we block the work of the Holy Spirit by not letting Him lead. From here on out, the song lyric stays stuck in this “Jesus is my example” in a way that leans heavily toward “I will one day be like He is” and I just don’t find that a clear or helpful way of looking at the Christian Life. I think it casts a shadow over the substitutionary atonement and looks past the fact that our righteousness is not our own, it’s Christ’s righteousness which is granted to us. This is winds up clouding how we share the Gospel, leading some to buy into the lie that the lost will come to ask for the Gospel because of looking at our lives. But the truth is that we still fall short, and we cannot live up to this standard of living in a way that proclaims Christ without words. It is Christ who fulfilled the Law in our place, so we preach Him and Him Crucified in our place so that by Grace through Faith we might be saved. I know some might be thinking, “but what about good works of faith?” We do good works for our neighbors as an outflow of our having been forgiven by God. Our good works server our neighbors as the result of our having been set free from and forgiven of sin by a gracious and loving God. Good works flow from the Gospel, not the Law, though the Law identifies what is a good work (love God, love neighbor).

Is there something to be said about the need to desire that which God desires? Absolutely… and that is why we have the Word of God preserved for us in Scripture by God the Holy Spirit. This song doesn’t point in that direction, instead it is pointing to some sort of permission we need to give God to then simply overwrite our desires. That’s not the picture we see in Scripture. That’s why I’ve been pointing out Paul’s focus on the preached Word of God.

Verse 2. This verse is bent in on the self, in our feelings. The object of our faith is external to us, not internal. Your feelings will fail you, Christ’s Word won’t. The Truth of the Promise from God that by faith in Christ Jesus that your sins are forgiven you doesn’t wane simply because you don’t feel forgiven. I completely understand wanting to feel forgiven, but we need to submit our feelings to the Truth found in God’s Word, and trust in that. It is your feelings and emotions that fail you, and even lie to you.

Bridge. It’s just odd. It’s like the “Jesus is my co-pilot” trope where we treat our LORD and Savior like some meek introvert who won’t do ANYTHING without our permission. That’s not the Jesus found in the Scriptures, friend.

Conclusion

As much as I love the musical part of this song, I don’t like the law-heavy theology which demotes Jesus down from LORD and Savior to an example we can follow and even permit to lead us. If your picture of Jesus is the gentle shepherd with the lamb across His shoulders… remember that lamb is YOU. He’s carrying YOU on His shoulders because you got lost and He had to go get you. The shepherd doesn’t need nor ask the sheep’s permission to lead them. His sheep hear His voice and follow because they are His sheep. This song presupposes a seeker-sensitive ideology where unbelievers have within them a will to know God and it’s just a matter of grabbing their attention so that they can finally “let God be their God”.

Romans 16:24-27 (ESV) | Doxology

Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Amen, Indeed.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “Never Too Far Gone” by Jordan Feliz

CCM Radio Edition.

disapproveJune 7, 2016. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Never Too Far Gone” by Jordan Feliz which currently sits at #17 on the20theCountdownMagazine.

Let’s start of by acknowledging the wonderful Truth conveyed in the title of this song, “No one is out of reach of God”. We’ll discuss this in more detail, Biblically, during the discussion of this song’s lyrics because I think this idea is what the singer was trying to convey and it is probably the driving thought behind its popularity. If the Gospel of Jesus Christ were simply the fact that God loves you, this song would be awesome.

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

While it is good news to hear that God loves us, that isn’t the whole Gospel. Sadly, this world has a very warped and twisted view of love, so simply saying “God Loves You” isn’t enough to convey the Gospel of Salvation.  We’ll also discuss this point. Let’s take a listen to the song and then dive into its lyrics.

Jordan Feliz VEVO – Lyric Video

 

Lyrics (via Air1)

I have loved you from the start
I have seen your hurting heart

And you feel so lonely
But you keep on hiding
Cause you feel so guilty
For what you’ve done but

(chorus)
There’s no distance too far
That I can’t reach you
There’s no place that’s so dark
That I can’t find you
Anywhere that you are
If you need proof
Take a look at these scars
And know I love you
Doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter
Doesn’t matter what you’ve done
You are never, you are never
Never too far gone

You have run down every road
And you’ve lost your way back home

And you feel so dirty
You know you’re unworthy
Feeling undeserving
Of any love but

(chorus)
There’s no distance too far
That I can’t reach you
There’s no place that’s so dark
That I can’t find you
Anywhere that you are
If you need proof
Take a look at these scars
And know I love you
Doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter
Doesn’t matter what you’ve done
You are never, you are never
Never too far gone

You will never outrun my love, my love, my love
You will never outrun my love, my love, my love
You will never outrun my love, my love, my love
You will never outrun my love, my love, my love

(chorus)
There’s no distance too far
That I can’t reach you
There’s no place that’s so dark
That I can’t find you
Anywhere that you are
If you need proof
Take a look at these scars
And know I love you
Doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter
Doesn’t matter what you’ve done
You are never, you are never
Never too far gone
Never too far gone
Never too far gone

Publishing: © 2015 CentricSongs (SESAC)/Sony-ATV Timber Publishing, Open Hands Music (SESAC)/Colby Wedgeworth Music & Fair Trade Music Publishing (ASCAP)

Writer(s): Words and Music by Jordan Feliz, Jason Ingram and Colby Wedgeworth

Discussion

The Video. I don’t want to spend too much time on the video here, but I did want to point out that the video demonstrates an over emphasis on geographical distance. Our separation from God on account of our sin is far greater than what can be portrayed geographically. But I do think that it is helpful to remember that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is for all people, all nations, all of the corners of the Earth.

Ephesians 4:4-6 (ESV) There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

While there remains within our flesh a devious, persistent, self-centeredness, a default view that we are the center of the world, even the focal point of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Truth is that the Body of Christ is identified in Him, not us. Sadly, neither the video imagery nor the song lyric come to any sort of conclusion or bottom line. For all intents and purposes, this could simply be another “We are the world“, only instead of people singing to each other, the singer is presuming to be voicing Jesus.

The Song. Well, this point didn’t strike me until about the third time I listened to the song on repeat. It suddenly dawned on me… he’s singing from God’s perspective, from Jesus’ point of reference… he’s putting words in God’s mouth. With so many of His Words available to us in the Written Word of God, why take the risk of ad lib? Then I started noticing the tone and tenor of the lyric… this is intended to be a love song from God to the listener. Sarah Young’s book Jesus Calling came to mind. Yep, this is something like that, only less mushy (thankfully). I’m worried about who the target audience is supposed to be. Is this intended for the regenerated, believing Christian who is doubting his own forgiveness in Jesus’ Name, or is this supposed to be to the mythical “seeking unbeliever” (we’ll get to that).

Verse 1. Okay, so to give this verse its best possible construction, it is a very thin/weak depiction of our sinful state. It barely touches the surface of the issue, focusing more on the emotional concept of guilt or shame. Yes, there is an emotional response to guilt and shame that most of us experience, and sometimes this emotional response can be triggered or manipulated wrongly (guilt trip). But when it comes to a conversation we might have with Almighty God regarding sin, it goes far beyond an emotional feeling. We truly ARE guilty. It’s a fact. There is no avoiding that fact. Our sin is why the Earth is corrupted, why everything in creation dies, and why this world will one day be brought to an end. Man-made climate change? yep, it’s found in Genesis 3.

Yes, God has loved us from the start and He knows every thought we’ve had and ever will have. He is God. In modern evangelicalism, we like to talk about God seeing our hearts because we like the notion of being okay deep down inside despite how we live, talk, even what we confess. I don’t want to belabor the point too much, but I did want to point out that this is often code talk for “getting a pass”. It’s what the secularists do when they say “he/she means well”. But our hearts aren’t good. In fact, our hearts are the source of our sin and defilement.

Matthew 15:16-20 (ESV) And [Jesus] 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.”

But if we are going to pull the intended meaning back away from sin and salvation, back to just the emotions, are we now saying that God will take away every heartache? That’s true in Eternity, but it’s certainly not something Christ has promised for us in this life. Finally, if this song is intended for the Believer, what is the source of hurt or the reason for the distance that’s going to come into play in the chorus? If the problem is a lack of faith or underdeveloped faith, it is most likely due to poor or even errant teaching… something that needs to be remedied with sound doctrine, not emotional-level platitudes.

Chorus. Yes, the love of God knows no boundaries. There is nowhere He can’t go to call His sheep to Him. I’d also like to make explicit that which only hinted at vaguely… there is no sin that Christ’s Atoning Sacrifice hasn’t covered. And here is where I get so frustrated with this song. Jesus didn’t die on the cross so that you could feel loved; He died on the cross to pay the full price (the full-on Wrath of God) of your sin, that you deserve, in your place so that by His Blood you might be pardoned, forgiven, adopted as sons and daughters of the Most High God. Our guilt isn’t merely a feeling or perception, it is real and it is eternal. That is why God the Son (Jesus) stepped into our place and paid the price no one else could pay, so that we can have an eternal life we don’t deserve.

Ephesians 2:1-10 (ESV) | By Grace Through Faith
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

And all of this He did by His design for His purpose, in keeping with the Law and the Prophets.

Isaiah 53 (ESV)
53 Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he has borne our griefs
    and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
9 And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
    and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
    he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
   and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
    and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
    and makes intercession for the transgressors.

That is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So you see, this is why I get frustrated when folks try to sum up all of the Gospel into “God loves you even when you don’t feel loved”.

Verse 2. So we’re back to Jesus wooing the listener, letting him/her know “I’ve seen all that you’ve had to endure…” all about the sinner, nothing of the Savior. A common defense for these songs is that listeners really felt emotional relief in hearing them, and that’s fine, but emotional salve can also be found in secular music, too. There is no lasting comfort in focusing on ourselves and our emotions/feelings, not when we have an opportunity to preach the Gospel (which is what these CCM radio stations claim to be doing whenever they’re asking for financial partners). But this verse ends up in a highly romanticized notion that the point of the Gospel is to let God love you even though you don’t deserve it? No. Repentance and Forgiveness of sin is what we need. Whether the target audience is a believer or an unbeliever, it is repentance and forgiveness we desperately need. Those who reject Christ and refuse repentance have deemed themselves unworthy of eternal life.

Acts 13:44-49 (ESV) The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him. And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, saying,

“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region.

Acts 18:1-8 (ESV) After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them, and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks.

When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” And he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. His house was next door to the synagogue. Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized.

So, you see, there is more to the Gospel than the Truth of God’s Love. It isn’t His Love that fails, we reject Him because of our own sin, our own fleshly, guilty, transgressing hearts. And unregenerated hearts cannot choose or seek after Christ. It is the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that saves, by God’s Grace, through faith, not by any of our works.

Romans 3:9-19 (ESV) | No One Is Righteous

What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written:

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

Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.

So, by the time the second chorus rolls around the song has made its pitch and now focuses on building to the emotional climax… the zeal boost it was intended to be. I’d be more impressed by the reference to Christ’s wounds if they were presented as an objective, external indicator of the price He paid for our forgiveness. However, given the emotional focus of a love song being sung supposedly from God’s perspective, the song ends up just romanticizing the notion of His nail scarred Hands and Feet and pierced Side. Point to the cross, point to the empty tomb, point to a Risen Savior who has declared “your sins are forgiven”.

Conclusion

The song will likely serve as an emotional placebo, and I will no doubt lead many to feel like “this is just the encouragement I needed to get through my circumstance…” but this song doesn’t convey the Gospel. Yes, it is true that God’s Love is infinite, but that’s not the Gospel of Forgiveness, the Gospel of Salvation in the Name of Jesus Christ.

Jude 24-25 (ESV) Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “All of Creation” by MercyMe

Presentation1CCM Radio Edition.

Today’s song comes via reader-submission. We’ll be reviewing the song “All of Creation” by MercyMe. This is a very short song. I love this song very much. It serves as a reminder for some of the core promises of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You might be wondering, “then why is it not on the ‘Approved’ list?” It doesn’t proclaim the Gospel clearly. Only believers with sound doctrine will clearly understand the references in context. I don’t think it can be negatively misinterpreted very easily… just that if your theology is immature or heterodox, you’ll miss the beauty of the song and the encapsulation of the Gospel therein. Let’s give the song a listen and then look at the lyric and the passages of scripture it invokes.

VEVO Official Audio

 

Lyric (via MetroLyrics)

Separated until the veil was torn
The moment that hope was born
and guilt was pardoned once and for all

Captivated but no longer bound by chains
left at an empty grave
the sinner and the sacred resolved

[chorus:]
and all of creation sing with me now
lift up your voice and lay your burden down
and all of creation sing with me now
fill up the heavens let his glory resound

Time has faded and we see him face to face
every doubt erased forever we will worship the king

[repeat chorus]

ohh ah ohhh…ohh ah ohhh

the reason we breathe is to sing of his glory
and for all he has done praise the father praise the son and the spirit in one

[repeat chorus 2x]

and every knee will bow oh and every tongue praise the father praise the son and the spirit in one

Songwriters
Muckala, Daniel John / Millard, Bart / Bryson, Jim / Cochran, Nathan / Graul, Barry / Scheuchzer, Mike / Shaffer, Robby / Bannister, Brown

Published by
Lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., MUSIC SERVICES, INC.

Discussion

Okay, I find it odd that such a short song has so many writers credited. In this case, it’s neither a pro or con, just an observation.

Verse 1. Here we have a reference to the veil of separation between God and sinful man being torn in the Christ’s flesh on the cross. There are a few passages we can review for this. Let’s begin by looking at the referent, the rending of the Temple Veil that separated the Most Holy Place (The Holy of Holies, where the Ark of the Covenant was kept) from the Holy Place within the Temple.

Matthew 27:45-54 (ESV) | The Death of Jesus

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink.But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.*

And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”

* John 19:30(ESV) When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

I added the asterisk to include my favorite three words, “It is finished” from John’s account… such a comfort to me. Now, the letter to the Hebrews spends a great deal of time expounding on the significance of the torn curtain or veil and how Christ’s finished work on the cross brought the Mosaic Covenant to an end and enacted the New Covenant of His Blood. I encourage you to read through the whole book, but for now let’s read a portion from chapter 10.

Hebrews 10:19-25 (ESV) | The Full Assurance of Faith

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 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. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,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.

Under the Mosaic Covenant, though Israel was the chosen People of God access to the Most Holy place was strictly limited to a human High Priest as a mediator between God’s children and God and only once a year. But Christ didn’t need to be perfected or cleaned, for He is the Son of God, and He became our Perfect mediator and in Christ we have access to the Most Holy Throne of God. Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, also used this reference to encourage the Gentile believers in Ephesus. You see, the Old Covenant stood also as a barrier between the Jews and the Gentiles.

Ephesians 2 (ESV)

By Grace Through Faith
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

One in Christ
Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

Amen.

Verse 2. This verse, I think, refers to Paul’s description of our status as beleivers in Romans 6.

Romans 6:17-19 (ESV) But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

We are bound to righteousness by faith in Christ Jesus, not by chains of sin. Paul goes on in this letter to describe our condition in this life as simultaneously sinner and saint… for as long as we live in these fleshly bodies we will have to contend with our own passions and desires emanating from within our fleshly hearts. The ultimate resolution will come in the Last Day, when Christ returns and those who are asleep in Christ will rise and those who are alive will be transformed finally set free from our fleshly, corrupted, sinful bodies. Which leads us to our chorus.

Chorus. There is a tendency for modern evangelicalism to try to take the eternal promises out of eternity and make them apply to this temporal life. This is sometimes called the “Theology of glory” as opposed to the “Theology of the Cross”. Let’s take a look at what Paul writes in Romans 8.

Romans 8:18-30 (ESV) | Future Glory

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

We, and all of creation, will sing in victory in eternity. When Christ returns and this fallen world is brought to an end, and all of creation will be freed from sin, and those who are in Christ will be ushered into the New Heavens and the New Earth, when we will see Him face to face.

Conclusion

For Christians who know the Scriptures, the Gospel of Jesus Christ… this is a great song of encouragement. While I feel the lyric lacks enough detail to be fully “Approved”, I love this song. In closing, I’d like to look at what the Apostle Peter wrote concerning the coming Day of the Lord.

2 Peter 3:1-13 (ESV) | The Day of the Lord Will Come

This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing,following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

According to His promise… His promise. 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.

Jude 24-25E (ESV) Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “Call It Grace” by Unspoken

Presentation1CCM Radio Edition.

April 28, 2016. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Call It Grace” by Unspoken which currently sits at #17 on the 20theCountdownMagazine.

This song is better than the most of what I’ve been hearing on CCM Radio. This week the better of our local stations is doing their fundraising (sidenote: stop assuming that everything you do as a radio station is “spreading the Gospel”… the Gospel is infrequently articulated and absent from the majority of the music being played) so I’ve had the radio tuned to Air1. Wow, they’ve gone full seeker-mergent-nonsense with Tony Campolo and Levi Lusko getting airtime for their moralistic deism posing as Christianity. This song is on the better end of the “listen with Discernment” spectrum, but the problems in the song were enough to make granting an “approval” unsettling for me. Let’s take a look/listen.

UnspokenVEVO

 

Lyrics (via LyricsBox)

It’s the light that pierces through you
To the darkest hidden place
It knows your deepest secrets
But it never looks away
It’s the gentle hand that pulls you
From the judgement of the crowd
When you stand before them guilty
And you got no way out

Some may call it foolish and impossible
But for every heart it rescues, it’s a miracle
It’s nothing less than scandalous
This love that took our place
Just call it what it is, call it grace
Call it grace

It’s the breath that’s breathing new life
Into what we thought was dead
It’s the favor that takes orphans
Placing crowns upon their heads
It’s the hope for our tomorrows
The rock on which we stand
It’s a strong and mighty fortress
Even Hell can’t stand against

Some may call it foolish and impossible
But for every heart it rescues, it’s a miracle
It’s nothing less than scandalous
This love that took our place
Just call it what it is, call it grace
Call it grace
Call it grace

Amazing, unshaking
This is grace, this is grace
Unchanging, unfailing
This is grace, this is grace

Some may call it foolish and impossible
But for every heart it rescues, it’s a miracle
It’s nothing less than scandalous
This love that That Jesus took our place
Oh call it what it is, just call it what it is
Call it grace

Discussion

Okay, so the best thing going for this song comes by way of what may have been an ad-lib after the bridge, you’ll see above where I crossed out what is in the posted lyrics and wrote in the ad-lib. Here, we have a Gospel nugget, but it’s not presented well and it comes very late in the song. The biggest problem with this lyric is the pronoun game and the treatment of God’s Grace as a thing unto itself. This is common for an evangelicalism that is steeped in Star Wars Christianity where Faith is like the Force and Grace can be an opportunity, or Love, or a second chance, etc.

The Pronoun Game. Were it not for the ad-lib, the “it” of the song would have no direct object. Whatever “it” is… apparently cannot be known directly, it has to be experienced in some way and then that experience… well, let’s just Call It Grace. We’ll assume that’s what grace is… whatever “it” is in the song. Now, we do have that last ad-lib connecting “a love that took our place” with the Name of Jesus. That’s a Gospel nugget. Took our place where? What did it mean when He took our place? Why did He take our place? What does this mean for me? None of these questions gets any sort of answer in the lyric of the song. The song just poetically hints at experiences it assumes the listener will be able to piece together. That’s not sharing the Gospel, folks… that’s being vaguely spiritual-ish. We’ll work through some of the hints at scripture, and we’ll see that reading the Actual Scripture gives so much more clarity than these paltry hints. And here’s the thing… as with most of the songs that fall in our middle-category, only those whose doctrine is sound and scripturally rich have any chance of being edified by these vague works of art… most will walk away clouded, confused, and leavened.

Starting with the ad-lib rescue, let’s look to the best place in Scripture where we can see the answer to what it means to have Jesus take our place, and we’ll pull from Romans 5.

Romans 5:6-9 (ESV) For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.

Immediately, we get to our second point, too, being that the song talks about grace as a thing unto itself apart from God. But notice that is not how the Apostle Paul talks about the Grace and Love of God. It’s personal. He loved us by dying for us in our place for our sins. We could go to a few places, but let’s look to Paul’s intro in his letter to the Galatians because it will help connect these points to the next point of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Galatians 1:1-10  (ESV) | Greeting

Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— and all the brothers who are with me,

To the churches of Galatia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospelnot that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Now, in this specific context Paul is most concerned about the Judaising heresy, one which sought to compel Gentile believers to convert to Judaism in order to be (or to prove they truly were) Christians. This heresy hasn’t gone away, we still have various hebrew-roots and torah-observant legalists running around, but we also have the non-jewish versions like theonomy and moralistic therapeutic deism. While these errors are not in today’s song lyric (yay!) the sterile treatment of Grace as a thing unto itself drives a wedge between the blessings of the Grace of God and the God from Whom that Grace flows. That wedge creates a gap that is easily filled by false religion of works.

I don’t see any upside to treating the Grace of God separately from God Himself. There is no benefit, no edifying purpose in it. In my view, it only presents a pitfall.

Now, lets work through the vague hints toward scripture found in the verses.

Verse 1. The picture of rescue in this paragraph doesn’t demonstrate the message of Salvation, because our condemnation wasn’t before the world, it was before God. We sinned against God and were dead in our sins and trespasses from birth. I think this verse is pulling more from the pericope adulterae:

John 7:53-8:11 (ESV) | [The earliest manuscripts do not include 7:53–8:11.]
The Woman Caught in Adultery

[[They went each to his own house, but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her,“Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”]]

As you can see in the note pulled from the ESV (and other good translations), there is a concern regarding this account. It is absent from the earliest copies of the Gospels entirely, and the copies that have the story aren’t always in the same place, or even the same Gospel. It’s included, but with a strong caveat here. While nothing in this section directly contradicts scriptures, taking this narrative passage and building theology from it is strongly discouraged. If we keep it in the text, we must keep it submitted to the rest of Scripture. Jesus didn’t forgive here because there were no accusers left, He forgave her. The scribes and Pharisees were not misinterpreting the Law of Moses, and Jesus didn’t argue what the Law commanded, He instead argued that He alone was just to judge the woman… and He forgave her. What the song ends up doing with this clouded passage is somehow make all of us the woman caught in adultery, and Grace rescues us from all who judge us… but it’s clunky in its vagueness. God doesn’t slip us away from the judgement seat, we stand before Him, accused by the devil and we are indeed guilty before God. So, the Gospel isn’t us being whisked away… it’s Jesus standing before us, taking our punishment in our place and imputing His righteousness onto us, so that we might bear the Righteousness of God the Son while standing in the sight of God the Father.

Chorus. Okay, so the chorus plays in the wiggle room left by the pronoun game. Some may call it foolish and impossible is probably a reference to Paul’s letters referring to the Message of the Cross. Remember the rescue mechanic for “it” was Jesus, but here they are using “it” to refer to the message of the Cross.

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

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

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

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

This passage is also where we get the idea that the Gospel of the Grace of God is a scandalous one… the notion that God would save us in this way, by faith in what He has done, and not in something we have to earn or make up for. It’s not a terrible reference, just a vague one… mostly due to the poor pronoun game. We preach the word of the cross, we preach Christ and Him crucified… and the world thinks it foolish, to their own destruction. Sadly, the song doesn’t actually preach it… it hints at it.

The second verse has the same issues of vagueness, pronoun play, and treating salvation as a result of a Grace somewhat separated from the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. There is a reference to Salvation as being adopted into the Kingdom of Heaven. But it focuses too much on the outcome (blessings) of that adoption while skipping over the means of that adoption, the Person and Work of Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 1:1-14 (ESV)

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:

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

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

I hope that once you read through how the Apostle Paul wrote of the Gospel in several letters, it becomes more clear why I take such an issue with the sterilization or isolation of the concept of “grace” apart from the Triune God who Saves.

Conclusion

I think this song is okay, but too vague and open for misinterpretation. The pronoun-game without a clear object is a pitfall that really should be avoided in writing, even artistic expressions of the Gospel. As with most of the songs coming out of CCM, we need more Gospel. Not just for the unbelievers that they might be granted saving faith, but also for the believers who need to grow and be encouraged in their Faith. That doesn’t come by artistic introspection or contemplation… faith only comes by hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ (Rom 10:17).

Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV)

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will,working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “Ever Be” by Aaron Shust

CCM Radio Edition.

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

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

Published on Feb 22, 2016. 

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

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

Official Lyric Video

Lyrics (via K-Love)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Discussion

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

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

Romans 5 (ESV) | Peace with God Through Faith

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

Death in Adam, Life in Christ

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

The New Jerusalem

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

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

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

Revelation 22 (ESV) | The River of Life

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

Jesus Is Coming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amen, Indeed.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge