DiM | “Because He Lives (Amen)” by Matt Maher

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

February 3, 2015. Today, we will be taking a look at song #13 on the Top 20 Songs at 20theCountdownMagazine website, “Because He Lives (Amen)” by Matt Maher. The song has an anthemic vibe (typical of Matt Maher and Chris Tomlin), a catchy tune, and Matt’s vocals are strong. It is cleverly written to get those who know the Hymn to fill in the gaps in the message automatically. Sadly, for those who don’t know what was conveyed in the hymn, the song doesn’t stand on its own. The hymn didn’t tell the full story (no repentance and a little bit self-focused), but it did a much better job than this song does.

Music Videos

Lyrics (via K-Love)

Because He Lives (Amen) by Matt MaherI BELIEVE IN THE SON
I BELIEVE IN THE RISEN ONE
I BELIEVE I OVERCOME
BY THE POWER OF HIS BLOOD

(CHORUS)
AMEN
AMEN
I’M ALIVE
I’M ALIVE
BECAUSE HE LIVES
AMEN
AMEN
LET MY SONG JOIN THE ONE THAT NEVER ENDS
BECAUSE HE LIVES

I WAS DEAD IN THE GRAVE
I WAS COVERED IN SIN AND SHAME
I HEARD MERCY CALL MY NAME
HE ROLLED THE STONE AWAY

(CHORUS)

BECAUSE HE LIVES
I CAN FACE TOMORROW
BECAUSE HE LIVES
EVERY FEAR IS GONE
I KNOW HE HOLDS MY LIFE MY FUTURE IN HIS HANDS

(CHORUS)

Publishing: © 2014 Hanna Street Music (BMI) (Adm. at CapitolCMGPublishing.com)/ Sony/ATV Tree Publishing / I Am A Pilgrim Songs (BMI) / Sony/ATV Timber Publishing / Open Hands Music (SESAC) / Alletrop Music (BMI) (admin. by Music Services) / worshiptogether.com songs / sixsteps music (ASCAP) (Adm. at CapitolCMGPublishing.com) / Worship Together Music / sixsteps songs / SDG Publishing (BMI) (Adm. at CapitolCMGPublishing.com)
Writer(s): Bill & Gloria Gaither, Matt Maher, Jason Ingram, Ed Cash, Daniel Carson, Chris Tomlin

Positive Elements

There is an allusion to the Hymn “Because He Lives“, which is a good song. The best thing about this song by Matt Maher is that it reminds older Christians of that hymn. Unfortunately, if you’ve grown up in contemporary worship… you probably have never heard of that song. I’m thinking this is why Bill & Gloria Gaither are included in the list of writers.

Concerns

Had I seen the list of 7 writers before seeing the lyrics of the song, I would have been greatly disappointed by the vagueness and brevity of the message of the songs. Such a vague song. Never identifying who the Son is, or the Father. No mention of repentance and the forgiveness of sins. This song simply can’t wait to jump to “me”.

The second verse is very odd to me. While we are born dead in sins and transgressions, we aren’t yet in the grave. Before we are regenerated by faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we walked in our sin, transgressions, and death. The line “He rolled the stone away” is odd, too, at least in this verse if we are to connect it to our sinful state… are we placing ourselves in the resurrection of Jesus? In the Baptism, we do join (by faith) in His death and resurrection… but is that being properly conveyed here? I don’t think so. I don’t mean to impune the intent the song’s writers, but the brevity of the song and this verse makes clarity tough to achieve. If you cannot be clear with the analogy, either write more verse(s) or dump the analogy and declare the Gospel outright.

I also struggle with the use of the word “Mercy” calling our name. Grace and Mercy are not interchangeable terms in the New Testament. Since this verse is alluding to Ephesians 2, let’s look at the passage.

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

So why use “Mercy call my name”? The song doesn’t preach Law or repentance. When we preach Grace, we include the need for the atonement. Society sees “grace” and they think of a temporary reprieve, but the payment is still due. That is fitting; however, in the case of the Gospel of Jesus Christ the payment has already been made. We still need only confess our sinful state and repent from our sins and receive the Grace of God by faith in Christ Jesus, and this we do on a daily basis for as long as we continue living in these sinful bodies. Mercy comes after the judgment, it doesn’t skip it. While I may be splitting hairs a bit, I feel like keeping the terms and concepts of Grace and Mercy in their proper places in Scripture.

Conclusion

The world is eating up the lawless version of God’s love and mercy, and churches are crumbling under the pressure of “church growth” and “seeker sensitivity”. With the recent news of another megachurch declaring unrepentant sexual immorality to be an acceptable lifestyle for Christians, I think of this song being played on the radio or even in the worship service at such a church. Let’s sing about the self-esteem building side of the Gospel without mentioning the Law which identifies sin in our lives. Ultimately, the song is too vague to be given a pass. It’s a somewhat random collection of ideas that point to the Gospel, but they are not articulated well… and I’m comparing it to a short hymn. Did this song really take 7 writers?

Jude 1:20-25 (ESV) 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. 24 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, 25 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.

To God be the glory, Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Discernment | Prophecy or Apostasy?

The primary goal of Faithful Stewardship is to study the Word of God. Knowing what the Word of God says as the standard of Truth will preserve you from false doctrine. However, there is a great need in this present day to understand that there are false prophets, false teachers, and even false christs leading away the saints away from the faith, from the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I’d like to borrow an exhortation from Christ Rosebrough at Fighting for the Faith, “please, don’t come with an open mind; rather, come with an open Bible”. We really can’t rely on our feelings or emotions to warn us of false teaching or false doctrine, we really need to hold every teacher, writer, speaker to the Word of God. Today, I just want to look at the basis for why it is so important to practice discernment and not to just “go with it” in the name of “not being a thorn in someone’s side”.

Remembering that Jesus Christ didn’t come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it, let us look at what the Law says about false prophets.

Deuteronomy 13 (ESV)  1 “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. 5 But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. 6 “If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter or the wife you embrace or your friend who is as your own soul entices you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which neither you nor your fathers have known, 7 some of the gods of the peoples who are around you, whether near you or far off from you, from the one end of the earth to the other, 8 you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him. 9 But you shall kill him. Your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. 10 You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 11 And all Israel shall hear and fear and never again do any such wickedness as this among you. 12 “If you hear in one of your cities, which the Lord your God is giving you to dwell there, 13 that certain worthless fellows have gone out among you and have drawn away the inhabitants of their city, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which you have not known, 14 then you shall inquire and make search and ask diligently. And behold, if it be true and certain that such an abomination has been done among you, 15 you shall surely put the inhabitants of that city to the sword, devoting it to destruction, all who are in it and its cattle, with the edge of the sword. 16 You shall gather all its spoil into the midst of its open square and burn the city and all its spoil with fire, as a whole burnt offering to the Lord your God. It shall be a heap forever. It shall not be built again. 17 None of the devoted things shall stick to your hand, that the Lord may turn from the fierceness of his anger and show you mercy and have compassion on you and multiply you, as he swore to your fathers, 18 if you obey the voice of the Lord your God, keeping all his commandments that I am commanding you today, and doing what is right in the sight of the Lord your God.

I’d like to make a couple of notes here. Firstly, according to the old covenant, they were to be put to death. Under the new covenant, we are not to physically put them to death, but death is still what is required for this sin. According Romans Chapter 6, we know that we must die to sin, die to our flesh, by joining in Christ’s death, so that we might be made alive in Him. Repentance, Atonement, Returning to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The false teachers are to repent of their idolatry! That is why we still have the Law and the Prophets. The letter of the law kills, so that those of us who have died to sin might be made alive in Christ before we die in the flesh and face Judgement. This is real. If you ascribe to the secessionist view, then you probably believe the office of the Prophet to be closed. I do not hold to that view, because I don’t see any support for it in the Bible. Neither do I see anything in Scripture that modified the office of Prophet; therefore, the standard for a Prophet of God remains unchanged. God promised His people to send Prophets, because Israel begged Moses to speak to them the Words of God, for they were too scared to hear God’s voice for themselves (Exodus 20:18-21). In this present day, for anyone who claims to be a Prophet, even if their signs/wonders come true, if they preach themselves, or a god that is not the One True God of the Bible (pantheism, gnosticism, humanism, etc.) they are to be put to death (called to repentance and cut off from the people until such repentance according to the Law) and we are NOT to listen to them. As Paul told Titus, “they are to be silenced” (Titus 1:11). I would also argue that this same test be applied to anyone claiming to be a present-day Apostle. Again, even if the signs/wonders come true, if what they preach is not in keeping with sound doctrine (Titus 2) they are to be silenced and “put to death” (called to repent). Now, we also run into some abuses in the current charismatic/evangelical circles where they are wise enough not to claim for themselves the office of Prophet or Apostle, yet they feel completely free to claim to speak on God’s behalf via a gift of the prophecy, knowledge, understanding from God the Holy Spirit. For some reason, in this community they think it’s okay to “prophecy” in the Name of God things that do not come to pass. Is that okay? There is also a test for that in the Law as well.

Deuteronomy 18:9-22 (ESV) 9 “When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. 10 There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer 11 or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, 12 for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you. 13 You shall be blameless before the Lord your God, 14 for these nations, which you are about to dispossess, listen to fortune-tellers and to diviners. But as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you to do this. 15 “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— 16 just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ 17 And the Lord said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him. 20 But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ 21 And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’— 22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.

Here, we see that false prophets are not to be feared. So then, the bigger sin here, even in the Law, is anchored in the teaching of the one who claims to be speaking the Words of God. If their teaching leads the Children of God astray, they are to be silenced and put to death (again, we understand this now in the New Covenant to be a call to repentance, that they might die to their sin and repent and turn back to God through the Gospel of Jesus Christ). It is one thing to falsely prophecy signs and wonders that don’t come true… for the Law identifies that the prophet has spoken presumptuously, and they need not be feared. Do not fear these individuals, they are speaking of their own. I think this happens when young Christians are poorly discipled in the Word of God and out of their zeal try to “operate in the gifts of the Holy Spirit” and end up speaking from themselves rather than from the Holy Spirit”. This is not a “safe zone” because if they take the next step to preach/teach/or lead to a false gospel, false spirits, false teachings, then there is a major problem. For according to the old covenant, this false teaching and leading astray from the One True God bore the penalty of death. This is Sin.

Even more troubling, is that false teachers often buy their own lie first, even before leading away others after gods they have not known (borrowing from the passages in Exodus above). We understand that only the work of the Holy Spirit is capable of opening the hearts of sinners to the Gospel of Grace… how much more then does the Hand of God have to fall on those who once professed a faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, only to have let themselves be led astray by spirits of error or by pride/presumptuous assertions? The Apostles spoke strongly against false teachers, false prophets, and false christs. That is because when Jesus was asked about the end times (Matthew 24), He warned strongly against false christs even leading astray the elect. Being deceived is a worse state than being lost.

2 Peter 2:17-22 (ESV) 17 These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. 18 For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. 20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”

I encourage you, brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ, to hold firmly to the Word of God. Scrutinize heavily anything extra-biblical (outside of scripture) being presented as the Word of God. Test the spirits (1 John 4), for God the Holy Spirit will never object to His Spoken Word being measured by His Written Word, for He is One God. Silence the false teachers and issue a rebuke and a call to repentance, burn up the false doctrines and do not return to them. Preach the Word of God and teach in accordance with sound doctrine. For we are stewards of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is His Gospel, entrusted to us as His stewards. And do not fear the false prophet, false teacher, even the false christ. Fear and love the Lord God.

Jude 1:24-25 (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.

May the Lord Bless you and keep you,
In Him,
Jorge