Friday Sermon | Christians and Halloween with Pr. Mark Buetow

flyerI’ve made my personal position on Halloween very clear in the past. It will be the topic of Monday’s CTT post, too. Today, we will be playing an archived segment of Issues Etc, and interview with Pastor Mark Buetow (10/31/2011). In an attempt to temper my anger at the unholiday, I decided to share this viewpoint that actually cuts across my grain. It is not comforting to me, personally, but Pr Mark Buetow does make some solid points here, and I will have to consider these defenses of the Church’s “we were here first” claim to the date. For most, I believe, this interview will be of comfort and blessing.

There is no Biblical argument for “All Hallows Eve”… nor is there one against picking a date to remember those who have died in the Faith. I’m resigned to accept that the choosing of dates to have a party, even trying to make them holy observations, falls under Christian Liberty. How one goes about celebrating it though should still be tested Biblically. Each practice and participation needs to be above reproach.

Romans 14 (ESV) | Do Not Pass Judgment on One Another

14 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written,

“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
    and every tongue shall confess to God.”

12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

Do Not Cause Another to Stumble

13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. 14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 15 For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. 16 So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats.21 It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. 22 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God.Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

Whatever you choose to do for the last weekend in October, take care and walk in a manner that honors Christ. Pray for me, that my anger regarding the pagan “halloween culture” be properly tempered by Grace.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “The River” by Jordan Feliz

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

October 06, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “The River” by Jordan Feliz which currently sits at #18 on the 20theCountdownMagazine.

Overall, this song has a very catchy rhythm and melody. The song has a Monet quality to it in that there seems to be a decent theme to the song when viewed from a distance, but it loses clarity in the details when observed up close. In trying to unpack the theology driving the song, I got confused, which is typically a red-flag for emergent or progressive “christianity”. Let’s check out the song.

Jordan Feliz VEVO Lyric Video

Lyrics (via KLove)

The River

I know a place
Where we can go
To lay the troubles down eating your soul
I know a place
Where mercy flows
Take the stains make you whiter than snow

Like a tide it is rising up
Deep inside
A current that moves and makes you come alive
Living water
That brings the dead to life

(chorus)
We’re going down to the river
Down to the river
Down to the river to pray
Let’s get washed by the water
Washed by the water
And rise up in amazing grace
Let’s go down, down, down to the river
You will leave changed
Let’s go down, down, down to the river
Never the same

I’ve seen it move
In my own life
Took me from dusty roads into Paradise
All of my dirt
All of my shame
Drowned in the streams that have made me born again

Like a tide it is rising up
Deep inside
A current that moves and makes you come alive
Living water
That brings the dead to life

(chorus)

Let’s go down
Let’s go down
Let’s go down

(chorus)

Publishing: © 2015 CentricSongs (SESAC) / Colby Wedgeworth Music (ASCAP) / Capitol CMG Amplified & Red Red Pop (SESAC)
Writer(s): Words and Music by Jordan Feliz, Colby Wedgeworth, and Josh Silverberg

Discussion

The high-altitude view of the song displays a general theme of repentance pointing to the imagery of baptism (going down to the River). However, the connection of the River to baptism doesn’t stay consistent throughout the song. So that forces us to look more closely to the details, and that’s where we hit some snags. 

Who is the target audience? The song lyrics don’t make it clear to whom the song is being sung. If the song is being sung to unbelievers in need of faith, repentance, and baptism… then why not just stick with the imagery of the new birth in the baptism? If the song is a call to Christians to repent and be forgiven, why is the reference to baptism something that lies ahead of the singer and audience rather than a reminder of your baptism? Since this is a new song from a new artist, I thought I’d check to see if there is any context provided.

from: Artist Profile @ NewReleaseToday.com

The best example of his singular vision is the record’s powerhouse first single, “The River.” While it sounds like a pulse-quickening mega-hit from the first listen–instantly singable and repeatedly listenable– the song actually rides on a deep current of soul-driven funk influence that serves to set it apart from other contemporary radio fare.

“I’m a big melody guy,” Jordan admits, “and musically ‘The River’ is my own personal happy place. It’s a great driving groove that just feels good to sing. The song itself is an invitation to anyone who hears it–whether they’re stuck in pride and legalism or wallowing down in the mess they’ve made of their lives–it’s an invitation to take whatever we have and to run to Jesus. It’s an invitation to go down in amazing grace and to rise up being made new.”

Okay, so his intended audience is everyone. He’s using the imagery of the River as a catch-all for baptism of a new believer AND repentance and forgiveness for the already baptized. Also, we see some strong emergent language in the “whether they’re stuck in pride and legalism or whatever” comment. We’ll have to keep an eye on this guy. If you’d like to read more about him, simply follow the link.

Verse 1: Here we see an introduction to the idea that there is a place we can go to be made clean. This is true. The blood of Jesus Christ, shed at the cross washes us clean by God’s grace through faith. But this isn’t so much a place we can go as it is a point of faith. Some excellent passages we can look to for this wording of washing away of sin can be found in Psalm 51 and Isaiah 1.

Psalm 51:7-12 (ESV)

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
    wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
    and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
    and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Isaiah 1:16-20 (ESV)

16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
    remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
17     learn to do good;
seek justice,
    correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless,
    plead the widow’s cause.

18 “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
    they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
    they shall become like wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient,
    you shall eat the good of the land;
20 but if you refuse and rebel,
    you shall be eaten by the sword;
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

What is important to note with these passages, is that neither one is a call to the unbeliever. In Psalm 51, David is chosen of God, but he has sinned before God and is repenting. In Isaiah, the Prophet of the LORD is speaking to rebel Judah, His chosen people who have sinned against Him. I mention this because many take these passages as proof-texts for decisional regeneration. For the unbeliever to come to faith, the Holy Spirit must open his eyes and ears to the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We aren’t born alive and merely struggling with sin, we are born dead in sins and trespasses. We need to be regenerated by the Spirit of the Living God in order for us to make the confession of faith.

Pre-chorus: This pre-chorus can be describing the working of the Holy Spirit, drawing individuals to the knowledge of Christ, and convicting believers of their sin so that they might repent and be forgiven. Unfortunately, it also describes the emotional manipulation that is performed in many a seeker-sensitive service to compel people to “come down to the front to make a decision for Jesus today“. It’s a popular pattern/technique. Once the preacher is finished giving life-tips, he give a queue to the worship band to start playing some slow, emotive “worship” music in the background, as the speaker makes a decisional sales-pitch to any who “don’t know Jesus as their personal savior” or “have not yet asked Jesus into their hearts“. As the music swells in the background, the speaker will give the audience time to give an indication of their willingness to “give Jesus their heart”… Maybe even include a call for those who’d like to “re-dedicate their lives to the LORD” to come to the front. This serves a dual purpose, it allows the speaker to get the sense that their words bore fruit (people walking forward) and it gives others room to follow the commands without clearly identifying which group they are in, so no one needs to know this is their first time of “giving their hearts to Jesus” until they are ready to say so. None of this is Scriptural. This is an emotional technique that works in any environment where group psychology and dynamics is at play. Cults do it, Fraternities do it, workforce seminars, etc. They do it because it works. We are emotional beings, and our emotions are easily worked once we’ve established a common ground. The point being that this pre-chorus is only as good as your doctrine.

Chorus: So, we are going down to the river to pray? In the seeker model of church service, there are lots of altar calls for many reasons. The goal is simply to get folks to fill up the front of the church for an emotional experience and prayer. Most of the time the intention is good, but misguided due to an over-emphasis on emotional experience and not enough focus on Scripture. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ (Romans 10:17); it doesn’t say “faith comes by weeping and wailing at the front of the church”. Please understand that I’m not saying that weeping (I tend to weep), wailing, or even coming to the front of the church is a bad thing. I’m saying the hyper-focus on emotional experiences is a bad thing. I’m also fed up with the emotional manipulation techniques… don’t whip people up into an emotional mess, preach the Word.

Verse 2: Okay, this is where things get a little odd for me. We are not yet in Paradise, we still walk this earth in sinful tents of flesh. There is a continual need for those who are of the household of faith to confess, repent, and be forgiven of sin. We are not yet perfect. The singer is pointing to his own experience as authoritative for the listener (I’ve seen it move in my own life). If everything else the message is solid, this might be considered a minor point… but the whole song has me a bit confused so I have to present this as problem on equal footing. Emergents don’t hold a high-view of Scripture, they lean on experience and personal understanding for their theology. Jordan can’t point to himself and then say he’s been taken into paradise. He hasn’t been, he’s still on this earth, and if he has Faith, then he is a sojourner in this fallen world. If he lacks faith, he is very much still a part of this world. Dear Christian, don’t point to yourselves and don’t get cute with offering exaggerated promises or benefits of being a Christian… point to Christ always, and testify of your faith in Him.

Thoughts on Baptism

I think it is worth mentioning that attempting to provide a corrective mechanism for enjoying this song needs to be done differently for Creedal Baptists, Presbyterians, and Lutherans. I don’t like splicing up the denominations in DiM posts, but where Baptism is concerned I think it bears mentioning. Rather than try to speak as an authority for each of these doctrinal positions, I am simply going to share what Scripture says and leave the doctrinal discussion for you and your Pastor. We’ll start with the Great Commission and move on to the Apostolic writings. Again, these should be taken to your pastor if you have any questions regarding them.

Matthew 28:16-20 (ESV) | The Great Commission

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Acts 2:36-40 (ESV)

Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them,“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.”

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

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

Ephesians 4:1-7 (ESV) | Unity in the Body of Christ

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 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 allBut grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

Colossians 2:6-15 (ESV) | Alive in Christ

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

1 Peter 3:18-22 (ESV)

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.

These are the clear passages that teach on Baptism. Your doctrine of baptism will greatly affect your take on some of the lines of today’s song.

Conclusion

I’m not happy with the song. It is muddled and confused. How bad or salvageable the song is will depend greatly on your doctrine/confession of Salvation, Faith, Regeneration, Justification, Sanctification and Baptism. I don’t think the song can be fully salvaged for any of the orthodox doctrines. I suspect the artist is heavily seeker-sensitive / emergent and cannot recommend him to anyone at this time.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Friday Sermon | Key Life Pastors’ Chat on Absolution and the Forgiveness of Sins

Our sermon today is not a sermon. I reviewed 5 sermons this week that were good, but didn’t seem to hit the notes I felt were most important for this week. Yesterday’s DiM post was a discerning look at the role of music and Worship in the Church, from pastors who come from various reformed traditions. I attend a reformed Baptist church now, but I wanted to find something that could present a bit of a juxtaposition of Lutheran and Reformed theology. I believe this discussion does a good job of that.

We’ve listened to lectures from this year’s Liberate conference, and today we’ll be looking at a discussion between a respected Reformed Pastor Steve Brown and Lutheran Dr. Rod Rosenbladt. They had not met previously, but knew of each other by common friends and associates. Here, we have a wonderful opportunity to see the subject of Absolution and the Forgiveness of Sins, the Gospel of Grace, discussed from both the Reformed and Lutheran perspectives. There are difference, yes, but there is also common ground that is worth highlighting, that being the Gospel of Grace.

Key Life Pastors’ Chat on Absolution and the Forgiveness of Sins

[youtube https://youtu.be/5VkNNeMgZcY]

*note: At one point in this discussion (16:15), Steve Brown reflects on his encounter with Nadia Bolz-Weber, an ELCA Lutheran pastrix. While I do appreciate Steve Brown’s intention of using this anecdote to highlight the diversity of believers and the power of Grace, I don’t want anyone to come away from this thinking she is doctrinally sound or that she rightfully holds a position of pastor. She is not, and does not, and I pray she repents. She is still loved and cared for by many in the LIBERATE community. She is to the Lutheran community what Rob Bell was to the Southern Baptists, deconstructing Doctrine and minimizing sin ala the Emergent/Liberal Church.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

Church History | The Gospel for Those Broken by the Church

churchWe have family visiting us today through this weekend. I have fallen behind in blog post drafts, so today’s post will be a link to a powerful lecture given by Dr. Rod Rosenbladt at Faith Lutheran Church in Capistrano Beach, CA on November 7, 2010 entitled, “The Gospel for Those Broken by the Church“.

Dr. Rod Rosenbladt is professor of theology and apologetics at Concordia University (Irvine, California) and co-host of The White Horse Inn radio broadcast. He is a Lutheran Pastor. In this lecture, he will give some Church history for both Lutheran and Reformed traditions as well as address the Wesleyan, Armenian, and Nazarene. The focus of this lecture is on the need for Christians to be focused on, defined by, and preaching fully the Gospel of Jesus Christ for Christians, too. Looking beyond the differing Denominational frameworks to the Cross of Jesus Christ. This is an essential lecture for all Christians, regardless of denomination. Please do not simply forward this video to those you know have been hurt by the Church, without first digesting it, reviewing it, and understanding what is being presented so that you can reach out in love to the individual with whom you wanted to share.

I’d like to offer up some brief portions of the transcript to further encourage you to watch/read the whole thing:

The “sad” alumni

By the sad alumni of the Christian faith, I mean the hundreds and hundreds whose acquaintance with the Christian church was often one in which they were helped to move from unbelief (or from a suffocating moralism) into real saving faith in Jesus Christ. They heard the preaching of God’s law and then heard the announcement of Christ’s work on their behalf on the cross—Jesus as the God-man who met the law’s demands for them, and died for their sin, died to save them, died to give them eternal life. They heard the wonderful message of God’s grace in the cross and death of Jesus Christ. They heard the astonishing news that God in Jesus Christ died for them, died so that they can be—and are!—freely forgiven based solely on that atoning death. They heard that Christ’s blood redeems sinners, buys us out of our self-chosen enslavement. They came to believe that Christianity is not so much about what is in our hearts as much as it is about what is in God’s heart—and this proven by Christ’s vicarious and atoning death for them, for their sin. They came to believe that the cross of Christ was their salvation. For free. And forever.

But something happened after that, something that broke them. And, in general, I think what happened is nameable. (At least in many cases.)…(Read More)

The “mad” alumni

It is not all that uncommon. I find that these angry ones have usually not switched from Christianity to another religion. Nor have I found that they have switched from one Christian denomination to another. Instead, I find that they are angry at any and all religions and anyone who represents any religious position—but especially Christianity. And that is natural. After all, it was Christianity, as they see it, that “used them up and threw them away.” I suppose the most visible examples would be men like the late comedian Sam Kinison and ex-Roman Catholic George Carlin. You may (and probably do) know better contemporary examples than I know. All of us are in the vicinity of people like this at one time or another, maybe know a few of them as friends, or have at least met one or two in passing. Why do I say that? Because such people are, as I said, not all that uncommon these days.

Now I certainly can’t this evening exhaust the dynamic involved in such people (again, I’m no clinical psychologist). But I still think a lot of the mad alumni also often have a nameable history, just as the sad alumni have one.

People like this often speak as if Christianity baited and switched them—just like a used car salesman “baits and switches” a young couple at a car lot.

Christians promised them a new life in Christ in such a way that it was going to be a life of victory, God’s designed route to earthly happiness, a new, divine power that would solve the problems so obsessing them. Then, when the promises didn’t seem to work the way they were supposed to, the church put it back on these believers that they were somehow not doing it right… (Read More)

Be blessed today, and come back tomorrow for another Friday Sermon here at FaithfulStewardship.

In Christ Jesus,
jorge

 

DiM | “All Hail” by Jovan Mackenzy

Today we are going to try a different approach to “Discernment in Music” (DiM) day here at Faithful Stewardship (2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)). On Tuesdays, we look at what is currently popular on Christian Radio top 20 charts. I wanted to introduce my readers to a song and a music artist of whom you may not be familiar.

Writing music is no simple task. There is a great deal of hard work and creativity at work in the writing, composing, and producing a song. Tougher still is the task of writing a Gospel-centered, God-honoring song lyric that is well-produced and gains airplay. We spend much of our time here in our DiM posts pointing out the vagueness and even questionable theology that is found in the messaging of popular “Christian” music, and I must admit that it can become discouraging. Especially when a favorite song turns out to be void of lyrical meaning. We try our best to rescue a popular song with proper Biblical understanding; however, some songs are simply meaningless and unrecoverable.

For our first DiM of this type, I wanted to challenge myself by choosing an art form of which I am not particularly a fan… rap. Clearly, this is a rough genre for me since I was completely unaware of Lecrae’s collaboration with For King and Country, much less did I anticipate them winning a Grammy for it. Today, we’ll be taking a look at Jovan Mackenzy. He’s been a rap artist for several years and I became aware of his work via Fighting for the Faith. I decided to review the title track for his latest album “All Hail”.

Music Videos

Unofficial Music Video, just plays the audio track. You can also listen to the album at http://jovanmackenzy.com/audio/all-hail/

Lyrics (as I hear them)

All Hail by Jovan Mackenzy

[chorus]
He reigns, He reigns
I ain’t talkin’ ’bout precipitation
I’m talkin’ Father God
He Gave Jesus the Nations
And He’s ruling now,
Even over pagans
One day He’s coming back
You just gotta have patience

(All Hail) King Jesus x8

[verse 1]
I’m born again I’ve got peace of mind
the peace of mind that He gives
and I ain’t got to write deeper lines
’cause He’s as deep as it gets
He’s the High Priest who sits
Who sits on His Throne
He’s the only one that’s equipped
For our sins He did atone
don’t you see that Jesus purchased me
See the Blood on that Mercy Seat
As a man, He was born in Bethlehem
but He’s from eternity, now that’s Bible
Micah 5:2 “you believe He’s God?”
Yes I Do!
The only hero to die for the villains
and that’s poetic like Haiku
I was pathetic and prideful
sin is death – I should have died, too
worshiping the idols
in my own eyes I was wise, too
at the right time when we were still weak
Christ died for the ungodly
now I write rhymes for Him
the fullness of Deity that dwells bodily

[interlude]
[chorus]

[verse 2]
Even though we still on Earth
In Heavenly places we’re seated
Ephesians 2, you should read it
It’s only ’cause we’re in Jesus
But I don’t think some believe it (I don’t think so)
And I don’t think that they see it (they don’t)
They think the Church is defeated (what?)
But why do we call Him King Jesus (why?)
I can’t imagine how folks feel
They don’t know that this post is real
They don’t know about post mil.
Enemies are just road kill (road kill?)
And that’s so Real (so real)
Yeah that’s so Real
Christ Jesus is dominating like Carmelo at Oak Hill
And this ain’t High School
King of Kings is His title
Christ Jesus is #1
And I ain’t talkin’ ’bout iTunes
What’s that under His feet?
Oh that’s just Jesus crushing idols
So I’m in the Church thinkin’ it’s gettin’ worse
But he ain’t got no rivals

[interlude]
[chorus]

[verse 3]
Psalm 2:12, kiss the Son and perish
If you’re waiting for Him to come and reign then you’re in error
on the throne of David, the Savior is already there -uh
this is somethin’ that some in the Church is not aware of
we’re the sheep but the King will protect us from the werewolf (Satan)
And the meek Jesus said that the Earth they shall inherit.
Some think that it’s getting worse, but how? Jesus removed the curse
He has dominion from sea to sea to the ends of the Earth
Now He’s reigning from Heaven (right now)
May all the kings bow down before Him and all nations serve Him, Psalm 72:11
This a anthem this song is not an apologetic (this an anthem, ya’ll)
This a song that lets you know Christ is King ’cause I read it
If you want a debate, name a time and place and we’ll get it
The progression of the Kingdom of God is where my head is
A post-millennial age is where we’re headed
Christ is conquerin’ the nations
yeah, I said it.

[Conclusion: sermon excerpt, speaker unknown]
Jesus the Messiah brought the expected kingdom on time and as planned. He is seated and reigning now. His kingdom will grow in history through the preaching of the Gospel and in the power of the Holy Spirit. The world will experience the transformational blessing that peace with God brings. Jesus will return for the resurrection of the just and the unjust after… after… all His enemies are put under His feet in victory. The last enemy is death.

Publishing: © 2014 JovanMackenzy.com. All Rights Reserved.

Positive Elements

While in a previous post I lamented the poetic, faddish phrasing used in most Rap lyrics and how it doesn’t lend itself well to clear messaging, Jovan Mackenzy has packed a lot of theology into this song. You might disagree with some of the statements made, but you can’t claim to be unaware of his position. That’s very refreshing. Jovan even managed to work in some scripture references into the lyrics which makes some of my work even easier. So let’s work through the song from top to bottom, paying special attention to the passages referenced overtly.

Amillennial Theology. Okay, so I’m listing this as a positive element, not so much because I fully agree with the amillenial eschatology; rather, because Jovan is being clear where he stands in the very first verse. Amillenialism is the view that the “1,000 year reign” referenced in Revelation 20 is not a literal 1,000 years but a picture of completion. That Christ’s reign began at His resurrection and that His Kingdom is the Church of whom He is the Head. When the fullness of time is completed (10^3 = 1,000), Christ will return once and for all to judge the living and the dead. That’s the amillenial interpretation of Revelation 20, and it is generally the view held by Lutherans. Jovan Mackenzy is a Lutheran. Understanding this view is important for understanding a couple of lines in the second verse and helps to understand the chorus, though we’ll see in our concerns that some of the lines might also be confused with Dominionism (of the New Apostolic Reformation sort).

Edit 8/11/2015: I made some poor assumptions here. Jovan Mackenzy is neither Lutheran nor does he hold to amillennialism.  

Chorus. The message of the Chorus is that Jesus reigns… specifically as the King over all Creation. He is sovereign over all things, even the pagans, and He is coming back.

Verse 1. The atonement, the mercy seat, the deity of Christ is all proclaimed in this verse. Tightly packed and filled with theology. It is interesting that Jovan chooses to reference the scriptural declaration of Christ as both the One born in Bethlehem and from ancient days (Micah 5:2).

Micah 5:1-5a (ESV) | The Ruler to Be Born in Bethlehem

Now muster your troops, O daughter of troops;
    siege is laid against us;
with a rod they strike the judge of Israel
    on the cheek.
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
    who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
    one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
    from ancient days.
Therefore he shall give them up until the time
    when she who is in labor has given birth;
then the rest of his brothers shall return
    to the people of Israel.
And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord,
    in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great
    to the ends of the earth.
And he shall be their peace.

Verse 2. The second verse opens with a summary who we are in Christ as declared in Ephesians 2. What I find cool here is that Jovan isn’t just offering a summary, He’s challenging the listener to read the whole chapter. That’s awesome, because that chapter is an excellent summary of Law and Gospel. We did a Gospel Wednesday overview a while back where we looked at the overall message Paul wrote in the first 3 chapters of his letter.

In the middle of this verse, there is some slang that references “this post is real” and “this post mil”. I believe Jovan is referring to Heaven, Eternal Life, in the post-millennial reign of Christ through His Church. If you are a pre- or post-millennialist, Jovan is referring to the eternal life that happens after the final return of Christ. Jovan is calling out those who have rejected the literal return of Christ as those who don’t believe in the “post mil”.  This portion also dives into a pop-culture reference that I had to look up to understand. I don’t follow basketball. So, if you are in the dark about who Carmelo Anthony is, or that he played High School basketball at Oak Hill Academy, you are not alone. At least now you know. Incidentally, he plays for the NY Knicks.

Verse 3. Here we get 2 references to Scripture. Jovan is focused on the millennial reign of Christ in His Church and is calling out those whose theology allows them to coast as “saved Christians” waiting until the literal reign to work in the Kingdom of God. Let’s look at Psalms 2.

Psalm 2 (ESV) | The Reign of the Lord‘s Anointed

Why do the nations rage
    and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
    and the rulers take counsel together,
    against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart
    and cast away their cords from us.”

He who sits in the heavens laughs;
    the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
    and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“As for me, I have set my King
    on Zion, my holy hill.”

I will tell of the decree:
The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;
    today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
    and the ends of the earth your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron
    and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
    be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear,
    and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son,
    lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
    for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Jovan is not preaching Dominionism, he’s preaching amillennialism. This passage isn’t about the Church’s reign; rather, it is about Christ’s reign over His Church. A Church comprising of all peoples and all nations to the ends of the Earth. The kings of the world who persecute the Church do so at their own eternal demise. He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. When Christ Returns for His Church, it will be too late… judgement is coming. We dare not treat the Gospel of Jesus Christ as a ticket that was punched a long time ago that assures us entrance into God’s Kingdom. We are to serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the son and take refuge in Him, lest He be angry and we perish in the way.

The next reference is to Psalm 72:11. I highly recommend reading the full Psalm 71, but we’ll look at the immediate context of this verse.

Psalm 72:8-11 (ESV)

May he have dominion from sea to sea,
    and from the River to the ends of the earth!
May desert tribes bow down before him,
    and his enemies lick the dust!
10 May the kings of Tarshish and of the coastlands
    render him tribute;
may the kings of Sheba and Seba
    bring gifts!
11 May all kings fall down before him,
    all nations serve him!

The last portion sounds like the audio from a sermon. I couldn’t find the sermon myself based on the words spoken, so if you know please share in the comments below.

Concerns

The poor enunciation of “all hail” bothers me. Every time the chorus is repeated my ears catch “awe hell” instead of “all hail”… and that’s a problem. Couple that with the fact that the line is repeated 8 times at then end of the chorus, it’s almost enough to make me quit on the song. Because I know this is the title track for the album and the album cover very clearly says “All Hail” and the immediate context of “King Jesus” makes it overwhelmingly clear that he’s saying “all hail”… still my ears get confused.

Theologically, there is the risk of people coming to the wrong conclusion that “All Hail” is preaching Dominionism (the idea that its the Church’s responsibility to subject the nations of the world under Christ’s feet). I’m not sure there is any clear way to avoid this confusion, and it’s a minor concern given how much clear theology is conveyed in this song.

Conclusion

While I am no fan of rap music, this song sets a very high lyrical bar. It’s clear in its declaration of Jesus Christ as our Savior, King, and Creator. I couldn’t ask for a clearer message in a song. I wish we had more of this effort of pouring theology into popular musical forms on our Christian airwaves.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

ps – Jovan has an older video on his youtube channel where he explains the Gospel. Check it out here.