DiM | “Even If” by MercyMe

Presentation1CCM Edition.

March 30, 2017. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Even If” by MercyMe which currently sits at #2 on 20TheCountdownMagazine.

This week’s song is refreshingly honest for what we see in CCM these days. Some real writing went into these lyrics, there is a lot being shared. The pain being shared is the exhaustion of American revivalism, though I doubt the artist would recognize that. Let’s give the song a listen and then work through the lyric.

Official Lyric Video

Lyrics (via K-LOVE)

They say sometimes you win some
Sometimes you lose some
And right now
Right now I’m losing bad

I’ve stood on this stage
Night after night
Reminding the broken
It’ll be alright
But right now
Oh right now I just can’t

It’s easy to sing
When there’s nothing to bring me down
But what will I say
When I’m held to the flame
Like I am right now

I know You’re able
And I know You can
Save through the fire
With Your mighty hand
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone

They say it only takes a little faith
To move a mountain
Good thing
A little faith is all I have right now

But God when You choose
To leave mountains unmovable
Give me the strength
To be able to sing
It is well with my soul

I know the sorrow
I know the hurt
Would all go away
If You’d just say the word
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone

You’ve been faithful
You’ve been good
All of my days
Jesus, I will cling to You
Come what may
‘Cause I know You’re able
I know You can

It is well with my soul

Discussion

Overall, this song fits in roughly the same vein as “Trust in You” by Lauren Daigle (DiM Post), but MercyMe has gone about it better by keeping it more of a confession of what’s going on in his head/heart with clear statements. There are some truly thankful confessions in this song, too, that really set it apart. We also see an artful outro bringing in “It is well with my soul” which reminds us of the Spafford Hymn. The one thing lacking is a comfort drawn directly from Scripture, instead we get more of a “renewed commitment” from the singer. This is part of American Revivalism, the part that strips the Gospel of its rest and comfort and leads Christians to continuously strive to muster up their will to do more, believe more, hope more, love more, etc.

Verse 1. “they say” here is a valid appeal to a colloquialism “you win some, you lose some”.  The artist is setting the stage. He feels like he’s won a lot in the past, has done a good job of encouraging others “it’ll be alright”. I’m assuming this is referring to encouraging believers. That is the majority of the MercyMe’s market, Christians who are looking for musical encouragement. This time, though, the singer is in need of encouragement himself. That’s honest. That’s real. Enthusiasm runs out of gas. Our flesh can only muster a finite amount of “umph”, our flesh is weak, sinful, and selfish.

First Pre-chorus. “It’s easy to sing, when there’s nothing to bring me down” this line gives me pause. It’s one of those statements that can only seem true on an emotional level, like, “It’s easy to sing when you’re not really feeling any emotional burdens”. Theologically speaking, this isn’t a truth statement. It smacks of triumphalism, or a theology of Glory, which focuses on the Christian being above the problems of this world by virtue of being a Christian. It undermines the truth of the simul, that in this life believers are simultaneously sinners and saints. Our flesh brings us down, our hearts defile us, we sin. The artist is describing the emotional roller-coaster of revivalism. We go to church or a tent-meeting, enjoy some music and heart-felt preaching about how “I gotta, I need to, if only I’d, Once I then do then He’ll do, etc.” and I dedicate myself to making that leap of faith, that re-commitment, that contract with God that I’ll do better from this point on… I feel great. I feel victorious. I’m a conquer. I have the faith to move mountains and slay giants and walk on water. But this isn’t increased faith, it’s an emotional high. And it will drop off. We’ll run out of gas. We will stumble and fall. And then what? Despair. All of the sudden, we realize we are in the fire. We realize the war is still raging within our members, the flesh craving sin, the Spirit warring against the flesh.

Romans 7:15-25 (ESV)

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

Galatians 5:13-24 (ESV)

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

A major problem with Revivalism, is that the emotional high is a placebo that provides no real grounding in the believer. There is no building up of faith because the focus of Revivalism is the believer rather than the Savior. So, once the emotions run out, the believer is left drained and no better equipped to deal with the struggles of this life and the real trials and tribulations we  face in this fallen world.

Chorus. The chorus is a confession being sung by the singer that God is able to rescue the singer from this current struggle, but even if He doesn’t the singer is confessing that God is still his only Hope. This is pulling from the confession of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego:

Daniel 3:14-18 (ESV)

Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good. But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

This is a bold confession these men made, a confession that can only be made by Faith. These men weren’t merely facing an emotional slump, a bad day, a recession, illegal taxation without representation, religious discrimination in the work place… they were going to be thrown into a raging fiery inferno, burned to death. Revivalists often take these statements from the heroes of the faith (Hebrews 11 reference) and emotionalize them, diminishing them so that we can be heroes in our everyday lives. Goliath becomes something as petty and fleeting as a job interview, and the fiery furnace becomes that traffic ticket you got for speeding 20mph over the speed limit. When you trivialize the enemy, you also make little of our Savior.

The confession itself is true. God is Able and He is Just, Merciful, and Holy even if He doesn’t intervene in time and space for this present circumstance. What the weary believer needs isn’t a renewed hope in temporal rescue with an eternal lifeboat “just in case”, the weary believer needs to be reminded that he is already on the Ark and is being carried to Eternity with Christ.

1 Peter 3:13-22 (ESV)

Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. 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.

This is how Peter encouraged those who were going through intense persecution. The Promise of Salvation isn’t so petty a thing to be shaken by temporal hardships, or emotional downturns, and it cannot be strengthened by a mere rousing of the will or personal resolve… the Promise is in what Christ as done for you, and for me, for all of eternity. The waves smashing against the ark, lighting strikes and thunderclaps do not prevail against the Ark, that is Christ Jesus, in whom we are Saved by Grace through Faith and that not of ourselves. There is comfort in that. Let’s look at the passage.

Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV) For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Verse 2. I’m not happy with this use of “they say”. Don’t appeal to a colloquialism when we have Scripture.

Matthew 17:20 (ESV) He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

Better to appeal to “Jesus said”, and then actually look at what He said. This is not an appeal to “growing your faith” as if it is fuel in your spiritual tank. Let’s look at a cross-reference in Luke

Luke 17:1-10 (ESV)

And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. “Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”

Faith isn’t something you muster up, it is something God gives you. To grow in faith is to grow in that faith that has been given to you by God. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ. We don’t need more than was given us, we simply need to trust in what Christ has already done. The Apostle Peter points to this in the opening chapter of his first Epistle:

1 Peter 1:6-9 (ESV) In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

That “little bit of faith is all I have” is all you need, because it isn’t the amount of faith you can muster, it is in Whom the faith you’ve been given rests.

Conclusion

I do love this song for its honesty and clarity of confession. The influence of Revivalism is so deeply ingrained in American Christianity that most probably won’t even see the major role it is playing in these lyrics. Without the clear proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for you for eternity, we are left with the revivalistic roller coaster.

If you’ve made it this far and would like to know more about my reference to Revivalism and American Christianity, I’d like to recommend a book by Bryan Wolfmueller called, “Has American Christianity Failed?”.

We’re leaving this song in the middle-category as there isn’t a clear Gospel in the song, though we do really like the song, personally. Please remember that the point of these reviews is the exercise of reviewing songs and the theology therein.

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 | “Dear Younger Me” by MercyMe

disapproveCCM Edition.

June 21, 2016. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Dear Younger Me” by MercyMe which currently sits at #19 on the20theCountdownMagazine.

I got frustrated with the song during the discussion of the lyric. This song spends most of its time, first couple of verses and even the chorus, building up to a climactic lesson or point. From the very beginning, we know there’s supposed to be a lesson, that cliche of “If I could tell the my younger self one thing…”. The artists relied on a bridge to bring the lesson home. It is almost good… almost. We’ll get to that point in the discussion, but this song could have been rescued were it not for the overwhelming self-focus in the problem and in the proposed solution.

MercyMe VEVO

 

Lyrics (via MercyMe)

Dear younger me
Where do I start
if i could tell you everything that I have learned so far
then you could be
one step ahead
of all the painful memories still running thru my head
i wonder how much different things would be
dear younger me

dear younger me
i cannot decide
do i give some speech about how to get the most out of your life
or do i go deep
and try to change
the choices that you’ll make cuz they’re choices that made me
even though I love this crazy life
sometimes i wish it was a smoother ride
dear younger me

if i knew then what i know now
condemnation would’ve had no power
My joy my pain would’ve never been my worth
if i knew then what i know now
would’ve not been hard to figure out
What I would’ve changed if I had heard

dear younger me
it’s not your fault
you were never meant carry this beyond the cross

you are holy
you are righteous
you are one of the redeemed

set apart
a brand new heart
you are free indeed

every mountain every valley
Thru each heartache you will see
every moment brings you closer
to who you were meant to be
Dear younger dear

Discussion

So who is the artist talking to? Well, the obvious answer is “himself”. The secondary target audience is anyone who has done some introspection and reflection and had the thought if I knew then what I know now. I think that idea has crossed everyone’s mind at one point or another, how we answer the question or go about answering that question is what tends to vary the most. I’ve come to the point now where I understand how the Bible describes sin and the corruption of our flesh that whenever these thoughts come to mind, the simple answer is always, “I’d not have believed myself, and would have simply gone on sinning”. We don’t get to go back and try to undo or redo anything, and we don’t need to. We have something much, much better. We have the Cross, the Gospel of God’s Grace, the promise of Forgiveness and Salvation, the Hope of Eternal Life in Christ Jesus. It is Finished.

Verse 1. Nothing particularly profound or particularly Christian in this verse. It is asking honest questions. That they are honest doesn’t make them good questions. For example, there is a hint in one of the questions that somehow we might be ahead in life if we had extra information. I don’t think that’s true for the Christian. We don’t sin due to lack of knowledge, we sin because we are sinful. The artist isn’t explicitly addressing sins of the past, and I find that troubling. Popular evangelicalism doesn’t know what to do with sin, doesn’t know how to describe it in light of the Gospel. So what normally tends to happen is sin gets treated as mistakes of the past that are now gone. That’s not completely wrong, but it’s missing the reality that as long as we continue living in this fallen world, sin is what our flesh will crave. We are born into the corruption of Adam, and our flesh bears that mark until the Resurrection, when we’ll finally be rid of this sinful flesh and granted new bodies. Our hearts and minds (flesh) bear many scars inflicted by our own sinful desires and the sinful desires of others. The song seems focused more on regret, guilt, and condemnation… so it is dealing with the hurt of past sins without naming the enemy.

Verse 2. Again, this song builds slowly. But here we see something that looks like a throw-away piece of advice, that almost seems awesome. Granted, we’ve still not seen anything in the song that is particularly Christian, but if we make that assumption based on the band and the CCM marketing model, who is out there preaching “how to get the most out of your life“? Most of popular evangelicalism is, the celebrities who preach themselves and life-tips (Greg Surratt, Craig Groeschel, Rick Warren) instead of Christ and Him Crucified. The guys making up their own creeds (Joel Osteen, Keith Craft) and rejecting Biblical orthodoxy (Andy Stanley), and just reading themselves into every possible scripture, including the ones plainly talking about God (Steven Furtick). At this line in the song I got my hopes up thinking, “wow, this song is rejecting that man-centered drivel and is going to point us to Christ”. Sadly, that thought didn’t pan out. The artist then talks about going deep… by questioning if we should really change anything in the past since those past mistakes are part of what makes us who we are. Well, great. So, going deep is to question whether or not past mistakes were really mistakes or building blocks for who we are now? /sigh. That’s not deep, that’s self-justification. At this point, I’m glad the artist isn’t clearly naming sin as the enemy, because that would make this turning point in the song very bad. As it stands, this turn in the song makes it very surface-level and thin… like wondering if I would have finished my degree according to plan right out of high school or if I’m better off having failed at college and struggled for years before joining the Army. That’s not deep… it’s self-centered, self-focused conjecture that can either lead to a self-pity-party or a self-love-fest or vacillate between the two. So far, we’ve seen nothing in the song that separates it from secular humanism. The song is further downgraded in impact when the artists claims to love this crazy life, he just wishes sometimes it was a smoother ride. Who doesn’t want a life with less pain and fewer bumps?

Chorus. So what is it that the singer knows now that he didn’t know then? It has something to do with removing the power of condemnation, and it would have provided a sense of worth greater than joy and pain. That sounds fantastic, but what is it? What would you have told your younger self sooner to have all of these powers (or maybe told your younger self if your deep thoughts concluded it was worth avoiding some hardships)? We get one more teaser toward the end of the chorus that suggests that if he’d known then what he knows now it would have been easy to figure out what he would have changed if only he’d heard (may need a chart that sentence out on a piece of paper and colored markers, lol)…

Bridge (the answer). It’s not your fault. WHAT?!?! That’s the big payoff, that it’s not your fault? What is not your fault? Your sin? Your sin is your fault. You are born in it, born into it, born a slave to it, it comes from within you, it is in your heart, it influences your speech, your thoughts, and your actions, it is yours. The message of the Gospel is NOT that we are victims of injustice, it is that in our guilt and shame God stepped in to pay the price we owe but could not pay in our place so that in Him we might be saved and made righteous.

In fairness, I’m the one that has been trying to understand the lyric from a Biblical Christian perspective. The song hasn’t been talking about sin directly. The next line mentions the cross… oddly. you were never meant carry this beyond the cross. To give this single line/thought its best construction, completely removed from the rest of the song, this could be a wonderful thought reinforcing the Truth that Christ died for your sins and has forgiven them all. Once you’ve been absolved by the blood and body of Christ Jesus, It is finished is what He spoke on the Cross, and It is forgiven is what remains of your absolved sin. That is glorious good news, Gospel. Sadly, the song hasn’t been building to this truth of the Gospel. I do believe this is intended to provide relief to the weary believer who struggles to find assurance of his salvation. That is a prevailing source of torment for the majority of professing Christians in popular American evangelicalism whose focus is always on works and self-examination, a form of Christianity that is foolishly looking to progress beyond the Gospel of Jesus Christ into human perfection under the LAW. The Gospel of Jesus Christ isn’t something only unbelievers need to hear… Christians need the Gospel preached to them continually also, Christians need to hear that their sins are forgiven constantly because we sin constantly and are constantly in need of forgiveness.

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

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

Now, regarding the issue of picking up old regrets, and listening to the condemnation of the enemy concerning sins we’ve already been forgiven of, that’s why we need our brothers and sisters in Christ speaking life into our lives. No, I’m not talking about “positivity” I’m talking about the Truth of the Gospel. I need to hear a brother in Christ say to me, “yes, we’ve committed the sin of idolatry in the past… but that sin has already been absolved, there is nothing more that needs to be done there, Christ has forgiven it, you need to let it go” (words my pastor spoke to me over some ice cream). I need to hear that. You need to hear it also. When the struggle is internal, you need to look to the external, objective Word of God to build your faith. Wallowing around in the mire of introspection won’t build your faith, it will distract you from God’s Word. If this was intended to be the central point of the song, it wasn’t build up well and there is no acknowledgement of the Law, no clarity in the Gospel, and what’s worse, the song simply ends in a blanket of positive affirmations and promises without a tether to Christ and Him Crucified.

you are holy
you are righteous
you are one of the redeemed
set apart
a brand new heart
you are free indeed
every mountain every valley
Thru each heartache you will see
every moment brings you closer
to who you were meant to be
Dear younger dear

Every promise pointing to how great “me” is… I’m now going to be who I’m meant to be. In the end, this is a motivational song that any secular humanist could relate to and agree with and never be convicted of sin or made aware of the Gospel. Are these fragments all part of actual promises in the Bible? Yes, they are. But they’ve been divorced from Law and Gospel and applied blindly. The focus is on the self, not on Christ. Throughout the whole song, the focus is on the self. The cross gets a small mention.

Conclusion

If this was a song intended for secular airplay, just part of everyday musical art being performed to pay the bills, it would make for a cool, positive song. I’m used to ignoring bad theology in secular songs. However, this song is written by Christians for a Christian audience, so it’s bad theology is central to the song and it cannot simply be ignored.

If I could tell the younger me something, it would be to read the Scriptures with a Christ-focus, looking for how this passage is pointing me to Christ rather than constantly trying to see “what this passage is telling me to do”. As I wrote earlier, I made the bad choices because of sin. I am where I am today because of the Grace and Mercy of God through the working of the Holy Spirit, not by anything I did or realized on my own. What I know now is because the Holy Spirit opened my eyes, and there is nothing I could say to my younger self that would help the Holy Spirit do His work any differently. Believers don’t get “do-overs” we get something much, much better… we get It is Finished; You are Forgiven.

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 | “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 | “Flawless” by MercyMe

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

June 09, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Flawless” by MercyMe which currently sits at #19 at 20theCountdownMagazine.

We’ll continue using this top 20 song list until I find a better list. Your feedback in this would be greatly appreciated.

When I first heard this song on the radio, I was driving and didn’t catch most of the first verse, but I was really excited to hear a song talking about God’s Grace and how there is nothing we can do to earn that Grace, not before salvation or retroactively. However, now that I’ve listened to it several times and read the lyrics (part of my writing process), I’m less excited about the song. In seeking to assuage one fear (works-based righteousness before God), it conveys several poor notions. We’ll discuss those below.

VEVO Music Video

Lyrcs (via KLove)

Flawless by MercyMe

There’s got to be more
Than going back and forth
From doing right to doing wrong
‘Cause we were taught that’s who we are
Come on get in line right behind me
You along with everybody
Thinking there’s worth in what you do

Then like a hero who takes the stage when
We’re on the edge of our seats saying it’s too late
Well let me introduce you to amazing grace

No matter the bumps
No matter the bruises
No matter the scars
Still the truth is
The cross has made
The cross has made you flawless
No matter the hurt
Or how deep the wound is
No matter the pain
Still the truth is
The cross has made
The cross has made you flawless

Could it possibly be
That we simply can’t believe
That this unconditional
Kind of love would be enough
To take a filthy wretch like this
And wrap him up in righteousness
But that’s exactly what He did

Take a breath smile and say
Right here right now I’m ok because
The cross was enough

Then like a hero who takes the stage when
We’re on the edge of our seats saying it’s too late
Well let me introduce you to grace grace
God’s grace

No matter what they say
Or what you think you are
The day you called His name
He made you flawless

Publishing: MercyMe Music (ASCAP) (admin. by Music Services); Wet As A Fish Music (ASCAP) (admin. by Music Services); Soul Glow Activator Music (BMI) (admin. by Music Services); D Soul Music / Universal Music Brentwood Benson Publishing (ASCAP) (admin. by capitolcmgpublishing.com); 9t One Songs / Ariose Music (ASCAP) (admin. by capitolcmgpublishing.com). All rights reserved.
Writer(s): Bart Millard, Mike Scheuchzer, Nathan Cochran, Robby Shaffer; Barry Graul; Solomon Olds; David Garcia; Ben Glover

Discussion

Overall Intent

I believe the intent behind this song is a good one. I’m inferring intent based on the direction of the errors and the current theme in the Christian music industry. The intent is to reassure the listener that faith in Christ’s life, death, & resurrection is sufficient for salvation. That the one who believes in the Son has eternal life assured, and that nothing he does in this life can improve upon that assurance. Our rightstanding with God is by faith alone in Christ alone to the Glory of God alone. Both boasting (in our good works) and condemnation (for not measuring up to the good works of others) are excluded.

Ephesians 2:8-10 (ESV) 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.

Romans 8:1-11 (ESV) | Life in the Spirit
1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Hopefully, in reading through the passage in Romans, we see where MercyMe was intending to go but toward the end of that passage we see where the song gets a bit off track. Does the cross make us flawless in the here and now? Not in the flesh. This flesh is corrupted, dead, because of sin. We walk in sinful bodies, but we who are in Christ do not submit ourselves to the flesh; rather, we walk in the Spirit, meaning by faith we hold onto the promise of the Resurrection, a Promise sealed in us by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as a Gift for those who have believed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 1:3-9 (ESV) | Born Again to a Living Hope
1 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Peter makes it clear that our Salvation and Hope are assured, though our reception of the fullness of the Promise is not yet. How can that be? Faith.

Romans 8:23-25 (ESV) 23 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. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

No one hopes for what he sees. We hope (with assurance by faith) for what we do not yet see, our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies, the resurrection in Christ Jesus.

The cross has made you flawless in the hope that is to come, the Return of Jesus Christ. This song stays focused on hurts and sins of the past. Our bodies still bear the scars of sin… we all will die a physical death.

Problems

While I believe the overall intent of the song to have come from a good place, there are some big problems in the lyrics that bear mentioning.

Verse 1. There’s got to be more Than going back and forth From doing right to doing wrong ‘Cause we were taught that’s who we are… What is really being countered here? I mean, the truth is that this is who we are, we are simultaneously justified by faith and sinners in the flesh. If we stop teaching this as the truth of our existence, does that change the existence? No. What is the alternative? That Christians no longer sin or that sin is no longer sin for Christians? Absolutely not! So, this whole verse gets a “fail” from me. The last line of this verse, if held tightly within the context of what we’d explored as the “intent” of the song, kind of fits. But the truth is that what we do (or don’t do) has worth, it has value, within the Body of Christ. Not in our right-standing with God, but in our love for our neighbors. When (not “if”) we sin against our neighbor, we need to repent and seek forgiveness. That act has worth.

Pre-Chorus. I like the imagery of the pre-chorus. At first, I was concerned that it was making the listener the one taking the stage, but I don’t think that’s it. I think it’s the Grace of God being introduced on the stage that is being conveyed here, and I really like that. Kudos to whoever wrote this pre-chorus.

Chorus. bumps, bruises, scars… and then the cross made us flawless? I think we got a bit lost in the imagery. The power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that by His blood we are forgiven of our sin. Sin is far more than bumps, bruises, and scars… sin is death. Bumps and bruises, in light of the Gospel, are trials and tribulations of this life. They pale in comparison to the Gospel of Grace. Our flesh is scarred by sin (ours and of others). Sometimes our scars lead us to sin (habitual sins, learned sinful behavior, vengeance etc.) and only the Grace of God can heal those wounds. This chorus can be encouraging, in that thanks to the Cross of Jesus Christ, we no longer are slaves to sin or the kingdom of darkness… but the authors confused the two forms of righteousness and don’t seem to rightly understand the idea of simul justes et peccator. We are completely forgiven in Jesus’ name, and we continue to sin and repent of those sins as the Holy Spirit convicts us. Forgiveness is assured, He is Faithful and Just to forgive us our sins when we confess and repent.

Verse 2. Okay, this verse is an improvement, but it fails in the same area that the majority of popular Christian songs fail… there is no mention of repentance and forgiveness. What is available here and now is forgiveness, based on Christ’s atonement for our sin. It is a beautiful and glorious exchange, our repentance by faith exchanges our filthy rags for a robe of righteousness in Jesus’ Name.

Conclusion

We need to get back to understanding the Truth of what the Apostle Paul taught regarding our existence as simultaneously Justified and sinner. By faith we are joined with Jesus Christ in His death and resurrection for the forgiveness of our sins. Yet, we remain walking this earth as exiles, no longer belonging to this world but not yet rid of this sinful flesh to put on fully redeemed bodies.

Philippians 3:8-16 (ESV) 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

As surely as the patriarchs longed for the Promised Messiah, we long for His return, for the upward call of God in Christ Jesus, when at last we will be completely healed of every remnant of sin in our mortal bodies, for we will be given new bodies in Christ Jesus. The Promise is True, He will return for His Church.

Revelation 22:20-21 (ESV) 20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen.Come, Lord Jesus! 21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “Hope in Front of Me” by Danny Gokey

Presentation1Today is “Discernment in Music” (DiM) day here at Faithful Stewardship.

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)
4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

At the time of this writing, the K-Love top songs chart had not been updated from last week; therefore, we will be using 20 the Countdown Magazine’s chart for today’s DiM post. I can’t tell how often this chart is updated, but the top song on the chart is Danny Gokey’s “Hope In Front Of Me”. As it turns out, this song was at #4 on the K-Love chart last week, and would have been the next song on our list to review anyway, so here we go. Let us begin with a refresher for those who might not have heard this song on the radio:

[youtube http://youtu.be/O5GFiDdGGGM]

 

Hope in Front of Me | Lyrics (via Metro Lyrics)

I’ve been running through rain
That I thought would never end
Trying to make it on faith
In a struggle against the wind
I’ve seen the dark and the broken places
But I know in my soul
No matter how bad it gets
I’ll be alright

There’s hope in front of me
There’s a light, I still see it
There’s a hand still holding me
Even when I don’t believe it
I might be down but I’m not dead
There’s better days still up ahead
Even after all I’ve seen
There’s hope in front of me

There’s a place at the end of the storm
You finally find
Where the hurt and the tears and the pain
All fall behind

You open up your eyes and up ahead
There’s a big sun shining
Right then and there you realize
You’ll be alright

There’s hope in front of me
There’s a light, I still see it
There’s a hand still holding me
Even when I don’t believe it
I might be down but I’m not dead
There’s better days still up ahead
Even after all I’ve seen
There’s hope in front of me

There’s a hope still burning
I can feel it rising through the night
And my world’s still turning
I can feel your love here by my side

You’re my hope
You’re the light, I still see it
Your hands are holding me
Even when I don’t believe it
I’ve got to believe
I still have hope
You are my hope

Songwriters
HERMS, BERNIE / JAMES, BRETT / GOKEY, DANIEL JAY

Published by
Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.
Read more: Danny Gokey – Hope In Front Of Me Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Positive Elements

Well, it is definitely an attempt to give encouragement to any and all who are going through hard times. If you bring in the Official Music Video, you get a sense of rescue for those who are struggling with hopelessness in various circumstances… and then they end up broken down in the middle of a country road and just need to keep walking… *sigh*. The song is vague. Danny Gokey has professed to be a Christian, he did so while he was competing in American Idol (Season 8) where he finished in 3rd place, which is quite an accomplishment. He has an absolutely tremendous voice and a great sense of musical style and delivers his music with power and emotion. This song also points toward a wonderful community outreach of Sophia’s Heart Foundation, named in honor of his late first wife. What they do here is undoubtedly a good work for the poor and the down-trodden, and this song Hope in Front of Me is undoubtedly anthemic for those being touched by this ministry. These are all positive elements and deeply commendable, but the vagueness of the messaging still looms. Before we move on to specific concerns, I want to share a video from Danny Gokey’s Homepage that really helped me tie this song to the Sophia’s Heart Foundation.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffivEQpbUZA]

Concerns

Our goal here is to practice Biblical discernment in the songs we hear played on the radio (maybe even sing along with) so that we are fully aware of what we are filling our hearts and minds with. The song has some very strong religious/spiritual keywords such as: faith, soul, belief, hope, light, and love. Each of these words resonate with religions of all flavors, even the godless ones (e.g. humanism and buddism). The vagueness is a problem here because at no time in the song or in the Official Music Video is the object of the singers faith identified nor is the hope articulated beyond a generic positive confession of “better days” and “I’ll be alright”. There is also a quirk that pops up in the use of the pronoun “you”. As with most modern-day spiritual songs, the “you” is at times implying God (or at least a higher power) but might also refer to an earthly person (love interest), but the quirk comes in where “you” suddenly shifts to the hearer. Well, that’s a problem since we also have the other two possible “you”s in the song. Vagueness is the key issue with this song. The Gospel isn’t remotely vague. Scripture isn’t vague. “Spiritual songs” are vague to appeal to the widest possible audience for sales. The song does not provide any answers, no gospel, and not really any Law, just an appeal to Hope.

To get any meaning out of the song, you first have to put real meaning into it. Let’s see if we can’t manage some salvaging of the song from the Scriptures.

Faith. Faith is not a thing unto itself. If we are using a strictly Biblical definition of faith, only believers have faith. We see in Romans 10:17 (ESV) “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ”. Therefore, apart from the Gospel of Jesus Christ there can be no faith. In fact, when Paul describes the state of sin of mankind in Romans 1, he lists “faithlessness” as one of their attributes.

Romans 1:28-32 (ESV) 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

In the modern-day church we often use “faith” and “belief” interchangeably. If we are to do that, then we need to understand that there is only one True faith (faith that comes from hearing the Word of God), and all other faiths (or beliefs) are false. For the sake of redeeming this song, we must hold to the Biblical definition of faith, that is, faith in the Person, Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Hope. Since this is the main thrust of the song, I want to focus on salvaging this term. I could not do so without first properly anchoring the term Faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In the same way that faith requires an object, we need to properly identify the object of our hope. Our hope is in Christ, and in Christ we have a hope. I think Peter does a great job of encapsulating it in the introduction of 1 Peter.

1 Peter 1:1-12 (ESV) | Born Again to a Living Hope
1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

Our hope is in an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading… and that inheritance is kept for us in heaven to be revealed in the last time. The hope of heaven, that we will gain entrance into heaven through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. That this sinful flesh will finally be put away from us in death, and that by His blood we will join physically in His resurrection as He gives us perfect, new, sinless bodies as part of our inheritance. That is our hope. And it is so marvelous and such an occasion for rejoicing that the various trials may cause us grief in this life are brief and temporary. The Hope of Heaven and the Hope of the Great Day of Christ’s return is the Hope in Front of Me. Unfortunately, there are lines in the song that wrongfully anchor this hope in the temporal. I’m not saying there won’t be any good times while on this earth, the promise is that we who are in Christ will face trials of many kinds, and that our faith will be tested, for this fallen world Hates God. If your hope is anchored in this life, you’ve anchored it on a sandy floor that shifts with storms and seas. At the risk of belaboring the point, “your best life now” is NOT a Christian confession. Our inheritance (our Hope) is kept for us in Heaven. While on Earth, God the Holy Spirit comforts, helps, sustains, and nurtures us… but He does so for purposes that extend well beyond this present life, and beyond our own understanding. He is building up the Bride of Christ, of which we who believe are all members.

Conclusion

This song is vague, and at-best simply a spiritual song. It doesn’t really proclaim the Gospel or uphold the Law. It is a generically “positive” song, sung extremely well. I can become a teaching point if the conversation lends itself to you sharing the Gospel by explaining faith, hope, and love as they are defined by the Bible rather than humanism. But the song doesn’t do that on its own.

I was deeply moved by the EPK film, the background behind Sophia’s Heart Foundation… but even in that film we heard too much of “my story” rather than the Gospel. We touched on the problem of teaching that Christians are supposed to share “their story” rather than His when we reviewed Casting Crown’s teaching videos. I was moved by the good works of Sophia’s Heart Foundation, and I have no problem sharing what they are doing. But good works apart from the Gospel are temporal. Preach the Gospel, so that those who hear the words of Christ might obtain faith in Christ and through Christ be assured of the Hope that lies ahead, the hope of that upward call of Christ on the Last Day.

Jude 1:24-25 (ESV)
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.

In Christ,
Jorge