CTT | Submission to Authority

CTTToday’s Completing The Thought (CTT) post will be an examination of the scriptures regarding submission to authority in light of what is currently going on with KY County Clerk Kim Davis and what will soon take center-stage with Oregon Judge Vance Day. Please keep these national events in mind and in your prayers, because the visible church is about to be tested here in the US and we need to be ready.

This is a topic that was addressed in detail by both the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans, and by the Apostle Peter. Please notice that in both cases, the instructions for submission to authority come after the teaching for what it means to live as Christians.

Let us begin with looking at Paul’s instruction to the Romans. For the sake of establishing context, let us begin in Chapter 12, verse 9.

Romans 12:9-21 (ESV) | Marks of the True Christian

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 13:1-7 (ESV) | Submission to the Authorities

13 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Notice the hard instructions come before the mention of authority? I mean, really… the truly tough instructions on loving our enemy, blessing our enemy, and not taking vengeance on our enemy apply to all of our walk. Does this mean that every governing authority has the right to dictate to us our theology, morality, and understanding of God’s Word? Absolutely not. It does mean that if we pay taxes, we follow the laws of men that don’t lead us into sin, and we submit when their laws place us into custody. Let us look at how Paul walked this out.

Acts 23:1-5 (ESV)

23 And looking intently at the council, Paul said, “Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day.” And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet contrary to the law you order me to be struck?” Those who stood by said, “Would you revile God’s high priest?”And Paul said, “I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest, for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’”

Paul wasn’t wrong, what Ananias had commanded was indeed contrary to the law. However, Ananias was indeed the high priest, and Paul paid him due respect and honor for the authority he held. Paul wasn’t wrong. Ananias wasn’t right. However, Paul knew what was written, and that Paul was not to speak evil of a ruler of his people. If you read through the accounts in Acts, Paul remains imprisoned here despite not being guilty of breaking any laws of Rome nor of the Jews. Though Paul is innocent, he remains submitted to their authority to detain him. Why did Paul submit to wrongful imprisonment? Luke records for us why:

Acts 23:11 (ESV) 11 The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.”

Paul is eventually put to death in Rome. He spends years in prison, writing letters to the churches, letters we now hold as God-Breathed scriptures. Paul did not capitulate to the opinions of men regarding Godliness or the Gospel. Yet he was submitted to the governing authorities. I have to be honest, how the peddlers of the prosperity gospel get away with their false teaching is beyond me, except that they never allow their victims to read the New Testament in context. Let’s take a look at what Paul includes in the introduction to his letter to the church in Philippi.

Philippians 1:12-26 (ESV)

The Advance of the Gospel

12 I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. 15 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will.16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.

To Live Is Christ

Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell.23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.

Did you catch that comment in verse 20? It was Paul’s eager expectation and hope that he will not be at all ashamed… he was praying for courage so that in his body, whether by life or by death, Christ will be honored. May we have the same clarity of mind and confidence in Jesus Christ our Lord when we face such trials and tribulation.

Now, let us look to how the Apostle Peter taught this matter in his letter.

1 Peter 2:1-12 (ESV) | A Living Stone and a Holy People

So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture:

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
    a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,

“The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone,”

and

“A stone of stumbling,
    and a rock of offense.”

They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

Peter comes into this chapter with a reminder of the Gospel, of the distinction between those who believe and those who do not. Finally, Peter charges Christians to be a people for God’s own possession, that we may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness. He urges us to abstain from the passions of the flesh… and he calls us sojourners and exiles. From what? From this world in which we still live but are no longer a part. Peter charges us to keep our conduct honorable, so that when we are accused as evildoers, they’ll see our good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. Notice that Peter isn’t promising that if we keep our conduct honorable everyone will like us.

1 Peter 2:18-25 (ESV) |  Submission to Authority

13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

It should be noted that when Peter is talking about the emperor as supreme, Peter was martyred during the reign of Nero, an active persecutor of Christians. And from where did Peter draw his instruction to the saints? From the example of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.  Peter then brings it right back around to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus, the Son of the Living God, had done NOTHING wrong, yet He submitted even unto death, a horrible death on the cross for our sins, and for God’s Glory.

Conclusion

The Gospel of Jesus Christ can never be the occasion for rebellion and lawlessness. We don’t get to use the Gospel as a reason to overthrow our government in a coup. It is not the role of the church to take over the government. Neither is it a mandate for Christians to run and hide when the law of the land criminalizes Christianity or the Word of God. We are called to stand, in submission to authority, while testifying of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. A time will come when such submission will mean imprisonment for most Christians. The day will come when what is happening to Pastor Saeed Abedini in Iran is happening here. This world is passing away, nothing will remain. All will be brought to an end, and then the Judgement. Those who by grace through faith are part of the Resurrection, we shall see the new heaven and the new earth. Do not place your hope in this temporal life. Instead, let us place our hope where the Apostle Peter placed his.

1 Peter 1:3-9 (ESV) | Born Again to a Living Hope

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, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.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.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

CTT | The Pregnancy isn’t the sin…

pregnancyNormally, I like to introduce a CTT post by sharing something I’ve heard and then exploring what Scripture says. Today, we’ll be doing it in reverse order. I want to examine a passage of scripture and then discuss the point made in the title as it pertains to the Church today.

Galatians 6:1-10 (ESV)

Galatians 6:1-10 (ESV) | Bear One Another’s Burdens

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load. Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Paul is talking to the Church, to Christians, about the need to restore fellow Christians who are caught in a transgression… in any transgression. With all that is going on in the media today, one might expect this post to be about the Ashley Madison hack where some 37 Million people were exposed as adulterers. While that is horrible and needs to be addressed, that is not what I am most concerned about today. My concern today goes to a young woman who discovers she is pregnant as the result of sin.

The Pregnancy is not the Sin

Whether we are dealing with pre-martial sex, extra-marital sex, incest, or even rape, it is critically important that we, the Body of Christ, do not get sloppy in identifying the sin. We must ever preach the Law, properly identifying sin and trusting in God the Holy Spirit to convict us of our sin… but we must not leave it there, for we must also preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin. But we must guard against the evil lies of the enemy that seek to shame the young mother into sacrificing her baby to Molech (Lev 20:1-3) in hopes of being forgiven for the sin… adding the sin of murder (abortion) improves nothing.

To the young lady who just discovered she is now pregnant before her wedding… the sex is the sin… not the baby.

To the married woman who is found to be with child from someone other than her husband… the adultery is the sin… not the baby.

To the young man who just discovered he was responsible for the conception of a baby as a direct result of his sin… the sexual immorality is the sin… not the baby.

To the church, whenever someone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 

The Law is unchanged by circumstance or emotion… the wages of sin is still death. Dear Christian, we do not seek to soften the Law; rather, to be clear and precise in application of the Law to expose sin and transgression. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to convict the individual of sin unto repentance. As Christians, we are called to bear on another’s burdens, to restore in a spirit of gentleness while keeping watch over ourselves. The pre-marital sex is sin, and must cease. The adultery is sin and must cease. Repentance is required and by faith forgiveness is assured. For some clarity, let us look one of the pastoral epistles, that of 2 Timothy.

2 Timothy 2 (ESV) | A Good Soldier of Christ Jesus

You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus,and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11 The saying is trustworthy, for:

If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
12 if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful—

for he cannot deny himself.

A Worker Approved by God

14 Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. 19 But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

20 Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.

22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

Now let us be clear, that we are not talking about a cleansing of the self by the works of your human hands; rather, we are talking about the working of faith in repentance granted by God the Holy Spirit through hearing the word of Christ. This isn’t a call for penance, or self-punishment, and we are definitely not talking about taking the life of your baby to make the sin go away. This is a call to repentance for the sin, and to trust in God for provision for you and the baby. The baby is a gift from God sent for His glory. Let’s look now at Paul’s instructions to the Colossians.

Colossians 3 (ESV) | Put On the New Self

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity,passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice,slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts,kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Rules for Christian Households

18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. 22 Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.

So, we have our Law and Gospel… that the sexual immorality is sin, but the pregnancy, the baby, the conception is not. That doesn’t make anything easy… and I truly hope no one thinks I’m suggesting any of this is easy. While I cannot speak to all possible scenarios, I will say that God is Sovereign and that He is the Good Shepherd. He takes care of us in ways we simply cannot comprehend. In closing, let us turn to James 1 for proper encouragement in these days. Whether you are the one found pregnant, or the brother or sister helping to bear the burden of another… let us find comfort in these words.

James 1:1-18 (ESV)

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, 10 and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. 11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.

1Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

Each man/woman is tempted when he/she is lured and enticed by his/her own desire. The birthing in this passage is actually referring to the transition from temptation into sin, for the sake of this discussion that sin is the sexual immorality that led to pregnancy.

To the victim of rape, both you and your baby are victims of the sin of a third-party. Don’t let the enemy lie to you and somehow convince you that you are in any way a victim of the baby. That the baby’s conception came as a consequence of sin does not make the pregnancy a sin. Let the church share your pain, and the burden of the cares of this world. Let the Church encourage you to cast your cares upon Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of our faith.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “Forever” by Kari Jobe

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

August 20, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Forever” by Kari Jobe which currently sits at #7 on the KLove top 10.

This is another cross-over song written for corporate worship that is very popular on Christian radio. This song does not call the hearer to repentance, but it is a song of declaration of a crucified and risen King, Jesus Christ. Overall, this song has some good stuff. It is full of emotional power, my eyes well up with tears each time I hear the song played… and since I keep the song on repeat as I work through these DiM posts… you may assume that my face is streaked with tears. I’m okay with that. Oh, how I wish there was a call to repent and be forgiven in Jesus’ Name. Without the call to repent and be forgiven… the theology behind the songwriters reflects Bethel’s Kingdom theology… which is to be avoided. Bethel teaches heretical Christology. Here, we will redirect whatever false theology lay behind the intent of the song, and re-frame it in Biblical theology. Jesus Christ overcame sin and death, so that we might repent of our sin and be forgiven in Jesus’ Name, for He bore the wrath of punishment for our sin upon the cross, and by faith in Him we might be granted the righteousness of Christ, imputed to us by an act of God’s Grace.

VEVO Lyric Video

Lyrics (via Air1.com)

Kari Jobe – Forever Lyrics

The moon and stars they wept
The morning sun was dead
The Savior of the world was fallen
His body on the cross
His blood poured out for us
The weight of every curse was broken

One final breath He gave
As Heaven looked away
The Son of God was laid in darkness
A battle in the grave
The war on death was waged
The power of hell forever broken

The ground began to shake
The stone was rolled away
His perfect love could not be overcome
Now death where is your sting
Our resurrected King has rendered you defeated

Forever, He is glorified
Forever, He is lifted high
Forever, He is risen
He is alive
He is alive

Publishing: © 2013 Bethel Music Publishing (ASCAP) / Worship Together Music (BMI) (Admin. at CapitolCMGPublishing.com)
Writer(s): Kari Jobe, Brian Johnson, Jennifer Johnson, Gabriel Wilson, Joel Taylor, and Christa Black Gifford

Discussion

The first verse declares the death of Jesus Christ on the cross.

Luke 23:39-47 (ESV) | The Death of Jesus

39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” 44 It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. 47 Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!”

Amen. But Jesus was not left in the grave.

Luke 24:1-7 (ESV) | The Resurrection

24 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb,taking the spices they had prepared. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. 5 And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.

The second verse of the song portrays Matthew’s account of the resurrection.

Matthew 28:1-7 (ESV) | The Resurrection

28 Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.”

Now, onto what is missing from the song… why did Jesus come, live, die, and rise again from the grave? For that, let us go to Peter’s sermon in Acts 2.

Acts 2:22-41 (ESV)

22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him,

“‘I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;
26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
my flesh also will dwell in hope.
27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
or let your Holy One see corruption.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
35     until I make your enemies your footstool.”’

36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

Now, I do have some minor concerns with some of the wording in parts of the song. The third line in the song describes the Savior as fallen, and we generally associate the word fallen with sinful. That is not what is being conveyed here. The picture here is one of a fallen soldier, one who has died on the battle field. Christ died and in that death He secured Victory for all eternity. This doesn’t detract from the song, but I worry that someone might wrongly use this as a disqualifier for the song, so I wanted to address it openly.

There is a portion in the second verse that asserts that Christ fought a battle in the grave. Bethel teaches some crazy mysticism and heretical Christology, so there is probably a lot of bad teaching driving this, but as I read the scriptures, the battle was won on the cross, when our Lord and Savior declared It is finished. The Resurrection is further proof of Who He Is, and awaits all of those whose names are Written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. One final point is that of death. The all will still taste the first death, and then the judgment. We who are in Christ will not taste the second death, which is reserved for the demons and the unbelievers.

Conclusion

For the most part, what is present in the song is very good. The song is incomplete as far as the Gospel goes. The context of the song as written is dubious, given its connection to Bethel. If your church is performing this song, I pray the Doctrine preached in your church is sound and sharply contrasted against Bethel’s false teaching.

Romans 15:13 (ESV) 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “Even So Come” by Kristian Stanfill

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

August 18, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Even So Come” by Kristian Stanfill which currently sits at #15 on 20theCountdownMagazine’s top 20 and at #2 on the KLove top 10.

This is another cross-over song written for corporate worship that is very popular on in Christian radio. This song serves no purpose for the unbelieving hearer, it is meant as a song of declaration of anticipation for the return of Jesus Christ for His Bride, the Church. We’ll discuss the merits of the song in that vein, to see how to best equip the believing Christian for maintaining a Gospel focus grounded in Biblical Truth. Overall, this song has some good stuff. The further removed from Passion/Hillsong the better, since their theology regarding the Church, the Kingdom of Heaven, Presence theology, and Word of Faith is aberrant. Whatever good can be found in this song, I strongly discourage anyone from accepting Hillsong theology.

PassionVEVO Lyric/Chords Video

Lyrics (via Air1.com)

Kristian Stanfill – Even So Come Lyrics
From the album Passion: Even So Come

All of creation
All of the earth
Make straight a highway
A path for the Lord
Jesus is coming soon

Call back the sinner
Wake up the saint
Let every nation shout of Your fame
Jesus is coming soon

Like a bride waiting for her groom
We’ll be a Church ready for You
Every heart longing for our King
We sing
Even so come
Lord Jesus, come

Even so come
Lord Jesus, come

There will be justice
All will be new
Your name forever
Faithful and true
Jesus is coming soon

Like a bride waiting for her groom
We’ll be a Church ready for You
Every heart longing for our King
We sing
Even so come
Lord Jesus, come

Even so come
Lord Jesus, come

So we wait
We wait for You
God, we wait
You’re coming soon

So we wait
We wait for You
God, we wait
You’re coming soon

Like a bride waiting for her groom
We’ll be a Church ready for You
Every heart longing for our King
We sing

Like a bride waiting for her groom
We’ll be a Church ready for You
Every heart longing for our King
We sing

Even so come
Lord Jesus, come

Even so come
Lord Jesus, come

Even so come
Lord Jesus, come

Even so come
Lord Jesus, come

Publishing: © 2015 sixsteps Songs // Worship Together Music // S.D.G. Publishing (BMI) (Admin. by CapitolCMGPublishing.com) // Vistaville Music obo Itself / Go Mia Music / Chrissamsongs Inc. (ASCAP) // Sony/ATV Timber Publishing // Open Hands Music (SESAC)
Writer(s): Chris Tomlin, Jess Cates and Jason Ingram

Discussion

To begin, it is important to note that this song is not written for the unbeliever. There is no Law/Gospel, Sin/Grace, Repentance/Forgiveness… this song does not convey the Gospel message for the unbeliever. For that, it will not get an overall Approval. The song’s message gets a little bit scattered after the first time through the chorus. Rather than a unified message, it sort of bounces between loosely related  verses, sometimes sung to God, sometimes sung to believers, so it can easily become awash in experiential emotionalism, so that bears some guarding.

That aside, as a song intended for believers to focus on the imminent return of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, I think it is quite good. Let’s work through the themes of the song and focus on the passages of Scripture being invoked.

Make straight a highway, a path for the Lord. The Prophets in the Old Testament often called Israel to repentance in light of the Promised Messiah of the Lord God. Probably the most often remembered passage comes from Isaiah 40.

Isaiah 40:1-5 (ESV) | Comfort for God’s People

40 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
    and cry to her
that her warfare is ended,
    that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the Lord‘s hand
    double for all her sins.

A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
    make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
    and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
    and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
    and all flesh shall see it together,
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Now, for the unbeliever, this is at-best a prophecy of “the end”, when God will finally be revealed. For those who have believed in the Name of Jesus Christ, we know this to be a prophetic call to repentance. If I may, we find similar words of comfort connected to repentance in Isaiah 57.

Isaiah 57:12-21 (ESV)

12 I will declare your righteousness and your deeds,
    but they will not profit you.
13 When you cry out, let your collection of idols deliver you!
    The wind will carry them all off,
    a breath will take them away.
But he who takes refuge in me shall possess the land
    and shall inherit my holy mountain.

14 And it shall be said,
“Build up, build up, prepare the way,
    remove every obstruction from my people’s way.”
15 For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
    who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
    and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
    and to revive the heart of the contrite.
16 For I will not contend forever,
    nor will I always be angry;
for the spirit would grow faint before me,
    and the breath of life that I made.
17 Because of the iniquity of his unjust gain I was angry,
    I struck him; I hid my face and was angry,
    but he went on backsliding in the way of his own heart.
18 I have seen his ways, but I will heal him;
    I will lead him and restore comfort to him and his mourners,
19     creating the fruit of the lips.
Peace, peace, to the far and to the near,” says the Lord,
    “and I will heal him.
20 But the wicked are like the tossing sea;
    for it cannot be quiet,
    and its waters toss up mire and dirt.
21 There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.”

The Promise of restoration, comfort, healing, and peace. The rest of our Lord Jesus Christ. We who are of the household of faith will enter into that rest. There is, however, no peace for the wicked.

Like a bride waiting for her groom… Here is where we need to pay attention to our theology and discern what is Biblical and what isn’t. Hillsong (and many others) push a “Kingdom” theology that declares the present church is the bride of Christ and we have a role to play in ushering in the Return of Jesus Christ. This is a false narrative. We have no part to play in spurring on the return of bridegroom; rather, our task is to be dressed in readiness and to keep our lamps lit (Luke 12:35). Hillsong hijacks the promises of God and twists them to promote their services or “worship experiences”. The end of the song with the repeating “even so come, Lord Jesus come” ends up falling into Hillsong’s presence theology, the idea that the point of worship is to invite the Holy Spirit to manifest in the church service in an emotional way… because Hillsong is a cash-cow selling an emotional high while calling it worship. The key to having the right perspective in all of this is asking one simple question… Who is preparing the Bride for her King?

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

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

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

The New Jerusalem

Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed— 13 on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. 14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

15 And the one who spoke with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. 16 The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia. Its length and width and height are equal. 17 He also measured its wall, 144 cubits by human measurement, which is also an angel’s measurement. 18 The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. 21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

22 And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, 25 and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. 26 They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 27 But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

God prepares the Bride, the Church of Jesus Christ. It is God who does the work, it is the Alpha and Omega who declares ‘It is done’! and it is He who allows the thirsty to drink without payment. Hillsong preaches a man-centric, works-based, theology that exalts the Hillsong brand. They are not the only ones who peddle in this false doctrine, but they are the single most influential music mogul in the world, and it is important that we recognize the theology that fuels their music. The Church has her marching orders, expressly laid out through the New Testament. Preach the Word, grow in the knowledge of Christ, keep the faith. What we’ve read in Revelation 21 isn’t about what the church is doing… or going to do… it is about what God is doing and Will do. With that in mind, let us read the last chapter of the book.

Revelation 22 (ESV) | The River of Life

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

Jesus Is Coming

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

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

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

10 And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. 11 Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.”

12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

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

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

18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

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

It is my prayer, that as the song plays on the radio and repeats the refrain, “Even so come Lord Jesus, come…” that it will be this passage you meditate on. Our Lord is coming back, and He will make all things new.

Luke 12:35-40 (ESV) | You Must Be Ready

35 “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, 36 and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them.38 If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! 39 But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

Conclusion

The song bears a great proclamation of the Promise of our Savior… He is coming soon. Be ready, bear the fruit in keeping with repentance, and walk according to the Spirit by faith in Christ Jesus.

Romans 15:13 (ESV) 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | “Cast My Cares” by Finding Favour

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

August 11, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Cast My Cares” by Finding Favour which currently sits at #16 on 20theCountdownMagazine’s top 20 and at #10 on the KLove top 10.

This song is a goal-setting motivational song. The goal is scriptural for Christians. Unfortunately, the song doesn’t provide any indication in how to achieve the goal, nor does it share the Gospel or call people to repentance. It doesn’t stand on its own, but I think if we take some time to study what God’s Word says, we can make the best of hearing this song played the radio. Let’s give it a listen, examine the lyrics, and then search the Scriptures for the clarity this song sorely lacks.

Official Lyric Video

Lyrics (via Air1.com)

Finding Favour – Cast My Cares Lyrics

When fear feels bigger than my faith
And struggles steal my breath away

When my back’s pressed up against the wall
With the weight of my worries stacked up tall
You’re strong enough to hold it all

I will cast my cares on You
You’re the anchor of my hope
The only one who’s in control
I will cast my cares on You
I’ll trade the troubles of this world
For Your peace inside my soul

This war’s not what I would’ve chosen
But You see the future no one knows yet

And there’s still good when I can’t
See the working of Your hands
You’re holding it all

I will cast my cares on You
You’re the anchor of my hope
The only one who’s in control
I will cast my cares on You
I’ll trade the troubles of this world
For Your peace inside my soul

I’m finding there’s freedom
When I lay it all on Your shoulders

Cast my cares
I will
Cast my cares
I will
Cast my cares on You

Publishing: © 2014 Universal Music – Brentwood Benson Publishing (ASCAP) / Songs Of Emack (ASCAP). All rights for the world on behalf of Universal Music – Brentwood Benson Publishing and Songs Of Emack administered by CapitolCMGPublishing.com. Sony/ATV Timber Publishing/Not Just Another Song Music (SESAC). Shivel Songs a div of Daywind Music Publishing/Sesac (admin. by ClearBox Rights).
Writer(s): Blake NeeSmith, Casy Brown & Sam Tinnesz

Discussion

Let’s knock out the obvious… this song doesn’t bear any Gospel message. There is no call to repentance. No mention of sin. It doesn’t even clearly identify the “You”. This song most assuredly does not stand on its own. If this song is to have any value or provide any degree of encouragement, it must be heard by Christians with solid theology. The allusions to Scripture are so pale that they can be hijacked by the most amateur false teacher. Nevertheless, this song can be an encouragement for one who has a good foundation of solid theology, and for that it does not get a flat-out disapproval.

I think the best place to begin this discussion is in Peter’s letter to the Church. We are going to look at the closing chapter of his first letter, because in his closing he is leaving general marching orders to the Church. These apply to us directly, so let us examine what the Holy Spirit wrote via the Apostle Peter:

1 Peter 5 (ESV) | Shepherd the Flock of God

So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Final Greetings

12 By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it.13 She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son.14 Greet one another with the kiss of love.

Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

Peter first addresses the Elders of the Church, and he includes himself as their fellow elder.  He then addresses the need for the younger ones to be subject to the elders. Peter than shifts to “all of you” for his exhortation. Notice that Peter begins the command to Humble ourselves… casting all our anxieties on [God], because He cares for us. Is it not pride / arrogance / selfishness that motivates us to insist that we do things on our own, carry loads we weren’t meant to carry, and refuse help? Notice something else here… Peter begins with humbling ourselves, flows into casting our anxieties upon God because He cares for us, and then moves directly into resisting the devil. James also put these things together in his letter.

James 4:1-10 (ESV) | Warning Against Worldliness

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

Now James was addressing different issues, but notice the submission to God, humbling of ourselves, purifying our hearts of double-mindedness (Someone who doubts God James 1:5-8). The connection to our song is right here, I think, in the purifying of our hearts of doubt and holding on by faith as the intersection with what Peter described as casting our anxieties on God. The heart of a double-minded man is filled with anxiety and tossed by the seas of circumstance. Let us look to one more passage of Scripture found in the letter to the Philippians from the Apostle Paul. Again, we’ll be looking at the concluding portion of the letter, beginning in verse 1 of Chapter 4:

Philippians 4:1-9 (ESV) | Exhortation, Encouragement, and Prayer

Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

So much good stuff in this passage. I want to start with the highlighted portion… The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious… That’s vital. It isn’t just an empty imperative or command to “stop being anxious”, not at all… it flows as a result of the acknowledgement of the Truth that the Lord is indeed at hand. Read it as you did Peter’s exhortation to cast your cares on [God], because He cares for you. The Lord is at hand. You are not alone, you are not on your own, it isn’t your burden to carry… put your faith in Him and purify your heart of doubt (double-mindedness).

We see something else here in Paul’s conclusion that can help us in our next step… searching for the “how” in casting our cares upon God. Paul doesn’t begin with the “thou shall not be anxious”… he begins with rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Don’t make this a commandment as in “be happy or else!” because just as we saw in verse 6, Paul is making this commandment a reflection of the previous statement whose names are in the book of life. Yes, at the Resurrection every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, but Paul is urging us to rejoice always (x2) in knowing that our names are written in the book of life. We are to rejoice in the Grace God has shown toward us in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. By faith we have been redeemed and our names have been written in the book of life. Rejoice in that, brothers and sisters in Christ. The Lord is at hand… cast your cares on Him. In everything… by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving make your requests to God. Prayer and supplication require humbling yourself in the sight of the Lord. In verse 7, we see that the peace of God will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ… from whom? The devil and his temptation. We are not to be ignorant but vigilant and sober-minded, as Peter wrote. That brings us the finally of Paul’s exhortation… think about these things.

We are not ignorant of the trials and tribulations that lie ahead… in fact, we are to count it all joy (James 1). But we know that it isn’t by our strength or might that we are to face these challenges; rather, we are to cast our cares on the Lord who is at hand, because He cares for us. Rejoice in the Gospel of Grace, think on whatever is praiseworthy, and the God of peace will guard our hearts.

Conclusion

The song doesn’t stand on its own, but for those who are in Christ Jesus, it can be a reminder that we are to humble ourselves before God, casting our cares and anxieties upon Him, and trusting in Him in everything. There are some other nuggets than can be fleshed out, but I think we’ve covered the heart of the intent of the song here. Think on these things, trusting in Him who paid the price of our sin, suffered and died on a cross, rose from the dead, ascended into Heaven, and Promised to return once more.

Romans 15:13 (ESV) 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge