DiM | “Magnify” by We Are Messengers

Presentation1CCM Edition.

September 20, 2016. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Magnify” by We Are Messengers which currently sits at #20 on 20TheCountdownMagazine.

Musically, the song is quite nice. Emotionally impactful. The singer has a great voice. Lyrically, the song is missing one major ingredient, the Bible. God’s Written Word. The revelation of Christ to His Church. This sort of Bible-less Christianity is the result of American Christianity having been infected by gnostic mysticism. To rescue this song, the listener needs to already know where to look to see Christ. Not in our emotions (not even the positive ones), not in nature (though it declares His Glory), but in the Word of God. As we read Scripture, we rely on God the Holy Spirit to open up our eyes to the Truth that is there, in plain sight. Let’s take a look at the Official Music Video and then the Lyrics.

Official Music Video

 

Lyrics (via Air1)

Verse 1
I’ve been trying to make sense of the sorrow that I feel
Holding on for life to the only thing that’s real
I’ve only scratched the surface, I’ve barely had a taste
But just a glimpse draws my heart to change
And one sight of you lays my sin to waste
I don’t need to see everything just more of you

(chorus)
Take it all, take it all away
Magnify no other name
Open up, open up my eyes
To you

Take it all, take it all away
Magnify no other name
Open up, open up my eyes
To you

Verse 2
My sight is incomplete and I’ve made you look small
I’ve been staring at my problems for way too long
Re-align where my hope is set, until you’re all that’s left
But just a glimpse draws my heart to change
And one sight of you lays my sin to waste
I don’t need to see everything just more of you

(chorus)
Take it all, take it all away
Magnify no other name
Open up, open up my eyes
To you

Take it all, take it all away
Magnify no other name
Open up, open up my eyes
To you

Bridge
Oh God be greater, than the worries in my life
Be stronger, than the weakness in my mind
Be louder, let your Glory come alive
Be magnified

Oh God be greater, than the worries in my life
Be stronger, than the weakness in my mind
Be louder, let your Glory come alive
Be magnified

(chorus)
Take it all, take it all away
Magnify no other name
Open up, open up my eyes
To you, to you

Take it all, take it all away
Magnify no other name
Open up, open up my eyes
To you, to you

Publishing: © 2015 Dayspring Music, LLC (BMI) / So Essential Tunes, Not Just Another Song Publishing (SESAC) (All rights on behalf of So Essential Tunes and Not Just Another Song Publishing adm. by Essential Music Publishing LLC) Produced by Jonathan Smith & Casey Brown
Writer(s): Darren Mulligan/Casey Brown/Jonathan Smith

Discussion

The problem being presented in the song is real. We, sinners, are distracted by our temptation to sin. To worry. To despair. It’s a very real problem that is addressed in Scripture. Let’s look at what Christ taught.

Matthew 6:25-33 (ESV)“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

What does it mean to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness? It means to seek Christ and Him crucified for your sin, repent and be forgiven in His Name. The righteousness of God is the forgiveness He gives to you in exchange for your sin. This is by faith alone in Christ’s finished work on the cross. When our flesh tempts us to earn our own righteousness by lawkeeping, well… that’s when the anxiety, fear, and condemnation sets in. Such is the concern we see the Apostle Paul having for the Galatians who were misled back into works-based righteousness by submitting to the Law of circumcision. Paul isn’t only concerned about this unnecessary surgical act, but in the return to Mosaic Law-keeping rather than faith in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 5:1-12 (ESV)  | Christ Has Set Us Free

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!

These are extremely strong words from Paul, because this is a serious issue.

But, Jorge, what does this have to do with the song? Good question. This is only the first point I want to drive home, that Scripture teaches us to look to Christ and His kingdom rather than ourselves, our good works, our provisions… because to look to anything else is to be severed from Christ. If we’re giving this song its best construction, we have to view the over arching appeal of the song to be anchored in this truth. So, this is a strength in the concept of the song, that we are to be focused on Christ, not our circumstances, emotions, fears, or our own good works (or utter lack thereof).

The problem with the song is in its offered solution. It suggests that we are somehow supposed to see Christ directly. There is absolutely no mention of finding Him in His Word. The video doesn’t suggest it in any way… nor does it even suggest finding Christ among fellow believers gathered around the Preaching of God’s Word (definition of the Church). This is a giant hole in the theology of this song. To presume to see God apart from where He has revealed Himself is to engage in Mysticism. There is a bit of gnosticism rumbling in the background of this American ideology that is currently driving this closed-Bible Christianity, or even anti-Bible preaching of Andy Stanley.

It is important that we counter and guard against this gnostic mysticism. God has revealed Himself to us. Let’s examine this in steps. God the Father has revealed Himself fully in God the Son, Jesus.

John 14:1-9 (ESV) | I Am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

We don’t see Jesus in the flesh today, for He is in Heaven at the Right Hand of the Father. He will return. His Promise is sure. What we have is Christ fully revealed to us in Scripture. To make this case, I’d like to first pull a very clear teaching of Christ to His disciples, one from Luke’s account of the sending out of the Apostles, and another from John’s account of the night He was betrayed.

Luke 10:16 (ESV) “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

John 13:20 (ESV) Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

And where do we find the teaching of those whom Jesus sent? In the New Testament. Most of the Epistles were written by the Apostles themselves, and the others contain their teaching. Receive their teaching and you receive Christ. Receive Christ and you receive God the Father. How do we receive this? By the work of the Holy Spirit in preserving God’s Word, drawing us, granting us Faith, and delivering the forgiveness and the Righteousness of God (Jesus Christ) to us. He saves us by Grace through Faith.

Romans 10:17 (ESV) So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

The flip side of this is that if we reject the teaching of Christ’s Apostles we reject Christ and God the Father. Sidenote: There are no living Apostles. Only charlatans and blasphemers claiming a level of authority they weren’t given, making promises in the name of God that He doesn’t make, twisting scripture to gather disciples unto themselves. These are the same as those against whom Paul was writing to the Galatians. 

Is it wrong to want to see Christ? Absolutely not. We all long to see Him return in the way He has promised in His Word.

Acts 1:10-11 (ESV) And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

But to attempt to reach around where Christ has told us to find Him (In His Word and in the teaching of His Apostles) is to repeat the error of Thomas.

John 20:28-31 (ESV) Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His Name.

So this is the great error of this song. The attempt to skip right over the Scriptures and to demand to see Christ directly. Those singing the song haven’t seen Him directly, yet they present this as the goal or solution to the problem being presented in the song.

Conclusion

On its own, the song lyric fails to present the Gospel in any meaningful way. However, if we reshape the arch of the song to have all points leading to the Scriptures as the sole solution to the problems presented, we can rescue most of the themes in this song. I’m happy that this song can be rescued, but frustrated that it relies solely on the listener’s solid theology to rescue.

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 | “Everything Comes Alive” by We Are Messengers

disapproveCCM Radio Edition.

March 02, 2016. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Everything Comes Alive” by We Are Messengers which currently sits at #12 on the 20theCountdownMagazine.

This is a relatively new band to me, so I thought I’d check out their website after listening to the song once through. Here are some excerpts:

…“We see ourselves as messengers carrying the good news,” says Mulligan. “We’re just carrying His message from our hearts up into our mouths and out into our hands. God’s given us something to say through words and songs and through our lives. We ask the same question every day, ‘What is God saying? What opportunity is God bringing?’”…

”Essentially, this is the action We Are Messengers hopes to mimic through the ministry of their band. “Christ came to serve and showed us how to serve, and we want to do that,” Mulligan says. “We want to tell people about the goodness of God. Music allows us to have that conversation. We want to love people the way He loves us. We want to wash people’s feet.

”We Are Messengers may have left their homeland for the sake of a greater call, but it’s a sacrifice they consider well worth the hefty price. “We’ve been rescued so that we could give ourselves away,”Mulligan maintains. “The Bible says, ‘Lose your life and you’ll find it’; and we’re determined to keep giving ourselves away until we die, so that when it comes to the end of the race, we’re spent, we’re done.”

Sad, really. What we see presented in their biography and distilled in the quotes above is a theology of glory, a man-centered, works-righteousness that offers no rest, no assurance, and no peace. Indeed there may be some infused-grace working under the doctrinal hood, so to speak. Very emotionally driven “testimony” about the artist, very vague on the Gospel… and that is what we see in the biography where there are no limitations on space, rhyme and meter. Doesn’t bode well for the song. Now, let us give the song a listen.

Official Music Video

 

Now there are some lines at the beginning of the video and at the end that are not captured in the song lyric.

Intro: People said I’d never be anything, they said I was too broken, they said I had too many scars

Close: People said I was too broken, but God said something different, He said He’d take me with my bruises and my scars. He never said life would be easy. It can still be tough. But I know this, I’ve got hope.

Lyrics (via KSBJ)

Verse 1
In the morning when my heart is cold
You’re the heat for my weary soul
You’re the good in all I know

In the mirror all that I see
Is Your grace looking back at me
I’m not the man that I used to be

Pre-Chorus
You’re the song, You’re the song
Rising from my heart

Chorus
Everything Comes alive
Everything comes alive
Everything comes alive
In You

Verse 2
In the evening when my bones are tired
You’re my strength and my heart’s desire
You’re the light when the sun expires

I remember how far I’ve come
I’m not lost with You I’m home
I didn’t find You on my own

Pre-Chorus
Chorus

Bridge
I’m made alive
Now I’m by Your side
I’ve come alive
I’ve come alive

Verse 3
And when my days are done
I’ve got a Hope that I’m sure of
I’ll be with You in heavenly places
I’ll be with You in heavenly places

Outro
My heart is beating to the rhythm of Your love
My feet are running ever faster to Your grace

Discussion

A common complaint I’ve received in private is that I haven’t been granting enough freedom of artistry in the poetry of these songs. Indeed, I haven’t. You see, such freedom is intended for “art appreciation” for finding the beauty within a given lyric. These DiM aren’t about trying to out-art each other in waxing eloquent on the subjective beauty of the lyric… we are here to discern if these songs convey or teach sound doctrine. The reason we are doing so isn’t random, but because they are written, produced, and promoted as “Christian” songs. This band even makes the claim that their goal is to share the Gospel. So that is what we are checking.

This song above engages in highly mystical / sensual poetic style. How far do we take the metaphors of each line to force a Biblical message? Well, it cannot be done objectively. If the rule is to apply metaphor to each line in the song, then this song could very easily be a secular love song, exaggerating (poetically) the real impact one person can have on another. So we won’t be playing fast-and-loose with the imagery just to conjure up a best construction for the song. Objectively speaking, there’s no clear reference to Jesus Christ. No mention of repentance and the forgiveness of sin. The subject of the song is the singer. It is at-best an individualistic anthem of self-motivation and self-esteem.

Verse 1. The first bit about warmth of the heart and all the good the singer knows is just fluff. There’s no external Word, no external object of Faith… it’s an appeal to internal acknowledgement of spirituality. The second with the mirror takes an interesting idea and buries it in narcissism. The interesting idea is that when we look in the mirror we see God’s Grace in action… because we are alive and have not been judged and punished for sin. It’s a thin thread, but it is a cool one… except the singer has inflated it to being “all that he sees in the mirror”. No. Stop looking for the Gospel inside yourself. The Gospel is found in the external Word of God, not in your reflection in a mirror, or in your heart, or in what you know internally. Mysticism is rot of the soul that will shipwreck your faith.

Pre Chorus. NO! Stop it! God is NOT the song rising up from our hearts. He is the One who forgives us of the sin that comes from our hearts, He is the one that brings our hearts to life, He is the One whose Word grants faith and life and forgiveness in Jesus’ Name. Our hearts are wicked, turned in on themselves in sin. Even after we’ve been made new creations in Christ Jesus by Faith, our fleshly hearts (seat of our emotions, desires, passions) are still corrupted by sin. That’s why our physical bodies will still die even though we’ve been saved… because our flesh is wicked and must be put off.

1 Corinthians 15:50-56 (ESV) | Mystery and Victory

I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

Chorus. Well that doesn’t really say much, does it? And what it says seems to ignore that God is a Personal God. Three Persons, in fact. “everything comes to life in you” makes it sound automatic and impersonal… like it’s just something that happens, rather than a Work of God’s Grace on us, in us, and through us by His Word. From the very creation of all things, God spoke it into existence. It didn’t just “come to life” in God, He spoke it into existence. Do you see the distinction I’m trying to make here? Mysticism doesn’t want a Triune God who saves by His Grace and Love; rather, mysticism wants an impersonal force that can be manipulated according to spiritual principles and disciplines.

Verse 2. Still seeing a heavy hand of synergism here. The rest of God is only found at the end of “me”, at the end of my toil and labor. If I do absolutely everything I can do… then I’ll find God and He will give me rest. Even in that last line, when one who is hoping to find sound doctrine might think, hey he acknowledged that he’s not the one who found God. Only, he is saying he found God… he’s just acknowledging he had help. Still dealing with the Methodist / Armenian depiction that God makes a way for us to seek Him and find Him, but we still have to do it. So, the Holy Spirit doesn’t grant you faith, just helps you find it? No. That’s not what Scripture teaches.

Romans 10:17 (ESV) So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Verse 3. So here the artist turns his attention to the afterlife… in vague assumptive terms. I say assumptive because there is no confession of faith in this song. No repentance or forgiveness of sin… just “I’ll be with you in heavenly places”. This isn’t even particularly Christian… this is just an appeal to an afterlife in general. Dear Christian, the promise of eternal if is true, the Hope our Salvation is assured in the Name of Jesus Christ, and we know this because He gave us His external Word.

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.

Bridge. Nothing to see here.

Otro. We don’t run to God’s Grace. Ugh. We aren’t infused by grace in order to earn more grace. That’s not how it works. In the glorious exchange, our sins are placed upon Christ on the Cross, and His Righteousness is imputed to us by Grace.

Praise Song Cruncher 2.0

I believe Lutherans are still the minority of my readership, but I’d still like to recommend Table Talk Radio Podcast with Rev. Bryan Wolfmueller and Rev. Evan Goeglein, both Lutheran Pastors. I thoroughly enjoy everything about their show… it’s great, but particularly why I’m bringing it up now is because they have what they call a Praise Song Cruncher 2.0 that they use to evaluate worship songs, hymns, CCM, whatever people have sent in that they decide might be helpful to “crunch”.

Each song is measured by 5 questions:

  1. Is Jesus mentioned?
  2. Is there mystical form?
    • Truth. Does the song use sentences (with subject, verb, object) or sentence fragments? Is the song full of impressions or assertions? (Without sentences it is impossible to express truth.)
    • Repetition. Is the song repetitive, using the same phrases over and over?
  3. Is there mystical content?
    • Immediate. Does the song talk about an immediate experience of God (seeing, touching, feeling God directly)?
    • Romance. Does the song use romantic imagery (boyfriend/girlfriend romance)?
    • Loss of self. Does the song talk about losing our identity, being lost in God, absorbed, consumed, engulfed ? Are we surrendering, abandoning ourselves, etc.?
    • Internal. Is the action of the song, or the action of God as described in the son, happening on the inside of me?
    • Subjective. Is the song about the things that God has done (objective), or about me (subjective)?
  4. Is Law and Gospel present and rightly divided?
  5. Is there any explicit false doctrine not already addressed?

Reference: PraiseSongCruncher PDF

Today’s song wouldn’t survive the praise song cruncher.

Conclusion

I worry about this artist and the man-centered “gospel” they’ve committed to sharing in their music. I worry because it is wildly popular (#12 on the chart today) and it’s law-heavy with no actual Gospel being preached. I pray the Word of God be preached to them faithfully, and that the Holy Spirit open their eyes and ears to the Truth of God’s Word, and find Rest in the external Word of God.

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.

Amen, indeed.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge