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

You’re the song, You’re the song
Rising from my heart

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


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

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


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.


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,


DiM | “Guilty” by Newsboys

CCM Radio Edition.

February 09, 2016. Today’s song is “Guilty” by Newsboys which currently sits at #17 on 20theCountdownMagazine‘s top 20 chart.

I was really hoping the “guilty” was going to be a reference to our sin and that the point of the song was to preach Law and Gospel, Repentance and the Forgiveness of sin. I’m rather disappointed in what I found in the lyric. This song is the CCM equivalent to a pie crust promise, “easily made, easily broken” (Mary Poppins quote). It only works in a worldview where being told “you can’t say ‘Jesus’ because of ‘separation of church and state'” amounts to persecution. It doesn’t. Not even close. The song also suffers from a “cool-rebel” motivation for proclaiming the Gospel and Worshiping our LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ. What a stupid motivation to push. We aren’t motivated by rebellion, we are motivated by the Truth of the Gospel of Grace. Let’s get down to it.

Newsboys – Guilty (Official Music Video)


Lyrics (via Newsboys.com)

Verse 1
When did it become breaking a rule
To say your name out loud in school
When your names the only one that sets us free
When did it become incorrect
To speak the truth about life and death
When your life gave us all eternity

Even if it gets me convicted
I’ll still be on my knees with my hands lifted

If serving you’s against the law of man
If living out my faith in you is banned
Then I’ll stand right before the jury
If saying I believe is out of line
If I’m judged cause I’m gonna give my life
To show the world the love that fills me
Then I want to be Guilty

Verse 2
I’ll rise up and honor you
I’ll testify to all the good you do
cause your Grace and your Mercy have overtaken me



Guilty by association
Guilty of being a voice proclaiming Your ways
Your truth
Your life
I’ll pay the price to be your light.


Let us begin.

Verse 1. When did it become breaking the rule… quite early on, in fact.

Acts 4:13-22 (ESV)

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another,saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened. For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old.

The religious leaders of the day forbade preaching, speaking, and teaching in the name of Jesus despite having such a powerful sign of healing testifying to the Name of Jesus in their midst. So, Biblically, this song is already starting on the wrong foot. At best it is appealing to the American nationalist who believes America to be a Christian nation where the name of Jesus would never be considered illegal to invoke. From that misguided and short-sided perspective, it makes sense. Notice the caveats I had to employ.

Now it seems this song is being written to address “Christian-American Culture” with the first lines of the first verse addressing the current trend of ruling against Christianity in all cases of “1st Amendment Religious Freedoms”. It is worth noting that the only religion consistently being prohibited is Christianity. That’s to be expected since it is the only True religion. If the first couple of lines are regarding “freedom from Christianity laws” the next lines are probably an attempt to address abortion, euthanasia, and assisted suicide (truth about Life and Death). Society wants to hear nothing about what God’s Word says about life and death. The last line is supposed to connect what is being prohibited is connected to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the promise of forgiveness from sin and the Promise of eternal Life in Jesus Christ. The problem is that the lines don’t bear this out, I’m eisegeting into them my best construction. The other way this can be taken (and I think this way resonates more with its intended audience) is a build-up to rebellion, a pep-rally for cultural revolution… with an Evangelical flavor.

Pre-Chorus. Yep… rebellion is the motivation. Even if it gets me convicted… We haven’t seen anything yet in this country, but it’s coming. But is this the right motivation for sharing the Gospel? Nope. How much are you sharing the Gospel now that it isn’t literally against the law? Historically, the Church grows strong under persecution… but only after it has been culled to a remnant. Remember the parable of the soils? There are some who for a time bear fruit, but when persecution comes they are burned up for their roots are shallow. Others will be distracted by their own desires and are choked up by the weeds. Anyway, my point is that this line is purely motivational pep-rally fluff. The next line doesn’t improve upon it because it is one of those lines you sing where you say you’ll keep doing something that you aren’t currently doing… I’ll still be on my knees with my hands lifted… you may, you may not, but why make it a promise? Why proclaim something if you aren’t doing it, and what does staying on your knees with your hands lifted earn you? What does that do for God? What does it do for the Gospel? The line is an evangelical church-ism, where evangelicals just assume that these outward displays of piety indicate true worship. Jesus isn’t swayed by the external displays of piety…

Luke 18:9-14 (ESV) | The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee,standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Now, in the parable Jesus gives voice to all that is going on in their hearts. There is also a contrast in outward actions, yet, but even if the Pharisee were on his knees with his arms lifted in the air saying the same “prayer” would have yielded him the same results in the parable.

But there is another problem with boldly declaring how you will react should a situation arise of which you have no understanding… you make oaths you cannot hope to keep. You’ll sin, and have to repent of lying to boot. And we don’t need to go to the unbelieving Pharisee to make this point… we can look to the Apostle Peter.

Luke 22:31-34 (ESV) | Jesus Foretells Peter’s Denial

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.”

Jesus told him point-blank he was going to fall away, but that He had prayed for Peter so that after he has turned again he might strengthen his brothers. All of them were going to fail, but Jesus assured them that He would bring them back. Peter doesn’t get it and decides to prove his zeal by making lofty claims of what he would do. Friends, you can’t out-zeal the Word of God. Just can’t do it. So don’t do it. Confess the Word, don’t try to one-up it in your misguided zeal.

Chorus. Works. Law. No Gospel. Dear Christian, you do NOT want to be judged by your works. You’ll fail. We all fail. And this gets kinda weird in that it’s somehow making rebelling against an antichrist state is a good work. That’s not what defines a good work. Please, this is a twisting of a sense of rebellion into a zeal for righteousness… but it’s starting in the wrong place. We don’t start by countering the World. The Great Commission isn’t based on the world, it’s based on Jesus Christ.

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

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

There is no mention of whether or not we’ll be arrested, or imprisoned, or convicted by the courts here… nor should there be. The motivation is Christ, not works, not rebellion against the world. That counter-culture stuff comes from theology of glory, a theology of purpose-driven nonsense and of dominionism and it’s 7-mountain fantasy. It’s all rubbish. We preach Christ and Him Crucified because of what He has done for us.

Verse 2. The focus of this verse is the singer. It’s a continuation of the thought at the end of the pre-chorus, through the chorus about all of the great works I’ll do IF the world crosses the line and makes this stuff illegal. /sigh. I’m getting more frustrated by this song by the minute.

BridgeI’ll pay the price to be your light… I can’t even, right now. Tell me, what price will you pay for being Christ’s light, hmmm? With so much self-motivated works driving the lyric in this song, I’m left with no positive way to spin this line in the bridge. It still sounds like Peter defying Christ’s warning concerning his impending falling away and subsequent restoration. Stop boasting in your flesh. Stop trying to editorialize your good works. I mean, who wouldn’t like having a personal narration guy extolling your virtues and magnifying the hardships you’ve had to face and overcome…. by the Grace of God, naturally… and how you had to fight the good fight and blah, blah, blah, look at my good works. Vanity.

John 16:20-33 (ESV)

Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. “I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.” His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.


While one might be able to make an attempt at arguing in favor of the intent of the song, the song doesn’t stand on its own. It starts off on the wrong foot in the very first verse and never recovers. While I attempted to give the first verse its best construction, the rest of the song dives headlong into crushing legalism. Don’t make promises you can’t keep, and even if you did they don’t advance the Gospel in any meaningful way. Preach the Word. Proclaim Christ and Him crucified. Know that we will face persecution, and take comfort in the Words of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, “take heart; I have overcome the world“.

Romans 16:25-27 (ESV) Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

In Christ Jesus,

DiM | “Brother” by NeedtoBreathe feat. Gavin DeGraw

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

May 26, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Brother” by NeedtoBreathe which currently sits at #13 at 20theCountdownMagazine. It seems it’s now time for some of the newer songs on the top 20 to really start moving up, while long-time chart-topper Overwhelmed shows its lowest ranking in a long time.

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

The best way I can summarize it is that it’s an anthem of coram mundo righteousness. The song is sung powerfully, with NeedtoBreathe always demonstrating masterful vocal skill while featuring the powerful added vocal talent of Gavin DeGraw. There are some odd uses of Gospel language here, though, that are misapplied. While we are to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all and demonstrate His love for us by loving others, this song seems to go the extra step of suggesting our good works make us our brother’s savior. We’ll take a look at the video and then read through the lyrics. KLove and Air1 both have incomplete lyrics on their sites, so we had to work through the lyrics in the bridge leading to the closeout of the repeated chorus.

Official Music Video

Lyrics (Partial Lyrics from KLove)


[Verse 1]

Ramblers in the wilderness
Yeah we can’t find what we need
We get a little restless from the searching
Get a little worn down in between
Like a bull chasing a matador is man left to his own schemes
But everybody needs someone beside them
Shining like a lighthouse from the sea


Brother let me be your shelter
Never leave you all alone
I can be the one to call when you’re low
Brother let me be your fortress when the night winds are driving on
Be the one to light the way
Bring you home

[Verse 2]

Face down in the desert now
There’s a cage locked around my heart
I found a way to drop the key where my failures were,
now my hands can’t reach that far
I ain’t made for a rivalry and I could never take the world alone
I know that in my weakness I am stronger, but it’s your love that brings me home


And when you call and need me near
Saying where’d you go?
Brother I’m right here
And on those days,
When the sky begins to fall
You’re the blood of my blood
We can get through it all

[Chorus] x 2

Be the one to light the way, bring you home
Be the one to light the way, bring you home


Who is the singer and who is the hearer? Based on the video and the majority of the lyrics, the singer is a person reaching out to another person in brotherly love. In general, that’s a good thing. We are to love our neighbors as ourselves. This song isn’t doing proclaiming brotherly love in a generic sense, but one where the target audience is a brother in need. Let’s look at what Scripture has to say of this topic first, before we dig back into these lyrics.

Hebrews 13:1-16 (ESV) | Sacrifices Pleasing to God

Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say,

“The Lord is my helper;
    I will not fear;
what can man do to me?”

Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. 10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. 11 For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. 12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.13 Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured.14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. 15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

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.

James 5:19-20 (ESV)

19 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

The New Testament is full of encouragement to love our neighbors, and a special interest for our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus (the Church). I simply selected the first major references that came to mind.

Now back to the song lyrics. Is the target audience a brother in the household of faith or an unbeliever? The song doesn’t say. An important thing to remember, is that while this song is getting most of its airplay on Christian radio stations, that doesn’t mean that the song carries a Gospel narrative. In fact, these lyrics can easily fly on secular radio without ever tripping a Christian flag. Gavin DeGraw brings a secular audience to the NeedtoBreathe venue. Let’s work through the sections of the song.

Verse 1. The song starts with a “we’ve all been there” plea of empathy. The singer shifts to the need for every one of us to have some help, someone who can show us the way, like a lighthouse for the ships lost at sea. If we are assuming a Gospel message in the song, this is where we would expect the Law to convict all mankind in sin, making way for the Gospel of God’s Saving Grace by the blood of His Son, Jesus. But the contrast being made in the turn of this verse isn’t between sin and repentance; rather, is between “going it alone” and “having someone to help you”.

Chorus. The chorus close out the turn immediately with, “Brother Let me be your shelter“. The singer is pointing to himself. Are we the shelter that the lost are in need of?

Psalm 91:1-2 (ESV) | My Refuge and My Fortress

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

Revelation 7:13-17 (ESV)

13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

15 “Therefore they are before the throne of God,
    and serve him day and night in his temple;
    and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
    the sun shall not strike them,
    nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
    and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Can we provide shelter? Absolutely, by God’s Grace and provision, we’ve been given the ability to grant shelter in the storm. Does that make us the shelter? Absolutely not. This is the sort of over-promise we come to expect in worldly music, where we use the most awesome and colorful language we can to exemplify our desire to do the right, loving, best thing for those we love knowing full well we will fail them in our own strength. We shouldn’t do it in our Christian Music, either. We just can’t guarantee that we will always be there (never leave you all alone), and in a Christian song, we shouldn’t be pointing to ourselves anyway, we should always be pointing others to the One who never fails and is ever-present. The closeout of the chorus always reminds me of James 5:19-20. However, the charge isn’t to bring the wandering saint to us but back to Christ, their first love. In my head, this chorus is somewhat remedied by correlating “home” to “faith in Christ, Jesus”. That is an adjustment I’ve made, not one that is ever fleshed out in the song.

Verse 2. Okay, singer change, so have we switched perspectives between singer and hearer? I think so. We see the singer now is the one face down in the desert. He’s dropped his keys where his mistakes were and now his hands can’t reach that far (I’m thinking toward the “home” at the end of the chorus). The singer here is answering the singer in verse 1 and the chorus. The last line throws it for me, though… the strength in our weakness isn’t our “willingness to ask for help” in a generic sense. Our weakness is only a strength inasmuch as we have been made humble in God’s sight.

James 4:5-7 (ESV) 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.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (ESV) Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

And who’s love is bringing the lost one home? If this song had a clearer Gospel message, I’d be less picky on this line, but it doesn’t. It isn’t our love that brings others home. It might bring others closer to hear the message of the Gospel preached, but it does not produce faith in others directly. Only the Word of God can do that. Many false religions and false gospels do a great job of feigning love on individuals that in some ways might eclipse our daily activities… but none of their feigned love will grant them saving faith in Christ Jesus. Preach the Word.

Bridge. Well, here we have the sorts of promises only God can keep, but this isn’t a song of Promise from God. This is a song between people. It’s a song of extending brotherly love.


If this were playing on secular radio, we’d all nod our heads and say, “good to see something somewhat uplifting on the radio”, but we wouldn’t necessarily call it Christian. It’s a positive song in general, one encouraging us to look out for those in need of help. That’s awesome, and it’s Law. It needs the Gospel… WE need the Gospel… the audience of the song needs the Gospel. We sin. We fail to love our brothers (and sisters) faithfully. We fail to provide shelter, care, food, clothing for our brothers. We need His Grace and forgiveness when we sin against Him and against our neighbor. I wish this song had the Gospel… then it might indeed be a Christian song. In closing let us look at both Law and Gospel on this matter.

Matthew 25:31-40 (ESV) | The Final Judgment

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

1 John 3:11-24 (ESV) | Love One Another

11 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.

In Christ Jesus,

CTT | Salvation by Works?

Ask an evangelical Christian what distinguishes his/her church from the Roman Catholic Church and you may get a wide range of possible answers. These days, “I don’t know” might be the most honest and accurate response, based on what we are seeing among popular evangelical teachers/preachers/musicians. But there are still enclaves of protestant denominations where you’ll hear the answer, “Catholics believe in salvation by works, and we believe Salvation is by Grace Alone”. Though that answer is true, doctrinally, the phrasing is overly simplistic and might actually set up the young protestant for an ill-prepared defense of the Gospel of Grace from a studied Roman Catholic.

Roman Catholic Church Affirms Salvation (Being Born-Again) by Grace

While the Roman Catholic Church does have 7 Sacraments, Pergatory, Indulgences, etc. it does not teach that any of works can earn a sinner his salvation. They teach that we are all born sinners, dead in the sin of Adam, and thus are incapable of earning salvation or getting any credit for any of our so-called good works. Let’s look at some of the canons of the Council of Trent (the very council that anathematized Protestant teaching). We’ll just look at the first 3 canons:

  • CANON I.- If any one saith, that man may be justified before God by his own works, whether done through the teaching of human nature, or that of the law, without the grace of God through Jesus Christ; let him be anathema.
  • CANON II.- If any one saith, that the grace of God, through Jesus Christ, is given only for this, that man may be able more easily to live justly, and to merit eternal life, as if, by free will without grace, he were able to do both, though hardly indeed and with difficulty; let him be anathema.
  • CANON III.-If any one saith, that without the prevenient inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and without his help, man can believe, hope, love, or be penitent as he ought, so as that the grace of Justification may be bestowed upon him; let him be anathema.

So you see, this is why the aforementioned statement is overly simplistic. Their doctrine does have a role for the free Grace of God. Is it correct? Not really, but you have to follow the doctrine further on down the line to discover the error.

  • CANON IV.- If any one saith, that man’s free will moved and excited by God, by assenting to God exciting and calling, nowise co-operates towards disposing and preparing itself for obtaining the grace of Justification; that it cannot refuse its consent, if it would, but that, as something inanimate, it does nothing whatever and is merely passive; let him be anathema.

This canon specifically targets the teaching that is now considered the “I” in TULIP for those of the Calvinist framework. The teaching that God’s election of an individual to receive Salvation is irresistible, that man is just as incapable of denying saving grace as he is incapable of earning it. While some of the wording in this cannon also rubs against Lutheran and Arminian doctrines, I think the target with this one is pointedly Calvinist. We’re going to skip a few canons and get to the heart of the distinction between protestant and Catholic doctrine:

  • CANON IX.- If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.
  • CANON XI.- If any one saith, that men are justified, either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ, or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, and is inherent in them; or even that the grace, whereby we are justified, is only the favour of God; let him be anathema.
  • CANON XII.- If any one saith, that justifying faith is nothing else but confidence in the divine mercy which remits sins for Christ’s sake; or, that this confidence alone is that whereby we are justified; let him be anathema.
  • CANON XIII.- If any one saith, that it is necessary for every one, for the obtaining the remission of sins, that he believe for certain, and without any wavering arising from his own infirmity and disposition, that his sins are forgiven him; let him be anathema.
  • CANON XIV.- If any one saith, that man is truly absolved from his sins and justified, because that he assuredly believed himself absolved and justified; or, that no one is truly justified but he who believes himself justified; and that, by this faith alone, absolution and justification are effected; let him be anathema

Whoa. The Catholic Church has declared anathema (accursed) any who would hold to these doctrines (and more). So, the trick here is to recognize the forced synergy in the theology. While they have a category of God’s Grace, it does not do the full work of salvation, man must do his/her part. Did the Roman Catholic Church invent this? No. The first form of this synergistic approach to the gospel is the central teaching that the Apostle Paul was confronting with his letter to the Galatians (interestingly enough, it is Paul’s writing that the Council of Trent emulates when it declares teaching to be anathema).

Galatians 3:1-9 (ESV) | By Faith, or by Works of the Law?

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

Galatians 5:1-15 (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 slaveryLook: 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. 10 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. 11 But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. 12 I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves! 13 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. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

So, what we see happening in Galatians is a group of Judaizers came to the Galatians and gave verbal ascent to the Gospel of Grace as preached by Paul, but they would hijack the Gospel by insisting that in order to “truly live the Christian life” one would have to submit to keep the Law of Moses. Paul called this out plainly as submitting again to a yoke of slavery.  The Catholic Church has shuffled around words and definitions but has done essentially the same thing, only instead of the yoke of slavery belonging to the Mosaic Covenant, they’ve instituted their own church doctrines and their own list of sacraments. So, even though the first 3 canons seem to proclaim Gospel truth, the remaining list of canons are a return to Law and an all-out rejection of assurance of salvation. The Catholic church elevates “uncertainty” of one’s salvation to a level of virtue and a measure of piety. It is in this sense, that the Catholic Church indeed teaches Salvation by Works.

If Only it were limited to the Catholic Church

A lecture by Dr Rod Rosenbladt we shared recently took a hard look at where bad preaching even within Lutheran and Reformed churches has run afoul of this phenomenon. If you haven’t watched that lecture, I strongly encourage you to find some time to do so.

There is also a surprisingly strong connection to this works-based theology of the Catholic Church within the Pentecostal/Charismatic camp, where I grew up. Pentecostalism is emphatic in man’s synergistic role in salvation, as evidenced by the generic altar-call (every head bowed, every eye closed, no one looking around… raise your hand and then come forward), give your live to Jesus, give Jesus a try, just say the sinner’s prayer through the airwaves, etc. But these are not the major problem of works… it’s what happens after they’ve become members of that church… do they hear the Gospel preached to them? Not really, it become something that is recited for an altar call or summarized as “the day you were born again”, and from then on the focus is on being “baptized in the Holy Spirit” or “operating in the Gifts of the Spirit”, which then becomes a series of unofficial sacraments of Pentecostalism. Are you hearing from God in a still, small, voice? Are you experiencing life change? Are you walking in victory? Are your prayers being answered? Are you receiving healing? Are you in transition? Are you practicing spiritual warfare? Are you severing soul ties? Are you pressing into the Presence of the Holy Spirit?…

Even in the diluted Pentecostal churches who’ve dropped the Pentecostal affiliation and focus more on “churching the unchurched”, there is a hyper focus on good works. Are you progressing in your Christian walk steadily eliminating sin from your life? Is your marriage healthy/fulfilling/satisfying/exemplary? Do people look at your life and wonder what it is you have that they don’t? When the world looks at you do they see Jesus? Would your closest friends say that you have a heart that is after the things of God?

I’m not saying that each of these things is bad on their own, but we have become fixated on the externals of Christian living at the expense of the Gospel. We’ve become rather dismissive of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as merely a “step 1” to becoming saved and then we spend the rest of our energy trying to be perfected by the Law (3 principles to living a victorious life, 1 discipline to make your marriage fireproof, 5 fundamentals to financial freedom, etc). Stop. We are to lead in with the Law of God at full volume, so that it exposes sin in our lives, leading us to repentance… and then we are to be reminded of the Gospel of Grace, so that when we repent we KNOW with full assurance that He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins (1 John 1 ESV).

Philippians 3  (ESV) | Righteousness Through Faith in Christ

Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you. Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 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 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.

17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

In Christ Jesus,

Read More on the Basic Catholic Doctrine of Justification by Faith

DiM | “Evidence” by Citizen Way

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

May 12, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Evidence” by Citizen Way which currently sits at #17 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.

This song has no depth. There is a thin veneer of truth that is worth mentioning, so I haven’t completely disqualified this song, but it needs some work. The best construction on this song would be a reminder to Christians that Faith without Works is dead. We’ll discuss that in detail below, but this song also has some dangerous ideas running through it, namely the false-notion that our ability to Love people (Law: love your neighbor as yourself) is the only way the lost can find Salvation. That’s bunk, and it’s dangerous.

VEVO Lyric Video

[youtube https://youtu.be/zotmQph6xEc]

Lyrics (via KLOVE)

Evidence by Citizen Way

It’s not a flag on a field
It’s not a sign in my yard
Not a cause that I join
Not a phrase on a coin
It’s the change in my heart
Mercy and grace and compassion
They’re only words without action
I need hands that are open
Reaching out to broken hearts
Cuz’ that’s the only way this world
Will ever know who
You are Love is the evidence
Love is the evidence
Might be the pain that you share
Might be the time that you spend
Or the war you don’t fight
Backing down from your pride
After all in the end
My life wasn’t changed by an argument
That never would have been enough
My life was changed by the evidence of love
Your hands that were open
Reaching out to my broken heart

Publishing: Fair Trade Music Publishing (ASCAP) (admin. by Music Services); Meaux Hits / Bears In the Bowl (ASCAP) (admin. by EMICMG Publishing). All rights reserved. Writer(s): Ben Calhoun; Jeff Pardo


Let’s start with the problem of the false evangelical premise of the song.  The false premise is that of the quote falsely attributed to Francis of Assisi, “Preach the Gospel and when necessary use words”. Preaching of the Gospel requires the use of God’s Word. You can’t “demonstrate” the Gospel to anyone without first speaking Truth. Without preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, your “good works” point others to you, not Christ. We’ll come back to this point in a moment. The first pre-chorus actually infuriates me: mercy and grace and compassion are only words without action. The context for this statement to be a valid one is extremely narrow, and really shouldn’t be driven into our heads in an ambiguous song on the airwaves. Who is the speaker of this song? There are phrases that identify the earthly individual as the speaker of the song, “My life”, “my broken heart”, “change in my heart”… so is the singer a Christian or an unbeliever demanding more evidence from the Christian who is sharing the Gospel with him? If the former, the assertion that mercy, grace, compassion are nothing without action is obnoxious. God’s grace, mercy, and compassion are the reason the Earth yet remains, and why we even have the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If we are talking only about earthly grace, mercy, compassion of believers… sinful, fleshly believers, the statement still falls flat. Restraint, the absence of self-seeking action (vengeance/judgement/vindication) is the predominant form of grace and mercy in our daily walks. Forgiveness isn’t always an action. Mercy and Grace are not always actions, many times they are exemplified by inaction. However, as we discovered in our walk through the Sermon on the Mount, even in the midst of practicing the good work of extending outward grace/mercy/compassion to our neighbor, our sinful hearts sully our good works. If the singer of the song is an unbeliever demanding proof from the one preaching the Gospel, then we are dealing with a red herring. The unbeliever is fully accountable for his unbelief.

Romans 1:18-32 (ESV) | God’s Wrath on Unrighteousness

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. 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.

It isn’t up to you to provide evidence of the Gospel. Despite what any unbeliever demands of you or even swears to you, they don’t need anymore proof that God exists than what He has already provided. They need to die to the Law of sin unto repentance and the Gospel of Jesus Christ to New Life. Hands that are open… The open hands that we are in desperate need of daily are those nail-pierced hands of Jesus Christ, who perfectly fulfilled the Law of Righteousness and then gave up His life as an atoning sacrifice for our sin, so that by faith we might not only be spared the due punishment for our sin but that His Righteousness would be bestowed upon us at the Resurrection. Oh how I wish that this was the direction the writers of this song had taken… but it isn’t. The writers aren’t pointing to Christ, they are pointing fingers at Christians who “need to do a better job of obeying the second greatest commandment: love your neighbor as yourself”. Dear reader, these two themes don’t fit together. We’ll talk about the work of the Law in the Christian’s life, but for now we need to make a clear distinction: the unbeliever is not granted saving faith by the believer’s keeping of the Law, nor is it dependent upon the believer living a sin-free earthly life. If it were, no one would ever come to saving faith after Jesus ascended into heaven. The only person who could ever legitimately demonstrate the Gospel of Jesus Christ in that manner, was Jesus Christ, the only truly Righteous and Good Person, completely sinless. The rest of us rely on faith in the Word of God. Cuz’ that’s the only way this world will ever know who You are. Is that what the Bible teaches? No. There is buried here an allusion to something Jesus said:

John 13:34-35 (ESV) 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

It’s only an allusion to what Jesus was teaching. To suggest that this teaches the only way that we might evangelize unbelievers is to twist this text. This relates to the authenticity of their faith in Gospel of Jesus Christ designating them (and we also who Believe) as His disciples. All people will know that we are truly His disciples by our love for each other. Jesus doesn’t include the notion that this is also how unbelievers will suddenly start believing in Christ. That’s not in the text. The Apostle Paul clearly instructed how people are to come to saving faith in his letter to the Romans.

Romans 10:11-17 (ESV) 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ must be preached… with words, specifically, the Word of Christ. The Law cannot be skipped in the Preaching of Christ, for His first purpose was to fulfill the Law on our behalf. Therefore, we are to preach both Law and Gospel, for that is the ONLY way that the unbeliever is granted faith. Sadly, not all who hear the gospel obey it… some will inexplicably continue in the condemnation of their sin

John 3:16-18 (ESV) | For God So Loved the World 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

It is not up to you to “prove” to the unbeliever the Truth of the Gospel. It isn’t up to you to grant the unbeliever saving faith. That isn’t your part in their salvation. Your part is to preach the Word of Christ. It is the Holy Spirit that opens the ears, hearts, and minds of the hearers of the Gospel. The burden of the unbeliever’s unbelief isn’t yours to bear. Preach the Word. Now then, let us look to the element of truth in the general theme of the song. We are commanded to love one another as Christ loved us. Once we have come to saving faith, we are caught in the daily struggle between the sin that dwells in our flesh and the Spirit of God who fills us. Until the day we finally put off this flesh of sin, we will have to put to death our selfish, sinful desires and seek first the kingdom of God. We are commanded to Love God with all our hearts, souls, and minds, and to Love our neighbors as ourselves… and we will continue falling short of this Law until the Resurrection. Our hope remains fixed on Christ’s Finished work on the cross… it doesn’t shift to our ability to keep the Law, we are to remain humbly repentant of our sins. Give us this each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins (Luke 11)… Jesus taught us to pray daily. Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. The world sees your sin, and proposes the impossible test of “prove your righteousness and then I’ll accept your God”, as a red herring, a smoke-screen distraction from their own sin and need of a Savior from the Just Wrath of God. Jesus Christ, the righteous Judge sets the terms, not the defendants. God is faithful, and it was He who began a good work in you for it was by Him that you were brought to saving faith. Let’s look to James 2 for a moment.

James 2:14-26 (ESV) | Faith Without Works Is Dead 14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

Dear Christian, please don’t be scared of James, nor distracted by those who would use James to burden Christians under the works of the Law. James is pointing to a faith problem, not a conduct/discipline problem. Genuine faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ produces fruit in the believer, and as the believer grows in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, so will the fruit by faith. If there is no fruit, James is pointing to the problem of a lack of faith as the cause of the lack of fruit. So many preachers today flip it around, as though by some manipulating of good works of the law can instill faith. That’s not how it works, and that is not the focus of  James. If you have faith, the works will follow, for we are not saved by good works, we are saved by faith for good works (Eph 2).


So here’s the idea: as Christians, we need to be reminded daily of our need for a Savior. We need to hear the Law preached lawfully, so that our flesh, our sinful nature remain crucified, but we also need the Life of the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached so that our faith can grow and be sustained. When our good works fade, the answer is to return to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Repent and be forgiven, and in the same measure that you are forgiven forgive others. In the same measure that you are loved by Jesus, love others. We will fail, He knows this, and He is faithful and Just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us of our unrighteousness. We are commanded to love others as Christ loved us, and when we fail we are to repent of our sin. Preach the Word of God faithfully and humbly so that the lost might hear of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that by the Grace of God they might come to saving faith. If your life is not bearing any fruit, its time to examine your faith… most often what we find is we’ve gone dry from spending so much time under Law without Gospel, and we’ve allowed our focus to drift away from the cross and onto our own ability (truly inability) to keep the Law of Righteousness. We need to keep an eye on our brothers and sisters in Christ and lovingly stir each other up, by reminding each other of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

James 5:19-20 (ESV) 19 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

Whenever this song plays on the radio, think on these things rather than what the song is pushing. Preach Law and Gospel to both the unbeliever (that he might be saved) and the believer (that he might be encouraged). Amen. In Christ Jesus, Jorge