A “worship” favourite. – “Now is the time to give your heart.” Better: Still! Cork up.

Here is another “worship” favourite.

“Come, Now Is The Time To Worship”

1.
Come, now is the time to worship.
Come, now is the time to give your heart.
Come, just as you are, to worship.
Come, just as you are, before your God.
Come.

2.
One day every tongue will confess
You are God.
One day every knee will bow.
Still the greatest treasure remains for those
Who gladly choose you now.

Repeat 1 and 2.

Repeat 1.

End with:

Oh, come. Oh, come. Oh, come.
Worship the Lord. Oh, come.

Come, come, come…

(Philips, Craig and Dean)

Comment on “Now is the time to give your heart.”

How is a dead ossified heart able or desirous to open itself, circumcise itself, give itself to Christ, huh? Only God can and does do it:

Deuteronomy 30:6

And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.

Ezekiel 30
26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

Acts 16:14
Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.

(See The Jewish heart….)

Comment on “One day every knee will bow.
Still the greatest treasure remains for those
Who gladly choose you now.”

Every knee will indeed bow to their Lord; the knee of the saved and the knee of the damned. If the greatest treasure remains for the saved (whose hearts God chooses to open before they die), what treasure remains for the majority of mankind who are forced to their knees on judgment day?

Another silly song with a nice tune.

Another song – No, you never poured out your life, and definitely not again and again: A discordant note

Once again, one more discordant note,  to sow discord. The song in question is called, prophetically, “Once again.” Here are the lyrics:

Once Again

Jesus Christ, I think upon Your sacrifice
You became nothing, poured out to death.
Many times I’ve wondered at Your gift of life
and I’m in that place once again.
Yes, I’m in that place once again.

And once again I look upon the cross where You died
I’m humbled by Your mercy and I’m broken inside.
Once again I thank You, Once again I pour out my life.
 

Now You are exalted to the highest place,
King of the heavens where one day I’ll bow.
But for now, I marvel at Your saving grace
and I’m full of praise once again.
Yes, I’m full of praise once again.
 

And once again I look upon the cross where You died
I’m humbled by Your mercy and I’m broken inside.
Once again I thank You, Once again I pour out my life.
 

Thank You for the cross; Thank You for the cross
Thank You for the cross, my Friend.
Thank You for the cross; Thank You for the cross
Thank You for the cross, my Friend.

And once again I look upon the cross where You died
I’m humbled by Your mercy and I’m broken inside.
Once again I thank You, Once again I pour out my life.
 

Much in this song is faithful to the Bible. There are even a few words from the Bible. I wonder whether the song writer was aware of the context of these few words ‘I pour out my life.” Is there a verse that says something about the Christian pouring out his life, and, pouring it out “once again,” as in this song? No, nothing on both counts. There is, though, in the Bible a pouring out of life, but not your life. When did you, and how many times do you, pour out your soul to death and bear the sin of many,
 and make intercession for them? 

Here is somebody who did do that, and once for all (time), and which was enough to pay the price for those Jesus died for, which may also include you. 

Isaiah 53 

10  Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
 he has put him to grief; when his soul makes[h] an offering for guilt,
 he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. 11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
    make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities. 12  Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, becausehe poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
 and makes intercession for the transgressors. 

That doesn’t mean that you cannot, with the psalmist, pour out your soul, your heart to God. 

When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude of the festive throng” (Psalm 42:4). 

Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah” (Psalm 62:8). 

The Apostle Paul, not long before his execution, does say “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near” (2 Timothy 4:6). 

Firstly, there might exist a few Christians who suffered as much as Paul. Examine yourself to establish whether you are in this league. If not, church leaders don’t bring such songs to church. Secondly, Paul would not say “I pour out myself,” and certainly not, “I pour out my life” because he would know that he was tearing scripture out of context – a unique unrepeatable event: the Suffering Servant, who poured out his soul unto death, once for all time.

If Jesus poured out his blood for you, don’t sing these songs; silly, at best, blasphemous, at worst. They deceive mixed with truth. Examine whether you are truly in the faith once for all (time) delivered to the “saints,” (Jude 1:3), God’s holy people. Who are God’s holy people? Those the Father gave the Son (John 17) before the world began, and, as a result, “received him, who believed in his name, (whom) he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12b-13).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did the Father turn his face away in sorrow from the Cross?

This is another in the series, “The Songs we shouldn’t sing in church.”

Thomas Aquinas is purported to have said, “Love takes up where knowledge leaves off.” I describe what can happen when love, or anything, takes off, and knowledge takes a holiday.

Mother Teresa said the following in the ”Decree of Erection” for her congregation:

To quench the thirst of Our Lord Jesus Christ for the salvation of souls by the observance of the three Vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience …” (Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light, the Private Writings of the “Saint of Calcutta”, edited and with commentary by Brian Kolodiejchuk, M. C. (USA: Doubleday, 2007, p. 20). Where does Mother Teresa get the idea that Jesus is constantly “thirsting for souls?” I think the constant sacrifice of the Mass has much to do with it. In Roman Catholic theology the sacrifice is never over. This constant thirst idea is an aberration, because there is nothing in the Bible says that Jesus is thirsting in heaven. (See ”The constant thirst and constant sacrifice of Jesus Christ: The Charism of Mother Teresa”).

What about God from a Unitarian (non-Trinitarian) view. According to the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, “ Whenever God faced with anyone who appealed and prayed to Him with such a grieving heart, He related to that person with a sorrow welling up in His heart.” (Let Us Become the Ones Who Can Understand God’s Sorrow”).There is nothing about this in the Bible.

What about God the Father (from a Trinitarian point of view). Did the Father turn his face away in sorrow from the crucifixion of His Son? I examine this question here. There is a very moving song called “How deep the father’s love for us.”

How deep the Father’s love for us,

How vast beyond all measure

That He should give His only Son

To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,

The Father turns His face away

As wounds which mar the chosen One,

Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,

My sin upon His shoulders

Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,

Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that left Him there

Until it was accomplished

His dying breath has brought me life

I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything

No gifts, no power, no wisdom

But I will boast in Jesus Christ

His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?

I cannot give an answer

But this I know with all my heart

His wounds have paid my ransom

(REPEAT)

There are about two dozen comments on this song to be found here. The following two are representative:

1. What great inspiration!what a deep song on the love of God. again and again,i listen to this piece and i get broken in my spirit. this is one of the best xtian [sic] songs ever written in history to reveal the great love of a sinless Christ for a sinful human race.

2. The song is really amazing! It makes me feel as if we’ve just entered heaven and the song is played as we approach the face of God, getting to meet Jesus face to face. I love it!

The words are moving, but more important, mostly biblically on the button, except for this verse, (and perhaps “Why should I gain from His reward”) about the Father turning his face away in sorrow.

How great the pain of searing loss,

The Father turns His face away

As wounds which mar the chosen One,

Bring many sons to glory.

Before I speak of sorrow, I need to begin with wrath. Ben Trigg (“Did the Father turn His face away”) presents a good case that the Bible never talks of God turning his face away in wrath, or for any reason. “No doubt, says Trigg, the wrath of God is visible at the cross.” However, in spite of “My God my God why have you forsaken me” (Jesus voicing Psalm 22:1, this does not mean that the Father turned his face away, for we read in Psalm 22:24 : “He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; nor has He hidden His face from him; but when he cried to Him for help, He heard.” Jesus’s cry in Psalm 22:1 should not be truncated from the rest of Psalm 22.

The problem I have with this verse of the song is not, as in Trigg, that the Father turns His face from the Son as a sign of his wrath against sinners. This is the problem: there is a strong allusion, I would say assertion, that the reason why the Father turned his face away was because of the great pain he felt at crucifying his son. But who knows that other than the Father?

(In Christian theology, patripassianism is the view that God the Father suffers (from Latin patri– “father” and passio “suffering”). Its adherents believe that God the Father was incarnate and suffered on the cross and that whatever happened to the Son happened to the Father and so the Father co-suffered with the human Jesus on the cross. This view is opposed to the classical theological doctrine of divine apathy. According to classical theology it is possible for Christ to suffer only in virtue of his human nature. The divine nature is incapable of suffering. There is no consensus that the early church considered this a heresy or not – Wikipedia).

What we do know – which we get from the Bible; that’s all we’ve got, and it’s sufficient – is that at the cross, the Father’s full wrath that should have fallen on sinners, He unleashed on His Son. But then, who wants to sing songs, or preach, on the wrath of God in church “worship” (the songs part of church). It makes a person feel bad, and makes God look really bad.

Except for the contentious patripassianism bit,  the song “How deep the Father’s love for us,” is, as someone said, “One of my favourite songs… Fantastic song, it truly speaks to me how truly deep our heavenly Father loves us, even when our voices are among the scoffers.” Here are the words put to music.

More songs in church – Won’t you reign me in again

Here are the titles of songs sung at the same service:

Lord reign in me.
I lift my hands.
Blessed Assurance.

So far, very nice titles. Here is a verse from each:

Lord reign in me – Last verse: “Lord reign in me, Reign in your power, Over all my dreams, In my darkest hour, you are the Lord of all I am, So won’t you reign in me again.

Comment: If “you are the Lord of all I am,” why do you – in the next breath – warble, “So, won’t you reign in me again?” Say no more.

There was less than a minute interval between the above verse and the first verse of the next song.
I lift my hands – First verse: “I lift my hands to the coming king, To the great I am to You I sing, For you’re the One who reigns within my heart.”

Comment: So which is it? “For you’re the one who reigns within my heart” or the plea in the last verse of the previous song you sang a moment before: “So won’t you reign in me again.” Shouldn’t you be singing, “So won’t you feign in me again.”

The next song was Blessed Assurance. Last verse – “Perfect submission, all is at rest, I in my saviour am happy and blessed, Watching and waiting, looking above, Filled with his goodness, lost in his love.”

Put it all together, it spells smother: Blessed assurance reigning in me, reign me in again.

But who cares! They’re nice songs. Anyhow it’s too late to do anything about it one minute before proceedings begin.

Our worship often smells nothing of God

There are so many songs sung in church that shouldn’t be. Lines such as “I’ll lay it all down again” (what’s this “it,” YOUR life!) and “I wanna be with you-hoo-hoo” are plain silly. (See Songs we should not sing in church).

Hugh Binning lived and died in the first half of the 17th century (1637 – 53). What he said about worship applies to all times and climes – whether it be of the formal or informal (no form?) kind”

“For the most part, our worship savours and smells nothing of God, neither his power, nor his mercy and grace, nor his holiness and justice, nor his majesty and glory; a secure, faint, formal way, void of reverence, of humility, of fervency, and of faith. I beseech you let us consider, as before the Lord, how much pains and time we lose, and please none but ourselves, and profit none at all. Stir up yourselves as in his sight for it is the keeping of our souls continually as in his sight which will stamp our service with his likeness. The fixed and constant meditation on God and his glorious properties, this will beget the resemblance between our worship and the God whom we worship and it will imprint his image upon it, and then it should please him, and then it should profit thee, and then it should edify others.”

(The works of Hugh Binning).

In Christ and with Christ: I wanna be with you-hoo-hoo. But, not yet

In Worship Music in Antioch – Cranking Up the Worship Band,” Pastor Scott Brown discusses with interviewer Kevin Swanson the relationship between music and worship. Brown says:

I’ve experienced a situation a number of times where someone is in the congregation and they’re not singing.  I ask them, ‘how come you’re not singing. They say,’I don’t like that song,’,or ‘I’m not going to sing a chorus,’ or ‘it (the song) has to be out of a certain century.’ My instructing is always the same: you have to prioritize your own actions. You have to ask yourself “is the song doctrinally accurate?” or “is the song true.” If the song is not true you shouldn’t be singing it.” 

Here is a song I heard in a church Sunday last, where the words do not, indeed definitely cannot, match the singer’s aspiration. Here are two verses of the song “How deep is the father’s love for us.”

Verse 1

I just want to be where You are,

dwelling daily in Your presence

I don’t want to worship from afar,

draw me near to where You are

Verse 2

I just want to be where You are,

in Your dwelling place forever

Take me to the place where You are,

I just want to be with You

Hip hop ending

I just want to (wanna) be

I just want to (wanna) be with You

Here is the Youtube link to the song. I quote a few of the 93 comments posted there: 1. Lord take me to your home, I receive the anointing of the holy ghost. in Jesus name amen.  2.  Anointed 3. Thank you very much for this beautiful song very touching (touching  = anointed?).

What does the “worshiper” think these words mean: “Take me to the place where you are, I just want to be with you?” I try to answer that question here.

The Bible says (many times in the letters of Paul) that to be a Christian is to be “in Christ” and “Christ in you.” Christians are born of God (born again), which entails that Christ lives – through the Holy Spirit – in them. So far, we are dealing with the notion to be “in Christ.” Once regenerated (quickened, raised to spiritual life), believers are enabled and therefore can choose the good things of God. If, though, believers don’t only want to be in Christ but also with Christ, that I would call radical radical Christianity. Radical Christianity is be consumed with living in and for Christ.; radical radical Christianity is “I want to be with Christ – and I want it now. Here is the Apostle Paul: Philippians 1:21-23 – “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.” 

Jeremy Walker, in his Life in Christ: Becoming and Being a Disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ,” explains the difference between being in Christ and with Christ, where “the anticipation of the dying saint” is to be with the Lord:

To lack food is terrible; to lack money is distressing; to lack health is miserable; to lack friends is tragic; but to lack Christ is to lack the greatest and most necessary good-it is the most awful situation imaginable. If we had Christ, all else could be borne, but to live and die without Christ makes any number of other blessings little better than dust and ashes in our mouths. Second, someone might be with Christ. If to be without Christ is the height of woe, then to be with Christ is the pinnacle of bliss, for this is the very joy and blessing of glory. To be “present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 528) is the heaven of heaven. There is no greater joy, no happier prospect, no sweeter moment than to have the eye actually rest upon the Lord Christ, the glorified Savior of sinners. This is the anticipation of the dying saint, the prospect for the resurrection that makes every other hint of the glory to come shine with golden light. However, if we are to be with Christ when we die or taken to be with Him when He returns, we need to bear in mind that no one will ever be with Christ unless they are first in Christ.”

In Christ is the very opposite of being “in Adam” (Rom. 5:12-21), which we are by nature. It is very different from being “in the World,” which we are by sinful inclination. It is not the same as being “in church”-there are many people who imagine that being in a church building from time to time, in regular attendance at church services, or even a member of some church, even one where the truth is preached, will somehow of itself guarantee their salvation. You can be in church and without Christ.”

In sum, when one is “without” Christ, Christ is not indwelling that person. “Without Christ” in our context, is not the opposite of “with Christ.” “Without Christ” means “not in Christ,” which is a spiritual state in this life. “With Christ,” on the other hand, means to join Christ where he is in his glorified state – on the right hand of the Father in heaven, and, as the song is written, this means now – during the church service. 

So, do you still want to be with Christ (now)? Of course you don’t. So, stop being adolescent and singing those silly boyfriend-girlfriend songs. Don’t you really mean, ““Lord grant me to be with you but not yet?” And perhaps also “Lord grant me chastity and continence but not yet?” (St Augustine’s adolescent prayer). Wazzat. 

Songs in church: Cerebrate before you celebrate

There is milk and there is meat. Salvation does not depend on the depth of scriptural understanding; “let the little children come unto me.” The letters of Paul are full of admonitions to “strengthen the inner man” and “renew the mind,” yet many Christians grow very little in their Christian knowledge; they’re happy with skinny dips and paltry sips. Got my ticket punched, done deal. I’m heavenbound.

A very important skill is knowing how to read (or listen) properly. Nowhere is this skill more important than in reading (listening to) the Bible; one’s salvation ultimately depends on it. To celebrate your faith, you first need to understand what you’re celebrating. That’s where your noggin, your meatloaf, your cerebrum (and cerebellum) comes in. Here is one example. All Christians acknowledge that Jesus is God come in the flesh (the incarnation). What does the “incarnation”mean? The answer to that question impacts on the “resurrection” and on Jesus as “Lord.”

There are several wrong theories about the “incarnation.” For example, the Second Person of the Trinity, the Son of God did not merely take on a body; he took on a complete human nature: body, soul and spirit (I wont say anything about the distinction between soul and spirit here). Another wrong understanding: the Father made a special human nature for his Son, This is incorrect, the Son took on the same kind of human nature as human beings. That is why Jesus is called the son of Mary, of David, of Abraham. Another misconception is that in taking on human nature, the Son became a new person. No, he has been a person from eternity.

Here is a popular song: Celebrate Jesus celebrate.

Celebrate Jesus celebrate
Celebrate Jesus celebrate
Celebrate Jesus celebrate
He is risen He is risen
And He lives forevermore
He is risen He is risen
Come on and celebrate
Come on and celebrate
Come on and celebrate
The resurrection of our Lord

As I said earlier, we should think about what we sing. How about also singing about what we think.

Cerebrate Jesus cerebrate
Cerebrate Jesus cerebrate
Cerebrate Jesus cerebrate
He is risen He is risen
And He lives forevermore
He is risen He is risen

Come on and celebrate
Come on and celebrate
Come on and celebrate
The resurrection of our Lord

Change my heart, O God: Impossible; and frankly silly

Inviting Jesus into your heart.” Where in the Bible does it say that? In the Bible we do indeed see God pouring his love into unregenerated hearts – in the natural, what other kind of heart is there? – but when God regenerates a sinner, this involves no invitation from the sinner to God, but is a unilateral sovereign divine merciful call. It’s called amazing grace.

Paul says the Spirit has been sent into our hearts to cry out “abba father”‘ (Romans 8:28). To be in the spirit, says Paul, is to be in Christ, and to be in Christ is to be in the Spirit. We don’t ask Jesus into our heart – dead hearts can’t invite.

Isaiah, says Martin Luther, calleth heaven his “seat,” and earth his “footstool,” but not his dwelling; therefore, when we long to seek after God, we shall be sure to find him with them that hear and keep his Word, as Christ saith, “He that keepeth my Word, I will come and dwell with him.” (Martin Luther, “Table Talk”). (Inviting Jesus into your aorta: Personal and Mystical Union at the White Horse Inn).

What is Revelation 3:20 about? ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” If you think it’s addressed to sinners, it’s not. It’s addressed to Christians – not to the “world” whom Jesus does not pray for (John 17:9). Jesus knocks at the door that he may come to sup, to dwell, to lodge with those “who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28b); those whose hearts Jesus has already changed; in biblical language:  “if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them” (2 Corinthians 5:17-19).

So, if a Christian who has been reconciled to God, justified and saved, is a child of God, what do we make of this song so popular in churches, usually coming after – to change to a more solemn mood – the energetic ones?

Change my heart, O God,

Make it ever true;

Change my heart, O God,

May I be like You.

 

Change my heart, O God,

Make it ever true;

Change my heart, O God,

May I be like You

 

You are the Potter,

I am the clay;

Mold me and make me,

This is what I pray

 

Change my heart, O God,

Make it ever true;

Change my heart, O God,

 

A few comments:

Change my heart, O God,

Make it ever true;

Change my heart, O God,

May I be like You.

If you ask God to change your heart, God has changed it already, because you would never want to ask such a question unless you had the desire to do so. Where did your desire originate? Not in you but in God, who  replaced your heart of stone with a heart of flesh. What a Christian should be singing is “strengthen my heart,” in other words strengthen the “inner man,” strengthen my inner being to be more like You.

Ephesians 3

16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner man, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

You are the Potter,

I am the clay;

Mold me and make me,

This is what I pray

You’d better bet that you’re the clay. The question is do you know what clay does? It lies. It’s a passive lump. I am pretty sure that if you sing this song devoutly, you believe that the Potter looked down the corridors of time and saw that when He would ask you if he could turn you into one of his pots, you would do so. Wrong, because clay, by its very nature, cannot ask the Potter to mould it. Once, however, the Potter has chosen you for one his pots, lo, a miracle: you, clay ass that you once were, get a voice, and now you can ask God to continue to mould you, embellish you, make you more beautiful.

Romans 9

15 “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
 and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17 For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” 20 But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?

22 What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? 23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— 24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? 25 As he says in Hosea:

I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people;
and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one” (Romans 9:15b – 25).

Please think about what you sing in church; and if you have thought about it, I pray that you understand what you are praying when you ask God to renew your mind-heart. Stop singing those silly songs, even if the music sends you. Unless you’re happy being mouldy.

“OneCaringJew: I’m thinking of you above all.”

OneDaringJew, it would be nice – and Christian to boot, if you cared more and dared less. Take the way you lash out at the songs we sing in church. You make such a fuss, and never know when to stop. You always say to us “enough alrready with all that sentimental drivel;” now we are saying, we’re pleading, with you, ENUF ALRRRREADY.”

I tell you what, just give me one more time to dare before I do the kind thing and care. You must understand, though; I wasn’t brought up with many social skills – what with orphanage and boarding school and a dysfunctional home. Anyhow bear with me one more time – we can all hope.

Why do so many Christian songs get it wrong? Here’s a song whose music transports me out of this world , and the words are poignantly true about the import of the crucifixion of our precious Lord. But then there’s one bit that goes and spoils it all by turning the crucified’s intention upside down. Here are the words.

Above all powers above all kings 

Above all nature and all created things

Above all wisdom and all the ways of man

You were here before the world began

Above all kingdoms above all thrones

Above all wonders the world has ever known

Above all wealth and treasure of the earth

There’s no way to measure what You’re worth

Crucified laid behind a stone

You lived to die rejected and alone

Like a rose trampled on the ground

You took the fall and thought of me

Above all

All the “Above alls” are true except the last one, which the singer liiiiiingers over. 

You took the fall and thought of ME above all.” No, no, no, never. Who did Jesus think of above all? It should be obvious, but like many other passages in the scriptures, many Christians don’t see what is written on the page or spoken, loudly through the voice of the Son:

And speaking in a loud voice, Jesus said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46).

I hope the songwriter meant “above all created things,” where “kingdoms” and “wisdom”  refer to man’s kingdoms and wisdom. But this is not clear. There are so many verses in John’s Gospel about Jesus’ relationship to His Father. Jesus’ main concern was to glorify His Father. But if the songwriter is a “unitarian” (God appears in three different modes, and so the Son and the Father are not two distinct persons (chollile “God forbid”) , but merely modes of God), then “above all” could only refer to creation.

Songwriters please be careful of sentimentality, and more important of biblical accuracy. And then I will be more caring.

“According to the Synoptics and Johannine Literature, the ultimate purpose of Christ’s death is to display the glory of God definitively. The Son glorifies the Father by doing the work of the Father, which is to accomplish effectively the salvation of those whom the Father gave him.”

(“For the Glory of the Father and the Salvation of His People: Definite Atonement in the Synoptics and Johannine Literature, MATTHEW S. HARMON.” In David Gibson & Jonathan Gibson. “From Heaven He Came and Sought Her.” Crossway, 2013. .

 

In the trade: The songs Arminians – and Calminians – love to sing

 

 

 

 

In You have won my heart, now I can trade my ashes in for beauty: How one does not come to faith in Christ, I examined the song, “At the foot of the cross.” I examine more closely the lines “You have won my heart” and “Now I can trade these ashes in for beauty,” and show how it exemplifies the Arminian/synergistic view of justification (obtaining a right standing before God).

 

When Calvinism is contrasted with Arminianism, what first comes to mind is God’s role and man’s role in coming to faith. The Calvinist says that man plays no cooperative or contributive role in coming to faith (monergism; mono “alone,” ergos “work”), while the Arminian says that man cooperates (synergism; syn “together,” ergos “work”) with God in that he is ultimately justified (made right with God) only when he turns to God, that is, wills to come to faith. In Calvinism, God first regenerates (born again) the sinner and then gives the sinner the gift of faith, while in Arminianism, regeneration follows the sinner’s acceptance of God’s offer of salvation.(See Calvinism and Arminianism).

 

A “Calminian” is someone who loves the story about the arch of heaven. As the believer approaches, he sees written above the arch, “All are welcome.” He passes through the arch into heaven. He turns around to wave farewell to the sorry stubborn lot who preferred to stay outside, and sees written above the inside of the arch “predestination.” Happy reconciliation.

 

I was in correspondence with a music leader of a church. With his permission, here is the conversation. He initially appears in agreement with my critique of the view I expressed in “At the foot of the cross.”

 

Music leader

 

“So many of the really good songs with good messages still have some dodgy words in them, even some of the hymns. Most modern song writers are not theologians and often words are chosen to fit the rhyme or the flow of the music (one of the reasons I still really love hymns). So do we go with the overarching message of a song and allow for poetic license or do we chuck it out because of a questionable word? I would say that if the incorrect word or words are clearly pointing at incorrect doctrine, chuck it out.” He then begins to tweak his tune and seems to repenting 180 degrees: “Can ‘you’ve won my heart” be interpreted any other way than “I’m giving Him my heart because I’m so impressed?’”

 

“When I was preparing for Ash Wednesday I came upon this verse in Isaiah  “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.” (Isa 61:3  KJV). It’s within the context of the passage that Jesus quoted and proclaimed Himself to be the fulfillment of Luke 4:18-21.” “I will give the benefit of the doubt to the possibility that the author of our communion song is referencing to this verse (Isaiah 61:3 previous paragraph), which would mean that her use of the word “trade” is simply alluding to an exchange of one thing for another and not a commercial transaction. I would then go back to my original interpretation of the words “…you have won my heart…”, as referring to Christ winning over sin and death, beating sin and rescuing me from death and not me giving my heart to Him as a prize since He is to be glorified because it was all His work.”

 

Me

 

“If it is understood that only after Jesus takes the heart of stone out of us and replaces it with a new one (like His), and in so doing makes us free to choose him (we choose Him because He first chose us), then “you’ve won my heart” does seem to be acceptable. But, unfortunately it is not understood that way (by the song writers as well as by most who sing it), which is proven by another line in the song (much worse), ‘I have traded…..'”

 

“Theology is nothing more than how we think about scripture. Poetic “license” in how we right our songs has to e faith to the scripture meaning. To play safe, why don’t we just use scripture for our lyrics, because scripture is always right. There are already thousands of beautiful songs that have scripture lyrics. It’s a great eye-opener scrutinising all the fluff on the buff of many of songs of “worship.” Makes one feel like a peeping tom.”

 

End of conversation.

 

The music leader conveys the impression that he has found a solution to what he considers a misunderstanding, and that when seen it the right light, “trade” may not be so bad after all.

 

A few more comments.

 

He is finding it hard to shuck off his Arminian coil, even though he had told me previously that he believes the monergistic doctrine that only after you are born again do you come to believe. The Arminian/synergistic view is (first you make a decision to have) faith then comes regeneration, which flies in the face of Ehesians 2: 1-10:

 

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.But3 God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this (refers to the whole previous chunk, namely, “by grace you have been saved through faith) is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (My italics and emphasis).

 

“Dead,” in verse one; is that, I ask, merely “poetic license?” If so, the sinner cannot really be (spiritually) dead but still has enough life in him to blink or wave his limp poetic pinky, which is all that God, philosophy and poetics require for the sinner to retain the imaginary dignity of his free will. Is any “trade-off” possible between “really” dead and “poetically” dead? To answer that question, let’s return to the Arminian “trade.”

 

trade

 

1. the act or process of buying, selling, or exchanging commodities, at either wholesale or retail, within a country or between countries: domestic trade; foreign trade. 2. a purchase or sale; business deal or transaction. 3. an exchange of items, usually without payment of money.

 

The songwriter obviously has basic interpersonal communicative English skills, and thus should know what “trade” means. If so, how to explain the use of this inappropriate term in the song? It’s pretty obvious; she thinks like an Arminian and, being consistent, writes songs like an Arminian. I suggest she knew exactly what she was conveying, namely, an exchange effected ultimately by herself (God has voted for you, the devil against you, and you have the final vote).  What, though, does the Bible say? God didn’t traded anything, neither did (could) I. This, however, does not mean that I did not accept Jesus, but merely  that I did so only after God raised me from the dead and made me free to do so. The Arminian position is “God I accept your offer.”

 

On the monergistic view, therefore, there is everything wrong with “I traded.” Keep in mind that we are talking about justification (our “standing” before God), which is conditional on regeneration, faith, and repentance, in that logical order (which occur simultaneously). The dead “I” cannot be involved because it is unable to lift a darning finger or to reverse the lethal damage of the Fall. And this reversal is what justification is all about (as Martyn Lloyd Jones makes so clear in his teaching on Ephesians). Nor can there be any trade – a cooperative transaction. Justification is a unilateral divine sovereign act of love; a pure gift; like winning a lottery, but only better, because it’s rigged for you to win – big time. Also, you don’t need to buy a ticket, and more; your prize is far greater than your money or your life –

 

Or my wife. (“I’ll see you afterwards!”).

 

 

 

Worship and Wordship: What songs shall we sing in Church?

This is a follow-on from “You have won my heart, now I can trade my ashes in for beauty: How one does not come to faith in Christ.”

Here is a message I received from someone who leads the singing in his church. The specific song in question is “At the foot of the cross (Ashes for beauty).”

At the foot of the cross
Where grace and suffering meet
You have shown me Your love
Through the judgment You received

And You’ve won my heart
Yes You’ve won my heart
Now I can

Trade these ashes in for beauty
And wear forgiveness like a crown
Coming to kiss the feet of mercy
I lay every burden down
At the foot of the cross

At the foot of the cross
Where I am made complete
You have given me life
Through the death You bore for me

He says:

“On going through my music I have found a number of songs in my repertoire with the words ‘you’ve won my heart.’ So many of the really good songs with good messages still have some dodgy words in them, even some of the hymns. Most modern song writers are not theologians and often words are chosen to fit the rhyme or the flow of the music (one of the reasons I still really love hymns). My repertoire is getting smaller and smaller which is probably a good thing.”

“So do we go with the overuling message of a song and allow for poetic licence or do we chuck it out for a questionable word? I would say that if the incorrect word or words are clearly pointing at incorrect doctrine, chuck it out. Can ‘you’ve won my heart’ be interpreted any other way than ‘I’m giving Him my heart because I’m so impressed?'”

I publish my reply to him (with his permission).

If it is understood that only after Jesus takes the heart of stone out of us and replaces it with a new one (like His), and in so doing makes us free to choose him (we choose Him because He first chose us), then “you’ve won my heart” does seem ok. But, unfortunately it is not understood that way (by the song writers as well most who sing it), which is proven by another line in the song (much worse), “I have traded these ashes for beauty.”

Not at all. I can trade nothing. If anyone thinks that some kind of transaction is going on between himself and his Saviour, he’s in the wrong business.

You say most song writers are not theologians. Theology, however, is nothing more than how we think about scripture. Most professing Christians don’t want to think about scripture. That’s what they pay the pastor for.

Your “Poetic “licence”: whether it be in songs or sermons, poetic licence is tantamount to biblical licentiousness.

Scripture is always right. There are many beautiful songs that have scriptural lyrics.

It’s a great eye-opener peeping at all the fluff on the buff of much that is called worship. Start with WORDSHIP and you can’t go wrong.