Drinking Deeply

Sunday, September 11, 2005 at 11:35 AM

Come, let us sing praises to our King.

One thing that I've been thinking about has been our praise songs. This isn't a bulk condemnation of praise songs, but a plea that we look critically at what we are saying and what that means. I will offer up two songs that have crossed my path recently and how easily they can be misinterpreted to mean things completely contradictory to the spirit of God.

I don't know the title or the author, but the last few lines of the song goes "You saved my soul you paid the price, you saved my soul, now have my life."

That should be fine right? It's obviously a song written to Jesus thanking him for saving our life and paying the price of death.

What about the second line? "You saved my soul, now have my life." Truly offering up one's life to Christ is an act of thankfulness, is it not? But what is it subtly saying as well? Doesn't a simple reading of it imply a very scary thing?

I didn't have to give God my life, but now that he saved my soul, he earned it.

This is absolutely false. God demands our life from our conception. He deserves all worship, all praise, all honor. Whatever we do, Christian or non, we are to live for His glory. All have fallen short here, it is only those that God has applied the Spirit's regenerative powers to that will be saved from that. God deserves our all, nay, he demands our all. We cannot give Him in thankfulness what He has already demanded it of us, and in fact because we couldn't pay, paid the price and lived the life for us.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm sure that the authors of this song did not intend for that meaning to be there. Surely they meant it in another meaning. In fact, there are many verses in Scripture that back up a different interpretation:

2 Corinthians 5 is one possibility.

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

Romans 6 is another

1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

Christ died for all so that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them. This is why Christ died. God demanded our all, and when we couldn't pay, because of his kindness and mercy, offered up His Son.

But notice the tone of these two points. In 2 Corinthians it's not as obvious, but in Romans 6 it is very clear that the tone is that of a rebuke. We as Christians, should not continue to live in sin because the life has already been paid. Yes, be thankful for the mercies and grace of God. Sing Him praises.

Another song that's crossed my path that I've been thinking about is "If we are the body" by Casting Crowns.

One of the lyrics in the refrain goes "Jesus paid much to great a price for us to pick and choose who to come."

In one sense this is absolutely true. God commands us to preach the gospel to all men. It was the Pharisees that tried to make the door too narrow, tried to restrict access to God. For that they were well rebuked. Today as Christians we must know and acknowledge that we are just as bad as the next person and because of God's grace He saved us, and He can apply that grace to anyone. Like the Jews at the Jerusalem Council, we are not to place a burden too heavy for others to lift which we cannot lift ourselves.

But in another sense, it doesn't paint the whole picture. What does Paul write to the Corinthian church? 1 Corinthians 5 reads:

1It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father's wife. 2And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.

12For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13God judges[b] those outside. "Purge the evil person from among you."

We as God's chosen people, part of the bride of Christ, are to play our role in the sanctification of His church. We are called to purge the evil person from among us. When was the last time your church formally disciplined a member for living an unrepentant lifestyle? The divorce rates in Christianity are exactly the same as those of the secular world. People are divorcing for any number of reasons, almost all of them non-Biblical. Ought not a church speak out against such actions, seeking reconciliation, and excommunicate the offender if he or she remain unrepentant? We are to judge one another against the highest test, God Himself. We are to seek for that perfection, because our Heavenly Father is perfect.

I'm not saying (nor is Paul saying) that we are to be perfect. No one can do that, that's why we need the cross. But what Paul is saying is that we are to keep the body clean. If there are people who are not demonstrating a living repentance, then we need church discipline. We all need to be loving disciplined and rebuked for our sins so that we might have the godly grief that leads to repentance. But as long as people continue to decry church discipline, decry judgment, claiming the banner of unity at all costs, then all we have is a fractured group of people. Some care more, some care less, some don't care at all and show it. We don't have that living fellowship of believers breaking bread and living in a holy fear of God.

In a sense the song is actually good, because it serves as a slight rebuke against those who are unwelcome and too judgmental. But in all honesty, that's not what we need today. What we need is biblical preaching that isn't afraid to point to the passages on death, hell, and sin. What we need is the church to take it's role at the center of society, executing loving rebukes and building a holy fellowship of believers. We don't need more songs that are about loving one another. That definition of love has been taken over by the secular world. We don't want acceptance. We don't want unity at all costs. It's time to reclaim it and love as Christ loved, rebuking, serving, dying for one another.

So returning to my original point. The songs we sing, we want to make sure that they are glorifying to God, which means that they invoke thoughts that are glorifying to God. There is much we sing that has great worth, that are based off of the Scriptures, and that promote a true theology (of course, anything can be misinterpreted). Seek after those, test all things against Scripture. This is our command, and our joy.


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