Questions About Questionable Songs
I agree with some of what you've said in complaint of "Songs of Faith and Praise".
However, I feel that I must at least register an argument, albeit a nonviolent one, against two songs that you have blacklisted.
First of all, and less convincingly, I interpret "Just a Little Talk With Jesus" as encouragement to talk to Jesus in addition to being baptized, whatever else. Your statement about the song, give or take, is that it suggests that a talk is all that is required. That's certainly not the case, but isn't it also true that we must have a working, talking relationship with Jesus before even our baptism truly means anything?
Second, "He Lives" has been a traditional Methodist hymn (I am a Methodist, of course) for about as long as it has been around. I feel that "He lives within my heart" is perhaps the BEST answer to the question "How do you know that Jesus lives?" Is not the ONLY form of faith that we can go on the feeling of comfort in our heart that comes from faith in Jesus? How would we KNOW that Jesus is living today EXCEPT by our feeling of his presence?
I'm not trying to bring up issues, it's just that I felt that I had to defend at least those two songs, both of which I feel personally to be valuable.
No offense is taken nor could it be taken. Your disagreement was stated straightforwardly and without rancor. No disagreement can be resolved without a clear statement of its basis; no disagreement can be resolved with rancor. That said, it is not likely that all disagreements will ever be resolved. Now to the songs.
Your disagreement with “Just A Little Talk With Jesus” does not address the objections made which are: 1) it speaks of praying to Jesus and 2) it suggests salvation by the sinner’s prayer. Neither of these is biblical. Your point is well taken that Christianity calls for a prayer life, but those prayers are to the Father through the Son, not to the Son. The bible does not contain the so-called “sinner’s prayer” and does not teach that it is the pathway to salvation. The alien sinner, i.e., the one who has never become a Christian, must hear the word of God, believe and confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, repent, and be immersed for the remission of sin. Nowhere does scripture teach that once that has been done that there is no more to be done. It teaches that to receive the crown of life one must be faithful until death. In conclusion, we are agreed on the necessity of prayer, whether it is called prayer or a “little talk.” Hopefully we can agree that that prayer should be offered to the Father through the Son. If so, this song suggests the wrong path for prayer.
As for “He Lives,” the fact that one feels a certain way about Jesus’ being alive does not make it so any more than Jacob’s thinking that Joseph was dead made it so. Moreover, faith is not based upon feeling because feeling does not determine truth. Jesus resurrection is not based on feeling – it is based on fact; it was not an event in the heart – it was an event in history. There are many in the world who neither believe nor feel that Jesus factually arose from death. If feeling is a proper basis for faith how can you argue with their feeling-based (dis)belief? Jesus lives not because you feel so; He lives because by the power of God he was literally, actually, factually, and historically raised from death and came forth from the tomb. This historical fact was attested to by many witnesses. It can be denied by disbelievers, but it has greater attestation than any fact of ancient history. That great fact of history began to lose credence in modernism, specifically neo-orthodoxy, due to the impact of Darwinism. Many liberal theologians, impressed by Darwinism’s denial of the supernatural and his insistence that, if God existed at all, He was totally transcendent (Deism or some form of Pantheism or Gnosticism), never intervened in the world, and acted in nature only through natural law if He acted at all, began to clear the supernatural from scripture. They wished to retain what they recognized to be biblical teaching, e.g., the resurrection of Christ, but they wished to harmonize it with naturalism or materialism. Two leading proponents of this new (neo) orthodoxy were Karl Barth and Rudolph Bultman. Barth contended that the resurrection was not an event of history. He wrote, “The resurrection touches history as a tangent touches a circle – that is, without really touching it.” (He was wrong about both the resurrection and geometry.) Bultman considered the resurrection as no more than a call to “authentic existence in the face of death.” He asserted that all of the essentials of Christianity would remain unchanged if the bones of Jesus were discovered in Palestine tomorrow. (How different that is from Paul’s evaluation of the necessity of the literal resurrection to Christianity in 1 Corinthians 15.) Their position is that Jesus lives, but he lives only in the heart of the believer – he was not literally raised bodily from the tomb. The song “He Lives” is neo-orthodoxy through and through. To assert that he lives within my heart is to fall far short of the teaching of the New Testament. How much better so sing:
Low in the grave he lay, Jesus, my Savior! Waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord; Vainly they watch His bed, Jesus, my Savior! Vainly they seal the dead, Jesus my Lord; Death cannot keep his prey, Jesus, my savior! He tore the bars away, Jesus, my Lord; Up from the grave He arose with a mighty triumph o’er His foes; He arose a Victor from the dark domain, And He lives forever with His saints to reign; HE AROSE! HE AROSE! HALLELUJAH! CHRIST AROSE!
God's Plan of Salvation
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)