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Question #308

Aren’t your song comments a bit sarcastic?

A fellow Christian sent me a link to your page for consideration. I would like to thank you for your desire to improve our worship. I have thought for a long time now that we should all put more effort into our song selection and our song leading. There are certainly several songs that we should omit from our services. As a positive suggestion, I would encourage you to modify the page in such a way as to not seem as if your site is offering an endorsement for the songs that have been left out of the "Songs of Faith and Praise" book. As it currently stands, the page seems to indicate that those songs are endorsed (though it is not explicit), and could confuse some of the points made about the songs you are warning against. For example, an endorsement of the song "Oft We Come Together," which contains the line "Help us Lord thy love to see," would be contrary to the argument made against the song "Father." As another positive suggestion, I would encourage you to carefully consider the wording of the page's content. I can see how some remarks could come off as sounding sarcastic, which would diminish the page's effectiveness. I would like to also thank you for the three suggestions to our song-leaders - sometimes we fail as a group to instruct our leaders and leave them to figure things out on their own.

The Answer:

Thank you for your comments on the Problem Songs page. Your comments are thoughtfully and kindly stated. That seems to be the case more often with those who are sincerely seeking to do things the Lord’s way instead of defending doing that which they like to do and which they deem appropriate based on their personal likes and dislikes. Some, not liking to be challenged on their position, respond the only way they can – with vituperation.

That said, the comparison drawn between Father and Oft We Come Together misses the mark. In Father God is called upon to show us that he loves us. In Oft We Come Together we are calling upon God to help us see the love that he has already shown us in the death of Christ memorialized in the Lord’s Supper. There is a great difference between calling on God to do something more than he has done in Christ and calling upon God to help us see what he has already done in Christ. The latter is neither more nor less than asking that God help or strengthen us to honestly examine ourselves so that we may eat the bread and drink the cup worthily, thus avoiding eating and drinking damnation unto our souls. 1 Cor. 11:23-29. This is not intended to say that there are no problems in any of the songs that were noted as omitted from Songs of Faith and Praise. If you have others you consider problematic please forward your comments and every consideration will be given to them.

Two comments are in order concerning sarcasm. First, that which is sometimes mistaken for sarcasm is a form of logical argument – reductio ad absurdum. When the argument that one makes or the necessary logical inferences that underlie that argument can be reduced to an absurdity, the falsity of the argument is thereby demonstrated. Second, there is no Biblical reason not to use sarcasm, especially when there does not appear to be any rational reason for the conclusion reached. The Old Testament prophets were masters of sarcasm in dealing both with God’s spiritually adulterous people and with the worshippers of idols. Listen to Elijah on Mount Carmel in the contest with the prophets of Baal: “And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud; for he is a god: either he is musing, or he is gone aside, or he is on a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth and must be awaked.” (1Ki 18:27 ASV.) The ESV is more graphic: “And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, ‘Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.’’ (1Ki 18:27 ESV.) Paul did not hesitate to use it when he thought it was appropriate. Here his language to the Corinthians: Already are ye filled, already ye are become rich, ye have come to reign without us: yea and I would that ye did reign, that we also might reign with you. 9 For, I think, God hath set forth us the apostles last of all, as men doomed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, both to angels and men. 10 We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye have glory, but we have dishonor. (1Co 4:8-10 ASV.) The Psalmist used it: Their idols are silver and gold, The work of men's hands. 5 They have mouths, but they speak not; Eyes have they, but they see not; 6 They have ears, but they hear not; Noses have they, but they smell not; 7 They have hands, but they handle not; Feet have they, but they walk not; Neither speak they through their throat. 8 They that make them shall be like unto them; Yea, every one that trusteth in them. (Psa 115:4-8 ASV.) If those cites are not persuasive that sarcasm is sometimes both appropriate and effective, consider further that both God himself used it. Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them save you in the time of your distress. (Jdg 10:14 ASV.) Who is this that darkeneth counsel By words without knowledge? 3 Gird up now thy loins like a man; For I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. 4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding. . . . Doubtless, thou knowest, for thou wast then born, And the number of thy days is great! (Job 38:2-4, 21ASV.)

Is some sarcasm not appropriate when people sing a song asking the God who gave his son for them while they are yet enemies to show them that he loves them?

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) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

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)