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Question #323

Those songs aren’t really all that bad, right?

I read your article on how there are problem songs in the brotherhood, especially in Songs of Faith and Praise. In most or all of the examples you gave, I have to ask, have we not considered the author's poetic license? In We Bow Down, what is wrong with bowing down (submitting to the will of) to God? I know Jesus is King of Kings, but what is wrong with saying that I will crown him King (first precedent) in my life? I know you will agree with me on this; Jesus needs to be the most important thing/person in our life. Whether I crown him king in my life or not, that doesn't change the fact that he is the resurrected Christ who is sitting at the right hand of God. In Shine, Jesus, Shine, which is first in the "Get Busy, Jesus!" medley, I don't see what is wrong with asking Jesus with asking our father to bless this land. In America today, we need Jesus more than ever. I surely hope that God will bless us and fill this land with love, hope, and faith. Once again, poetic license. Some of the songs are problems for another reason - they are trite, meaningless, and poorly written. God demands our very best, and we fall far short of that standard when we sing camp songs during our worship service. Such songs also have a tremendous opportunity cost. Each time we sing a song such as "Shine, Jesus, Shine," we have lost the opportunity to sing a song such as "Sweet Hour of Prayer" or "Trust and Obey." Okay, so is it wrong to sing a devotional (camp) song anywhere? What about songs young people sing like Pierce My Ear that say we won't leave the master's side? Or In Christ Alone, My Hope is Found. Jesus says in John 14 that he is the only way to the father. These songs sound pretty biblical to me. Must we always resort to the songs of the 1930-1975 era? It seems in many churches, the only songs sung are of the same style, and many of which were taught to us by the Stamps-Baxter Quartet. What about singing newer (not necessarily "hipper") songs? Maybe songs which are taught by the Zoe Group. Zoe is a group that frequently sings a cappella worship songs for us to learn. What about older, ancient songs that we fail to recognize that are much prettier than the "southern gospel" genre of hymns. Take a gander at some songs written before 1800 and see how beautiful the music, harmonies, and text can be. Songs like Deck Thyself My Soul with Gladness, God Moves in a Mysterious Way, and O Sacred Head, Now Wounded. What about some of the songs from the "traditional" era? Many songs that we sing every Sunday can have ideas in them that we wouldn't agree with. For example, Mansion Over the Hilltop. Are we really satisfied with just a "cottage below"? Well, many people, even some Christians, seek to have nice houses, cars, acres of land, and fine jewels. There's nothing wrong with that, but would we really be satisfied with nothing to our name? Likewise, Where Could I Go? comes to mind. Living below in this 'ole sinful world. "Hardly a comfort can afford." Really? So many people are led away (apostate) because of earthly possessions. Many times, we value treasure and value over God and his word. Many people have all the comforts they could ever want. They never have to go without anything, and they will probably never search for Jesus because of their high status. I know that in these songs, we have to use poetic license. If we were as hard on these "traditional" songs as we were on the newer songs (that we're unwilling to learn), we would stamp them out of our books as well. Please get back to me on this. I honestly want to seek the truth and discuss these matters. It is important that we be unified with no divisions, lest we become as the Church at Corinth that Paul was writing to (1 Cor. 1:10).

The Answer:

Your disagreement with the comments made about songs seems two-fold: 1) it is poetic license, and 2) there are a lot of good songs out there, some of which were written back in the 1800’s.

Much space could have been saved had you read comments already made in “Questions and Answers,” answers Nos. 102, 110, 142, 159, 201, 212, 220, 225, 227, 251, 277, and 288.

Several of those point out that poetic license does not include the right to write wrong (unscriptural) matters. Poets who misuse their poetic license need to have their license revoked! Furthermore, your comments on poetic license completely change what the songs say. Has anyone on this website ever said that it is wrong to ask Jesus to bless this land? The song, even in poetic license, does not use anything close to that language. It COMMANDS (the language is imperative and not declarative) Jesus to send forth his word and let there be light. “Light” refers to the gospel. Matt. 4:16. Has he not already given us that light and sent it into the world? Is he to send another gospel? No one would suggest that. Gal. 1:6-9. To what then could it possibly refer other than to the gospel that has already been sent? But then hasn’t he already sent forth that gospel in the Great Commission. Who then is to send forth the word in this day? Is it not those who in this song are putting the task back on Jesus? If you truly want the word to spread in this world it is time to start obeying the great commission and to stop commanding Jesus to perform the task that he has assigned to you. Even if you substitute the word “ask” for “command,” you come off no better, and you cannot dispute that the song at a minimum “asks” Jesus to once more send forth his word. But then how is he to do that from his seat at the right hand of God? Is the day of miracles to return? Are you seeking a new revelation? How far do you think poetic license stretches?

Finally, if there is a place for camp songs it would have to be at camp. It is a sad thing that instead of teaching our children songs appropriate for worship and elevating their concept of what it means to worship God, we have brought our worship down to the “camp” level and degenerated the significance of worship and the worthiness of God. Surely, surely, there is a better way to describe whatever is being described by asking God or Christ to “pierce my ear.” If you respond that that is the only way that young people can grasp the concept of sacrifice or taking up their cross, you have a very poor concept of our young people and of their ability to grasp eternal truths. Coming down to such a juvenile level displays a complete lack of respect for their intelligence. Moreover, it brings adults down to that level and stunts the spiritual growth of both.

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)