10.09.2010

The PRAISE MUSIC CHALLENGE!

So here is a clip from Saddleback's worship service.  Contrast the "theology" in this worship song with the following God-breathed Psalm and then answer the following two questions.


Psalm 24:1 A Psalm of David. The earth is the LORD's, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein. 2 For He has founded it upon the seas, And established it upon the waters. 3 Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully. 5 He shall receive blessing from the LORD, And righteousness from the God of his salvation. 6 This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him, Who seek Your face. Selah 7 Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. 8 Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, The LORD mighty in battle. 9 Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. 10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory. Selah

QUESTIONS:
What very serious theological error is being advanced in this Saddleback song?  (Hint: Look and listen for the word "climb"?) And what is Psalm 24 really describing in contrast to this theology?  If you can pass this test, you have discerned well truth from faslehood.  BE BOLD!

57 comments:

  1. Climbing the mountain, keeping my faith, trying harder, keep pushing, keep going... it's all about me and my own persevering efforts that'll get me through.

    Even though the young woman singing may be sincere and even though the music itself may bring a tingle to the back of your neck...this song sadly qualifies as boasting and glorying in the flesh.

    I pray that Saddleback Church (and everyone who sings this song thinking that they are worshipping God through the singing of it) would remember what the Apostle Paul said under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in Galatians 6:14:

    "God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world."

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  2. Oh man! I hoped this would be a challenge about composing new praise music. I would have posted my new chorus that is set to a Shakira song.

    But to answer the question, in Ps 24 Christ is the mountain climber, the only one with clean hands and a pure heart.

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  3. I guess my challenge was too weak. I should have said no pastors allowed, especially from WSCAL Josh, Shakira?--we need to talk.:)

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  4. Climb? - as if you are going the wrong way on the escalator at the local shopping mall - the effort is in vain and to no avail. Left to our own means and effort(climbing or will) we are doomed to hell. Christ = the only one with clean hands an a pure heart. He is the one and only climber, and boy did he climb - especially when considering the tremendous load and weight he carried of sin that was placed upon him. Christ carried this load, he became sin, and was crucified and died so whoever that believes in Him shall have eternal life.

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  5. Amen, Phil. Christ, the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes! Thanks for the good comment.

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  6. While I was watching that, my seven year old daughter came into my study and said, "Dad, why are you listening to a Miley Cyrus song?" The oldest daughter got a kick out of that too. Then I told them that this was from a church service. Their reaction: "Miley Cyrus? From the movie? That's so funny!" Well, it's not quite funny, but it is sad. Christless Christianity. It's hard not to be cynical or sarcastic in the face of that.

    Wes Bredenhof
    Hamilton, ON

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  7. I "feel" what the song is talking about. I know failure. I continue to work out my salvation in fear and trembling. But my hope is in God grace not in my endurance. Too much of modern "worship" is based on our feelings instead of "Standing on the Promises."

    I must confess I did not listen to the whole song. I hope there was a final chorus that brought it together, but I doubt it.

    Grace and Peace

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  8. I'm a Calvin Seminary grad... can I post? OK, WSCAL too.

    Michael Horton has a great "climbing, climbing, climbing Jacob's Ladder" sermon illustration that I've probably heard him use 473 times. It always works. It's good to see that the fundamentalist youth groups that he grew up in have matured and adopted the lyrics to a more therapeutic age.

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  9. Wes, are you telling me this is a real Miley Cyrus song? Somebody said that today also to me, and I thought they were joking. Our new and best Christian songwriter, Miley Cyrus. Sigh...when does this all stop?

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  10. Brian, you're always welcome, and I promise not to hold the Calvin thing against you.

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  11. Jesus said that if you have the faith of a mustard seed, you could move mountains. The song seems to refer to that as well.

    This song seems to emphasize too much the climb, at the expense of the destination, at the expense of the objective. However, the climb is the walk that we must make as Christians. We don't make the walk in order to achieve the destination, but we make the walk/climb because it is what Jesus asks/demands of us. The song seems to indicate that, although it is not abundantly clear in the song.

    I didn't listen to the music, just read the words. This song might be misunderstood; I think it could mean something different to believers than it does to unbelievers, or to those who think they can earn their way to heaven.

    This would not be a favorite song of mine (I've never heard it before), and I agree with most of the comments, but we may also be reading things into the song that were not intended.

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  12. Dear John,

    You have failed the praise music challenge. Something is profoundly wrong with our worship when we are worshipping what we do, instead of worshipping Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. May God give you clarity on this important subject.

    Rev Mark J. Stromberg

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  13. I was disappointed after reading the title of this post to learn that the "praise music challenge" wasn't a call to action, but simply an exercise in pointing out what's wrong with the Saddlebacks of the world. After your critique of Christ the King (the church, obviously), the problems you see with contemporary church music are apparent. Perhaps the challenge could be to find a solution to those problems that looks beyond the pages of the Blue Psalter?

    I want to thank you for your postings. Although I disagree with some of the things you write, you've made me think seriously about worship, and for that I'm grateful.

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  14. Dear Mark Stromberg, thanks for pointing out my failure. (Even though I agree with most of your comments about the song.) I think you have failed however, to distinguish between songs that are praising God, and songs that encourage Christians to walk the walk of faith. It is simplistic to say that we ought not to encourage one another, and admonish one another in our walk of faith. When Paul says to us that we must run the race as if to win, and to leave behind the elementary doctrines of grace, that is not much different in principle than this song.

    While it is good to analyze different songs and different music, it is not right to do so in a simplistic manner, as if all songs serve the same purpose. There are many passages in the Bible that honor God only indirectly, such as the parables that admonish us to use our talents, our minas, to have our lamp ready, to pray without ceasing, to bear fruit, to have faith "that saves you", etc.

    We are admonished to "put on" the full armor of God, to stand firm, to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. "Take up" the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. "Take" the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit. And pray, be alert, and always keep on praying for all the saints.

    Again, as I said before, I think the song could be improved. But I think you have failed to understand the purpose of the song.

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  15. While Psalm 24 is very clear about praising God, Psalm one on the other hand, seems to talk about the man who delights in God. It talks about the man who "does not walk in the counsel of the wicked. ... He is like a tree which yields its fruit... Whatever he does, prospers.... For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous..."

    Is this Psalm praising man? or God? or both?

    I suspect one could find similar Psalms, and other bible passages as well.

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  16. Hi Tim,

    Your response is much appreciated. I'm very thankful to help you sort through some of these issues. Yours is the kind of sincere interaction I appreciate. I have often thought of archiving my various posts that have actually offered solutions to the problems here exposed. I would encourage you to go through the blog and read some of the posts on preaching and worship.

    The solution is quite simple. But since you have challenged me to do a post that sort of boils things down to action, I am convicted to do this at your prompting. With regard to the Blue Psalter, I don't think I have ever made the case that IT is the solution. It has weakenesses, the language is outdated, there are better psalms out there and better hymns than the many revivalistic ones of the 19th C contained in the Blue Ps. We have formed a committee to produce a new songbook for our churches. But I do not believe the song book is THE solution. I will post more on this. Thanks for the interaction. Chris

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  17. Yes, Chris, this is a real Miley Cyrus song.

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  18. Wes, you are one hip pastor, only guys like Danny Hyde or Mike Brown would know that in the URC--being ex Calvary Chapel and all--they have a tough time letting music like that go.

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  19. Hi John,

    Thanks for the interaction, I think there was an unfinished conversation we were having somewhere--I do apologize.

    You write, "we may also be reading things into the song that were not intended..." I don't mean to be difficult, but think about this, the song is essentially pagan, written by Miley Cyrus (BTW, have you seen the latest controversy surrounding her?) We have reached a time when the songs churches are singing are indistinguishable from the worldy values of our culture, and we are told to "find the good in it, or "things are being read into it". Don't you see what has happened, it has gotten SO BAD that we can use pagan music in churches without any recognition that the ideas are one and the same with that of the world. Lord, help us! There are two theologies contrasted here, the theology of glory (we climb Jacob's ladder by our efforts to God--all worldy relgions follow this) and the theology of the cross (Christ descends to us to endure the cross and then ascends to give us access-Ps. 24), two different religions, one from heaven the other from hell. The two theologies are clearly evident here.

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  20. Gordon, you have given a good explanation. I agree with it. There is no real need to adopt non-christian songs as if they were somehow christian. (Although some have been adapted). I don't know who Myley Cyrus is, nor that Miley is not a christian, nor do I know the singer, nor her motivation. I don't want to be overly judgemental, but I do agree there is something missing in that song. Probably because it was written by someone who is not a christian.

    (We sometimes do adapt songs... "Twinkle, twinkle little star, How I wonder what you are, ... God has placed you where you are....")

    I still do maintain however, that not all songs serve the same purpose, and that Psalm 1 is quite a bit different than Psalm 24. And Psalm 38, 39, 40 and 42 are also quite a bit different. They are very man-centered, although they do give God the glory in the end.

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  21. John, you write, "Psalm 1 is quite a bit different than Psalm 24." Not really.

    John, who is that man of Psalm 1? And who can ascend the holy hill of the Lord in Psalm 24? Further still, do you have the clean hands and the pure heart of Psalm 24? And,are you suggesting that you have never walked in the counsel of the ungodly as stated in Psalm 1? Both are speaking of Christ. If you fail to get this at Psalm one, you will misapply the whole psalter.

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  22. So you think then that God only watches over Christ (the righteous), and not over anyone else? Psalm 1:6.

    I understand that only Christ is perfect. But even Paul said that a Christian no longer lives in sin. A Christian may have lied, but he is not a liar. He may commit the sin of pride, but may not live in conceit. He may have committed adultery, but he is not an adulterer. Nor a thief, nor a murderer. Why? Because by the grace of God, thru the atonement of Christ, and by the work of the Spirit, he no longer lives in sin. He no longer walks in the counsel of the ungodly, and does not maintain himself in the way of sinners. He may sin, but he does not live in sin.

    This Psalm is not just about Christ. It is about the man whom Christ has renewed.

    You need to put everything together in its context, not just isolate certain things.

    Psalm 24 has a different emphasis, more of an emphasis on the "king of Glory" but you are leading to the thought that it too is referring to men who are vindicated by Jesus Christ (vs 5). Obviously Christ would not have to be vindicated by Himself or for himself. And the "generation of those who seek him" refers to men, who seek Him.

    So yes, Christ is implied in the both Psalms, because Christ is God. But the psalms speak of men, and their relationship to God. Psalm 24 talks more of the creation, and the King of glory, while Psalm 1 talks more of men in their relationship to God.

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  23. I started reading a few more Psalms. Psalm 2-7. Briefly. And it is obvious, that it is all about David's relationship to God. He says all kind of scary things. Such as "judge me according to my righteousness, according to my integrity" 7:7.

    "you destroy those who tell lies...but I by your great mercy will come into your house..."5:6 "let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them sing for joy" 5:11

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  24. John, you write, "So you think then that God only watches over Christ (the righteous), and not over anyone else" and "This Psalm is not just about Christ. It is about the man whom Christ has renewed."

    The life we have comes from Christ, see John 5:21ff, he is the vine we are the branches, etc. By virtue of our union with him, as the NT consistently maintains, we are filled by him, our life is hid in him, et al, we can speak and apply Psalm 1 this way.

    But THAT man there described is Christ and until we are in him, we are the cursed man of Psalm one. Sure, we can speak of psalm 1 as true of us because we are joined to Christ. But you didn't seem to start there. You said it was a "man centered" psalm without regard to Christ. Your assumption seemed to be that the Psalm is about our climbing apart from Christ. I say the Psalm has in view Christ provoking us to see that we are indeed not THAT man until we are in Christ. Without him, we can do nothing.

    Remember all the OT is about him, See Luke 24, the end of John 5. All the law and the prophets wrote of him. This there is no "climbing" apart from him.

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  25. Certainly Chris, there is no real climbing without Christ. There is no walking in faith without Christ. Our faith itself is a gift of God. We are unable to put on the armor of God without God's help. We agree on that.

    However, Paul does not say, let God put that armor on you. He says (God's word says) that we should put it on.

    All the Psalms lead to Christ. I agree. But, in Psalm 1, there is no evidence that "that man" was intended to refer exclusively to Christ. You may make logical deductions that only a perfect man can fulfill vs 1-3 of psalm 1. That would be right. But you have evaded my question about God watching over the righteous. And not addressed the point about Paul saying that (Phillipians 3:14) "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

    Col 3:5, "put to death therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature:..."

    Ephesians 6 "put on the full armor of God..."

    II corinthians 5:7-10 "...we make it our goal to please him... for we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him...."


    Psalm 26 is another example. David says, "vindicate me oh God, for I have led a blameless life. I have trusted in the Lord without wavering. Test me and try me...I walk continually in your truth... do not take away my soul along with sinners..." How could this be about Christ? How could God take away the soul of Christ?

    Every Psalm leads to Christ. But the psalms are about the relationship of men (as exemplified in the psalmist) with God. They are often a plea for vindication, for forgiveness (later in Psalm 38 and 39). In fact, to some degree we can see changes in David where at first he is almost proud of his righteousness, and later becomes more humble.


    Chris, I do not think we disagree on anything about grace, or Christ's love, and our response. Which is the most important.

    Perhaps only on our interpretation of how one person's relationship to God may be expressed in a worship service. Just as David in some psalms claimed that he was blameless, even as we know that he was not, and as he later also came to recognize his own sins, yet we sing some of those psalms in our worship. We do so knowing that Christ has made us righteous, and has forgiven David, and us.

    And we press on, running the race that God has set before us.

    Thanks for your comments.

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  26. John,
    I don't think you are making connections. I am not disagreeing and I have evaded nothing. IN Christ, these benefits are made available, but not apart from him, as you seem to be asserting. But you are trying to receive them naked, and apart from him.

    Second, the psalms you cite don't prove much. There are levels of fulfillment that you are missing. Further, in some way, all things point ahead in the psalms to his finished work.

    For example, how did Paul see Christ in his citation of Deut. 30 in Romans 10? Where did he find him in this statement, "the word is near you in your mouth and in your heart." Compare Deut. 30:14 with Romans 10:8-9 and answer this. Paul saw Christ where Deut 30put Word--explain please. You have to have bigger redemptive eyes than the narrow views you are pushing on these texts.

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  27. Unbelievable. I just now got around to actually watching the song. I figured that it was going to be another crappy, theologically-weak, man-centered praise song. How shocked I was when I hit play and started hearing a Miley Cyrus song. Really? This is the kind of garbage they have in worship at Saddleback? I didn't watch the whole thing to see if they tried to Christianize it at all. I was about to vomit in my mouth and had to turn it off. So this is the cutting-edge ministry of 2010? Dung like this...or "In the Garden" (if you want to talk about lousy old stuff) should never be sung in the worship of a holy God. Yeah, maybe the singer was sincere, but so were Nadab and Abihu.

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  28. Hi Rev. Efflandt,

    Shocking, isn't it? And you thought in the garden was bad. Thanks for your comments.

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  29. Chris, I want to make clear that I am not trying to justify the song. I am not really addressing the song at all, anymore.

    I am sorry we are not connecting as well as we might. I do not remember asserting anywhere that we have benefits with God, apart from Christ. God looks at us thru Christ, so I wouldn't do that. I don't think the doctrine of common grace is a very good doctrine, for that very reason. It misses the fact that any good we experience, might simply be a curse to us, if we do not believe and trust in God and His Son, Jesus Christ.

    There are two ways of having narrow views of scripture, especially of the old testament. One is to look at it from worldly unbelieving perspective, thinking that it is just a story about people, who occassionally bring in something about a God. The other narrow perspective is to assume that it is just a story about God, that every verse has a hidden message/prophecy about Jesus, which we can discover. I hold to neither of these perspectives. I believe that scripture is God's word, and that it reveals man's relationship to God, and God's attitude towards man.

    God found several men righteous, including Noah, Abraham, and David. God could see them thru Christ, but keep in mind that God could choose these men, and could call them righteous, even if they were not perfect. They were obviously not perfect. They had no right to boast. But they were found to be righteous in this earthly life, and it was because they were righteous that God used them in the way that He did. Scripture is clear about that.

    You have raised the beauty of the connection between Romans 10 and Deuteronomy 30. Several verses are connected. In Deuteronomy the word refers to something to be obeyed. It refers to the commandment to love the Lord your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commnds, decrees and laws. That God's law should be in our heart, and in our mouth. Then you will live and increase and God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. Verse 19 says, "Choose life, so that you may live."

    In Romans, Paul turns this around. He doesn't deny what Deuteronomy says, but turns it from the word of law, to the word of faith. That if we confess the resurrected Christ as Lord with mouth and heart, we will be saved. And this makes sense, because the law will never save us, no matter how much we want to obey it by loving God. It is Christ who saves us.

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  30. I must admit that I am a bit surprised that some of you seem to know who Miley Cyrus is, and seem to be able to identify his songs. If he is such a wordly ungodly man, why are you listening to his songs? Why do you not concentrate on listening to Christian music and Christian singers?

    Just wondering...

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  31. Miley Cyrus is a she, not a he. And I don't like her music any more than I like any of the other garbage that passes for worship at places like Saddleback or any other church that's trying to be "cutting edge." Also, I can appreciate musical gifts in secular music as part of common grace, though I'm not sure I've seen a whole lot of musical giftedness in Ms. Cyrus :)

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  32. Okay. Just wondering, do you like, dislike, or are you indifferent to songs like "Come, Now is the time to Worship." and "Majesty, worship His majesty."

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  33. John you write, "If he is such a wordly ungodly man, why are you listening to his songs?"

    Because they are being sung in worship services, John.

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  34. John, you write, "that every verse has a hidden message/prophecy about Jesus, which we can discover."

    Who says it's hidden? The old axiom stands, the Old in the New revealed, the New in the Old concealed. The nature of progression revelation makes this so. And, Jesus said explicitly that all the law and the prophets spoke of him. If he said this, we should believe it, and preach him appropriately.

    You write, "God found several men righteous...God could choose these men, and could call them righteous, even if they were not perfect.

    John are you suggesting that this righteousness was not an imputed but inherent righteousness?

    You write, "In Romans, Paul turns this around" Not really, he applies this to Christ by demonstrating that he was in view in Deut. 30 In other words, the one to fullfill the "doing" was Christ, not us, thereby making that text about him--the very thing I have been saying all along.

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  35. Not being party to any previous conversations on "In the Garden", I found this connection being made on one website: "Thinking He was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have put Him, and I will get Him.’” John 20:15"

    I find that many in the nursing home or seniors lodge like this song, perhaps because it has a special relevance nearer to the end of one's life.

    I'm curious what is in this song that you may find so heretical?

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  36. Chris, I think we are really getting picky and subtle here. And I wonder if you are imposing your particular framework on scripture, rather than letting scripture speak to you.

    Deuteronomy 30 does not state anywhere that we cannot keep the law perfectly, and that a redeemer will come who will keep it for us, to erase our guilt.

    In fact, look what it says: "11 Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. 12 It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, "Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?" 13 Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, "Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?" 14 No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it. "

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  37. You write, "Deuteronomy 30 does not state anywhere that we cannot keep the law perfectly, and that a redeemer will come who will keep it for us, to erase our guilt."

    Paul saw Christ there, John! Christ is substituted in Rom. 10where word was in Deut. 30. He saw Christ there. You may not like it nor see it, but it's given by inspiration of God.

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  38. As far as the distinction between imputed and inherent righteousness, I think we should be careful about making a distinction. The Bible is clear, both in the old testament and new, that no one is righteous before God. But it is also clear (in the OT) that God found some righteous. Those scripture passages do not indicate that God made them righteous. Nor is righteous equated to perfection. Nor is the imputed righteousness of all who were saved, equated to those who were "found" righteous.

    Possibly the imputed righteousness had become inherent for some. I don't know, and I don't think we should dwell on it too much, because God wants us to be obedient to him, as Christ so often explained in his teachings and parables. God doesn't want us to worry much about the details of how God has decided to attribute our righteousness. Just be thankful that you are righteous, and live accordingly, in obedience and humility and faith and trust.

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  39. I agree that Paul saw Christ in Deut 30. I see it too. But what I am saying is that Deut 30 is emphasizing something entirely different. It is speaking of the need for obedience; it does not mention the redeemer the way that Genesis 2 does, or the other prophecies in Isaiah do.

    Paul is pointing out the solution to the lack of obedience and the fulfillment of that obedience. Deuternonomy is not doing that. Furthermore, Paul is more using the words of Deut 30 to express Christ, in a sort of contrast method. Paul is saying that just as the law of God should be in your heart and mouth, so should your faith in Christ be in your heart and mouth.

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  40. John, I don't think I've ever heard of "Come, Now is the Time to Worship," so I can't really comment on that. I have no problem with "Majesty." And I have no problem with contemporary worship songs in principle. Just because a song is new doesn't make it bad. And just because a song is old doesn't make it good. Each song needs to be evaluated on its own. By the way, that's the beauty of singing the Psalms...they're the inspired Word of God. Of course, when we sing the Psalms, we can't just sing one phrase of a Psalm. Psalm 95 is an example of that. "Come, Let Us Worship and Bow Down" is a song from the last 30 years, based on Psalm 95. However, if you ever sing that particular song, you'll notice that verses 8-11 are completely ignored.

    Now...as far as "In the Garden"...In my opinion, the lyrics are lousy. "And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own; and the joy we share as we tarry there none other has ever known." Really? Sounds like something that Liesl from Sound of Music would have sung after Rolf left the garden. Or, "He speaks, and the sound of His voice is so sweet the birds hush their singing." More sentimentality that I don't think belongs in worship.

    John, you say, "God doesn't want us to worry much about the details of how God has decided to attribute our righteousness." Are you serious? In other words, God doesn't want us to worry too much about the gospel? If my right standing with God is dependent upon my righteousness (or some part my righteousness plays), I'm on my way to hell and so are you.

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  41. You write, "God doesn't want us to worry much about the details of how God has decided to attribute our righteousness. Just be thankful that you are righteous"

    John, these are very serious theological errors, you are confounding law and gospel, saying that it doesn't really matter whether the Bible is speaking of Christ's righteousness or ours when addressing our upright standing. This IS the Galatians error. Be clear, justification and sanctification are two separate doctrines, you are mingling them in your right standing. Any "perfect" standing is because of imputed righteousness. Works that FOLLOW are only fruit and DO NOT contribute to your right standing before God. These distinctions are vital for upholding the gospel (Rom. 3-4).

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  42. Kevin, is correct, if you believe your right standing is by your inherent righteousness, you have denied Christ. I don't believe you think that, so you need to make these distinctions very clear.

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  43. John, You write, "But what I am saying is that Deut 30 is emphasizing something entirely different. It is speaking of the need for obedience..."

    But the law kills. Paul called this a ministry of death (2 Cor. 3). If the law was given to show the exceedingly sinfulfness of sin, then no manner of their obedience could meet the standard of "do this and live." So this statement was in anticipation of Christ, and Moses is regarded as speaking of him in these passages (see Joh 5).

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  44. Kevin, thanks for your comments. i wonder if your conclusion that the lyrics are lousy is based on taste. Psalm 23, "he makes me to lie down in green pastures, beside the still waters, He restores my soul" also sounds a bit pastoral.

    But that's okay. You don't have to like all types of imagery. Imagery appeals to some people more than others. Just be charitable in realizing that it does. Maybe realize that what sounds like sentimentality to you, may be genuine affection, appreciation and gratitude to someone else.

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  45. Chris, I was wondering if my wording would be confusing. (regarding attribution of righteousness) I guess it was. I was thinking of predestination, but did not say so. What I meant was that when God determines we will be righteous, and imputes righteousness to us thru the blood of Christ, and then calls us righteous, and then responds to that righteousness, that we can get tied up in knots.

    It is not enough for us to know how this works or to understand it this theoretically. Rather as we read in I John 2, "3We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5But if anyone obeys his word, God's love[b] is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did."



    You said:
    "But the law kills. Paul called this a ministry of death (2 Cor. 3). If the law was given to show the exceedingly sinfulfness of sin, then no manner of their obedience could meet the standard of "do this and live."

    What you say above is true. But Deut 30 says "11 Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach." Therefore, how would you reconcile this verse with what you have said above?

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  46. Kevin, you made me think of something else, with regard to songs. We often sing Psalms, but not songs from the Song of Solomon, for example, which contains something like what your comment about "walks with me, and talks with me...".

    I am thinking that in many ways, our relationship with God is like that of husband and wife, as scripture uses similar comparisons often, both in the Old Testament and New Testament.

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  47. John you write, "But Deut 30 says "11 Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach." Therefore, how would you reconcile this verse with what you have said above?"

    Verse 2 says that if they obey ALL that is commanded, THEN Lord would bring them into the land... If the law kills, who then would this not be too difficult for?

    If you will receive it, the only answer to this is Jesus Christ. This is what I have been saying all along, and what Jesus tells us that this is what Moses spoke of (John 5). Jesus merits these blessings, the passage had in view what he had to fulfill for us to have the eternal land, the new heavens and earth. It should have dropped Israel to their knees in repentance and faith in Christ, but, sadly, it did not (see Romans 3 and Heb. 4)

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  48. So you are saying then that this command and assurance in Deuteronomy was addressed to Jesus Christ? and not to Israel?

    It seems the command and assurance was addressed to Israel in deuteronomy, partly to give them assurance that they knew what they needed to do, because it was in their heart and mouth, and partly to indicate to them that they had no excuse for not obeying the commandments to love God.

    This bolsters your point that there is no excuse for our sin, no excuse for our sinning, because as God said, it is not too difficult for us to do. Yet we do not do it, and therefore it is that we need Christ's atoning work.

    But it also follows that we no longer live in sin, because Christ made us a new creation. Our desire is no longer to rebel against God, but rather to do his will. How do we know this?

    I John 2, "3We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5But if anyone obeys his word, God's love[b] is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did."

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  49. John, if you will receive it, I'm saying that Moses was speaking in anticipation of Christ's work. The nature of progression revelation doesn't make this abundantly clear when we reading Deut 30, but Paul applies it this way in his explanation of Israel's failure and Christ's obedience. Christ is the end of the law for everyone who believes. Israel did not trust Christ, the law was too hard for them, and they perished! If you won't receive this, I don't know what else to say, we have exhausted the conversation. But keep in mind, your only alternative is to say that Israel could have kept the law, but then you would have to throw out Galatians 3-4, Romans 2,3,4,5,9-11. John, stay with Christ, or else you run dangerously close to the Galatian's error of thinking works justify. You should know the Heidelberg and Belgic, works follow, and are ONLY a rule of gratitude. Period!

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  50. John, my critique of "In the Garden" has very little to do with taste. Instead, it has to do with theological integrity. Are the lyrics of "In the Garden" reflective of the teaching of the Bible? It doesn't matter if the lyrics inspire "genuine affection" in me. I'm sure the prophets of Baal were quite genuine when they were parading around the altar slashing themselves. There has to be some objectivity to the words that we sing in worship. And when judged by the objective standard of God's Word, "In the Garden" is found wanting. If you want to better understand worship that is biblical, I would recommend that you pick up a copy of "A Better Way" by Michael Horton.

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  51. Chris, maybe it is semantics, or terminology... but when you say that Israel could not keep the law, does that mean that they have an excuse? Because after all, they could not keep it, so how could you blame them?

    Were they unable? rather than unwilling? I would say they were able, as Deuteronomy states, but unwilling. They lived for the desires of their own heart. They were unable to overcome their sinful nature.

    Christ, as a man, kept the entire law perfectly, demonstrating that it is possible for man to do so. God created us to be able to live in obedience to Him. However, we always make selfish excuses. Thus, even the good that we do, cannot overcome the sin in our hearts. The good that we do cannot compensate or pay for the sin that we have done, or that lurks in our heart. Just as adultery and murder cannot be undone, so our disobedience to God cannot be undone. Except by Christ.

    (And thus, Deuternomy is reconciled with Romans.)

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  52. Kevin, have you thought of "In the Garden" coming directly from the meeting of Mary in the garden with Jesus?

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  53. This is my last comment on this post...

    No, John, I've never connected the words of "In the Garden" with John 20, probably because the words of "In the Garden" bear no resemblance to that passage. Again, if you want to learn more about Reformed worship, read Horton's book.

    Secondly, you say, "Christ, as a man, kept the entire law perfectly, demonstrating that it is possible for man to do so." Do you believe that man has the ability to keep the law of God perfectly? I hope that's not what you're saying, but that's how I take your statement.

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  54. John, you write, "but when you say that Israel could not keep the law, does that mean that they have an excuse? Because after all, they could not keep it, so how could you blame them?

    No, they were guilty. The said they would do it all -See Exodus 19. The law was given to kill them, it did. They did not mix what they heard with faith.

    You write, "Christ, as a man, kept the entire law perfectly, demonstrating that it is possible for man to do so."

    HUH? John, we are not Christ. Christ was without sin, we are not. You are terribly confused about the gospel. Please spend time rereading the posts before you answer further.

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  55. Kevin, like you I had not thought of "In the Garden" being related to Mary meeting Jesus in the garden after the ressurrection. But a website I checked made this connection, and the more I look at it, the more I can see the connection. Try it and see.

    I read…the sto­ry of the great­est morn in his­to­ry: “The first day of the week com­eth Ma­ry Mag­da­lene ear­ly, while it was yet ve­ry dark, unto the se­pul­cher.” In­stant­ly, com­plet­ely, there un­fold­ed in my mind the scenes of the gar­den of Jo­seph….Out of the mists of the gar­den comes a form, halt­ing, he­si­tat­ing, tear­ful, seek­ing, turn­ing from side to side in be­wil­der­ing amaze­ment. Fal­ter­ing­ly, bear­ing grief in ev­e­ry ac­cent, with tear-dimmed eyes, she whis­pers, “If thou hast borne him hence”… “He speaks, and the sound of His voice is so sweet the birds hush their sing­ing.” Je­sus said to her, “Mary!” Just one word from his lips, and for­got­ten the heart­aches, the long drea­ry hours….all the past blot­ted out in the pre­sence of the Liv­ing Pre­sent and the Eter­nal Fu­ture. (1912)

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  56. John, I appreciate your interaction, it's not profitable to continue at this point. If I was condescending, do please forgive me. But I was concerned to defend what I perceived were real problems with some of your statements. Blessings,

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