Missing Verses

30 10 2018

missingverses

I love gospel songs! These are the songs where the lyrics detail the gospel. There are many Christian songwriters that are coming out with fantastic gospel songs. Here are some of my favorite examples…

As much as I love these songs, think we ought to sing these in our churches, and teach them to our children, I am concerned that these and many of the worship songs that we sing today are missing a key piece.

In their fantastic book, The Discipleship Gospel, Bill Hull & Ben Sobels talk about how many of us have been seduced to follow a “forgiveness-only gospel.” I believe that many of our songs reflect this false gospel.

Most of these gospel songs and even many old hymns follow a particular pattern. They lead you to sing about our lostness without Christ, Christ’s death on the cross, Christ’s resurrection, and our resulting forgiveness and freedom. They usually end with a stirring verse about how we will be with Jesus in heaven one day.

You might be thinking that this particular pattern is the gospel and would make a pretty good song. The problem is that it leaves out a key component of the gospel: following Jesus in obedience.

Our churches and our songs teach us that we can simply believe the Christ-story, yet never do what our Lord commands. Jesus said in John 14:15 CSB, “If you love me, you will keep my commands.” This is just one of many scriptures that relate following Jesus to true salvation.

Our churches are full of people that “asked Jesus in their hearts” (not a Biblical phrase) as a child or teenager at a Vacation Bible School or summer camp but have never made a disciple (Matthew 28:19). They live their lives as if they bought Hell insurance from Jesus years ago, and when they die that’s their ticket to Heaven. They are good people, go to church, serve as volunteers, give money, etc. but in the end Jesus will announce to them, “I never knew you. Depart from me, you lawbreakers!” (Matthew 7:23 CSB)

Jesus’ basis for judgement in Matthew 7 is our obedience after placing our faith in Him. Our obedience can never save us, but it does prove us. It’s as if we are saying that we are apple trees but are producing lemons or maybe nothing at all.

The full gospel says that in faith, through the power of God, we are born again into a Kingdom ruled by a King whose Word is law. This King has commanded us to follow Him in love to make disciples of all the nations. We actually get to be apart of His plan of redeeming more people!

Most gospel songs and gospel presentations leave out the part of our obedience to share this good news and our role as ambassadors of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:20).

I would like to challenge our Church’s songwriters to start thinking about this. I’m not saying that every worship song should be a doctoral thesis on the gospel, but we should be cognizant of the false forgiveness-only gospel that has permeated our culture.

For a more thorough examination of this topic, I would refer you to a great book called Cat & Dog Theology by Bob Sjogren & Gerald Robison. I had the privilege of hearing Bob Sjogren speak at a Passion Conference years ago. During that time he introduced us to how he was changing songs our children would normally learn in church to reflect an obedience-based gospel.

There are some really good worship songs out there that present a full gospel…

It is also possible to add verses to really good songs! I recently wrote new verses to two songs: O Praise The Name and Living Hope. I was honored when our Worship Pastor, Keith Clutts, surprised me a few Sundays back by singing Living Hope, including my new verse…


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