Today’s song review comes out of the Lutheran Service Book on pg 555. It’s a classic from what I have been told, but I never heard the song until I started attending a Lutheran Church. So it must be one of ours. I’m going to approach it the same way I do a contemporary song though. Is it clear who we are worshiping? Does the song proclaim the gospel? Is the law also given? Let’s see!
Before getting started, I am going to be referencing some theological concepts that I won’t be able to stop and prove for the critical reader in this post. If that is a description of yourself then I recommend that you read some of the older armchair posts on these topics.
Salvation unto us has come
By God’s free grace and favor;
Good works cannot avert our doom,
They help and save us never.
Faith looks to Jesus Christ alone,
Who did for all the world atone;
He is our one Redeemer.
So right off the bat we have an exposition on salvation by faith along in Christ alone. Some very common reformation proof-texts come to mind.
“”Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness,” Romans 4:4-5 NASB
“because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.” Romans 3:20 NASB
“and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,” Philippians 3:9 NASB
What God did in His Law demand
And none to Him could render
Caused wrath and woe on ev’ry hand
For man, the vile offender.
Our flesh has not those pure desires
The spirit of the Law requires,
And lost is our condition.
What is very clear in this verse is the very high nature of God’s standards. We can’t meet it. Because of this we rightly deserve his wrath. Our very nature is lost.
“Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” Ephesians 2:3 NASB
We are getting a very clear confession of original sin and mans need for a savior due to that guilt. I count myself lucky if I hear a modern song that maybe mentions sin a little bit, or at the very least alludes to it. It’s just not talked about enough, and the gospel isn’t clear without a foundation of law to show you why it’s necessary.
It was a false, misleading dream
That God His Law had given
That sinners could themselves redeem
And by their works gain heaven.
The Law is but a mirror bright
To bring the inbred sin to light
That lurks within our nature.
So I was happy that the last verse preached original sin, this one is telling me that there is nothing I can do about it. It is a deception to believe you can earn heaven as you end up setting the bar of God’s demands too low and end up earning his wrath all the more. Also, if you’re redeeming yourself by keeping the law then why did you need Jesus to die for you anyways?
I am not saying that “This is Amazing Grace” was wrong or something. But the song being reviewed today is more clear. Also, it corrects much of the heresy that persists in our culture today.
From sin our flesh could not abstain,
Sin held its sway unceasing;
The task was useless and in vain,
Our guilt was e’er increasing.
None can remove sin’s poisoned dart
Or purify our guileful heart–
So deep is our corruption.
Yet as the law must be fulfilled
Or we must die despairing,
Christ came and has God’s anger stilled,
Our human nature sharing.
has for us the Law obeyed
And thus His Father’s vengeance stayed
Which over us impended.
The last song I reviewed did allude to penal substitutionary atonement. However, this one is flat out teaching it in detail. My standard for a thumbs up on a song is that it basically just not be heretical. But if these reviews were focused on discerning between better and best how would you rate this song as compared to the last?
Since Christ has full atonement made
And brought to us salvation,
Each Christian therefore may be glad
And build on this foundation.
Your grace alone, dear Lord, I plead,
Your death is now my life indeed,
For You have paid my ransom.
Let me not doubt, but truly see
Your Word cannot be broken:
Your call rings out, “Come unto Me!”
No falsehood have You spoken.
Baptized into Your precious name,
My faith cannot be put to shame,
And I shall never perish.
The Law reveals the guilt of sin
And makes us conscience-stricken;
But then the Gospel enters in
The sinful soul to quicken.
Come to the cross, trust Christ, and live;
The Law no peace can ever give,
No comfort and no blessing.
Notice we are talking about a full atonement, not a partial one. He doesn’t cover just some of your sins, he died for all of them. Also notice that the singer isn’t just giving us a booster shot in the arm to help us through the day. In this song we are depending upon God to save us and praising him for it.
Faith clings to Jesus’ cross alone
And rests in Him unceasing;
And by its fruits true faith is known,
With love and hope increasing.
For faith alone can justify;
Works serve our neighbor and supply
The proof that faith is living.
All blessing, honor, thanks, and praise
To Father, Son, and Spirit,
The God who saved us by His grace,
All glory to His merit.
O triune God in heav’n above,
You have revealed Your saving love;
Your blessed name we hallow.
What stands out to me in these last verses is that we are given a short exposition on the third use of the law. We strive to keep God’s law for the sake of our neighbor, not to earn salvation. That doesn’t make it any less important though. Also, notice again that the author defines faith as being in Christ. The word isn’t left the undefined, leaving the singer to read it as a burning in their bosom or something.
And he even throws in the Trinity there too. I know your songs may sell better if you leave them vague enough so that antitrinitarians will buy your album too. But why would that be a goal anyways? I thought we were supposed to praise God?
What I love about this song is that in addition to praising God and proclaiming law and gospel it also teaches the faith. I remember the first time it ever came up to be sung in church I felt like I was about to pass out as I read the words. I had never sung something so wonderful before in Church. I didn’t know Christians had music this wonderful, I don’t know how we get away singing it without this secular world we live in locking us up.
|Is this song confessing Biblical theology?||
|Is this song centered on God instead of yourself?||
|Would this song make an Arian heretic uncomfortable?||
|Is there Biblical Gospel in this song?||
|Is there Biblical Law in this song?||
|Is this song clearly addressing God in any capacity at all?||