I Have Decided to Follow Jesus: by Nokseng

 

 

The story of this song is pretty amazing, please don’t consider my critical commentary on it’s theology as a commentary on the faith of the martyr that wrote it.  You can find that story and the lyrics HERE.

If you have been following my posts you may have noticed that the hymns have been scoring better overall than the contemporary songs.  With this one I want to point out that even though there is an obvious trend, contemporary songs don’t have exclusive rights to false doctrine.  Also, good luck finding this song in the LCMS hymnal.

 

1

I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.

 

According to scripture you cannot decide to follow Jesus.  A lost soul is dead in trespasses and sins.  They cannot make a decision for Jesus, which means that any decision experiences you may have had are actually irrelevant when it comes to your salvation.

 

“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14 ESV

“For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.” Romans 8:7 ESV

 

Just to be clear, I am interpreting the word “cannot” as meaning “cannot”.  If you want to do back-flips around this text knock yourself out on your own, I won’t be joining you.  In original sin we are by nature children of wrath.

 

“among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” Ephesians 2:3 ESV

 

There is no making a decision for Jesus.  He comes to you in word and sacrament and saves you.  You need God the Holy Spirit to come to you and change your heart so that you can see the things that are spiritually discerned.  Any decisions you make after that point are irrelevant, they fall into the category of good works.  Jesus is not sitting there reaching out 99% of the distance between you and heaven waiting for you to reach the extra on your own.  He does it all for you and to you.

 

2

The world behind me, the cross before me;
The world behind me, the cross before me;
The world behind me, the cross before me;
No turning back, no turning back.

 

I like the imagery in the second verse but since it is based on a foundation of decision theology that takes it all away for me.  In this song the only reason the world is behind you and the cross is before you is because you did something to help Jesus save you.  It’s works righteousness.  That’s Popery and I’m not in agreement with it.

 

3

Though none go with me, still I will follow;
Though none go with me, still I will follow;
Though none go with me, still I will follow;
No turning back, no turning back.

 

Christianity is not a lonely thing.  You may lose the family  you were raised with that’s for sure.  But you gain much more.

 

“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.” Matthew 19:29 ESV

 

Not just that too, when you take the sacrament you are one body with all believers past, present, and future.  I know there can be hard times, maybe there are not a lot of Christians in your neck of the woods, but you are never alone.  So at the very least I am going to say that this verse just doesn’t resonate with me theologically or personally.

 

This is even more evident by the events that transpired after the author of the song was martyred as his entire region converted to Christianity shortly after he was killed.  Many did come with him, praise God for that.

 

4

My cross I’ll carry, till I see Jesus;
My cross I’ll carry, till I see Jesus;
My cross I’ll carry, till I see Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.

 

Jesus does tell us to pick up our cross and follow him.  And I do like the imagery so I am not going to be too hard on this verse.  If you look at it in a third use of the law sense it’s beautiful, and to me it does read that way so nothing but love here.

 

“Then Jesus told his disciples,”If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24 ESV

 

5

Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
No turning back, no turning back.

 

Yeah so I reject this verse for the same reason that I reject those above.  Peter didn’t call out to the heathen to make a decision.  He didn’t play sappy music to tug on their heart strings and have people raise hands with their eyes closed.  There were no Finney altar calls or any of that garbage.  He called them to repent and be baptized for the remission of their sins, fully trusting in God the Holy Spirit to do his saving work on their hearts.

 

“And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”” Acts 2:38-39 ESV

 

THUMBS DOWN

 

The overall confession in this song is that you’re saved because you made a decision for Jesus and you are appealing for others to do the same.  That is a false gospel.  Why would we want to praise God with something that Paul says is anathema (Gal 1:8)?  The theology in this song is just as bad as the worst of the contemporary songs I have reviewed and for the same reasons.

 

Theology Scorecard

Yes

No

Is this song confessing Biblical theology?

X

Is this song centered on God instead of yourself?

X

Would this song make an Arian heretic uncomfortable?

X

Is there Biblical Gospel in this song?

X

Is there Biblical Law in this song?

X

Is this song clearly addressing God in any capacity at all?  X

 

 

Final Thoughts

 

I hope that those who have followed all my posts on music reviews are starting to notice a theme.  It doesn’t matter how old a song is, it doesn’t matter what language it was first written in, it doesn’t matter what style it’s sung with.  Unfortunately these are the things most churches tend to debate when it comes to traditional vs contemporary.  The most important thing we should be looking for is whether or not the gospel is preached in it.  Does the song lift the cross high and place ourselves low?  Is Christ crucified and risen for us in it?

 

I’m not saying there isn’t a place for style issues.  Just like one typically doesn’t want to wear socks with sandals or suite pants with a t-shirt there are good reasons why we may want the music style to match the liturgy.  We want the whole message to be coherent, convey the gospel effectively, and in good order.  If a contemporary service is to be done it should also be in service to the gospel, not the main event.  There are challenges to this of course, most contemporary songs don’t undergo any formal doctrinal review, and to my knowledge gospel centered liturgies have not been written to match them.  Not saying it can’t be done, I’m just saying it should be a concern.

 

Those are my thoughts on this, I am going to keep doing the music reviews because I think it is a good platform for proclaiming the gospel to people.  Also I just love most of these songs and enjoy reflecting on them.

 

 

 

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About ACTheologian

I am a layman who blogs my Biblical studies. Enjoy, please read with an open Bible and do double check with your pastor.
This entry was posted in Armchair Lounge, Christian Music Reviews and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to I Have Decided to Follow Jesus: by Nokseng

  1. I always enjoy reading your emails even if I do not respond or get to read them right away. I have a folder full of them that I have not read yet, so if my comments are dated, that’s why!

    Liked by 1 person

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