Who are You Boasting in?

If worship songs are not driven by sound theology, then they are not worship songs. If they are not based on the revelation of God found in the Bible, then they are not worship songs. If they are based on our personal subjective thoughts about who God is, then they are not worship songs.  But most of all, if worship songs boast in self and not God, then they are definitely not worship songs.  Worship songs must magnify the Person and Work of Jesus Christ, not the person and work of me.

The below video is a comparison of two songs.  One is Christ-centered; the other me-centered.  One boasts in my merits; the other in Christ’s merits.

“I Never Lost My Praise” – Tramaine Hawkins

I’ve lost some good friends along life’s way
Some loved ones departed in Heaven to stay
But thank God I didn’t lose everything

I’ve lost faith in people who said they cared
In the time of my crisis they were never there
But in my disappointment, in my season of pain
One thing never wavered, one thing never changed

I never lost my hope,
I never lost my joy
I never lost my faith
But most of all
I never lost my praise

My praise’s still here,
My praise’s still here

I’ve let some blessings slip away
When I lost my focus and went astray
But thank God I didn’t lose everything

I lost possessions that were so dear
I lost some battles by walking in fear
But in the midst of my struggles, in my season of pain
One thing never wavered, one thing never changed

I never lost my hope,
I never lost my joy
I never lost my faith
But most of all,
I never lost my praise

Praise, Praise, Praise, Praise, Praise
Most of all, I never lost my praise

My praise’s still here,
My praise’s still here.

What is wrong with this song? Everything.  It is a man-centered song that mentions nothing of the Gospel and the Sufficiency of Christ. It boasts in man’s ability to hold on.  It laments the loss of earthly possessions and boasts that in the midst of that loss and pain, the one thing that never wavered or never changed was me – not Christ. My ability to never lose my hope, my joy, my faith, and my praise is grounded in me.   If my hope is in, “I never,” then I’m in big trouble. It means I am clinging to another Gospel for my salvation.  In other words, this is not a biblically based song.  Had the author of this song understood the biblical doctrine of Total Depravity, the lyrics would have looked very different.   I Never Lost My Praise sound more like Oprah Winfrey than it does the Apostle Paul.

Moving on to a more biblically accurate song …

____________________________________________________________________________________________

“I Boast No More” – Isaac Watts (performed by Caedmon’s Call).

No more my God, I boast no more
Of all the duties I have done
I quit the hopes I held before
To trust the merits of Thy Son

No more my God
No more my God
No more my God
I boast no more

Now, for the loss, I bear his name
What was my gain, I count my loss
My former pride, I call my shame
And nail my glory to His cross

No more my God
No more my God
No more my God
I boast no more

Yes, and I must, I will esteem
All things but loss for Jesus’ sake
Oh, may my soul be found in Him
And of His righteousness partake, amen, amen

The best obedience of my hands
Dares not appear before Thy throne
But faith can answer Thy demands
By pleading what my Lord has done

No more my God
No more my God
No more my God
I boast no more

No more my God
No more my God
No more my God
I boast no more

No more my God
No more my God
I boast no more

What is right with this song?  Everything.  It the the antithesis of “I Never Lost My Praise”.  It does not boast in what I can do for God, but in what Christ has done for me.  It is a declaration of utter dependance upon Jesus Christ.   The trust is directed at Jesus Christ and not, “I never lost my Praise”.  The lyrics are Scripture based.

“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31 ESV)

 Our boasting should never be about ourselves or our ability, but about the Lord alone who saved us by grace alone through faith alone!  Isaac Watts understood this well.  He penned these words in the fist stanza:

“I quit the hopes I held before
To trust the merits of Thy Son”

This is the Gospel.  It is Christ-centered.  It boasts not of the merits of self, but of the merits of Christ Alone.  Let us strive to never boast about our praise, our faith, our hope, or anything we offer to God.

So how does this happen?  Why do churches sing songs that are theologically unsound?  It is my conviction that this is directly related to the pulpit.  When a church’s pulpit is theologically weak, the lyrics of the worship songs will be theologically weak.  If your church consistently preaches man-centered theology, then odds are the songs will also be filled with man-centered theology.

Another reasons for this is the worship leader.  Most churches search for worship leaders who are musically talented but never bother to check their theology.  Answering “Yes” to the question: “Do you love Jesus?” is not a criteria for determining whether someone embraces sound theology. If the worship leader is theologically immature then the content of the music will be theologically immature.  The songs will not focus on the glories of Christ,  or the holy attributes of God.  Rather, the focus will be sentimental emotionalism that can move the worshiper to tears but never move the heart toward a holy reverence for God.

Much of what passes off as worship today is nothing more than idolatry.  I cannot tell you how many times I have heard people say things like,  “I don’t really enjoy the worship at that church because I don’t feel the Holy Spirit”.  For many, worship has become more about personal subjective feelings than Scriptural objective truth regarding the Person and Work of  Jesus Christ.

As Christians who love the truth, we must be selective about the songs we sing and expect our pastors and worship leaders to provide Gospel-centered content that boasts of Jesus and his merits – not me and mine.

“Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 10:17 ESV)

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