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"Someone Worth Dying For?"
By Gary F. Zeolla
Am I more than flesh and bone?
Am I really something beautiful?
Yeah, I want to believe, I want to believe that
I'm not just some wandering soul
That you don't see and you don't know
Yeah, I want to believe, Jesus help me believe
That I am someone worth dying for…
You're worth it, you can't earn it
Yeah, the cross has proven,
That you're sacred and blameless.
Your life has purpose!
You are more than flesh and bone
Can't you see you're something beautiful
Yeah, you gotta believe, you gotta believe
He wants you to see, He wants you to see that
You're not just some wandering soul
That can't be seen and can't be known
You gotta believe, you gotta believe
That you are someone worth dying for
(Mikeschair; Contemporary Christian Music group).
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
'Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.
(John Newton, 1725-1807)
The Point of this Article
First, I would like to state that the point of this article is not to compare Contemporary Christian Music (CCM), with old hymns. I listen to CCM all the time (such as while I am writing this article) and usually find it to be very spiritually uplifting and theologically sound. But this particular song by Mikeschair really caught my attention for how much the theology it presents differs from the theology of Newton's famous hymn.
So the point of this article is to discuss what these differing theologies are, and most importantly to determine which is the most Biblical.
The Theologies Presented
The first theological issue is what the nature of the unsaved person is. Mikeschair seems to be saying that unsaved people are beautiful, not wandering about aimlessly, sacred, and blameless, and that they are "worthy" of Christ dying for them.
Meanwhile, Newton says that as an unsaved person he was a "wretch." This is a strong word and means, "somebody viewed with contempt or disapproval" (Encarta Dictionary). That is how Newton is saying God views the unsaved person.
Newton further says that he was lost and blind, and that he experienced many dangers, toils and snares in life. But it was only by God's pure grace that he was brought through it all and was saved.
Given these differing views of the nature of the unsaved, the next theological issue is how to present the Gospel to the unsaved. According to Mikeschair, it would seem that we should be "building up" their self-esteem, convincing them that they are not wandering about aimlessly in life, but instead are "worthy" of Christ's death.
But Newton would have us convince the unsaved that they are wretched, blind, and lost. And it is only by God's undeserved grace that they can be saved and brought through life's many struggles.
The final theological question is if the unsaved person is "worthy" of Christ dying for them, or was Christ's death an act of pure grace on behalf of unworthy sinners.
The Scriptural Evidence
So which is it? What is the nature of the unsaved person, how should we present the Gospel to them, and are the unsaved "worthy" of Christ's death for them? The following Scriptures will help to answer these questions. All verses taken from my newly released Analytical-Literal Translation: Devotional Version.
11Therefore, if you*, being evil, know [how] to be giving good gifts to your* children, how much more will your* Father, the [One] in the heavens, give good [things] to the ones asking Him! (Mathew 7:11).
36The one believing in the Son has eternal life, but the one refusing to believe the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him (John 3:36).
18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven upon all impiety and unrighteousness of people, [upon] the ones suppressing the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18).
28And just as they did not think it was worthwhile to be having God in [their] true knowledge, God gave them over to a disapproved mind to be doing the [things] not proper, 29having been filled with all unrighteousness, sexual sin, wickedness, covetous desire, malice; full of envy, murder, bitter conflict, deceit, maliciousness; gossips, 30back-biters, God-haters, insolent persons, arrogant boasters, schemers of evil [things]; disobedient to parents, 31foolish, untrustworthy, without natural affection, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32who having known the righteous judgment of God, that the ones practicing such things are deserving of death, not only are doing them, but they are also approving of the ones practicing [them] (Romans 1:28-32).
"[There] is not a righteous [person], not even one. 11[There] is not [a person] understanding; there is not [a person] diligently seeking after God. 12All turned aside, together they became unprofitable; [there] is not [a person] doing goodness, [there] is not so much as one.
13"Their throat [is] a grave having been opened; with their tongues they deceived; [the] venom of poisonous snakes [is] under their lips.
14"Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.
15"Their feet [are] swift to shed blood. 16Ruin and misery [are] in their ways. 17And [the] way of peace they did not know.
18"[There] is no fear of God before their eyes" (Romans 3:10-18).
23For all sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24being justified freely by His grace through the redemption, the [one] in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:23-24).
6For Christ, while we were still weak, at the right time, died on behalf of the impious. 7For scarcely will anyone die on behalf of a righteous [person]; for perhaps someone even dares to die on behalf of the good [person]. 8But God demonstrates His own love to us, [in] that us still being sinful [people], Christ died on our behalf! (Romans 5:6-8).
1And you* being dead in transgressions and sins, 2in which at one time you* walked about according to the practices of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, of the spirit of the one now supernaturally working in the sons [and daughters] of disobedience; 3among whom also we at one time lived in the lusts of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the thoughts, and we were by nature children of wrath, as also the others.
4But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love [with] which He loved us, 5even while we were dead in transgressions, made us to live together with Christ (by grace you* have been saved), 6and He raised [us] up together and seated [us] together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus, 7so that He should show in the ages, the ones coming, the surpassing riches of His grace in goodness toward us in Christ Jesus!
8For by grace you* have been saved, through faith, and this [is] not from you*; [it is] the gift of God, 9not by works, so that no one shall boast. 10For we are His workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we should walk about in them (Ephesians 2:1-9).
15Trustworthy [is] the word and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinful [people], of whom I am first (1Timothy 1:15).
As regards the nature of the unsaved, it would seem that the Scriptures clearly are on the side of Newton. The unsaved are described as being evil, under the wrath of God, to have committed sins of all kinds, to be weak, even dead, and most of all, to be sinners and sinful people.
Meanwhile, it was not because of our "worthiness" that Christ died for us, but it was a "gift" of God. Christ died for us solely by His mercy and grace.
Meanwhile, the answer to the question of the how to present the Gospel flows naturally from these facts. If the unsaved are unworthy of Christ's death, under His wrath, and sinners to the core, then we are not to try and convince them that they are "worthy" of Christ dying for them. The opposite in fact is true. We are to tell them that they are not worthy, that they are sinners, deserving of God's wrath.
But it is just that unworthiness that makes Christ's death on the cross such "amazing grace." Christ died for us in spite of and precisely because we are unworthy of God. And by admitting our unworthiness and need of His grace, we can be saved. We just need to trust that Christ's death on the cross paid fully for our sins and brought us into a right relationship with God. It is then that we can be lifted up and experience the love of God and the confidence that comes with it.
So I would say that Mikeschair's song might be a pretty song and seem to be "uplifting" but in fact it is presenting false theology. But Newton's "Amazing Grace" will remain a classic hymn, that presents very true theology.
When I was living in Denver, CO back in 1988-90, I attended a service at a Unitarian/ Universalist church. Their theology is that all religions are different roads to the same God and that everyone is inherently "good" and thus will ultimately be saved. So I was rather surprised when they started singing "Amazing Grace."
However, they changed one word in the hymn, the word "wretch" to the word "soul." That change of one word changes the entire tenor of the hymn. It doesn’t take "amazing grace" to save a "soul." But it does take "amazing grace" to save a "wretch." Our inherent sinfulness is why it was an act of pure grace for God to send His Son to die for us and what makes Christ’s death on the cross for our sins so amazing.
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"Someone Worth Dying For?" Copyright © 2012 by Gary F. Zeolla of Darkness to Light ministry (www.dtl.org).
For Personal Bible Study and Teaching the Bible
By Gary F. Zeolla
The above article first appeared in the Free Darkness to Light
It was posted on this site April 20, 2012.
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