Christians shaped by the (new heavens and new earth when Jesus comes again and makes everything right) vision of worship seek to bring that vision to bear . . . in the world.

(For example, stand up for human rights, oppose injustice and oppression, work out of a clear sense of honesty, take care of widows and orphans, support the battle against the destruction of the environment, and engage in various activities that uphold the vision of a new heaven and a new earth where all wickedness has been put away forever)

-Robert Webber, Worship Is a Verb: Celebrating God’s Mighty Deeds of Salvation, Second Edition

New Song: New Name Written Down in Glory

When your name is changed in the Bible, it indicates that there has been a change of status.  The person has not only been given a new name by God, their core-identity has changed too.  We see it throughout the Scriptures…

Abram’s name was changed to Abraham.

His wife Sarai was changed to Sarah.

Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, was given the name Israel.

Simon was renamed Peter by Jesus.

And then famously, Saul saw Jesus on the road and became Paul.

We also are given a new “core-identity”, but it is an identity that was designed for us by God before we were born and is written down in heaven.  Jesus told his disciples that this was more important than casting our demons!  He said,

…do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven. -Luke 10:20

Charles Austin Miles originally wrote a song with the title A New Name Written Down in Glory back in 1910.  He had already aban­don­ed his ca­reer as a phar­ma­cist and had become a gospel song writer.  Our new song by People&Songs is loosely based on Miles’ song.  In fact, there is only one line that carries over…

There’s a new name written down in glory,
And it’s mine, O yes, it’s mine!

BUT there is an important difference.  Miles’ song suggested that your name was written down in glory at the time of your salvation.  But Revelation tells us something different.  It says,

The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished… -Revelation 17:8

So before “the creation of the world”, your name was already written in the book of life.  But let’s jump in and see how our name (core-identity) is changed and what that means…
Verse 1: I was lost in shame
Could not get past my blame
Until He called my name
I’m so glad He changed me

Sin, shame and blame entered our world after the Fall, but he calls us by a “new name”.  As God says to Israel,

…you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow. -Isaiah 62:2b

Darkness held me down
But Jesus pulled me out
I’m no longer bound
I’m so glad He changed me

Just so you know, most of the metaphors in this song (darkness, blindness, light, freedom from prison) are from Isaiah 42:7.  Jesus later read this passage and said that he fulfilled it.  Jesus is…

…A light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. -Isaiah 42:7

But the core of this song is about identity.  Let’s get back to it.  The pre-chorus is almost verbatim from 2 Corinthians!
Pre-Chorus: See I’m, now a new creation in Christ
The old has gone, there’s new life
I live by faith, not by sight
Or as the Bible says…

If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17

For we live by faith, not by sight. –2 Corinthians 5:7

And then we hit the chorus.  We’ve already talked about the first two lines that come from Charles Miles…
Chorus: There is a new name written down in glory
And it’s mine, yes, it’s mine
I’ve met the author of my story
And He’s mine, yes, He’s mine

Did you catch the last two lines?  They come directly from Hebrews and affirm that Jesus has already written our life’s story with both a beginning and end.  Hebrews 12 says we are,

…Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Verse 2: Sin had left me blind
But Jesus opened my eyes
Now I can see the light
I’m so glad He changed me

BIBLE GEEK SIDENOTE!  I find it so interesting tracking themes through the scriptures.  The first time that we find the phrase “eyes were opened” is after Adam and Eve fall into sin and shame…

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked…-Genesis 3:7

But when Jesus quotes Isaiah, he tells us that he came to “open eyes”.  Not only that, when he appears to the disciples on the Road to Emmaus we read,

Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him[Jesus]…-Luke 24:31

So it seems that Adam and Eve’s eyes were opened to sin and that is really blindness.  We THINK we can see clearly, but we only see who we are AFTER Jesus opens our eyes.  That was just a side-note…back to the song…
Now I’m walking free
I’ve got the victory
See it’s all over me
I’m so glad He changed me
Lastly, the bridge tells us that the I AM defines who we are.  But who is the I AM?  Back in Exodus, God gives tells Moses that this is his name.

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” -Exodus 3:14

Later, Jesus claims to be the same I AM…

“Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I AM!” -John 8:58

So God is the great I AM, but what are we?  In his book, “Who Am I?:Identity in Christ”, author Jerry Bridges answers this question by pointing us to scripture.  He says there are 8 ways to biblically define ourselves.  These 8 “I am…” statements are:

I Am Created.  I Am in Christ.  I Am Justified.  I Am an Adopted Son/Daughter of God.  I Am a New Creation.  I Am a Saint.  I Am a Servant of Jesus Christ.  I Am Not Yet Perfect.

In other words,

Bridge:  I am who I am because the I AM tells me who I am.

New Song: Who You Say I Am

We’ve already been singing it for a few weeks, but I still want to walk us through the biblical basis for our new song, “Who You Say I Am”.  The writers have said that the theme is taken from John 8 which talks about how we will know, the truth and the truth will set us free.  Or in their words,

“It’s a real declaration of identity.”

The first line asks the rhetorical question, “who am I”?  David prays this in 2 Sam 7:18 when he says, “Who am I, Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?”  But this is also a theme that found in Psalm 8 and the book of Job.  Think about it!  In light of the vast creation, why are we so special that God would want us?  This is an invitation to wonder…

Verse 1:
Who am I that the highest King
Would welcome me?
I was lost but He brought me in
Oh His love for me
Oh His love for me
We are lost…you know that, right?…and that is a major theme in Jesus’ stories:  the story of the lost coin, the lost sheep and the prodigal son.  But this is not just a random story.  It is our story.  It is your story.  His love is for YOU.  As Jesus said himself, “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed”.
Chorus:
Who the Son sets free
Oh is free indeed
I’m a child of God
Yes I am
One of the things I love about the song is the reference to adoption.  Don’t miss this!  You are NOT a  natural son or daughter.  God adopted you as his child.  And if you wondering where he says that, check out John 1:12-13, John 14:18, Romans 8:14-17, Romans 8:23, Romans 9:1-8, Galatians 3:26, Galatians 4:5-7, Ephesians 1:3-14, Ephesians 2:11-22, Hebrews 9:15, and 1 John 3:1-3!
Verse 2:
Free at last, He has ransomed me
His grace runs deep

I know we’re not done w/ the verse yet, but I wanted to point something out.  We are adopted into the family of God, but it wasn’t free.  Someone had to buy us back from slavery.  God paid the price with the blood of his Son.

You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ… -1 Peter 1:18-19a

Moving on…

While I was a slave to sin
Jesus died for me
Yes He died for me

We were slaves to sin.  That comes directly from the Word of God.  Sometimes it’s good to remember that this is God’s truth we are singing!

…you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. -Galatians 4:7

Bridge:
I am chosen
Not forsaken
I am who You say I am

It’s such a simple line, but don’t take for granted that you have been chosen.  Matthew records these words that might be hard to hear, but are true.

“For many are invited, but few are chosen.” -Matthew 22:14

Few are chosen.  And not only are you chosen, you are not forsaken.  But that makes me ask, who is forsaken?  The answer might surprise you.  It’s Jesus.  He chose to be forsaken by the Father so you never have to experience what that is like.  In fact, on the cross he cried out,

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” -Mark 15:34

And as Paul says,

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” -Romans 8:31

The only thing to do is accept the identity that God has given you and live for him.  You are a child of God.

You are for me
Not against me
I am who You say I am

If you want to hear the story behind the song.  Check this out…

The Unofficial Israel Tour: Church of Peter Engalicanto

We always think of the story of Peter denying Jesus as involving a random cock crowing. However, it is more prophetic of Jesus if he not only predicts Peter’s betrayal, but also the time it happens. It’s more likely that the “cock crowing” was a Roman trumpet played every morning before dawn to signal the changing of the guard…and it all happened in Jerusalem.

If worship is about ‘ascribing worth’, then it’s easy to see where worship goes wrong. Adam and Eve think what they’ll gain from the fruit is of greater worth than what they have with God…

As sinless image bearers, Adam and Eve were part of creation’s perpetual testimony to the worthiness – the goodness, glory, brilliance and beauty – of God’s handiwork. As soon as they sinned, the broke rank with that testimony, choosing to exalt and serve their own glory.

-Mike Cosper, Rhythms of Grace

Worship is Loving One Another

This past weekend, we had a tech crisis. But in the middle of a crisis, our bigger problem was loving one another. All of life is worship and that includes the way we love another another.

[In Holy Communion] There is a symbolic communication involved in our very taking of bread and wine, our eating and drinking. . . . Bread and wine are to be consumed. They are to be taken into the hand, put into the mouth, and digested in our stomach. This is the human side of the Table, the response that the signs of bread and wine call for.  When we receive that bread into our mouth, bite and chew it, we are claiming God’s work. We are saying,

“You paid the price; you did the work; you achieved my salvation; I accept it.”


-Robert Webber, Worship Is a Verb: Celebrating God’s Mighty Deeds of Salvation, Second Edition

I’m a Grace-Amnesiac

Hi.  My name is Sam and I’m a grace-amnesiac.*

Recently, I’ve realized that I forget so much of the time.  I forget how sinful I am.  I forget how holy God is.  I forget how much grace I’m given every day.  I forget how much that grace cost.  And because I forget, I think that I’m better than other people I meet who fail and fall short.  They are just like me, but like I said, I’m a grace-amnesiac.  I forget.

The beautiful thing is that when I am reminded of God’s grace and live inside that same grace, my whole life is changed.  My whole life becomes an act of worship.  Author Mike Cosper writes,

…it all happens in union with Jesus, before the eyes and presence of a loving God, who by a miracle of boundless grace receives each and every act, though offered with mixed motives or frailty of heart, as a pleasant and acceptable offering…The whole mess of our lives is transformed in Christ, from corrupted to glorious, from ashes to beauty.**

So this week, look and see God’s grace in your life.  Don’t forget.

Extend that grace to others all around you.  Don’t forget.

Know that your whole life is now an act of worship because of receiving and giving grace.  Don’t forget.

This week, don’t be like me.  Don’t forget.

My name is Sam and I’m a grace-amnesiac.

___________________________________________

* The phrase “grace-amnesiac” is from Paul David Tripp’s New Morning Mercies.

** Quote from Mike Cosper in Rhythms of Grace, 77.

God’s goal in history, so to speak, is to win back his world by his own two hands—the incarnate Word and the Holy Spirit—and to unite humanity with the community of God.  His original creational purpose will be fulfilled at the end of history.

-Robert Webber, Who Gets to Narrate the World? Contending for the Christian Story in an Age of Rivals