I love Christian music — all kinds of Christian music. The words touch me in a deep and profound way. I see that Christian music has a similar effect on many others as well.

The proliferation of praise and worship music in churches is huge. The words and melodies we sing around the world today in praise to our great God is something He hears and, hopefully, enjoys.

Reckless

We started this series by looking at one of the popular Bethel Music songs titled “Reckless Love.” It was written in 2017 by Cory Asbury, Caleb Culver and Ran Jackson. If you haven’t read the first part of our series, please click here.

Many Christian songs through the centuries have included words or ideas that did not agree with Scripture. I spent several years leading worship and hosting a contemporary Christian music radio program and believed part of my responsibility was to ensure that the music I chose agreed with Scripture. If it didn’t, I wouldn’t use the songs in public worship or on the radio.

As I pointed out in the first part of our series, the word ‘reckless’ as a description of God’s love for us does not agree with Scripture. Since some of the lyrics in ‘Reckless Love’ do agree with Scripture, it could be a simple matter of replacing the word ‘reckless’ with a word that does agree with Scripture. The words ‘amazing’ and ‘wonderful’ are two examples we shared. That would change the chorus to –

“Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, amazing love of God Oh, it chases me down, fights ‘til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine I couldn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it, still You give Yourself away Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, wonderful love of God.”

The Amazing Love of God

The Bible is how we know about God – His Nature, His Character and His Actions. The study of God’s Nature, Character and Actions is called ‘Theology’ (God Study or Study of God).

The Apostle John, also known as the “disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:33; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20), wrote about the ‘love nature’ of God in his first apostolic letter –

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7

“He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” 1 John 4:8

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:10

“And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” 1 John 4:16

John also wrote what is probably the most quoted and published sentence in the world. The subject is God’s love –

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

God’s Love Defined?

To say the words ‘God’s love’ necessitates answering two important questions –

  1. What is God’s love?
  2. Why does God love?

First, let’s humbly admit that we cannot ‘define’ God. God is far above our feeble attempts at defining or understanding Him.

When Moses asked God what he should tell the Israelites when they asked him the name of the God who sent him, God responded this way –

“And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.” Exodus 3:14

God told the prophet Isaiah –

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

We can attempt to ‘describe’ God, but we cannot ‘define’ Him. So what do we do? We ‘listen’ – we ‘hear’ what God tells us about Himself and His love.

“Now the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.” Exodus 34:5-7

“Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments; and He repays those who hate Him to their face, to destroy them. He will not be slack with him who hates Him; He will repay him to his face. Therefore you shall keep the commandment, the statutes, and the judgments which I command you today, to observe them.” Deuteronomy 7:9-11

“For I proclaim the name of the Lord: Ascribe greatness to our God. He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He.” Deuteronomy 32:3-4

“For the Lord is righteous, He loves righteousness; His countenance beholds the upright.” Psalm 11:7

“Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” Psalm 90:1-2

“Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite.” Psalm 147:5

“Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the Lord.” Jeremiah 9:23-24

God’s understanding is ‘infinite.’ Our understanding is ‘finite.’

God’s understanding is also ‘unsearchable’ –

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable.” Isaiah 40:28

There is no one like our God. No one.

“Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’” Isaiah 46:9-10

When we say the words ‘God’s love,’ we need to remember that we are ‘trying’ to describe the indescribable. Even as we read again what God said to Moses as He prepared to give him the Tablets of Stone the second time –

“Now the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.” Exodus 34:5-7

God did this is in response to an earlier request of Moses –

“Please, show me Your glory.” Exodus 33:18

This is how God answered Moses’ request –

“Then He said, ‘I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.’ But He said, ‘You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.’ And the Lord said, ‘Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.” Exodus 33:19-23

Notice the sequence –

  • Moses wanted to see God’s ‘glory’
  • God said He would make all His ‘goodness’ pass before Moses and would proclaim “the name of the Lord” before Moses
  • God did what He promised and proclaimed: “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”

To understand God’s love means we need to understand God’s goodness. They are connected in way that cannot be fully comprehended or ever broken.

God’s Goodness

Remember this childhood prayer?

“God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food. By His hands we all are fed. Give us, Lord, our daily bread. Amen.”

That’s the first prayer I remember my mother teaching me as a little child. It emphasized the ‘greatness’ of God and the ‘goodness’ of God. It also emphasizes that we receive our sustenance from God. All accurate points of theology.

God is Great! He is –

  • Eternal
  • Omnipotent
  • Omnipresent
  • Omniscient
  • Immutable.

God is Good! He is –

  • Holy
  • Righteous
  • Just
  • Loving
  • Merciful
  • Gracious
  • True

Why is God good? Because He is good. ‘Goodness’ is part of His nature.

‘Doing good’ is not part of our human nature. How do we know that? Because of what God’s Word tells us about ourselves –

“The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there are any who understand, who seek God. They have all turned aside, They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one.” Psalm 14:2-3

“The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, and have done abominable iniquity; There is none who does good.” Psalm 53:1

“As it is written: ‘There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one … for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:10-12, 23

How difficult do you think it is for people, who have the human-sin nature, to understand the ‘goodness’ of God who has an eternal sinless nature?

It’s impossible! We cannot understand God. We can talk about it, write about it, sing about it, form committees to study it, hold conferences about it, publish reports about it, write books about it, broadcast documentaries about it – but we will still come up short of being able to understand-comprehend-grasp the ‘goodness’ of Almighty God!

So, what do we do about it? Believe it! That’s what our ‘good’ God tells us about Himself. God demonstrates His goodness every moment of every day to the people and the world He created, but …

“… the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.” Romans 1:18-23

God created a ‘very good’ world (Genesis 1), but humans suppressed the truth of God’s goodness “in unrighteousness.” God’s “invisible attributes” (e.g. eternal power and Godhead) are “clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made.”

Even though human beings “knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

God is ‘good’ and does ‘good.’ We are not and do not.

So, when we talk about God’s love, for instance, we have no reference point upon which to discern its depths and heights .. unless .. God fills us with Himself and gives us a supernatural ability to plumb the depths of His love –

“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:14-19

It would appear from what Paul wrote the Ephesians that comprehending and knowing the love of Christ is possible!

Video

We invite you to watch this video about worship in song including Bethel Music and Hillsong Music.

Next Time

We will join the Apostle Paul in his prayer and ask that we might comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height of His love when our special series continues. Will we find during our search that His love is in some way ‘reckless’? We’ll see, next time.


[Learn more about the theological background for Bethel Music by clicking here.]


Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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