The Pursuit of God

Serious Topics for Serious Christians

Bossing God to Music: YOU SAID by Hillsong

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AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

Written by Hillsong’s own Reuben Morgan, the worship song You Said teaches you to interpret certain statements from the Bible as promises from God to you.  Is Morgan teaching you correctly or is he just leading you down the usual path of greed-driven misapplication by encouraging you to tell God that He’s obligated to fulfill certain promises to you?  Well, we’re writing a review of this song: there’s your first clue.  We don’t plug people or products.  But we do use bad songs to teach you how to improve the way that you treat your three glorious Creators.  So let’s now get into Morgan’s Bible-based bomb and see what useful lessons we can glean.

You have three Gods, and two of Them are being quoted in the first two lines of Verse 1.

[Verse 1] You said, “Ask and you will receive whatever you need”
You said, “Pray and I’ll hear from Heaven and I’ll heal your land”

Do you know Who said each of these lines and what the contexts were?  It’s okay if you don’t—most Christians don’t know the Bible very well at all, especially the Old Testament.  And while being well-versed in Scriptures is not at all necessary for you to spiritually mature in life, you do need to be aware of the fact that your lack of familiarity with Scriptures is being used against you all the time.  The sad truth is that there are a lot of really shady Christian teachers out there and they know which lines of Scripture you are more likely to have heard of.  So when teachers want to trip you up, they just quote some famous line that they know will probably sound familiar to you, then they use the fact that you think they’re being biblical to sell you some load of lies about how God views you and how He wants you to treat Him.  Quoting Scriptures at you is a tried and true way for total strangers to rapidly gain credibility in your eyes and get you to blindly believe anything they tell you. You need to know how to not play along with this game.  As soon as someone starts firing those Bible bullets at you, you need to stop and say, “Am I familiar with that portion of Scripture?  Do I know what it says?”  If the answer is no, then don’t assume that the teacher is applying Scripture correctly.  As a single sheep in God’s flock, you are so easy to mess with, and a lot of humans just can’t resist the temptation to lead you astray spiritually in order to get their hands on your worship and money (especially your money).

There’s only one thing that will stop Christian teachers from consciously messing with you, and that is their personal level of reverence for God.  It is the fear of getting disciplined by God which makes Christian teachers very cautious about what they teach you.  But where there is no fear of God, then manipulating you becomes as easy as fishing in a bucket and, well, Christians are humans, and humans have a hard time not abusing each other.

Now since you can’t control how another soul is personally responding to God, and since most Christian teachers are seriously lacking in the reverence department, what can you do to defend yourself from these snakes?  You need to stop being so trusting.  You need to stop being impressed by someone’s title or vocabulary or popularity.  You need to remember that it is only Yahweh, Jesus and the Holy Spirit who you should ever be giving your absolute trust to.  Don’t ever let humans take the place of  God in your life.

Do you understand what the purpose of Christian teachers, pastors, and prophets is supposed to be?  Such people are supposed to be driving you closer to God by passing on truths that He tells them about who He is, how He views you, and what He wants from you.  If you were standing in a room and Jesus was standing ten feet away, then Christian leaders would be the ones who are standing behind you, constantly nudging you in His direction.  This is what good Christians leaders do for you: they keep pushing you towards God.  Good Christian leaders never try to get between you and God by teaching you that you need them to interpret God’s will for your life.  If you try to turn around and focus on them instead of God, good Christian leaders will turn you back around and say, “Don’t focus on us, focus on Him. He’s your end goal.”  Good leaders might make you feel convicted or challenged at times, but they’re always going to be inspiring you to go closer to God and they’re going to be encouraging you with the idea that you and He can really go far.

So if that’s how good Christian leaders work, what about bad ones?  Well, if we use our room analogy, bad Christian leaders are the folks who jump in front of you when you start trying to head in Jesus’ direction and they say, “Wait, forget about Him for a moment—listen to me instead.”  Bad Christian leaders say things like, “He’s too busy to talk to you right now, but I can get you in later if you hang out with me.”  Bad Christian leaders want you to feel dependent on them to advance spiritually.  They find many creative ways to tell you that you’re too stupid, slow, or insignificant to ever know God like they do. They discourage you from independent thinking, they punish you for challenging them, and they work hard to undermine your confidence in ever communicating directly with God.  By always telling you that you have to check everything with the Word or with the leaders at your church or with other Christians, they teach you that you can’t ever count on God alone to guide you in life because He’s just not willing to.  Well, that’s a load of hogwash.  God most certainly is willing to teach you in life, and being God, He hardly needs help from human assistants or physical props.  This is why you shouldn’t listen to any Christian teachers unless you’re feeling like God is inspiring you to do so, and that means that you’re hearing God talking to your soul when those humans are speaking.  When God talks to your soul, you will feel inspired and hopeful in your relationship with Him—you won’t feel like He’s shoving you away in disgust.  But while you definitely want to be receptive to God speaking to you through anything or anyone, you must never confuse God with the instrument.  God might talk to you through Pastor John for years only to one day suddenly stop.  When God stops talking to you through a certain channel, you need to change stations.  Your loyalty needs to be with God, not with humans who claim to be representing Him.

So what was with that long lecture we just gave you?  Well, whenever any Christian starts quoting God at you, you need to be doubly on your guard, and You Said is one of those shady situations when a Christian leader is propelling you down a wrong road by grossly misapplying Scripture.  So now let’s get into the dirty details of how Morgan is abusing his influence as a Christian worship leader with this song of his.

In Verse 1, Morgan is quoting Jesus when he says:

You said, “Ask and you will receive whatever you need”

He then leaps back to the Old Testament and quotes Yahweh as saying:

You said, “Pray and I’ll hear from Heaven and I’ll heal your land”

Let’s now deal with these two quotations separately.

WHAT JESUS SAID…

We said earlier that you don’t need to be a Bible buff to grow in your relationship with God.  Another piece of good news is that you don’t need to understand the original context of a verse to spot many bad applications.  Once you understand that there are four essential soul attitudes which God will always teach you to cultivate, then whenever you come across a song, prayer, or sermon which is encouraging you to discount the importance of any one of those attitudes, you can instantly know that you’re being lied to.  Let’s quickly review what those four essential soul attitudes are.

REVERENCE says “I greatly respect God because I fear His awesome power.”

SUBMISSION says “I bow to God as the Supreme Authority over all created things.  Pleasing Him is more important than pleasing myself.  I want Him to be pleased with me.”

DEPENDENCY says “I recognize that I am dependent on God for all things.  I can’t do anything apart from Him.”

TRUST says “I trust that God is good in Character, that His wisdom is superior to mine, and that He can be counted on to do what is best.”

Now let’s look at some Gospel quotations which Morgan is referring to in his song.  Here are some things Jesus said at different times and in different situations:

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:24)

“And I will do whatever you ask in My Name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (Jn. 14:13)

“Very truly I tell you, My Father will give you whatever you ask in My Name.” (Jn. 16:23)

If you’re like most Christians, you don’t know the specific context of these verses, you don’t know who Jesus was speaking to in each case, and you don’t know what else He said.  In You Said, Morgan is encouraging you to stand on these promises as if Jesus is handing you a blank check to His power and promising to do whatever you want, no strings attached.  Without looking any of these verses up, you already know that Morgan is misleading you.  How do you know?  It all comes back to soul attitude.

What does the attitude of submission say?  It is a follower’s attitude.  It says to Jesus, “You’re the Master, I’m just the servant.  You lead, I follow.  You give the orders, I take them.”  Well, if Jesus says to you, “Anything you want, I’ll do.  I’m yours to command,” then suddenly He’s the one practicing submission, while you’re being elevated as a higher authority than Him.  Is God Almighty ever going to offer to be your personal servant?  Is He ever going to take orders from you?  No, He’s not.  It doesn’t matter if you can isolate fifty incidents in the Bible of Jesus sounding like He’s offering to serve His own creations, this is simply not something Jesus will actually do.  You see, while the Church teaches you to use the Bible to test your interpretation of something that you think Jesus said, you actually need to depend on the real Jesus to help you figure out if you’re properly applying Scriptures.  It’s very easy to pull one liners out of the Bible that make it sound like God is totally reversing His value system and teaching you to walk all over Him.  But no, this is not what the real God says.

The reason why you don’t need to know the Bible well to thrive in your walk with God is that the book is not where truth comes from.  Truth comes from God, and when you sincerely seek His guidance in your life, you will end up discovering that the book has a lot of errors in it.  It’s not all bad—but it’s got too many problems for you to try and apply it without God’s guidance.

In your personal walk with God, you will find that everything comes back to soul attitudes.  God wants reverence, submission, dependency and trust from you.  He will never reverse the power structure and start giving you any of these things, but there are many Christian teachers who tell you that He will.  Teaching Christians that our Creators will submit to us and that They depend on us to assist Them are two very popular deceptions that get circulated in the Church.  If you act like simply quoting from the Bible makes something true, you’re going to end up in a mess. But if you stay focused on soul attitudes and ask, “What soul attitudes am I being encouraged to practice right now?”, then you’re going to steer clear of many lies.

In the first line of You Said, Morgan has us telling Jesus that He has promised to do anything we ask of Him. In other words, we’re telling Jesus, “Hey, You said that You would serve and obey us.”  Well, no, He really won’t.  So right off, we have major problems with this song because it’s teaching us to discount one of those four critical soul attitudes.  Let’s now look at the next lyric.

WHAT YAHWEH SAID…

You said, “Pray and I’ll hear from Heaven and I’ll heal your land”

Here Morgan is referring to something that Yahweh said specifically to King Solomon way back in 2 Chronicles 7 (see 2 Chronicles 6-7: Why We Shouldn’t Ask God to Heal Our Land).  This promise wasn’t given to you, therefore you’re out of line to go waving it in Yahweh’s face.  But let’s say that you don’t know anything about context—how else can you tell that Morgan is misleading you?  Well, notice how there are no conditions to this promise.  God’s promises always have conditions, but when Christian leaders want to encourage you to misapply passages of Scripture, they often cut off the part where God specifies His condition.  If you’re hearing the whole promise, then you should be able to break it into an IF-THEN statement.  If you were to look up the context of this verse in 2 Chronicles 7, you’d find that what Yahweh really said is “IF you do such-and-such, THEN I’ll listen and heal your land.”  But in this song, Morgan has left out the IF part, just as he did when he quoted Jesus.  Once you drop the conditions, you’re back to God handing you a blank check and promising to play the part of your Servant.  Here Morgan has you saying to Yahweh, “Hey, You promised to make my nation prosper anytime I ask You.”  Well, no, He really didn’t.  Yahweh doesn’t take orders from you. Neither does Jesus.  Yet so far you’ve spoken to both of Them as if They are your Servants, not your Masters, so already we should be dumping this song into the garbage for showing no respect for God.

The next line of Verse 1 says:

You said, Your glory will fill the earth; Like water, the sea

Morgan’s really on a roll with the Bible quotations, and here he’s quoting Yahweh again.  This line comes from Habakkuk 2:14.  Is this verse relevant to you?  No, because Yahweh was speaking to a Jewish man named Habakkuk.  Habakkuk lived in Judah (aka southern Israel) at a time when his society was totally corrupt.  There was hardly anyone left who cared about God, so immorality was running rampant.  Tired of having to live in such a crummy situation, Habakkuk complains to Yahweh, and basically calls Him a slacker for not disciplining the people who Habakkuk is personally annoyed with.  After Habakkuk finishes his tantrum, Yahweh responds by saying that He will soon be trashing the place using the ruthless and greatly feared Babylonian army.  Shocked and upset by this news, Habakkuk has another meltdown in which he says it’s not right for Yahweh to use evil people to spank His chosen people. That all happens in Chapter 1.  In Chapter 2, Yahweh graciously explains that the Babylonians will get theirs in due time.  In Chapter 3, Habakkuk finally fixes his bad attitude, and that’s the end of the book.

In You Said, Morgan rips one line out of Habakkuk 2 from Yahweh’s long speech about how He will eventually punish the Babylonians for their defiance of Him, but only after He’s done using them to spank the Jews and other rebellious peoples.  The line about God’s glory filling the earth is just a poetic way of Yahweh saying, “Everyone will see how awesome I am by all that I do.”

What is the point of you singing this at Yahweh?  Well, Morgan is encouraging you to get bossy with your Makers by first reminding both Yahweh and Jesus that They’ve made certain promises to you which you can now use to control Their behavior.  First you told Jesus that He’s obligated to give you anything you want.  Then you told Yahweh that He’s promised to heal your land, and now you just told Yahweh that He’s promised to wow everyone with His deeds.  You now finish the verse by addressing Jesus again:

You said, “Lift up your eyes; The harvest is here, yes the Kingdom is near”

Jesus once said to His disciples:

“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.” (Matt. 9:37)

While this quotation is often misapplied to make you feel like a total slacker for not sharing the Gospel with everyone who moves, in real life Jesus wasn’t talking to you when He said these words (see Understanding Jesus: More Workers for the Harvest). While it’s very popular among Christians to throw random phrases together in one sentence, stop and think: what do you really mean by saying to Jesus “the harvest is here”?  Are you trying to inform Him that there are plenty of souls that are ripe for salvation, so He should now get off the couch and go talk to them?

Jesus said the harvest had arrived 2,000 years ago, so it’s more than a little lame for you to talk like this event is just now starting to happen.  Jesus also said several times that “the Kingdom is near,” which was His way of saying, “Listen up, people, because I’m teaching you some very important spiritual concepts.”  Well, this works when God Almighty is talking to a bunch of souls who are in a fog of spiritual ignorance and stagnating in willful rebellion.  But when you say “the Kingdom is near” as a modern day believer, it comes across as meaningless and lame. In the first place, you’re not God, and you don’t know the first thing about who’s ready to be harvested and who’s not.  In the second place, you know nothing about God’s personal plans for the future, you really don’t know what’s near and what isn’t.  Given the fact that these quotes from Jesus are centuries old, you should find them confusing and wonder why we’re all still being told to harvest and wait for the Kingdom to come when Jesus was supposed to return in the lifetime of His disciples (see How long is a biblical generation?).  But instead of asking productive questions, you’re just throwing these random phrases in Jesus’ face as a way of saying that He’s obligated to do something for you.  Then you come to the chorus, in which you finally make your demand.  This ought to be good.

[Chorus] You said, “Ask and I’ll give the nations to you”
Oh, Lord, that’s the cry of my heart
Distant shores and the islands will see Your light, as it rises on us

So it’s the nations that you want.  Well, how reasonable of you to only ask God to place all of humanity into your hands. And what exactly is your point in asking for the nations?  What are you planning to do with them if you get them?  You don’t really say, because this song makes no sense, but you throw in this line about distant shores and islands seeing God’s light as it rises on you.  Wow, what a load of ego.

Let’s deal with this quotation first. You’re really bombing to try and throw a line from Psalm 2 in Yahweh’s face, because that was David talking, not God (see Taking Christ Out of Psalm 2: David Exults in Having Yahweh’s Favor).  In Psalm 2, David is enjoying ruling over a strong and prosperous Israel.  Israel is so strong at this time, that she’s actually conquered several nations around her and is currently humiliating them by making them pay money to her.  Naturally the kings of those conquered nations hate David, because to them, he’s just a big bully.  In Psalm 2, David is speaking to those angry kings and telling them to lump it because Yahweh isn’t going to let them get out from under David’s thumb.  The line that Morgan has you quoting in this psalm is when David justifies his confidence by announcing that Yahweh has personally promised to give David military supremacy over other nations.  Well, that was a nice situation for David, but since you’re not him, what are you doing throwing Psalm 2 in Yahweh’s face?  You’re just being a brat on a power trip.  First you tell both Yahweh and Jesus that They’re morally obligated to give you anything that your greedy lil’ lips demand, then you ask Them to hand you the world.  What a relief to us all that They’re blowing you off.

Now when Christians want to try and hide what dominating little twerps they’re being to their Gods, they often throw in some line that makes it sound like “Gee, Lord, I just want people to know You.”  This is what Morgan does in this song.  He has you sing:

Oh, Lord, that’s the cry of my heart
Distant shores and the islands will see Your light, as it rises on us

In other words, you’re trying to sell God on the idea that you just want the whole world to know Him by seeing His light.  But naturally you want to be glorified in the process, so you say that you want them to see God’s light “as it rises on us,” meaning us Christians.  Right, because Heaven forbid we’re not always in center stage.

What makes these lyrics so insulting is all of the nasty insinuations you’re making about how God is currently managing the world.  First, you’re implying that He is totally ignoring anyone who lives on distant shores or islands, thus those places really need to see His light.  Second, you’re implying that you care more about humans than He does, which is why you’re asking Him to get it in gear and start helping people know who He is.  Clearly you feel that up until now, He’s been leaving the nations in darkness because He’s just doesn’t care about them nearly as much as He does us Christians.  So now it’s up to us to model to God what grace is by urging Him to actually reach out to the lost.  But we obviously expect Him to resist the idea of loving on anyone other than us, which is why we began this song by bombarding Him with a bunch of reminders of promises we think He’s made.  We went in on the offensive: blasting Him with His own words and trying to build up the guilt so that by the time we reached the chorus, He’d feel like He had no choice but to do our bidding.  Wow, what a bomb.

You said, Your glory will fill the earth like water the sea
You said, “Lift up your eyes the harvest is here, the Kingdom is near”

[Chorus] You said, “Ask and I’ll give the nations to you”
Oh, Lord, that’s the cry of my heart
Distant shores and the islands will see Your light, as it rises on us [repeat 2x]

[Ending] Oh, Lord, I ask for the nations; Oh, Lord, I ask for the nations
Oh, Lord, I ask for the nations; Oh, Lord, I ask for the nations

This song is one big exercise in you trying to dominate and control your Creators.  Pretty scary stuff coming from a guy who has a history of serving as the worship pastor at various churches.  Do we really want the guy on stage to be leading us in songs that encourage us to grossly disrespect our Gods?  No, but there are plenty more like Morgan, which is why you always need to ask God what He thinks before you just join in with the throng.  Being the Almighty Gods that They are, Yahweh, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit don’t owe you a darn thing, and trying to guilt trip Them with quotes from the Bible is only going to move you onto the wrong side of Their wrath.

FURTHER READING:
Worship Songs from Satan: Build Your Kingdom Here
Offensive Worship Songs: LORD, LET YOUR GLORY FALL by Matt Redman
Understanding God’s Promises: Yahweh Promises to Bless Israel (Isaiah 30:18-33)
Improving Our Treatment of God: Why We Shouldn’t Pray for the Lost
Soul Attitudes That Please God: What They Are & How We Develop Them
Four Ways to Identify False Teaching in the Church

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