Back when I was leading worship, an important task in determining which songs we would sing in our worship services was to evaluate the song through the lens of the Scriptures. What I was looking for was strong biblical content that was musically beautiful and lyrically poetic. Some songs were rich with content but clumsy in their wording. Other songs were a little light on content but creative and beautifully expressed a simple truth. My most important tool in the evaluation process was to see how many of the lines and phrases in the lyric I could match with verses from the Bible. So, I decided for this newsletter article I would apply this to a favorite song of mine that Eric introduced us to some time back. The song is titled “Living Hope” by Phil Wickham.
The song begins, “How great the chasm that lay between us.” A reminder that apart from Christ we are separated from God. Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” And Isaiah 59:2 says, “But your wrongdoings have caused a separation from your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.” This is our lot apart from Jesus. The song continues, “How high the mountain I could not climb.” Our situation, apart from Christ, was insurmountable in our own efforts.
As the song’s first verse continues, “In desperation, I turned to heaven and spoke your name into the night.” When we put our faith in Jesus, He saved us from a truly impossible and desperate situation. Ephesians 2:4-5 says it this way, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our wrongdoings, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).” We were spiritually dead. We needed life; we needed to be born again. The next lines of the song, “Then through the darkness Your loving kindness tore through the shadows of my soul.” We needed light, the light of Jesus. John 8:12, “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the Light of the world; the one who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.’”
And so verse one concludes, “The work is finished, the end is written Jesus Christ, my living hope.” It speaks to the completed work of Jesus. In fact that’s just what Jesus said in John 19:30 as He hung on the cross, “…It is finished…” Everything necessary for our forgiveness, for our salvation was completed by Jesus, nothing lacking. Thus Jesus Christ is, indeed, our living hope. And that directs us to what I believe is the theme verse for this song, First Peter 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
The phrases of the chorus and the other two verses of the song are likewise reflected in the pages of Scripture. It was really quite fun and enriching to connect the Bible to the various themes of this song that is so rich with content. When it comes to worship and worship songs, it is vitally important that we remember the words of Jesus spoken to the woman at the well, “But a time is coming, and even now has arrived, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24).
In Christ our living hope,