Published September 21, 2010

Paul's Epistle...
"Messages from the 2000s"

Occasionally in this space, especially after a Top 20 countdown edition, I'll look at the content of those songs as a snapshot of what Southern Gospel's most popular songs are saying. Last weekend's program, as you know, was a countdown of the Top 20 songs of the decade of the 2000s (years 2000 through 2009), so I thought it would be interesting to do a quick overview of what those songs – the decade's most popular – were saying to folks.

Many factors, of course, go into making a song popular. But it's reassuring to me to find that strong message songs prevailed.

It's hard to categorize song messages, but most of the songs simply celebrated God's goodness and His faithfulness and the awesomeness of His nature. "It Looks Like Love To Me" (CrossWay) summed it up in these lyrics:

I see a Savior, I see a Redeemer
I see a sinless man dying to set me free
I see forgiveness, I see grace and mercy
And it looks like love, looks like love to me.

Another key theme, overlapping throughout most of the songs, was God's faithfulness in helping us through our daily lives. "The Promise" (the Martins) said it well, speaking the words of Christ:

‘Cause you know I made a promise that I intend to keep
My grace will be sufficient in every time of need
My love will be the anchor that you can hold on to
This is the promise, this is the promise I've made to you.

And God's faithfulness is why we can endure the trials that come our way each day as Christians. "Through The Fire" (Crabb Family, written by Gerald Crabb, reflecting Luke 14:27) puts it this way:

He never promised that
The cross would not get heavy.
And the hill would not be hard to climb.
He never offered victories without fighting
But He said help would always come in time.
Just remember when you're standing
In the valley of decision
And the adversary says give in
Just hold on, our Lord will show up.
And He will take you through the fire again.

And when that happens, it greatly encourages us in our daily walk. "I Will Go On" (Gaither Vocal Band) puts it this way:

I will go on
My past I leave behind me
I gladly take His mercy and His love
He is joy and He is peace
He is strength and sweet release.
I know He is and I am His
I will go on.

Similar themes are echoed in "Four Days Late" (Karen Peck & New River) and "Blessed Be The Name Of The Lord" (Tony Gore & Majesty).

Then, of course, some songs include a strong salvation message. "He's Still Waiting By The Well" (Greater Vision) issues an invitation. And there's perhaps none more explicit that Dianne Wilkinson's "He Said" (Gold City), talking about the old-time preacher man:

He said you must confess your sins
He said you must be born again
He preached Jesus crucified and risen from the dead.
He said you gotta make it right
He said you need to come tonight.
The Spirit grew stronger with every single passage he read.
I got saved when I heard what he said.

Then, of course, what would a collection of Southern Gospel songs be without "heaven" songs. That is, after all, the "blessed hope" of the Christian (Titus 2:13). The Hoppers sang, "I'm gonna live in heaven some day, Yes I am, Yes I am." The Hoppers also sang about the new Jerusalem John saw coming down from God out of heaven (Rev. 21:2). And Karen Peck & New River celebrated that "new Jerusalem" with their song "I Wanna Know How It Feels"...

I wanna know how it feels
To make my way down the streets of gold.
I wanna know how it feels
To have a talk with the saints of old...
I've heard of heaven and I know that it's real
I wanna know how it feels.

And, as if there could be any doubt about what is being expressed through these songs, Gold City's "I Believe" (penned by Mark Mathes) leaves no question about it:

I believe that there is a beautiful Heaven
I believe there's a burning Hell....
I believe in the blessed hope, the Book and the blood
And there is no other way.
Jesus is the Son of God and He's coming back some day...
I believe that Jesus died and was buried
And rose up on the third day.
I believe that the trumpet's gonna sound so loud
God's children will be called away.

Amen!!!  I'm getting excited just typing these words! Isn't it great to know that this music we love and enjoy so much is so thoroughly saturated with the Gospel message! It's all about God's faithfulness through the ages, His love, His provision and guidance in our lives, the salvation He offers and His promise to come again for the saints for a glorious eternity with Him. Praise God! And sing on!

- Paul

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