There is a Christian radio station that I know a number of you listen to – K-LOVE, 89.5FM. This channel plays a certain song (quite frequently) by Matthew West, called, "Save A Place For Me." I have to admit that I don’t listen to music very often. I listen to mostly sports talk, and the DJs on K-LOVE drive me crazy with the wrong, and dumb, things they say. However, I'll occasionally turn it on when there's a commercial on the station I am listening to – and it seems like every time I turn to K-LOVE this song comes on.
I've wanted to write something about this song since the first time I heard it a couple of months ago, but a number of other things/events have taken my attention instead. It seems as though the song has "climbed the charts" – growing quite a bit in popularity. I don’t know the history, emotions, or motivation of Matthew West in writing the song. It's about losing a loved one. In the song, West expresses the thoughts and emotions one may have in reflecting on the time they had with the person they lost. My concern, my problem, is really with the chorus –
“Save a place for me, save a place for me
I'll be there soon, I'll be there soon
Save a place for me, save some grace for me
I'll be there soon, I'll be there soon”
Now before I go on let me say that Matthew West is pretty solid – his lyrics are generally consistent with the truths of Scripture. But not this time. As my very observant and gracious wife, Robyn, said to me, “There just isn't a whole lot that's Biblically sound in those words.” I, not being so gracious, would like say that it's disappointing and disturbing to me that, on a matter of such importance as God's grace, Matthew West could be so wrong and inconsistent with what the Bible teaches. Whenever I hear this song it really, really, really bothers me – I have to turn it off.
I understand there are times when songwriters take some "liberties" in implying certain emotions through their music – much like authors may take grammatical liberties. However, music is so emotionally charged and moving (one song can touch thousands of people) that a person just cannot write songs, or even imply things in those songs, that are so acutely against truths about God, His grace, and His Kingdom. Michael Card, a singer from several years ago, used to have the lyrics of his songs approved by the elders of his church to guard against Biblical inconsistency and untruthfulness – and in case you’re wondering, I absolutely think this song is severely inconsistent with the Bible.
First, look at what's implied about Heaven in the words, "Save a place for me." I'll admit that this is the lesser of my two grievances – but still, is God at risk of running out of room in Heaven? You might not think that's what West is saying. Maybe you believe he is just saying what most who've lost a loved one feel in their hearts – he can't wait to see this particular person in heaven someday. I won't disagree that could be what he's trying to say – but it's not what he's saying. If what he's trying to express is his anticipation over seeing this person, whom he loves and misses so much, in heaven, then there are other words he could’ve written – other songwriters have.
Second, what the heck does he mean, "Save some grace for me"? This is the one that really gets my undies in a twist. I've tried, please believe that I've tried, to get around these words as meaning something other than what seems so obvious to me – but I cannot. I just can't see what these words could mean other than that God does not have enough grace for all of us to experience fully in heaven, in His Kingdom. Yikes! This is an astonishing error that goes against anything, and everything, the Bible teaches us about God's grace.
Now let me address the former – “Save a place for me”. The Bible is clear that this present world, in which we now live, is not our home. It is also replete with references to God's preparation of our eternal home –
• John 14.1-3 – (Jesus speaking) "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
• Hebrews 11.16 – “But as it is, they (people whose faith is in God) desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.”
• Revelation 21.1-4 – “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."
What happens to you when you read these verses? I hope you don't just read over them as if you already have several times. God is active. He's an active God, faithful and progressive in preparing your eternal home.
Now about God not having enough grace. I almost don’t know where to start because this implication is so outrageous. Let me just say three things –
1. In the Bible, you never see a limit to God's grace. God never gives grace to some at the expense of not giving it to others.
2. God is who He is. While we can learn about Him and strive to know Him – we cannot even begin to fathom the depths of His nature and scope of His character. What we do know isn’t even a blip on the radar. God is not stronger in certain areas of His character and weaker in other areas. His character is so complete that it is what naturally emanates from Him.
3. God shows us grace through God the Son, Jesus Christ. God freely and abundantly gives His people grace through His Son, Jesus Christ – both for their justification and sanctification. To say, or imply, there isn’t enough grace for everyone God had chosen and called to Himself through Jesus is also to say that Jesus' death was not sufficient to save the world. That, my dear friends, is heresy.
I think the Bible speaks for itself when it comes to these issues. So let me close with the words in Hebrews 13.9, "Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings…" We have to guard our doctrine. Theology matters because it's what we believe about God (and everything else's relationship to Him) and impacts how we relate to God. Strange teachings differ with God's truth and will, in effect –
• give you a flawed system of belief (one other than Christ)
• give you a small view of God
• lead you away from Him to others false gods