Darrow Miller and Friends

Music that Writes Culture, Part 5

  1. Music that Writes Culture, Part 1
  2. Music that Writes Culture, Part 2
  3. Music that Writes Culture, Part 3
  4. Music that Writes Culture, Part 4
  5. Music that Writes Culture, Part 5
  6. Music that Writes Culture, Part 6
  7. Music that Writes Culture, Part 7
  8. Music that Writes Culture, Part 8
  9. Music that Writes Culture, Part 9 & Final

Let me continue to unpack the words of this incredible New Year’s carol.  The second stanza reads:

Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns
Let men their songs employ
While fields and floods
Rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy

In Watts’ original lyrics, the first line of this stanza reads “Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns.”  Many modern copies of the hymn have simply repeated the benediction of the first stanza, saying “Joy to the world…,” but Watts has changed focus in a comprehensive parallelism from the world to the earth and from “the Lord coming” to “the Savior reigning.”

For Isaac Watts, Jesus is the Savior, our redeemer, the restorer of wholeness and Lord our King, the Sovereign of the universe–of nations and of our lives.  Often, Christians make a distinction between salvation in the vertical realm and lordship in the horizontal realm.  Watts makes no such distinction.  God’s work is comprehensive.  Christ is Savior of both the world and the earth.  He desires redemption not only for humanity, but also for the earth He created.  And He is sovereign over both humanity and nature.

The Great Co-Mission reflects this comprehensive work.  It moves horizontally around the world to encompass both geography (Acts 1:8.) and the very important concept that the gospel is meant to bring redemption to ALL the earth–ALL of creation (Mark 16:15).  And it moves vertically to penetrate culture–to affect all people and all of culture at every level (Matthew 28:18-20).

To miss this concept means to miss the opportunity for us as the church to function in the fullness of God’s commands and longings for our world.

Why did Christ die on the cross?  The Apostle Paul is clear:  “For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross” (Colossians 1:19-20).  God has a big agenda!  Christ died to reconcile all things to Himself.  Does this include the soul of man?  Yes!  But it is not limited to the soul of man.  Christ died to save all of each human being.  And He died to redeem nature and nations.  This is the comprehensive gospel of the Kingdom of God.

Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!

-Darrow L. Miller

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Darrow is co-founder of the Disciple Nations Alliance and a featured author and teacher. For over 30 years, Darrow has been a popular conference speaker on topics that include Christianity and culture, apologetics, worldview, poverty, and the dignity of women. From 1981 to 2007 Darrow served with Food for the Hungry International (now FH association), and from 1994 as Vice President. Before joining FH, Darrow spent three years on staff at L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland where he was discipled by Francis Schaeffer. He also served as a student pastor at Northern Arizona University and two years as a pastor of Sherman Street Fellowship in urban Denver, CO. In addition to earning his Master’s degree in Adult Education from Arizona State University, Darrow pursued graduate studies in philosophy, theology, Christian apologetics, biblical studies, and missions in the United States, Israel, and Switzerland. Darrow has authored numerous studies, articles, Bible studies and books, including Discipling Nations: The Power of Truth to Transform Culture (YWAM Publishing, 1998), Nurturing the Nations: Reclaiming the Dignity of Women for Building Healthy Cultures (InterVarsity Press, 2008), LifeWork: A Biblical Theology for What You Do Every Day (YWAM, 2009), Rethinking Social Justice: Restoring Biblical Compassion (YWAM, 2015), and more. These resources along with links to free e-books, podcasts, online training programs and more can be found at Disciple Nations Alliance (https://disciplenations.org).