Gospel: “Lover Part 3” by Derek Webb

There are three ways to respond to God: irreligion, religion, or the gospel.* Irreligion and religion are variations on a theme: avoidance of God. The gospel is an altogether different kind of music, a love song. Three songs by Derek Webb illustrate the variations and the difference. The first song we heard was a song of irreligion, called “Heavy”; the second song was a song of religion called “A New Law”; and now we will listen to a song of the gospel called “Lover Part 3.”


(For best results, listen to Derek Webb sing “Lover Part 3” and see the lyrics.)

In the post about irreligion I said I would talk later about how we miss the point of the gospel, like a prodigal son who misses the point of his Father. Now it’s time to talk more about that–about the point of the gospel, or the point of the Father.

Listening to “Lover Part 3”, we can hear a song of the Gospel because, first of all, it is not a song we sing, but one sung to us. Unlike the songs of irreligion or religion, this song comes not from the irreligious prodigal or the religious elder son (both within us) but from another person, the Father, who says:

In the days before the night, before the day
In the songs before the words that you could say
I have loved you
In the depths below the oceans in the dark
From the garden to the entropy of stars
I have loved you
Oh, I loved you

There has not been a time when God the Father has not loved his children. The depth of His love is like the ocean, and it stretches from the beginning when He created us past the dying of stars in space. All of this time He has said to us without fail the same message:

I loved you then and oh, I love you still
I loved you then and oh, I love you still

But even as we hear this song now, we are tempted to think the Father doesn’t really mean it. We hear the messages either of irreligion or religion. Irreligion speaks as a voice inside, “You have needs that God isn’t providing; he doesn’t really care about you, so go somewhere else to get what you need.” This is the voice of the anti-Father. It must be cast out and replaced with the truth:

I have loved you
Like a father loves his lost and wayward son
Like a lover loves the one he’s parted from
I have loved you
Oh, I loved you

But another lying voice chimes in subtly. The voice of religion says, “You need a law to live by, a set of rules to follow; live by them and you will be accepted.” Slyly, this lie couches itself in the mind of the Christian. But it is anti-Christian. It gets us no closer to God than irreligion, because the Father’s love is free, not bought. In fact, his love is outrageously liberal:

You take and you take
My heart, it will break
Like bread, and spill like wine

The song of the Gospel tells us to come and drink from a fountain of grace, overflowing like blood from Christ’s wounds. The Gospel is a love song from the Savior. It comes to those who try to avoid it. It enters like bread consumed, and it goes into the soul. And God says,

I’m yours and you are mine
I loved you then and oh, I love you still

LEAVE A REPLY: In what words does the Father’s love come to you? What is the Father saying to you?


*I am using Timothy Keller’s wording from Center Church.

Brett Brett (39 Posts)

PhD Student in Pastoral Theology at Southern Seminary. Married to Rachael. Father of two girls and a boy. Louisville, KY.

1 Comment Gospel: “Lover Part 3” by Derek Webb

  1. JoshJosh

    I commonly struggle with believing that God is still for me. No matter how great His track record is, I still ask myself sometimes, “Is this the time when he finally doesn’t come through?” It is good to remember that our Father is ALWAYS for us in Christ!


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