BEHIND THE SONG WITH KEVIN DAVIS
#571 - "You Brought Me Back to Life" by Citizens & Saints
Citizens & Saints frontman Zach Bolen shares the powerful theme of identifying with Christ's victory over death.
 


Join the Triumph is the sophomore release from Seattle-based Citizens & Saints. Last year they released their debut album as Citizens, which included the hit song "Made Alive," and that eponymous album was one of my top 10 worship albums of 2013.

I really enjoy the exciting musical vibe of the new album, and the melodies and lyrics are all catchy and biblical. It is loaded with great rock beats, catchy melodies and solid lyrics reflecting unashamed faith in Jesus. Everything we do and everything we have needs to come from the place of who we are in Jesus. There's safety and security in the knowledge of our Savior and Redeemer. This album proclaims that Truth in every single song, especially the lead single "You Brought Me Back to Life." I had the opportunity to speak with lead singer Zach Bolen about the catchy song.

Please tell me the personal story behind this song.

When we started writing this song I was reading 1st John a lot. Raising my two daughters, I was teaching them about what it means to walk in the light and not be afraid of being known by their parents, by their friends, by their family and by God. That's the direction we started going with the song, wanting to have a vibe that communicated so much of what the Gospel means for us once we've been united with Christ.

We talk a lot about conversion and the work that Jesus has done, which is essential. There's also the continued part of what the Holy Spirit is doing in sanctifying us. That's where we started with verses like 1 John 1:7. What was cool is then my co-writer Brian brought in Romans 6:9. Christ, being raised from the dead, can never die again. Death has no dominion over Him.

Those were the two concepts we wanted to tie together in the song: walking in the light of Jesus and being known by Him and others, and celebrating the fact that death holds no dominion over us also because we are in Christ now.

Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song?

1 John 1:5-9 (NKJV): "This is the message that we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.  If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Romans 6:9 (MSG): Could it be any clearer? Our old way of life was nailed to the cross with Christ, a decisive end to that sin-miserable life—no longer at sin's every beck and call! What we believe is this: If we get included in Christ's sin-conquering death, we also get included in his life-saving resurrection. We know that when Jesus was raised from the dead it was a signal of the end of death-as-the-end. Never again will death have the last word. When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us. From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God. That's what Jesus did.

What is the takeaway message?

As we talked about tying those two passages together, we realized that there was no better image than baptism. That truly represents what those concepts look like. Baptism is us identifying with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. We thought that was a great picture of this transformational process of Jesus doing this work and allowing us to have all of these blessings of being in His light, being known by Him, no longer being a slave to death, but now being a slave to righteousness. That's such a paradigm shift.

If you've listened to our songs, you know we like to have a party and celebrate the victory we have over sin and death. We are banging on that same drum, which is a key drum for us to bang on, celebrating all that Jesus is doing through His work on the Cross and the work that the Holy Spirit continues to do through us.

The theme of the new album is the concept that everything we are doing is a call for participation. It is a call for people to join in singing, clapping, shouting, praying, reading God's Word, being in fellowship with one another and all of these things the Bible points to as corporate worship coming together collectively to exalt Jesus.

It's a call to join the triumph, the triumph of the work of Christ. "The Strife is Over" is a song with Kingdom theology. Jesus has done the work. We've been cleansed and made new in Him, but we haven't yet experienced the fullness of that until we go to be with Him forever. All the pain, all the suffering, not only that we endure, but that Christ endured on our behalf, that strife is gone. We will still experience the pain, but ultimately we know that it is finished.

We convince ourselves that some darkness is light. That's a profound lie, when we go through such lengths to convince ourselves that sin isn't sin. The big thing we wanted to proclaim with this album is the grace of God, Jesus's work on the Cross, conquering the grave. Hopefully people will hear a call to participate in worshiping Jesus for those things and the standing we have with Him.

Lyrics:
I wandered through the darkness, wasting away 
My soul was cold and hopeless, dead in the grave 

And like a river of life in a dry land 
Like a flicker of sight to a blind man 
I saw the glorious light as it broke in 
God of mercy and might 
Oh You brought me back to life 

You're the Lord of light shining in the dark 
You're the source of life beating in my heart 
You're the living hope, You're the risen Christ 
You restored my soul 
Oh You brought me back to life 

The brilliance of Your glory, awakens my soul 
You give me grace and mercy, I give You control 

And like a river of life in a dry land 
Like a flicker of sight to a blind man 
I saw the glorious light as it broke in 
God of mercy and might 
Oh You brought me back to life 
You brought me back to life 

You are the Resurrector, You conquered the grave 
You pulled me from the water, free from my chains
And risen to live 

Like a river of life in a dry land 
Like a flicker of sight to a blind man 
I saw the glorious light as it broke in 
God of mercy and might 
Oh You brought me back to life 

You're the Lord of light shining in the dark 
You're the source of life beating in my heart 
You're the living hope, You're the risen Christ 
You restored my soul 
Oh You brought me back to life


The song has such a contemporary sound, and the message is inspirational for followers of Jesus regardless of your musical preference. The energy and excitement of this album is infectious. You won't be able to help wanting to dance and sing along with this exciting new song of praise.

I'm both challenged and entertained by this song and album, and I love hearing Scripture proclaimed in fresh and exciting ways. Every song is emotionally stirring and rooted in the Truth of God's Word. This song excites me as a worshiper to sing directly to Jesus.

Like their previous great songs, this song gets me excited about my faith and challenges me to think about whether I'm living out the words of 1 John 1:7 (NKJV): "But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin."

When you sing the words "You are the Resurrector, You conquered the grave, You pulled me from the water, free from my chains," you can't pray that to God and not believe those words with all that is within you. Once you say that prayer to God, allow His grace to stir you with His Holy Spirit. This song is an amazing way to celebrate that we are new Creations in Christ, and we are free from the chains of sin.

"You Brought Me Back to Life" is the type of song I wish I was singing at my church right now. The song boldly declares a statement of faith: "You're the living hope, You're the risen Christ, You restored my soul, Oh You brought me back to life." Amen to that!


(Watch the music video here.)



 

NRT Lead Contributor Kevin Davis is a longtime fan of Christian music, an avid music collector and credits the message of Christian music for leading him to Christ. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and three daughters.

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