2 Corinthians 1:20-22 “And so through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God. It is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”
Since Jesus makes me sure, he inspires me to say, “AMEN,” to all that he has promised. Sometimes we Christians say and sing “Amen” as though we don’t really understand what it means. If you went through Lutheran confirmation as a youth, then you memorized Luther’s words explaining “amen” at the end of the Lord’s Prayer. “Therefore, we say “Amen!” Yea, yea, so shall it be.” In modern translation: “Yes, it shall be so.”
But sometimes we say it as though it were a nice, polite little word tacked on the end of something and meaning little more than “the end.” Paul is not proposing a throw away word at the end of something here. He is talking about a bold statement of faith. This is a great, BIG, “THIS IS SO AND I BELIEVE IT.” We say “AMEN!” to all that Jesus tells us.
Is that arrogance? Not at all. Jesus is the one who makes us sure, not in an arrogant, “Boy have I got it all figured out,” sort of way. Our “Amen” is spoken “to the glory of God.” It honors him and his word. After all, “It is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ.” He himself has given us this faith. We didn’t come up with it on our own. He is the one who “anointed us” with his Holy Spirit, “set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”
In practice, I don’t always deliver the message with such confidence. It’s not because there is anything wrong with the message, or with Jesus. They are certain. The problem lies with me. I don’t know the message so well as I should. I am not always ready with it when I need it. I find myself intimidated by those who oppose the message and aren’t afraid to make their opposition known. I am sorely tempted to fear men more than I fear God. I am tempted to back down on things God himself has said. I struggle with my own doubts, just like you do. So often my personal experience seems to contradict what God has promised, and so I wrestle with Jesus and his word when it doesn’t seem to make sense.
That’s when we want, that’s when we need, someone who believes, who KNOWS that everything he believes about God’s word and promises is true. Martin Luther once said, “To take no pleasure in assertions is not the mark of a Christian heart. Indeed, one must delight in assertions to be a Christian at all…Away now with the Skeptics and Academics from the company of us Christians, let us have men who will assert, men twice as inflexible as the stoics. Whatever wavers or doubts, that cannot be truth.”
Isn’t that what our Christian hearts really crave? We want a Christian pastor, or brother, or friend, who knows that what he believes is true and isn’t afraid to assert it with power.
When we are suffering absolute misery in the hospital, and we are plagued with doubts— “Does God really care?” — We don’t want someone to come and say to us, “Think about what you are going through this way, and see if that helps.” We want someone who will look us strait in the eye and with an unwavering confidence TELL us, “We KNOW that in all things God works for the good of those who love him…Nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
When we are wracked with guilt because we have made a mess of our life or someone else’s, we don’t want someone to tell us we have to jump through all sorts of hoops, or lead us to rummage around in our own hearts to find some shreds of hope that things are still okay between us and God. We want a man who will come to us and say with all the authority of Christ himself, “I forgive all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
When we are looking death itself in the face, and our last breath is just moments away, we don’t want someone to say, “I think”, or “it seems reasonable to suppose,” or “the best of modern scholarship would lead us to believe…”* But, like Job, we want him to assert with confidence, “I KNOW that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth, and though, after my flesh, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh I will see God…”
That is the message that we have! “For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by me and Silas and Timothy, was not ‘Yes’ and ‘No,’ but in him it has always been ‘Yes.’” Jesus makes us sure. That is not arrogance. That is God’s word. It would only be arrogance if we were NOT to believe it. And to that word we can say, “AMEN!”
*Thanks to the sainted Siegbert Becker for this turn of a phrase.