Have you wondered why we say Amen? You will sometimes hear people say Amen to a particular teaching point during a lesson. You will definitely hear the one giving the prayer say Amen at the end of his prayer. You will hear the church respond to that prayer by saying Amen after the prayer leader says Amen. Why do we say Amen? Is there some sort of command that tells us that we must say Amen at the end of all our prayers? There is not such a command. So why do we do it? It appears that the church in Corinth was saying Amen after the giving of thanks (1 Corinthians 14:16). Why did they do this? You should also consider that many of Paul’s letters in the scriptures end with him saying Amen (Romans 16:27; Galatians 6:18; Philippians 4:20; 1 Timothy 6:16; 2 Timothy 4:18). Other New Testament authors also ended their sermons and letters by saying Amen (Hebrews 13:21; 1 Peter 5:11; 2 Peter 3:18; Jude 25; Revelation 22:21). You will also notice in the scriptures that when God is praised that there is often the declaration of Amen following that praise (Romans 1:25; 11:36; Galatians 1:5; 1 Timothy 1:17). Just by looking at these passages we can see that saying Amen is not just how to end a prayer. Nor is saying Amen just mean “let it be so” which is what this Greek word means. There must be more to this. Open your copy of God’s word to 2 Corinthians 1:12-22 and we will consider what Paul teaches the Corinthians about these things.
Paul’s Sincerity (1:12-18)
Paul opened his letter to the Corinthians by reminding them of the comfort they have from God in any affliction they face. Paul experienced suffering and consequently the comfort of God so that he could comfort these Corinthian Christians in their afflictions and pressures. Now Paul wants these Christians to understand the sincerity by which Paul acted and spoke to them. In verses 12-14 Paul says that he spoke with simplicity and godly sincerity by the grace of God to them. He was never duplicitous and never had ulterior motives. Paul was straightforward. You did not have to read between the lines. There was no double talk. What Paul wrote is what they were to read and understand so that they would rejoice in Paul and Timothy and they would rejoice in these Christians on the final day.
Now Paul has to explain his travel plans. In verse 15 Paul declares that he desired to come to them so they could have a second grace. His plan was to come to them twice, visiting them on the way to Macedonia and on his way back from Macedonia. So Paul arranged his plans so they would have this double blessing of him being able to come to them. Now, was Paul being wishy washy when he said he would do this? Was Paul being double tongued or fickle? Do you think Paul made his plans saying yes but in his heart was saying no (1:17)? Paul does not make plans in a worldly manner, saying yes and no at the same time. Paul was going to come twice. Just as God is faithful, so Paul’s word to them was faithful (1:18).
This is an important characteristic of a Christian. We saw this idea expressed in Jesus’ teaching during the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus taught us that our yes should be yes and no should be no (Matthew 5:37). Paul also states that when he said yes, he was not being false. He said these words with a clear conscience to these Christians. His word was yes. He was coming to them twice. In a few verses he will explain to them why he did not come to them twice and how this decision was God’s will and was for their own good. But before he does that, read verses 19-20 and notice what Paul says to amplify his point.
Yes In Christ (1:19-22)
Notice that verse 19 begins with the word “For” and so also does verse 20. Consider the amplification Paul makes about the faithfulness of God. Paul’s word to come to them twice was an unwavering yes to these Corinthians just as Paul, Silas, and Timothy’s proclamation of the gospel to them was an unwavering yes (1:19). In the gospel of Jesus we hear the “yes” of God. “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him.”
Please consider the weight of this statement. In Christ Jesus all the promises of God are yes. Every promise God every made is yes in Christ. Therefore, it is not just that all the past promises of God are fulfilled in Christ. Of course that is true. But even more, all the promises made to us are also yes in Christ. Every promise made to any people for all time are made possible and find their yes in Christ’s person and work. Paul would make a similar point in his first letter to the Corinthians. In speaking about Jesus, he is “the wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). It has always been about Jesus. All God’s promises come into focus in Jesus.
Friends, what promise are you uncertain about? Are you uncertain about salvation? Perhaps you are uncertain about forgiveness. Maybe you are uncertain that the Lord will never leave you or forsake you. Are you uncertain about the second coming of Christ? Are you unsure that you can approach the throne of grace with confidence and receive help in your time of need? What are you uncertain about? In Christ all the promises of God are yes! Therefore Christ cannot be overemphasized! Jesus is God’s yes to you and me, giving us something on which we can build our lives. Jesus has made it possible for us to experience the fulfillment of God’s promises. The decisive yes of God happened in Jesus. The faithfulness of God’s word is most clearly seen in Jesus.
The implications of this truth are vast. Consider that if all the promises of God are yes in Jesus, then there is no other religion. There is no other system of beliefs. All roads cannot lead to God because only in Jesus are all of God’s words and promises fulfilled. Further consider that the decisive yes of God is in Jesus means that God always keeps his promises. As the prophet Balaam declared:
God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? (Numbers 23:19 ESV)
Now what does this have to do with saying Amen? Look at the rest of 2 Corinthians 1:20. “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.” How do we end our prayers? “In Jesus’ name, Amen.” Our Amen acknowledges God’s faithfulness. We are affirming that God keeps his promises and his word to his own glory. Our Amen is proclaimed in worship to God. When we hear the gospel we say Amen as our worship. Our proclamation of Amen is for God’s glory. We are giving God glory for what he has done. The decisive “yes” of God happened in Jesus. Therefore we say Amen (yes) to the glory of God. Amen is not that my prayer is over or that you have said a prayer. God has made his promises and yes, and Amen, he will do it! Prayer is laying hold of the promises of God. Prayer is going to the bank on God’s promises. God, you said you would listen to me so I am praying to you. God, you said you will forgive me when I repent and ask for forgiveness. God, you said that we could pray for healing. God, you said that if we have needs to ask you for our needs. God, you said that you would give me strength in trials so help me. Prayer is laying hold of God’s promises. So again Amen is not that my prayer is over or that you have said a prayer. God has made his promises and yes, and Amen, he will do it! Amen is the exclamation point of faith in a prayer!
An Amen during a sermon is not only stating that something is true, but it is the glorification of God regarding one of his promises that has found its yes in Jesus that we are laying hold of. The Amen at the end of the prayer is each of us verbally laying hold of the promises of God that are yes in Christ and saying that we are grasping on to the faithfulness of God who has said that we can approach him in prayer and that God would be glorified through the prayer and through the fulfillment of what we have requested.
Therefore, Paul is connecting himself, Silas, and Timothy to the faithfulness of the word of God. Just as God is faithful and has shown that God is always yes in Jesus, so also Paul and his companions, as well as the apostles, are always faithful to their words. They have been anointed and given the Holy Spirit so that they are trustworthy messengers of God. You can have confidence when Paul or Peter or Luke or James wrote something down in the word of God. They were anointed by God and their yes is yes to us as the very faithful words of God (1:21-22).
Let us not just say Amen but say Amen with the weight of what the apostle Paul means. We are acknowledging that the promises of God are fulfilled in Christ and we are depending on this faithfulness of God as we pray our prayer.