41) Amen! (Revelation 3:14)
“My hope is built on nothing less,
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the Solid Rock, I stand,
all other ground is sinking sand,
all other ground is sinking sand.”
We all sing it, but do we believe it? Admittedly, it’s not easy to bank everything on Christ alone. Our souls long for rest in something immovable. Our minds cry out for certainty in an irrational and chaotic world. Our hearts yearn to feel the unshakable assurance that what we believe to be true is really, and I mean really, true.
Sadly, we often look in all the wrong places or put our hope in all the wrong people or try to convince ourselves that some newly conceived philosophical or scientific principle will finally and forever banish anxiety and doubt from our souls. Alas.
So, then, how can we know that what we know of God is true? Or better still, how can we be assured that what God has said he’ll do he’ll do? To what or whom can we look to bring us the spiritual confidence that his purposes for us will come to pass and his promises to us will be fulfilled?
One answer is to remind ourselves of the historicity of the biblical record or perhaps the marvel of fulfilled prophecy. Others dispel their doubts by rehearsing over and again in their minds the airtight arguments for the bodily resurrection of Christ. A few appeal to the logical coherence or even the aesthetic beauty of Scripture itself. All these have their place and I myself have been well served by reflecting on them at various times.
But there is a solid rock, as the hymn writer put it, on which I must stand before and above all other grounds of assurance. When I need confirmation of God’s Word, when I long for validation of his promises, I look no farther than to Jesus himself, “the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation” (Rev. 3:14).
Note well: Jesus doesn’t just say “Amen,” he is “the Amen”! He himself is the validation, the ratification, the confirmation, the authentication of all that God has said and promised he will do for his children.
The word “Amen” has a rich history in Scripture. As is still the case today, so also in the past, “Amen” pointed to a strong affirmation of something that had been said or written. To say or, better still, to shout “Amen!” was a person’s way of expressing his/her agreement with the truth under consideration.
“Amen!” was the biblical way of making known, “Yes! I agree! By all means! So be it! Undoubtedly so! Yep! Absolutely!” When the people of God heard the word of God they typically responded with “Amen!” as a way of making it unmistakably clear: “We participate with you in declaring this to be so. There is an echo in our hearts to what you say. This truth reverberates loudly in our souls.”
Today, when we want to express our solidarity with something said or desire to place our imprimatur on a claim, we often say, “Yes, that resonates with me.” This is what is most often in view in several OT texts. For example,
“’Cursed be anyone who dishonors his father or his mother.' And all the people shall say, ‘Amen’” (Deut. 27:16).
“And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it all the people stood. And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all the people answered, ‘Amen, Amen,’ lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground” (Nehemiah 8:5-6).
“Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory! Amen and Amen!” (Psalm 72:19)
“Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! And let all the people say, "Amen!" Praise the LORD!” (Psalm 106:48)
When we come to Revelation 3:14 this glorious declaration of affirmation is elevated even higher, for here it becomes one of the names of Jesus Christ himself (cf. Isa. 65:16)! So much is this a reflection of his character and wholly consistent with his nature that he is properly named “the Amen”!
So, what does this mean to you and me? How does it serve to heighten our confidence and deepen our assurance and drive out the doubts that so often plague us? Look closely with me at Paul’s statement in 2 Corinthians 1:20. There we’re told that “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.”
Whatever God has promised to us, whether by way of covenant stipulation or stated intent, regardless of the context or time, no matter how unrealistic or far-fetched it may at first appear, will come to pass because of who Christ is and what he has done. He is the “Amen!” to all God has said he will do. This is true not simply because Jesus adds his personal word of confirmation or stamps it with his seal of approval. It is true because he actually secures it and effectually brings it to pass by virtue of his death and resurrection. Whatever obstacles may have stood in the way of God’s promises coming true, such as our sin and Satan’s power, have been overcome by the blood of the Lamb!
Although at times growing up I was annoyed by the intrusive “Amen” shouted at selected intervals in the preacher’s words, I now recognize how entirely appropriate and fitting this declaration of agreement really is. “In other words, the reason we say ‘Amen’ through Christ when we hear the promises of God preached or hear a prayer of longing for the promises of God to be fulfilled, is that Christ has said ‘Amen’ to us. He is God's ‘Amen’ to us. God says ‘Amen’ to us through Christ in the cross, and we respond with ‘Amen’ to God through Christ in preaching and prayer” (John Piper, “Amen,” a sermon on 1 Corinthians 14:6-19, February 1, 1998, at www.desiringgod.org).
The credibility of Christianity is Christ. Our confidence is in Christ. His identity and integrity ground our faith. His achievement at Calvary and the tomb are our only hope. When doubts assault your faith and anxieties threaten to suffocate your spirit, recall to mind that none other than Jesus himself has said, “Amen!” to all that God has promised on your behalf. May I suggest that, in response, you shout a heartfelt “Amen!” of your own!