Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor…
Saying, Amen. There is probably no more dishonoured word in the Bible than this. It has come to mean, in the minds of many, a mere signal for leaving off - the beneficent word that announces that the time of weariness and restraint is over, and that they may go back to what is of far more interest to them than God's Word or worship can ever be. They look upon it as meaning no more than the word "Finis" at the end of a book, which tells them that there is no more to come. But when we remember that the word was one which was perpetually on our Saviour's lips, and that it is one of the august names which he claims for himself, we can at once see that to regard it as a mere mechanical symbol, as a mere note of termination, like a period or full stop, is terribly to degrade it, and such as it could never have been intended for. And we are all of us in danger of forgetting, in our frequent use of the word, what it really means. But its mere interest demands more respectful and reverent usage of it. It is almost a universal word. It is told of two strangers meeting on board ship in Eastern seas, and ignorant of each other's language, that they at length discovered that they had two words in common. One was "Hallelujah," and the other "Amen." You will hear this sacred word in Mohammedan mosques from Calcutta to Morocco, in all the liturgies of Greek, Roman, and Anglican Christians, and there is no sect of Christians anywhere that does not use it. And it is a most ancient word. It has come down to us from the ancient Jewish people, and was heard amidst the rocks of Sinai in those far off days of old. It has been likened to one of those granite boulders which we sometimes find in the midst of a flat plain, and which has been borne along by old world glaciers and torrents, and carried far away from its native home. So this word has been borne down by the stream of time till it has reached our shores and this our day. But its importance lies in the great spiritual truths it teaches us. As -
I. GOD'S DESIRE FOR OUR RESPONSE. The word is associated perpetually with the utterance of prayer and the declaration of Divine truth. Now, God desires such response:
1. In worship. "Let all the people say, Amen." It is the people's word; was so not alone in the Jewish Church, but in the Christian as well. Hence St. Paul pleads for the use of plain language in worship, so that the unlearned may be able to say "Amen" at the giving of thanks. And in the early Church the acts of the presiding minister were not deemed complete without the assent of the people in their loudly expressed "Amen." Especially was this so in thanksgiving at the Lord's Supper. The whole congregation so said "Amen" that it was as a shout or cheer, and was heard far off, and like a peal of thunder reverberating through the spacious church. But it is the inward assent and response that is craved; the outward goes for very little if this be lacking. And how can it be present when we allow ourselves - as so many do - in listlessness and inattention and indifference? But if it be present, how precious, how uplifting, how full of help, that worship becomes to those who unite in it! Let us hold down our minds, and as Abraham drove away the birds which sought to devour his sacrifice, so let us drive away those flitting, wandering thoughts which are ever on the wing, and which destroy our sacrifice of prayer or praise. But in order to this inward assent and response, there must be like faith. If I do not believe in God as the heavenly Father, as my Father, how can I say "Amen" to prayer addressed to him? If I regard the Lord Jesus as no more than a noble hearted and saintly Jew, how can I prostrate myself in worship at his feet? But the chief hindrances to this inward response are not those of the intellect, but of the heart. It is not because we come to the house of God with our minds cobwebbed and confused with doubt, but rather because we come with hearts absorbed with worldly things, that the "Amen" God desires is not forthcoming, though our lips may loudly say, "Amen." What a falsehood the word becomes when our hearts are not in it!
2. In regard to the declaration of truth. It is given when the word comes with power. As when Chrysostom preached, the multitudes who thronged the vast church could not restrain themselves from shouts and cries and tears, so greatly were they moved. And the preaching of even false doctrine, as in the mosque at Mecca - so it has been related - yet when the people heartily believe, they are greatly moved by it, and break forth into loud cries of "Amen, amen!" under the spell of the preacher's voice, and by the power over them of the doctrines he and they alike believe. But God desires this response in regard to his truth; and again and again it has been given. At Pentecost; at Philippi, where the Lord opened the heart of Lydia, and then of the jailor; at Corinth, where Paul tells how unbelieving men came into the assembly, and, under the prophetic word, were convinced, and fell down and confessed the presence of God in their midst. But oh for much more of such response! As worship is no good without it, so neither is preaching, and nothing can compensate for it or be put in its place.
II. SINCERITY IS ESSENTIAL IN ALL OUR APPROACHES TO GOD. The word "Amen" comes from one which signifies "that which is reliable, that which can be trusted," as the massive foundation stone, the strong pillar, or other such sure support. Our Lord declares of himself, "I am the Truth;" and St. John tells of him as "the Amen," which means the same. And St. Paul tells how all God's promises are "Yea and Amen in Christ Jesus." And before his most weighty words our Lord was wont to utter his "Amen, amen," which in our versions is rendered "Verily, verily." At the end of the books of the Bible it is generally found, and everywhere it is the attestation of the truth of what has been or is to be said. And at the end of our prayers, it is as if we protested, "Lord God, I mean this." Formerly men headed their wills with the words, "In the name of God, Amen." But the meaning is ever the same - a declaration of truth and sincerity in regard to that which it precedes or follows. And hence our being commanded to say "Amen" shows God's demand for sincerity. They who worship him must worship him in truth. It is like signing our name - a thing we are very careful about in our secular affairs, knowing the responsibility it involves. Would that we were similarly thoughtful when we utter, as we often do, this solemn word "Amen"!
III. CHRIST IS THE ALONE GUARANTEE AND PLEDGE OF SUCCESS. For "Amen" is one of Christ's own names. The word was ever on his lips, and he is "the Amen." And his love and power lie underneath and behind it wherever it is sincerely uttered. It is a virtual calling upon him for his help - a call he will not disdain. If he be "the Amen" of our prayer and service, then he will make that real which we can only ask may be so. It is his endorsement of our petition. And when at length life's pilgrimage is (tone, and the shadows of our earthly days are deepening down into the night of death, if our hope and trust be in him who is "the Amen," then amidst the increasing gloom we shall see him coming to us, according to his word that so he would come; and our last word shall be, "Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus." - S.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.