Good stuff from our brother Jeremy!
Good stuff from our brother Jeremy!
Amen! Or did they? It is increasingly rare to hear a vigorous ‘amen’ at the conclusion of a corporate prayer and it has become almost non-existent to hear the congregational choir end the corporate praises of God with an ‘amen’ either sung or spoken.
Here is a good reminder from R. C. Sproul on the use of the Amen in worship.
The term amen was used in the corporate worship of ancient Israel in two distinct ways. It served first as a response to praise given to God and second as a response to prayer. Those same usages of the term are still in vogue among Christians. The term itself is rooted in a Semitic word that means “truth,” and the utterance of “amen” is an acknowledgment that the word that has been heard, whether a word of praise, a word of prayer, or a sermonic exhortation, is valid, that is, sure and binding. Even in antiquity, the word amen was used in order to express a pledge to fulfill the terms of a vow. So, this little word is one that is centered on the idea of the truth of God.
The truth of God is such a remarkable element of Christian faith that it cannot be overlooked. There are those who think that truth is negotiable or, even worse, divisive, and it therefore should not be a matter of passionate concern among believers. But if we are not concerned about truth, then we have no reason to have Bibles in our homes. The Bible is God’s Word, and God’s Word is true. It is not just true but is truth itself. This is the assessment made of it by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself (John 17:17).
Therefore, when we sing a hymn that reflects biblical truth and end it with the sung word amen, we are giving our approbation of the content of the praise in the hymn. When we have a choral “amen” at the end of the pastoral prayer, again we are emphasizing our agreement with the validity and surety of the content of the prayer itself.
Worship in biblical terms is a corporate matter. The corporate body is made up of individuals, and when an individual sounds the “amen,” the individual is connecting to the corporate expression of worship and praise. However, we are told in the Scriptures that the truths of God are “yea” and “amen” (2 Cor. 1:20), which simply means that the Word of God is valid, it is certain, and it is binding. Therefore, the expression “amen” is not simply an acknowledgment of personal agreement with what has been stated; it is an expression of willingness to submit to the implications of that word, to indeed be bound by it, as if the Word of God would put ropes around us not to strangle or retard us but to hold us firmly in place.
This morning I was reminiscing with some friends about a certain young man’s journey from adolescence to manhood. It was a transition I was blessed to see and hear in person. It had nothing to do with a sudden need to shave or a deepening voice or sprouting of muscles. It was a clear and bold statment of decision that he made. This particular young man had traveled with me to attend a youth conference where I ministered the word. One of the messages dealt with exhortations regarding practical means of growing in grace. As we discussed the meetings and this message in particular, he said to me, “I’m going to try to get up earlier so that I can make use of the means of grace”. He then paused and said to me, “I mean, I WILL get up earlier from now on to make use of the means of grace!” As a smile beamed from my face, I told the young man, “Congratultations! You just became a man.” The scriptures have no record of “I’ll try” statements from the saints, but there are many instances in which the child of God declares, “I will!” There is no arrogance in such statments and there is not the sudden forgetfulness of the war with sin and the deceitful nature of the heart, but there is the realization that if I am to be the man God has called me to be, then, by His grace, I WILL lay hold of every means available to me.
It has become popular for believers to say to unbelievers something like, “We’re really the same, I just happen to be forgiven.” Or something like, “You know, I have the same sort of heart you have…”. I know what is meant by such sentiments, but they are fundamentally false. Believers have hearts of flesh. Unbelievers have hearts of stone. Believers rejoice in the law of God after the inward man while unbelievers are not subject to the law of God and cannot be. Believers are children of God and unbelievers are children of wrath. One walks in light and the other abides in darkness.
I was sent the following devotional this morning which reminds us not only the the truth that the believer differs from an unbeliever but why this is so.
The Believer’s Daily Remembrancer by James Smith “Who maketh thee to differ from another.” 1 Cor 4:7
THERE is a wide difference between a Christian and a worldling; the one is dead in trespasses and sins, the other is alive unto God, by Jesus Christ our Lord. He has been quickened by the Son of God, is born of the Spirit, and taught by the eternal Father. He is a new creature, being created anew in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God had before ordained that we should walk in them. Who made this difference? You are at once ready to answer, if really taught of God, “By the grace of God I am what I am.” “Of His OWN WILL begat He me by the word of truth.” Yes, it was the rich, free, and sovereign grace of God, and that alone, that made you to differ. Grace was given you in Christ before the world began; and the Spirit was given you in time, that you might know and enjoy the things which are freely given unto you of God. Oh, beloved, view yourself as an infinite debtor to grace; be humble before God who has thus made you to differ; and pity, pray for, and strive to benefit those who are still without. “Look unto the rock whence you were hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence you were digged.”
What was there in you that could merit esteem, Or give the Creator delight? ‘Twas “Even so, Father,” you ever must sing, “Because it seem’d good in Thy sight!”