The Sound of a Great Amen

H. A. Tickner, Muswell Hill

The word Amen is probably heard and used as much, if not more, than any other word in religious circles around the world.

Its setting and expression in Scripture is of real meaning and instruction, and will bring rich reward in its study. The best place of commencement will be to note its setting in the grammar. In English, we find Roget's Thesaurus is of help, as he embraces "Amen" in his treatise of the word "assent" using it, a) as a verb "to endorse", b) as an adjective "agreed", i.e. "carried by acclamation", c) as an adverb "be it so", "so be it", "Let it be", d) as a noun "avowal" lit. "confession of faith". In the Hebrew text, omain-"that which is true", "faithful", and would be used to confirm anything as spoken by Deity, giving the affirmation to divine truth; spoken and as by man, tantamount to an oath. In Greek, W. E. Vine, in his excellent dictionary, states that "Amen", as spoken by God, is of an authoritative force, "it is, and shall be so", and as spoken by man in the ready response of assent, "so let it be". From these observations, it is interesting to see that the word is transliterated from the Hebrew into both the Greek and English grammar, and can thus be seen, as used by God, bringing in the force of His steadfast and final authority, as displayed in the following references. Deut. 7, 9 "The faithful (lit. the Amen) God, keepeth covenant and mercy"; Isa. 65. 16 "The God of Truth" (margin "The God of Amen"), Psa. 19. 7 "The testimony of the Lord is sure (Amen)".

When used by man, his Amen is in the ready assent of "so let it be", Deut. 27. 15-26, and in its repetition marks the declared acknowledgment of the people to the law and its penalty; whilst in 1 Chronicles 16. 36 "Amen" seals the thanksgiving in uplifted praise to God.

In His earthly ministry "Amen" is used by Christ, some ninety nine times; here it is instructive to note that number nine is the Bible numeral signifying "finality". John in his gospel, records in chapters 1. 51 to 21. 18, twenty five occasions where the word is translated from the Aramaic into the double setting of "verily, verily". Having considered a little of the grammatical setting of "Amen", let us now observe four major areas of use as it appears in Scripture.

The AMEN of gracious AFFIRMATION. In this context there are some fifty mentions in the gospels, falling mainly into two streams bringing in a sure confirmation of-a) LIFE, having its anchor in the promise of Christ Himself, John 5. 24, so that to the one who "hears and believes", the present possession of eternal life is ratified in the positive affirmation of "verily, verily"; b) LAUGHTER and JOY, Job 8. 21; Psa. 126. 2 in and beyond the tears, laments and sorrows of the pilgrim path, is the sure anchor of the Master's "verily, verily", bringing His moment by moment indwelling peace; which is the very essence of joy, John 14. 27, and the assured hope of eternal joy, when all sorrow shall be turned into joy, 16. 20.

The AMEN of grateful ADORATION, Rev. 1. 5-6. "To Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever, Amen." Why such an uplift of praise with its resounding note of "so let it be"? Surely the redeemed, in their acknowledgment of the threefold ground upon which they now stand in the richness of His grace, cannot do more! First, the embrace of LOVE, "unto Him that loved us", (agaponti loving; set as it is, in the perfect continuous tense), thus bringing the reality of a moment by moment love, standing not only as it does in the text "from eternity to eternity" but love that comes from the One "who is"-present tense, w. 4, 8-to uphold and undertake for His people in every circumstance and situation of life. Second, He has "LOOSED-lusanti, us from our sins in His own blood"; here is displayed the twofold aspect of "cleansing", washed, "us from all sin", 1 John 1. 7 and liberating us out of sin's dominion, Rom. 6. 14, lit. "sin shall not lord it over you". Then the third cause for adoration is the elevation of the saints, they have been LIFTED as "kings and priests" to the lofty privilege and responsibility to-a) worship to God in heaven as a "holy priesthood", 1 Pet. 2. 5 and b) witness before the world as a royal priesthood, v. 9. Little wonder such provision, power and placement brings from the redeemed, "unto Him" the glad "Amen".

The AMEN of glorious ANNUNCIATION, Rev. 3. 14. Of all the mentions of the word Amen in Scripture, none stands out in all its supremacy, as that displayed and pronounced in the title given to the Head of the Church, as He stands in Laodicea. Let it be noticed that the title is prefixed with the definite article, Christ alone is THE AMEN! He alone, is "the faithful and true witness", in Him is the display of divine authority and action! To Him is the distinction of Head and Chief, of, and before all things. In this character, is not the beloved one seen, as He stands, the Head of all knowledge, in the midst of "the seven golden lampstands"-assemblies-Rev. 1. 12-13. He is, for Ephesus, "the Amen that holdeth", 2. 1-for Smyrna "the Amen" that is alive, 2. 8-for Pergamos, "the Amen" of discernment, Heb. 4. 12-for Thyatira "the Amen" of penetrating eyes, Rev. 2. 18-for Sardis "the Amen" of fulness and completeness, in and through the diversified attributes and activities of the One Spirit, 3. 1-for Philadelphia "the Amen" of administration, central in all life and service, 3. 7-8-for Laodicea, calling for repentance and return, 3. 19.

The AMEN of glad ANTICIPATION Rev. 22. 20. Here in the finality of Scripture, we see "the Amen", standing in unchangeable truth and saying "surely I am coming quickly". The perfect tense in the text denoting the ever present anticipation in the heart of the Divine Husbandman, who with great patience longs for the moment of gathering His harvest home, James 5. 7. In the light of that event what response should there be in the life and longing of His Church? Should not the last Bible portrait of the One who testifies; the last Bible promise He makes "I am coming", produce from the redeemed the last prayer in the Bible, "Amen, even so come Lord Jesus"?

The true heart of faith must be surely stirred anew at the closing portrait linked with the promises of the One displayed in the divine documents, standing as "He who testifies". Together with the beloved disciple John, we hear His thrice repeated promise, linked with His threefold character in relation to His return for His Church, a) Revelation 22. 7 unfolds in its context, One who is the Sovereign Lord, calling for obedience from His people, as He cries "Blessed is he that keeps the sayings of the prophecy of this book", b) v. 12 sets the speaker as the Master, coming to issue His reward and merit, upon the labour of life and service "my reward is with me, to give", cf. 1 Cor. 3. 13-15. c) v. 20 is the human Jesus, as He is seen in v. 16, "I Jesus, who testify". To John, and to His people, He is beheld at the close of Scripture in a character of preciousness and loveliness that stands alone and supreme, for above all glories that rightly belong to the Beloved One, none will enrapture the affections of the saints, and engage their heart worship, than that which Stephen saw "the glory of God, and Jesus (the Son of Man) standing on the right hand of God", Acts 7. 55-56.

The closing portrait "He" and final promise, "Surely I am coming quickly" present the challenge of the last prayer, that must mark the response of the Church, in her longing - looking - living, for her Redeemer to return. "Amen, even so come Lord Jesus."