by Michael Schuermann
“What does this mean? This means that I should be certain that these petitions are pleasing to our Father in heaven, and are heard by Him; for He Himself has commanded us to pray in this way and has promised to hear us. Amen, amen means ‘yes, yes, it shall be so.'” (Luther’s Small Catechism)
In terms of confessing your faith, there’s little that you can say that is more powerful than this simple little word. When Jesus uses the word “Amen,” it brings the full weight of the authority of God’s will with it. When Jesus uses the word “Amen” there should be no doubt; what He says is and will be. (In fact, “amen” is often translated into English as “truly.”)
“Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matt. 18:18). The pronouncement or withholding of forgiveness in Jesus’ name is true; it is reality.
“Amen, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it” (Luke 18:17). A faith that trusts completely in Christ’s gift and promise of salvation is what receives eternal life with God.
“Amen, amen, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). One is made a member – a citizen – of heaven through the Word-water birth of Holy Baptism.
“Amen, amen, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin” (John 8:34).
“Amen, amen, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death” (John 8:51).
“Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life” (John 6:47).
What sure and certain promises Christ speaks to us over and over in His Word! And these are just the tip of the iceberg. Every time Jesus utters “amen,” we know that the next words are significant and well worth paying attention to; the words that follow are truth and spirit and life.
But then Jesus gives this same word of truth to us! He instructs us to say “amen,” particularly when He teaches us to pray. Putting it into our mouths, He transforms this word into one that confesses our faith. Jesus teaches us to use the word “amen” to voice our sure and certain confidence that all of the things He speaks to us are true.
Our brothers and sisters in Christ who have come before us recognized the wonderful testimony of faith that’s contained in this simple word. They took this word and flooded the liturgy with it. Consider how many opportunities each of us is given in every Divine Service to boldly confess our faith in God’s promises:
- Our Triune God’s Name is upon us as we gather to receive His gifts? “Amen.”
- God’s pastor declares to us that our sins are forgiven before God? “Amen.”
- We pray the Lord to have mercy upon us? And pray again and again? “Amen.”
- We praise God using the angels’ song of glory at Christ’s incarnation? “Amen.”
- We confess our faith through the summary of Scripture, the Creed? “Amen.”
- We hear the blessed Word of God applied to us in the sermon? “Amen.”
- We pray to God to continue to uphold us in His grace in the Offertory? “Amen.”
- We offer up our thanksgiving in the Preface, Sanctus and Lord’s Prayer? “Amen.”
- We hear our Lord’s words announcing His Supper for us, for forgiveness? “Amen.”
- We pray to Christ the Lamb of God, now present on the altar to feed us? “Amen.”
- We receive the Body? “Amen.” We receive the Blood? “Amen.”
- We declare to the Lord our readiness to now depart and be with Him? “Amen.”
- We have the Lord’s name and blessing put upon us in the Benediction? “Amen.”
The “amen” that Christ gives to us is powerful. It is our testimony to His forgiveness, love, life and salvation; all of these are His gifts for and to us.
From now on, loudly say and sing “Amen!” The word is a gift from Christ to you. Teach it to the visitor. Teach it to the children. Teach it to one another. Boldly confess the truth of all that Christ has done for you. Yes, yes, it shall be so. In fact, it is.