Amen – To Say or Not to Say, Part 4of6, Pastor Phil Sessa

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1Corinthians 14:13-16 “Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray for the power to interpret. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. 15 What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. 16 Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying (– please read the whole context starting at verse 1)?

“Amen” Affirms Others in the Body

John Piper again shares, “What if someone says to Paul, “I don’t care if people say “Amen” to my prayers”? Or what if someone says, “That’s not my tradition or my personality to say anything out loud in a group”? What would Paul say? I think he would say, “This is not about personal taste. It’s not about traditions of High-Church or low-church. It’s not about culture, say, African-American culture versus Swedish-American culture. It’s about God’s will for corporate worship, rooted in age-old Biblical patterns of prayer and preaching, and captured in a word that crosses all cultures.”

It is awesome that people from different cultures can be drawn not by a sport, or music, or some hobby of sorts, but rather prayer toward the Living and true God of Heaven and Earth. This is what drew a guy from Kenya, and a guy from New York to become best of friends in prayer. It is preached and said that Jesus is a personal Lord and Savior, but where is the corporate Body of Christ in that description? Some treat Christ as if he is their own personally designed Savior, designed just for their needs and lifestyle. This is not a description of Christ, but of a genie. The identity of Christ MUST be drawn from Scripture first and foremost, not from your experience. There is participation in corporate worship on the biblical Christ that is why it is in fact corporate. America is very much about individualism and independence but Christianity is not about that. Christianity is about interdependence, whereby we are dependent upon our shepherd in the midst of our fellow sheep that Christ works through to strengthen one another. There are a host of terms such as “one another” in the Scriptures, therefore we can see that Christ works the Church, therefore we do not gather to be individualistic, and hence there would be no need then to gather. “The etymological notion underlying together is of ‘gathering’ things into onegroup. It was formed from the preposition to and the element *gad- denoting ‘association, company’, which also lies behind gather (http://www.word-origins.com).

Piper further explains, “I think Paul would say, God is calling us not to be isolated, silent, encapsulated individuals in worship. Privately coming, privately hearing, privately going, with no one able to tell what we love and cherish and long for, because we haven’t expressed resonance – an echo, an empathy – with anything. I think he would say that God is calling us out of our cocoons of emotional isolation and invisible, inaudible, unshared responsiveness. I think he would say, it’s God’s will that we echo the excellence of God in preaching and prayer – that we express our affirmation of the truth of God in the Word, and that we resonate verbally with Godward longings and yearnings in prayer. Let me mention two more reasons for making more of this than we do, and provide some practical suggestions. Consider 2 Corinthians 1:20. This is the passage that gives “Amen” its clearest and deepest meaning. “For as many as are the promises of God, in Him [that is, in Christ] they are yes [which is a translation of “amen”]; therefore, also through Him is our ‘Amen’ to the glory of God through us.” Now what Paul is doing here is precisely what I am trying to do this morning. He is taking the familiar word “Amen,” and trying to fill it back up with the theological freight that words so quickly lose, so that it has meaning and weight and power to it when we use it.”

Words lose their meaning at times over time, or the meaning changes. This all depends upon the person using the term and what they mean when they use a particular term. In the public school I work in, I fortunately and unfortunately get to hear all of the latest New York City slang, and hear firsthand concerning words. “OMG” means “Oh my God” and it is using the name of the Lord in a blasphemous manner, which I hear daily. “oh my God” used to always be used in reverence toward the Lord, however, many have simply degraded it, and take the name of the Lord in vain, thus breaking the third commandment. Let us make a BIG deal about the very words used in Scripture, such as “amen.” Let us “amen” that which the Lord would “amen” agree with. If the Lord himself would not agree then why are so many professing Christians say “amen”? I would venture to say that many don’t know the Lord, and many are biblically illiterate. I often see in churches that people don’t worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24), but rather in the flesh and in lies! Can you really sing songs such as “I surrender all”, really have you done so? Can you sing, “I am desperate for you”, yet you are more desperate for other things rather than Him? This is why Paul says, “I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.”Your mind must not become disengaged and take a back seat and allow your emotions to takes center stage. No, your mind and emotions must be side by side in the driver’s seat. When you sing this week, be mindful and emotional and worship in spirit and truth, and spirit and mind. To be continued….

Blessings, until the nets are filled…Phil, the Evangelist <><

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