2 Corinthians 1:20

"All the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory."

Today we finish our yearlong study of the major doctrines of the Christian faith as they are summarized in the Heidelberg Catechism (HC). We have arrived finally at question and answer 129, the concluding question and answer of the catechism. It is a fitting place to end our study, as the question and answer before us deal with the "little word 'Amen,'" which is used throughout Scripture to conclude the prayers of the people of God (1 Chron. 16:36; Ps. 41:13; Rom. 11:36).

Our English term amen is a direct transliteration from the Greek and Hebrew, and it means something like "let it be so" or "it is true and sure." Essentially, it is a word of affirmation that is spoken to confirm the veracity of the prayer or confession to which it is appended. Although the word amen does not appear in either version of the Lord's Prayer given to us in the Gospels (Matt. 6:9–13; Luke 11:2–4), the church was certainly wise to incorporate it into the liturgical use of the Lord's Prayer because the Word of God so often uses amen at the end of prayers and doxologies. By saying "amen" at the end of the Lord's Prayer and every prayer that we model according to its structure, we are expressing our confidence that God surely hears our prayer and will respond according to His sovereign will.

The term amen is also typically uttered when we conclude a recitation of the Apostles' Creed or the Nicene Creed. When we say "amen" at the close of a creed, we are adding further affirmation to what we have confessed. We are saying, "Yes, we surely believe in everything that we have just confessed." As Christians, this means we are acknowledging that we are sinners who have fallen far short of God's glory (Rom. 3:23; 5:12–21; HC 1–11). Confessing "amen" means that we believe the triune God saves us through Christ alone, not on account of anything that we have done but solely on account of His good pleasure (Eph. 2:8–9; Heb. 9:13–14; HC 12–53, 59–64). In saying "amen," we affirm that God unites us to Christ and His church, sustaining our faith through the preached Word and the sacraments (1 Cor. 10:16; 12:12–31; HC 54–58, 65–80). Thus, we are equipped to serve the Lord in gratitude for our salvation, seeking God's help in constant, effectual prayer (Eph. 2:10; 1 Thess. 5:17; HC 81–129). May we say "amen" to this confession to the end of our days, that we would die in faith and see the Lord's eternal glory.

Coram Deo

The Christian faith is simple enough for anyone to grasp and yet so rich that a lifetime of study will not exhaust our need to plumb the depths of our holy religion as it is revealed in sacred Scripture. As we seek to serve God, let us be ever aware of how much more we need to know about our Creator and His work so as to keep us from taking pride in our own knowledge. Let us also use our understanding of the faith to promote the gospel and worship our holy Lord in true humility.

For Further Study