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The Yes and Amen
By David A. DePra
For all the promises of God in him are yes, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.(2 Cor. 1:20)
The above passage is a clear statement to the effect that the faithfulness of God is not based in anything about US. Godís YES and AMEN is based on Himself. Or to put it another way, God Himself IS His own YES and AMEN. He IS the embodiment of faithfulness, Truth, and is the guarantee of His own purpose. To see this, and begin to rest in it, is one of the great victories of the Christian life.
So often we think that God is waiting for us to DO the right thing in order to spring Him loose on our behalf. But the trouble is, we usually donít know that that, "right thing," is. So then we get into the confusion and struggle of trying to know what we donít know, because we are afraid that until we know it, God wonít act on our behalf.
Other times we think that we are on the, "outs," with God because of our past mistakes. I am not just talking about SINS, but also mistakes of judgment that we might have, at the time, thought were Godís will. Many Christians think that there is no way they can get back into Godís will in such a case. They feel they must settle for something less.
Few Christians would openly tell God that He is unfaithful. No. But we are more than aware that WE are unfaithful. Thus, we fear that this is enough to separate us from Godís help. Sure, God still loves us, and has saved us. But the evidence seems to indicate that God isnít going to help us. And if we look in the mirror, we can see why.
Letís get something settled. We ARE unfaithful. On our best day, we trust God for what we can get out of it. If God is waiting for US to change that, we are doomed. Furthermore, all of us have made mistakes that have caused problems in our lives. So, if that is what it takes to get us out of Godís ultimate purpose, then no one is IN that purpose, and no one can get back into it. And if it is up to us to figure out what to do to get God moving, then all is lost. For there is no way for us to know what we donít know. And even if we think we know it, we cannot be sure there isnít something yet to know!
The solution here is ironic. God doesnít deny, nor does He want us to deny, the reality of any of these deficiencies. In fact, it is primary to Godís purpose that we come face to face with them. God wants us to see, and confess, that we cannot find Him if we are left to ourselves. God wants us to see that we cannot fix our mistakes. And God wants us to realize that we havenít the faith, or the obedience, or anything else about us, that can somehow, "jump start," God into action on our behalf. God WANTS us to come to see these things. Why? So that we can begin to grasp the reality of the above passage: All the promises of God are AMEN and YES in Ė who? Us? No. In Him!
You see, most of us still carry along this notion that God is looking for a YES or AMEN in US Ė and that until He finds it, we will get nowhere. But this really the opposite of the Truth. God is actually trying to bring us to where we are totally convinced that there is no YES and no AMEN to be found in us. In other words, there is absolutely NOTHING about us that we have hold up to God as a reason why He is obligated to us. NOTHING. God is obligated to us only because He has, because of His love, obligated Himself. This is exactly what the Bible means when it says that all of the promises of God find their YES and AMEN in Him.
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. (2 Cor 12:7-10)
Paul said, "When I am weak, then I am strong." He was saying that it was a good thing to be WEAK in himself, because then the power of Christ could rest upon him. But what exactly does that mean? What does Paul mean by WEAKNESS?
He doesnít mean merely physical weakness. No. God can use that to achieve the weakness Paul is describing, but physical weakness isnít the core of this teaching. He doesnít mean mental or emotional weakness Ė although certainly weakness in these things are often necessarily used of God as well. But Paul is really talking about a certain kind of SPIRITUAL weakness.
Now donít misunderstand. Paul is referring to a GOOD kind of spiritual weakness Ė one that God wants everyone to experience. Indeed, rather than this weakness being a detriment to life in Christ, it is the MEANS of power in Christ. So what kind of weakness is Paul talking about?
Paul is talking about a weakness wherein he can do NOTHING to help himself. In fact, it is a weakness wherein he can do NOTHING to help God! He meets opposition on every side. This continually keeps him in a place of total weakness Ė continually, if you will, proves to Paul that there is no YES or AMEN in him. But Paul says that rather than be defeated, it is precisely THROUGH this weakness that the power of Christ can work. Indeed, the power of Christ can work no other way.
Paul is describing a condition where he has to rely completely on the faithfulness of God. He has nothing to present to God in return, and nothing to obligate God to him. He has no way to get God moving, and no way to move for God. He is just in this thing, and has no power in himself to fight the battle, or to defeat the enemy. But it is precisely BECAUSE of this Ė because of his realization of Godís faithfulness Ė that this inability is a good thing. For it is when we come to this place of utter despair and weakness over ourselves that we begin to not only understand that every YES and AMEN is in God, but we begin to experience the true power of Christ in our lives.
The power of Christ works in us to the degree that we are weak in ourselves. We discover the YES and AMEN in God to the degree that we have seen there is no YES or AMEN in ourselves.
It is human nature to look for a YES and AMEN in ourselves. That is why God must show us we are weak, and empty us, before we will look up to God. Thus, even if we have not come to this place in our experience, God is faithful. He is trying to bring us there. This too, is just another way that Godís YES and AMEN are found only in Him. He is working towards HIS ENDS Ė even if we have no clue what they are.
Now, if you think that all I am talking about are doctrines and theological concepts, you are wrong. Those things teach us the principle, and give us an idea of what to expect, and tell us what God wants to do. But there is no way to become weak other than by becoming weak. And until we do, we wonít have the power of Christ moving in and through us.
But donít we have to have FAITH? Sure. But isnít FAITH a spiritual strength?
No. It is not. Rather, faith is the outcome of realizing that I have no strength. In other words, faith is based solely on the YES and AMEN that I discover in God.
Many Christians, because they think they are believing God, begin to put confidence in the fact that the are believing God, rather than put faith in God Himself. But this is nothing more than, "faith in my faith." No. That really isnít faith in God. Faith in God isnít confidence in my faith Ė it isnít holding up my faith as the reason why God is obligated to me. Rather, real faith in God is born out of the realization that there is nothing about me Ė no YES or AMEN Ė that I can present to God. So I simply rely on the fact that God is faithful. That is faith.
God is faithful to us even if we never believe or trust Him. Thatís right. Godís faithfulness exists completely independent of anything about us. Now, of course, if we donít turn and open to God, it will do us no good. If we have no faith, God is, in that case, not free to do certain things in our lives. But this also is Godís faithfulness Ė for He will not affirm unbelief. This would destroy us. But God is talking people who have no faith and bringing them to the place where they can have faith. Again Ė God is faithful to us even if where we begin with Him is with little or no faith. God takes the initiative.
If Godís faithfulness to us were based on our faithfulness to Him, then there would be no such thing as the grace of God. The grace of God means that God is faithful to initiate and undertake completely independent of us. He even brings us to the place where we can believe and receive. But the fact that we must then make the choice TO believe and receive doesnít mean our faithfulness is the key. No, for to believe and receive we have to see our need, and to do that involves seeing that we are totally unfaithful.
What all of this means is that in order to fully realize that Godís YES and AMEN are in Him alone, we have to come to the place where we see that there is no YES and no AMEN in us. We are then free to let go and let God. And all the glory will go to Him, and not us.
True Spiritual Power
True spiritual power is the result of reliance and surrender to the One who is the Source of it. And I will never surrender to the Source of it until I am emptied of my own strength. Again Ė spiritual power in the life of the believer is directly proportional to how weak I am in myself. Only then will I rely upon God.
God wants to bring us to the place where we are faced with what might be called, "The Big Impasse." What does that mean? It means that if God doesnít do it, it isnít going to happen. It means that if God isnít faithful, we are doomed as to the issue at hand. Most importantly, however, this IMPASSE is one that occurs IN US. We finally come to the place where we know we are totally emptied of our ability to move God, to move our circumstances, indeed, todo a thing to help ourselves. In short, we have become, "poor in spirit." We do not have what we need Ė in ourselves Ė and have no way of getting it.
For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raises the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us. (2 Cor. 1:8-10)
Paul was, "pressed out of measure, above strength." What does that mean? It means he was pressed beyond anything in himself. He found himself in a situation that he was totally unable to handle spiritually. His answer? It was all so, "that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God." That is ALWAYS the purpose.
Again Ė this is not about the physical. That might be used to do a work in us. But this is primarily about me and my relationship with God. God wants to press us beyond our ability to deal with life Ė the life of faith! But not so we might give up! No. So that we might all the more be emptied of our own strength and become weak Ė that the power of Christ might be upon us.
If we would just grasp these Truths, they would explain MUCH about what God is doing in our lives. They would explain why, when we expect that God wants to make us into spiritual giants who can lick the enemy, our flesh, and the world, it seems as if all we ever do is fail. It would tell us that we are working unto one end Ė getting strong in ourselves Ė while God is working unto another Ė to make us weak.
But you see, so many today will not hear any of this. Today what so many Christians want is AFFIRMATION. We want to be told that Christ loves us, yes, but then we make that mean that the goal of God is to spare us suffering. We want a Jesus who is a blessing machine Ė we want OUR BEST LIFE NOW! We want SUCCESS and POWER and BLESSING, oh yes, all in the name of Jesus Ė we will be careful to tack on the obligatory, "Glory to God!"
Try to bring THIS message into many churches today and they will not have it because it will eventually clear the room of all who donít want Jesus Christ. Members and money will suffer. Why? Because, in the end, this is the message of the Cross, isnít it? And the Cross is an offense to people. The last thing it does is affirm them. What it does is affirm Jesus Christ.
Remember Paulís words: "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ."? (Gal 6:14) Paul was saying, "The only thing about myself that I can glory in, is the Cross Ė for the Cross put to death everything I might glory in." In short, Paul was saying that if there is one thing to glory in, it is that we have nothing to glory in. This is not disguised pride. It is Paulís way of saying that all the glory goes to God, because God has emptied him, through the Cross, of all that he might glory in about himself. Paul is saying, "That is a wonderful thing."
It is precisely because the focus of the church is not on these Truths that there is no real power. There is lots of outward success and lots of soul power. Lots of religious power. But very little spiritual, resurrection power.
So what does God want? He WANTS US. Get that. God wants us. He wants us just the way in which Paul describes. And if we will give ourselves to Him, what we get is HIMSELF.
Do you want God Ė I mean, really? Do you want to know Him Ė to know that He alone is the Yes and Amen? Do you want the real power of Christ to rest upon you? Well, expect to be emptied of your strength in every way.
There is no other way possible because of the nature of things Ė because of where we start in Adam. Because we begin in a fallen creation as a fallen creature, we must not only acquire the things of God, we must discard the old. We have to BOTH learn and unlearn. That is why suffering is necessary to realize these things.
God is the YES and AMEN. Do I still think that there is something about me that I can present to God as a YES or AMEN? Then Iím not there yet. I still need to come into the reality of what the Bible means when it says that all of the promises of God find their YES and AMEN in Him.
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