Saturday, December 30, 2023

How Shall They Say the Amen [2023.12.30 Pastoral Letter and Hopewell Herald]

Hopewell Herald – December 30, 2023

Dear Congregation,

Last Lord’s Day, when missing some who usually help us with “[church] family worship” in the afternoon songs and singing, “The Amen” was a little thinner than expected. It occurred to me that there might have been several there who had not been present the last time we took a moment to explain why each one of us should be giving a resounding “Amen!” at the conclusion of various elements of worship.

Upon the occasion of the restoration of tabernacle worship (cf. 1Chr 16:1–3), David began the appointment of specific priests for musical service (cf. 1Chr 16:4–6). Also in his office as prophet, he wrote Psalm 105:1–15 (cf. 1Ch 16:7–22), Psalm 96 (cf. 1Chr 16:23–33), and Psalm 106 (cp. Ps 106:1, 47–48 and 1Chr 16:34–45).

But beyond this restoration of tabernacle worship, the Lord also used David to prepare for temple worship. Indeed, the great emphasis of the latter part of his reign was upon preparing not just for the building of the temple, but for temple worship (cf. 1Chr 22–29).

In my experience, we more tend to remember that David made provision for the building of the structure of the temple, but less tend to remember that his provision for its worship included instruments and assignments of Levitical families to be instrumentalists. Many do not even realize that the Spirit’s using him to pen so many of the Psalms was because he was the king who would be the primary provider (humanly speaking) of the temple worship. Although these Psalms do not appear in chronological/sequential order in the Psalter, we do know that Psalm 72 was the last.

Several things join the tabernacle-worship provision in 1Chr 16 and the temple-worship provision in the Psalms. But for our purposes, consider the endings:


1Chr 16:36 (emphasis added)

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel

From everlasting to everlasting!

And all the people said, “Amen!” and praised the Lord.

Psalm 72:18–20 (emphasis added)

Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel,

Who only does wondrous things!

And blessed be His glorious name forever!

And let the whole earth be filled with His glory.

Amen and Amen.

The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended.

The people saying the “Amen” hearkens back to the covenantal, corporate expression in Deut 27:9–26. Public worship was a covenantal ceremony. It continued to be so in the second temple, whose worship also included the amen (cf. Neh 8:6). But how do we know that the amen continues now? The plainest evidence is in 1Cor 14.

During the apostolic period, prophecies and tongues were in part (cf. 1Cor 13:8–9). They didn’t have a completed Bible yet (cf. 1Cor 13:10). So, not only were believer’s sanctification and knowledge on earth incomplete (1Cor 13:11–13), but the Bible itself had not yet been completed (1Cor 13:8–10).

So, public worship during the time of the revelatory gifts could become chaotic, which was indecent and disorderly (cf. 1Cor 14:40). As the Spirit gave direction through the apostle for the orderliness of public worship, 1Cor 14 especially addressed the issue of tongues, insisting that worship be conducted in a known language. The great reason for this is that public worship is not individual but corporate. Worship had to be conducted in a known tongue because each worshiper was expected to say “The Amen” (the definite article appears in the original) at the conclusion of an element of worship (1Cor 14:16)—especially the elements of prayer and singing (vv13–15).

This is probably the background to 2Corinthians 1:20, where it literally says “and in Him the Amen to the glory of God through us” (note, again, the definite article is in the original). It is in Jesus Christ that God has demonstrated “the Yes” of all His promises, to which we are continually responding with “the Amen” (through Jesus Christ!) in our praise.

The Prophet greater than Moses has come, and His priesthood has obsoleted the Aaronic/Levitical priesthood. Great David’s greater Son has come, and He Himself has begun building a new temple, where He is the Chief Cornerstone and makes each and every one whom He redeems into a living stone and a priest (n.b. the priesthood of all believers) who offers up spiritual sacrifices in prayer and singing (cf. 1Pet 2:4–5), as his heart is an instrument upon which the Lord plays the accompanying melody of grace (cf. Eph 5:19, cp. Col 3:16).

Though much that was anticipatory, earthly, and outwardly from Moses’s tabernacle and David’s temple has been obsoleted, worship under Christ has continued to include the “Amen” from the heart of every worshiper.

These are the reasons why each and every one of us ought to give “The Amen” at the conclusion of each prayer and each song (another reason that we must sing God’s thoughts, not ours). It may even be appropriate at the conclusion of the sermon (a reason I try to remember to end with an “amen” in the preaching). Whenever we finish a song, whenever we finish a prayer, there ought to be a thunderclap of an “Amen” from the body. This is one of the reasons that we obey God’s command to sing in a known tongue!

And if you are to give that “amen,” it gives you one more reason to make sure that you are following along in your heart as we pray, and one more reason to make sure that you are taking to heart the text of whatever we sing.

So I hope that, having taken the time to write/read this, we will increasingly do this together. The amen is not an “element” of worship in the strict sense, but it is an essential aspect of several elements of worship.

Looking forward to God’s Yes in Jesus Christ, and our Amen in Jesus Christ, as we worship together through Him,


Audio lessons to help you prepare for the Lord’s Day:

▪Theology Simply Explained — WSC12, The God Who Binds Himself to Creatures 
▪Psalm 108:1–6, “Gaining Glorious Perspective by Praise
▪Isaiah 38, “Living for Public Worship
▪James 1:19–27, “Father's Word-Work in His Children
▪Matthew 5:13–16, “Be What Christ Made You, Where Christ Put You
▪Leviticus 22, “Statutes for Safely Drawing Near to Holiness in Our Substitute

LORD'S DAY – December 31, 2023 

9:50 a.m. Breakfast Line Opens

10 a.m. Sabbath School
Chapter 8 of the book Battleplan for the Mind: choosing specific subjects for meditation, including various subtopics within each of the main subjects.

11 a.m. Public Worship

Children’s Catechism for December 31
Q73. What are the ten commandments sometimes called? The Decalogue.

Shorter Catechism for December 31
Q12. What special act of providence did God exercise toward man in the estate wherein he was created? When God had created man, He entered into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of perfect obedience; forbidding him to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon pain of death.
[WSC 12 Simply Explained: “
The God Who Binds Himself to Creatures”]

Memory Verse for December 31, Matthew 5:16, Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Songs for December 31 morning service: 
ARP108A “God, My Heart Is Steadfast” [mp3]
ARP40A “I Waited for the Lord” [mp3]
TPH469 “Who Are These Like Stars Appearing” [mp3]

Scripture Text for first portion of worship service
Psalm 108:1–6

Scripture Readings and basis for confession of sin and petition for help
Isaiah 38
James 1:19–27

Sermon Scripture text and topic
We will be hearing the sermon from Matthew 5:13–16 on “Be What Christ Made You, Where Father Put You

Lord’s Supper! (Please see the section at the end of the Worship Booklet on how rightly to prepare for and take it).

1 p.m. Coffee Fellowship and Catechism Class

1:30 p.m. Fellowship Lunch
Memory Verse for December 31, Matthew 5:16, Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

3:00 p.m Evening Praise and Preaching
We will be singing at least ten Psalm selections and hearing the sermon from Leviticus 22 on “Sanctity of Sanctity


Hopewell this Month

Hopewell’s Presbytery Prayer Focus for December
Lincoln Memorial ARP in Fayetteville, TN

Hopewell’s Presbytery Prayer Focus for January
Madison-Monrovia ARP in Madison, AL

December Psalm of the Month
ARP40A I Waited for the Lord

January Psalm of the Month
ARP99B The Lord Is King Indeed

Upcoming Events

Wednesday, January 3, Midweek Prayer Meeting. 6:30 p.m. in the Chapel. We will hear a sermon from Romans 10:9–13 then pray until just before 8 p.m.
• Thursday, January 11, Session Meeting, 6p.m. in the Fellowship Hall.
• Saturday, January 27, Men’s (and future men) breakfast, 7a in the Fellowship Hall

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