Thursday, June 15, 2017

All God’s Promises are “Yes” in Christ

https://www.flickr.com/photos/fusion_of_horizons/6075547752/
But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not “Yes” and “No.” For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us — by me and Silas and Timothy — was not “Yes” and “No,” but in him it has always been “Yes.” For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (2 Corinthians 1:18-22)
There are several things that stand out for me about this passage. First is that Paul is speaking of all the promises of God. “No matter how many promises God has made” is a statement that includes every one of God’s promises. But when were these promises made, and where? Surely, Paul has in mind everything God promised in the Old Testament Scriptures. These promises are not just a few scattered here and there in the Scriptures. The whole movement of the Old Testament is one of promise, and is summed up in God’s big promise to bless all the nations and families of the earth through Abraham.

Every one of God’s promises in the Old Testament is answered in Christ. If that is so, then it seems to me that they must all be about Christ. And if that is so, then I find in that one more indication of how we ought to read the Old Testament: it is about Christ. Indeed, Christ taught his disciples that the Scriptures are about him, and this is how Paul and the other New Testament authors understood them.

All these promises are answered in Christ with a big, fat “Yes.” People waffle. People qualify their “yes” with “no.” People say “maybe.” And with people, it is often hard to know where you stand. No so with God. In Christ, he has made it very clear where we stand with him, and it is an unqualified, unconditional “Yes.”

Christ is God’s “Yes” to us all, for by his Incarnation, Christ joined himself to us all and became one with us all. Christ is God’s faithfulness to his promise to Abraham to bless all the earth. God’s “Yes” redounds to us all not because of anything that we have done but because of Christ’s union with us.

Paul says that it is God who makes us stand firm in Christ. This is nothing of our own doing; it is the faithfulness of God in Christ. It is God who has anointed us, even as he anointed Christ with his Spirit. It is God who has put his Spirit in our hearts. And it is God who has set his seal on us, demonstrating that, Yes, we are his people. We contributed nothing at all to this, not even our faith, but it is Christ’s faithfulness that has done this for us.

Not only is Christ God’s “Yes” to us but he is also our “Yes” to God. “Through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God.” It is through our union with Christ, and the Spirit of Christ within us, that we can say “Yes” and “Amen” to God.

This “Amen” is not what has caused us to be union with Christ. We are in union with Christ not because of our faith but because of his Incarnation. But by our “Amen,” we say “Yes” to this union. It is the faith by which we embrace this union, recognizing the truth of it and giving ourselves over to it. The “Amen” we speak is the echo of God’s “Yes” to us through Christ and his Spirit, and is offered to God through Christ and the Spirit.

Both God’s “Yes” and our “Amen” are the work of the Trinity — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — bringing to pass what God promised long ages ago. This is the divine fellowship we have been brought into through Christ, and God in his love is graciously waking us up to it.