But as God is faithful, our word to you was not Yes and No. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me, Silvanus, and Timothy—was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes. For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. 2 CORINTHIANS 1:19-22
We love to hear “Yes.” President Obama ran his campaign on the power of positivity in his slogan of “Yes we can.” It was a great slogan. It was very effective. It is a message of hope that we heard and want to believe. We want to believe that we can.
I like the empowerment the slogan delivers. I like to believe I can do things. I like to believe I have potential. I also know that God has an even better slogan. It’s not “Yes, we can.” Rather is “Yes, Jesus can.” You see the most important things in life are things that I cannot accomplish. They are things that only Jesus can.
You know what it is like to struggle with life’s great questions and to wrestle with horrible fears. All these fears are rooted in sin and overcome you when you are without your sacred Champion. You can find your yes to life in Christ Jesus. Because in Christ, it is yes to everything.
YES, TO EVERYTHING
The Bible has 365 promises. That is one for every day of the year. How can they possibly all be true? The Holy Spirit, through Paul, said, “all the promises of God find there Yes” through Christ (2 Cor. 1:19). That is our confidence—that everything from God is guaranteed in Christ. God’s promises are trustworthy. “God is not a man that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?” (Num. 23:19). Titus 1:2 tells us we have the hope of eternal life promised before the ages began by God who never lies.
The Old Testament is filled with promises which are fulfilled in Christ. God promised Satan that the “offspring of woman” would bruise Satan’s head—Gen. 3:15. God promised a Suffering Servant who would bear the sins of his people. Through Isaiah, the Holy Spirit said, “Surely, he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Is. 53:4-6). God promised that “the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established” (Is. 2:2). He promised that the law would go forth from Zion (Is. 2:3). Romans 15:8 tells us that Christ was given to confirm the promises to the patriarchs. So Christ is the guarantee of all Gods promises. He is what makes them possible. He is what makes them be Yes rather than no.
Because God has so blessed us in Christ, we are able to worship. Paul said, “that is why it is through him we utter our Amen to God for his glory” (1:20). To say “Amen” is to say that you are in agreement with ____ and want ____ to come to pass. So it is fitting at the end of our prayers that we say, “Amen” because we are in agreement with what has been said and we want the prayer to come to be. But we have to be careful when we say “Amen.” Whatever we are in agreement with is to be “for his glory.” We are not to say Amen to something for our own glory, rather our prayers, our worship, and all our lives are to be for his glory. When we are thinking correctly, we will only agree with what will bring God glory.
The text expects the worshipers to be those who seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. The text expects us to pray for God to be glorified above all things. But how can our prayer life be focused on God’s glory? Isn’t prayer focused on us? How can we find a yes to all our prayers? Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.” Many of our prayers are replied to in the negative because we are praying for ourselves rather than God’s glory. Our “Yes” is in Christ. Our “No” is in ourselves. We can only be confident when we pray for God to be glorified.
WHAT IS GOD GIVING US?
We could get lost searching the rich promises of God which are fulfilled in Christ, but Paul has listed a few of the blessings which summarize the promises. First, the Bible says “it is God who establishes us with you in Christ” (1:21). Psalm 65:6 tells us that God has “established the mountains in his strength.” This is the same strength Christians enjoy in Christ. The Greek word used here (βεβαιῶν) means “to put something beyond doubt” (BDAG). Christian, God said that your salvation is made beyond doubt in Christ.
Christians have been “anointed.” The word “Christ” is a Greek word that means “anointed.” So to say that Christians have been anointed simply to say that we are Christians. But what is this anointing? The word χρίσας is used “in a figurative sense of an anointing by God setting a person apart for a special service under divine direction” (BDAG). The word is typically used of Christ who was anointed with the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:38 for the work prepared for him to do. The same word is also used to describe God choosing the prophets and kings of the Old Testament for their work. Now we Christians have been anointed for God’s work. We have been set apart by God for God. We have been given work to do (Matt. 28:19-20). We are able to do this great work through God who has “strengthened” or “established” us and who has sealed us as his own by the Holy Spirit himself.
Christians have also been sealed with the guarantee of the Holy Spirit. Paul said that God through Christ has “put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” To be sealed is to have “a means of identification” from God. Just like when we have leftovers and write our name on the box so no one else will get it, God has marked us with the Holy Spirit so that the Devil knows we are Gods and to remind us that we belong to God. Isaiah 44:5 spoke of people who wrote on their hands “I am the Lord’s.” This is the same concept, but its not us who write on our hearts, it is God who sends his Holy Spirit to our hearts to identify us.
For our benefit, God has also given us the Holy Spirit in our hearts as a “guarantee” or “down payment.” One of the options for translating this word ἀρραβῶνα is “first installment” (BDAG). We see the same description of the Holy Spirit in the believer in 2 Corinthians 5:5 and Ephesians 1:14. In Ephesians 1:14, the Bible used the “first installment” concept to describe how we are blessed with fellowship with God now but are waiting for the full enjoyment of that fellowship. Paul wrote that the Holy Spirit “is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”
This text helps us to see that we are to trust in God rather than ourselves. Even very religious Christian people can become self-centered. We talk about what we have to do, what we have done, our successes, and our failures. Where is God in all that self-centered self-talk? Instead, we ought to recognize what God has done for us and through us so we can praise him for those things. This will help us to deal with our weaknesses because in them we see greater opportunity for God to shine. When we are amazed at what God has done, we won’t be overly discouraged or impressed with what we have done.
“Yes, we can” reflects on what we can do for ourselves. “Yes, Jesus can” reflects on what Jesus has done for us because we could never do it for ourselves. We have heard “yes we can” and realized that we can’t without Jesus. Why not let Jesus now?