In Him They Are Yes
"But as God is faithful, our word to you is not yes and no. For the Son of God, Christ Jesus, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silvanus and Timothy—was not yes and no, but is yes in Him. For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes" - 2 Corinthians 1:18-20
I am not known for being a decisive person. One of the hardest parts of being a parent is constantly answering "yes or no" type questions. There is no room for qualifications when your child is asking if they do something ridiculous. In fact, there is rarely room for qualifications with children at all. Sometimes the answers must be as simple as the questions.
Recently while eating a frosty at Wendy's, Liv looked at my with her blue-gray eyes as the spoon moved from the cup to my mouth. Liv recently began to eat mashed veggies. She is a verifiable eating machine. She recognized instantly that she was not getting what dad was eating. I caved, internally said "yes," and gave her a couple tiny bites. Her mouth was not disappointed.
Later that same evening Judah walked to the stairs to get ready for bed. His milk bottle was in his hand and he looked up at me mouth prepared to ask a question. It is the same question every night — "Can you carry me?" I try to say yes as often as possible. It is invaluable time to hold him close, look him in the eyes, and talk a little before laying him in bed.
Saying "yes" to my children makes me happy. It really is that simple. As I've heard it said, in the Garden of Eden everything was "yes" except the Tree of Life. I attempt to make manifest that in parenting.
All of this reminds me of Paul's interesting dichotomous "yes and no" of 2 Corinthians. This passages had a profound impact on Karl Barth, and I sometimes wonder why it is not discussed more. Barth's apparent application of the passage to election puts him at odds with the Reformed tradition. Still, the passage seems largely ignored.
Paul's language is strange but not confusing. That "God is faithful" means that pastoral words cannot be "yes and no." This is not because God does not say "no," but because there is a more resounding "yes" found in the gospel. That is the real crux for Paul. "For the Son...preached among you" is "not yes and no." There is a tremendous, hanging "no" over us. But in Christ there "is yes in Him." To speak in a frightening way, God as Father cannot say "no" to God as Son. And thus the loud "yes" that God speaks to Jesus Christ is communicated to us. In the proclamation of Jesus Christ, the preacher of God's word can do nothing but say "yes" to the congregation.
This is not a new "yes." All the promises of God find their "yes" in Jesus Christ. God made promises unto man that were incapable of being "yes." They could only be "yes" in the God-man, Jesus Christ. God's promises to Israel could only be found as "yes" in the true Israel, Jesus Christ. Apart from their Messiah Israel is promiseless. They only hear "no." But that is not where the church finds itself. The church finds itself continuously told "yes" because of Jesus Christ. Here the Son is proclaimed. The "yes" is proclaimed.
This is analogous to my joy in saying yes to my children. The giving of ice cream to Liv. The carrying of Judah. Neither are deserving. There is no merit. Just the simple pleasure of yes. Our Heavenly Father takes great pleasure in saying "yes" to us in His Son. So also, ministers should take joy in proclaiming the word of Christ. Ministers must also protect the ministry such that God's "yes" in Jesus Christ is preached and "not yes and no."