Word for Word 4/5/23

Pastor Abraham Faugstad
Pastor Abraham Faugstad

Everlasting Hope

I’ve had a number of conversations with people who aren’t Christians but are sympathetic to Christianity. Usually, the conversation goes, “I don’t necessarily believe there is a God, but I think it’s great you can give people some hope in their lives.”

Maybe you know someone who thinks this way or find yourself thinking that way about religion. Many are dismissive of Christianity because they think that it is simply made up. They think Jesus wasn’t real or that he was simply a good person, a moral example, certainly not the Savior that the Bible claims Him to be.

The Apostle Paul addresses this in his First Letter to the Corinthians. He writes, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable” (I Corinthians 15:19). If Jesus is just a salve for our daily troubles, something to be happy about in this fallen world, a moral example, “we are of all men the most pitiable!”

Thankfully, Paul doesn’t end his letter with that verse! Instead, he goes on to describe why the Christian can have hope. I’m not talking about a wishful desire, but a true and certain hope. We can have hope because the Bible is true. It’s proved itself to be true.

Jesus fulfilled all the Old Testament prophecies about Himself. Is this just coincidence? Jesus kept all His promises as well - including that He would suffer and die, and rise again. We are not the most pitiable among people because Jesus did rise! Paul writes, “But now Christ is risen from the dead.”

Like those on the first Easter, who spread lies that Jesus’ disciples stole his body, there will always be those who question the resurrection. Certainly, we should point them to the truth that Jesus is as historically verifiable as is Julius Caesar.

Jesus suffered a gruesome death as Isaiah 53 foretold, a fact which was later recorded by non-Christian historians like Josephus and Tacitus. We could also point to the eyewitness testimony of the disciples, His appearing to over 500 people in a forty-day span, and other writings of Roman historians. How else do you explain the radical transformation of the scared disciples huddled in a room on Easter morning, compared to those who would rather lay down their life than deny their Lord?

Yet, the Christian faith is more than just knowing what Jesus did but believing that He did it for you. It means to put our trust in Jesus. He has saved us from our sins against God and our neighbor. For our sins we deserved death and hell. Jesus came into this world so that He could live in our place, living a perfect life. He died on the cross so that he could take the punishment we deserve. Jesus rose from the dead so that we might have the hope, the certainty of eternal life.

Jesus’ empty tomb means hope for you! The empty tomb means that God loves you for Jesus’ sake. It means that God keeps his promises. Jesus does not just offer hope for this life, but for the life to come. Jesus said, “Because I live, you will live also.” May God grant you true hope this Easter and always, as we focus on what the empty tomb means for you!

Pastor Abraham Faugstad
King of Grace Lutheran Church, Waukon
Trinity Lutheran Church, Calmar