Word for Word 6/12/24

Pastor Abraham Faugstad
Pastor Abraham Faugstad

Jesus: Our Strong Bridge

An expert in the Law once asked Jesus what he must do to be saved. That is the wrong question to be asking. Scripture makes it clear that we cannot earn God’s favor by our will or efforts. We can’t save ourselves. Paul explains, “Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified” (Galatians 2:16). Have you ever felt as if you didn’t live up to God’s expectations? Do you beat yourself up for your sins and mistakes? Take comfort in knowing that you are not saved by your works, but by Christ alone. Instead of asking, what must I do to be saved, the better question is: “What has Jesus done so that we could be saved?” Everything! Jesus has lived a perfect life for you. Jesus suffered for all your sins on the cross. Jesus “was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification” (Romans 4:25). Our redemption is complete. Now Jesus simply says, “Believe it. Believe in me and you will be saved. I have done it all. I offer you eternal life.”

We are saved completely by God’s grace through faith in Christ. But it can be a temptation to think that Christ has done his part of the work and now I must do the work of believing. It’s true that we must believe to be saved, but faith - believing in Christ - is a gift of God. What’s more, the power of faith is not faith itself. The power is found in the object of our faith, which is Jesus.

On our recent family vacation, we drove over the Mackinac Bridge, which connects the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan. The bridge is nearly five miles long. As we were approaching the colossal bridge, we couldn’t help talking about the Baltimore bridge collapse and what we would do if this bridge failed when we were on it. Yet, as we finally got to the bridge and started to cross it, I was comforted by how large and well-constructed it was. The bridge could easily carry my van and the hundreds of vehicles around me. We made it across - twice! So, what saved us from falling? Was it the strength of my faith in the bridge? No. You would sound like a crazy person to say, “The power of my faith allowed me to cross the bridge.” Instead, it was the strong bridge that allowed for safe passage. This same truth applies to faith. The power of faith is not faith itself, but the object of our faith, which is Christ. I am not saved because of my great faith—that misses the point. We are saved because we have a great Savior—who died for our sins.

You can have all the faith in the world, but it will save you from nothing if you don’t have faith in Jesus. Yet, you can have the tiniest and weakest faith and have everything, heaven itself, if your faith is in Jesus. Even weak faith is saving faith. This is why we don’t talk about how strong or how weak of a faith we have. Instead, we talk about Christ and his strength. We are comforted not by looking at ourselves, but at the strong bridge - our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

We don’t strengthen our faith by talking about our faith. We strengthen our faith by talking about Christ and looking to him. So, when you are troubled and worried about your sins, don’t look at yourself and whether or not you will be saved. Instead, look to Jesus. Trust in his promises. Christ is our bridge to our heavenly home, and he will never fail us! Amen.

Pastor Abraham Faugstad
King of Grace Lutheran Church ELS, Waukon and Trinity Lutheran Church