Nate Mirza: The Completeness of God’s Forgiveness

Nate Mirza, staff member with International Student Ministry, has done a Bible study on “The Completeness of God’s Forgiveness.” With his permission, his 24 scripture word pictures on God’s forgiveness are listed below. I think you will appreciate God’s action verbs. Following Nate’s list is a video of the Revelation song by Philips, Craig and Dean. To each of you, a blessed Good Friday and Happy Easter, as together we rejoice in being under complete forgiveness because of Jesus.

Here is a headshot of Nate Mizra. He looks very happy, smiling, a man with wrinkles around his eyes, bald on top but grey hair above ears. He also sports a grey beard and mustache. He is wearing a blue suit jacket, black tie and white shirt.
Nate Mizra

Nate Mirza: “The forgiveness of sins is central to the good news of Jesus Christ. It is unique compared to other religions in that the cross and the resurrection of Christ provide a complete treatment for sin, and therefore the receiver of this treatment can have assurance of sins forgiven. In every other religious system, there is no full assurance because one never knows if enough has been done to earn forgiveness….

In the good news of Jesus, man can never do enough to pay for his sins. Not only was Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins complete and sufficient, his ongoing ministry as our eternal high priest is also complete and sufficient:

… because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them….Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for sins once for all when he offered himself” (Hebrews 7:23-27, NIV).

Since God made such a great sacrifice of his own sinless Son, in order to forgive our sins that we may come into a right relationship with him, he lets us know how important our salvation is to him. He uses a variety of word pictures [in the Bible] to describe how he has dealt with our sins. So far I have found 24. They include our sins being:

1.  Atoned for – “With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin is atoned for.” (Isaiah 6:7 NIV, and 1 John 2:2, Ex. 30:10, Lev. 5:6-18, Rom. 3:25, Heb. 2:17);

2.  Blotted out – “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” (Isaiah 43:25);

3.  Cleansed – “I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against me and will forgive all their sins of rebellion against me.” (Jeremiah 33:8; and Psalm 51:2, Ezk.36:33, Zech.13:1, Eph. 5:25, 26, Heb.10:22, 2 Peter 1:9);

4.  Covered – “Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.”  (Psalm 32:1;  and Psalm 85:2, Romans 4:7);

5.  Forgiven – “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’ – and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” (Psalm 32:1, 5; and Acts 2:38; 3:19, Ephesians 1:7);

6.  Forgotten – “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34);

7.  Hurled into the depths of the sea – “You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:19);

Here is a close up of a dogwood branch with two blossoms, both white with four petals each and their centers a burst of mini green buds. The petals are tinged with a little purple.8.  Made white like snow or wool “‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”‘ (Isaiah 1:18);

9.  Not counted – “Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.” (Psalm 32:2, and Job 14:16);

10.  Paid for – “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.”  (Isaiah 40:2);

11.  Pardoned – “Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.” (Isaiah 55:7, and Jeremiah 33:8, Luke 6:37);

12.  Passed over –    “…whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed.” (Romans 3:25);

13. Purged – And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.”  (Isaiah 6:7, (NKJV);

14.  Purified – “After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” (Hebrews 1:3, and Isaiah 1:18, Num. 8:21, Acts 15:9, 1 Peter 1:22-23, 1 John 1:7);

15.  Put behind his back – “Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back.”  (Isaiah 38:17);

16.  Removed – “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12);

17.  Set free – “For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that The dogwood branch is bursting with many white blossoms, four petals each, with green centers of mini buds. Tinged on each white petal is a little bit of purple.those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance–now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.” (Hebrews 9:15);

18.  Sprinkled – “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10:22, and 9:13-14);

19.  Swept away – I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.”  (Isaiah 44:22);

20.  Taken away – “Then David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’ Nathan replied, ‘The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the Lord show utter contempt, the son born to you will die.’”  (2 Samuel 12:13-14,  and Isaiah 6:7, Zechariah 3:4, 1 John 2:1-2 (NLT);

21.  Trodden under foot – “You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins under foot and hurl our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:19);

22.  Washed – “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” (Psalm 51:2, and 1 Corinthians 6:11, Hebrews 10:22, Revelation 7:14);

23.  Wiped out – “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you-even Jesus.” (Acts 3:19);

24.  God’s face hidden from them – “Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity” (Psalm 51:9, NIV).

A Filipino once told the late Cardinal Jaime Sin of Manila, that she had a word from the Lord for him. He couldn’t be bothered, but she kept badgering him. To get rid of her he asked her to ask the Lord to reveal a particular sin in his life. Later, she came back.

“Did you ask the Lord?” he inquired.

“Oh yes,” she said.

“Oh no!” he replied. “What sin was it? “

She answered, “God said he didn’t remember.”

 

Soap talk–It’s Crazy!

Someone close to me suggests I stop overusing the word crazy. Because this person is wise, I am zipping lips–a little. However, I just read that actress Jessica Alba’s eco-friendy soap company has a subcontractor that may have slipped a “no-no” chemical into green products for quite some time. No one in the company hierarchy admits the oopsie. It happened under the brand name “Honest.” (Ha, ha, are you tempted to say that crazy word?)

And then there’s our presidential candidates and the campaign circus. Exactly what are they selling, and can we believe any of them? They are mean-spirited. I hear the sound of marching boots. It makes me want to get a little Honest soap and wash out some lying mouths. It’s, um, crazy. No, I mean sad.Book jacket of Tinkers by Paul Harding, small figure in a wintry white world with a few bare trees on each side.

Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Harding, in his book Tinkers, gave me a chuckle this week with his dialog between soap peddler Howard and a farmer’s wife. Leave it to the rural woman to point out some sort of common sense. I certainly hope she and kindred spirits vote in the November election. Here is the excerpt from Tinkers, used with permission.

Saleman selling silverware to farm woman

The stubbornness of some of the country women with whom Howard came into contact on his daily rounds cultivated in him,…unshakable, reasoning patience.

When the soap company discontinued its old detergent for a new formula and changed the design on the box the soap came in, Howard had to endure debates he would have quickly conceded, were his adversaries not paying customers.

Where’s the soap?

This is the soap.

The box is different.

Yes, they changed it.

What was wrong with the old box?

Nothing.

Why’d they change it?

Because the soap is better.

The soap is different?

Better.

Nothing wrong with the old soap.

Of course not, but this is better.

Nothing wrong with the old soap. How can it be better?

Well, it cleans better.

Cleaned fine before.

This cleans better–and faster.

Well, I’ll just take a box of the normal soap.

This is the normal soap now.

I can’t get my normal soap?

This is the normal soap; I guarantee it.

Well, I don’t like to try a new soap.

It’s not new.

Just as you say, Mr. Crosby. Just as you say.

Well, ma’am, I need another penny.

Another penny? For what?

The soap is a penny more, now that it’s better.

I have to pay a penny more for different soap in a blue box? I’ll just take a box of my normal soap.”

Copyright © 2009 Bellevue Literary Press

Why Did God Take Beautiful Joey Feek?

I discovered Joey and Rory Feek after the country singers were nominated this year for a Grammy Award for best country duo/group performance.  The duo’s seventh studio album, Hymns That Are Important to Us, was released February 12. It was a pleasant surprise to find their music. But recently, thousands of fans and I had to ask, “Why did God take beautiful Joey Feek?”

The talented woman, age 40, had a two-year-old daughter, two step daughters, and a loving husband. Many in the country music community were praying for her, including queen Dolly Parton. But March 4, Joey’s struggle with cervical cancer ended. She lovingly expressed her “see you later” to family and friends. Then, under hospice home care, morphine helped to ease Ms. Feek’s pain until her last breath to freedom.

IMG_2230
Rory and Joey with Indiana in August (from the Feek’s Instagram sharing)

Husband and music partner Rory Feek blogged about their journey with cancer in an elegant and heart-breaking style at http://thislifeilive.com.

You can find a great sample of the Feeks’ music online, but the song I am linking you to at the end of this blog was actually completed by Rory and Joey four years ago to comfort a grieving friend–even before Joey faced her terminal illness. The When I’m Gone video has received over ten million hits. It’s worth two clicks to Vevo and then You Tube.

This month, I also discovered church historian Kate Bowler, 35, a Duke Divinity School professor, wife and mother, who is critically ill with cancer.  Dr. Bowler has some wise observations that relate to my question “Why Did God Take Joey Feek?”  You can find her interview with Christianity Today assistant editor Morgan Lee at:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2016/febuary-web-only/kate-bowler-on-dying-and-sure-hope.

Dr. Bowler, whose specialty is North American religious history, has written Blessed–A History of the American Prosperity Gospel. A brief description of prosperity gospel is the conviction that one “has not, because one asks not” and there are “name it and claim it” faith principles. If our prayers are not answered with “yes,” then the fault lies with lack of faith, unconfessed sin, or spiritual warfare.

Kate Bowler, Assistant Professor of the History of Christianity in North America, poses for a portrait outside of Goodson Chapel at the Duke Divinity School in Durham, NC.
Dr. Kate Bowler at Goodson Chapel, Duke Divinity School. Used with permission.

In Ms. Lee’s interview with Dr. Bowler, the professor mentions positives for believers who lean toward prosperity gospel faith. She observes, “I love their spiritual tenacity. They work harder than most people that I know, spiritually speaking. They really believe that God is making a difference in their everyday life, and they’re willing to put in time praying, serving others….

“I love their language of specificity. They really do believe that God is in the details of their life. Now what that means, of course, is that they work backwards from their biography to God’s intent looking through their lives for evidence of God’s favor. And that can be its own prison. What is lovely about that is we do want to know that God counts the hairs on our heads, loved us since we were born, and cares about family more than we could even imagine. Those kinds of comforts prosperity gospel rightly foregrounds.”

IMG_2229Dr. Bowler said some of the saddest stories from her research were when people in prosperity gospel churches lost their battles to whatever crises they were facing. The church could not “surround them with comfort and tell them that they weren’t to blame or that there were questions and uncertainties beyond our knowledge. They couldn’t tell them that God was present in the suffering of his people, not just in the triumph of them.”

With questions like “Why did beautiful Joey Feek have to die?” I like Dr. Bowler’s theology of starting with our good God and not our misshapen thoughts. She says, “When I work from God to me I can say true and beautiful things. When I work from me to God, I end up lying.”

Ms. Fee asked Dr. Bowler, “How has your prayer life changed in the past couple of months?” She answered honestly: “I’m desperate. I pray for the day, because I can’t get through it without God. As it turns out, desperation is better for me, because I just can’t assume that I’m able to cobble this thing together. Prayer has become radical dependence on the assumption that God will be there no matter what. It’s just been a radical revelation of God’s presence.”

And, “My only prayer for this cancer is that it somehow makes me more of who God intended me to be. I mean that I could somehow be more myself than I would have been without it. And I don’t know what that’s going to mean, but I sure hope. I sure hope it happens.”

Joey/Rory Feek and Dr. Bowler sing in harmony about the most difficult questions concerning our mortality and our ability to do kingdom work in the midst of a suffering world, and even our own sufferings. That’s partly what the season of Lent is all about.

(The top photo of Joey Feek, with her daughter Indiana, is from the Feeks’ Facebook page.)

Dr. Bowler has a blog with occasional entries at: http://katebowler.com/blog/.