Vol. 18, No. 01 – January 6, 2019
The Gospel of Luke
Gabriel, in grace, continues to provide Mary information about her pregnancy to further bolster and strengthen her faith. Interestingly, even though Mary did not ask for a miraculous sign or confirmation as Zachariah did in doubt and unfaithfulness, the angel provided her with something to build her confidence and sustain her hope and faith through the difficult days to come.
Gabriel tells Mary that her “relative,” SUNGENES, that means, “blood relative or related,” (we do not know if she was an aunt, cousin, or even a sister in-law), was also pregnant, “conceived,” SULLAMBANO.
This too, was part of the grace plan of God for Mary’s benefit. What had happened to Elizabeth was an extra assurance to Mary that all the words spoken to her would be fulfilled in their time. In God’s grace, He provided this information to Mary so that she could gain faithful assurance in His Plan.
In addition, Mary was given a task to perform that would leave her open to false charges and accusations, as Mary would become pregnant prior to completing the marriage contract with Joseph. It would have potentially brought great ridicule, or even death, upon her from the society. As such, it was grace on God’s part that she was informed of the one person who would understand what God was doing. In addition, it gave Mary a chance to escape to her relative’s home that was near Jerusalem and avoid any unwarranted shame, cf. vs. 39-45, 56.
Our Father in heaven knows what we can take and what we cannot take; He is never slow in giving full assurance, even when we might be “slow of heart to believe,” Luke 24:25.
Then, in vs. 37, Gabriel assured Mary even further by stating, “For nothing will be impossible with God,” PARA THEOS OUK PAN RHEMA ADUNATEO. Literally it states, “for God not any thing will be impossible.” It was a common religious saying among the Jews and early Christians, Gen 18:14; Job 42:2; Jer 32:17, 27; Mat 19:26; Rom 4:21.
Gen 18:14, “Is anything too difficult for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”
Job 42:2, “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.”
Jer 32:27, “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?”
The Noun RHEMA means, “a thing spoken, word, saying, thing, matter, or event.” Here it has the dual connotation of, “What God says He will do,” and “Nothing is impossible for God to do.”
The Verb ADUNATEO, ἀδυνατέω, “to be impossible,” is in the Future, Active, Indicative. Its root is DUNAMIS for “inherent power or ability.” With the negative prefix it means, “without power, without ability, or impossible.” When referring to persons ADUNATEO is used to speak of a “lack of strength or being unable to do something.” Linked with the Greek negative Particle OUK it means, “not without power, not without ability, or not impossible.” ADUNATEO is only used here and Mat 17:20. In Mat 17:20, it is used for those who have faith the size of a mustard seed.
Mat 17:20, “And He said to them, ‘Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you’.”
In other words, God is omnipotent and able to do all things, including cause two women to become miraculously pregnant in highly unique ways. The 1901 American Standard Version reads: “For no word of God shall be void of power.”
Therefore, this is a statement of faith that we should live by every day. Many times we limit God as to what He can and cannot do; we put Him in a box. But, our God is the all-powerful, all-mighty, omniscient God, where nothing is impossible for Him to perform in time or space. We have to remember that and call upon Him with that assurance in our times of need, as Gabriel is reminding Mary of this same grace principle for her to apply in faith.
This phrase also means that every single word or item noted by Gabriel will be fulfilled, not merely the general content of the promise. The purpose is to build Mary’s faith in God’s ability to do what is humanly impossible, not only for now, but throughout the rest of her life, as she will face many daunting challenges throughout her life.
“The moment you admit the existence of God, you must deny the impossible. With God it’s nothing that a barren woman and a virgin woman would both conceive. In fact, that’s just like God!” (Christ-Centered Exposition.)
Take note of how both Elizabeth and Mary responded to the miraculous activity of God. Mary felt stunned, surprised, humbled, and curious, but never once did she say, “This is impossible! I do not believe what I am hearing.” Nor did she object, “There is no way I am going to stand before the people of Nazareth and listen to them call me a harlot or my son illegitimate. I refuse to spend the rest of my life defending myself and my honor!”
Instead, we see Mary’s willing acceptance from faith in God’s Word and His plan for her life. She considered herself rightly as a DOULE, “servant, bond slave,” (the feminine of DOULOS), “of the Lord,” KURIOS. Cf. Hannah in 1 Sam 1:11.
1 Sam 1:11, “She made a vow and said, ‘O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head’.”
Mary also replied, “be it done to me according to your word.” “Word,” here is RHEMA once again, and “be it done,” is the Aorist, Middle Deponent, Optative of the Verb GINOMAI that means, “to be, to come into being, to be made, be done, etc.” The Optative is rarely used in the NT; only 70 times. It is said to be the Mood used when the “speaker wishes to portray an action as possible,” (Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics).
Therefore, Mary is not just resigning to the fact of occurrence of the things told to her, she implies a desire that they should happen. It indicates her full acceptance and participation in the matter, as well as her excitement about it. In great faith, she not only believes the promises, but prays for their fulfillment. In faith, she not only bowed to the will of God, but she whole-heartedly and enthusiastically accepted it.
Here, we see that faith leads to servanthood, which she was and would continue to be. Mary has the exemplary attitude of God’s servant, despite what this might cost her in reputation from those who do not appreciate what really happened. Therefore, we see that a right appreciation of the Lord, leads to a correct assessment of self.
Mary’s response is one of the greatest testimonies in Scripture of faithful, humble obedience. Her submission to the message is most touching. Even though the angel said that she was highly “graced out,” (favored), she said that she was the “bond slave of the Lord,” in His hand to do with her according to His will.
- It reminds us of what Isaiah said in Isa 6:8, “Here I am. Send me.”
- It reminds us of what Esther said in Esther 4:15, “If I perish, I perish.”
- It reminds us of what Ruth said to Naomi in Ruth 1:16, “Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.”
- It reminds us of what Job said in Job 13:15, “Even if he kills me, I will hope in him.”
- It reminds us of what her Son would one day say in Luke 22:42, “Father, … not My will, but Yours be done.”
This is how faithful people respond to God’s plan, even when they do not understand it. The only way a person can genuinely say what Mary says in vs. 38, and does in vs. 39, is to believe that God’s plan is better than their plan for themselves.
Even though she knew she would be accused of adultery, an offense punishable by stoning to death, Deut 22:13-21; cf. John 8:3-5, she willingly and graciously submitted to the will of God, as Mary’s believing response was to surrender herself to God as His willing servant.
She experienced the grace of God, Luke 1:30, and believed the Word of God, and therefore, she could be used by the Spirit to accomplish the will of God. She belonged totally to the Lord, body, Luke 1:38, soul, Luke 1:46, and spirit, Luke 1:47.
While not understanding all the particulars, she responded with immediate belief, complete submission, and total trust in her Lord. Luke also records no hesitation from Elizabeth in believing the Lord could accomplish a miracle. Both she and Elizabeth lived in the horizontal dimension, but they never forgot the vertical. They lived in the realities of a broken, sinful world, but they remained open to the intervention of God’s grace.
What an example for us to follow, Rom 12:1-2. Like Mary, we cannot truly be servants of Christ unless we accept His plan for our lives. Faith is nothing more than responding to God’s grace in your life. He cannot be your Lord, if you insist on ruling yourself. If he is Lord, then you are a servant, a glad servant of God. This is how faith replies to grace. Do you have this kind of faith? Mary and Elizabeth did, and I pray that you do too.
In vs. 39, “arose” is the Greek Verb ANISTEMI ἀνίστημι that is used literally here and in many other passages. But, it is also used for Jesus Christ “rising from the dead,” i.e., the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Matthew 17:23; 20:19; Luke 9:22; 18:33, and the promise of resurrection for the Church, 1 Thes 4:14, 16. So this “rising” of Mary may be an allusion to the resurrection of Christ, giving us the bookends of His life story, from conception to resurrection.
Next, we note that “haste,” is the descriptive Genitive Noun SPOUDE, σπουδή that means, “haste, speed, zeal, effort, earnestness, diligence, eagerness, etc.” It describes external action, “to hurry or to be quick,” to fulfill a task. But, it can also describe an internal attitude or response, “to be eager, earnest, or diligent.” In our application, the external action is in view due to the internal joy and excitement Mary had in faithful response to the Word of God given to her. It describes something that is done.
Luke 2:16, “And they came in haste (having hurried) and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.”
Here, the word “haste” is the Aorist, Active, Participle, Nominative, Plural of the Verb SPEUDO, σπεύδω that means, “to hurry, hasten, desire earnestly, strive (for).” It is only used three times in Luke, twice in Acts, (which was also authored by Luke), and once in 2 Peter 3:12. It describes the way in which the shepherds went to see the babe.
These words are telling us that God’s Word and messages are important and should be treated as such with urgency and diligence in response. His Word should not be taken lightly, but must be acted on immediately and without hesitation. These words are also used by Luke to portray the kind of commitment expected of all Christians in virtually every aspect of our lives, cf. Rom 12:1-2, 11; Heb 4:11; 6:11; 2 Peter 1:5-7, 10; 2:15; 3:14.
Rom 12:1-2, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Rom 12:11, “Not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.”
Heb 4:11, “Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.”
Heb 6:11, “And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end.”
2 Peter 1:5-7, “Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, 6and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 7and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.”
2 Peter 1:10, “Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble.”
2 Tim 2:15, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”
2 Peter 3:14, “Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless.”
This is another Lukan theme found in his text, i.e., that God’s Word, (especially the messages regarding the giving of the Savior), always carries with it a challenge to respond in faith.
Notice that neither Mary, nor the shepherds, stop to ponder about their earthly responsibilities, relationships, wealth, etc., but immediately got up and went in haste to serve the Lord. This is how faithful people respond to God’s Word and Plan, even when they may not fully understand it. When God gives us an assignment or direction to do something, we should make haste to complete it.
The only way a person can genuinely do and say what they did, (Mary in Luke 1:38-39, the shepherds in Luke 2:15-17), is to apply faith with immediate action in their life, believing that God’s plan is better than their plan for themselves.
In both instances, they willingly and graciously submitted to the will of God, especially in Mary’s believing response, as she surrendered herself to God as His willing “bondservant,” being ready to “have done to her according to God’s Word.”
They experienced the grace of God, Luke 1:30, and believed the Word of God, and therefore, they could be used by the Spirit to accomplish the will of God, as Mary belonged totally to the Lord, body, Luke 1:38, soul, Luke 1:46, and spirit, Luke 1:47.
Even while not fully understanding all the particulars, they responded with immediate belief, complete submission, and total trust in their Lord. Luke also records no hesitation from Elizabeth in believing the Lord could accomplish a miracle. Mary, Elizabeth, and the shepherds all lived in the horizontal dimension, but they never forgot the vertical. They gave vertical praise to God and affirmed the horizontal effect of His grace. They lived in the realities of a broken, sinful world, but they remained open to the intervention of God’s grace.
So, from these stories we are reminded of two things:
- Respond immediately to opportunities God gives you. Do not wait for special occasions to talk about the Lord. Speak up whenever the opportunity arises. You do not have to be obnoxious by forcing a conversation, but remain continually transparent about your relationship with Christ. Watch for open doors. Do not hesitate; speak freely.
- Share your experience with others. God did not call these people to teach or preach. They had neither the training nor the skills. Instead, the Lord charged them with the responsibility to share what they had seen and heard, to describe their experience.
Remember, you do not need formal training to tell others about Jesus Christ, any more than you need medical training to tell a friend about a good doctor. If you are a believer, you have a “before-and-after” story of your experience with Jesus Christ. Before you placed your faith in Christ, your life looked one way. After trusting in Him, your life changed. Your “testimony” is simply a description of the before-and-after change you experienced. Therefore, respond immediately to opportunities and share your experience, because faith is nothing more than responding to God’s grace in your life. If two lowly women and a group of lowly shepherds could do it, so can you.
The exact timing of this visit is left uncertain by the vague phrase “at this time.” The journey from Nazareth to Zachariah’s house was approximately 80 miles, a four or five day journey, as she traveled from Nazareth to the “hill country of Judah,” which might have been the city of Hebron or near it, when comparing Joshua 20:7; 21:11; cf. Luke 1:65.
Joshua 21:11, “Thus they gave them Kiriath-arba, Arba being the father of Anak (that is, Hebron), in the hill country of Judah, with its surrounding pasture lands.”
It was one of the Levite cities located in the hill country of Judah about 19 miles southwest of Jerusalem. The city is near the ridge of the hills, and at an altitude of 3040 ft. above sea level. Hebron is the highest town in Palestine. The archaeological record shows almost continuous occupation at Hebron from the Early Bronze Age to modern times. It may be the oldest unwalled city in the world to possess that distinction.
In vs. 41, we see Elizabeth’s joy and excitement when she heard Mary’s greeting of which we have no details, but from what is said in the next few verses it most likely included Mary’s account of Gabriel’s visit. When these two women met together, Elizabeth heard this news they erupted with joy. They were not just joyful because they were both having babies. No. They know the Lord has shown them favor. They know the inside scoop on God’s plans for their children.
When Elizabeth heard this news, she was over joyed and her baby, “leaped in her womb.” “Leaped,” is the Aorist, Active, Indicative of the Verb SKIRTAO, σκιρτάω that means, “leap, jump joyously, or gambol, (to leap or skip around playfully).” It is only used in this narrative, see also vs. 44, and Luke 6:23, for joyous leaping in Luke’s version of the Beatitudes.
This is a very interesting portrayal, as babes in the womb do not have the intellect to comprehend outward communications, though they are able to hear by this stage of pregnancy, six months, and respond to sounds. These verses also do not say that John the Baptist was conscious at this point and had the filling of the Holy Spirit to comprehend, as some say he had the filling of the Holy Spirit from conception. That is a myth. This reaction was a response to Elizabeth’s reaction of joy and excitement when she heard Mary’s greeting. Babes in the womb at this time in pregnancy do respond to sounds, but it is one of non-comprehension. And no one is filled with the Holy Spirit from conception or even from the day of their birth, because they are spiritually dead from birth until they are born again!
In vs. 44, the phrase, “when it reached my ears,” tells us that it was Elizabeth’s comprehension of what Mary stated and her joyous reaction that the baby in her womb responded to. If it where the babe, John the Baptist’s reaction, she would have said, “when it reached the babe’s ears in my womb,” which it does not. Nevertheless, Elizabeth was overjoyed to hear of the information Mary was sharing with her about the conception and future birth of the Messiah. The question we can ask ourselves is, “do others respond to the joy I express in my Lord?”
Now, the interesting part about the “leaping,” is that this word was used in the LXX in Malachi 4:2, for joy expressed by the righteous when the judgment of God comes upon evildoers in the end times: they will “skip about and leap like calves released from the stall.” The context there is that this leaping is a characteristic of the last days with the appearance of “Elijah” as an end-time witness. Therefore, the appearance of SKIRTAO in Luke 1:41, 44, suggests the destiny of the new Elijah, (John the Baptist), “leaping” in response to the voice of his mother who was responding to the voice of “the mother of my Lord.” This is the eschatological joy triggered by the coming of Divine judgment against an evil world. Similarly, in Luke 6:23, those who are experiencing persecution should “Be glad in that day and leap for joy,” because persecution is a sign of God’s impending judgment and vindication of His servants. Also, causing the lame to leap, and healing generally, is a sign of the kingdom of God breaking into this age, Isa 35:6, fulfilled in Luke 7:22; Acts 3:2-8. Therefore, before John the Baptist could walk or talk or even comprehend, God was using him as a sign of Elijah as the forerunner of the Messiah to announce the Kingdom of God come in Christ.
We also see in vs. 41, that Elizabeth received the Age of Israel type enduement of the Holy Spirit, “was filled with the Holy Spirit,” whereby she was inspired to make a Divine prophetic proclamation in vs 42-44, just like Deborah who gave a Spirit inspired utterance over Jael, Judges 5:24. This type of inspired speech coming as the result of Spirit infilling is a primary Lukan theme, e.g., Zachariah, Luke 1:67; Simeon, Luke 2:27; Jesus, Luke 4:14, 15; those in the upper room, Acts 2:4; Peter, Acts 2:15; Peter, John, and their friends, Acts 4:31; and Stephen, Acts 6:8-10; 7:55, 56. As such, Mary’s unborn son is recognized as the Lord, and Mary becomes a model of faith.
In vs. 42, “she cried out” is the verb ANAPHONEO ἀναφωνέω that means, “to cry out with a loud voice, cry aloud.” It is only used here in the NT. This is a variation of the more common root word PHONEO meaning, “to cry out, to speak forth, or to sound forth loudly.” It is sometimes used in the LXX in contexts of worship and praise, 1 Chron 15:28; 16:4-5, 42; 2 Chron 5:13. Therefore, it represents both enthusiasm and confidence in expressing ones joy in God and His plan.
“Blessed among women” is similar to Deborah’s response to Jael, Judges 5:24. “Blessed,” here is the Perfect, Middle, Participle of the Verb EULOGEO, εὐλογέω that means, “speak well of, praise, honor, extol, or bless.” In other words, God’s Divine favor has been bestowed on her, and as a result, she will be praised and honored among all the women of the world. Mary is not blessed “above women,” as one who could then impart grace to others, or that we should pray to her. No, she is blessed “among women” as the “graced out” one who received the greatest blessing of any woman next to their own personal salvation. So, this phrase means she will be recognized for the fantastic blessing God bestowed on her, as she rightly should. She will be honored, but we should never pray to her or treat her in any way like we would God. Finally, given the Greek construction of this verse, the phrase could be understood as, “of all women most blessed are you.”
Elizabeth’s reference to Mary’s unborn child as, “the fruit of your womb,” also has OT precedent, cf. Gen 30:2; Deut 7:13; Lam 2:20, and implies that by this time Mary had already conceived.
In vs. 43, Elizabeth is showing humility as a servant of the Lord by stating in essence, “How can I have been thought worthy of such an honor?” We also see her faith being applied as she recognizes that Mary’s baby is “my Lord,” which is also an early witness to the Divinity of Jesus, as well as a witness of Elizabeth’s faith and salvation as she believed Him to be God and the Messiah in one.
Nowhere in the NT is Mary called, “Mother of God.” She was, however, the mother of Jesus the Messiah and Lord, who was also God incarnate. But God does not have a mother. He has always existed and is self-sustaining. He does not have or ever needed a mother. But, the humanity of Jesus did have a mother and she is Mary.
In vs. 44, Elizabeth reiterates what we noted in vs. 41. Therefore, we have a double emphasis of this fact, in which the second iteration is espoused when she was filled with the Holy Spirit. As such, it is a Divinely inspired proclamation for the benefit of Mary to hear, as well as us. Therefore, it is further encouragement, by the grace of God, for Mary, so that she would be sustained while at peace throughout her entire ordeal.
The leaping here is noted as “for joy,” which is the Dative Noun AGALLIASIS, ἀγαλλίασις that means, “rejoicing, exultation, joy, gladness, etc.” It names that emotion from hearing the news of the Messiah. It was used regarding hearing the news of John’s birth in vs. 14, here, and in Acts 2:46; Heb 1:9; Jude 1:24.
Heb 1:8-9, “But of the Son He says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom. 9You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness above Your companions’.”
Jude 1:24, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy.”
In vs. 45, Elizabeth’s joy and faith are further noted in her proclamation, “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.”
Here, Elizabeth becomes the first woman, among all women, to honor Mary by proclaiming the grace bestowed upon Mary, as well as Mary’s faith.
“Blessed,” here is not one of the cognates of CHARIS, “grace,” as “favored” was in vs. 28, 30. Nor, is it EULOGEO of vs. 42, that meant, “spoken praise and honor.” Instead it is the Greek Noun MAKARIOS, μακάριος that means, “blessed, fortunate, or happy.” It means, “the gracious favor of God being upon someone.” It is the word used in the “Beatitudes,” in Mat 5.
Heb 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”
This is Elizabeth’s pronouncement that Mary had received a grace blessing from God. This word also carries the connotation that someone has acted upon God’s Word for their life, John 20:29; Rev 22:7; cf. Rev 1:3.
John 20:29, “Jesus said to him (Thomas), ‘Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed’.”
So, we see both the faith of Elizabeth, who did not see or hear Gabriel yet believed, and of Mary, who did see and hear Gabriel’s announcement and also believed. They both are acting upon the Word of God they have received by believing it.
Rev 22:7, “And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.”
Mary is blessed because she believed “believed,” PISTEUO, πιστεύω God’s Words and is now acting upon them. PISTEUO means, “believe, have faith in, be convinced of, trust, rely on, have confidence in, etc.” In other words, this is “faith in action,” resulting in Mary being a blessed individual by God. Remember, faith is the first blessing by God we receive.
At the same time, we see Elizabeth’s faith, in that she too believed what God had told her through Zachariah, and now through Mary. Her proclamation “that or because there will be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord,” tells us that Elizabeth absolutely believed them too.
“Fulfillment,” is the Noun TELEIOSIS that means, “fulfillment or perfection.” Aristotle and Philo used the term in the sense of actualization or execution of a resolve or an oath. It was also used for the execution or completion of a plan, and that is how it is meant here. In other words, everything said by Gabriel will come to completion or come to perfection in the sense of being done. This word is only used here and in Heb 7:11. In Heb 7, it references the “perfection” of Jesus Christ’s Priesthood to save, in the order of Melchizedek, as the King-Priest, compared to that of the Levitical Priesthood through the Law. Therefore, in the only other use of this word, Jesus’ Priesthood, Kingship, and Messiahship are noted, which are also found in the prophetic words of Gabriel told to Mary about her Son.
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If you would like more information on this subject, you may watch/listen to lesson:
#18-138, 18-139 & 18-140
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A PERSONAL NOTE FOR YOU
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I am here to tell you that Jesus loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His life for you. God the Father also loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His only Son for you by sending Him to the Cross. At the Cross Jesus died in your place. Taking upon Himself all of your sins and all of my sins. He was judged for our sins and paid the price for our sins. Therefore, our sins will never be held against us.
Right where you are, you now have the opportunity to make the greatest decision in your life. To accept the free gift of salvation and eternal life by truly believing that Jesus Christ died for your sins and was raised on the third day as the proof of the promise of eternal life. So right now, you can pause and reflect on what Christ has done for you and say to the Father:
“Yes Father, I believe that Your Son, Jesus Christ,
died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.”
If you have done that, I welcome you to the eternal Family of God!