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Broken for the Bride

March 7, 2005

Dear Friend of Mary Craig Ministries,

How can we worship God as God with so much suffering and evil surrounding us? Is God lacking in goodness, deficient in power? Does He want to stop suffering but canít, or could, but will not? Go to any ER in any hospital and you will find pause to reflect.

A woman screams in agonizing pain. We can hear her from down the hall. Another lies in the fetal position, suffering from Alzheimerís disease. Another whimpers. Many curse God and desire to die, or at least "to get this over with." More find faith collapsing like a house of cards, despite the wonderful care of many caring nurses and doctors and hospital staff.

You may be living with the results of childhood deprivation or a congenital disability. Or suddenly poverty or grief or adverse weather strikes. Divorce, depression, loneliness. No one goes through this life unscathed.

Voltaire satirized the Optimism of his day in his novel Candide. Candide has a teacher, Dr. Pangloss, who calmly assures that "all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds." This, despite their misfortunes. Finally, Candide is nearly killed in an earthquake and Pangloss gets hanged by the Inquisition. Voltaire protests: "Candide, terrified, speechless, bleeding, palpitating, said to himself: ĎIf this is the best of all possible worlds, what can the rest be?í"

The Bible, we find, is more practical than philosophical when it comes to suffering and evil. Its purpose is not to explain origins so much as to empower us to overcome.

The New Testament speaks not of defeat, but of victory, conquering, triumph. What looks like the defeat of goodness by evil emerges as the defeat of evil by goodness. Jesus Christ took on human flesh, suffered rejection, betrayal, denial, desertion, forsakenness, abandonment, and execution. Robbed of all glory, stripped of any dignity, mocked, ridiculed, and taunted, Jesus Christ bore our sin. God made Christ a cursed one for our sake. God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, an acceptable offering and sacrifice for our sin. God was in Christ accomplishing by the cross and crucifixion redemption and reconciliation for His Beloved.

The holiness of Godís love necessitates the atonement. God is neither indulgent nor vindictive. In His agony of love rejected, He spends Himself in wrath, satisfying Himself, satisfying divine justice.

Our God is a consuming fire, yet He expresses His holiness without consuming His Beloved. Our God is love, yet He does not condone our sin. How? He sacrifices Himself. He substitutes Himself. He bears the wrath and curse of sin. He bears its penalty. Against His own very self in the person of Christ, the Incarnate Son of God, God satisfies all judgment for sin, love absorbing righteous anger without compromise. Jesus Christ is that substitutionary sacrifice for sin satisfying Godís justice and honor and Godís law.

Through judgment comes destruction to the wicked and deliverance to the elect.

Why did Christ die? To answer this we must consider the cross. Paul chose to know nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified. The cross is central to our redemption, our overcoming of death and life within a fallen world system.

The Jewish leaders of the day deemed Christ dangerous, subversive, disrespectful, provocative, blasphemous, disturbing the status quo, one potentially inciting a revolution, radical. The Romans considered Him a challenge to Caesarís authority, guilty of political sedition. Whether against God or Caesar, Jesus Christ could not be tolerated and had to be killed, in their opinion. Arrested under cover of darkness, charged, and cross-examined, with witnesses called in, Jesus was found guilty by the religious court, the civil court, and the peopleís court. "Crucify Him!"

The process of crucifixion is not elaborated, but history tells us. "Other contemporary documents tell us what a crucifixion was like. The prisoner would first be publicly humiliated by being stripped naked. He was then laid on his back on the ground, while his hands were either nailed or roped to the horizontal wooden bean (the patibulum), and his feet to the vertical pole. The cross was then hoisted to an upright position and dropped into a socket which had been dug for it in the ground. Usually a peg or rudimentary seat was provided to take some of the weight of the victimís body and prevent it from being torn loose. But there he would hang, helplessly exposed to intense physical pain, public ridicule, daytime heat and night-time cold. The torture would last several days." (Stott, John R. W., The Cross of Christ, IVP, 1986, p.48)

Greed. Fear. Envy. Vanity. Betrayal. Others. They put Him there; but so did I. My sins put Him there. Others have so suffered, however. How was this different?

Jesus Christ went to the cross deliberately, and voluntarily gave up His life. It was His destiny, His vision, His purpose, His mission. His love for me took Him there. His intense desire to glorify His Father and obey Him even to the death kept Him there. The joy set before Him gave Him the endurance to go through to resurrection.

Jesus died my death for my sins. His blood was shed for the remission of my sins. For centuries people had forsaken and rejected and despised God. I was no exception. He bore my sin. In agony, distress, in pressing torment and appalling reluctance, overwhelmed with sorrow and mental anguish, horror-struck, He accepted that bitter cup with loathing aversion. Oh, it wasnít just mental and physical pain. We know of many others who have endured greater. No, it was the spiritual agony of bearing the sins of the world and becoming that Accursed One of God. It was the agony of separation from the Father.

There was no other way. He had come to do the Fatherís will and to achieve the purposes of God. That Holy One, pure and undefiled, suffered the penalty for sin and God-forsakenness that He might bring us to God, reconcile us with our Creator, restore a relationship broken by rebellion and disobedience, redeem us from the curse, propitiate Godís wrath, remove Satanís legal grounds and destroy the power of death.

I am the Bride of Christ. I am loved with a resolute love. I am my Belovedís and His desire is for me. I am purchased with the life-blood of Jesus Christ. The heinousness of my sins has been removed. For the joy set before Him, Jesus Christ endured the cross, despising its shame, and has sat down at the right hand of His FatherÖbroken for the Bride.

Can you say this? Is this your testimony? If you can, rejoice! He exults over you with joy. He is content in His love for you. He sings over you. He is your Mighty Hero who Saves.

If you are reading this, and want Him, and find yourself filled with a godly sorrow for your sin, then simply tell Jesus that you desire Him to forgive you of your sins, and repent of your sins. Ask Him for the grace to turn from your sins and to follow Him. Ask Him to take over your life, and give your life to Him. Ask Him to give you the Holy Spirit. And rejoice that He lived and died, paid the penalty and bore the wrath, was buried, rose again from the dead, ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father, and is coming again. And write me and let me know! Be sure to note the day and time, for that will be your new birthday, your spiritual birthday, as you will be "born again."

It is through Christ, through the cross and resurrection, that we overcome sin and suffering, evil and devils. Be thankful in every circumstance. God knows, and cares. Come to the waters of life and drink without cost. And this season, as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, remember the Lord your God and rejoice!

Giving brings hope. Giving saves lives. Touch someone today and make this world a better place. Your gifts to Mary Craig Ministries enable us to bring Jesus to a hurting world and share the gospel of grace to the lost. Every day we see God changing lives.

A young man, age 14, who came to Christ at Craighouse®, fell from a high fence Sunday, February 27th. As news spread, we were all praying. Rev. Craig suspended the worship service to pray for Deniz. Then, Rev. Craig said we would be "doing church," not "having church," and all who could went to the Trauma Center at Broward General Medical Center to be with Deniz and his family. To the glory of Godís goodness and grace, Deniz broke no bones, and suffered no damage. Every Friday night, Deniz closes our gathering with a blessing, "And may God give grace to you all." The Lord showed me that as Deniz extended grace to others, God extended this great grace of intervention to him. You can read his testimony, in his own words.

We have mission teams going to Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, and Serbia in June, and to Turkey in August this year. Six team members need your prayers and financial support! Please designate your gifts for "missions" and remember; these trips are about breaking barriers and carrying the gospel of Jesus Christ to the nations for His glory.

Lives are being changed, transformed by Godís love. Your gifts enable us to continue. Together we are making a difference, one heart at a time, in nation after nation.

Taking His glory to the nations,

Mary Craig

P.S. In the area? Worship with us at Craighouse®, located in the Pompano Plaza at 114 E. McNab Road, Pompano Beach, FL 33060. Youíll like our new worship team! Visit www.craighouse.org for a map, and www.marycraig.org for more, including a prayer for salvation. 

Celebrate the Resurrection!

Yea, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore
with lovingkindness have I drawn you. Jeremiah 31.3

© 2005 Mary Craig Ministries, Inc.


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Copyright © 2005 Mary Craig Ministries, Inc.

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