No doubt many people are in a state of shock over the actions of Brenton Tarrant – who shot and killed a number of Muslim worshippers last week, in New Zealand. Indeed, the sense of outrage that many feel over this may even prompt them to say that if there is a God, then He will never forgive Mr Tarrant; and, furthermore, if there is a Heaven then the likes of this person will never go there.
However, such reasoning ignores the clear teaching of the New Testament. While one doesn’t condone what happened, and we are all naturally displeased by Mr Tarrant’s actions, to say that he will never go to Heaven is to undermine one fundamental principle – the Glorious Grace of God as shown in Christ.
Scripture clearly teaches that we are all sinners and none of us deserves Heaven. God is so Holy that He cannot allow any trace of sin into His presence. Moreover, because of our sins, we are all cut off from God, and we all deserve His judgement for eternity. No doubt when people read this they will say “ok I accept that I’ve done a few bad things but I’ve never murdered anyone” – my answer is simple, “yes you have, if you’ve hated someone you have committed murder”. (see Matthew 5 v 21-22). Moreover, there is a sense in which we have all killed Jesus Christ, the Son of God, by our sins; but we’ll look at that in a moment.
No, Mr Tarrant doesn’t deserve God’s forgiveness and a home in Heaven when he dies but, then again, none of us do. As the Bible says – “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” Romans 3 v 23.
Is there hope then for Brent Tarrant? Yes, a thousand times, yes! It is most fortunate that he was captured alive because it means that, while in prison he can hear, or read, the Gospel. If he is given a New Testament he can read that God so loved him, He sent Jesus to die for his sins and rise again to be his Saviour. If Mr Tarrant truly repents of his sins and accepts Christ as his personal Saviour then the slate is wiped clean and he is forgiven by God. Of course, he will have to stay in prison but at least his soul will be saved.
This brings me back to the statement I made earlier about how we all killed Christ (in bold type above). I remember as a young man being on a beach mission when I was “press-ganged” into the singing group (they must have been desperate!). One of the songs had the words “I’m the one who shouted crucify, I’m the one who led Him up to die”. Because the sacrifice of Jesus is sufficient for the sins of all mankind there is a sense in which we all participated in putting Christ on the cross. Therefore, we all had a hand in the greatest crime in history.
Before condemning Brent Tarrant, let us all examine our own hearts and ask if we have been cleansed of our sins, or do we still have the stain of murder on our hearts., and in our souls.
By Bob Hutton.
Thanks Bob for letting us repost this.