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Lessons of Columbine:
Hatred and Martyrdom, Blame and Forgiveness

by Tom Stewart
April 28, 1999

Few national news events linger long enough in the headlines for most Americans to form deep opinions; but, the carnage that two young men inflicted upon Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado on April 20th 1999, has people talking. Even the LORD Jesus made reference to current events to illustrate His point. "Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?" (Luke 13:4).

Unbridled hatred festered in the two Neo-Nazi gunmen, much like the hatred we now see taking place in the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo (Yugoslavia).
"He that sinneth against Me [Wisdom] wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate Me love death" (Proverbs 8:36). Columbine's youthful murderers were motivated by Satan. "Ye are of your father the Devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the Truth, because there is no Truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it" (John 8:44). In perspective, as we approach the threshold of a New Millennium that appears to be the very Millennium of the Apocalypse (Revelation 20:4), the downward momentum of man's sin throughout the ages has increased to the point of explosion, and events like Columbine are inevitable. "But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived" (2Timothy 3:13).

Even before the Tribulation Week (Daniel 9:27) has commenced, we can see the wrath of the Antichrist against the Saints.
"And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the Saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration [wonder]" (Revelation 17:6). Both Cassie Bernall and Rachel Scott voluntarily "witnessed a good confession" (1Timothy 6:13) of the LORD Jesus Christ when they courageously answered "Yes" to the gunmen's question: "Do you believe in God?" As martyrs for their faith in Christ, "they loved not their lives unto the death" (Revelation 12:11). May the Blessed LORD inspire us to be as courageous in living for Jesus as Cassie and Rachel were in dying for Jesus. "And I say unto you My friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do" (Luke 12:4).

Certainly, blame must be fixed upon the killers for their own sin.
"The soul that sinneth, it shall die" (Ezekiel 18:4). Though the parents of the killers were either not willing or were not able to secure God's "Exceeding Great And Precious Promises" (2Peter 1:4) for their sons, e.g., "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6), God will judge them-- as sinful or holy-- separately from their children's sins. "The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him" (Ezekiel 18:20). However, the Covenant Keeping God has amply supplied His people with Promises to definitely secure the salvation and sanctification of their children. "17 But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him, and His righteousness unto children's children; 18 To such as keep His covenant, and to those that remember His Commandments to do them" (Psalm 103:17-18).

Finally, what about forgiveness? Unfortunately, Professed Christianity often expects forgiveness to be granted regardless of whether or not the sinner has repented.
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1John 1:9). Confession and repentance are the necessary conditions for God's forgiveness. When the Saviour uttered His intercessory prayer from the Cross-- "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34)-- He did not attempt to circumvent man's necessity to repent before the Father could grant forgiveness. Instead, He voiced His desire that His tormentors would not perish, but "come to repentance" (2Peter 3:9). And, the Father heard Him, for the Roman centurion, who participated in the LORD Jesus' crucifixion, cried out in an affirmation of faith, "Truly this man was the Son of God" (Mark 15:39).

May this Columbine tragedy be used by God to awaken America's Professed Christianity from its Laodicean sense of having
"need of nothing" (Revelation 3:17), and to realize that the "Judge standeth before the door" (James 5:9). "For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged" (1Corinthians 11:31).

Tom Stewart

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