Our nation has witnessed a powerful living out of the gospel in the wake of one of the most heinous crimes in our history. The statements from families of the victims of the senseless slaughter at the Emmanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston were a stunning display of the power of Jesus Christ. Only Jesus could enable these dear families to forgive and make such honest, painful, yet hope-filled statements that testified to the power of the living Christ over evil. Let us not forget that no matter how much this shooter may have been influenced by drugs and moronic ideology, he is at the core a sinner who defied God’s law, detested God’s people, and desecrated God’s house. He will receive a trial because he is an American. He should not to be hurt himself (outside the judgment of law) because as a human he is created in God’s image, which he has defiled. At the same time the judicial system should seek justice and enact the strongest of sentences.

This criminal has insulted his own humanity. His conscience has been seared (1 Timothy 4:2). He is a ruthless mass murderer who additionally wounded others physically and wounded our whole nation emotionally. His only hope – and our only hope – is “repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21).

There have been calls for dialogs that lead to more understanding. I agree such dialogs should take place. It is my hope that root causes will be addressed. The root cause of this disaster is a pandemic human malady called sin. And sin’s only cure is in the atonement of Jesus Christ. Tighter gun controls may or may not curb such mass killings. Counseling and medication may or may not keep in check the hate in tortured souls. But only Jesus, the power of His blood, and the mighty power of the gospel can bring forgiveness, cleansing, and a change of heart.

Although it will take time for these open wounds to heal into scars (which will forever be etched into the history of this noble body of believers), already the glory of the gospel is on display. How beautiful and strong was the prayer offered yesterday in the worship service of this church in mourning: “For those of us who know Jesus, we can look through windows of our faith, and we see hope and we see light and we can hear Your voice saying, ‘I am with you.’”