Question:

Hello,

I have a question that is eating me alive. The question is: are murderers allowed to preach?

To give a little background there is a congregation whose preacher is retiring and he, and some of the elders, wants his son to take his position. Back when his son was in high school, he killed his pregnant girlfriend and their unborn child. He was sentenced to life imprisoned.

Once his son learned what he did was wrong, he repented of his sins and was baptized. Now 20 plus years later with the coronavirus out, and him having good behavior, he is freed from prison and wants to take on the role of being a full-time preacher. This is literally tearing the church apart.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Answer:

"I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities" (Acts 26:9-11).

"I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life" (I Timothy 1:12-16).

By your own statement, this man repented and was baptized. Yet, you continue to hold his past against him. "For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions" (Matthew 6:14-15).

That said, I tell men who desire to preach that they are better off preaching in places other than where they grew up. People outside the church remember what you were like when you were young and that can hinder teaching the gospel. Preaching is difficult enough without overcoming your own past.

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