Dr. Carl Hoffman, long time abortionist at A Woman's Choice of Greensboro abortion clinic died earlier this week. Should we be rejoicing that this murderer of literally thousands of children will no longer be able to perform such operations? Should we be mourning that yet another sinner has entered into a Christless eternity? The following are just a few thoughts that I believe will help us to work our way through the difficult variety of emotions that may come upon hearing such news.
One clear theme in the Bible is that the Lord is exceedingly patient with sinners. He says of Israel, "All the day long I have stretched out My hand to a disobedient and obstinate people." (Isa 65:2) and also in Ezekiel 33:11, "Say to them, 'As I live!' declares the Lord God, 'I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?'" But there does come a time, even for Israel, when their sins were so numerous and their rebellion so deeply rooted, that the Lord tells Jeremiah "Do not pray for the welfare of this people. When they fast, I am not going to listen to their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I am not going to accept them. Rather I am going to make an end of them by the sword, famine and pestilence." (Jer 14:11-12). We know that the Lord did eventually bring in the Assyrians and the Babylonians to enact judgment on Israel. God is indeed patient, but His patience has its limits.
Even in the life of Jesus, the message was originally, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt 4:17). But by the end of His ministry, the time for repentance has nearly passed, and He now pronounces "woe" on the ones who have opposed Him at every turn (Matt 23:13-36).
So yes, we should be somewhat saddened by the death of Dr. Hoffman. But I can confidently say he is one man whom I know I am innocent of his blood (as Paul says in Acts 20:26-27). Time and again I plead with him to repent, to flee from the wrath to come. And yet, like so many others in this world, he chose to stiffen his neck and harden his heart. When we stand at the judgment seat of Christ in that great day and the books are opened, exposing each one's work, all the redeemed will stand in applause and praise to God when he is cast into hell.
Let us not "rejoice" in the death of the wicked before it is time, but neither let us lament the fact that the Lord is a holy and righteous judge. Until that great day, we continue to preach the message of repentance and free grace found only in Jesus.