A gift, two awards and sound doctrine fill chapel service

Truett Auditorium buzzed with excitement during the chapel hour as trustees joined with student scholarship donors and Southwestern students, faculty, staff and their families to witness presentation of a major gift and two commemorative awards, April 3. The chapel audience then heard from President Paige Patterson as he delivered the 10th in his 13-part chapel series on eschatology titled “The Last Days.”

Jim Richards, executive director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention was on hand to deliver a major gift. Bringing greetings on behalf of the 1,856 affiliated churches of the SBTC, Richards presented a check to Patterson in the amount of $100,000 earmarked toward building the seminary’s new, 3,500-seat chapel.

“Southwestern Seminary and the SBTC are joined at the heart by firm beliefs in biblical inerrancy and Baptist distinctives,” Richards said. “May God use the new chapel for His glory as we uplift the name of Jesus Christ.”

Then, Master of Divinity student Michael Bishop was presented with the Todd Brooks Riza Memorial Award. His fellow participants from the Spring Evangelism Practicum selected him as best demonstrating genuine compassion for non-Christians. Riza’s parents established the award in memory of their son, who died in 1995 two days before embarking on his first spring practicum preaching assignment.

Next, Patterson called to the stage Dr. Dean Gage, a two-term seminary trustee and executive director of the Center for Executive Leadership in Veterinary Medical Education at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M in College Station, Texas. Patterson noted that Gage was attending his final trustee meeting before rotating off the board.

“University provost and president, local church deacon, trustee vice-chairman: in a thousand ways this man has been a precious counsel to me and to the trustees over the years,” Patterson said. Gage began serving on the board of trustees in 1997.

Patterson presented Gage with a framed painting depicting a turn-of-the-century Texas riverside baptismal service, and said, “May this be a reminder to you of your years of service to Southwestern Seminary, and how much we love you.”

Patterson delivered a sermon titled “Hell: The Postmodern Dilemma.” In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus recorded in Luke 16:19-31 there is proof for the existence of a real Hell.

Patterson said that if preachers claim to believe in the Bible as being the literal, inerrant Word of God, then they are duty bound to teach about a literal Hell.

“Such a place of eternal suffering does exist,” Patterson said. “Our Lord spoke of it in Matthew 25, and other passages … [Therefore] belief and preaching it is really a matter of the lordship of Jesus Christ.”

While admitting that the Bible does not give exact details of where Hell is or what it looks like, Patterson said Scripture has many literal references that evidence its existence as an eternal place for those who are not saved. From Luke 16 Patterson outlined Hell’s characteristics. “Hell is a place of torment … eternal memory of regret … and separation from God and from good,” he said.

“People ask, ‘How can a loving God send anyone to Hell?’” Patterson said.

He explained that the answer is clearly understood when the question is seen from God’s perspective, “Why would a loving God compel someone who doesn’t love Him to spend eternity in His presence?” Patterson asked.

Archived Flash Media and MP3 recordings of the April 3 chapel service and message can be viewed, listened to or downloaded through the seminary’s Web site, www.swbts.edu.

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