Monday, August 27, 2007

Happy Anniversary Sweetheart

…Rejoice with the wife of thy youth.
(Pro 5:18b)

Saturday, August 25, 2007, my wife, Sheri, and I celebrated 17 years of marriage. Sheri was my high school sweetheart, though we attended different high schools. We met in a situation that we would not allow our own children to be involved with, a government school high school homecoming dance.

It was October, 1983. Sheri was the most beautiful girl at the dance that night. It was held at her high school, and I was there with another date. Her mother was exercising a large degree of wisdom and did not allow her to date at the age of 14. We were both freshmen in our high schools on opposite sides of the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex. My date had introduced me to Sheri. So, when this other girl decided to dance with someone else, I took the opportunity to ask Sheri. I’m glad Sheri wasn’t judging me by my dancing abilities. Otherwise, we would never have hit it off. During the evening, I did manage to get Sheri’s last name. As expected, the other girl didn’t last long, and we no longer “dated” after that night. So, I got out the Carrollton phone book and began calling all the last names that matched hers. I found her after about three tries.

Sheri and I went on to date all through high school and the first part of college before we married in 1990, when we were both 21. During our dating years, we were only “apart” twice for short amount of times.

During this time of dating we talked a lot. We’d spend hours on the phone. I’d drive across town on the weekends and spend the day with her. We made our plans, and dreamed of the day that we would marry. One day I woke up very early on a Saturday morning, drove to get her in Carrollton, and made the drive to Galveston. We spent the day together on the beach and dined at the famous Gaido’s restaurant before heading back to the Dallas area. I got her home before midnight that same day.

I will never forget our wedding day. While most guys tend to have a bachelor party the night before the wedding, I was busy doing laundry at the laundry mat in preparation for my new bride. Sheri and I wrote our own vows, and my father presided over the ceremony. As the music began to play and Sheri walked down the isle with her father, I witnessed the most beautiful woman I had ever seen stand next to my side.

So much has happened since that glorious day. In that time, Sheri has given birth to six beautiful children, and we are expecting our seventh in November. We have experienced changes in our theology. We have embraced a conviction to homeschool our children. We are now committed to teaching courtship to our own children. We’ve seen a change in the way we dress. We’ve lived in three different states, and multiple houses throughout that time. Every challenge we’ve faced hasn’t always been easy. There are things I have learned and things Sheri has learned, not always at the same time. Yet, through it all, Sheri and I have both taken the time to let each other know that our love is solid, no matter what. I didn’t have the chance to attend my 20 year high school reunion this year, because our Jamestown trip interfered. However, I was involved with planning for it. What struck me was just how many former classmates I had who were on their second or third marriages, or how many were just single again. Every couple has their own story, and I can’t begin to know all the details of their situations. But the fact remains that many were unable to keep their marriages together. Thanks be to God that Sheri and I understand the importance of covenant. We are committed to one another like Christ and His church. I can truly say that our marriage is much stronger now than it was 17 years ago when we were first starting out. I have no doubt that our marriage will stand the test of time until “death do us part.”

It’s amazing to see the difference in the way we grew up compared to the way we are raising our children. It could be that evil is prevalent, and there are things that our parents allowed us to do that would be much more dangerous today. Or it could be that the Holy Spirit is doing a work of reformation in these days, calling parents to homeschool their children, and embrace courtship as the means for finding suitable mates for their children. I believe it is quite possible both of these things are acting together to cause us to raise our own children in a much different way than our own upbringing. I don’t fault our parents. Yet, I have a much different vision for my own family. I believe God is sovereign. In spite of the fact that I no longer believe in dating, I dated my beloved bride before we married. In spite of the fact that my children will not attend government schools, that’s where we met. God preserved us, and graciously kept us pure for one another until marriage in spite of the temptations we faced in a dating situation. So, while we are the “exception to the rule” I praise God that Sheri and I have almost 24 years of relationship, and 17 years of marital bliss.

Sheri, I love you. You are a virtuous woman, truly valued far above rubies. May God’s blessings be upon you all the days of your life. Happy anniversary, sweetheart.


Friday, August 24, 2007

Daddy, Will You Teach Me to Read?

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
(Deu 6:6-7)

My second son, and fourth child, Justin frequently looks up at me and asks me the question, “Daddy, will you teach me to read?” When he asks me this, what he wants to know is if I will sit down and work through a lesson in his book, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons with him. This is the same text that I have used to teach each of my older three children to read.

It is somewhat of a “rite of passage” in our household to be taught, by Daddy, how to read. When Brittney, my oldest, was approaching age 5 I began to research our schooling options. I had heard of homeschooling, but had not actually considered it prior to this time. By the grace of God, Brittney turned 5 on September 2, 1998. This was one day too late to start government school kindergarten in the state of Texas. So, as I had been researching the possibility of homeschooling, my wife and I agreed that I would teach her at home that first year just to “see how it goes.” If it didn’t work well, we’d just enroll her in school in 1999. Thus began our journey into homeschooling. Homeschooling didn’t only “work well,” it worked extremely well. Brittney developed a love for reading. I loved spending the time with her teaching her how to read, write, and do math. That first year, we did it in the evening after work. My wife grew tired of our evenings being consumed with Brittney and I working on her schooling while she cared for our oldest son, Michael, who was two years younger than Brittney. So, the next year, I continued teaching Brittney math in the mornings. Eventually Brittney gained the experience needed to do most of the work on her own. I also changed jobs, which made it difficult to continue the morning routine. Yet, what remained was that I would teach each child to read, in the evening. Doing reading in the evening only takes about 20 minutes a day. My wife now handles anything else that needs to be done during the day, including teaching them writing and math. We’ve never regretted homeschooling and would not consider any other alternative now.

When Sheri and I were first married, she worked in a day care center close to the IBM building where I was working as a co-op student. Everyday Sheri would go to work she’d witness other people’s children take their first steps, say their first words, sit up for the first time, roll over, and on and on. She felt terrible telling a young professional mother that her child had accomplished a particular milestone. Sometimes she didn’t even mention it, hoping that the child would do the same stunt for their parents during the few hours they had with them after work and before bedtime. I see homeschooling in much the same light. There’s nothing like seeing the light in the eyes of your child as he “gets it” when learning to read or do math. There’s nothing like watching him form his letters as he writes, “I luv you.”

This fall, Justin is “officially” beginning school, though we’ve been working through the “Teach Your Child to Read” book somewhat inconsistently since the spring. He is so excited! His face really lit up when his Saxon math worksheets arrived in the mail about a week ago. Every evening when I come home Justin runs to me and asks, “Daddy, will you teach me to read?” It’s time for me to finish up this text book with him so he can move on to more complicated things. After all, he already takes his turn each evening reading from his own Geneva Bible during family worship. ;-)

Monday, August 20, 2007

GOSPEL SONNETS - Chapter 1 - Section 3

By Ralph Erskine
Chapter 1

SECTION III. – Man’s LEGAL Disposition.

BUT, after all, the bride’s so mal-content,
No argument, save pow’r is prevalent
To bow her will, and gain heart’s consent.
The glorious Prince’s suit she disapproves,
The law, her old primordial husband, loves;
Hopeful in its embraces life to have,
Though dead and buried in her suitor’s grave;
Unable to give life, as once before;
Unfit to be a husband any more.
Yet proudly she the new address disdains,
And all the blest Redeemer’s love and pains;
Though now his head, that cruel thorns did wound,
Is with immortal glory circled round;
Archangels at his awful footstool bow,
And drawing love sits smiling on his brow.
Though now he sends in gospel-tidings good
Epistles of his love, sign’d with his blood;
Yet lordly she the royal suit rejects,
Eternal life by legal works affects;
In vain the living seeks among the dead, (1)
Sues quick’ning comforts in a killing head.
Her dead and bury’d husband has her heart,
Which can nor death remove, nor life impart.
Thus all-revolting Adam’s blinded race
In their first spouse their hope and comfort place.
They natively expect, if guilt them press,
Salvation by a home-bred righteousness:
They look for favour in JEHOVAH’s eyes,
By careful doing all that in them lies.
‘Tis still their primary attempt to draw
Their life and comfort from the vet’ran law;
They flee not to the hope the gospel gives;
To trust a promise bare, their minds aggrieves,
Which judge the man that does, the man that lives.
As native as they draw their vital breath,
Their fond recourse is to the legal path.
“Why,” says old Nature, “in law wedded man,
Won’t heaven be pleased, if I do all I can?
If I conform my walk to nature’s light,
And strive, intent to practise what is right,
Thus won’t I by the God of heav’n be bless’d,
And win his favour, if I do my best?
Good God! (he cries) when press’d with debt and thrall,
‘Have patience with me and I’ll pay thee all.’ (2)
Upon their all, their best, they’re fondly mad,
Though yet their all is naught, their best is bad.
Proud man his can-does mightily exalts,
Yet are his brightest works but splendid faults:
A sinner may have shews of good, but still
The best he can, even at his best, is ill.
Can heaven or divine favour e’er be won
By those that are a mass of hell and sin?
The righteous law does numerous woes denounce
Against the wretched soul that fails but once:
What heaps of curses on their heads it rears,
That have amass’d the guilt of numerous years!

(1) Luke xxiv. 5.
(2) Matt. xviii. 26.

Friday, August 17, 2007

GOSPEL SONNETS - Chapter 1 - Section 2

By Ralph Erskine
Chapter 1

SECTION II. – Redemption through CHRIST

THE second Adam, sov’reign Lord of all,
Did, by his Father’s authorizing call,
From bosom of eternal love descend,
To save the guilty race that him offend;
To treat an everlasting peace with those
Who were and ever would have been his foes.
His errand, never-ending life to give
To them, whose malice would not let him live;
To make a match with rebels, and espouse
The brat which at his love her spite avows.
Himself he humbled to depress her pride,
And make his mortal foe his winning bride.
But, ere the marriage can be solemniz’d,
All lets must be remov’d, all parties pleas’d:
Law-righteousness requir’d, must be procur’d,
Law-vengeance threaten’d, must be full endured,
Stern justice must have credit by the match,
Sweet mercy by the heart the bride must catch.
Poor bankrupt! all her debt must first be paid,
Her former husband in the grave be laid:
Her present lover must be at the cost,
To save and ransom to the uttermost;
If all these things this suitor kind can do,
Then he may win her, and her blessing too.
Hard terms indeed! while death’s the first demand;
But love is strong as death,(1) and will not stand
To carry on the suit, and make it good,
Though at the dearest rate of wounds and blood.
The burden’s heavy, but the back is broad,
The glorious lover is the mighty God. (2)
Kind bowels yearning in th’ eternal Son,
He left his Father’s court, his heav’nly throne:
Aside he threw his most divine array,
And wrapt his Godhead in a vail of clay.
Angelic armies, who in glory crown’d,
With joyful harps his awful throne surround,
Down to the crystal frontier of the sky,(3)
To see the Saviour born, did eager fly;
And ever since behold with wonder fresh
Their Sov’reign and our Saviour wrapt in flesh;
Who in his garb did mighty love display,
Restoring what he never took away,(4)
To God his glory, to the law its due,
To heav’n its honour, to the earth its hue,
To man a righteousness divine, complete,
A royal robe to suit the nuptial rite.
He in her favour, whom he lov’d so well,
At once did purchase heav’n and vanquish hell.
Oh! unexampled love! so vast, so strong,
So great, so high, so deep, so broad, so long!
Can finite thought this ocean huge explore,
Unconscious of a bottom or a shore?
His love admits no parallel, -- for why?
At one great draught of love he drank hell dry.
No drop of wrathful fall he left behind;
No dreg to witness that he was unkind.
The sword of awful justice pierc’d his side,
That mercy thence might gush upon the bride.
The meritorious labours of his life,
And glorious conquests of his dying strife,
Her debt of doing, suff’ring, both cancell’d,
And broke the bars his lawful captive held.
Down to the ground the hellish host he threw,
Then mounting high the trump of triumph blew,
Attended with a bright seraphic band,
Sat down enthrone’d sublime on God’s right hand;
Where glorious choirs their various harps employ,
To sound his praises with confed’rate joy.
There he, the bride’s strong intercessor, sits,
And thence the blessing of his blood transmits,
Sprinkling all o’er the flaming throne of God,
Pleads for her pardon his atoning blood;
Sends down his holy co-eternal Dove,
To shew the wonders of incarnate love,
To woo and win the bride’s reluctant heart,
And pierce it with his kindly killing dart;
By gospel light to manifest that now
She has no further with the law to do;
That her new Lord has loos’d the fed’ral tie,
That once hard bound her, or to do or die;
That precepts, threats, no single might can crave:
Thus for her former spouse he digg’d a grave;
The law fast to his cross did nail and pin,
Then bury’d the defunct his tomb within,
That he the lowly widow to himself might win,

(1) Song viii. 6.
(2) Isa. ix. 6.
(3) Luke ii. 9-14
(4) Psalm lxix. 4.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Praise the Lord with Instruments!

It is a good thing to praise the Lord, and to sing unto thy Name, O most High, To declare thy loving kindness in the morning, and thy truth in the night, Upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the viol, with the song upon the harp.
(Psa 92:1-3 Geneva Bible)

I love my Geneva Bible. I love all the notes of the Reformers at the bottom of the page. However, when reading any notes we need to remember that the notes are not divinely inspired, as is the Holy Writ of scripture.

The Reformers’ notes in Psalm 92:3 state:
“These instruments were then permitted, but at Christ’s coming abolished.”

I ask my good friends, who are much more learned than me, the Reformers, just where they get such a stance? We are told in Hebrews where the sacrifices have ended.

For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.
(Heb 10:4-9)

We are told in Acts where the rite of circumcision has ended.

But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?
(Act 15:5-10)

However, we are never told that the worship of the Lord with instruments has ended. What could possibly be the justification for such a stance? I have heard it suggested that the human voice is made by God and instruments are made by man, therefore it is profane to worship Him with instruments. I would ask, “What has changed in this regard since Christ’s incarnation?” If instruments are profane now, then they were profane then. If they were acceptable then, they should be acceptable now. We know that they were acceptable then through many Old Testament references.

Isn’t it a central part of Covenant Theology that we are to continue those things God has commanded unless He specifically discontinues them under the New Covenant? After all, this is the typical reason I hear from Reformed Christians on why the Ten Commandments are still applicable to us.

What I find very interesting is the Reformers notes in Psalm 98.

Sing unto the Lord a new song; for he hath done marvelous things: his right hand, and his holy arm have gotten him the victory. The Lord declared his salvation: his righteousness hath he revealed in the sight of the nations. He hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward the house of Israel: all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. All the earth, sing ye loud unto the Lord: cry out and rejoice, and sing praises. Sing praise to the Lord upon the harp, even upon the harp with a singing voice. With shalms and sound of trumpets sing loud before the Lord the king. Let the sea roar, and all that therein is, the world, and they that dwell therein. Let the floods clap their hands, and let the mountains rejoice together, Before the Lord: for he is come to judge the earth: with righteousness shall he judge the world: and the people with equity.
(Psalm 98:1-9)

First of all, the Reformers attribute the “new song” to the song made in response to their deliverance by Christ. So, we see then, that the Reformers take this Psalm to be prophetic in nature, speaking of the coming Messiah.

Notes, 98:1
1 That is, some song newly made in token of their wonderful deliverance by Christ.
2 He preserveth his Church miraculously.

So, how do they explain the references to instruments here? After all, if the rest of the Psalm is prophetic, then why wouldn’t the instruments be prophetic as well? Here is their explanation:

Notes, 98:6
1 By this repetition and earnest exhortation to give praises with instruments, and also of the dumb creatures, he signifieth that the world is never able to praise God sufficiently for their deliverance.

Hmm…even if they are right in this regard, does this negate the validity of worshipping the Lord on instruments? Rather Psalm 150 emphasizes the importance of instruments in the worship of the Lord, as the very last Psalm.

Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
(Psa 150:3-5)

Even then the Reformers “poo-poo” this clear command from scripture with the following:

Notes, 150:3
1 Exhorting the people only to rejoice in praising God, he maketh mention of those instruments which by God’s commandment were appointed in the old Law, but under Christ the use thereof is abolished in the Church.

Again, dear Reformers, speak to me through the books you have left behind just where you get, “Thou shalt not use musical instruments in the New Covenant” out of the Holy Word of God. If any “anti-instrument” Christians care to explain this on their behalf, I would welcome their responses.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Pennies, Melting, and 1965

According to, pennies minted prior to 1982 are worth over 2 cents each in their copper content alone. In response to this fact, the Federal Government, ever the “freedom loving” organization, has implemented a new law. It is illegal to melt coins for their metal content. It is also illegal to transport over $5 worth of coinage outside of the United States. Punishment is five years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine. Welkome to Amerika!

Regardless of these tyrannical restrictions, I have begun to hang on to my pre-1982 pennies. (I’m also keeping nickels, currently valued at about 6-7 cents in metal content.) My reasoning is that the government will surely not continue this madness for long before they decide to make the switch to cheaper metals. Bills have already been proposed to do just that.

Some of my friends and family are making fun of me. They taunt, “So Mike, are you really going to risk prison time or steep fines in order to double your money by melting pennies?” My answer is simply this. Any FBI/CIA/Secret Service agents who happen to be reading this please note this important response. I HAVE NO INTENTION OF MELTING ANY U.S. COINAGE. There. That should clear things up. I have stated on the record that I am not planning on doing anything illegal. Yet, I still want to save them.

Here’s my logic. If someone in 1965 or 1966 had taken this same approach with U.S. dimes, quarters, and half dollars, they would be doing very well today financially without ever having to melt a single coin. 1964 was the last year that U.S. Coinage was minted in 90% silver. If you manage to find one of these coins in circulation, you can sell it to a coin shop for quite a profit. Today, a 1964 dime is worth about 90 cents in its silver value alone. A 1964 quarter is worth about $2.26. A 1964 half dollar is worth about $4.53. These values represent an increase of 906.40% over their face value. A 1981 and earlier penny is currently worth 2.26 cents or 226.22% of its face value. The difference is that it is still pretty easy to find pre-1982 pennies in circulation, though they are getting less common than they used to be. Secondly, it doesn’t hurt anything to hang on to pennies. You have to save 2500 of them just to get 25 bucks in face value, so it gets impractical to store them if you accumulate too many. The worst risk you take is the lost interest if you had that money in the bank. Big deal! What are savings accounts paying now, 1.5%? If you get in a bind and need the money, you can always spend pennies, as they continue to be legal U.S. currency. Copper and Nickel are the last holdouts to the “hard money” this country was established on. A copper penny is “real money” as compared to a bank note. As copper continues to rise, I believe there will be a very real market for copper pennies even if they are never melted. After all, silver coins have value as “silver” though they aren’t melted down for industrial use. I believe the same will be said of pennies in the short term.

Friday, August 10, 2007

GOSPEL SONNETS - Chapter 1 - Section 1

By Ralph Erskine
Chapter 1
A general account of Man’s fall in ADAM, and the remedy provided in CHRIST; and a particular account of Man’s being naturally wedded to the law, as a covenant of works.


OLD Adam once a heav’n of pleasure found,
While he with perfect innocence was crowned;
His winged affections to his God could move,
In raptures of desire, and strains of love.
Man, standing spotless, pure, and innocent,
Could well the law of works with works content;
Though then, (nor since,) it could demand no less
Than personal and perfect righteousness:
These, unto sinless man were easy terms,
Though now beyond the reach of wither’d arms;
The legal cov’nant then upon the field,
Perfection sought, man could perfection yield
Rich had he, and his progeny, remain’d,
Had he primeval innocence maintain’d:
His life had been a rest without annoy,
A scene of bliss, a paradise of joy.
But subtile Satan, in the serpent hid,
Proposing fair the fruit that God forbid,
Man soon seduc’d by hell’s alluring art,
Did, disobedient, from the rule depart;
Devour’d the bait, and, by his bold offence,
Fell from his blissful state of innocence. (1)
Prostrate, he lost his God, his life, his crown,
From all his glory tumbled headlong down;
Plung’d in a deep abyss of sin and wo,
Where, void of heart to will, or hand to do,
For’s own relief he can’t command a thought,
The total sum of what he can is nought.
He’s able only now t’increase his thrall;
He can destroy himself, and this is all,
But can the hellish brat Heaven’s law fulfil,
Whose precepts high surmount his strength and skill?
Can filthy dross produce a golden beam?
Or poison’d springs a salutif’rous stream?
Can carnal minds, fierce enmity’s wide maw,
Be duly subject to the divine law?
Nay, now its direful threat’nings must take place
On all the disobedient human race,
Who do by guilt Omnipotence provoke,
Obnoxious stand to his uplifted stroke.
They must ingulph themselves in endless woes,
Who to the living God are deadly foes;
Who natively his holy will gainsay,
Must to his awful justice fall a prey.
In vain do mankind now expect, in vain
By legal deeds immortal life to gain:
Nay, death is threaten’d, threats must have their due,
Or, souls that sin must die, (2) as God is true.

(1) Gen. iii 1-6
(2) Ezek. xviii, 4


By Ralph Erskine

Part 1.

The Believer’s Espousals;
A Poem

Upon Isaiah liv. 5. Thy Maker is thy Husband


HARK, dying mortal, if the Sonnet prove
A song of living and immortal love,
‘Tis then thy grand concern the theme to know,
If life and immortality be so.
Are eyes to read, or ears to hear a trust?
Shall both in death be cramm’d anon with dust?
Then trifle not to please thine ear and eye,
But read thou, hear thou, for eternity.
Pursue not shadows wing’d, but be thy chase
The God of glory, on the field of grace:
The mighty hunter’s name is lost and vain,
That runs not this substantial prize to gain.
These humble lines assume no high pretence,
To please the fancy, or allure the sense,
But aim, if everlasting life’s thy chase,
To clear thy mind, and warn thy heart thro’ grace.
A marriage so mysterious I proclaim,
Betwixt two parties of such diff’rent fame,
That human tongues may blush their names to tell,
To wit, the Prince of Heav’n, the heir of hell!
But on so vast a subject who can find
Words suiting the conceptions of his mind?
Or, if our language with our thought could vie,
What mortal thought can raise itself so high?
When words and thoughts both fail, may faith and pray’r
Ascend, by climbing up the scripture-stair:
From sacred writ these strong espousals may
Be explicated in the foll’wing way.

This is the preface from Ralph Erskine’s Gospel Sonnets. I have greatly enjoyed this book. Ralph Erskine was a pastor of the Secessionist Church of Scotland. He was born March 15, 1685 and died November 6, 1752. I also own two other books of his containing his sermons. Erskine is Calvinistic in his theology, and helped to lead me down that path as well. As I have time, I plan to share sections of Gospel Sonnets here in this blog. I first learned of this book from reading John G. Paton’s autobiography. Paton describes that his father was reading Erskine’s Gospel Sonnets aloud in a garden when a young lady heard him and commented on its beauty. They married, and John was born to them. John Paton’s story is remarkable. So much so that Sheri and I decided to name our fifth child, Paton Valor Southerland in John G. Paton’s honor.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Glorious Doctrine of Eternal Damnation

Recently I was challenged by someone, whom I admire greatly, to reevaluate my stance on the biblical teaching on hell. Their claim is that the biblical word for hell is “gehenna.” They go on to state that gehenna was simply a place outside of the city walls of Jerusalem. This was a barren place where the bodies of criminals were burned. It was also where the sinning Israelites offered their children as sacrifices to the pagan god, Molech. Today, they claim it is a beautiful garden. Because of this shared name, they reason that this particular valley of Hinnon is the point of all the teaching regarding hell or gehenna.

With apologies to this person, who will remain unnamed in this article, I must differ with this interpretation. I suggest, rather, that this valley was named after the place of torment so often described in the scriptures. The very point that bodies, and children, were burned in this place give validity to the thesis that the valley was named after the spiritual place of torment. Contrasted with the idea that a fictitious spiritual hell was confused with this humble valley, the first idea makes much more sense. Why does it make sense that the valley would be named after the literal “hell” of traditional Jewish and Christian teaching? The answer is easy. The concept of a literal, burning hell is central to the teaching of the Bible. From the Old Testament:

Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it.
- Isaiah 5:14

Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations.
- Isaiah 14:9

I made the nations to shake at the sound of his fall, when I cast him down to hell with them that descend into the pit: and all the trees of Eden, the choice and best of Lebanon, all that drink water, shall be comforted in the nether parts of the earth. They also went down into hell with him unto them that be slain with the sword; and they that were his arm, that dwelt under his shadow in the midst of the heathen.
- Ezekiel 31:16–17

There are many, many, other references to hell in the Old Testament. There are also countless references to hell in the New Testament, many of which are the direct Words of our Lord.

But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
- Matthew 5:22

And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
- Matthew 5:29-30

But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.
- Luke 12:5

Perhaps the most convincing proof of a literal hell from the scriptures is the story that Jesus told concerning the rich man and Lazurus. It is said that you can tell the difference between a parable and a factual account by Christ’s use of proper names when relating actual events. Consider the following passage from Luke 16:20-31

And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
- Luke 16:20-31

In this passage we are told explicitly that hell is a place where the dead are in torment. It is a place that not only contains demons, but also reprobate men.

The title of this article is “The Glorious Doctrine of Eternal Damnation.” You may ask, “What’s so glorious about hell?” I’ll tell you. We all deserve this eternal torment. We have sinned against an almighty and an all powerful God. Were we to spend an eternity burning in hell, we could never repay the debt we owe. Yet God, in His infinite goodness and mercy, has elected some, out of His own good pleasure to rescue from such doom and destruction. He paid an enormous price to secure the souls of His elect. The precious blood of His own son was poured out on Calvary. To deny the existence of an actual, physical hell, is to declare that Jesus Christ died in vain! It is to say that the God of the Universe was foolish to send His son to die in order to save His own from a place that doesn’t exist!

To say that everyone will be saved and spend eternity in Heaven is equally appalling. If a man can die trusting in Baal, Allah, Molech, Buddha, or noone at all, and still have eternal life in Heaven, then again, Christ died in vain.

I plead with my friend not to forsake the doctrine of hell. Christ’s death was purposeful. He did save His elect from eternal destruction. The reprobate will spend eternity in flaming torment. To say otherwise is to deny the Word of God.