things worse than death
As Christians, it would seem to me that we should learn to not fear death. Of all the religions in the world, ours is the only one where the founder was proven to have been resurrected and therein promised His followers a similar rising. And yet from the lifestyle of many Christians today, death appears to be the worst thing that could ever happen to them, or their loved ones. From the womb to the tomb Christians desperately cling to life. Whether it has to do with abortion or euthanasia, many Christians seem to fight tooth and nail against anything that might cut short their existence here on earth.
One might also be led to wonder why a ruthless suicide bomber possesses more confidence in his own resurrection into Paradise than his innocent victims do in their's? Christians are counted among those who fear and thus frantically avoid death, even if their life has become nothing more than lying helpless upon a bed in what they term a rest or retirement home.
Yet the whole foundation of true Christianity, its entire premise and promise is based upon the presumption, even the fact, that there is a resurrection. The most basic thing which we each believe is that GOD raised Yeshua (Jesus) from among the dead. Confessing that (ROMANS 10:9-10) we believe that we also will someday be raised from the dead. And still many Christians terribly fear death and earnestly strive to avoid it at any cost the cost.
Howbeit, there are things Worse Than Death with which few seem to trouble or concern themselves. That which is worse than death is what might lie beyond the grave. Eternal death is far worse than simply dying. To lose one's soul, to be thrust out of the kingdom of GOD and cast into outer darkness, into the mist of darkness forever, are all warnings from scripture concerning what lies ahead for some, after death. This is no doubt the cause for the weeping and gnashing of teeth about which Yeshua repeatedly cautioned His followers and antagonisers (MATTHEW 8:12; 22:13; 25:30 LUKE 13:28).
Shouldn't we, as true believers, be willing to embrace death, to march directly into the face of death, as Yeshua did? Is not this the faith of Yeshua, the faithfulness of Yeshua? How many times did He tell His followers that they were going up to Jerusalem where He would be killed? (MATTHEW 16:21; 17:22-23 JOHN 12:32-33 LUKE 17:25; 18:31-33 MARK 10:45; 12:6-8 MATHEW 26:2) Yet He bravely and resolutely continued on because He was assured and confident that He would rise again. As Yeshua told His disciples, "If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I" (JOHN 14:28).
Was this not the faith of Abraham also? Scripture says that Abraham believed God and therefore that believing was counted unto him for righteousness. What was it that he believed? He believed the promise that "he should be the heir of the world" (ROMANS 4:13) and as such he looked for a city "whose builder and maker is GOD" (HEBREWS 11:10). Thus, "He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead" (ROMANS 4:19 RSV), but instead Abraham not only believed in his own resurrection but that also of his son Isaac's (HEBREWS 11:19).
The apostle Paul assured his readers that Abraham's righteousness shall be imputed unto them also, "....if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead" (ROMANS 4:24). Their righteousness all hinged upon them believing in the resurrection. The exact same is the case if we today are to have righteousness imputed unto us; we must believe not only in Christ's resurrection, but like Abraham we must believe in our own resurrection.
What then did Yeshua teach His followers about their dying? Did He tell them to do all they could to shield, protect and prolong their lives? No, in straightforward and piercing rebuke to that pursuit and purpose, He taught them to lose their life.
- RSV MARK 8:35-37 For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? For what can a man give in return for his life?
Here and elsewhere Yeshua forewarned that how one chooses to live out his time here on earth directly affects and impacts what lies ahead for him beyond the grave. If we reject GOD's will so as to live the life we choose, then we may actually lose what we thought we were shielding. How sad and unfortunate to see an individual waste away his allotted time and energy in exchange for earthly pleasures and treasures, thereby forfeiting those rewards and crowns which might have been eternally his, after resurrection.
And yet it should be remembered that Yeshua was never reckless. He never threw caution to the wind, so to speak. He even sidestepped many situations which might have proved dangerous. Loosing our fear of death is not to be likened unto being rash and foolhardy. Rather, it's being confident in our resurrection. The reader may want to refer to the Study Wise As Serpents.
When some nutcase kills a number of innocent victims, we are all outraged and feel sorrow and pity for the victims while in turn we despise and show rage towards the assailant. But should we not feel sorrow for both? If the victims are indeed innocent, then we should expect them to be resurrected unto eternal life, while the murderer on the other hand has no doubt lost any chance at eternal life and has very probably condemned himself to eternal death (1 JOHN 3:15). A very dear and tragic cost for his momentary act of revenge or insanity.
Is this not the essence of what Yeshua meant when He instructed His followers to "pray for those who persecute you" (MATTHEW 5:44)? That is a command which is next to impossible if we are only thinking of this life, but when we open up our horizons and consider eternity after the Resurrection, all becomes plain and clear.
Victorious armies often return to cheering crowds, but in light of the Resurrection, who are the real victors? Is it those who have conquered their foe by bombing them out of existence, or is it rather those who have been conquered and subdued? When the great cloud of witnesses have given their testimony, when all the facts come out before the throne of Christ, only then will the true victors shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their father (MATHEW 13:43).
Thus we should learn to live for the Resurrection. Our every action and re-action should be in the light of the Resurrection. We should continually be asking, "How will what I do or say now play out in His kingdom after the Resurrection"? Those who are unforgiving, those who insist on judging others, those who still hold grudges will most likely be cast out. As we shall come to see as we go through this Study, that is the clear testimony of scripture.
- MATTHEW 8:11-12 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Some indeed will not be sitting down at the banquet table in the kingdom of GOD. Instead they will be cast out, cast out into outer darkness.
If I may digress a moment; we gain curious insight into the kingdom of GOD when we put together two facts concerning the Resurrection. First, we can expect that partaking of wine is part of the activities to be enjoyed in HIS kingdom, for Yeshua declared to His disciples at the last supper that He would indeed drink wine with them there (MATTHEW 26:29). A parallel fact for us to consider is that evidently no drunks will be allowed in GOD's kingdom (1 CORINTHIANS 6:10). Thus we can conclude that if an individual does not get a grip on his drinking and learn to control it, he may not therefore be allowed in GOD's kingdom. The same goes for all of the other works of the flesh. This is why it is of utmost importance that we learn to control our fleshly desires and then learn to cultivate the fruit of the spirit (GALATIANS 5:19-24). The reader may wish to consult the Study, New Bodies but Same Minds for a detailed analysis on this subject.
Yeshua did not shun to warn His listeners and followers of the vital and essential importance concerning how they chose to live their lives here on earth. In a most graphic comparison between their physical limbs and members with their entrance into the kingdom of GOD, He no doubt shocked some of their sentiments.
- MATTHEW 5:29-30 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.
It is profitable for thee! That means that it is a good thing for thee; it is in one's best interest, a wise investment. To loose an eye or a hand is easily worth the loss, when compared with loosing one's own soul. To even hack off one's own hand is a wise decision, if that limb is indeed holding us back from entering the kingdom of GOD.
Of course it is not the actual act of plucking out the eye or slashing off a limb that gets us into the kingdom, but rather it is the willingness to loose anything, to loose it all for the sake of the kingdom. Are we truly willing, even eager, to rid ourselves of our sin for access into the kingdom of GOD?
Unto Yeshua had been revealed the mysteries of this kingdom and He on occasion would pass that insight along to His followers. Thus, believing and obeying that message was and is of the utmost importance if we ever hope for the salvation of our souls.
- MATTHEW 7:26-27 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
It was not the building of the house that was of the greatest concern, but rather upon what was the house built, what was its foundation? We are expected to build, to work and accomplish something with our lives, but we are warned to build upon the right foundation. First, hear what He said, then after that hearing we are to obey what we have heard. Only after that are we ready and equipped to build, because in the day of resurrection every man's work shall be put to the test so as to see whether or not his labor was in vain or is it to be rewarded (1 CORINTHIANS 3:10-14).
- MATTHEW 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
Is this not the whole jest of the testimony of scripture? Is it not all and entirely about the Resurrection? We should not fear the lunatic who is wired with explosives, nor the nut who has a gun pressed against our temple. Fear and obey only HIM who holds the power of resurrection. How great would be the world's transformation if every individual realized that their deeds were to be remembered and judged, in the Resurrection.
- MATTHEW 11:20-24 Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.
- And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.
Sodom was a desperately wicked city. So depraved and vile that there was not found there even ten righteous men (GENESIS 18:32). And yet, it was to be more tolerable in the day of judgment for that place, than it was to be for the cities of the so called holy land. There is nothing holy about the land which rejected Yeshua and His teaching.
Evidently, future judgment will be handed down in proportion to how much truth an individual has been exposed to or acquainted with. Again, it was all to do with the Resurrection, at the day of judgment.
- MATTHEW 13:40-43 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world [era]. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
This general Resurrection occurred at His Parousia, His return around 70 A.D. when that which was written in the book of REVELATION was accomplished and fulfilled (the reader may wish to refer to the Study Whatever Happened to Timothy?). This general Resurrection is referred to in scripture as the first, the former or chief Resurrection (REVELATION 20:6). Howbeit, it was evidently not the very first to occur, because at least one previous resurrection was made reference to in MATTHEW 27:52 (perhaps even another resurrection is hinted at in EPHESIANS 4:9 and REVELATION 6:9-11), but the Resurrection which occurred at His return, was the major and primary one.
Sometime after this chief Resurrection, Yeshua sent forth His angels and cast out of His kingdom some individuals. Perhaps these were those from previous resurrections; but it is also possible that Yeshua is referring to the spiritual powers of evil (EPHESIANS 6:12). These wailed from sorrow and gnashed their teeth in bitter anger, while the righteous who were judged worthy to remain shined forth as the sun.
Yeshua's warnings came plain and often.
- MATTHEW 13:49-50 So shall it be at the end of the world [era]: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
This furnace of fire wasn't necessarily for punishment but rather for purification. Fire is never used by GOD in scripture for the purpose of causing pain or suffering, but rather for purification, to burn off the dross. That or else to simply destroy something useless, like chaff. See the Study Hellfire.
- MATTHEW 18:34-35 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.
The word tormentors in the above verse is translated from the Greek word basanistes which is only used this one time in the Christian scriptures. It is from the word basanizo which often has to do with testing the purity of metals such as gold or silver. No doubt the lesson to be gotten from Yeshua's parable is not about someone being cast into an eternal fiery dungeon so as to inflict upon them endless pain and agony, but more so it is for the purpose of proving or testing them so as to ascertain their true worth.
- MATTHEW 22:13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Here again is a place worse than death. Outer darkness. It is outside of the kingdom of GOD and therefore dark, utterly dark. This is not a place we should want to find ourselves removed to. This is a place to avoid at all cost, even if that cost is life or limb. The individual who is referred to in Yeshua's parable as being cast into this outer darkness was he who failed to put on the wedding garment. This may very well refer to the garments which the righteous received after their resurrection. If he was not righteous, then he would be found naked, without his garment (as perhaps REVELATION 16:15).
- MATTHEW 24:50-51 The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
There is often little or no warning of the thief's approach. He has usually come and gone, already made off with his goods before we are even aware of our loss. Yeshua warned His listeners that His own coming would likewise be as a thief in the night (MATTHEW 24:43-44). No warning, just a horrible sense of loss when they awoke in the morning, the morning of their resurrection.
- LUKE 13:25-28 When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.
- There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.
This parable must needs be primarily concerned with the general resurrection of 70 A.D., because those locked out of the kingdom argue for the right to gain entrance by claiming that they had dined with Him, and that He had taught in their streets. Even so, there should be a lesson here for us today, because all workers of iniquity shall find the doors to the kingdom shut and locked to them (GALATIANS 5:19-21).
- LUKE 16:22-25 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 [hades, the realm of the dead] he lift up his eyes, being in torments [basanos], 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 [odunao] 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 [odunao].
Here again we have been taught the erroneous idea that Yeshua is speaking of this rich man being tormented endlessly in the fires of hell. And while the first torment is the word we have become familiar with, basanos (to test for purity), the second and third torment is from an entirely different Greek word, odunao, which besides its usage here is found only two other places in the Christian scriptures, where it can only mean sorrow from some particular loss (LUKE 2:48 and ACTS 20:38).
On His way to be crucified, Yeshua paused long enough to herald a frightful warning to the bystanders and spectators of that pitiful procession.
- LUKE 23:28-30 But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us.
This of which Yeshua saw in their near future was dread indeed. Dread of a coming judgment. Dread for something far worse than death. Dread of an eternal darkness we fear was the destiny for many of them. Ultimately realizing this, they would then hope that the hills and mountains could somehow hide them from the terrifying wrath of the Avenger.
- JOHN 5:24-29 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation [krisis, judgment]; but is passed from death unto life.....
- Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation [krisis, judgment].
All that are in the graves were to come forth! But not all were going to remain in His kingdom. Those who had done good were to be resurrected unto life, but those others, those workers of iniquity, those who rejected His word and chose not to obey the truth, those who had done evil; they were to be resurrected and summarily judged for how they lived their lives. Some evidently were destined for something worse than death.
Some readers may doubt this and imagine that they are now living in an age of grace where their sins will all be erased and forgotten. True, if one sincerely repents his past sins can be forgotten, but when he repents he is expected to change his ways and sin no more (see the Study The True Meaning of the Grace of GOD).
- ACTS 24:25 And as he [Paul] reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.
Though mighty and powerful, Felix trembled when he heard from Paul of the judgment to come. These words of scripture are meant to shock our senses, to cause an awareness within us, to awake us to the reality of things worse than death. Death, which we see all around us, should awaken us to the seriousness of life; because the short time we are given here on earth is not intended to be some sort of pleasure cruise. Life is for learning. Learning the truth has got to be our primary objective, howbeit, not as Felix, when we have a convenient season.
Paul wrote along the same vein to those in the home fellowships at Rome.
- ROMANS 2:3-13 And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds: to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality,
- eternal life:
- but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness,
- indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish,
- upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; but
- glory, honour, and peace,
- to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: for there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
"Glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good." But what does it mean, what did Paul intend when he instructed his readers to do good? He perhaps expanded on his intentions in his letter to the faithful in Christ.
- EPHESIANS 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Paul wrote that these faithful believers were created unto good works. They were not created simply for their own fulfillment, or just to be content and happy. They were created unto good works, as GOD's workmanship, GOD's masterpiece. Then Paul went on to further elucidate upon these good works.
- EPHESIANS 4:29-32 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
The good is that which proceeds out of our mouths, which we should be careful that it does not corrupt but always edifies. Edify means to build up. Our words either build up or they tear down. Tearing others down grieves the holy spirit of GOD. Therefore, be kind and tenderhearted and forgiving. These are the good works for which the faithful are created, as GOD's masterpiece.
I rather doubt that GOD is going to allow a bunch of pissed off people to remain within HIS kingdom. We must learn to love and forgive now, for there will be no bitterness there, no anger nor evil speaking in HIS kingdom (PSALM 15:1-3).
- HEBREWS 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.
All will die. None of us are getting out of here alive. What should concern us is that which comes after death, something possibly worse than death, the judgment.
We are fortunate to have preserved upon the pages of our Bibles some of the life and times of our Lord, who is the author and finisher of faith. As we look at and study His experiences and accomplishments, we better understand where our own heads should be.
- HEBREWS 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Yeshua believed with utmost confidence that if He obeyed His Father and allowed Himself to be betrayed, captured, tortured and crucified, that GOD was then to be trusted to raise Him from among the dead.
We must remember that no one before this had ever been resurrected. Sure, there were a few who had been resuscitated, but after that they were then still subject to die again. Yeshua's faith, His faithfulness was in that He persistently believed that somehow His soul would not be left in the grave, that His body would not corrupt. When scripture speaks of the faith of Yeshua, this is to what it is referring, to His personal confidence in His own resurrection.
- 1 PETER 4:17-18 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
Scripture does not mince words when it comes to the resurrection. The trembling reality for some, perhaps many, is their coming judgment before the throne of GOD. As Peter asked, "if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?"
- 2 PETER 2:9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished [kolazo, to be set right or corrected].
This punishment is not necessarily to do with pain or torture, but rather for correction. It is as a plant is pruned in hopes that it will produce more and better fruit. Sometimes the efforts are successful, but on unfortunate occasions the unfruitful tree must ultimately be cut down and destroyed (LUKE 13:8).
The unjust who stubbornly refuses to repent and change their ways, are reserved, but not with rooms with an ocean view in HIS eternal mansion. Instead, to them is reserved the mist of darkness forever.
- 2 PETER 2:17 These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.
Is GOD just in this judgment? Only HE knows. Has HE given each man an ample opportunity to know, to hear, to repent and obey? GOD knows. We only know that to HIM alone falls the responsibility to hold all men accountable for how they lived the lives and spent their talents which HE had given them.
- JUDE 11-13 Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.
The blackness of darkness for ever is not an easy concept for us to get our minds around. It sounds final. Is it? Is there a chance that somehow, sometime in the far distant future even these might be found worthy to escape their judgment and be returned to HIS kingdom? GOD knows.
Even though we are acutely cognizant of the resurrection, we must try to concern ourselves and focus our lives with the here and now. How we live this life is what determines that which awaits us in the resurrection. We are reminded of our Lord's words, "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day's own trouble be sufficient for the day" (RSV MATTHEW 6:34).
- REVELATION 6:15-17 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
It is a serious business with which we deal. We may put on a happy face and seem to be unaffected by the reality of the judgment to come, but that realization is always there, continually gnawing at us. We of course earnestly desire that each of our loved ones awake to this same reality and pursue righteousness and begin to grow the fruits of the spirit. But none can be force fed. Each has to eat according to his own appetite.
- REVELATION 9:6 And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.
They feared that which was worse than death, their day of judgment.
I was taught once that success occurs when opportunity meets preparation. Each of us shall some day have the opportunity to stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Let us be diligent to do our utmost so as to be prepared for that day.