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If I Were Told the Future - Lesson 95

The Last Judgment
 

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We invite you to pray with us:

Father,

Before the inauguration of Your new Creation, in which evil will be no more, a last work must be performed: the Last Judgment.

We humbly ask You to enlighten us, by Your prophetic Word, about this important subject.

In Jesus Christ we pray.

Amen.




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1 Peter 4:17

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?

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As we have seen many times in our lessons, the judgment began in the heavenly sanctuary in 1844, with the examination of each believer’s case.

This first stage of the judgment identifies those whose conversion is not true and sincere, and their names are then blotted out from the Book of Life.

When this first stage is completed, Jesus will come to gather His people.

Then, the second stage of the judgment will begin, examining the case of each unrepentant, and leading to the execution of the Last Judgment.




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Revelation 20:4,12

And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. (...)

And the books were opened. (...) And the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

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1 Corinthians 6:2,3

Do you not know that the saints shall judge the world? (...)

Know you not that we shall judge angels?

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In our last lesson, we have seen that God’s redeemed people will assist Jesus as He judges unrepentant men and fallen angels.




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Revelation 20:12

And the books were opened.

And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life.

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Many books will be consulted during the judgment.

First, there is the Lamb’s Book of Life, containing the names of all those who are redeemed in Jesus Christ.




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Malachi 3:16

Then they that feared the Lord spoke often one to another: and the Lord listened, and heard it.

And a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought on His name.

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Revelation 22:12

And, behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

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Next, there is the book of remembrance, containing all the good works of God’s children, which will justify the reward of each one on the New Earth.




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Amos 8:7

The Lord has sworn by the excellency of Jacob,

«Surely I will never forget any of their works.»

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Jeremiah 2:22

«For though you wash you with nitre, and take you much soap, yet your iniquity is marked before Me,» said the Lord God.

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Finally, there are many other books, containing the bad works of all those who rejected God’s offer of salvation in Jesus Christ.

The content of these books will justify the punishment of each unrepentant person at the end of time.




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Romans 2:12,13,16

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, (...) in the Day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

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James 2:12

So speak you, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.

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The basis of the judgment will be the Law of God, His Ten Commandments.




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Luke 12:47,48

And that servant, which knew his Lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to His will, shall be beaten with many stripes.

But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes.

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Acts 17:30

And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commands all men every where to repent.

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As we can see here, the judgment will take into account each person’s level of knowledge.




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Revelation 20:12,15 and 21:8

The books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life.

And the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. (...)

And whoever was not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. (...)

[They] shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

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After the Millennium, those who rebelliously rejected God’s call to salvation will come back to life, to receive their verdict of guilt and their sentence: a total and final destruction.




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Matthew 13:49,50

So shall it be at the end of the world.

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.

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2 Peter 2:9

The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust to the Day of Judgment to be punished.

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The Bible indeed confirms many times that the punishment of the unrepentant will take place at the end of the world, on the Day of Judgment.




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Romans 8:11

He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwells in you.

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Many people teach that the wicked will suffer forever in the fire of hell.

But, in our lesson «The False Prophet», we learned that man is a mortal being. No one has immortality dwelling within him.

So we can already note an anomaly in the doctrine of eternal sufferings: in fact, to suffer eternally, man would have to be immortal, and that is not the case.




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1 Corinthians 15:53

This mortal must put on immortality.

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1 Timothy 6:15,16

(...) the King of kings and Lord of lords, who only has immortality.

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So, in order to live forever, man must receive immortality, which only God can give.

Now, the question we have to ask is: Will God grant eternal life to the wicked as well, so that they may suffer forever in the fire of hell?




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Romans 2:6,7

[God] will render to every man according to his deeds: to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life.

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The answer could not be more straightforward: eternal life is reserved for the righteous.

Only the people of God will receive immortality, at Jesus’ return.

As for the wicked, they will keep their mortal nature, and thus won’t be able to live forever.

Many other verses of the Bible confirm this fact. Let’s see...




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God will grant immortality only to those who have accepted His salvation:

«For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.» (Romans 6:23)

«Our Savior Jesus Christ has abolished death, and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.» (2 Timothy 1:10)

«No murderer has eternal life abiding in him.» (1 John 3:15)

«He that does the will of God stays for ever.» (1 John 2:17)

«He that overcomes shall not be hurt of the second death.» (Revelation 2:11)

«And this is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that has the Son has life; and he that has not the Son of God has not life.» (1 John 5:11,12)




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Malachi 4:1,3

«For, behold, the Day comes, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yes, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble.

And the Day that comes shall burn them up,» said the Lord of hosts, «that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. (...)

And you shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the Day that I shall do this.»

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Since the wicked won’t receive eternal life, they will not burn forever.

This conclusion is confirmed by the Bible, teaching that the final lot of the wicked will be a total destruction.




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Obadiah verse 16

For as you have drunk on My holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yes, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been.

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Psalm 92:7

When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they shall be destroyed for ever.

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The Bible says that the wicked will be «destroyed», «cut off», «as a non-existent thing», «as though they had never been», «ashes under the soles of your feet», and many other words expressing a complete destruction at the end of time.

The wages of sin is death, and not eternal torture in hell.




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The Bible teaches that the wicked will be destroyed at the end of time:

«You have destroyed the wicked, You have put out their name for ever and ever. O you enemy, destructions are come to a perpetual end! And You have destroyed cities; their memorial is perished with them.» (Psalm 9:5,6)

«[God] shall bring on them their own iniquity, and shall cut them off in their own wickedness.» (Psalm 94:23)

«For there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out.» (Proverbs 24:20)

«You shall seek them, and shall not find them, even them that contended with you: they that war against you shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nothing.» (Isaiah 41:12)

«Behold, the day of the Lord comes, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and He shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.» (Isaiah 13:9)

«They shall be devoured as stubble fully dry.» (Nahum 1:10)




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Matthew 25:46

And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

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Now, let’s look at some verses often presented by those who teach the doctrine of eternal torment in the fire of hell.

Let’s begin with this verse: some people say that the words «everlasting punishment» mean «everlasting torment».

But etymologically, «punished» means «cut off», «removed». So the sinner will be totally, irrevocably cut off from life.

The punishment will indeed be eternal in its effect, since the sinner will never live again.




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Isaiah 11:4

With righteousness shall He judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth.

And He shall smite the earth: with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the wicked.

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So the «everlasting punishment» is the everlasting death of the wicked, which Revelation also calls «the second death», a death without any possibility of a return to life.




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Hebrews 6:1,2

Let us go on to perfection; not laying again the foundation (...) of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

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Psalm 30:5 [NKJV]

For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life.

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Likewise, the expression «eternal judgment» must not be interpreted as eternal suffering.

The Bible is clear: God’s anger is «but for a moment».

Let’s think about it: how could a loving and righteous God inflict eternal sufferings on someone whose rebellion has lasted only a finite, human lifetime? The Bible clearly rejects this heresy.




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Matthew 25:41

Then shall [the King] say also to them on the left hand,

«Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.»

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Here is another expression wrongly interpreted: the «everlasting fire».

Yet, the Word of God clearly explains the true meaning of this expression.

Let’s look at the following verses...




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Genesis 19:24,25

Then the Lord rained on Sodom and on Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven.

And He overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew on the ground.

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Jude verse 7

Sodom and Gomorrah (...) are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

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The «eternal fire» destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. Yet, this fire went out a long time ago!

The Bible also says that «Sodom and Gomorrah are set forth for an example», but for whom?




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2 Peter 2:6

And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes [God] condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample to those that after should live ungodly.

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Proverbs 26:20

Where no wood is, there the fire goes out.

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The punishment of Sodom and Gomorrah indicates the nature of the punishment of the wicked at the end of time: a complete destruction.

They will perish in a fire which will go out only after having completed its work of total destruction.

And after that, there will be only ashes left.




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Luke 16:19-24

There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day. And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of 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 sees Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said,

«Father Abraham, have mercy on me! (...) For I am tormented in this flame.»

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The parable of Lazarus and the evil rich man is also often presented to prove that the wicked go to hell immediately after their death, even if that refutes the teachings of all the rest of the Scriptures.

But a parable must not be interpreted literally, as we can see in the parable of the trees that speak one to the other (see Judges 9:8-15).




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Revelation 20:10

And the devil that deceived [the nations] was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

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The Greek words «eis aionas aionon» (literally, «unto ages of ages»), and the Hebrew equivalent «al yolam» (generally translated as «for ever») do not mean that the wicked will suffer eternally, just as the eternal fire that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah is no longer burning today.

Other verses using the words «for ever and ever» will show us their real meaning.




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Isaiah 34:6,9,10

For the Lord has a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Idumea. (...) And the land thereof shall become burning pitch.

It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever.

From generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever.

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Jeremiah 49:13

Bozrah shall become a desolation, a reproach, a waste, and a curse; and all the cities thereof shall be perpetual wastes.

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The words «the smoke thereof shall go up for ever», «for ever and ever», simply indicate a complete destruction, since the cities are «perpetual wastes».




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1 Samuel 1:22,28

I will not go up until the child be weaned, and then I will bring him, that he may appear before the Lord, and there abide for ever. (...)

As long as he lives he shall be lent to the Lord.

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Exodus 21:6

His master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and [the servant] shall serve him for ever.

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Likewise, the expression «for ever» does not mean «eternally», but rather «a lifetime».

Indeed, the slave could serve his master «for ever», that is, all his life here below, but certainly not for all eternity.




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Psalm 83:17

Let [Your enemies] be confounded and troubled for ever; yes, let them be put to shame, and perish.

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Thus, the wicked will be troubled «for ever», that is, for the time they have left to live, before perishing in a total destruction.




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Matthew 25:41

Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.

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Revelation 20:10

And the devil that deceived [the nations] was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone.

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Will Satan be destroyed too?

Some people teach that, since Satan is an angel, God will not be able to destroy him.

Yet, the Bible teaches exactly the contrary: Satan will really be destroyed at the end of time.




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Ezekiel 28:17-19

Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty, you have corrupted your wisdom by reason of your brightness. (...)

Therefore will I bring forth a fire from the middle of you, it shall devour you, and I will bring you to ashes on the earth in the sight of all them that behold you.

All they that know you among the people shall be astonished at you: you shall be a terror, and never shall you be any more.

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In our lesson «The Great Dragon and his Angels», we studied this prophecy of Ezekiel explaining how Satan came to rebel against God.

Now, this same prophecy announces the coming destruction of Satan.




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Just like the wicked, Satan will be destroyed at the end of times:

«In that day the Lord with His sore and great and strong sword shall punish Leviathan the piercing serpent, even Leviathan that crooked serpent; and He shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.» (Isaiah 27:1)

[Note: In the previous verse, «Leviathan the serpent» and «the dragon» both designate Satan: «The great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world.» (Revelation 12:9)]

«(...) that through death [Jesus] might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.» (Hebrews 2:14)

«The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.» (Romans 16:20)




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Revelation 20:14

And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire.

This is the second death.

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Isaiah 25:8

[The Lord] will swallow up death in victory.

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1 Corinthians 15:26

The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

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The lake of fire is «the second death», and not everlasting suffering in hell.

And when the wicked are dead, death itself will be destroyed.




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Revelation 21:4,5

There shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

And He that sat on the throne said, «Behold, I make all things new.» And He said to me, «Write: for these words are true and faithful.»

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Nahum 1:9

What do you imagine against the Lord? He will make an utter end.

Affliction shall not rise up the second time.

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The happiness of God’s people won’t be disturbed by the rebels’ cries of suffering, for they will be no more, just like all the former things.




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Revelation 21:1-3,5

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

And I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying,

«Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. (...) These words are true and faithful.»

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After the execution of the Last Judgment, the New Jerusalem will finally come down on the new earth.

This will be the subject of our next lesson.




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Revelation 14:6,7

And I saw another angel fly in the middle of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice,

«Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come.»

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Yes, truly, the hour of God’s judgment has come.

Do we all rely on Jesus Christ, the only Advocate who can really help us?

Do we depend upon His appearing for us before God’s throne, to obtain forgiveness for our sins?




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Ecclesiastes 12:13,14

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.

For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

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Let’s remember that each believer’s case is at present examined in the divine court.

The only way to be acquitted of the accusation which hangs over us is to accept Jesus as our personal Savior, for the forgiveness of our sins.

Then, we must make Him the Lord of our lives, so that we may grow in faithfulness and obedience to the commandments of God.




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Let’s pray together:

Lord,

This is a solemn time, for the hour of Your judgment has now come.

We humbly ask You to forgive our sins, through the most precious blood of Jesus, and to transform our hearts, through the work of Your Spirit within us.

In this way, our names will remain written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and we won’t have to suffer the second death at the time of the Last Judgment.

In Jesus Christ, our Advocate, we pray and thank You in advance.

Amen.


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