Friday, June 21, 2024

RIP

 

RIP—"Rest in Peace”—A Biblical Concept?

 Bodie Hodge, M.Sc., B.SC., PEI

 Biblical Authority Ministries, June 21, 2024

 

When someone dies, I often hear people comment “rest in peace” or RIP. It’s a common phrase around Halloween and other Days of the Dead. It’s put on gravestones.

Why do people say this? Where does it come from? Let’s evaluate this, shall we?


Non-Christian Worldviews

In a secular worldview where you are just matter in motion—when you die, you’re done and nothing mattered. I don’t hold to that religion, but I know people trapped in that religion who were taught this false belief for years in government schools.

There is no reason to say RIP if you are secular. There is no rest nor peace in that belief since you’re supposed to be nothing but matter.

Other religions fare no better. Consider monism (i.e., Eastern religions) where all is spirit. There is no rest in their afterlife, but only struggle in a reincarnated phase. If you ever do make it to the end, it’s not rest but a form of cancellation.

Biblical Worldview

So where does the idea of “rest in peace” come from? It actually comes from the Bible. It’s indicative of a soul that continues to endure even after death, which will either be in heaven or in hell. In hell, there is no rest.

There is no rest for the wicked; they will be punished with the wrath of God upon them for all eternity. That is what hell is—a punishment.

However, those in Christ will have rest and have entered into Christ’s eternal rest. Those who believe in Jesus Christ and His death, burial, and resurrection will be saved from the second death, which is hell.

Because Christ took the punishment that we deserve on the cross—the wrath of God—for our sin, it was paid for by the Son of God. He was in a position to take that punishment. Only He was in that distinct position, being who He was. Essentially, the infinite Son of God took the infinite punishment from the infinite Father, and that satisfied God’s wrath upon sin. In this, you can see the essential aspect of the triune God—the three persons of the one God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

In Daniel 12:13 and Isaiah 57:2, we see instances of the godly resting in death. But the ungodly and wicked will have no peace or rest (Isaiah 57:21). There are a number of instances in the Old Testament of rest (compare Psalm 95:11 to Hebrews 4:3-11), and these are foreshadowings of the eternal rest that we will have in heaven with God.

The New Testament echoes this “rest,” viewing the godly as in a temporary state of being “asleep” (e.g., Acts 13:36; 1 Corinthians 15:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:10). When we believe in Jesus, we enter that rest. So when Christians die and they are laid in the grave, it is often viewed as a “sleeping period” or “rest period” until the general resurrection of all mankind unto judgment—since death has no sting for Christians (1 Corinthians 15:54-57).

Christians, when they die, are seen as resting in peace—indicative of their placement in Christ and awaiting the blessing of heaven and God’s eternal blessing forever. When someone says "rest in peace," that is indicative of a Christian who is waiting for the general resurrection.

RIP is a comment of hope in Christ. Sadly, many people use this phrase for people who are not Christians. It will literally be a rude awakening for those who are not in Christ, for there will be no rest for all eternity.

I want to encourage you to consider the claim of Jesus Christ as given in the Scriptures. Jesus died for our sins, and He was resurrected into life. He has the power over eternal life and eternal death, only through His shed blood.

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