Category Archives: death

Who gets to R.I.P?


A rest in peace sign.

Over the last few weeks there have been a number of tragic deaths.  

There was another addition to the “27 club”. Amy Winehouse joined a group of celebrity musos who all died tragically at the age of 27 – Kurt Cobain, Jimmi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin. But not just celebrities, also people in Norway, the middle-east, Africa and the list goes on and on.

It is interesting to note that short on the heels of all these tragedies are the jokes about them (perhaps our coping mechanism?). And while some are quite funny, I suppose, it is desperately tragic that these people had to die like this!

But there is something I find even more tragic! You see it on the social media, on TV, in magazines and in the newspapers… and that is that more often than not when someone dies people will say “RIP” – Rest In Peace. And my question is how do they know? How do they know that these people are now resting in peace? Have they actually been over there to see? How do we know that anyone rests in peace after they die? Is it just wishful thinking? Or is it just a nice thing to say like “bless you” after someone sneezes?

Actually saying “bless you” after someone sneezes possibly originates from the great bubonic plague of centuries ago – as sneezing was thought to be the first sign of having the plague.

And “Rest in peace” comes from a Latin expression wishing eternal rest and peace to someone who has just died and actually comes from an old form of funeral service in the Christian Church which went, “May his soul and the souls of all the departed faithful by God’s mercy rest in peace.” Which in turn came from the Bible in Isaiah 57: 2, “Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.”

So the question is who gets to R.I.P eternally?

According to the funeral service it is the faithful. But who are the faithful? Is everyone faithful and so everyone gets to rest in peace? And faithful to what or who?

According to the Bible it is those who walk uprightly. But who are those who walk uprightly? What does that even mean?

And in the funeral service and all over the Bible it is all by God mercy. But who does God give mercy to so they can rest in peace? Everyone? Just some people?

Well, the only explanation I can give you is from the Bible, from God’s Word, because God is the only one who knows what happens after death (He is there) and why.

It starts in Genesis 1 + 2 where God creates everything and then on the 7th day rests. What does that mean? Was He tired? No. The rest was when God stopped creating and enjoyed His creation – especially the relationship He had with people as we see in Genesis 2. The paradise was a place where people could rest in the peace of a wonderful relationship with God.

But unfortunately as good as it was, in Genesis 3 we see people rebelling against God and instead rest we un-rest as people come under the dreadful burden of sin, death and judgment from God. Paradise was lost. No resting in peace for anyone! Just unrest between us and God and when people die they do not R.I.P.

But in God’s grace and mercy He promises to turn that dreadful situation around in Genesis 12: 1 – 3 – blessing instead of curse, rest instead of unrest.

Which doesn’t happen until Jesus (who is God in the flesh) comes to earth and makes peace on the cross between God and man by dealing with the sin, death and judgment that caused the unrest.

We see this in the announcement of Jesus’ birth: Matthew 1: 21 – 23: She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus (Which means “The Lord saves”), because he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’).” Luke 2: 14, Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

And so only Jesus can offer rest. As He looks forward to what He would do on the cross Jesus says about this burden of sin, death and judgment in Matthew 11: 28 – 30, Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Rest In Peace is only accomplished on the cross: 1 Peter 3: 18, For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.”

That is how the gospel is described on Acts 10: 36, You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ…”

And only those who accept Jesus as the only way to rest in peace can R.I.P. And in the New Testament those who accept Jesus are made the faithful and upright by God’s mercy. Romans 5: 1, Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…”

Have you accepted Jesus as your Savior, your Forgiver, you Peacebringer?

Rest In Peace can only be said to those who are followers of Jesus!

Colossians 1: 19 – 22, “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation…”


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What happens to babies when they die?

This baby is one month old.

Today I had the privilege of conducting a memorial service for a very precious one year old baby boy called Luke. Luke while on earth was a Down Syndrome baby with major heart defects that caused serious complications in other areas of his body.

Luke’s amazing parents are followers of Jesus and one of the many questions they wanted to be clear on was where Luke would go after death. At the memorial service I said these words to them and the other people there, “I want you to understand that I believe that Luke is in heaven right now with Jesus.  And I don’t say that just as some religious cliché to make people feel happy but on the basis of God’s character as revealed in the Bible and other Bible passages too.”

Why did I say that? This is my reasoning.

  1. The Bible doesn’t say that when babies die they go to heaven.
  2. Luke was not old enough to choose Jesus as his Savior as is the normal way for sinners like us (and Luke was a sinner by nature like all of us from conception as David says in Psalm 51: 5).
  3. But it is ultimately not just our choice of Jesus as Lord and Savior that saves us but the prior work of the Holy Spirit in us (according to His plan) that saves us and then allows us to choose Jesus – John 3: 3, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”
  4. There is no passage that I can take you to for this but what if it was God’s plan to give the new birth to all babies who died so that when they reached heaven they would acknowledge Jesus as Savior and Lord on the basis of what Jesus did on the cross?
  5. I say this in part because it certainly is possible for God to give a baby the new birth as in Luke 1: 39 – 45. And yes this is only one verse and two special people in a unique time in Salvation history but ultimately John the Baptist was just a sinful human being like us and it would be impossible for him to recognize the King of God’s Kingdom if it were not for the action of the Holy Spirit.
  6. And when you consider how graciously Jesus dealt with children while on earth this is not an impossible avenue of thought to go along.
  7. And ultimately I think there is a much stronger case to say that the children of believing parents go to heaven when they die on the basis of God’s electing plan, the Spirit’s work in them and their status as the children of believers as seen in 1 Corinthians 7: 14. This passage is problematic in some ways not only because of the different perspectives that people come to it with (some come with an individualistic mindset others try considering first century biblical thinking which is much more community oriented; some are determined to uphold a believers baptism point of view and others are determined to prove a paedo-baptist view-point) but also because at a certain level it is a difficult passage. But ultimately we must come to this passage seeking to understand what it is saying in context. In this passage Paul is dealing with some concerns in the Corinthian church about marriage in general and in the section where we find this verse the situation of a believer married to an unbeliever. Certainly whatever the “sanctification” of the unbelieving spouse (a responsible adult) means there is enough scriptural evidence to know that it can’t be that one adult goes to heaven because their partner is a believer. But when it comes to their children, if even one of the parents are a believer then the child is not “unclean” (def: that which cannot be brought into contact with divinity) but is holy (can come into contact with divinity). I think Paul is being much more radical that just saying that the children are now under the influence of the gospel (he would have used other language for that). I think Paul is saying that this child (one who is too young to stand responsible before God on their own) fall under the holiness of their parent(s). This has nothing to do with baptism but with the way God chooses to do things. Which seems so clear to Paul and his readers that Paul just states it without any clarification or qualification. And if that is so then I could apply this passage to any baby / child of believing parents and say that until he or she is old enough to take the responsibility upon themselves, if they die, they will go to be with the Divine, with God… The Holy Spirit having given them the new birth so that when they get to heaven will see Jesus and recognize Him as their Lord and Savior!

And that is why I believe that Luke is in heaven now! And ultimately why I believe that at least the babies of believing parents go to heaven when they die.

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