Tag Archives: Jesus

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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Building the church but breaking our families?


Family in tall grass

Sabbatical reflection 2: As a pastor it is biblical and wise to put my family first. There are many men who could be called to pastor the church where I am but I am the only man at this time called to love and pastor my family in the unique and intimate way that only I can. Jesus said He would build the church and called me to love my wife and children and minister out of the overflow of that. This must have a significant impact on how I use my time… what I say yes and no to.

There seem to be an increasing number of stories of pastors who have reasonably “successful” ministries but families who are falling apart because they spend more time leading the church than their families. Ultimately the family and the ministry will suffer if that is the case.

Whether I am part of a “successful” ministry or not I will leave to others to decide on but it does worry me that I probably spend more time leading others than my own family. Part of that is because I really love what I do working as a leader and pastor. And part of that is that while I love my family very much it is often easier to lead people in the church than my family for many reasons.

But as I reflect on 1 Timothy 3: 4 – 5 it seems that Paul is adamant that if a man is to be an elder and has a family he cannot manage the household of God if he can’t manage his own household. Paul doesn’t say the elder must manage his family perfectly but well and in such a way that they follow him. Now if for me it is easier to lead others than my family then it means that I am going to have to put in extra time and effort in order to lead my family well. And that actually will be good for the church because it seems that Paul is, in a way, saying that those with families must lead the church well out of the overflow of leading their families well? If that is true, and I believe it is, then I need to reschedule my life to spend more time leading and loving my family and learn to say no to some other things that may be on other people’s agenda for me so that I can lead my family and the church of Jesus better.

I also remember hearing a leader at a conference say something that made me realize while there are many other men whom the Lord could use to lead and be the vessel through which He builds the church where I am while I am still alive, while I am alive there is only one me through whom He will build up my family in the intimate and unique way that only I can.

So please pray especially for me and all pastors and church leaders that we would lead our families well and out of the overflow of that lead the church well.

But also please pray also for all Christian husbands and dads and single moms that they would all lead their families well and minister from the overflow of that to the world.

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Why are we so hard on ourselves and each other?


Currently I am on a 3 month sabbatical. This is both a blessing and a challenge. It is a challenge because I have realized just how much I am caught up in the work of the Lord and when that is taken away I see what I really am (or am not) as a person apart from my work. It is a blessing in that I can step back from the relentlessness of ministry and begin to focus and reflect on precisely these things. Over the next few weeks here on Bible-ography I would like to share some of those reflections with you. I hope they will bless you. I have pasted the bones of these reflections on facebook and on the front page of our church’s website.

Sabbatical reflection 1: On this earth as a disciple of Jesus I am and always will be a work in progress. I have weaknesses and struggles just like all other disciples do. I must learn to grow while resting in God’s grace and allow all other disciples of Jesus to do the same.

ANDAMIOS

This comes from a place where I reflected on why I am so hard on myself as a Christian and how that affects my relationships with others. I must remember that while on this earth although a saved sinner I will continue to fall into sin and will always be a work in progress by the Holy Spirit. And while I must not use that as an excuse to carry on sinning I must constantly remind myself of that and not expect perfection from myself but progress – even if sometimes that progress is one step forward and two steps back.

Oh how I wish people would see me in that way, but I know they won’t because we all tend to be judgmental towards others especially when they don’t do and say what we want them too… and so I must learn to see the very people who judge me in that “work in progress” way too even if they feel justified in judging me as the Bible says they shouldn’t (I am not talking about gracious challenge).

Oh how I wish I would see all Christians in this way and treat them in the gracious way that Jesus does.

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Which song would you choose to sum up the gospel?


Music

I would choose “In Christ Alone” written by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty in 2002. Read the story of how this song came into being by clicking “In Christ Alone” in the previous sentence.

Read these amazing Biblical lyrics carefully and prayerfully and you will see what I mean:

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone! who took on flesh
Fulness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones he came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied –
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave he rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

May my thinking and living reflect these powerful words!!

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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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A Prayer for Japan


Lord while You are always  in control of all things in ways that go beyond our minds and logic and according to your Word in a way that always works out for Your glory and the good of those who love and will love You we reel at the magnitude of this disaster. Our hearts go out to those weeping and mourning in Japan!

Orthographic Projection of Japan (green) and i...

Please help all who are helping the people of Japan to be successful in their rescuing, medical and logistical help. Please bring the nuclear threat to nothing. Please may there be no more earthquakes and tsunamis. May there be less people killed than expected. Thank you for all those that managed to escape the destruction.

Most importantly Lord, please enable Your people in Japan to be loving, comforting, influential disciple-making disciples at this time of great destruction and death. Please allow Your Holy Spirit to be an even more powerful tsunami of salvation over this whole country. Please allow Your Holy Spirit to shake and crumble the foundations of unbelief and allow Your Son Jesus to be seen as the Way of rescue and salvation. Please allow the hurting people of Japan to see that real power and love can never be shaken, washed away, shut down or explode because it is Jesus who controls all things for His glory and the good of those who love Him and will love Him even when we don’t see it like that!

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Top posts of 2010


thank you note for every language

Thanks so much to all who popped in for a visit during 2010. I hope your visit was thought-provoking, encouraging and made you want to know more about the Bible and Jesus? Here are the top 5 most visited posts during 2010.

5. The Real Threat of Pagan Christianity
4. Marriage is underrated! A celebration of 23 years of marriage
3. Suffering: Joni Eareckson Tada on Something Greater than Healing
2. My mother gave me away!
1. A prayer to start the work day

I hope and pray that this blog will help in some small way to you having a Jesus-filled and Bible-drenched 2011.

Lots of love, Mike

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