By Elizabeth Prata
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died this week. As with any notable death, a flood of condolences and grief-laced remarks emerge in the news and on social media. The most common is “Rest in Peace”. I read that phrase a lot this week, and it always saddened me.
It’s too late for peace. If the person is not saved by grace, having repented of their sin and confessed to Jesus the High Priest, and if He had not pardoned the person upon hearing that confession, there will be no peace for that person, forever.
Wikipedia explains the origin of the phrase RIP.
The phrase “Rest in peace”, RIP, from Latin Requiescat in pace is sometimes used in traditional Christian services and prayers, such as in the Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican and Methodist, denominations, to wish the soul of a decedent eternal rest and peace. It became ubiquitous on headstones in the 18th century, and is widely used today when mentioning someone’s death. Source
Wikipedia also goes on to say that the phrase dormit in pace (English: “he sleeps in peace”) was found in the catacombs of the early Christians and indicated that “they died in the peace of the Church, that is, united in Christ.”
This is correct. The only peace in life and in death and in eternity is in Christ. But the phrase has been pulled out and used for any and every person, whether they are in Christ or not.
Hearing this may comfort the hearers at a memorial service or funeral, it may be said to a grieving family at the hospital, but it is not true. If the person was not in Christ, he is anything but peaceful. He is enduring the wrath of God, poured out fully on the person, and it will be so forever. In that place is weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Luke 13:28).
It is sad to say, and it’s a terrible notion to comprehend, but it is reality. This fact of eternal wrath is the reason we share the Gospel. The wrath is God’s justice for sin. And it is the future ahead for any person who does not repent of sin. The Bible speaks much of hell. It is the eternity. It teaches that hell is-
eternal fire (Matthew 25:41),
unquenchable fire (Matthew 3:12),
shame and everlasting contempt (Daniel 12:2),
a place where the fire is not quenched (Mark 9:44-49),
a place of torment and fire (Luke 16:23-24),
everlasting destruction (2 Thessalonians 1:9),
where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched. (Mark 9:48; Isaiah 66:24)a place where the smoke of torment rises forever and ever (Revelation 14:10-11), and most scary of all:
a lake of burning sulfur where the wicked are tormented day and night forever and ever (Revelation 20:10).
We share the Gospel so that they will not have to endure that but instead enjoy the blessing of being with Jesus forever in His heaven. It is a place where there is no death, no sin, no hate, nothing negative at all. It is a place where only joy reigns.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. (Revelation 21:4).
But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— (1 Corinthians 2:9)
And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass. And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. (Revelation 21:21-25).
The reason God can allow sinners into His pure and holy heaven is because He sent His Son Jesus to live the perfect holy life He demands. Then, Jesus went to the cross to die as the blood sacrifice for sin, and God poured out His wrath upon Jesus. Pleased with His Son, God raised Jesus up on the third day. Anyone who repents of their sin, confessing it to Jesus, He says, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” (John 6:37). Since the wrath for your sin has already been poured out onto Jesus (even though HE was and is sinless), God’s justice will be satisfied. Jesus said, “I am the Door”. (John 10:7).
If you do not repent and cast yourself upon Jesus, then your sins have not been atoned for and you are due the penalty for sin: death (For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23). There will be no resting, no peace, but only wrath. Forever.