About a week ago I had breakfast with a dear friend of mine who is a missionary in Russia. He told me the following interesting story.
His daughter was involved in street evangelism in Russia. She, along with other youth, carried clipboards and were doing surveys. One of the questions they asked was this: “Do you believe in heaven and hell, and if so, where will you spend eternity.” Ninety-five percent of the people interviewed responded along these lines: ‘Yes I believe in heaven and hell! I will spend eternity in hell because I am such an awful sinner.’
Now this same daughter moved to Canada and organized the same kind of outreach doing the same thing, asking the same question: “Do you believe in heaven and hell, and if so, where will you spend eternity.” Ninety-five percent of the people interviewed responded along these lines: ‘Yes I believe in heaven and hell! I will spend eternity in heaven because I am a good person!’
Over my forty-one years of pastoring, I have conducted a rather large number of funerals. A standard approach to funerals is the term R.I.P. Each halloween when I drive around I see decorated tomb-stones on people’s front yards with the letters R.I.P. on them.
R.I.P. means: rest in peace. What is required in our culture to R.I.P. is death—it is the only thing you need to secure that peace. Once you die, in our culture you will Rest In Peace.
R.I.P. is a cultural statement, and a lie that is not Biblical. The Bible tells us the exact opposite.
Hebrews 9:27 (NKJV) And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.
Hebrews 10:26-27 (NKJV) 26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.
What comes after death is not R.I.P but judgment! However, in Christ, there IS R.I.P.. R.I.P. comes from Christ, not from dying. Roman 5:1 (NIV) Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Separating R.I.P. from Christ will bring only judgment.