A few years ago i asked Dad where the saying ‘rest in peace’ came from. He patiently explained the idea of purgatory (‘A place of of temporal punishment for those who have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions’) hence when someone dies in the Catholic church they say ‘Rest in Peace’- awaiting their movement from purgatory into heaven. As a evangelical christian however, I won’t say ‘Rest in Peace’.
Ephesians 2:8-9: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast
I don’t believe as a christian there is such a place as purgatory. The bible tell’s us the way we are saved: Romans 10:9: If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Being saved means, Christ has accepted us, as his child. We no longer face the punishment of death and by his grace – Jesus on the cross, we can freely enter into his presents and dwell with him in heaven.
Instead then, when a christian brother or sister dies, i will say ‘At rest’. Why? – because i know as Ephesians and Romans said, If we confess that Jesus is Lord we are saved through the grace of God and we can then enter heaven freely without paying having off out debt in purgatory.
A call for christians now?
What do we say then if a friend dies who does not know the Lord? Well, Romans 12:15 tells us to ‘weep with those who weep’. As the unbearable sadness of the reality death sinks in to those families, we mourn with them – and we mourn to because we know that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God- Hebrews 10:31.
But what a call to us Christians! We must continue to earnestly pray for our friends who do not yet know Christ , pray for their salvation, so one day, we can say to their family, ‘at rest’.