When reading through the death columns of a newspaper it is common to find the phrase 'Rest in Peace' or RIP at the end of some of the entries. It can be seen on gravestones, occasionally as a newspaper headline when a celebrity died and now frequently on social media when showing our sympathy.
What then are the origins of 'Rest in Peace', what does it mean, and is it a suitable statement for a Christian to use on the occasion of a death?
In its English form the phrase has only been commonly found on gravestones since time immemorial, this rest in peace is translated in latin 'Requiescat in pace'. It is a simple term that is used as prayer for the dead.
The link with such a practice as praying for the dead should immediately alert us to the unscriptural meaning of 'Rest in Peace'.
The praying for the dead as so commonly practiced in Churches is linked with the doctrine of purgatory, and the belief that their prayers can continue to be of benefit to those who have died.
A prayer from the Liturgy of Hours includes these words and is described as a partial indulgence for souls in purgatory.
The Bible however knows of no such place as purgatory, but teaches that at their death the souls of believers immediately pass into glory, and those who have rejected Christ go to the eternal torments of hell.
The question one will ask especially as Christians is that 'do we really pass on to glory when we die'?
Our prayers are of benefit to no-one once they have passed from this scene of time, indeed King David upon the sickness of his child prayed and waited upon the Lord, yet when the child died he arose and started praying.
Although we may say it innocently, and with good intentions, to wish someone to rest in peace, but a prayer for the dead is nothing but ancient superstition.
The redeemed do not need our prayers, and the lost can no longer benefit from them once they have passed from us. How much better it would be if we prayed more for them whilst we still can.
As Christian am a bit skeptical about the ancient things that our Christian leaders impose on us but cant be trace in the bible.
One might argue that it is good to wish the dead 'rest in peace' but remember, do we actually know where the dead go. ?
Let us keep from the superstition of the ancient beliefs and stay faithful to the truth of Gods word.