RIP; June 21, 2019


Revelation 14:13 Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”
“Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.”

Thinking about it, it’s remarkable that I haven’t heard this used at more funerals. It’s a marvelous promise! I wonder if this verse isn’t used because we lack assurance that someone has died “in the Lord,” or that we are concerned whether people have deeds that they would want to follow them. Even so, this would seem to be the best Biblical basis for the common expression, rest in peace (RIP). Part of the issue is that much of modern society isn’t based on muscle power, so being “set free from their labor,” as the Japanese puts it, doesn’t resonate as much. However, there are all kinds of exhaustion, and being set free from everything of that sort should be inviting. Jeremiah 31:16, 1 Corinthians 3:8, Hebrews 10:35, and 2 John 1:8 all speak of our being rewarded. The specific word isn’t used, but I have always been encouraged by, “Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58) Every one of these passages makes it clear that God is the best Employer, and His pay scale is out of this world! That said, we can’t work to achieve our salvation; Ephesians 2:8-9 is appropriately clear on that point. However, when we serve God out of gratitude for what He has already done for us, nothing goes unnoticed, and everything brings blessing. Whether it is much or little doesn’t change the fact of our salvation, but as quoted already, nothing we do for the Lord is in vain.

There are times when I get thoroughly tired of all the junk in the world. Simply living through it all can be hard work! This verse does appeal to me, and is one more reason to look forward to heaven. I’ve just finished reading Heaven; an Unexpected Journey by Jim Woodford about his experience of heaven, and it has whet my appetite even more! That’s not at all to say that I am suicidal; my daily life is filled with the grace and joy of the Lord. However, the awareness that eternal life isn’t just a continuation of what I’ve been doing for the past 70 years is very comforting! Jim Woodford’s book had more to say about things to do in heaven than most things I’ve read, but I don’t need to be anxious about any of that. Like Paul, “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12)

Father, thank You for the assurance of Your love, and as You pointed out to me so forcefully yesterday, the awareness that I serve the Lord of Glory. May I indeed be anxious for nothing, but rest, relax, and rejoice as You have told me to do, walking in obedience to and fellowship with You, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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