Rest In Peace…
There have been an abundance of celebrity deaths this year and it is those deaths that cause people to consider life and death. Most recently we’ve seen George Michael and Carrie Fisher of Star Wars fame, a day later Debbie Reynolds the mother of Carrie Fisher died. This past year has included Prince, David Bowie, John Glenn a total of 72 celebrity deaths in 2016. Even more shocking is that every year 55.3 million people die. That’s 151,600 per day and 6316 every hour.
None of us will escape death. It is as inevitable as taxes right?
And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment… Hebrews 9:27
It is my assertion that most people are practical “Universalists”. In other words, most people believe that almost nobody will go to a place like Hell and be punished for their sins. That’s why so many people say “rest in peace”. It doesn’t really matter that a person’s lifestyle and testimony of life completely contradict biblical theology. It doesn’t matter that they lived in complete rebellion to their Creator. I won’t pick out any of the above named celebrities but I’m not aware that any of them professed Christianity and even among professed Christians Jesus said few will find life.
What does it mean to find peace?
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” – Luke 2:14
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder and His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6
This all seems pretty straight forward and easy to understand in fact as we are working our way through the holiday season it’s almost guaranteed you had one of these verses on a Christmas card. We all desire peace don’t we? Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness can only be found where there is peace in the land and so we must consider if Jesus accomplished His mission and it doesn’t seem like He did.
Where did Jesus go wrong?
If He is the Prince of Peace and He is to bring peace how do we reconcile this? Did you notice that in Luke 2 it says that He is going to bring peace to those whom He is pleased? This forces a deeper question… How can one please God?
Romans 8:8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
If God must be pleased in order for us to have peace then we must understand the difference between the flesh and the Spirit. God’s word tells us that the natural man cannot receive the things of God for they are foolishness to him and that by nature we are children of wrath dead in our sins and trespasses… We see a difference in the relationship between the type of a person that can please God and the natural man who is in the flesh that cannot please God.
For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. – Romans 8:6-7
It is the Spirit that gives life and it is the Spirit living in us through Christ that causes us to be accepted by God and for God to be pleased. Through no work of our own, but only through the work of Christ on the cross. This is the imputation of God’s goodness to the sinner. The transfer of His righteousness on our behalf. Not that we are made righteous, but legally we are declared as we should before the Father.
You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. – Romans 8:9-10
What an incredible statement of what Christ accomplished on the cross for those that will believe upon His name. You can have peace with God through Christ and the Spirit indwelling your heart. Now we can please God. Now we can be accepted by God through faith.
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him. – Hebrews 11:6
By faith and faith alone only can we please God and by pleasing God through faith we can now have peace. We have peace with God, we have peace in our hearts, we have peace with as many around us as will live at peace with us. As far as is up to us we will live peaceably with all men. (Romans 12:18).
But it’s not always up to us is it? And actually the problem with peace comes when you proclaim a truth to those that don’t want to hear it. This is an attempt to make peace but it’s an attempt to make peace between man and God. These two things don’t mix and when the gospel is presented it often brings conflict. Peacemakers are more concerned about others relationship with God than they are about the relationship with other men. And persecution is sure to follow.
Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. – Matthew 10:34
This really messes things up doesn’t it? Or does it?
The Sword of the Word divides. It brings conviction and it brings truth, it shines light in a dark place. It breaks up hard ground in some cases but this is not good news to sinful ears. This is what Jesus meant. His doctrine would divide people. Even those of a household.
There is only one way to rest in peace. And that comes at a high cost. It can cost our lifestyle. It can cost our family. It can cost our job. It can even cost our life.
For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. – Matthew 16:25-27
What’s it worth to you? Is Christ worth giving it all up? I can’t answer that question for you but I do ask you to answer that question for yourself. Because ten out of ten people die. The odds are 100%. And it is appointed once for you to die and then the judgment.
Are you ready?
Will you rest in peace?