Prince. Doris Roberts. Merle Haggard. Patty Duke. Garry Shandling. Nancy Reagan. Joey Feek. Glenn Frey. Alan Rickman. David Bowie.
So far 2016 isn’t a great year to be a celebrity. When I googled “Celebrity deaths in 2016,” other celebrities appeared in the list, but I didn’t know who they were – either my age or my lack of pop culture awareness caused me not to recognize those celebrities.
I’m not bothered by my lack of knowledge of popular culture. I am, however, bothered by the reaction of some of my brethren when a famous person dies. I see posts on social media urging the person to “Rest in Peace.” A nice sentiment, but one that is often misguided.
I’m not the judge – God alone is the judge. “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31). “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5:10).
While I am not the judge and do not presume to take God’s place, I do know – only because God has revealed it in Scripture – that those who die outside of Christ do not rest in peace. In fact, “the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night” (Revelation 14:11). Those who fail to obey the gospel “will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might” (2 Thessalonians 1:9).
If people are to rest in peace, they must be in Christ. There is no other way. Jesus is absolutely the only way to heaven: “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). No other one can save except Jesus.
The forgiveness of our sins is found only in Jesus: “In [Jesus] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7). Scripture only gives one way to get into Christ: “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27). If you want to be in Christ where forgiveness and salvation is found, you must be baptized into Christ. That’s not my word or idea or opinion – it is the word of God.
Those who die in Christ know great peace when this life is over. “And I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Blessed indeed,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!’” (Revelation 14:13). No more pain. No more suffering. “Rest from their labors.”
Be in Christ. Live in Christ. Rest from your labors when this life is no more.
There’s not only hope for the child of God in resting from our labors; there’s a responsibility – share Jesus with those outside of Him. Why would we keep silent and allow people to head for an eternal doom? Share Jesus today. Let others know the rest and hope and promise He offers.