by Becky Ritchey
I usually include a personal testimony in my blogs, but not this time. That’s because I’m writing about an event that I haven’t personally experienced: death. Back in the good old days, death was referred to as ‘that final resting place’. Unfortunately, the phrase is a misnomer since not everyone actually goes to a place of rest when they die. To put it bluntly, the admission pass to that rest is gained in this life through faith in Jesus Christ.
Where are they?
Whenever I hear about someone dying, my thoughts naturally drift toward their eternal well-being. On one hand, I’ve known people whose confession of faith in Jesus and exemplary lives leave no doubt that after death, they’ve entered a glorious eternal rest in heaven. On the other hand, I’ve been left wondering about others. Even when I hear about famous people dying, I wonder whether or not they’re in heaven with Jesus.
Are they in a better place?
It truly bothers me to hear people say, “He/she is in a better place now,” if there’s a possibility that the deceased may not have confessed saving faith in Jesus before dying. I don’t presume to judge anyone – that’s up to God. It’s just that, if you know what real salvation is, then you know that everyone at some point has to choose between salvation through Jesus, or not. Each person is given a time limit to get right with God, which is the length of their life here on earth. The truth is, time eventually runs out for everyone and everyone will be judged by God. [Hebrews 9:27] If a person has lived a life that obviously denies God’s authority, then the assumption that they’re “in a better place” after death is surely nothing more than a vain cliché offering hollow comfort.
My dismay over hearing a misguided “he’s in a better place” isn’t because I’m some sort of legalistic religious freak. I don’t possess a narcissistic expectation that everyone must believe what I believe. No, it’s because I believe the biblical alternative to that ‘better place’ is horrific. I’m 100% convinced that the Bible is the truth, and the Bible is pretty clear that the only way to eternal salvation is through faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection. Jesus Himself said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” [John 14:6, NASB] The wonderful assurance for those who come to Father God through Jesus in this life is eternal rest in the next life. Again, the Bible is clear on this:
Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on! “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.” [Revelation 14:13, NASB]
I’m not sure what that ‘rest’ is going to look like or feel like – but I do know that if you don’t have a Jesus-punched admission pass, then when you die you won’t get to rest, ever, for all eternity. If you think about the implications of ‘never resting’, it’s pretty awful. NEVER RESTING! Not merely, never having a vacation – it means no rest from strife, torment, tears, hard work, self-hatred, suffering, fear, pain, disease, heartache, grief, rejection, hatred, or the multitude of terrible things we humans have to endure resulting from sin in the world.
If you confess your sins and accept Jesus as your Savior, then there’s also a bonus: you get a measure of rest in this present life. If you know your salvation is secured in Jesus, then you experience real peace with God here and now.
It was through what his Son did that God cleared a path for everything to come to him—all things in heaven and on earth—for Christ’s death on the cross has made peace with God for all by his blood. [Colossians 1:20, TLB]
If you’re a true Christian, then in this life you can rest in the security that when you die, you’ll enter an eternal rest in that glorious place called Heaven. That’s the ultimate rest!