Friday 27 January 2023 | Written by Supplied | Published in Church Talk, Features
The first month of 2023 – January – has been one of the busiest months in recent times with so many deaths, family services, funerals and burials, both locally and those from overseas.
After almost every burial follows the unveiling of headstones or tombstones – if not a year later, most certainly at a time when most Cook Islanders are available to return home with families and loved ones for a memorial occasion of their departed loved ones.
A most common phrase that one notices on the majority of plaques or headstones are the three letter words: R.I.P which stands for Rest In Peace.
I have often asked the question, why do we have to die in order to find rest in peace and who has ever come back from death and told us simply and plainly that there is peace in death or in the grave?
We have read of so very many mythical and legendary stories about people who have died and have come back to life and made into some kind of a Hollywood war heroes or heroines.
But they are all fictional, untrue and made up stories like that of or characteristic of people in the movies and turned into multi-millions, billions, trillions and zillions of American dollar worth motion picture industry.
Are our ancestors, Papas and Mamas, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, children and friends with R.I.P. on their plaques and headstones truly down there in their holes or graves or watery graves forever living in peace? We have even read stories told of people with after death experiences, testimonies of how they woke up few or 30 seconds, minutes, or few hours after death?
The Bible in John 11:1 – 43; 12:1 – 11 tells the story of a man named Lazarus whom Jesus raised from the dead after four days and that same Lazarus sat with his two sisters, Mary and Martha, and served meal with Jesus after being raised from the dead. Much of the Jews who knew that Jesus was there came not for Jesus sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead (this is proof of evidence that Lazarus was raised from the dead) by Jesus Christ.
Jesus himself in the following scriptures foretold of his own death, that he will lay and raise himself up again after three days and Mary Magdalene and a group of women in Luke 24: 10 – 12 were first witnesses of the Risen Christ rather than the men Apostles who refused to believe but called it idle tales. Jesus Christ was alive in his Resurrected body 40 days after his resurrection, seen and witnessed by over 500 people at His Ascension into heaven from the Mount of Olives as recorded in 1st Corinthians 15:5 – 9 –another living proof of evidence that Jesus Christ is the Resurrection and the Life.
All recorded miracles of the dead restored to life in the Old Testament related to the resurrected power of God and in the New Testament, by the Apostles or any other believers who were all accorded to the power of Jesus Christ and nobody else. In another words, nobody has power to raise the dead to life outside the power of the Lord Jesus Christ.
There is therefore, absolutely no R.I.P = Rest In Peace in the grave for any who died without the Holy Spirit of Christ. The Holy Spirit of Peace of Christ must be received before one’s death, not at death nor when buried. Jesus says in Mathew 11: 28 – 30; “Come to Me all ye who labour and are heavy laden (alive not dead) and I will give you Rest (alive not dead). 29, Take My yoke (life of commitment, sacrifice and faithfulness) upon you, and learn of Me (His will is totally that of God); for I am meek and lowly in heart (meekness and lowliness, humbleness in heart): and ye shall find rest for your soul (we can only find Godly rest and Godly peace in Jesus Christ – by the Holy Ghost that He shall bestow upon us). 30, For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light. (The Calling, Ministry and Witness of Christ is always easy if the Holy Ghost leads and guides, never a burden nor bondage but always a blessing and spiritually-fulfilling life of ease to the very end).
The Holy Ghost we’ve always lived and fellowshipped with in life will raise us up from death. The biggest challenge and question we must ask ourselves is: How did and how do we receive our Holy Ghost? Was it or is it according to Holy Scriptures as how the early church believers received theirs as in Acts 2:38 and 39 or did we create and invent our own? Like everything we do in life, it is a process of conception, birth, growth, development, death and resurrection.
Thus: “Repent (turn away from self-will and turn to Jesus Christ), and (continue to the next stage), be baptised (bury, immerse, plant, identify) every one of you (not some but all as Jesus was at age 30 years at the River Jordan, also other believers at Aenon in John 3:23 for there was much water) in the Name of Jesus Christ (no other formula ever practised in the whole New Testament) for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost”. No repentance, no baptism in Jesus Christ means no Holy Ghost (no omission, no reversal, no addition).
Rightly divide the Word of Truth by joining all dots as the Master Jesus, Lord and Saviour, revealed “total truth” to Nicodemus, a Jewish ruler – the whole truth no half-truth – “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Except a man be born of the water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom God” (John 3:3 & 5).
It is false hope and false wishes for any human person to transition from this life to the next without obeying and complying to true biblical plan of salvation in Jesus Christ. He is the only way, truth and life to God’s kingdom (John 14: 6) and seeing Jesus face to face is also seeing the Father Himself (John 14: 9 and John 10: 30 and 1 John 3:1 & 2).
Settle not on false hopes but on biblical truth – Jesus Christ is that Truth! Only Jesus shall set us all free and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. He is the Prince of Peace – with and in Him is true R.I.P. = Rest In Jesus, now and to our day of rapture and redemption by His Resurrection Power. “Whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s” – Romans 14:8.
In conclusion, the Apostle Paul corrected the Baptism of 12 disciples of John the Baptist who didn’t know if they ever had the Holy Ghost. “And after Paul baptised them in the Name of Jesus Christ, laid hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spoke with tongues, and prophesised” – Acts 19: 1 – 7. May Jesus save, protect, preserve and bless our beloved people of the Cook Islands and all whom He has shed His blood for the remissions of all of humanity’s sins.
Kia Orana e Kia Manuia rava.