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If ever there was a complete waste of time and energy, chipping “R.I.P.” onto someone’s tombstone has got to be it. There is no more useless sendoff we can give to a soul who has departed from this earth than to tell them to “rest in peace.” No one rests in peace in eternity. The afterlife has nothing to do with resting. Maybe we’d like to envision ourselves taking the mother of all naps after the soul separates from the body, but God has quite a busy schedule planned for us. We’ll either be dancing, praising, and serving Him in Heaven, or we’ll be screaming, writhing, and burning in Hell. God likes creatures who are up and at ‘em. He doesn’t have any use for unconscious snoozers, which is why He’s eliminating the whole concept of sleep in eternity. On this earth, where we spend most of our waking time getting into some kind of trouble, forcing us to sleep is one of the ways God puts the brakes on us. But in eternity, we will no longer have these physical bodies, and we will no longer have the need for constant recharging. If there’s anything we won’t be doing in the next life, it’s lying around taking power naps or staring off into middle space. In Heaven, our lives will be filled with activity and purpose as God hands out continuous assignments for how He wants us to serve Him. In Hell, we’ll be filled with hopeless despair and an intense terror of God that we’ll never get any break from. This “rest in peace” epitaph we’re so in love with is just one more of Satan’s attempts to sell us a completely backwards picture of eternity.
Satan wants us to think eternity is some low key, meaningless existence in which souls just float about in purposeless states of being. He loves it when we think of the future as one long nap. He loves it when we stand around cemeteries talking to a hunk of cement and the decomposing shell of a soulless body as if those rotting remains have a sense of consciousness. As long as we believe the souls of our dead loved ones are parked under a rock with nothing else to do but eavesdrop on above ground conversations, we won’t be motivated to think about our own eternal futures. But if we plug our brains back into reality and realize that grandma never did give Jesus the reverence He demands, then we’ll be quite disturbed to realize she is probably writhing in Hell as we go about our daily routines. In His mercy, God will rescue souls from damnation at the very last second, but in real life, most rebels don’t take advantage of this final opportunity. Those who couldn’t be bothered with God during their lives, usually can’t be bothered with Him at death, either. So while we stand around saying nice things about those who rejected God at funerals and delude ourselves with fantasies about them being in Heaven, in reality, they are in Hell.
There’s just no way to sugarcoat Hell. Every time it comes up, smiles fade, moods sober, and people start feeling uncomfortable. This is how it should be. It is urgent that we feel distressed by the reality of Hell and by the fact that we could suddenly find ourselves thrown into it without any prior warning. The fear of God’s fierce wrath is what drives us to Jesus. If it wasn’t fear that drove us to Him—if we came to Him just because we thought He sounded like a nice, loving Pal—then we probably aren’t really saved. You aren’t going to be serious about asking for salvation unless you understand how desperately you need it. Your soul isn’t going to bow down at God’s feet in reverential submission unless you realize that He has absolute authority over everything in existence.
Satan is desperate to stop us from seeing God in an accurate light. As long as we think of God as some nice Guy who isn’t all that invested in what we do down here, we won’t embrace the reverential fear that is necessary for salvation. As long as we think of eternity as some random dimension in which our souls drift about in a state of perpetual rest, we won’t see death as the terrifying end of all hope that it is. “They are all just resting in peace,” Satan whispers to us. “Think about your loved ones sleeping peacefully in their graves. There is nothing to fear about dying. It’s just a natural transition into a long, beautiful rest.” What a heap of lies. We’d be much better off peppering cemeteries with statues of people screaming in anguish and demons snarling with glee instead of a bunch of kind faced angels standing about on guard. Angels have nothing to do with where we spend eternity. They can’t prevent human souls from going to Hell, nor would they try to, for angels are loyal to God and they agree with Him that those who defy Him deserve eternal torment.
According to Jesus, most souls go to Hell. We could really use to be reminded of this when we go to visit the graves of the dead. If we could look about and see images of pain and anguish, then we’d be reminded of where most souls end up, and we’d be more motivated to think about the future of our own souls. But instead Satan makes sure we’re surrounded with stonework that promotes a very deceiving view what eternity will be like.
Can you imagine how offended people would be if we decorated cemeteries with some more accurate depictions of the afterlife? Can you imagine the uproar if we carved flames of torment onto gravestones in place of “RIP”? We won’t ever do it, of course, because Satan has taught us to beautify death as much as possible, decorating the memory of a soul’s wasted life with flowers and cards instead of learning from their mistakes. To die in rebellion against God—there is no more horrible end. Such souls are lost forever and any good they did on earth is completely discounted. We should be horrified by the thought of where these souls ended up—instead we put flowers on their graves and fantasize that their souls are resting in peace. “R.I.P.” has certainly proven to be one of Satan’s most effective deceptions.
What Happens After Death