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MLH or RIP
“May his/her memory linger in our hearts”
or
“May his/her soul rest in peace.”

Written and complied by Barrington H. Brennen, Oct 14, 2022

Should the phrase "Homegoing Service" be used for funerals?

The Seventh-day Adventist Church Adult Sabbath School Lesson for October 8, 2022 titled “Man Became a Living Person” was a good reminder about the true Biblical teachings about death.

But what topic was missing for me was the use of the term RIP: “May his/her soul rest in peace.” I am mentioning this because I am noticing that far too many Adventists and other Christians are saying it or writing the acronym RIP and are not aware that it is not a true phrase. 

I was taught as a child that Adventists do not say or use “RIP.”   Why are some Adventist and other Christians using it now?  Is it because of ignorance?  Or is it because they do not understand the dynamics of death?  Or is it simple because may are being influenced by outside sources and not Biblical truth?

I have developed my own phrase I feel speaks to what Adventists believe.  It is “May his/her memory linger long in our hearts”  or “May his/her memory linger in our hearts” The acronym is MMLH or MLH.

Here is a little history  
“In the 1700s, however, and probably due to the use of the original Latin phrase “requiescat in pace” during Roman Catholic burial rites, both these words and their abbreviation started appearing on cemetery tombstones and monuments." (The Funeral Help Center)

It is important to understand that the use of RIP is talking about the person’s soul and not the physical body.  This is not Biblical and it is not an Adventist teaching.  Adventist teach that the person, which the body and character, is the soul.  Hence "soul" or "person" has the same meaning.

Note that the original Latin phrase “requiescant in pace” was actually the prayer itself offered to a high spiritual power as an expression of hope that the deceased’s soul would find peace/comfort according to whatever religious/spiritual beliefs were relevant”

The latest trend today is using the phrase “Rest in Power.”  It was used during the funeral of the politician and activist, John Lewis.  Both really make no sense and dose not line up with Adventist teaching and not the Biblical understanding of death.  Why, because the soul is the person. The soul is not in the person or a part of the person.  When the person/soul dies, that is it until the resurrection.

Adventists, please stop saying RIP
“May his/her soul rest in peace.”
  

Use MMLH or MLH
“May his/her memory linger long in our hearts”
 or May his/her memory linger in our hearts”
Or any other phrase the speaks the truth about death.

 

Homegoing

The words “Homegoing” as a name for funeral services, is similar in meaning as the words “Rest in Peace.” The reason for this wording is because of the belief that deceased loved ones are going back home — home to God, peace, and freedom. That means for many that the deceased is in heaven looking down to them. Adventists teach that the dead are dead—cease to exist. No one goes to heaven upon death. Thus, there is not home going service. It is a funeral service that can be called a “Celebration of Life” or other similar phrases.
 

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 makes it clear:

“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will

 

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 be with the Lord forever.

Why would God have to come down for the dead if they are already in heaven.

 

Often people talk about how wonderful it is knowing that their mother or father is in heaven looking down on them and protecting.  This belief is not consistent with the state of the dead.  Why would God do that to people.  Why would be have those in heaven looking down on the evil and stupid behavior of their relatives.  That will not make me happy if I was that person in heaven. 

 

Another sad truth is there have been reports of a few children who have talked about killing themselves or actually died by suicide because they wanted to go to heaven to be with their mother or fathers.  This is so painful and unfortunate.

 

Asleep in Jesus
Adventists teach that the dead are asleep in Jesus.  Many think that it means sleeping in reality. Instead it really means death for the Christian is like a sleep, not literally a sleep.   When one is sleeping he or she is not aware of the soundings.  When waking up after a long night sleep, the person feels refreshed and energize. 

In the book Questions on Doctrine  it states: “While asleep in the tomb the child of God knows nothing. Time matters not to him. If he should be there a thousand years, the time would be to him as but a moment.”

 

I am often uncomfortable saying that death is like a sleep because it can easily be misunderstood.  It should only be used metaphorically. Here is a quotation from The Journal of the Adventist Theological Society scholarly article titled "Death as Sleep: The (Mis)use of a Biblical Metaphor" written by Wilson Paroschi, Brazil Adventist University, 2017

“The Adventist view on what happens at death has been sometimes misunderstood; first, because the way we ourselves have occasionally used the sleep metaphor to describe death and, second, as a result of the dualistic connotation traditionally associated with soul-sleep. It could be argued that this comes from a reading of Adventist literature unmindful of the larger context of biblical anthropology in which these statements are made. This, however, is no excuse for not making every effort to express our understanding of the subject as clearly and completely as possible. Sleep is not a description of the nature of death. And it could not be different, as death means complete cessation of life with all that it includes.

 

Sleep can be used to portray death only phenomenologically. On the lips of Jesus, the metaphor does carry an important meaning, but that is only related to the assurance and immediacy of the resurrection, not to death as such. This raises a further point, and that is whether it is valid to refer to death as an intermediate state.

 

If death means cessation and resurrection a recreation, is it not misleading to talk about an intermediate state? Is there really a state of the dead to talk about? Would it not be semantically—and anthropologically—more precise to refer to death as an intermediate or an intervening period (of time) rather than a state?
 

By misusing the sleep metaphor, we run the risk of failing to do justice to the seriousness of death and of detracting from the true meaning of the resurrection.

Death simply means that life is ended completely.  Asleep in Jesus is simply a metaphor describing the ended life for the Christian who believes in the resurrection.

 

Click graphic below to download and read the Adventist Adult Sabbath Lesson

on the subject of death -- "Man became a living person"

 

Click here for audio Version

 

Here are a few quotes from the lesson study:
"We see this same warning in Ezekiel 18:4, 20: “  ‘The person who sins will die’ ” (ICB). This warning teaches us two things. First, we are all aging and dying because we are all sinners (Romans 3:9–18, 23). Second, the idea that the spirit continues to live after the body dies is false. If the spirit can’t die, then what happens to the spirit when our bodies die?

The Bible doesn’t teach that we float around with no body after we die. We also don’t go to heaven or hell the same day we die. When we die, our spirit sleeps. We wait for Jesus to wake up His followers from the dead at the Second Coming. Jesus says, “ ‘My Father wants everyone who sees his Son and believes in him to live for ever. I will raise him up on the last day’ ” (John 6:40, WE).

As we saw already, the Bible teaches that the human is a living person. Another name for a living person is a soul (Genesis 2:7). A person or soul has two parts: (1) a body and (2) a spirit. The Bible also teaches that a person or soul stops living when the body dies (Ezekiel 18:4, 20). But what happens to the spirit? Does the spirit stay alive after the body dies? Many Christians believe this idea. They use Ecclesiastes 12:7 as proof. This verse says, “Remember your Creator [God who made you] before you return [go back] to the dust [the ground] you came from. Remember him before your spirit goes back to God who gave it” (NIrV). This verse does not say that the spirit stays alive when it goes back to God."  

Click here to read the entire lesson. 

Click here to read the Adventist official statement on the state of the dead.

 


This video is taken from official Adventist webpage on the state of the dead.

 

A Grand Celebration
Why would God make a big deal about the resurrection if most of the people are already in heaven?   It is my view that the second coming of Christ will be like a grand celebration.   Why would God do all of this celebration for those righteous ones on earth and leave those, many think are in heaven, out of the celebration?  We have no mention of a heavenly celebration for those who some believe "went on before." 

Read about this great event in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18:

13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.

14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.

15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.

16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

There is no Bible text about those, who some believe, are in heaven before the resurrection.  How do we celebrate these people?  There is no such thing.   During the resurrection God will be bringing down all the heavenly orchestra,  videographers, sounds engineers, cinematographers, lighting and acoustical engineers, to celebrate the resurrection--angels.   It is going to be grand. 

There is no mention how the previously-gone-to-heaven-people will participate in the resurrection.  There is also nothing mentioned in scripture how they will greet each other in heaven.  Nothing.   Why?  Because there is no such thing.

I will be dead, dead, gone to dust, waiting for the resurrection.

 

 

 

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