Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
1 Corinthians 15:18
The fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians highlights Christ’s resurrection, which is a vital part of the Christian faith. Paul stated that as follows: “For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:16-17).
There can be no true Christian who doesn’t hold to Christ’s victory on the cross, evidenced by His resurrection. Jesus’ resurrection gives genuine hope. He has taken the “sting” out of death and turned it from a horrendous reality into a door of glorious bliss.
Having “fallen asleep in Christ” is a metaphor for having died. Death is not a favorite topic. We mostly prefer to state that someone has “passed away” instead of having died. The word itself doesn’t sound pleasant. Furthermore, many tombstones state “Rest in Peace,” assuming that death is a rest-giver. That depends, though.
Unless one has truly “fallen asleep in Christ,” one won’t have any rest and all the non-confronting words about death are only a mirage. I’m amazed how there’s an overall sense that people just go to heaven. God’s word is clear: the only way to go to heaven is “in Christ.” Only then can we talk about resting in peace.
Paul used a common word for death—sleep. While having “fallen asleep in Christ” specifically refers to a believer’s death, there’s also a beautiful picture that the Bible conveys when we’ve died “in Christ”—there’s true rest.
For a believer death is the ultimate experience of eternal rest. However, even amidst a fallen world with an active fallen nature, there can be true rest in Christ. Actually, the more we understand the reality of being in Christ, the more we’ll experience that rest.
The author of Hebrews commanded us to pursue that experience: “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest . . .” (Heb. 4:9-11). While the ultimate experience of our Sabbath rest in Christ happens when we fall asleep in Him, there’s also a true Sabbath rest until that day—fully resting in Jesus and His finished work.
The Devotional Writer