“Rest in peace” (Latin: Requiescat in pace) is a short epitaph or idiomatic expression wishing eternal rest and peace to someone who has died.
And lest anyone want to nit-pick that God has already decided where they’re headed and so I might be wishing against God’s will, just chill. I pray and wish for healing he doesn’t always give to folks, and pray and wish some living folks will get saved when technically one can argue God already knows and/or predestined them, so the difference is negligible. If my wish doesn’t correspond with God’s will, so be it. Happens all the time.
Conclusion? I can say “Rest in Peace” with a clear conscience. I’m stating my implicit wish for their destination and usually have no idea what their final days or relationship was with God. My desire is that they ultimately bent their knee to God before their final breath and are present in His rest.
Now if I’m preaching a funeral and am asked to speak to the person’s destination with any kind of certainty, that’s a whole other conversation.
To be even more clear, there ARE some phrases I would avoid: I wouldn’t say of someone (particularly a celebrity and thus, honestly, a stranger) “they are now resting in peace”. That would be a declarative statement and not a wish or desire. So watching my words IS important, but the above seems fine to me.
– James Harleman