This commonly used abbreviation stands for the Latin phrase 'requiescat in pace' which is translated as 'Rest in Peace'. A Protestant pastor recently ruffled a few feathers when he explained why the Protestant Orange Order should not be using this phrase:
From a Protestant point of view, we believe, when death comes, a person either goes to be with Christ for all eternity, or into hell...That's what we believe the gospel to be and in this 500th anniversary year of the Reformation, I think Luther, when the scales fell off his eyes, realised that it was all by faith alone, in Christ alone, the decision is made during life, on this earth, so that when death comes it has been made and no decision has been made after death." http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-40705687
The above point, however, is not universally true. It seems that this pastor believes in the doctrine that Christ died only for those who were going to be saved - rather than dying for all of us. This pastor's views are historically correct Protestantism but most Protestants today reject this idea and believe in universal atonement (Christ died that we might all be saved).

In addition, this older form of Protestantism teaches the idea of 'once saved - always saved'. In other words, if God has chosen us to be saved there is nothing that we can do to resist this. In contrast, if God has created us to go to hell, there is nothing we can do to alter this - we will go to hell whatever good we do on earth. Most Protestants believe in some form of this idea today. However, they tend to emphasize the fact that they are definitely saved rather than that the rest of us are going to hell!

Luther and Calvin developed their theories to refute the Roman Catholic idea of purgatory. This is a place of purification where those that have died have to suffer (the idea of suffering by fire is common) in order to be purified of the sins that they have not repented for enough. It is possible, in Roman Catholicism, for the number of days in purgatory to be reduced by donating a set amount of money to the Church or by performing some spiritual work.

The Orthodox Church has never accepted the idea of purgatory, nor does She teach that praying for the souls of the dead is meaningless because God has already sent them to heaven or hell. Even in the Old Testament the dead were prayed for: 'It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins '(2 Maccabees 12:45).

When we die, we will be judged, but this judgment is not final and the sentence is not eternal. This partial judgment is often referred to as the ‘Particular Judgment’ and the time of the departure of the soul from the body is often referred to in the services of the Church. The Particular Judgment is different in nature from a trial on earth for the simple reason that in earthly trials, the judge is trying to find out the truth. In the Particular Judgment, the judge is God, who knows the truth, so the trial serves only to make us aware of our actions. After this judgment, the souls of the departed will receive a foretaste of heaven or hell. 

It is only after the General Resurrection and the Final Judgment that the souls of the righteous and sinners receive the full recompense of their deeds. This Final Judgment is the one spoken of by the Apostle Paul in his Second Epistle to the Corinthians: ‘For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad’ (2 Cor. 5:10).


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