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Cremation Is Not for Christians

by Paul L. Freeman (1931-2020). Used with permission.

Paul FreemanMany people today are choosing cremation because they have been led to believe it is less expensive. Burial expenses are deemed to be not worth it, an unnecessary expense. Some Christians may have been influenced along these lines without stopping to consider what God has to say in the matter.

Christians are Bible believers and the Bible is their sole authority for faith (what they believe) and practice (what they do). When we turn to the Bible we find that the Christian's body, soul, and spirit have been purchased by the blood of Christ. The Bible says, "...and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." (I Thessalonians 5:23) and that we are "... waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body." "We are sealed by the Holy Spirit...until the redemption of the purchased possession..." (Ephesians 1:14). Our body belongs to the Lord and is His to do with as He pleases.

Everywhere we read in the Bible we find the saints of God burying their dead to await the coming day of resurrection. None of the people of God cremated their dead. Cremation was then and still is a pagan practice. God spoke to Abram and said, "And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age" (Genesis 15:15). God's direction to Abram was that his body should be buried. We conclude that God ordained burial for the body. Abram understood God and buried his dead wife (Genesis 23:19). Later Isaac and Ishmael buried their father Abraham (Abram) alongside his wife Sarah (Genesis 25:9,10). The Bible records the burial of Rachel, Leah, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, Miriam, Aaron, Joshua, Gideon, Samson, Samuel, David, Solomon, Elisha, and many others whose names are too many to mention. It is also written of Joseph, "So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt." (Genesis 50:26). God Himself buried Moses on the top of Mt. Nebo after his death (Deuteronomy 34:5,6).

In the New Testament is recorded the burial of John the Baptist, Ananias, Sapphira, and Stephen. However the greatest example for burial of the body is our Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 27:58-60). It would have been cheaper to cremate His body, but Joseph of Arimathea spent a lot of money to prepare it and then placed it in his own new tomb (John 19:38-41). God has only one word about cremation in the whole Bible, and it is a strong word of disapproval. "Thus saith the Lord; for three transgressions of Moab, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof: because he burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime." (Amos 2:1). God has told us that an untimely birth is better than that a man have no burial (Ecclesiastes 6:3).

The Bible is very clear that the resurrection begins with the body that was laid in the grave. When the women came to the tomb on the first day of the week, the angel said, "He is not here: for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay" (Matthew 28:6) After His resurrection many bodies of the saints "came out of the graves" (Matthew 27:53). The risen Jesus said, "Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me and see..." (Luke 24:39). When the Lord returns, it is written that "the dead in Christ shall rise first" (I Thessalonians 4:16). Christian, follow the Lord's example and bury your dead in honor and respect, rejoicing in hope of the coming resurrection day.

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