Because of the financially trying times we live in I have had quite a few people ask me about Cremation vs Burial. What does the Bible say? What should I do? Is there any guidance in the scripture on this subject? I am always reluctant to answer, but only out of a desire not to hurt someone who has already made this mistake. The Bible gives some very clear and plain guidance on how to “put away our dead”. The average Cremation with a family gathering and urn runs around $1200 or less while a burial will cost between $7000 and $10,000 depending upon particulars.
However, despite the exorbitant cost of a simple funeral, Cremation is not a Christian practice. For starters in the Old Testament we find many verses where the dead were ‘buried’. God commanded the dead to be buried. In Deuteronomy 21 for example, God himself ‘buried’ Moses. I think for me personally that makes clear enough the example God gave us. God punished Moab for “cremating” the king of Edom. In Joshua 7:25, 2 Samuel 23:7 and 2nd Kings 23:7 God’s people burned the dead to show contempt. In the New Testament our Lord Jesus Christ was buried, not burned – another overwhelming example. Burial after death depicts a very important spiritual truth – until one has been “crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20) they cannot be ‘dead to self’ and follow that ‘death to self’ in the spiritual burial of baptism. Not only this but at physical death – the deceased is either destined for heaven or for ‘burning in hell’ depending upon what they’ve chosen to do with Jesus. Romans 6:4 says, “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death” and Colossians 2:12 says, “Buried with Him in baptism”. Burial is a part of the gospel, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. Read and notice verse 4 “And that He was buried, and that He arose again on the third day according to the Scriptures”. We find then of course the phrase often repeated “buried with his fathers” in scripture.
When I am asked for advice concerning what the Bible says on this matter, my advice is to follow God’s example and bury your dead. What if it is too late and you have already had a loved one Cremated? That is of no difficulty with God. He can transform ashes and dust into a glorified body. The same is true for those consumed by wild animals. God will raise all the bodies of His children, no matter what their manner of death or disposal and will fashion them, “like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself” Philippians 3:21
Cremation should not be practiced by Christians. I urge you to pray & obey the Bible!
I suppose I’ve been asked 100 times by now “pastor, is your church a come as you are church?” That’s an interesting question. In Mark 5 we’re told about a man possessed by devils, living in the tombs (graveyard), cutting himself with rocks and running wild. We are told he cried & wailed and no one could chain him or capture him for long. Can you imagine that being your son or daughter? Can you imagine those heartbroken parents going out with lanterns hoping to see their son; to see if he’s still alive, to see if he’s been hurt badly and what his condition is, hoping to see their devil possessed son and inside hoping they wouldn’t see him because it hurt too much. Can you imagine that young man covered with his own blood, naked, wild eyed, wounds all over which he inflicted on himself, running wild and living in the graveyard among the tombs? But when Jesus came that devil possessed son ran to him, fell flat before him and worshipped him [Mark 5:1-20]. Notice that Jesus didn’t say “hey pal…go clean up your act and then come back. He didn’t say “go get a shave and a haircut and change clothes and then come see me”. No…we must all come as we are (unclean, lost, sinful and needing a Saviour). Would I tell those parents No…your son can’t come to church until he puts on a tie and coat. Would I tell them their poor devil possessed son must remain in the tombs and not come to church and learn of Jesus until he gets his act cleaned up? No… his only hope is Jesus! His only chance is Jesus! He MUST COME as he is! I will not tell them their poor lost son is not fit for our pretty church pews and our carpeted floors. BUT NOTICE SOMETHING IMPORTANT ABOUT “COME AS YOU ARE”: AFTER the man in Mark 5 was changed by Jesus he went, got dressed, quit carrying on and was sitting listening to Jesus! He, like so many Jesus met, were drastically and permanently changed in every way. The Son of the Living God never left anyone the same! He never leaves anyone the same. He changes you drastically inside and out! You must come as you are yes! BUT YOU CANNOT STAY AS YOU CAME! Jesus changes everything! Read [II Corinthians 5:17]. Sadly today many have this “NO CHANGE” mentality and they’ve even created some so-called ‘churches’ that specialize in a ‘come as you are’ Churchianity where you can come as you are, stay as you please and leave as you came. They want mercy, grace and Jesus so long as He doesn’t tell them how to live, dress, behave or think. So many want God but not on His terms. The devil possessed man [Mark 5] was ready to let God change it all. If you’re ready for God to change your life HE WILL.