Death, Burial and Cremation
(by Donald L Porter)
God order God has set the pattern of burial from the book of Genesis by telling Abraham, “thou shalt be buried in a good old age (Gn. 15:15). Abraham understood God’s mind and was much occupied with buying a burial ground to bury his dead in chapter 23. It is interesting that the word bury, buried, etc… is mentioned about 11 times in the same chapter. Please note that all the heroes of faith were buried and in Moses’ case, Jehovah Himself buried him.
God’s son The Lord Jesus was buried and spoke about His burial (Matt. 26:12, Jn 12:7). His burial is essential to proclaiming the gospel (1Cor. 15:4). That which is offensive to God has to be removed. So then if we claim that cremation is better than burial, then we are taking away from the truth of the Gospel.
God’s Spirit We are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16, 6:19) and we are not our own: “For ye are bought with a price… (vv. 19-20). Therefore since our bodies are not ours, then it will be an act of disobedience to decide for ourselves to be cremated when we clearly know it is not God’s decision and pattern.
God purpose God wants His children to be conformed and to bear the image of his Son in everything, even in His death (Phil 3:10). Therefore, if Christ was buried then we need to do the same.
The first scriptural mentioning of a burial after a death is when Sarah died at 127 years old (Genesis 23:2) in Hebron in the land of Canaan. Abraham broker a deal with Heth for a place to bury his dead (vv. 8, 13-15, 20) If a man beget a hundred [sons], and live many years, so that the days of his years be many, but his soul be not filled with good, and also he have no burial, I say an untimely birth is better than he. Eccl 6:3 (Darby). Therefore thus saith Jehovah concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, the king of Judah: They shall not lament for him, Ah, my brother! or, Ah, sister! They shall not lament for him, Ah, lord! or Ah, his glory! 19 He shall be buried with the burial of an ass, dragged along and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem. Jer 22:18-19 (Darby) The burial of an ass–he is buried, Dragged and cast out thence to the gates of Jerusalem. Jer 22:19 (Young’s Literal Translation) Jesus Christ foretold his betrayal and death his body being prepare for burial Matthew 26:12. During the time of percussion by Saul and others in Jerusalem when the church was planted in Samari, and pious (devoted) men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. Acts 8:2 (Darby) another translation says mourned loudly for him Acts 8:2 (God’s Word)
Physical death is a consequence of sin Genesis 3:19, therefore, the universality of death proves the universality of sin Rom. 5: 12-14, although physical death affects the body only and is not cessation of existence or of consciousness Habakkuk 2:5. Death has not power over the believer. Furthermore, is called SLEEP peculiar qualifications because the body may be awaken at any given moment Phil. 3:20-21, 1Th. 4:14-18. The Apostle Paul commented in 2 Cor. 5:8 “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord,” and further sayings, “he have a desire to depart” Phil 1:23. “…for it is very much better Phil 1:23 (Darby), that’s by far the better choice Phil 1:23 (GW) to the believer death is a welcome transition from this scene to be in paradise Luke 23:43. At the believer’s death he is at once with the Lord and the body awaits resurrection at the return of Christ 2 Cor. 5:1-8,