I came across this article and thought if was good. Many times people will come to you and want to know if Christians should be cremated or buried.
Cremation Vs. Burial for the Believer in Christ
Written By John Hamel
Recently a long time friend and supporter of this Ministry asked JHM in writing, “What does the Bible say about cremation?” I answered that question in writing and thought it would be good to include that answer here. Please keep in mind I could not answer their question as thoroughly as the Bible does because of time and space limitations. I simply pointed them in the right direction as follows, encouraging them to study it out for themselves.
As you read JHM’s answer to the question of cremation, we trust it will lead you into further study as well. Suggestion: Put the word “buried” into your computer Bible search and see why the Bible on computer is such a wonderful thing that came straight out of the mind of Christ!
“What does the Bible say about cremation?”
Although the word “cremation” is not used in the Bible, the subject is clearly covered. Burning human bodies after death has always been an occult practice observed by many of the world’s false religions. It is gaining acceptance in America and other civilized nations basically for two reasons. Number one, because too many Christians have not bothered to find out what the Bible teaches about it. Number two, it is considered to be “economical,” “sanitary” and “practical.”
A search of the Scripture reveals that only people who were under a curse for one reason or another had their bodies burned at death. As a matter of fact, the Lord instructed King Josiah to slay all the priests who had ever burned dead bodies on the altar of God. (2Kings 23:16, 20) He then instructed King Josiah to burn those same priests’ bodies on their own altars because they were under a curse for burning other human bodies. Something to think about, isn’t it?
Elsewhere the sons of Belial came under a curse for their deliberate rebellion. Anyone who even touched them came under a curse as well and was to be killed on the same day and their body burned. (2Samuel 23:6-7)
Again, the ONLY time someone’s body was burned in the Bible was when they were under a curse. Honorable people of God in the Bible were always buried upon death, not burned. Their bodies were placed back into the earth for safekeeping, the same earth from whence they came, until the Lord comes to resurrect those bodies for Eternal service to Him. (John 5:28-29)
In Scripture it was an insult to the Holy Spirit to burn a human body. This becomes very clear by reading the narrative involving King Josiah mentioned above. This is even truer in this New Testament Dispensation of Grace because the Believer’s body is “the temple of the Holy Spirit.” We are to honor God with our bodies not only in life but also in death, not dishonor Him. (1Corinthians 6:19-20)
Just to list a few Biblical examples of burial: Able (Genesis 4:10), Abraham (Genesis 15:5), Sarah (Genesis 23:19), Isaac (Genesis 35:29), Rebecca and Leah (Genesis 49:31), Joseph (Genesis 50:13), Miriam (Numbers 20:1), Aaron (Deuteronomy 10:6), Gideon (Judges 8:32), Jehoshaphat (1Kings 22:50), Saul and his sons (1Chronicles 10:12), King Solomon (2Chronicles 9:31) and the Prophet Elisha (2Kings 13:20), etc.
By reading the Old Testament books of II Kings and I & II Chronicles, you will discover a chronicle of all Israel’s kings who died and were BURIED, not burned. All of Israel’s kings were buried except for two. Those two were under a specific curse.
It was God’s will that even the wicked be buried and not burned unless they were under a very specific curse. (Job 27:15; Ecclesiastes 8:10) Burning a human body was to deliberately point out the fact they were indeed under a specific curse for deliberately defying the Most High God, not because it was “economical,” “sanitary” or “practical.” In the Old Testament only the CURSED were instructed to NOT be buried. (Jeremiah 16:4, 6; 25:33)
For a human body to be placed back into the earth from whence it came is an honorable thing. (Genesis 2:7) For a human body to be burned is a dishonorable thing in the eyes of the God Who does not change. (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8)
Under the New Covenant John the Baptist was buried. (Matthew 14:12) The Apostle Peter made it perfectly clear that King David was buried and not burned after his death. (Acts 2:29) Ananias and Sapphira were buried even though their deaths occurred as a result of their lying to God. (Acts 5:6, 9-10) Stephen was buried after his stoning. (Acts 8:2) Jesus Himself was buried not burned or cremated. (1Corinthians 15:4)
The Bible says we are BURIED with Christ in Baptism. It does not say we are “cremated” with Him in Baptism. (Romans 6:4) Going down into and coming up out of a watery grave symbolizes the Believer’s identification with Christ’s death, BURIAL and resurrection, not His death, cremation and scattering of ashes.
Although there is no single verse of Scripture that says Believers are not to be burned or “cremated,” we are to walk in the steps of the faith of Abraham our spiritual Father. (Romans 4:12) Abraham was buried, not cremated, and he left very specific instructions for all of his family to be buried. Jesus Himself followed Abraham’s example. (Matthew 27:57-60) Therefore, we must now follow their example. (Galatians 3:29)
So there you have the short answer. Short because there are just about one hundred Scriptural references to God’s servants/family/sons/daughters being buried and never cremated. I believe that’s a pretty good precedent to follow. There are only a handful of examples of bodies being burned upon death and ONLY when those individuals were under a curse or involved in occult practices.
However, I always point out to people that we do not have two or three confirming New Testament Scriptures SPECIFICALLY telling us what to do in the matter of burial versus cremation, as we do with so many other things pertaining to life and conduct. Moses, Jesus and the Apostle Paul said we must have these witnesses before building a doctrine. (Deuteronomy 17:6; Matthew 18:16; 1Corinthians 13:1) However, we do have EXAMPLES to follow, from Able to Jesus and everyone in between. That, quite frankly, is good enough for me and should be good enough for anyone who wants to both know and to do the Bible thing.
So there you go. Hope this helped a little. Again, I point these things out to people when they ask about cremation and then I tell them they must follow their own conscience and the leading of the Holy Spirit from there. If they have cremated someone, wishing later they hadn’t done so, I encourage them to just receive God’s forgiveness and mercy and to know that He can and will even raise up ashes into a perfect human being when He returns. God knows where everyone’s DNA is! (1John 1:9; John 5:28-29)
However, God’s mercy is no reason to go with cremation if your conscience or the Inner Witness of the Holy Spirit is telling you not to do so. JHM