What does the Bible Say about Cremation?
We are used to the funerals of the Western world. The Christian ceremony tends to include a church service and one at the grave. Bible verses are read as the departed’s body is lowered in the ground. The metaphor of sleeping is often employed to comfort the grieving. Visions of their loved one snoozing in the ground waiting for the resurrection of the dead come to mind.
But what happens if a person wants a different option? Can a Christian be cremated? Does it interfere with God’s plan for our bodies after death?
These are great questions.
Your Body is Not Forever
I used to be scared of organ donation. It is a strange thing to be afraid of, I know. Yet, I had an idea of heaven before I was saved. I thought organ donation would mess heaven up for me. My conception of heaven was cherubs and harps sitting on clouds but I knew people went there too. I thought everyone got in if they were nice people. I thought if I donated an organ, when I arrived in heaven I would have a big hole where they took out my spleen or heart. I would walk around with the cherub’s without my eyes because of what happened after death. It is a scary thought.
Does it make sense biblically? Of course not, I was applying human limits and tradition to the concepts of the resurrection of believers and heaven. It was my lack of understanding inserted for God’s plan. The result missed the truth entirely.
The same can happen with cremation. If we view heaven as God just taking our old bodies out of the grave, cremation is problematic. It would be my organ donor fears amplified to an extreme. But this is not how God works. God gives us entirely new bodies to replace the ones that have returned to dust in the grave. This makes the anxiety over post death decomposition, cremation, and donating organs flee before God’s wonderful plan.
We will all be raised from the dust of the earth to stand before Jesus. Whether this is a good or bad thing depends entirely on our reaction to the Gospel.
Cremation is not something to be feared as a result. It is simply a personal choice. Let’s look at the verses.
What Does the Bible say about Cremation?
1) Genesis 3:19
By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
This is man’s original state. The natural body was created out of dust. The normal operation of the world returns that body, our flesh and blood, to dust. This is the decomposition process that occurs after death. Without God, this is where we are all headed.
2) 1 Corinthians 15:42-51
So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, wes hall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.
Do you catch what Paul says here?
We are born to follow Adam and be lead into dust. This is the best we can do on our own. Jesus, the Last Adam, steps in as a heavenly man and breaks this cycle. He allows us to be born again into a new existence as a child of God. He is the reason we will go to the presence of God upon death. He is also the reason our bodies will be raised to incorruption at the Resurrection of the Dead. Flesh and blood – men and women – could never inherit the Kingdom so God changes us to something better.
3) 2 Corinthians 4:7
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.
4) 2 Corinthians 5:1-5
For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
We tend to be preoccupied with our bodies, our health, our comfort and our conditions. God says that these things are just temporary. Our body is like a tent we use while camping. It will eventually decay to nothing and be replaced by an amazing permanent creation of God. Our eternal body will be very different.
5) Luke 12:4-5
And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!
Life now is just a short time. It is a vapor. We should have our eyes on the eternal destination rather than preserving what is failing.
6) 1 Corinthians 13:3
If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing
7) Philippians 3:21
Who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
8) Mark 13:27
And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
9) Romans 8:38-39
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything
10) 1 Corinthians 15
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,
11) John 3:16-17
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.