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Question #269

What about cremation?

What are your biblical views about being cremated? Where do our souls go when we die?

The Answer:

The bible says nothing directly about cremation. It does give instances where bodies were burned, some by God himself. For example, Achan, his family and possessions were burned at Joshua’s command, presumably with the blessing of God. Joshua 7:24-25. In the case of Nadab and Abihu, there was no intermediary; God himself sent fire from Heaven and devoured them alive. Leviticus 10:1-2. The law provided for the burning of a man who married a woman and her mother, Leviticus 20:14, and of the daughter of a priest who became a prostitute. Leviticus 21:9. There are no such examples in the New Testament, but neither does it mention or directly condemn cremation. I can find no biblical principal that cremation violates. Some argue that since there is to be a resurrection of the body and that God’s people will receive a new body, it is wrong to destroy the old one. However, they must mean that it is wrong to intentionally destroy the old body. To make the argument seems to require the belief, or at least the fear, that God can not gather the ashes at the resurrection (assuming that the new body will be a “redo” of the earthly body). There are many bodies that are unintentionally destroyed by fire in plane crashes, plant disasters, automobile accidents, and war, just to mention a few. Perhaps Revelation 22:15 gives some insight into the weakness of this argument. “The sea gave up the dead which were in it.” Such bodies may well have burned in ship disasters, after which some of them at least surely passed through the bowels of denizens of the deep. God says that they will come forth at the resurrection. Moreover what of those who have been long dead? Artifacts have been found that indicated that some of the bones had been eaten by animals. The bodies of the first century Christians have surely returned to dust by this time. Have they forfeited eternal life because their bodies have decayed? God has promised his children a new body of a nature that pleases him. His ability to do that does not depend on the condition of our physical body at the time of Christ’s coming. Since it is true that time and elements decay the body of those deceased, it is not the case that all that cremation does is to accelerate that God ordained event?

As for the second question – what happens to the soul at death – please see Class: Questions, Lesson 14.

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)