What about Cremation?
This is a question that I get asked hundreds of times every week. Let me answer it, and then share with you some personal thoughts and observations that I have formulated based on God's Word. I realize that some of what I may say today will upset you. That is NEVER my goal. My purpose today is to deal with this very legitimate question, and then put it in the context of the larger issue of the whole post-death experience. Ultimately however, I want you to focus on the main issue which is serving God during our life.
There is absolutely NO Biblical support against cremation. There are no verses, or Biblical concepts that would in any way make it wrong to be cremated. It is entirely a personal choice to either be, or not to be, cremated. The burial or cremation of a dead body has largely been a societal issue. The reason the Bible does not forbid cremation is because these bodies we occupy during this life, these clay tablets God made from the dust of the earth, are simply a temporary "home." The eternal part of each of us is our soul. THAT is what will never die. THAT is what God is concerned about. What happens to our bodies once we are dead has no eternal significance at all. It is our eternal souls God is concerned about.
I am well aware of the argument that Jesus was buried, so we should be buried also. Jesus was a Jew. It was the custom of the Jews to bury their dead. Again, the disposition of a dead body has always been a societal issue. It was God who pronounced that our bodies would return to the dust of the earth. The fact is, when you bury a body, over time it decomposes. Again, it is our SOULS that will live on for eternity, and when the Bible talks about a resurrected body, it is speaking of a glorified body, NOT the body we have now.
Let me interject some personal thoughts on this issue. My wife and I have both chosen to be cremated and simply have a small memorial service for family and close friends. Our choice was made based on our personal view of what this life is all about, but also some practical reasons as well. We both understand clearly from the Bible that our purpose in this life is to serve and glorify God with our lives. Our greatest legacy will be left in the lives God uses us to minister to along our journey. Once God says our work here is finished and calls us home, we will rejoice in the fact that for eternity, we will be with our Lord. This body we occupied while we were here will be empty, and eventually as God decreed, return to the dust it came from.
From a practical standpoint, our personal choice is to not spend $3,000, $4,000, even $10,000 on a beautiful box.....another $10,000 on a plot of land....another $5,000 on a rock with our name on it....just to bury our useless dead body. We are actually setting aside the money that we would spend on funeral expenses, to give to several ministries so that we continue to live on in the lives of those God will touch through those ministries.
This is a personal choice my wife and I have made, and what you choose to do is perfectly fine. Having officiated over several dozen funerals throughout my years of ministry, I realize that the funeral experience is NOT for the deceased, but for those friends and family members left behind. The only way I will ever agree to preach a funeral is if I can share a salvation message. There is no greater "illustrated sermon," no time a person is more aware of his or her own mortality than at a funeral. It is THE best time to share the everlasting hope we have through Christ.
My only advice is to pray over this very personal decision and plan it out early. I have seen too many cases of families taken advantage of by those in the funeral industry, many left in debt for years. I do want to add, that there are many fine Christians in the funeral industry that God uses in the lives of those who use their service to bring great comfort at a most difficult time. The death of a saint, one who has a personal faith in Christ should be a time of celebration. Their work in this brief journey we call life is over, and they are on to their rewards in Heaven.
I love you and care about you so much. My overall objective today is to first answer a question so many ask, and use this as an opportunity to encourage you that the time to make an impact in your life is TODAY. The Bible says tomorrow is promised to none of us. Our ultimate purpose in this life is to serve and glorify Him. That is something we must focus on daily. When our work here is finished and God calls us home, that physical body you operate in today will have absolutely no meaning or purpose.
How you choose to dispose of it is a personal decision you make. If you have a funeral service and are buried, that is fine. If you choose to be cremated and maybe have some sort of memorial service, that is fine. The critical issue is what you do with the time God gives you here on earth. The message of God's Word is to know HIM in a personal way through faith in His Son Jesus Christ, serve Him to the best of your ability, and when God says your work here is over, look forward to eternity with God your Creator!
In His love and service, Your friend and brother in Christ, Bill Keller
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