DR. C. S. Lovett’s
MARANATHA FAMILY NEWSLETTER
IS IT CHRISTIAN TO CREMATE?
“I am so confused Dr. Lovett. My husband has just passed away and the children are insisting on cremation. They’re not saved and don’t understand that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. I’m calling you because I’m so upset. It is wrong for Christians to cremate. It’s pagan, isn’t it?”
My answer brought such nice relief to this dear lady, it struck me that this was something I should pass on to my readers. When the Holy Spirit gave me the green light, I decided to share this with you.
WHAT WOULD MAKE CREMATION PAGAN?
In ancient times, the Israelites buried bodies, whereas the surrounding nations burned them. Do you know why? The patriarchs lived in a land they did not own, yet it was promised to them. As a testimony to their faith in God’s promise, they wanted to be buried in that land. Even Joseph ordered his skeleton transported back to the land from Egypt as an act of faith in that promise. Because of this, burying became a tradition with the Jewish people. The Jewish nation loved their traditions more than they loved God. Jesus condemned them saying, “So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God” (Matthew 15:6).
Today, it’s the pagans who bury. The ostentation of American funerals is shocking. No other country in the world carries on like we do at funeral time. We doll up dead bodies with costly cosmetics, buy expensive coffins, insist on beautified grounds, ornate vaults and high-priced headstones and so on. The price tag is very costly, with the average funeral of today costing $7,000 and up.
With America geared to lavish burials, the situation now is the reverse of Old Testament times. If pagans cremated then, they bury now. Either can be done “as unto the Lord.” It is how we go about it that makes it a spiritual event or a pagan ceremony. There’s no one in that body.
MAN IS NOT A BODY—HE MERELY WEARS ONE
If you’ve never considered that truth before, the best place to weigh it is in front of a casket, looking down at the corpse. As you stare at the body, one thing is clear—the person is gone. Yet, there is his body, every bit of it. In that instant, it should strike you that man is not a body, he merely wears one to get around in on earth. That makes it an earth suit, nothing more.
Once you understand that truth, another idea dawns on you—man’s life is independent of his body. How do we know that? Again, the Bible answers. “To be absent from the body,” says the apostle Paul, “and to be present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8). He is referring to the Christian. In the case of the unsaved, the Bible says “Hades” is where they await final judgment (Rev. 20:12-15). Very clearly, once a person is out of the body, he continues to live in spirit form.
Since man is the image of God, he is a spirit-being. Why? Because “God is Spirit” (John 4:24). The image has to be like the object. Therefore, the man and his body are two different creatures, each having its own life, completely independent of the other. Thus, the body can die and the man continue to live—some place.
Knowing these things makes the difference when you talk about burial and cremation. When you learn that the body has no connection with the man himself, it changes your attitude toward death. In fact, what we commonly call death is not the death of God’s image, but only that of the creature he is using for an earth suit. And it is indeed a creature—with an independent life of its own (Gen. 2:7).
Once the body dies, the man inside is released. Since his life is totally independent of the body’s life, he continues to exist in the spirit realm. The man and his body are two separate creatures. So what should we do with a body when it dies? Dispose of it.
Once you see the difference between the man and his body, what was formerly a matter of superstition and reverence, is now a matter of disposal. When it comes to disposing of dead bodies, what does the Word of God have to say? Here’s the primary passage:
“By the sweat of your face you will eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken, for you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Gen. 3:19).
Observe how the most direct passage in the Word of God does not tell us how dead bodies are to be disposed of, only that they will return to dust. It is the law of decay. From the beginning, two ways have been used to dispose of dead bodies: bury them in the ground or cremate them.
Countless thousands have gone down in ships where sharks and other marine life disposed of the flesh. Beyond that millions of Christians perished in the catacombs of Rome, where stacks of skeletons can be seen today. They were neither buried nor cremated; still they turned to dust. God’s inexorable law of decay (returning to dust) holds, no matter what we do with the body. The passage is fulfilled when the body returns to dust. How it is returned to the dust is of no concern to God.
HOW THEN SHOULD WE DISPOSE OF DEAD BODIES?
As quietly and conveniently as possible. And it doesn’t matter whether you use burial or cremation. Does that startle you? It won’t when you learn that the very same process takes place whether you bury or burn. In either case, the body oxidizes. The only difference is speed. In burial the body oxidizes slowly, in a crematorium, it oxidizes fast.
Neither does it matter to God which method is used. Either way follows His law of returning to the dust. But someone might argue, “Since the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, shouldn’t it be treated more reverently?” It is the Spirit’s temple only so long as the image of God is using it. Once that body dies, it is no one’s temple. God does not reside in a dead body.
The Holy Spirit resides in the believer, not in his body. God’s Spirit is no more connected to the body than is our spirit. The Holy Spirit is wedded to our spirit, not to our bodies (Rom. 8:16). While we’re in these bodies, they are to be greatly prized and cared for. In fact, they are a sacred stewardship (1 Cor. 3:17). But once we’re out of them, they are worthless to anyone.
HOW TO GO ABOUT IT
Cremation has two distinct advantages: it is far more convenient and it costs a lot less. For around $650 you can set things up so that a single phone call takes care of everything. That can help you over the hurdle of grief a lot faster.
I personally prefer to have a “graduation service” in a church. There is no body present. We don’t want the focus shifted from the person who is alive in Christ, to a dead body. We don’t want to cling to a corpse when it is the graduate we should be honoring. It’s a glorious occasion for the Christian!
It should be a joyous affair. There should be singing, testimonies and praise to the Lord. Unsaved friends should be invited to witness death the Christian way. The world is shocked when they see our difference in death. Why? Death is the one thing the world fears most. When unsaved people see Christians joyous at bereavement time, it is a testimony they cannot escape. We should exploit the fact that there is no death for the Christian!
ARE YOU SHOCKED?
Does the thought of rejoicing at the passing of a loved one offend you? Jesus said to His disciples before He left them “If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said I go to the Father” (John 14:28). He found it difficult to get this across to them. Maybe I won’t find it any easier. Surely the devil is doing all he can to hide this truth. He wants believers so bogged down with bodies, they’ll forfeit one of the greatest blessings of salvation—there is no such thing as death for the Christian.
If this truth is new to you, please understand I am not trying to change your views with a single article. However, I know the Holy Spirit is bearing witness to these things. I believe He would have you take another look at what believers should do when. . .
THE BODY DIES!
C. S. Lovett
© 2017 Personal Christianity. All rights reserved.
“Jesus said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life, he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live’ ”(John 11:25).
HEROES OF THE FAITH—ABEL
“The sacrifice which Abel offered was more pleasing to God than Cain’s, because it was offered in faith. When God accepted Abel’s gift, it was proof that he had won God’s approval and was accepted by Him as a righteous man. And now, even though he is dead, Abel still speaks to us about trusting God” (Heb. 11:4 Lovett’s Lights).
Abel was a shepherd. His brother Cain, a farmer. Both worshipped the same God. We’re not told how God revealed Himself to the brothers, or how He made His will known to them. But somehow, He did and they both knew exactly what was required of them.
The time came when they were to approach God with an offering. Abel brought a lamb from his flock, Cain some produce from his fields. Abel’s offering was accepted, Cain’s was not. We don’t know how this offering was done, but possibly fire from heaven consumed Abel’s sacrifice. Seeing his offering left there, Cain became jealous and killed his brother in anger. Now what made Abel’s offering acceptable? It was his faith. Cain’s offering was obviously not made in faith, for it was rejected. It wasn’t Abel’s offering that made him acceptable to God, it was his faith. His offering merely represented the faith in his heart. But here is what the readers were to observe: Being in God’s will and enjoying His favor did not keep Abel’s brother from killing him. Abel died because of his faith.
The readers had been told that they could expect to suffer for their faith in Christ. From Abel’s example, they see how it is possible to be in the center of God’s will and still suffer. With Abel’s story a part of the permanent record, his life still speaks to readers everywhere telling them that the faith life can be rough, yet all that finally matters is the approval of God.
Above excerpt from the book Let Your Spirit Soar by C. S. Lovett
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