Spiritual Growth and Christian Living Resources

Our biggest sale! 50% off your PLUS subscription. Use code SUMMER

10 Things Christians Should Know about Death, Burial and Cremation

10 Things Christians Should Know  about Death, Burial and Cremation

Should Christians Use Cremation?

We all experience death, yet it is not an easy topic to discuss at the dinner table – or anywhere else. We want to make wise decisions for our loved ones and ourselves, so we seek Biblical guidance regarding death, burial, and cremation.

1. God cares about your grief. Deeply. Take comfort in that knowledge as it is not just a thought of your own. It is a Biblical truth of how much God loves us, His children.

The Lord cares deeply when his loved ones die. Psalm 116:15 NLT

2. Our days are numbered. God planned how long each one of us lives. Take comfort. As a mother who lost a child, this detail in the Bible comforts me. I pray it also comforts you.

A man’s days are numbered. You know the number of his months. He cannot live longer than the time You have set. Job 14:5 NLT

Should we push the envelope with foolish acts? No. Satan tempted Jesus to jump from the highest point of the temple, yet notice His perfect response.

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Matthew 4:7

3. Jesus wept. Death was not intended when God created Adam from dust and gave Eve to him in the Garden. Life - eternal life - was God’s plan.

Yet God has a plan of redemption for us. He promises death will be defeated forever and there will be no more tears when Jesus returns.

He will swallow up death forever! The Sovereign Lord will wipe away all tears. Isaiah 25.8a

Jesus knew Lazarus was going to be brought back to life, yet He wept.

Jesus wept. John 11:35

Do you ever wonder why Jesus wept? Jesus wept because humans ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, allowing us to know evil or sin. Now we experience death in our mortal, fleshly bodies. Jesus knows the pain of this death causes when someone near and dear to us dies, so He wept. You can too.

4. Death is the beginning of eternal life for those who have accepted Jesus Christ, the One who gives the free gift of salvation and eternal life.

Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:8 NLT

Jesus tells us the truth about eternal life too.

“I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life. John 5:24 NLT

There are so many beautiful scriptures assuring us of our eternal home. Want to read a few more? Romans 6:5; Romans 8:38; 2 Corinthians 4:10-11; Colossians 1:22; Hebrews 10:20

5. Burial is a custom from old yet the method of disposing of a body is neither prescribed nor dictated to us in any Bible verse. Burial was a common practice in the Bible and cremation was rarely performed.

Jewish tradition required the dead to be buried before sundown. The bodies were prepared with many spices and wrapped with a long strip of linen, then often laid in a cave, an above-ground tomb, or buried in a field.

Egyptians embalmed their dead to preserve the body longer. It is now common practice to embalm a body to allow time for family and friends to gather for the burial service.

After this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah east of Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan. The field and the cave that is in it were made over to Abraham as property for a burying place by the Hittites. Genesis 23:19-20

6. Cremation. There is nothing that can be found in the Bible forbidding cremation. Since burial method is not prescribed in the Bible, we have a choice regarding what method is best for our families and us. The process of cremation simply compresses time for the body to become dust.

Due to escalating funeral costs, many families make the choice of cremation. My dad was cremated at his request, yet we as a family chose to bury his ashes so we have a place to remember him. Cremation is also the choice of my mother. We will bury her ashes next to dad’s ashes.

Some families opt to place ashes in a mausoleum, scatter ashes or place their ashes in a locket or an urn as a reminder of their loved one. 

7. Respect your loved one's wishes. You may be in a position requiring you to decide on your family member’s behalf based on the wishes and preferences of the family.

Do consider what your family’s attitude is regarding cremation, as some believe it is not Biblical, however, we have seen that cremation is not a Biblical issue.

I pray your family will openly and respectfully discuss preferences regarding burial.

8. Dust. The patriarchs of the Bible have long since returned to dust, as we will. The outcome of both burial and cremation over time are the same for our mortal body - we return to dust. Dust to dust and ashes to ashes, as we commonly hear quoted from the Common Book of Prayer.

If God were to take back his spirit
    and withdraw his breath,
15 all life would cease,
    and humanity would turn again to dust
. Job 34:14-15

9. Other concerns Christians may have regarding cremation include respect for our mortal bodies and concerns about our resurrected and spiritual bodies.

Thank God! He can do all things; even gather specks of dust from all four corners of the earth.

And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Matthew 24:31

You may enjoy reading confirming Bible verses. See Ezekiel 37:9 and Mark 13:27.

10. We will get new bodies in Heaven made by God Himself for each one of us. Our flesh will decay, yet our spirits will be clothed in new heavenly bodies.

Regardless of how we are buried, God will gather His elect and dress us. And that is good news indeed.

For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. 2 Cor. 5:1-4

With over 2 million airline miles under her belt, an MBA hanging on the wall and 2 Christian Literary Awards on the shelf, Susan B Mead shares her expert teachings on business, grief, and relationships. A master storyteller and award-winning, best selling author, Susan leaves audiences motivated to live a life free of regrets even though she has done the hardest thing any parent can do - bury her youngest son, Kyle.

Susan has been described as a solid, comforting voice in a messy world. Whether speaking to business professionals, women’s conferences, industry leaders or writer’s workshops, Susan’s insightful wisdom inspires audiences, empowering them to make healthy mental u-turns to help them find calm in the chaos.

Connect with Susan on her website where she writes each Friday, on Facebook and Twitter where she posts scripture graphics and daily inspiration or on Amazon where her book, Dance With Jesus: From Grief to Grace, is available.

Image courtesy: ©Thinkstock/JRyanC10

Publication date: May 24, 2017