Is Cremation Allowed?

June 12, 2019 at 9:07 am | Posted in Q&A | 1 Comment
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Question: Does the Bible say that cremation is allowed?

Answer: The Bible – to the best of my knowledge – doesn’t specifically forbid or authorize cremation. In the vast majority of instances, the bodies of dead human beings in Biblical accounts were buried, rather than burned, although there are a handful of instances of burned bodies in the Bible. Because the Bible offers no specific commands on the subject, I would not be comfortable in saying that cremating the body of a deceased loved one is a sin. Faced with a choice, and the ability to afford a burial, I would go with the burial, simply because – as stated above – it seems to have been the preferred method during Bible times, and because burying a body whole seems to more properly symbolize our hope of bodily resurrection, as emphasized in I Corinthians 15.

Having said that, it is also necessary to point out that there will be a bodily resurrection of believers whose bodies were cremated, were donated to medical schools to be used as cadavers, were blown to smithereens in turkey-fryer explosions, were completely decomposed, were melted in hot lava, were “sawn asunder” (Hebrews 11:37), and were eaten by sharks. How will God resurrect a body which has disintegrated and been blown by the four winds of the four corners of the earth? I have no idea, but it won’t be difficult, because – you know – He’s God.

How to Explain the Afterlife?

January 21, 2019 at 11:52 am | Posted in Q&A | 2 Comments
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Question: What is the best way to explain “the afterlife” to a very confused eight year old boy?

Answer: It depends on what he means by “the afterlife.” If he is talking about what happens when you die, then you can explain to him that those who have trusted in Christ will go to be with the Lord in Heaven (Hebrews 9:27; II Corinthians 5:8). I don’t have a ton of experience with boys, but I know that when I was helping in children’s ministry, they sometimes had trouble grasping the concept of having a soul or a spirit apart from your body. Boys tend to be more “physical” and girls tend to be more about “feelings.” So for the boys, they would think of someone dying and being buried, and they would think that the body was still the person. So, I would try to explain how, when a person dies, the thing that really makes him who he is – his thoughts, his consciousness, his “mind” – leaves the body behind. You can illustrate this by going up to a mannequin in a department store and slapping it in the face: no reaction. That’s how a person’s body will be when he dies. But the part that would have gotten mad or sad or hurt about the slap is now with Jesus, where there is no “mad, sad, or hurt.” Then, after Jesus comes back, the body that we left here on earth will be resurrected and made “super-powerful” (aka “glorified”) and rejoined with our spirit in Heaven.

Up from the Grave with the Knows!

November 20, 2017 at 4:41 pm | Posted in I Corinthians | 14 Comments
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Some of the church members in Corinth were denying the bodily resurrection of believers. This was the last major problem that Paul addressed in his letter to them, which we know as I Corinthians.

Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?

I Corinthians 15:12

How had this error infiltrated the church? The Greeks did not believe in resurrection, as shown in the teachings of Gnosticism. Other notable groups which rejected the idea of bodily resurrection included pagan religions, the Jewish sect known as the Sadducees, and the followers of the heretic, Marcion. The reason that the Holy Spirit had Paul begin his discussion with Jesus’s Resurrection is that the Corinthian Christians couldn’t have really become Christians without believing that Jesus Himself had risen from the grave. They would still be “Know-Nots” if they did not know this basic tenet of the Gospel message.

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

I Corinthians 15:1-4

After addressing their denial of resurrection, Paul went on to give a demonstration of the evidence for resurrection. Jesus had appeared after His death in His own body to Peter and the 12 Apostles (v. 5), and had even appeared to over 500 brethren at one time, most of whom were still alive when Paul wrote this (v. 6). Jesus had appeared to James (v. 7) and even to Paul himself, and nobody had been more changed by Christ’s Resurrection than Paul.

But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:

I Corinthians 15:13

For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:

I Corinthians 15:16

After dealing with the denial and the demonstration of resurrection, Paul addressed the drama of resurrection.

But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

I Corinthians 15:20

“Firstfruits” is both an agricultural reference, and a reference to the Old Testament practice of giving to God the first part of a crop as a dedicatory sacrifice. Christ came from the grave (the ground) first, and we who are in Him shall be the “crop” which God has promised to bless with growth and harvest afterwards.

For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

I Corinthians 15:21-22

Here we see the principle of “federal headship.” Just as Adam was our accurate representative as a disobedient sinner, so shall Christ be the accurate representative of obedience and righteousness for all who are in Him.

But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.

I Corinthians 15:23

Christ’s Resurrection was a dramatic victory over sin, death, and the grave, and it has eschatological consequences, too.

The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

I Corinthians 15:26-28

This is our victory over death in Christ. Nothing shall be lost for the victorious God – even our decayed and sin-sick and death-sleeping bodies shall be redeemed and regenerated.

In addition to the denial, demonstration, and drama of resurrection, Paul had to make sure and emphasize the demands of resurrection. First of all, the knowledge of our future resurrection should motivate us to be baptized.

Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?

I Corinthians 15:29

Second, the knowledge of our future resurrection should motivate us to endure persecution.

And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.

I Corinthians 15:30-32

Third, future bodily resurrection demands that we live a holy life and avoid sin.

Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.

I Corinthians 15:34

Fourth, it demands that we be prepared for Christ to come back.

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

I Corinthians 15:51-52

Fifth, it forces us to remember that a life spent serving Christ is not in vain.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

I Corinthians 15:58

Resurrection Witnesses

August 10, 2016 at 12:51 pm | Posted in Matthew | 3 Comments
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In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

Matthew 28:1

We might ask why were only the women performing this thankless and grief-laden task of caring for the post-Crucifixion body of Jesus. Where were the men? Were they hiding and scared while the women were doing the hard work? We might also ask what these women thought they were going to do about the stone that sealed the entrance to the sepulchre (Mark 16:3). They were carrying perfume and spices to care for a body they weren’t going to be able to access. Perhaps their love and their grief overcame their common sense.

And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.

Matthew 28:2

There is a certain humor in the thought of the angel sitting atop the very stone that had been intended to keep the followers of Jesus from getting into the tomb. However, during the night before, there had been nothing humorous to the guards about his appearance.

His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.

Matthew 28:3-4

This was a very holy and frightening angel. Roman soldiers weren’t easily frightened by mere men.

And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

Matthew 28:5-6

“As He said” was a gentle, though perhaps chiding, rebuke, referring to one of His least palatable prophecies:

From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

Matthew 16:21

And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry.

Matthew 17:22-23

And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.

Matthew 20:17-19

 

But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.

Matthew 26:32

The testimony of Jesus Himself, the testimony of the angel, and the empty tomb all bore witness to Jesus’s Resurrection.

 

And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

Matthew 28:7

Note how the angel used the words “from the dead,” reinforcing the truth that Jesus had actually died.

 

And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.

Matthew 28:8

It is a difficult combination to explain, but it is true that fear and joy can go together. God created them both, and there is great joy in having a fear of the Lord. Some of the greatest blessings you will ever experience are when you are facing, and overcoming, a terrifying challenge. The women who saw the empty tomb and heard the words of the angel were afraid, and they ran, but it was not an occasion of “fight or flight.” It was an occasion of “fright and flight.” They ran to bring “word,” and we need to always be running to bring the Word.

And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.

Matthew 28:9

Whenever you are running to do something in obedience to Him, no matter how fast you run, He is already there before you. The struggle to exercise patience, and to overcome procrastination, is a battle that almost every Christian fights. Impatience is unbelief when you don’t know God’s will, but procrastination is unbelief when you DO know God’s will.

The Disciples grabbed Jesus’s feet – His physical resurrected body – demonstrating His humanity. They also worshiped Him, demonstrating His Deity.

Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me. Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers,

Matthew 28:10-12

The soldiers went to the Jewish leaders first. They could have been killed by their Roman authorities for allowing the body to be stolen. The Jewish leaders bribed them, but they also promised to protect them.

Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.

Matthew 28:13-14

Beware of Satan’s techniques. First he plays on your fears. Then he sends someone to help you make up a lie. Then he sweetens the deal with money. Then he gives you a false security and makes you think God will not mind your sin all that much.

So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.

Matthew 28:15

Each lie that denies the Resurrection has had its day, and come and gone: the swooning lie, the imposter on the Cross lie, the hallucination lie, the conspiracy lie. None are convincing. Only those who hate the Truth can voluntarily blind themselves to it. The Bible bears witness, 500 witnesses saw Him, the martyrdom of the Disciples bears witness, the empty tomb still bears witness, the Church meeting today still bears witness. If they could have produced a body, all of history would be different. Christianity wouldn’t exist. His Spirit bears witness with our spirits. There is more credible evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus than there is for the for the existence of Plato.

Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

Matthew 28:16-18

It All Deep Ends

April 7, 2015 at 1:03 pm | Posted in Resurrection, Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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I’ll be taking a short break from blogging for the next few days while I try to negotiate a deal with a major manufacturer of incontinence products who wants to use of the name of this blog for a line of new adult swim diapers called “Deep-Ends”©.

Keeping in mind the current season, I thought I would link – for those of you who subscribe and/or read regularly (thank you very much, by the way) – to some “in-case-you-missed-it” posts which mention the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ:

1. The Power of the Resurrection and of the Holy Ghost
2. The Stones of Confirmation
3. The Great Rescuer
4. How Many Christians Really Know This? *
5. Get a Life
6. When in Rome, Preach to the Romans
7. Catechism Question 18
8. Resurrection Witnesses (Matthew 28)
9. Rising Faith (Mark 5:33-42)
10. Up from the Grave with the Knows! (I Corinthians 15)
11. The Smell of Death and the Sound of Life (John 11)

*most-viewed post in category

Catechism Question 18

February 26, 2015 at 1:05 pm | Posted in Children's Bible Catechism, Resurrection | 9 Comments
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Question 17: How did Jesus die?
Answer: He was crucified.
Prove it.

John 19:18

Question 18: What happened to Jesus after He died?
Answer: He was buried and then rose again on the third day.
Prove it.

Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly;

Acts 10:40

A child who is familiar with CPR or some kind of medical resuscitation, or who perhaps has heard of someone in a coma making a recovery, may question the validity of Jesus’s death. In other words, “Did He really die?”

This is easily resolved from the Scriptures. Chapters 5-8 of the Book of Romans, as well as Chapter 14, stress the reality of Christ’s death emphatically.

Furthermore, the Gospel accounts tell us plainly that Jesus willingly laid down his life and truly died.

A child might also ask, “How did He come back to life?” The simplest answer to this is that God the Father raised up Christ (God the Son) by His power, but this is probably a good place to explain that Jesus died only as touching His humanity. He did not die as touching His Deity, for this would be an impossibility, because God has the immutable power of self-existence, and is eternal.

Other verses to consider:

And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

I Corinthians 15:4

Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.

Romans 6:9


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