Questions From You

What Bible question do you have? Can we aid you in your study? Write us and ask your question. We will respond to you privately and may also post your question so that others can benefit from it as well. (We will remove your name and contact information)

After reading the answer given below, write and tell us your reaction.

1. What does the Bible say about cremation?

First, in Genesis 2:7, we learn that God formed man of the dust of the ground. Our skin, tissue, and other body parts were originally created from dust. In Genesis 3:19, God tells Adam that he will work in the ground/dirt till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return. Not only will humans be put in the ground, we will become dust/dirt after we die. That is a key point to answering this question. Whether we are buried in a box or cremated, the result will be that we return to dust. Cremation just makes that happen faster than if the body rots in a box.

In the Old Testament, Nadab and Abihu worshiped the true God in a false way– in a way that the LORD “had not commanded them” (Lev. 10:1). In response to that “fire went out from the LORD and devoured them, and they died before the LORD” (Lev. 10:2). There were some of their remains that were removed, but you could say that God cremated them (Lev. 10:4).

Also in the Old Testament, sometimes God told Israel to execute  certain individuals by burning them (capital punishment). “If a man marries a woman and her mother, it is wickedness. They shall be burned with fire, both he and they, that there may be no wickedness among you” (Lev. 20:14). “The daughter of any priest, if she profanes herself by playing the harlot, she profanes her father. She shall be burned with fire.” (Lev. 21:9). {Today, under the new covenant of Jesus, God does not command this penalty for similar sexual sins, though He does restrict divorce and remarriage only to the cause of adultery and then only the one who did not commit adultery may marry again (Matt. 19:9).} Also Achan, who stole from Jericho after the walls fell, his family, and his possessions were all stoned to death and then burned (Josh. 7:15, 25). So, although we are not under the law God gave to Moses/Israel today, we see that fire was sometimes used even in the death of humans.

Now let’s notice whether under the law of Jesus (sometimes in Scripture called the new covenant) God has any expectations in this matter (Matt. 26:28; Heb. 8:1-6). To assume that God is not concerned is a mistake—we must search the Scripture to find what God has or has not said. Many people today do many things without first finding out what God said on that subject and whether He approves. It is also a mistake to assume that if something is approved by God  in the Old Testament, that He approves of it today. However, Paul repeatedly said that the law of the Old Testament is not our law today (2 Corinthians 3:7-8; Ephesians 2:15; Colossians 2:14-17) . Sometimes the law God gave to Israel (old covenant) gives different instruction than the law God gave to the world today through Christ (new covenant). In those cases, we must follow follow Christ, not Moses (Matt. 17:3-5).

In the law of Christ, I find no instruction about what to do with a body once a person dies thus it a matter of liberty (freedom of choice). Most of the Bible teaches us what to do with our body while we are alive. Some day we will be absent from our body (2 Corinthians 5:8). Our body will become dust, but we will still be alive because we also have an inward man, sometimes called our spirit (2 Corinthians 4:16). We only know a little bit about what happens when our spirit and body are separated (for example, read Luke 16:19-31). So, most of the Bible focuses on telling us how to live before we die—first find the forgiveness God offers through His Son, by having faith in God’s power to forgive our sins when we are baptized into Christ (Colossians 2:12; Acts 2:38).

Another reason that burial or cremation does not matter is because the Bible says that everyone will be resurrected from the dead. In Acts 24:15, Paul taught about the resurrection of the just and unjust. Everyone will be raised and then God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil (Ecclesiastes 12:14). Jesus said that most people will be lost on that day (Matthew 7:13-14).

As Solomon wrote, it is good to think about death for that is the end of all men; and the living will take it to heart (Eccl. 7:2).

2. Someone who read our newspaper article titled “Basics of Baptism” (in the Arkansas Weekly) called and asked this question about the thief, crucified beside and saved by Jesus on the cross–“I just wondered where he had been baptized.” This is a good, common question that is answered in Scripture. To read the original article and answers to this question, click HERE

3. “How can the God who commanded the Israelites to wipe out nations and kill those in their midst who sinned be related to an all-forgiving Savior?” Click here for the answer

4. Where, and when, in the Bible (book, chapter and verse) did Jesus specifically name His church?

Answer:

When you read the Bible, how do you know when saved people, instead of lost people,  are being talked about? It is by finding the ways that God specifically named, or identified, His people.  The most common way He identified them was by using the word “church,” but God referred to them in several ways– The kingdom of the Son (Colossians 1:13), the church of God (Acts 20:28, God in this verse is Jesus Christ), the churches of Christ (Romans 16:16), and the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27), to name just a few. These are not different kinds of religious groups. These are all identifying the same people—God’s people (1 Peter 2:10). Since that is how God originally identified His people, why would saved people today identify themselves in other ways? Why not be content with the words God chose to identify His people?

The challenge today is for people to ask themselves a tough question—when did God identify his people as the Baptist Church, the Catholic Church, Jubilee Family Church, the Pentecostal Church, etc.?

I encourage you to find a phone book and a Bible. Then compare how men identify themselves with how God identified His people in Scripture. It will be obvious that man tries to be creative and thus leaves the simplicity that in Christ (2 Corinthians 11:3).

The name on a sign is not all that matters for some may have a name that they are alive, while God considers them dead (Revelation 3:1). But, if men do not even go to Scripture to identify themselves spiritually, then upon what basis would we expect them to go to Scripture for their teaching and practice?  The truth is—they don’t.

“If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11 NKJV).

5. “What does the Bible say specifically about the Lord’s Supper? I heard a pastor for the last three weeks talking about the “cup” being the covenant of the New Testament Church. Matt. 26:28; Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:25. Is the cup to be taken literally?” (The “one cup” issue)   Click here for the answer

6. In response to Sanctuary we received this question: “What do you call the area where you worship? Also where in the bible does it say you should have church on Wednesday night?”

   We have no official name for the room where we assemble for public worship (just like there is no such official name in Scripture). Sometimes I call it an auditorium, like any room used for a gathering might be called. Consider that in Acts 20:7-8, Luke identifies the place where the disciples gathered on the first day of the week as “the upper room.” That’s not a spiritually-significant term—just a simple way to identify the place where they met. We do likewise. Today, there are no holy robes, holy priests (other than all saints 1 Pet. 2:5), holy vessels for holy water, etc. or sanctuaries. These things were all “shadows” in the Old Covenant that preceded Christ and His New Covenant. My words and explanation may not be completely clear. Read Hebrews 8:1-6 (and Hebrews 9:9-11), and the words of the Holy Spirit there will help you see the difference I am referring to.
   Regarding an assembly on Wednesday night, each congregation may decide how often throughout the week to meet. Sometimes, a church may assemble every day, like they did in Jerusalem (Acts 2:46). Where there is no choice, is that God’s people and churches must assemble on the Lord’s Day, the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2; Rev. 1:10). Good questions. Thank you for writing, and I hope you’ll write again.

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