By Pastor Dennis Dills


what the bible teaches about abortion

Booklet Number 8B


 In this modern day not much is said or preached about cremation.  Many do not know what God says about it or if the Bible has anything to say that will enlighten the eyes of the believer.  I hope this booklet will inform you and help you.  It is the intention of this booklet to help those who want to know the truth.


     Those who have closed minds will probably be offended or cast this doctrine off as if it does not exist.  Those who seek to know the truth  should find, as the author has, many things to answer our questions.

                 Pastor Dennis Dills



     There was a time when the subject of Cremation was not even discussed or seldom discussed among the people of God.  But in this modern day of liberalism and modernism things have changed.  Many may ask why a booklet on this subject.  The answer is that there are so many who have not even given thought to what the Bible might or might not say about it. 


     It seems that too many of God’s children are ignorant (willingly) to what the Bible actually teaches.  Many will say, “I don’t see anything wrong with it”, others will say, “It is an economical way of disposing of the body after death”.




1. What did the Old Testament saints practice? 

2. What did the New Testament saints practice?

3. Was cremation practiced in the Bible?

4. Is Cremation a Christian practice or a pagan practice?

5. Should a New Testament believer practice this?


     We will attempt to answer these and other questions concerning this subject of Cremation from the Word of God.


     After being a pastor for over thirty years, I have had a few to say that they wanted to be cremated when they died.  This has caused me to search the Scriptures to find out what the Bible has to say on this subject.  Please open your Bible (The Authorized King James Bible) and allow it to speak to you.   Pray as you read and allow God the Holy Ghost to speak to your heart. 


     The first physical death in the Bible is the death of Abel, who was murdered by his brother Cain.  There is no mention of a burning of his body nor is there a mention of a burial.  This death, I might add, would never have taken place if there had not been a spiritual death to Adam and Eve for eating the fruit of the tree God had forbidden them to eat of.


     Chapter five in the book of Genesis records the first obituary record ever given.  God records their days and their life and tells us that they died.  Again no mention of a burning or a burial.  At this point those who believe in cremation can hold a good argument.


     But when we come to the fifteenth chapter of Genesis things change.  We find God is talking to Abram, who later becomes known as Abraham.  Notice what it says, Genesis 15:15, "And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age."  Notice God said buried.  Remember who is talking (God) and what he is saying, (burial).


     This is the first time in the Bible that we have any light shed upon the subject at hand.  There is a principle that you can go by in the study of the Word of God.  It is called the first mention principle.  When you find something mentioned in the Word of God for the first time and you understand the meaning, then it will carry that meaning each time it is mentioned throughout the entire Bible.


Abraham Obtains A Burying Place


     The next time you find something on this subject is over in Genesis chapter twenty-three.  Sarah, Abraham’s wife has died and he is left with the funeral arrangements.  What did Abraham do?  He purchased a burying place.  Read the account for your self. 


Genesis 23:2-11, "And Sarah died in Kirjatharba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her. And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spake unto the sons of Heth, saying, I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a buryingplace with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight. And the children of Heth answered Abraham, saying unto him, Hear us, my lord: thou art a mighty prince among us: in the choice of our sepulchres bury thy dead; none of us shall withhold from thee his sepulchre, but that thou mayest bury thy dead. And Abraham stood up, and bowed himself to the people of the land, even to the children of Heth. And he communed with them, saying, If it be your mind that I should bury my dead out of my sight; hear me, and intreat for me to Ephron the son of Zohar, That he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he hath, which is in the end of his field; for as much money as it is worth he shall give it me for a possession of a buryingplace amongst you. And Ephron dwelt among the children of Heth: and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the audience of the children of Heth, even of all that went in at the gate of his city, saying, Nay, my lord, hear me: the field give I thee, and the cave that is therein, I give it thee; in the presence of the sons of my people give I it thee: bury thy dead."


     Now notice what Abraham did after he purchased the burying place.  Genesis 23:19-20, "And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre: the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan. And the field, and the cave that is therein, were made sure unto Abraham for a possession of a buryingplace by the sons of Heth."


     If there were no other verses in the Bible on this subject, this should be enough for the Child of God.  Burial is a Bible practice and therefore it should be a Christian practice as well.


     Just two more chapters over in Genesis 25:8-9, "Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people. And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, which is before Mamre;"


     Take a good look at this.  Abraham died in a good old age, just like God had said he would.  And as God said he would be, he was buried.  I believe that the first few chapters of our Bible has set the example for the Child of God to follow. 


     We have mentioned dying or death and we have mentioned a burying or a burial.  Now let us look at the word grave.  In Genesis chapter thirty five, note what verse nineteen and twenty says, "And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem. And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel's grave unto this day."


     Here you not only find the first mention of a grave but of a pillar to mark the grave.  Today we call them grave markers, headstones, or tombstones.  Hence, the practice of burying our loved ones and marking their grave is a Biblical practice.  Notice we have not yet found the practice of cremation mentioned.


     Also in chapter thirty five of Genesis, we find the account of Isaac, the son of Abraham, dying.  Notice how his sons disposed of his body.  Genesis 35:29, "And Isaac gave up the ghost, and died, and was gathered unto his people, being old and full of days: and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him."    


    A little further in the book of Genesis reveals a little more concerning this issue.  In Genesis chapter forty-seven, Jacob, the son of Isaac, makes his son Joseph promise that he would not bury him in Egypt.  Read the account, Genesis 47:29-30, "And the time drew nigh that Israel must die: and he called his son Joseph, and said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me; bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt: But I will lie with my fathers, and thou shalt carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their buryingplace. And he said, I will do as thou hast said."


     Jacob dies in chapter forty nine and his burial is recorded in chapter fifty of the book of Genesis.  The story is rather lengthy but I believe it should be inserted here.  Genesis 49:33-50:8, "And when Jacob had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto his people.  And Joseph fell upon his father's face, and wept upon him, and kissed him. And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father: and the physicians embalmed Israel. And forty days were fulfilled for him; for so are fulfilled the days of those which are embalmed: and the Egyptians mourned for him threescore and ten days. And when the days of his mourning were past, Joseph spake unto the house of Pharaoh, saying, If now I have found grace in your eyes, speak, I pray you, in the ears of Pharaoh, saying, My father made me swear, saying, Lo, I die: in my grave which I have digged for me in the land of Canaan, there shalt thou bury me. Now therefore let me go up, I pray thee, and bury my father, and I will come again. And Pharaoh said, Go up, and bury thy father, according as he made thee swear. And Joseph went up to bury his father: and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt,"


Joseph Keeps His Promise


     Read on in verses 12-14 of the same chapter.  Genesis 50:12-14, "And his sons did unto him according as he commanded them: For his sons carried him into the land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, which Abraham bought with the field for a possession of a buryingplace of Ephron the Hittite, before Mamre. And Joseph returned into Egypt, he, and his brethren, and all that went up with him to bury his father, after he had buried his father."


     Now we have found that Joseph did exactly what he promised his father Jacob he would do.  He buried him.  Also I want to point out in the scriptures we have just read we found the first mention of embalming.  Joseph had his father Jacob embalmed. 


     Let us finish up the first book of the Bible, the book of Genesis with one more mention of death.  It is now time for Joseph to go by the way of the grave.  It is recorded in chapter fifty.  Genesis 50:24-26, "And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence. So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt."


     I want to point out that Joseph was embalmed like his father, Jacob.  But we also see another first mention recorded.  Joseph was put in a coffin.  Later, his coffin was carried out of Egypt.  Exodus 13:19, "And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you."  Now if cremation was the Biblical thing to do, this would have been the perfect time to cremate Joseph.  Instead, Moses carried his bones up out of Egypt in a coffin, not his ashes in an urn. 


     On top of all that, the Israelites carried the coffin of Joseph for over forty years in their wilderness journeys.  Look at the final destination of the coffin of Joseph and his bones.  Joshua 24:32, "And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for an hundred pieces of silver: and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph."  Again, let me say, he was buried not burned. 


     Let us recap these incidents in the book of Genesis.  We find Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph all buried not burned.  We also find the record of Abraham burying his wife and Jacob burying his wife.  No record of cremation taking place in the first book of the Bible, the book of Genesis.  Also, note Abraham purchased a burying place and so did Jacob.  Today the practice is still going on.  Burial plots are sold daily.


The Death Of Moses


     Now we will skip on through the Bible a little farther to point out certain accounts of disposing of bodies at death.  Take a look in the last chapter of Deuteronomy where we find the death of Moses, the servant of God.  Deuteronomy 34:5-6, "So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD. And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day."


      In this passage we find God has taken Moses up on the mountain of Nebo.  The Lord meets with him and lets him look into the land of Canaan.  Then Moses dies and the Lord buried him.  Now, we find the Lord has performed a burial not a burning of the body of Moses.  Also, notice a new word, sepulchre.  What is a sepulchre?  According to Webster it is: “a burial, an interment, in a grave or tomb.”


     Job had much to say about the grave.  Read the following passages.  We will only give them as a reference in order to save space.  Job 5:26, 7:9, 10:19, 14:13, 17:13, 21:13, 21:32, 24:19, 30:24, and 33:22.


     Read the following passages as well.  Psalms 6:5, 30:3, 31:17, 49:14, 49:15, 88:3, 88:5, 88:11, 89:48, Proverbs 1:12, 30:16, Ecclesiastes 9:10, Isaiah 14:11, 14:19, 38:10, 38:18, 53:9.


     There are many other scriptures in the Old Testament that pertain to this subject.  But as you can see, burial in a grave, sepulchre, or a cave is the Christian way of disposing of a body that has deceased in the Old Testament.


New Testament Accounts


     Now, let us turn into the New Testament to see what it says about this subject.  Look in John 11:17, "Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already."  This is the story of Lazarus.  Notice  the specifics.  John 11:38, "Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it."


     Look at what happened.  John 11:43-44, "And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.  And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go."  You see in this passage that a body came forth out of the grave bound.  Jesus did not bring ashes back together.  Lazarus was buried not burned.


     John the Baptist was beheaded and buried not burned.  Matthew 14:12, "And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus."


     The Rich man in Luke 16 who died and went to hell was buried.  Luke 16:22, "And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;"  So, you see burial is not only a Christian thing to do,  unbelievers practice it as well.  It is a Bible thing to do.


     Ananias and Sapphira, who lied against the Holy Ghost in the book of Acts, were struck down by the hand of God and were buried.  Read the account in Acts 5:6, 9, 10.


     Turn in your Bible to John 19 and verse 40-42.  "Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.  Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.  There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews' preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand."  The Lord Jesus Himself was buried. 


     Our only hope is in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Now notice an application to this.  We as believers are baptized by immersion after we are saved, (notice I said after we are saved).  According to the Word of God, this is a type of death, burial, and resurrection.  The old man dies when we are saved, then buried in a watery grave (baptism), and resurrects to walk in the newness of life.

     Also,  according to the Word of God in John 5:28,29, all that are in the grave will hear His voice.  I know that the Lord Jesus could call all the ashes of the dead together and will one day, but the Biblical example of those who die is a burial. 


     Cremation is a heathen custom.  Those who do not know the Lord or those who do not know what the Bible teaches are the ones who practice cremation.


God Sent Fire


     In the book of Numbers chapter 11, you will find the story of God sending fire among the Israelites for  their complaining.  God was displeased with their complaining and His anger was kindled.  Numbers 11:1, "And when the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp."


     Further over in the book of Numbers, we find that God sent fire down and consumed two hundred and fifty men for their part in rebellion with Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.  Numbers 16:35, "And there came out a fire from the LORD, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense."


     Achan, who touched the accursed thing and caused Israelites to die because of his sin, was burned.  Joshua 7:15, "And it shall be, that he that is taken with the accursed thing shall be burnt with fire, he and all that he hath: because he hath transgressed the covenant of the LORD, and because he hath wrought folly in Israel."


     From these scriptures we see that God sent fire in judgment to sin or disobedience.


Cremation As A Pagan Practice


     The first mention of burning bodies as a heathen practice is found in the book of Deuteronomy.  Look in chapter 12 and verse 31, "Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods."  This is a practice of worship to false gods.  How heathen can you get when you offer your own children to appease the gods.


     Yet in America we are doing the same thing when we raise our children without the influence of the Gospel or the Word of God.  We are offering them to the gods of this world.  


     Now look in II Kings 17:31, "And the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burnt their children in fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim."


     Again, we see the burning of children to gods. 


     A saved heart, an open mind, and an open Bible will reveal the correct method of disposing of a deceased body. 


     Cremation is not a Christian practice taught by the Bible.  Neither the Old Testament or the New Testament teach it.  Burial is the proper method of disposing of a deceased body. 


     Please allow the Lord Jesus, the Bible, and the Holy Ghost to show you the truth and then abide in it.




Booklet Number 8B

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