The Sanctity of Life and the Resurrection - Ninth and Final in a Series
In the first post of this blog series we asked: Is God offended if your body parts are parceled out to others after you die? …In this advanced biomedical age, why should we consider an old fashioned burial essential to Christian thought and practice? The goal was to show a relation between the resurrection and the sanctity of life, and to look at seven reasons from Scripture why a Christian should not share body parts nor be cremated.
Here is a recap of the posts:
Post 2 - The Bible teaches there is integration of body and soul
And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. - 1 Thess 5:23
Even though we are subject to death, a man’s body with his spirit and soul are to be viewed as a unit. Whether alive or dead, we await the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:23)
Post 3 - The unbreakable link between body and soul
For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another. - Job 19:25-27
Even after a time of apparent dissolution, each individual regains full functionality as mortality is “swallowed up of life.” (2 Cor 5:4) We shall be like him. (1 John 3:2) Made like him, like him we rise, Allelujah! (- Charles Wesley) David marveled about life in the womb, “in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.” (Ps 139:16), but think how much greater will be the resurrection from death!
Post 4 - How do you define death?
Thou shalt not kill - Exodus 20:13
Unless you agree with the new definition of death, then you understand that organ transplantation cannot succeed unless the person donating the organs is alive. It is not uncommon for the organ donor to be anesthetized. A Christian must decide whether he agrees with the current scientific definition of death or the old standard, that we die after breathing our last breath.
Post 5 - Altruism in perspective
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. - John 15:13
Does this apply to organ sharing? It is not altruistic to sign your drivers license considering you are agreeing to give away that which you perceive you would no longer need. And does it show Christian love to expect a doctor to end your life, causing him to break the sixth commandment?
Post 6 - You were bought with a price
For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. - 1 Cor 6:20
Christ died for the whole man. Believers receive the Holy Spirit as a pledge of the life to come. If the bodies of sanctified Christians are not raised, then the Spirit of God will lose a significant part of what He has taken possession of as his dwelling place. (- John Gill) Will we glorify God if we dishonor our bodies in life or in death?
Post 7 - Respect for the Dead
And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed. - Mat 27:59-60
Respect for the dead. The body is the person, too. Also, cremation does not assist us to grieve nor picture to us the expectation of rapture when the trumpet sounds. (Mat 24:31; 1 Cor 15:52)
Post 8 - Taking the reigns
Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I the LORD, the first, and with the last; I am he. - Isa 41:4)
This verse helps to relate the concept that God, not man, is in control of all life and the timing of each one’s death. Many Scriptures warn us against taking the reigns from God’s hands.
Scripture, on the whole, supports burial of a body that is not devoid of vital organs. The disobedient are left for vultures to devour; their bones are not collected for burial. (Jer 9:22) Of course, this does not apply to those who die in life’s tragedies. “Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.” (Ps 50:5)
The doctrine of the resurrection has caused commotion and fired up debates across the centuries.
The uppity Sadducees who did not believe in the resurrection mocked the Lord with a hypothetical question about a woman who had been married to seven husbands, all brothers: Whose wife would she be in the resurrection? (Mat 22:28) In this exchange, Jesus explained there would be no marriage in the new life, and he identified his heavenly Father as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that is, the God of the living. (Mat 22:29-32) Those who are appointed to carry on the line of the faithful, who live in God’s covenant that encompasses his law and grace, are assured of resurrection life.
Preaching the doctrine of the resurrection was the cause of Paul’s arrest and imprisonment, leading to his death. His earnest commitment to this doctrine is detailed in 1 Corinthians 15, where we are instructed that we cannot claim to be Christians if we do not believe in the resurrection of Christ and of ourselves. In fact we are still in our sins unless we believe it. (1 Cor 15:17)
As we noted early in this series, for Christians in centuries gone by, the sanctity of life included the dead who would rise from their graves at the resurrection, and respectful burial was recognition of that hope.
Where are we today with this doctrine? Are we advancing in God’s ways or retreating from them?