Ask Your Preacher

Ask Your Preacher

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Ashes To Ashes

Sunday, February 20, 2011
What does the Bible say about being cremated?

Getting Prepared

Dear Getting Prepared,

Both cremation and burial are acceptable Biblical practices. The Bible makes it clear that your body is merely a tent that is discarded at death (2 Cor 5:1-4). Peter recognized that at death we leave this ‘tent’ of a body behind (2 Pet 1:14). Ultimately, your physical body will return to dust and dirt (Gen 3:19). It may sound morbid, but cremation simply speeds along the natural process of decay that will occur to all bodies eventually.

Furthermore, we have at least one account of cremation occurring in the Old Testament. Saul and his sons were cremated after they died in battle (1 Sam 31:12). The men that cremated Saul and his sons were later commended by David for their behavior (2 Sam 2:5). That same verse in 2 Samuel shows that David considered cremation a form of burial. David’s endorsement of cremation as a godly practice is worth noting.

The Bible does not seem to place much focus on how someone is buried. God’s emphasis is upon how we live (Gal 2:20), not what is done with our body after we die.

Magical Menagerie

Saturday, February 19, 2011
Jer 8:17, Isa 11:8, Isa 59:5, and Isa 14:29 mention cockatrices (which are half bird and half snake fictional creatures), dragons in Isa 13:22, satyrs (which are found mostly in Greek myths and are half human and half goats) in Isa 13:21 and Isa 34:14, and unicorns throughout the Bible (like in Num 23:22).  They're in the KJV Bible, but still, is the Bible saying these creatures exist or will exist for real and we should believe in them?


Dear Zoologist,

The issue you are dealing with is a translation issue.  One of the reasons we prefer the New King James Version to the original King James is that some of the archaic language has been updated, and this includes animal classifications.  When the King James Version was written in 1611, they had less information regarding what specific animals were being referred to in the Hebrew Old Testament.  Animal names can be some of the toughest to track down in translation, especially if there isn’t any context to help pinpoint the animal.  Today, scholars believe that they have narrowed the animals in those verses down.  The word ‘cockatrice’ in the KJV is typically translated ‘snake’ or ‘adder’.  The word ‘satyr’ in the KJV is typically translated ‘wild-goat’, and ‘unicorn’ is typically translated ‘wild-ox’.  Regardless of the specific breed or species, the Bible isn’t referring to mythological beasts in these passages; it is mentioning real animals that the people of that time would have been familiar with.

Plural Pastors Pt. 2

Friday, February 18, 2011
I just wanted to follow up on your reply to "Plural Pastors".  The verses you cited for having no single pastor as leader, but a plurality of elders in a local congregation, are a bit unclear to me.  In Titus 1:5, the verse states "and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you"; that doesn't necessarily mean more than one elder for every congregation.  It would be like saying "the governor appointed mayors in every city".  This phrase doesn't mean more than one mayor was appointed in every city.  Could you clarify?

Baptist Believer

Dear Baptist Believer,

We are happy to clarify!  Tit 1:5 might leave the issue vague if that were the only verse on the topic, but we also have plenty of other places to see that every congregation had a plurality of elders.  Acts 14:23 says that they appointed elders in every church.  Acts 15:2-6 points out that the church in Jerusalem had multiple elders.  In Acts 20:17, Paul called for the elders of the church that met in Ephesus.  Jas 5:14 recommends that the sick call for the elders of the church to pray for them.  Also, Peter exhorts the elders of each congregation to tend the flock amongst them (1 Pet 5:1-3).  There is not a single example of a lone elder in the New Testament.  Every congregation was led by a multiplicity of pastors.

No Little Loss

Thursday, February 17, 2011
What happens to a child that dies shortly after birth?  And what comforting words can I tell a mother and father whose child died after being born?

Empathetic Friend

Dear Empathetic Friend,

There are no words that can remove the pain that a parent feels when they lose a child – their grieving hearts know a pain that is all their own (Pr 14:10).  There is a grieving process that they must go through (read “Great Grief” for details on what the Bible says on grieving).

However, you can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the baby is in Paradise with God.  King David settled that question when his son died.  David was in great distress and sorrow because his child was sick and dying (2 Sam 12:16-17).  Yet, when the baby died, David stopped his distress and fasting (2 Sam 12:19-20).  When David’s astonished servants asked him why he was better considering the child just passed away, David simply said, “I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” (2 Sam 12:22-23)  David was keenly aware that all children go to heaven.  You can confidently tell any grieving parent that their baby is in the arms of a loving Father.

Wet Ink

Thursday, February 17, 2011
Once saved always saved… is that true?  Is every person’s name already written in the Book of Life, and if we don't receive Jesus as our Savior, is that when our name is blotted out?

Wanting A Guarantee

Dear Wanting A Guarantee,

It is the exact opposite of that.  We don’t lose our salvation if we don’t receive Jesus; we gain salvation when we do believe in Jesus.  It may seem like a trivial difference, but it has huge implications.  People go to hell because of their sins (Rom 6:23), not because of Jesus.  Jesus’ death on the cross is a cure for mankind’s self-inflicted spiritual death sentence.  It is the same as a disease outbreak – the disease kills people, not the lack of a cure.  If Jesus had never come, and none of us had ever heard of Jesus, we would all have been lost.

As far as the issue of “once saved, always saved”… it is possible to lose your salvation if you turn your back on Christ.  Read “Salvage And Recovery” for specifics on that issue.

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