What a person says or does may be described by a single word: testimony. Testimony is the declaration that confirms or makes anything known. John 3: 32 gives us a biblical example of the first kind of testimony “what he has seen and has heard, this he testifies; and no one receives his testimony” (John 3: 32); the Lord’s word to the twelve in Mark 6: 11 “And whatsoever place shall not receive you nor hear you, departing thence, shake off the dust which is under your feet for a testimony to them” gives an example of the second kind of testimony.
In Corinth there were some who said “that there is not a resurrection of [those that are] dead” (1 Cor. 15; 12). That was their testimony—what they were saying. There are those that are giving exactly the same testimony today by what they are doing. Ponder well, my reader, the Apostle Paul’s argument in the following verses of Scripture. Having asked the question “Now if Christ is preached that he is raised from among [the] dead, how say some among you that there is not a resurrection of [those that are] dead?” (v12), Paul then locks the resurrection of the dead firmly to the resurrection of Christ. Deny the one in word or deed and you deny the other: “But if there is not a resurrection of [those that are] dead, neither is Christ raised” (v13). If one is not true, then neither is the other. These two truths are inseparable. Then come the terrible consequences: “but if Christ is not raised, then, indeed, vain also [is] our preaching, and vain also your faith. And we are found also false witnesses of God; for we have witnessed concerning God that he raised the Christ, whom he has not raised if indeed [those that are] dead are not raised. For if [those that are] dead are not raised, neither is Christ raised; but if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then indeed also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished” (vs 14–18). This is the awful result of the denial of the resurrection of those that are dead. Reader, this is precisely the testimony of cremation. What those at Corinth said does not differ from those today that cremate or condone the cremation of the body. Their testimony to the world is identical to those of Corinth. Yes, God will still raise the ashes but that has nothing to do with the awful testimony given. Yes, the Scriptures on resurrection may be quoted and spoken of at such cremation ‘services’. But the testimony is there for all to witness by what is done, irrespective of what may be said. Indeed, what is done speaks so loudly, it drowns out what may be said. Cremation is the denial of resurrection. Saying “that there is not a resurrection of [those that are] dead” (1 Cor. 15: 12) is cremation’s testimony to the world. How can Christians subscribe to such an event?
Regarding another matter in the same epistle, Paul asks the Corinthians “Does not even nature itself teach you”? (1 Cor. 11: 14). Indeed, he actually employs nature as a teacher in the very chapter on resurrection (see his use of “wheat” in 1 Cor. 15: 35–38). Let us do the same. Fire is part of nature (so much so that the ancients used to think that the material world consisted of just four elements: fire, water, earth and air). Suppose a Christian takes a bundle of papers out into his garden and sets fire to them while his next–door neighbour is watching. What does that tell the neighbour about the papers? Further suppose that the man’s wife brings out some clothes and puts them on the fire of burning papers. Again, what does that tell the neighbour about the clothes? Exactly the same in both cases. That so far as the owners are concerned, the papers and the clothes are finished with for ever. Neither can be recovered from the ashes. This is the testimony of fire, of what is burnt. In exactly the same way, cremate the body and you testify to the world that it is finished with forever—you deny resurrection. Cremation is a pagan way of disposing of the dead that was practised by the Romans in the apostle’s day. “Does not even nature itself teach you?” (1 Cor. 11: 14)!