What does Reform Church think about funerals? Well, it’s not a matter of what a person thinks about funerals, it’s a matter of what a person believes about death. Whatever you believe about death is going to form your opinion on funerals.
If you believe that when someone dies, it’s permanent (which is completely contrary to the Bible) then you’ll act like death is permanent. If you believe that death is easily reversed, then you will act accordingly.
Can we be honest with ourselves? Do we think that most anyone at a funeral is thinking that death is easily reversible? I don’t think so. Most likely, not even the clergy holding the funeral thinks that. Yet look at what Jesus commanded His disciples:
Matthew 10:8 (KJV) Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
You don’t have to agree with this verse, but this is in fact the will of God for every single person that has died. This is why everybody from Elijah, in the Old Testament, to the apostles, in the New Testament, were raising the dead. Back in the day, people used to call the preacher if someone died, so that they could raise them up again. Now we call preachers to solidify and memorialize someone’s death.
When Jesus Comes Back
Some people think that eternal life or the raising of the dead is reserved for when Jesus comes back. No, we have the resurrection and the life inside of us now as believers. Jesus corrected Martha’s thinking on this:
John 11:24-25 (KJV) Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live…
Shortly after this verse, Jesus proceeded to PHYSICALLY raise Lazarus from the dead. This wasn’t metaphorical and it wasn’t a “spiritual raising.” Jesus is the resurrection and the life, and He got to utilize that on Lazarus’ physical body shortly after those verses.
The Purpose Of A Funeral
Most people hold funerals as a “memorial service.“ They’re sort of “sending somebody off“ and “honoring their life with remembrance.” I’m not saying we shouldn’t honor respectable people, but let me ask you, do you do this when your loved ones take a nap? Seriously, do you hold a memorial service when your loved ones take a nap? Why don’t you? Because you know that they will wake up. You know it’s temporary.
When people hold “memorial services,“ that’s a clear indication that they have no plans of that person ever waking up again (until Jesus comes back, I guess). If Jesus commanded His disciples to raise the dead, why shouldn’t believers heed that? Do we just take certain things that Jesus commanded and not others? So, will we love our neighbors because Jesus commanded it, yet not heed the rest of Jesus’ words? To say those words are just applicable to Jesus’ twelve disciples is absurd. Ephesians 1:20 says that we have the same power that raised Jesus from the dead! Even Elijah was raising the dead. Does Elijah have more power available to him than you, a new covenant believer?
The Same Way You Got Saved
The last point that people will make is “Well, God doesn’t raise everybody from the dead.” And to that I would say, “Right, for the same reason that not everybody is saved.” God wants everybody to be saved (1 Tim 2:3), but you’ve got to believe in Jesus to be saved, right? Most people don’t do that. Receiving anything from God works that same way, including the resurrection of the dead (Col. 2:6, Eph. 1:19-20). We need to believe that Jesus is the resurrection and the life, and learn these things, in order to receive them. This is exactly what Jesus told Martha at Lazarus’ tomb:
John 11:25-26, 40 (NKJV) Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection… Do you believe this?” VERSE 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?”
So does Reform Church hold funerals? We invite anyone to come and speak with a leader if they need guidance or encouragement after someone dies. We also will pray with people regarding the resurrection of the dead (as Jesus commanded us), but we don’t hold memorial services (funerals) because the Bible shows us clearly that death is not permanent. In fact, the Bible shows us that we have the power inside of us to raise the dead. So it’s not just that people CAN be raised from the dead. People SHOULD be raised from the dead. Jesus physically died for everyone, therefore, no part of the inheritance is reserved for a select few. Jesus died for everyone, and therefore, all who believe can partake. Everything was provided through Jesus and nothing can be received from God, unless it was provided through Him (John 14:6). This includes, of course, the resurrection of the dead.