Can we speak to the dead? Do the dead speak to us?
It sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? Wouldn’t it be nice if my father or brother or mom who have passed on could communicate with me occasionally? After all, we love each other and I miss them and they would probably want to comfort me. Surely this would not be wrong. It makes me feel good to think this is possible.
In this age of the awareness and acceptance of the supernatural, anything goes. It seems that “reality” is a personal matter. What I believe to be real must be real. My experience was real to me, so who can object? Dreams, visions, or a warm presence in a room, or a butterfly…are they not signs that someone from the other side is present?
Once somebody told me, “Sometimes my dead husband walks around the house. I sense him at times. I know he is here”.
“Are these dreams and sensations and visions real?”
That is the wrong question.
The right question is this:
“What do these paranormal things mean?”
The first thing we need to understand about the supernatural part of death is that we are more than a physical body. We also have a soul and a spirit.
The world around us is also more than physical. There is a spiritual world, which is invisible.
Flesh and blood occupy the physical world. Spirits (two kinds) occupy the spirit world.
Yet both worlds are equally real.
The Holy Spirit is real, but we do not see Him. The Holy Spirit is the ONLY SPIRIT that can speak to us, influence us for God, and be a bridge between us and God. No human can do that. No demon can do that.
• Angels are real, but we do not see them.
• There is one other kind of spirit that inhabits our atmosphere- they are evil, seductive and deceiving spirits. Sometimes we are tricked into believing that all spirits are good. Not true. Real evil masquerades as good.
When humans die, their physical bodies returns to the dust. No matter how the body is prepared for burial, or even if the body is cremated, the ultimate end is a returning to the dust.
I have a small urn of my dad’s ashes in my house. THAT IS NOT MY DAD. That is a bit of dust that his body was composed of. His “life” is not in that urn.
The spark of life- the spirit within us- that kept our body alive goes back to God. He is the One who gave it and He is the source of all life.
The soul- our mind, will, emotions and personality essence- is sent to one of two places:
• Hades (the place or torment)
• Heaven (into the presence of Jesus in heaven)
• the body turns to dust
• the spirit (spark of life) returns to God
• the soul goes to one of the two destinations.
Souls who have passed into one or the other of these two places CANNOT RETURN according to Scripture. They do not come back. There are none left wandering the earth. They do not walk the rooms of the house. They do not come and go back and forth from their eternal place to earth. They are eternally gone.
The Bible clearly condemns trying to contact or communicate with the dead.
Jehovah God spoke clearly to His people, the nation of Israel, warning them about getting involved with mediums or spiritists. God instructed them that no one should try to consult with the dead.
Deut 18:11 God said that anyone who participated in this must be put to death.
What exactly is a medium? A medium is someone who appears to communicate with dead people whether by trance, or message or conversation.
Notice I said, “appears to communicate”. Actually, it’s not possible to communicate with the dead. They are gone. The “soul” you think you are communicating with is a DECEIVING SPIRIT that impersonates a dead relative. Remember the evil spirit knows as much about them as you do, so the impersonation is quite easy.)
The definition of sorcery is “the traffic in familiar spirits.” Familiar spirits are evil, demonic spirits who impersonate humans. This has been going on since the early days of man. It’s not new.
The question is this:
Why would God condemn an innocent curiosity and longing to communicate with the dead?
The answer is quite simple. To turn to any other source than to God for guidance, direction or comfort is to turn to a counterfeit. God hates counterfeits.
God was making it quite clear that these visits from supposed deceased persons were the work of mediums that were controlled by evil spirits. They were actually called “witches” in the Bible. They were actually communicating with demons, not a departed loved one.
There is a controversial Bible passage regarding King Saul. He went to see a witch and supposedly the witch called up the dead prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 28).
The explanation for this is that King Saul had abandoned God. He no longer looked to God for guidance nor obeyed God’s ways. He was in trouble.
The Philistines had invaded Israel. The outlook was bleak and there was not much hope of survival. Saul would not humble himself and return to the Lord.
So in desperation he turned to the “witch of Endor” for guidance. “Find me a witch, I am in deep distress!” he begged.
He disguised himself so as not to look like King Saul. She asked, “Who did you want to speak to?” He replied, “Samuel.”
So the witch began her enchantment and an old man appeared. Saul identified him as Samuel. The moment she saw this image of Samuel, she cried out in terror.
This is not the familiar spirit she is accustomed to seeing or speaking to. Now she recognized this is King Saul. (Her spiritual eyes perhaps opened.)
Then Samuel spoke to Saul. We do not know what happened here except that God intervened and allowed this to happen, but not without consequences. It is the only record of something like this in the Bible.
Saul was killed in battle the next day. The Scripture says very clearly that he died because he was unfaithful to the Lord and for consulting the witch.
God sent judgment upon him. 1 Chronicles 10:13
Whether this was really Samuel or just a familiar spirit imitating him is irrelevant to God’s purposes. God sent Judgment upon Saul for his sin.
Now what about today? Can humans do this today- call up a departed spirit?
No! “Mediums” can only do what they have always done. They can call up a deceiving spirit that impersonates the one who has died. No one can claim to have a message from your departed loved one.
Some people say, “I am not using a spiritist or medium, but I see my loved one, I talk to my loved one.”
We need to be clear. If you hear something from the spirit world that you think is your dearly departed, it is a familiar spirit masquerading as that person. Jesus clearly said- THERE IS A CHASM THAT CANNOT BE CROSSED.
Using a medium or doing it yourself is all the same. WE CANNOT COMMUNICATE WITH THE SOULS OF THOSE WHO HAVE DIED. It is a familiar spirit impersonating them.
Grief can cause us to talk to our loved ones… “I sure miss you! I wish you were here!” That is not witchcraft. That is simply an expression of grief and loneliness that is part of our grieving process. It’s when you start hearing answers that you can be deceived.
Some people have had dreams or conversations with the departed. I would not attribute all of these experiences to evil spirits. During grief and loneliness it is entirely possible to have a dream of someone who has passed away. My father recently passed away, and my mother had a dream in which she clearly heard him say her name.
This is simply the mind recalling and reconnecting to your feelings about them. This is not the person speaking. There is nothing supernatural about it.
Imagination can also play a role in some of these supposed encounters with the dead. A dream is not an actual connection with a departed loved one. It is one of the ways our mind works to deal with the loss.
Are the dead watching us?
Are they our “angels” watching over us?
No. There is nothing in the Bible that indicates that they are watching us.
Paul wrote about the “great cloud of witnesses” and that we should cast off everything that hinders us and run our race.
Who are these witnesses? They were the heroes of faith listed in Hebrews 11. That list may be added to by those who has died in faith since then. It was a specific group of witnesses. Yet it does list numerous unnamed martyrs. They are not our departed loved ones yet it does not say the list is complete.
We are to be encouraged not by their watching, but by their example and victories. We are told not to fix our eyes on those who have gone before, but to fix our eyes on Jesus. They have finished- we are still running.
Now if the dead cannot contact the living, can we contact the dead? Can we have conversation with the dead? Will they speak to us?
Jesus reinforced the finality of death in Luke 16 when he recounted the life of the rich man and Lazarus.
It tells us 5 times that this rich man was in torment, in hell. Lazarus was in “Abraham’s bosom”, meaning right in his presence.
The rich man begged Jesus to send someone to warn his relatives of this place. Jesus made it clear that this is not possible. “Please evangelize my family!” the rich man begged.
Jesus said, “They have the Word of God and the prophets- that is their only chance.”
In our day, the study and practice of the paranormal is accepted. ESP, Psychic Science, Séances, X-files, ghostbusters, spiritists… Up until modern times all those who claimed to communicate with the dead were called witches and they were branded as practicing sorcery.
In the New Testament after Jesus rose from the dead, people were practicing things. Paul called them deceiving spirits and teachings taught by demons.
1 Tim 4
So then if we cannot speak to them, and they cannot speak to us, will we ever see them again in this life?
No. But that is the beauty of knowing Jesus. If we have loved ones who have gone to be with Jesus because they believed in Him as their only Savior, we will see them again. They know no pain, suffering or sorrow. The psalmist said, “In his presence is fullness of Joy.”
They cannot come to us. But when our life is over, if we too have believed in Jesus as our Savior, we will see them again.
They cannot come to us. But we will most certainly go to them.
And what joy when we are reunited!
But the best of all will be to see Jesus face