Talking to the Dead...Truth or Fiction?
Recently, I saw a commercial for an upcoming episode of "Crossing Over with John Edward", a show, who's host, John Edward,
claims to be able to communicate with people who have died, or in his words "crossed over".
We have all lost relatives and loved ones that we miss very much. Wouldn't it be great to have one more conversation
with them? Wouldn't it make us happy to be able to tell them that we love them one last time?
In this article, we'll see what the Bible has to say about talking to the dead (channeling) and ghosts/hauntings.
Speaking to (or for) the dead (Channeling):
The Bible speaks quite clearing about the use of mediums,
fortune-tellers and spirit guides. Starting with Leviticus 19:31, God
says "Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be
defiled by them. I am the LORD your God." He goes on to say in
Leviticus 20:6, "I will set my face against the person who turns to
mediums and spiritists to prostitute himself by following them, and I
will cut him off from his people."
Pretty strong language. Being cut
off from the people was, in many cases, a death sentence. A person left
to fend for themselves in the early days of the Holy Land was most
likely to fall prey to wild animals or marauding thieves and bandits.
In Deuteronomy 18:10-12, God advises the Israelites to reject the
practices of the people living around them. Using His strongest
language yet He says: "Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his
son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery,
interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a
medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these
things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable
practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you."
God calls these things "detestable" and tells the Israelites He will
destroy the nations surrounding them because they practice it.
In 1 Samuel 28:6-20 we have the account of King Saul. Put in place
over Israel by God, Saul chose to disobey Him, thus losing His support.
Saul is agonizing, about this on the eve of a battle with the
Philistines. Once again, taking matters into his own hands, he seeks
out a medium, to summon the prophet Samuel, in order to ask him what he
God allows Samuel to talk to Saul in order to deliver the following
message: "The LORD will hand over both Israel and you to the
Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The LORD
will also hand over the army of Israel to the Philistines."
We find reference of this passage in 1 Chronicles 10:13-14 "Saul
died because he was unfaithful to the LORD; he did not keep the word of
the LORD and even consulted a medium for guidance, and did not inquire
of the LORD. So the LORD put him to death and turned the kingdom over
to David son of Jesse."
It is very apparent that God does not want us fooling around this type
of thing. Mediums and people who "channel" are most often frauds. In 1
Samuel 28:12, the medium actually seemed surprised that she was able to
"call Samuel up". Bible scholars have interpreted this to mean that she
had never actually done it before. (1)
The amount of "personal" information that can be located about a
person is truly amazing. With the advent of the Internet, more
information then ever before, can be summoned up at the click of a
mouse. This can give a medium the appearance of "communing with the
In cases where mediums and people who channel, actually know
information that no one else but the dead person could know, keep in
mind that they are most likely involved with very evil spiritual
beings. In simpler terms, a demon; Satan’s fallen angels.
Even though demons have become less apparent and have to hide better
from our "enlightened" minds, they still exist and will do everything
they can to confuse, corrupt and mislead people.
What did Jesus say about the dead?
In John 11:25-27, Jesus said to her (Martha), "I am the resurrection
and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and
whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"
"Yes, Lord," she told him, "I believe that you are the Christ, the
Son of God, who was to come into the world."
Ghosts and Haunting:
In the Bible, there are three cases where dead people are allowed to
communicate, or return to earth in a visible form.
The first incident was discussed above. It happened in 1 Samuel
28:6-20 with the actual "manifestation" occurring in verses 12 through19:
When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out at the top of her voice and
said to Saul, "Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!"
The king said to her, "Don't be afraid. What do you see?"
The woman said, "I see a spirit [a] coming up out of the ground."
"What does he look like?" he asked.
"An old man wearing a robe is coming up," she said.
Then Saul knew it was Samuel, and he bowed down and prostrated
himself with his face to the ground.
Samuel said to Saul, "Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?"
"I am in great distress," Saul said. "The Philistines are fighting
against me, and God has turned away from me. He no longer answers me,
either by prophets or by dreams. So I have called on you to tell me
what to do."
Samuel said, "Why do you consult me, now that the LORD has turned
away from you and become your enemy? The LORD has done what he
predicted through me. The LORD has torn the kingdom out of your hands
and given it to one of your neighbors—to David. 18 Because you did not
obey the LORD or carry out his fierce wrath against the Amalekites, the
LORD has done this to you today. 19 The LORD will hand over both Israel
and you to the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with
me. The LORD will also hand over the army of Israel to the Philistines."
The second incident takes place in Matthew 17:1-8 at the Transfiguration.
After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother
of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was
transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes
became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them
Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.
Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you
wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one
While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a
voice from the cloud said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am
well pleased. Listen to him!"
When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground,
terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. "Get up," he said. "Don't
be afraid." When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.
Here Peter, James and John see Moses and Elijah talking to Jesus.
They look real and solid enough that a clearly terrified Peter offers to
put up shelters for all three of them.
I’m not sure we can classify this event as a true "haunting", but
there is no doubt that two people, Moses and Elijah, who were
previously dead or taken into heaven, were now alive and in the
presence of Jesus and his disciples.
The third incident is in Luke 16:19-31. This account is a parable,
but is different from others in that Jesus actually names one of the
key players, a beggar named Lazarus.
"There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and
lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus,
covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's
table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to
Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where
he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus
by his side. So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and
send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue,
because I am in agony in this fire.'
But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you
received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now
he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this,
between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want
to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to
He answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's
house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will
not also come to this place of torment.'
Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen
'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to
them, they will repent.'
He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets,
they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.' "
From these accounts, we are able to glean several main points.
1. Returning from the dead is only allowed in very special
circumstances. There are no accounts where "normal" people were either
kept on earth in a perpetual spirit form, or allowed to communicate
with the living about "mundane" matters.
2. There are two places for the dead to reside, heaven and hell,
until the final judgement, referred to in Revelation 20:11-15:
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth
and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I
saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books
were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The
dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the
books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades
gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged
according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into
the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's
name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the
lake of fire.
Jesus, being sinless, cannot lie. Since the parable of "the rich
man" contains the accounts of heaven and hell with a gulf between them,
this information can be accepted as fact. There is a heaven and there
is a hell. Going between them is not possible.
So when someone sees a "haunting" or "sees a dead loved one", what
are they actually experiencing?
I have to believe that hauntings, even benevolent ones, are the work
of Satan and his demons. The Bible tells us that Satan is "a liar and
the father of lies". (John 8:44) Everything he does is to undermine God
and deceive people away from the Word and Will of God. Hauntings serve
no purpose other than to make people confused as to what is in store
for them after death.
Now there are numerous accounts in the Bible where people have
experiences with angels and demons. These outnumber the occurrences of
people communicating with the dead.
The Old Testament talks often of the Israelites meeting "The Spirit
of the Lord". This angelic being is held to be Jesus before His earthly
arrival. (2) Other named angels are "Michael" (Revelation 12:7) and
"Gabriel" (Luke 1:19). In any case, angels are sent here, by God, to
advise people of His will. In Hebrews 1:14, the Bible says "Are not all
angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit
On the converse, demons, or fallen angels, serve Satan (the father
of lies). These beings can, and will, deceive people at every turn.
This includes appearing to be the ghost of a loved one or some other
haunting apparition. Demons do not have to appear as scaly monsters, as
they are typically portrayed in art and pictures. Remember that demons
used to be angels of God.
The Bible mentions just one spirit or ghost; the Holy Spirit.
This being is best described as "the Holy Spirit is God. The Bible also
tells us that the Holy Spirit is a Person, a Being with a mind,
emotions, and a will." Also "The Holy Spirit is God, the third
"Person" of the Trinity. As God, the Holy Spirit can truly function as
the Comforter and Counselor that Jesus promised He would be (John
14:16,26; 15:26)." (3)
The Bible tells us that Jesus is "the way and the truth and the
life" and "No one comes to the Father except through" Him. (John 14:6)
How much clearer could Jesus be? If your loved ones believed in Jesus,
as the Savior, while they lived here on earth, then they have been
assured a place in heaven. If you also believe in Jesus, as the Savior,
then you too will go to heaven after you die. All your believing loved
ones will be there, and you will never be separated from them again!!
Think of the wonderful reunion in heaven that you are going to have.
If you want to have the opportunity to speak to your loved ones, who
have passed away, take a moment to consider a relationship with God
through Jesus Christ.
Click here to learn more about how to know Jesus as your Lord and Savior.
1. Got Questions? "
What does the Bible say about channeling?"
2. Got Questions? "
What does the Bible say about ghosts/hauntings?"
3. Got Questions? "
Who is the Holy Spirit?"