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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 must do.

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 dead".
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 for Elijah."
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 us.'
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 to them.'
'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 salvation?"
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?"

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