How does one explain sensitively to relatives who recently lost a loved one the dead do not return to earth to visit loved ones (according to the Bible)? These are my in-laws who are Buddhists. They find comfort in dreaming about their lost loved one and invite him to communicate with them through their dreams. Also, most recently, one told of his visit to her.
My husband and I just listen when they share their dreams. I have been praying about how to handle the next time we hear of another “experience,” and whether it is my place to say anything.
Thank you for reading my letter.
Dear Wondering Sister-in-Law,
You are totally right to be concerned about your in-laws. You are in a very awkward position. Because Buddhists reject the Bible all together, even showing them Scripture that refutes their beliefs may not go very far. But the Word of God is powerful and sharing it is always a good idea (as the Holy Spirit leads). Here is a verse you cans share when you have an opportunity to do so:
“And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comesjudgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him” (Hebrews (9:27-28).
My personal experience with family members or friends who are closed to the Bible, is to keep faithfully praying. You can try to explain things to some people again and again but they will likely stay attached to their delusions. (But this is not necessarily a permanent condition.)
We do hear of testimonies about people who were totally closed to the gospel, whose loved ones thought they would never come to the Lord—but then do accept Christ at some point in their lives. So we should never ever underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit to move in a person’s life.
I have a number of friends I witnessed to many, many years ago who were not at all interested in what I had to say about the Lord. It was a frustrating experience, knowing that they thought they did not need Jesus Christ, and were heading for an eternity of misery separated from Almighty God and His tremendous blessings.
It was through fervent prayers and the ministering power of the Holy Spirit—that some of those people are now strong believers leading others to Christ.
In Christ we always have hope. Consider the apostle Paul, how he was so brutally against Christians and then after his conversion, he became one of the greatest apostles and truly became a “new creation” in Christ. I imagine that people who knew him before his conversion could never have pictured him as a redeemed man; but with God all things are possible.
Perhaps you and your husband could invite your family members over for an evening and share your own testimonies with them. Show them the Scriptures in the Bible that refute their belief in the dead returning to earth—even if it is through dreams. Try to call it an evening of sharing, and spending time together as a family. Serve some delicious foods that will help you all bond. A shared, good meal can tame many family squabbles.
Another tactic would be to have a small party with a fun theme. You could send them invitations for a party titled: “Come Dressed as Your Favorite Historical Character.” You and your husband could choose to dress as biblical characters. Choose wisely who to represent and that would give you both a chance to tell your lost family members about those key biblical personalities.
If your in-laws come dressed as Buddhist personalities or any other type of pagan entities, that could also serve as a point of conversation. Through carefully comparing the chosen characters you could point out the difference between biblical truth and the futility of their beliefs. The more fun you can generate the less threatened your family members will feel. You would be planting seeds of wisdom that they may think about when they leave.
When you do have an opportunity to share the gospel try to reassure your in-laws that you are not attacking them but it is out of love for them that you want to share the Good News of Christ’s free gift of salvation.
If you cannot get through to them you can rest assured that you have been responsible individuals by pointing out their error. If you have any good DVDs on Bible prophecy, share them. Sometimes people need to see how today’s moral climate and current events tie in with the Scriptures.
It is important to be as patient as possible. I have been to some Buddhist temples in Japan and it was a very eerie experience. I was on a tour with some business associates and I actually had to excuse myself from the group and leave the premises when visiting one of the temples.
I can’t really explain the extreme discomfort I felt. Statues (idol worship) of Buddha and Buddhist monks were all over the place; the interior of the building was quite dark, barely lit and a sense of foreboding was very strong.
I have also spent some time with Zen Buddhists here in the USA, and I can see why some people would be attracted to such a group. These Buddhists were very much into cleanliness and eating healthy foods. They did not have any drug addictions or worldly vices. They lived simple lives.
From my personal observation, it seemed that they were living in a brain washed trance-like state. They spent hours and hours sitting (meditating) on what they would call “nothingness” or “emptiness.” They totally reject the true God of the Bible or any type of god. Yet they worship Buddha even though they don’t consider him to be a god.
At these American Zen Buddhist facilities it is very tranquil and quiet. Yet it is one of Satan’s strongholds. Considering the hectic pace of this world, so many seek a quiet refuge; but these sanctuaries are dominated by one false religion after another. Meditation of any kind other than meditating on the Scriptures is dangerous; it opens up the mind to allow any type of entity to enter.
I hope a time will come when you and your husband will be able to share the true Prince of Peace with your lost family members.
I have two helpful links cited below to help you with your quest to reach your loved ones. Study them before you speak with them. Once you have shared the information, you have done your part.
If after they are made aware of their error, and they continue to share their delusions with you, stop them and say something like: “I love you, but I cannot condone your ideas. They go against the teachings of the Bible and it greives me to see that you are so deceived.” Here is the first link:
15 Important Bible Verses About Talking To The Dead
And one more link with an article titled, “Straying from the Buddhist Path—Why I Stopped Following Buddha and Started Following Jesus?”:
You must be emotionally prepared that a discussion on faith might cause a conflict and division in the family; but as Christians we must defend the truth and not enable the lies of the devil. The eternal destiny of your loved ones are at stake; you and your husband may be the only ones to help awaken them out of their dangerous Buddhist beliefs. The Holy Spirit will lead you as what to say to them.
As I said before, be patient and know that although your in-laws may be angry or even unkind once you speak with them about their false religion, remember, they have been immersed in a false doctrine for a long time. But with Christ we always have hope.
Keep praying for them that the Holy Spirit will intervene in their lives and also pray for wisdom for yourself and your husband—so you can both better handle the situations that may come up with your family members.
I wish you the very best, and thank you for reaching out. God bless you for your loving and concerned heart. Please reach out again if I can be of further help. Be sure to share the verse below with your in-laws when the time is right (it speaks of our heavenly inheritance).
In God’s love,
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 3-5).