Contacting the Dead?

by Edward Wood

Our local public library provides space for all types of groups and individuals as part of their service to the public. It can range from science, to art, to history, and, in this latest instance, to that of the supernatural. Lately it has arranged an appearance of a young woman who is a self-professed medium. By the information that went out about her, it seems that not only does she contact the dead, but encourages others to do so as well. Apparently, the list filled up quickly in such a quantity as to necessitate a move to the local fire house for additional space as this has proven to be insufficient at the library. Even this has not been enough since waiting list has now become necessary.

It appears that this woman has attracted the attention of a local weekly newspaper as well which has provided a great deal of coverage about her. After giving her considerable “ink,” I felt strongly moved to write a letter to the editor and present a view of this subject from a biblical point of view – something I have rarely heard covered even in the days before my church denomination spiraled into apostasy. It seems that, like Bible Prophecy, it has been and continues to be largely ignored. This is what we'll explore greater detail here.

Perhaps the best place to begin is to ask the question: Is the spirit world real?

Since God himself is Spirit, as are the angels in heaven, the answer is clearly, "Yes." But does it end there? The evangelist Paul, who wrote most of what comprises the Epistles in the New Testament of the Bible, reveals that there is a darker component just as real. In fact, he reveals that the struggle between good and evil we see on Earth is merely a reflection of what is going on in a much bigger scale in the spiritual realm which lies beyond our senses:

Ephesians 6:12: For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

There is, in fact, a battle raging even now between God and his angels; Satan and his demons. The harsh world that we face every day is merely a reflection of this very thing.

Now who is exactly is Satan? From the book of Job, second chapter, in the Old Testament, we see that he is called one of "the sons of God." This was a term used to designate angels - supremely powerful beings God created as fully mature very likely before the formation of our universe. The Bible also reveals that Satan - once known as Lucifer, was once an ally of God whose pride caused him to fall (Isaiah 14:12-15). The book of Revelation suggests a third of the angels, sometimes symbolically called "stars" – e.g. Revelation 1:20) joined him in his rebellion (Revelation 12:4 - the dragon mentioned here is Satan which is shown in verse 9.).

The devil has always coveted God's throne, even trying to get Jesus himself to roll over (Luke 4:1-11). This battle for supremacy continues and the prime method used toward this end is that of deception. What few realize is that the reptilian image most presented of Satan is not at all the case, as Paul shows us here:

2 Corinthians 11:14-15 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

I presented this preface to provide some of the background that will be helpful to consider when we are faced with the claims of those who believe they are contacting the dead. What does the Bible say on the subject of death?
Let's take a look:

Daniel 12:2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.

Note that there is no mention of the souls of the dead being involved with the living here.

There is also the matter of what appears to be a "one place or the other" principle. To the repentant thief, Jesus said:

Luke 23:43And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.

Paul wrote:
2 Corinthians 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

This suggests that the souls of the departed don't hang around on Earth after the death of the body year after year, century after century. It also casts serious doubt on the concept of "purgatory." The Bible pretty much says, you either go to meet God when you die, or you go into hell to await final judgment (Revelation 20:11-15) - no stops or delays on the way either to heaven or Sheol.

Now that we've looked at what happens to the departed souls, what doesthe Bible say about playing around with the occult in general? Under the Mosaic Laws, it was pretty harsh:

Leviticus 20:27 A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them.

In the New Testament it appears this approach was softened, but by every indication still to be avoided (Acts 8:9-22; 16:16-18). Perhaps even more telling is that there is NEVER in either testament of the Bible ANY TIME when dealing with the occult is presented in a positive manner. Jesus never did it, nor did his disciples.

What should that tell us?

As another example of necromancy (communicating with the dead) is something to be avoided, note the tragic tale of Israel's first king Saul in 1 Samuel 28:7-20). What is interesting in this account is that the medium appeared to actually raise the spirit of Samuel - who “came up” probably out of the ground. Why didn't he, as a righteous man, "come down" from heaven? It appears that prior to Jesus' resurrection and ascension, the souls of the righteous dwelt in a place later called "Abraham's Bosom," while the wicked resided in a place we'd normally picture as hell (Luke 16:19-31), both of which realms were part of "Sheol," translated in the King James Version as "the grave." The Greek word "hades" is a direct equivalent. After Jesus rose from death and ascended 40 days afterward into heaven, it appears that the righteous also could now go there, too, (possibly an event which followed the account in Matthew 27:50-53) and that is where they and those who believe in Jesus are now. That once-mortal people who lived on Earth are seen in heaven is recorded in Revelation in several places (Revelation 4:4-11; 7:9-10).

For those who never heard about Jesus, it is a little more unclear, but I am sure a just God will never rip anyone off. Paul suggests this very thing (Romans 2:14-16). It would also seem that before the age of discretion, all children go there automatically (Matthew 19:14) - and this is a particularly comforting thought.

How about our devout Jewish friends? The Bible tells us the God chose the Hebrews out of all the people on the Earth to reveal himself across the ages. Jesus himself was, of course, very much a Jew descended from Jacob’s son Judah, as was King David. Perhaps at some point in their lives, maybe even at the very end, those Jews, anyone in fact who may not, for whatever reason, have known about Jesus, but who have earnestly sought after God have the chance to accept Jesus. This, of course, is pure speculation on my part. I really don't have an answer to this question, other than to believe that God will ALWAYS do what's right.

As for evil people who have willfully rejected God (and his Son in the A.D. era), these end up in the "torment section" of Sheol, waiting for final judgment at the final end of history (again, see Revelation 20:11-15).

So, what are we to make of those who contact "loved ones" who have died?

If those who rejected God are in hell, those who accepted him are in heaven, how does one explain supposedly getting in touch with dead loved ones and reportedly receiving information that only they would know? Could it be that what they are contacting are in fact evil spirits, demons, if you like, masquerading as the souls of those they have lost? Remember these beings are immortal and who knows just how much information they may be privy to on Earth during a person's life? Certainly the devil himself has great access as the "prince of this world (John 12:31)".

If you read again what Paul wrote about Satan's penchant for deception, appearing as an “angel of light” to provide a deceptive message, along with those working for him, it seems like preying on a person's weakness to be reunited with a loved one presents a prime opportunity and excellent chance to drag an unsuspecting individual into the world of the occult, something the Bible has told us to avoid. I am sure he also takes full advantage out of people who genuinely mean well and wish to comfort others regarding their dead relatives and loved ones, but are ignorant of what the Bible has to say. Remember sincerity itself is never a guarantee of someone being correct. They could very well be “sincerely wrong!”

In view of what the evidence here shows, my advice is to leave to God those things that are clearly in his jurisdiction and not to open the door to the devil and the powers of darkness. If you are involved in any of this, GET OUT OF IT! If you know anyone who is, let them know where the Bile stands on this issue, and do all you can to persuade them to do the same! The decision, of course, lies with each individual - you can't make it for them.

But you can give them the truth - and in so doing stop them from traveling a very dangerous path!