Spiritual Imposters

Scripture: Ecclesiastes 9:5, 1 Timothy 6:15-16, Psalms 115:17
Date: 10/24/2021 
What does the Bible say about death and spirits?
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Doug Batchelor: The Christians of the Ancient Mediterranean world used catacombs, a network of subterranean chambers and galleries for burial, but during times of persecution, the catacombs became places of refuge because burial grounds were guarded or sacrosanct by Roman law. When churches above ground were destroyed by imperial order, worshipers met in catacomb chapels. By A.D. 200, Christians had carved some 600 miles of tombs in the volcanic rock in and around Rome. Eventually, the catacombs expanded into honeycombs of galleries with staircases and multiple levels. Romans preferred cremation, but Christians followed the practice of interring the dead in catacombs, which they called "coemeteria" or "sleeping places," to suggest that, for a Christian, death is merely a sleep before the Resurrection.

Did you know that Jesus plainly taught that death is a sleep? In fact, all of Scripture confirms that it is an unconscious sleep until the resurrection of Christ's return. So why is there so much confusion, even among Christians, over what happens when we die? And how can you protect yourself against some of the potentially dangerous delusions about death in the last days?

Tonight's presentation is very important, and it's-- our story, we always begin with, kind of, a storacle, an allegorical, metaphorical Bible story that helps teach these theology points. It comes to us from 1 Samuel 28, and just give you a little background here, the first king of Israel was King Saul. He was anointed by Samuel the prophet. Got two books in the Bible, 1 and 2 Samuel.

And when Saul was first chosen, he was a good man, had a good heart, had a humble attitude, but after he was chosen to be king, you've heard that expression, "Power corrupts," "Absolute power corrupts"? Absolutely. And after he met with some success and he gained some wealth and reputation, over the years, he became proud, and finally he sort of cast off God and began to grieve away the Holy Spirit, started brooding. Bible says an evil spirit began to torment him, and he gets so mad that he'd throw a spear at David, who's a musician, or even his own son, Jonathan. He killed a number of the priests of God in a fit of jealousy and fear, and finally, near the end of his life, he was facing a very big battle against the Philistines.

At this point, Samuel the prophet, who had always guided him earlier in his life had died off, and so he was looking for some counsel, and the Bible said God did not speak to him through the priests nor through a prophet, And in desperation, looking for some guidance, going against this massive Philistine army, he said, "Well, find me a witch." He says, "Find me a woman who is a medium, that I might go to her and inquire of her." Now, that was absolutely forbidden in the Bible. Well, his servants happened to know there was still somebody in the area of Endor, not too far away, that had the reputation of being a medium that can consult and conjure up dead spirits, and so he went.

He disguised himself because, if she knew he was the king, she'd probably be afraid to give him any information, and she went through her incantations and whatever it was that she did through gunpowder and the fire or something. It went "poof," and then this apparition appeared that claimed to be Samuel the prophet come back from the dead, and he gave an absolutely discouraging message to Saul, saying, "You're going to die, and you'll be with me tomorrow, and Israel's going to die, and they're going to be defeated in battle."

Saul just went to pieces. He just lost all his courage, and, you know, the Bible tells us that one of the most important things in battle is to have courage. You can read about that in the book of Joshua. And the Bible tells us in Leviticus 19, verse 31, and chapter 20, verse 27, they were never to consult a witch or a medium. In absolute disregard of that, that's what he did. The next day in battle, the Philistines did overwhelm the discouraged soldiers, and you've heard the expression "Fall on your sword"? That's what Saul did. When he realized he had been wounded by the archers, he didn't want to be captured and tortured by the Philistines. He literally fell on his sword, and his armor bearer fell on his sword, and Saul and his three sons died that same day together.

Soon, David followed as king. But the big question people want to know, "Was the form that Saul saw actually Samuel the prophet?" I'm going to read you a verse that is not in our study guide, and this comes to us from 1 Chronicles chapter 10. You not only find this story in 1 Samuel. You find it in 1 Chronicles chapter 10. They often cover some of the same history. "So Saul died for his unfaithfulness which he committed against the Lord, because he did not keep the word of the Lord, and because he consulted a medium for guidance. But he did not inquire of the Lord, therefore, the Lord killed him."

So when he inquired of Samuel the prophet, the Bible says, "He did not inquire of the Lord." That was not Samuel the prophet. That was not the Lord's counsel or the Lord's message to him. It says that this was an apparition, a spirit that was conjured up by a witch. You read in 1 Kings chapter 22, verse 22, "The Lord said to him, 'In what way?' So he said, 'I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all of his prophets.'" This is when Micaiah the prophet was talking to Ahab and Jehoshaphat, and he said there are lying spirits.

Look also again what we just read in Revelation 16, verse 14, "For they are the spirits of demons performing signs," and you can read in 2 Corinthians chapter 11, "For Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light." Satan can create illusions, and we need to understand what does the Bible say happens when a person dies.

All right, question number two, "Do dead people come back to converse with or to haunt the living?" Listen to what the Bible says. We believe the Bible, amen? So let's find out what the Bible says. Ecclesiastes 9, verse 5, Solomon wrote, "For the living know that they will die, but the dead--" what's that say up there?-- "know nothing, and they have no more reward," meaning of in this life, "for the memory of them is forgotten. Also, their love, their hatred--" they're not loving or hating anybody. You don't have to worry about ghosts haunting you because they're mad at you-- "their envy has now perished. Nevermore will they have a share in anything done under the sun, meaning in this life." They don't come back to this life.

The Bible's clear it's appointed unto man once to die; after that the judgment." You don't keep coming back and haunting people and meddling with what's going on down here. You're asleep until the resurrection. Psalm 115, verse 17, "The dead do not praise the Lord." That's pretty clear. First thing I'd do if I died and I went to heaven, what would I do? I'd say, "Praise the Lord, I'm here," right? So the Bible says, "The dead do not praise the Lord." Then you can read in Psalm 6, verse 5, "In death there is no remembrance of Thee." People who die, they're not thinking of the Lord. Job 7, verse 10, it says, again, speaking of the dead, "He will never return to his house." He's not going anywhere to haunt anybody at that time.

And, again, another verse in Isaiah 38, when Hezekiah was told by Isaiah the prophet, he said, "Put your house in order, " "You're going to die," Hezekiah began to pray and cry, and he said, "Death cannot praise You." He says, "I'm going to praise You. If I'm dead, I can't do that." So the idea that, as soon as you die, you're leaping up and down in the presence of the Lord, praising God, you don't find that in the Bible. Psalm 146, verse 6, "Put not your trust in princes, neither in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goes forth. In that very day, his thoughts perish. His plans perish." He's not thinking or planning anything--what it says.

"Where do the dead people go when they die?" It says here in Job 21:32, "He is brought to the grave. He remains in the tomb. All who are in their graves--" when Jesus comes-- this is John chapter 5, verse 28 and 29. "All who are in their graves will hear His voice." How can they hear His voice in the graves if they're already in heaven? Does that make sense? These are the words of Jesus. It's all through the New Testament. "The Bible makes it plain that King David will be saved." Everyone knows good King David killed Goliath. Man after God's own heart. He will be in heaven. When he died, the Bible says, "He slept with his fathers." "Is he in heaven now?" Some people say, "Well, no one really went to heaven till Jesus died on the cross, and then they went to heaven when Jesus raised."

Well, you read in the book of Acts, 40 days after Jesus has gone to heaven, you can read, Peter, where he says in Acts chapter 2, verse 29, "Men and brethren--" this was during his public sermon-- "let me freely speak to you of the patriarch David, that he is dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day." David's tomb is still, to this day, in Jerusalem. And then he goes on. He says, in verse 34, "For David did not ascend into the heavens."

Now, I don't know how more clear it can be. This is not complicated. He says, good King David, someone saved, he is dead, he is buried, he's not in heaven, and this is a long time after the Resurrection. And you can read in 1 Corinthians chapter 15, verse 22, "For in Adam all die--" because of the sin of Adam, we all struggle with death-- "even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But each one in its own order. Here's the order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming."

When are they raised? "At His coming." The Lord will descend from heaven with a shout, the voice of the archangel, the trump of God. The dead in Christ will rise." They are resting in peace. Even Martin Luther understood that. The great reformer, he said, "God, Jesus will come, and when He comes, He'll knock on the grave and say, 'Dr. Martin, wake up,'" because they're sleeping. "But isn't it true that the soul is immortal and that only the body dies?" What's the Bible say? "The soul who sins--" Ezekiel 18, verse 4-- "will die." Job 4:17,

"Can mortal man be more righteous than God?" We don't have immortality yet. That's why God chased Adam and Eve out of the garden that they might not eat from the tree of life, and they were going to die. Says, "In the day that you eat thereof, you will surely die." Look at 1 Timothy chapter 6, verse 15 and 16, "The King of kings, the Lord of lords, who alone has immortality." If that's clear, say, "Amen." So, when people say, "You've got an immortal soul" and that you're destined to live through eternity, well, Jesus said in John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him might not perish, but have everlasting life." Immortality is conditional unbelief in Christ. Isn't this what the Bible is telling us?

"When will the righteous receive immortality?" "We will all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet." Goes on and says, "For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and this mortal must put on immortality. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout," and I quoted this to you a moment ago, 1 Thessalonians 4:16. "The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first."

So there's resurrection of the dead, and this is our first resurrection. It happens when the Lord comes back. And so, "But Pastor Doug, we've just heard so many people say that you die, and you immediately go to the Lord," and they talk about so-and-so: "They're in heaven now." And we know they mean well because they're thinking, you know, based upon the time they'll experience, but it hasn't happened yet, and the reason I keep pressing it's important to understand that-- you remember our opening story? King Saul was deceived and discouraged by an evil spirit posing as Samuel the prophet. And remember what I just read there in Revelation? These unclean spirits go out to the leaders of the world to gather them together to battle, to deceive them with lying signs and lying wonders, and the Bible talks about lying spirits, and Satan can create illusions.

Just up the street here from where we're having this meeting, there's a little establishment where you could pay them a price, I suppose-- I've not been there-- and they will give you a reading. They'll try and contact your departed loved ones. A lot of them are charlatans. Some of them may be in cahoots with the enemy. I don't know--not going to find out. Or they'll read your tarot cards and Ouija boards.

And, you know, friends, I'm talking about something I know a little bit about because I grew up as a pagan. My mother used to write horoscopes. She actually has an album. You can even see it on the internet. She wrote horoscope songs. She wrote 12 songs, one for each of the horoscopes, and I said, "Mom, you believe that stuff?" She said, "No," but it pays. But we had a lot of friends. They were all into seances, and we were part of seances and the Ouija boards, and I don't know if anyone's old enough to remember. They used to have a national television program. It was actually a soap opera called "Dark Shadows." Some of you guys, you remember that.

Two of the actors, the principal actors in that were friends of ours, and they'd come to our house, and we'd go to theirs, and those people were into some really weird, dark stuff. It happens more than you think. There are some people in high places who think that they're consulting with the dead or getting some spiritual advice like that, and what if-- if the devil can come down and impersonate Christ, can his fallen demons look like departed Bible characters?

Doug: Don't go anywhere, friends. We'll be back in just a moment with the rest of today's presentation. One of the most confusing subjects in our world today is the big question "What happens when we die?" Seems like everywhere you turn, someone out there has a different opinion about the afterlife, whether heaven, hell, purgatory, limbo, or eternal nonexistence. Well, are you tired of all the contradictory and confusing messages? Wouldn't you like to know what the Bible really says once and for all?

To help answer all of your questions, Amazing Facts would like to send you a very special free gift. It's called "The Afterlife Mystery." This attractive, full-color magazine provides simple but vital biblical facts to help you decode death, hell, and eternal life, amid all of the confusing deceptions today. In a captivating, contemporary way, it presents powerful lessons about what happens when we die and, more importantly, how you can be ready for eternity. To get your free copy, call the phone number on the screen and ask for Offer Number 839, or visit the web address, and after you read this incredible resource, be sure and share it with a friend. Let's return now to today's presentation and learn some more amazing facts from the Word of God.

Doug: I remember hearing this story, and this an anecdotal story. I can't prove it, but someone told me that they knew a lady that was in San Francisco--this was during the Vietnam War-- and that she was a Christian. Her belief was always that you die, and you sleep until the resurrection, and she got one of those terrible notices from the army, and it said, "We regret to inform you that your son is missing in action and presumed dead." And, of course, she was devastated, and she was alone. She had no husband, and she was grieving in her apartment building there in San Francisco for weeks, and one day, she woke up at night, and there was her son standing at the foot of her bed, and she was terrified. He says, "Mother, don't worry. I'm fine."

And she was wondering because he made no profession of being a Christian. He was living a pretty wild life the last she heard from him. And he said, "Oh, everyone goes to heaven. Don't worry. God just puts these things about the lake of fire in the Bible to scare people into being good," and giving all these very strange interpretations, but it made her feel so good because it looked just like her son, sounded just like her son, knew things only her son would know.

And this happened several times, and then, one day, there was a-- door rang, her apartment. She opened up the door, and there's her son again except now he's in uniform, and his arm is in a sling. And she said, "Why are you meeting me out here in the hall?" He said, "What are you talking about?" She reached out. It was really her son. She touched him. And evidently, he said, "No, I was wounded, but I'm not dead. They, just, they gave you some bad paperwork. I'm so sorry that you thought that I was dead."

You know, that's happened before. Parents get the message that their kids are presumed dead, and then they're not. Well, what was appearing to that woman, claiming to be her son? And you wonder if the demons had a computer breakdown. They didn't get their stories straight. But you could see how easily people, when they're missing a loved one--now, someone else is thinking, "Pastor Doug, I'm having problems with what you're saying right now because my loved one, my spouse," or somebody, "died, and I've sensed them with me. I've heard them guide me, and I just know they're--I felt their spirit.

And, you know, I'm not denying that you've had these sensations, friends, and it's not always diabolical. My brother died of cystic fibrosis when he was 35. He's my older brother. From the time I was born until he died, he was always there my whole life, and even after he died, I'd reach for the phone to call him because I used to call him all the time, and I remember reaching for the phone to call him. I just felt his presence, and then I realized he was dead. I'd forgotten. I've talked to widows, who, after their spouse dies-- and they say, you know, "A few weeks later, I get up, and I call down the hall and say, "Jack, can you come here?" And then they remember that their husband's gone. And your mind is filled with the memories of people you love. It's very normal to have those sensations and memories, and you might even have a dream where God gives you some comfort in a dream. That's between you and God. It doesn't give us our basis for truth. You know what I'm saying? The Bible truth is very clear: They are sleeping a painless, dreamless sleep until the resurrection.

"How does the Bible repeatedly refer to death?" John 11:11 and verse 14, Jesus, speaking of Lazarus, he said, "Our friend Lazarus sleeps," and the disciples said, "It's good that he's asleep. He's sick. You know, if he sleeps, maybe the fever will break, and he'll be better." Jesus said, "No, no, Lazarus is dead." Jesus actually used the term "sleep," and He had to say, "You don't understand what I mean by 'sleep.' I mean, he's dead." Then later, He said, "I'm going that I might wake him."

Jesus goes down to Bethany where Lazarus is buried. It takes a few days to get there, and when He tells Martha to roll away the stone from the grave, she says, "Lord, by this time, there's a bad odor because the decomposition has begun. He's been dead for several days." He said, "'Trust me. Roll away the stone.' And when Jesus said these things, He cried out with a loud voice," John 11:43, "'Lazarus, come forth.' And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes" that had been embalmed and soaked in ointments.

Now, think for a minute: If Lazarus had been dead for several days and if you go right to heaven when you die, and if he's a good friend of Jesus, he probably went to heaven, right? If you're Lazarus and you die and you're in heaven, and you're up there, and you're hearing angelic music, and you're, you know-- got this glorified body, and you're in the presence of God, and you see there's golden streets and all these wonders of heaven, and you're just reaching out for the tree of life, and all of a sudden, "poof," you're back on earth, and you're wrapped up in graveclothes, would you think that was a nice thing that Jesus did for you? Oh, that wouldn't be very nice.

You know, there are about a dozen resurrections in the Bible, and the reason I say, "about," is because, when Paul was stoned, some believe that Paul actually was raised by the Lord. He had been stoned to death, but God raised him back up again because everyone who walked away thought he was dead, and when Eutychus fell out the window, everyone said, "He's dead," and the pulse, you know, his life was still in him. They wondered, "Was that a resurrection?" So it's hard sometimes to count a few of them, but there are at least 12 resurrections in the Bible.

Do you realize that in all of these resurrections, not one of the people involved ever comments and says anything about what they experienced in death? Now, if Lazarus was alive today and he had been dead for four days, and somebody came back from the dead, every news station in the world would have representatives that would be there. They would push a microphone up into Lazarus's face, and they'd say, "What was it like? What did you experience? What happened?" But none of the Jews anywhere in the Bible comment on any of these resurrections, saying, "What did you experience in death?" Because they all knew that death was like a--" what? "Sleep." It is a dreamless sleep. They didn't know anything. Solomon said, "The dead know--" how much? "Nothing." That, to me, I think, is pretty strong evidence. The Bible tells us that none of the resurrection has ever commented on what they experienced.

"Why does Satan want us to believe that the spirits of the dead are actually alive?" For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders," Bible tells us, if it were possible, "to deceive, even if possible, the elect." Jesus says, "See, I'm telling you beforehand, do not be deceived by these evil spirits." Three unclean frogs, and they're going to claim to be the spirits of the departed. They're going to deceive leaders of the world.

"How effective will Satan's use of these evil spirits be in the last days?" Answer? "By your sorceries, all the nations were deceived." I just told you that, in North America, 50%, roughly 50%, 45% of the people believe in ghosts, and about 20% believe you can communicate with the dead. That's frightening when you think about it how easily so many people will be deceived by that. Some will start believing in it but don't believe in it now when the devil begins to perform these signs and wonders. Revelation 18, "Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, has become the dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul--" the word "foul" there means "evil spirit."

Paul says, "We do not wrestle against flesh and blood but principalities and powers and rulers of wickedness in high places." Well, there are evil spirits that are out there that want to deceive, and they're going to use the belief that the dead aren't really dead to deceive people. The Bible says in Revelation 12:9, "That serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world." What was the first deception that Satan made? God said, "You disobey, you will die." What did the devil say? "You will not really die." And what does most of the world believe? That you don't really die. Even in churches, pastors are saying, "You don't really die. You live forever. Somewhere, you just can't die. You're immortal." The Bible says, you're going to sleep until the resurrection.

"How does God regard these miracles by evil angels?" "A man or a woman who is a medium shall surely be put to death." Now, I'm not expecting you to go on a rampage through the community and fulfill that. Just telling you that, when they lived under a theocracy, it was the most severe penalty for mediums. I'm not suggesting we revive the Salem witch trials. Everyone clear on that? But there was a pretty severe punishment. Some will depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils." And, again, "having no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness."

Someone asked last night how I felt about Halloween, and I said, "I don't want to have any fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness," Ephesians 5, verse 11. "Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness," and notice, "not only idolatry, sorcery." "By her sorceries, all nations are deceived," it says, regarding Babylon the great, and then it fills out that verse in Galatians chapter 5, "Sorcerers will have their part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." It's a pretty severe thing, and, yet there are Christians that are promoting sorceries, saying that you can talk to the dead.

"What glorious power does God offer to His people in the last days?" The power that He's offering us as a gift is the power of His resurrection, "That I might know Him and the power of His Resurrection." Friends, I want to get that new glorified body, don't you?

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