Deadly Visions

Scripture: Ecclesiastes 9:5-10, John 5:28-29, Isaiah 8:19-20
Date: 02/11/2014 
Is it possible to talk to dead people? Is it dangerous? Can dead people even talk and if not, who are people talking to when communicating with the deceased?

Are the Dead Really Dead? - Paper or Digital Download

Are the Dead Really Dead? - Paper or Digital Download
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>>Do the dead communicate with the living according to the Bible? If someone comes to you saying, 'I’ve got a message from heaven. I’ve got a message from the other side.' as a Christian you ought to run the other direction. It's called 'spiritism'.

>>You know, friends, in the last days, Jesus is very clear - in Matthew chapter 24, verse 24 He warns us that the deceptions are going to be so compelling that if it were possible, even the very elect would be deceived. That means even professed Christians would be deceived. And so things are not always what they appear to be. The devil is a master deceiver. Now the Bible's very clear that necromancy - that's the practice or attempting to communicate with the dead - is something that is forbidden. Interesting - oh, someone did a survey back in 1977 and about 35% of American Christians believed that you could communicate with the dead. Actually, it was just any Americans. Then, by the time you got to 1983 there was another study that was done and it had gone up another 15% and about 42% of Americans believe that you can communicate with the dead.

What's really sad now is, while it's always been forbidden in scripture for Christians to try to communicate with the dead, now there's a new form of necromancy that is being baptized and embraced by Christians. You can see that people are sort of preoccupied with the paranormal. Just to give you a few examples: Dr. Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon who, ironically, never really believed in near-death experiences until he fell into a coma. And then he details, in his book 'Proof of Heaven: a Doctor's Experience with the Afterlife' about his being taken off to heaven and having a change of heart and seeing things and people there.

And there's someone named Don Piper. He wrote a book - died in a traffic accident - head on - struck by an 18-wheeler - a minister, I should add. A pastor stopped and prayed over his body when he had been declared dead and he says for 90 minutes he was in heaven and he wrote a best-selling - New York Times best-selling book on that and talked about seeing relatives up there and talking with them. And then he went on and endorsed this latest book that's become very popular, 'Heaven is for Real'. It's a 2010 New York Times best-selling book about a little boy's astounding story of his trip to heaven and back - written by, again, a pastor - Todd Burpo - about his 4-year-old son Colton, who experienced one of these near-death experiences during emergency surgery. He ostensibly died and he was taken off into heaven and he saw grandpa and grandma and he saw a baby sister that was miscarried by his mother and he talked to Jesus and he described what heaven was like. Of course, his father was a minister and he grew up with this knowledge of Christian things. And now they're making a movie about it and everybody's probably going to think this is just wonderful.

I don't doubt the sincerity of these people. I don't doubt that they had some kind of experience. But I think we need to be very careful not to say we're going to base truth on what somebody experiences when they supposedly die on an operating table or they slip into a coma because there's a lot of other things that can affect that. First we want to base it on 'What does the Bible say about communicating with the dead?' Isaiah 8:19, "And when they say to you, 'Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,' should not a people seek their god? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is not light in them." And so if a person says, 'You know, I died on the operating table and I was talking to Grandma in heaven and she gave me a message.' I don't doubt a person can have a dream, but that's not necessarily a message from heaven. Dreams can come from God. Dreams can come from the devil. And so we need to be very careful about this sort of thing.

Leviticus 19:31, "Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek after them, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God." Mediums would say, 'We've got a message from the dead.' So this is sort of a new baptized - or sanctified - version of necromancy, when Christians say, ‘I had an experience. I went to heaven and I have a message from the dead.'

You know, there's no example anywhere in the Bible of someone getting a message - a Christian - a believer - of getting a message from somebody who had died. It only happens with King Saul when he consults a witch. The only people who died that communicated with someone living is when Moses and Elijah appeared to Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. We don't even know what they said. It says they talked to Him about His sacrifice but they didn't communicate with Peter, James and John. Jesus, who was glorified, He entered into this state and they talked to Him.

So the idea that people are getting messages from those that are dead - and we know why Elijah was there - he didn't die. He went to heaven in a fiery chariot. And the book of Jude says Moses was resurrected by Jesus after he died. Deuteronomy 18:10-12, "There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium," - that's necromancy - "or a spiritist," - someone who consults with the spirits of the dead - "or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you."

So, here's a question: do the dead communicate with the living, according to the Bible? I'll just give you a few verses: Job 14:21, speaking of a man who dies it says, "His sons come to honor and he does not know it." So a man dies - does he go to heaven and look down and see what's happening on earth? He doesn't know if his sons come to honor - "They are brought low and he does not perceive it." - think about it anyway. Would your relatives, if they went to heaven and they could look down and see what was happening here on earth - a mother had a bunch of kids and grand-kids and see all the trials and the trouble and the temptation and the failures and the pain - would they be enjoying heaven looking down at all of that happening? No.

The Bible tells us that that's not the case. Jesus said that no one has ascended - now this is the final word for me - not that I’m done - but this is, I think, pretty important. "No one has ascended to heaven but he who came down from heaven." Nobody came - went up to heaven and came back down with a message except Jesus. Jesus is the only one who came from the Father with a message for earth.

So what's happening when people have these near-death experiences? Studies suggest that between 10% to 25% of heart attack survivors, they report having NDEs - or 'Near-Death Experiences' - so it's very common. British researcher, Susan Blackmore, author of 'Dying to Live: Near-Death Experiences' notes that many of these NDEs such as euphoria and the feeling of moving towards the light are, in fact, typical symptoms of oxygen deprivation. This happens frequently to people who have that problem.

In one experiment, Dr. Ladislas Meduna administered 30% carbon dioxide and 70% oxygen to a subject. Afterward, the subject stated, I felt like I was looking down at myself as though I was out there in space. I felt sort of separated.' It's something that can be induced. And I’m sure it feels very real to them, but we don't base our theology on that. Someone else did some studies - 'Electrical stimulation to the right temporal lobe of the brain has been shown to reliably induce the same disassociation found in near-death experiences and OBEs - or 'Out of Body Experiences'. Other elements of near-death experiences can be reproduced with anesthetics. And so that's why such a high percentage of these people that die on the operating table are saying, ‘I had a dream.'

Here's what you need to pay careful attention to: these near-death experiences that I just talked to you about - Don Piper and Todd Burpo and Colton and the doctor - they all live in America in a context of Christianity and so they have these near-death experiences in the context of the religion they've grown up in. Guess who they see in India when they have a near-death experience? Krishna. And if you go to a Buddhist country and they have a near-death experience, who do they see? Buddha.

So are we going to base our theology on people's near-death experiences from whatever country they're in? Could it be the devil can exploit these experiences? Follow me. Are the dead conscious, biblically? Do they know anything? Psalm 115, verse 17 - now, let me make it very clear - I do believe in heaven. I want to go there someday. I think it's real. I don't deny that. But I don't believe people go right from earth to heaven when they die - before the resurrection and before the judgment. The Bible's very clear about when this all takes place and it hasn't happened yet.

Yes, Enoch's in heaven, Elijah's in heaven, Moses is in heaven. There are some who went to heaven that Jesus rose at the end of Matthew 27 in a special resurrection, but the vast majority of people are still sleeping in their graves. 'Oh, but Pastor Doug, the Bible says, 'To be absent from the body is to be present with the lord.'’ Yes, that's true for them. When a person dies in a saved condition, their next conscious thought is the presence of the Lord. They have no consciousness of time, but they're not there yet.

That's why you need to know that, because if someone comes to you saying, 'I’ve got a message from heaven. I’ve got a message from the other side.' as a Christian, you ought to run the other direction. It's called 'spiritism'. Let me give you those verses: Psalm 115:17, "The dead praise not the Lord." First thing I’d do if I died and went right to heaven is praise the Lord. But David said they do not praise the Lord. Peter said, in Acts chapter 2, 'David is dead and buried and not ascended to heaven.' It can't be any more clear because, you'd think David would make it. Psalm 6:5, "For in death there is no remembrance of thee." Psalm 146, verse 2-4, "While I live I will praise the Lord: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being." - while I’m alive - "put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish." He's not up walking around heaven and sending messages to you here on earth.

'Oh, but Pastor Doug, you know, I sense my husband's presence. We were married 50 years and he died and I - I just heard him speaking to me. I felt, at the funeral, he was looking down on me.' It's not unusual for people to have these experiences. You're married to anybody that long - my brother died and for 32 years he was always there in my life. I had auto dial - I could always talk to my brother. I sensed his presence. And when he died, sometimes I felt he was near. It's just because I had so many memories in my mind of my brother - that's perfectly normal - but that doesn't mean that my brother's disembodied spirit was floating around my house or that he's speaking to me from heaven. I knew exactly what it was. And so, I’m not trying to take away from people's experiences, but you don't base truth upon that.

Isaiah 38:18, "...death can-not celebrate thee." Ecclesiastes 9, verses 5 and 6, "For the living know that they will die; but the dead" - do you know the rest of that verse? They - "know nothing." How much do they know? The dead don't know anything. So if you say, I was in heaven and I saw grandma' or 'grandpa' or 'my little sister' or something, they don't know anything. They're sleeping. So who spoke to you?

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>> Well maybe that little boy had a dream. 'Well, he knew things he should never have known.’ Did the devil know those things? Did the devil know what his grandpa looked like? Did the devil know about the little sister? Does the - sure the devil knows. The devil can give information to his prophets. He can speak through dreams. And even those who become mediums - you know what a medium is? The person who is in the middle - they are the go-between between the real world and the spirit world. And even if it's a cute little boy who says, 'I’ve got a message from beyond' - he is the medium for the message. And the Bible says that we should not get information about death or heaven or hell from mediums. We get it from the word, amen? 'The living know they'll die. The dead don't know anything.' "Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished; nevermore will they have a share in anything that is done under the sun." And you can go to - you can read in verse 10 - it says in verse 10, "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going."

So where do the dead go? Job 17:3 - when they die - "If I wait, the grave is mine house." Where do the dead wait? In the grave. You can read Job 21:32, "Yet shall he be brought to the grave, and shall remain in the tomb." Where do they stay until the resurrection? In the tomb. They're not roaming around like Ebenezer Scrooge going into the past and the present and the future. 2 Peter 2:9, "Then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment," - they don't get punished. They don't get rewarded - until the day of judgment. It'd be kind of strange to judge them and say - pull them out of heaven to judge them.

But what about that story in the Bible where King Saul, he saw this apparition of Samuel? You'll find that in the Bible in 1 Samuel 28, verses 3-20. We don't have time to read the whole thing, but just very quickly - it tells us that King Saul was dreadfully afraid because the Philistines had amassed an incredibly large army against Israel. And he tried to talk to the prophets and there was no message from the prophets and the priests had no message from God and he did everything he could to get some guidance but Saul had pretty much grieved away the Holy Spirit because of his rebellion and pride against God.

So in desperation to get some guidance he said, 'Find a witch for me - a medium. If I could only hear from Samuel the prophet I’d feel a lot better.' Samuel was dead. And so they got out their little black book and they found a witch that was still alive in a place called Endor - Endor - the name sound ominous in itself. And so he went to this witch and she went through her incantations and she conjured up this apparition that claimed to be the prophet Samuel. And this ghost or whatever it was said, 'Why have you disquieted me and brought me up?' - Samuel the prophet coming up? Does the devil have the power to resurrect? She went through exactly what happens at a modern séance and, yes, Samuel gave a message - this ghost that claimed to be Samuel - it was not Samuel - a totally discouraging, hopeless message that foretold that Saul and his sons would be dead the next day.

You know, even weathermen get it right sometimes. The devil knew what was going to happen in that battle, especially if he could discourage Saul. So some people wonder if 'Well, maybe this was really Samuel.' No, it wasn't. Matter of fact, you can read - the Bible tells us one of the reasons that Saul got in so much trouble and was cursed. 1 Chronicles 10:13, "So Saul died for his unfaithfulness which he had committed against the Lord, because he did not keep the word of the Lord, and also because he consulted a medium" - this witch of Endor - "for guidance."

Should we get our guidance from a medium? Someone who said, 'I’ve passed to the other side and I’ve come back. I’ve got a message for you.' In the last days the deception would be so persuasive that if it were possible, even the very elect would be deceived. It really troubles me when I hear Christians just falling all over themselves to read these books and get these messages from people who supposedly have been to heaven or hell. Someone else wrote a book about 23 minutes in Hell - and these Christians gobble it up and the information in there has God portrayed as a tyrant. And the devil uses these things to twist the truth about God. How does Jesus, in the Bible, refer to death? John 11:11 - it tells us, "Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up." His disciples said, 'Lord, if he's sleeping he'll get well, but Jesus spoke of his death, they thought he was talking about taking rest and sleep and Jesus said to them plainly, 'Lazarus is dead.' So what did Jesus call death? It's a dreamless sleep.

You know, the word 'sleep' is used - or 'rest' - to describe death over 30 times in the Bible. So it's okay for us to use that term. You can go through a lot of graveyards - you can tell there's confusion even in a church cemetery. One grave will say 'Our dearly beloved mother is now resting in Jesus waiting for the resurrection trump'. You'll see graves like that in a Baptist or a Methodist graveyard. Then you'll see another one that says, 'Our dearly beloved mother is now singing with the angels on the golden streets.' I mean, there's great confusion on this.

But the Bible's pretty clear - they're not there yet. And if you want to know for sure, if anybody in the Bible should have had a near-death experience - if anybody should have had an experience, it would have been Lazarus. He was dead for four days. You would have thought every news agency in the world would have come to him and shoved their cameras in his face and said, 'So, what did you see?' It wasn't just 23 minutes in hell or 90 minutes in heaven, he had four days. You know what he commented on? Nothing. Wouldn't the Bible have said something? He said nothing. Why? Because he experienced nothing. Why? Because he was dead and he was asleep. If you're almost dead you might have a near-death experience because you're not completely dead. No one - someone might have their heart stop and even take their heart out and a new heart put in and they'll have a near-death experience. No one has their brain removed and has that experience because it's something that they experience in the brain.

Matter of fact, there are approximately twelve resurrections in the Bible. And of those twelve resurrections, how many of them commented on their experience in death? Zero. So how much should Christians speculate about truth coming from a near-death experience or a dream or a vision or when you're in a coma? John 5:28-29, Jesus said, "Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice." - the hour is coming - it hasn't happened yet - "and come forth - those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation." And Jesus said, I will raise him up' - when? - 'the last day.'

That resurrection hasn't happened yet. When does it happen? 1 Thessalonians 4:13, "But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep" - what's Paul talking about? Those who are dead - "lest you sorrow as others who have no hope." Will we see our loved ones again? Yes, I believe we will. It says in verse 16, "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an Archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first." Then we who are alive will be caught up to meet Him in the air.

If you really want to know 'When does this resurrection take place?' you can't misinterpret Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 15:22-23, "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits," - He rose 2,000 years ago - "afterward those who are Christ's" - the dead in Christ - "at His coming." When do they rise? At His coming. Are they risen yet? No.

Why am I taking time to talk about this? Because the devil says - the Bible says, rather - the Bible says, in the last days, that this is going to be one of the main deceptions of the enemy. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11, "The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie." Paul's not writing to the pagans that are lost out in the world, he's talking to the church. And if they don't receive a love of the word, the devil will exploit that and they'll have all kinds of experiences and be very sincere and God will allow them to believe these deadly delusions.

It tells us in Revelation chapter 16 that three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouths of the beast, the dragon, and the false prophet and it says, 'They're devils working miracles.' 2 Corinthians 11, 'Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.' So who are these beings that supposedly communicate in the dreams? The Bible talks about the spirits of devils working miracles. It says in the Old Testament, 'They are lying spirits.' The devil didn't fall alone, he took angels with him and they're going around doing all they can to deceive people in the last days. Witchcraft is one of the works of the flesh listed in Galatians 5:20 that is forbidden. Paul says we should have nothing to do with the unfruitful works of darkness, in Ephesians.

And so there's diabolical activity going on out there, but what's especially troubling - it's been putting on the garb of Christianity lately. And when it's portrayed - especially through a little child, or through 'Why this person was converted through this experience and there was prayer that was happening.' And in the context of these things, people think, 'Well it must be of God.' But if it does not speak according to this word, there's no light in them.

I believe Jesus is coming again. I believe that there's going to be a resurrection. I believe that we're going to see our loved ones again. I don't think we should be trying to channel and get messages from them now because the Bible is very clear on that subject: let all who honor God shun the world of the occult. Someone reminded me of the words of Rudyard Kipling - he wrote a poem on this: 'Oh, the road to Endor is the oldest road and the craziest road of all! Straight it runs to the witch's abode, as it did in the days of Saul, and nothing has changed of the sorrow in store for such as go down on the road to Endor!" Don't go down that road friends, even if it's in a blockbuster movie or a best-selling book. God wants us to stay away from these messages that the devil is trying to tweak our theology with deceiving spirits. Jesus is coming again. He says, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die." Do you believe this? And do you believe this? That's to be our source of truth, amen?

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Announcer: Throughout recorded history, tales of ghosts and spirits can be found in folklore in nearly every country and culture. Egyptians built pyramids to help guide the spirits of their leaders. Rome sanctioned holidays to honor and appease the spirits of their dead. Even the Bible tells of a king that used a witch to contact the spirit of a deceased prophet.

Today, ancient folklore of spirits and apparitions have gone from mere superstitions to mainstream entertainment and reality. Scientific organizations investigate stories of hauntings and sightings, trying to prove once and for all the existence of ghosts. Even with all the newfound technology and centuries of stories all over the world, there is still no clear-cut answer.

So, how do we know what's true? Why do these stories persist? Does it even matter? We invite you to look inside and find out for yourself. Visit

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