Talking To The Dead In The Bible
- The Old Testament teaches that believers are defiled by their attempts at communicating with the dead, a practice that is detestable to God.
- The New Testament instructs believers to seek guidance from God and his Spirit only.
- The Bible reveals that psychic experiences are real but demonic, and that deceiving sprits are counterfeits for the true Spirit of God.
To Dust You Will Return
God explained what happens when we die when he spoke to the first man, Adam. Because Adam was disobedient, God said to him: Dust you are and to dust you will return. Before God created Adam out of dust from the ground, Adam did not exist. Likewise, when Adam died, he returned to dust and ceased to exist.
The same thing happens to those who die now. Speaking of both humans and animals, the Bible says: They have all come to be from the dust, and they are all returning to the dust.Ecclesiastes 3:19, 20.
Does The Bible Talk About It Elsewhere
The Bible makes it clear that humans shouldnt communicate with those who have passed. Furthermore, we can find nowhere in Scripture where loved ones appear as angels.
As far as loved ones speaking to us after death, Scripture makes it clear that the opposite is true. Lets take a look at the parable of the rich man and Lazarus.
In the parable, a wealthy man passes away and discovers the horrors of hell . He begs Abraham, whom he sees in heaven, to let him give a word of warning to his relatives to repent and turn to God. Abraham responds the following:
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.
Abraham, in this parable, makes it clear that those who have passed cannot manifest in some way and warn us.
After all, God has given us his Word, the convictions of the Holy Spirit, and communicates to us in a variety of ways. This parable shows us that even if God allowed for those who have passed to communicate with us, because of our sinful nature, we would likely not listen to them.
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What About Saul Samuel And The Witch Of Endor
First Samuel 28:125 contains a somewhat confusing account that seems to be the exception to the rule about talking to the dead. After the death of the prophet Samuel, King Saul was terrified of the threatening Philistine army and desperate to know the Lord’s will. In his helpless desperation, he resorted to consulting with a medium, the witch of Endor.
Using demonic powers of sorcery, she called up Samuel. But when he appeared, even she was startled, for she had expected a satanic apparition and not Samuel himself. Shocked that God had intervened for Saul, the witch of Endor knew this “spirit coming up out of the ground” was not the result of her demonic conjuring.
So, Samuel’s appearance here can only be explained as the unprecedented intervention of the Lord in response to Saul’s hopeless desperation, permitting him one firm and final encounter with the prophet. The event in no way indicates God’s endorsement of talking to the dead or consulting with mediums. In fact, Saul was condemned to death for these actions in 1 Chronicles 10:13-14.
God has repeatedly made it clear in his Word that guidance is never to be obtained from mediums, physics, or sorcerers, but rather, from the Lord himself.
Cremation Or Burialhow To Decide
When deciding how to dispose of a dead body, consider the following factors.
Local customs. These often have a bearing on how dead bodies are treated. For instance, in Bible times, people customarily buried the dead. Likewise today, a person may choose to deal with the remains of the deceased according to local customs as long as such customs do not conflict with Bible principles.
Legal requirements. The Bible encourages obedience to secular authorities. In some areas, the authorities enact laws about the treatment of dead bodies. For instance, in the case of cremation, some authorities place restrictions on where the ashes may be disposed of.
The feelings of others. The Scriptures encourage us to look out for the interests of others. When deciding how to deal with a dead persons remains, we might consider these questions: How do other family members feel about cremation or burial of the deceased? How does the local community view such customs?
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Resources Related To Bible Verses About Loss
We hope you found this resource on Bible verses about loss and the death of a loved one helpful during your time of grief. Shutterfly offers a variety of resources to help you and your loved ones get through hard times, whether youre looking for guidance, gifts, or cards. If you found this resource on sympathy messages helpful, and youre looking for additional resources with similar content, look to the options below:
How Is Death Like Sleep
Death is like sleep in that no conscious thought occurs when one has died. People who are dead are completely unconsciousunaware of the passage of time and without any feelings or awareness of themselves or their surroundings.
These Bible verses elaborate on how death is a state of unconsciousness:
- His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth in that very day his thoughts perish .
- For the living know that they will die but the dead know nothing .
- 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 .
But another reason death is analogous to sleep is because, as is stated by some of the above scriptures, death is temporary. When someone falls asleep, they will eventually wake up. When someone dies, they experience the sleep of death for a period of time, but will awaken in the future. The Bible calls this the resurrection of the dead.
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Sauls Attempt To Speak To Samuel Who Was Dead
An example of someone who tried to speak to the dead is found in 1 Samuel 28. The prophet Samuel had died and King Saul learned that the Philistines were gathered together to go to war against Israel. Saul feared greatly when he saw their army, so he prayed to God for advice, but God did not answer.
Saul became desperate and told his servants to find a woman with a familiar spirit. Once a woman was found, Saul disguised himself and went to her at night. He asked her to call upon the spirit to bring up someone. She refused out of fear of what would happen to her if she did it, but Saul swore upon the Lords name she would not be harmed.
The woman asked who he wanted her to call up and Saul told her Samuel. Immediately she had a terrifying vision. Saul asked her what she had seen and she said she had seen gods coming out of the earth and an old man covered with a head covering. Saul perceived it was Samuel and he bowed down to the ground. Then the old man, whom Saul could not see, chastised him for disturbing him. Despite this, Saul asked him what to do about the Philistines.
The old man said that God departed from Saul and was His enemy because he had not obeyed the Lord. He added that Saul and his sons, would be captured by the Philistines. When Saul heard this, he was consumed by fear and fainted. Later we learn that Saul was captured and he and his sons were killed.
Is It Normal To Dream About Dead Loved Ones
Dreaming about loved ones after they pass away is common. If youve done so, you dont need to worry that such dreams arent normal. Those dreams may occur around the same time as when people die. Many stories of dreams about the dead involve family and friends saying goodbye to their living loved ones as their souls are moving on to heaven. Or dreams about late loved ones may occur months or years after the people in them have passed away. In addition to departed people, departed pets sometimes appear in dreams. Anyone with whom youve been connected in a loving relationship may appear in your dreams.
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Death Is Not Necessarily The End Of Everything
The Bible often compares death to sleep. A person who is fast asleep is unaware of what is happening around him. Likewise, the dead are not conscious of anything. Yet, the Bible teaches that God can awaken the dead as if from sleep and give them life again. For those whom God resurrects, death is not the end of everything.
We Dont Have To Fear Death
God never wants us, His beloved creations, to live in fear, uncertainty, or confusion. In Christ, He offers us a certain, glorious and joy-filled destination a future free of pain, sorrow and sickness. This invitation is open to all who trust not in themselves or their good works but instead in Jesus and the price He paid.
When we believe Christ is who He says He isthe sinless Son of Godand did what He said He diddied for our sins and rose from the deadScripture says we receive entrance into heaven. Were granted unhindered, relational intimacy with our Savior. He who holds the universe in His hand holds our lives, now and forever more, as well. This means, when our bodies fail and illness invades, we can rest knowing were secure in Gods unshakable, unbreakable love.
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The Truth About Life After Death Provides Hope And Comfort
While it may be comforting to those coping with the death of loved ones to think of them as looking down from heaven, this belief is not supported by the Bible. Instead, Gods Word comforts us with the fact that God will raise them to life again, and all will have a chance to become children of God, who will live happy, productive and abundant lives forever!
In the meantime, there is no suffering in the grave. The dead have no thoughts or consciousness and are unaware of the passage of time. They are sleeping in their graves.
But God promises they will live again! When the dead are resurrected, it will be as though they have awakened from a deep sleep.
Paul likened the perception of the dead from the time they die to the time they are resurrected as like a moment, in the twinkling of an eye . That means that the time between death and resurrection is like a split second to the personthe blink of an eye.
When the dead are resurrected, it will feel like their death occurred a moment agoeven though their death could have occurred hundreds of years before!
We can take great comfort in knowing that when they awaken, they will rise in a much different world, a world that Jesus Christ and the resurrected saints will have been ruling.
So, to summarize, do we go to heaven when we die?
The Bible answers this question very clearly: No. Only Jesus Christ has gone to heaven. Human beings dont go to heaven or hell at death.
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How Should Christians Interpret Dreams About The Dead
Christians should interpret dreams about the dead as we would interpret any type of dream by relying on Gods guidance to figure out the true meaning, and the best ways to respond.
Its important to record the details of any dream you have about your late loved ones. That way, you can reflect on the dream and pray about it, to learn whatever God wants to teach you spiritually through the experience. Immediately after you wake up, write down whatever details you can remember. Start with whatever you recall first, and then work backward to see if you can remember any other details. In the case of a dream visitation, it should be easy to remember your dream clearly.
Then ask the Holy Spirit to help you interpret the dreams message accurately. Prayerfully consider the personal or universal symbolism of the images and words in your dream. Did your departed loved one communicate with you and if so, what was the message? What can your dreams setting and action tell you? Were there certain colors, shapes, or numbers that have special meaning for you? How might God be using the dream to help you heal from your grief, deepen your trust in him, and move forward with peace and even joy?
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Heaven Will Be Better Than Anything We Can Imagine
Ive experienced some amazing things. Ive visited the Grand Canyon, Hawaii, and Yosemite. Ive enjoyed Disney Land with my laughing, skipping daughter when she still dressed in princess gowns and tutus. Ive eaten enough ice cream of all varieties to fill numerous freezers, but all of these experiences pale compared to what awaits Christ-followers in heaven.
In fact, heaven will be better than all the earthly pleasures combined across the span of time. Regarding this, the Bible says, What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceivedthe things God has prepared for those who love Him .
Physical death is inevitable this side of heaven, but this was never Gods intent for His beloved creation. Nor is this where He wishes for us to remain. In Christ, He offers us lifeto experience, through relationship with Him, all the good and lovely and amazing blessings He has planned for us. He wants to surround us in His love, from now into eternity, and in so doing, casts out all fear.
Because of Christs death and resurrection, we, His beloved, can confidently say, Where, o death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ .
1. Grudem, Wayne. Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan
Death Was Never Gods Intent
Scripture tells us God designed humans to live eternally in deep relationship with Him. He created the rest of the universe by a mere command, speaking stars, planets, and oceans into being. But when it came to man, Gods involvement was much more direct and intimate.
Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being . Psalm 139 tells us He knit together our inmost being, that He knows us fully, and searches our depths. All of these passages speak of a loving Father and Creator deeply involved with His creation.
Though mankinds sin brought deathseparation from Godinto the world, this was never Gods intent. He created us for life. Life with Him.
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Will I Go To Heaven
The Bible verses we have quoted in this article make it clear that when a person dies, he or she is unconscious. Death is like sleep. But many people believe that good people go to heaven when they die. In fact, every year thousands of people ask search engines: Will I go to heaven?
The above scriptures answer that question indirectly. They collectively tell us about the mental state of the dead and use an analogy that doesnt match the common idea about heaven. Most churches dont teach that people go to heaven to sleep for eternity.
There is no scripture that says we will go heaven when we die.
In fact, Jesus Christthe highest authority we could consult on the topicsaid in John 3:13: No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.
The apostle Peter reinforced Jesus Christs teaching in his famous Pentecost sermon, which he delivered seven weeks after Jesus resurrection from the dead: Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. For David did not ascend into the heavens .
To learn more about the Bibles teaching about heaven, read our article Is Heaven Real? What Is Heaven?
What Does The Bible Say About Cremation
The Bible does not clearly define about cremation as a means to dispose of the dead. However, there is no scriptural prohibition of cremation in the New Testament. The Bible neither favors nor forbids the process of cremation.
Nevertheless, many Christians believe that their bodies would be ineligible for resurrection if they are cremated. This argument, though, is refuted by others on the basis of the fact that the body still decomposes over time after burial.
Moreover, as God is known to be all-powerful, it should not be impossible for Him to resurrect someone even after cremation.
Besides, there are individuals who do not bother about burial as well as cremation because it is the spiritual body that is allowed to enter Heaven, not the physical body.
1 Corinthians 15:35-55It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.
There have been examples of burning the body, like in the case of Saul and Jonathan. Their bodies had been mutilated by the Philistines. Thus, they were cremated and their bones were buried to protect them from ridicule from the enemy.
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