Can we speak with the dead? From Luke 16:19-31 this article shows what Christ teaches us about the relationship between the dead and the living, and about the state of the dead.

Source: Faith in Focus, 2001. 2 pages.

Talking with the Dead: The Sixth Sense and Our Sanctified Sense

The Sixth Sense and Our Sanctified Sense🔗

"I see dead people," says eleven-year­-old Cole in the movie The Sixth Sense. These ghostly people terrify him, until he learns that they merely want his help to settle their affairs. Like Cole, mediums and psychics around the world claim to be able to see – or sense – dead people.

They claim to be able to talk with the dead, and to pass on messages from them to the living.

Are these mediums on the level? Many people seem to think so. In fact, there is an explosion of interest in mak­ing contact and talking with the dead. Mediums and psychics now regu­larly appear on talkback radio and in glossy magazines. Many have published books and/or set up internet sites. And most seem to have work aplenty. One Sydney psychic, who charges $100 per session, is booked years in advance. And, as she points out, she is just one of "thousands of mediums in Australia alone." She also points out that "Un­like times past when this was seen as some sort of sin, people are now less afraid to say they see a medium" (WHO 29/11/99).

Sanctified Sense🔗

Well, mediums may be more accept­able today, but are they more credible? Are they really able to talk – by word, gesture, thought or feeling – with the dead?

The Bible can help us answer this question. It has a great deal to say about the afterlife and the state of the dead. One passage that is particularly pertinent is the account of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16:19-31. Jesus says:

There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, "Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire."

But Abraham replied, "Son, remem­ber that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can an­yone cross over from there to us."

He answered, "Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment."

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."

In this account, Jesus reveals nine truths about the dead.

Firstly, the dead do not cease to ex­ist after death. Human beings are spir­itual as well as physical beings, and their spirits/souls are eternal. Death is not the end for human beings. The dead continue to live.

Secondly, the dead do not continue to live in some vague, pantheistic sense. They live on personally and consciously, remaining essentially and recognisably what they were. The soul is the essence of a person, containing all his moral, mental and emotional attributes; and it is this essence that continues to live.

Thirdly, the dead do not roam about in the world. The moment they die, they go to a separate place appointed for them by God.

Fourthly, the dead do not all go to the same place. Some go to a place of hap­piness, while others go to a place of horror. Where they go is not arbitrary, but is determined by God on the basis of how they have lived in this life.

Fifthly, the dead do not swap places with each other. They remain where they are first consigned. The condemned cannot cross over to the blessed place, nor can the redeemed cross over to the cursed place.

Sixthly, the dead do not come back to the world of the living. Some may want to return, but none are permitted.

Seventhly, the dead do not communi­cate with the living. Because they are powerless to leave their new abode, they are powerless to speak (by word, thought or feeling) with the loved ones they have left behind.

Eighthly, the dead do not have trite things to say to the living. If they could return and speak with their loved ones, they would have one common message: "Hell is real, and it is terrible! Oh, watch out! Repent! Fly to Jesus before it's too late!"

Ninthly, the dead to not have the pow­er to convince the living on matters of eternal consequence. Even if they could speak with us, they could not tell us anything about heaven and hell that is not already revealed in God's word. And if the living will not believe the entreat­ies and warnings of God, they would not believe the entreaties and warnings of a ghost.

Don't be Deceived🔗

From Jesus' account of Lazarus and the rich man, it is evident that the dead are completely and permanently cut off from the living. So whatever the medi­ums and psychics are doing, they are not talking with the dead. They are ei­ther deceived or deceivers. Either way, they should be avoided. Let all who want to know about the afterlife listen to Mo­ses and the Prophets, Jesus and the Apostles. They speak with truth and authority, and their words are accurately recorded in the Bible.

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