31 Question 1

When we think of ghosts, we normally think of the spirits of people that have passed away and are still inhabiting their old homes or trying to scare people.  Hollywood has done a great job of filling people’s minds with thoughts of ghosts, but are they real?  Do people really come back to haunt the living?

Let’s start by reading Hebrews 9:27 which says, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.”  This teaches us that a person will only die once and then will face God’s judgment.  For the believer on the Lord Jesus Christ, once we pass away, we go immediately into the presence of our precious savior as we read in 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.”  The Apostle Paul also wrote in Philippians 1:23-24, “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.”  We also learn that there is no condemnation or judgment for the believer in Romans 8:1 which says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.”

For the one who dies without knowing Christ as their savior, there is immediate punishment.  Let’s read part of the familiar story of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16:22-24 which tells us, “And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.”  Being a believer on the Lord Jesus, Lazarus went to Heaven, while the rich man, one that did not believe, was immediately in torment of the flames.  In a yet future day, when the Lord returns in His glory, men will stand before Him to be judged.  To those unbelievers, there will be immediate judgment as we read in Matthew 25:41, “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”

So, we can see that all who have died have either gone to be with the Lord, or are in torment.  That means that what we think of as ghosts simply do not exist.  However, the Bible does teach us of spiritual beings, either angels or demons.  These never existed as people on the earth, but are beings created by God.

Angels are in the world.  Hebrews 13:2 says, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”  This is a clear reference to Abraham in Genesis 18.  Angels look on us to witness the wondrous hand of God on His people as we read in 1 Peter 1:12, “Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.”

Demons are in the world and demon possession is certainly real.  Let’s read Matthew 8:16 which says, “When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick.”  Now let’s read Matthew 8:28-32, “And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time? And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding. So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine. And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.”  While demons are real and demon possession is real, they are no match for the power of Jesus Christ.  However, some have experienced terrible consequences by attempting to deal with demons.  Let’s look at Acts 19:13-16, “Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.”  In actuality, the best way to get a demon out of someone is to get the Lord Jesus in.  May we be active in sharing the glorious Gospel with all we have opportunity to meet.  (31.1)