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CAN WE COMMUNICATE WITH THE DEAD?

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Evening, October 28, 2001

"Then said Samuel, Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the Lord is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy?" (I Samuel 28:16).

The Los Angeles Times reports that Halloween isn't doing so well this year. Many people are thinking about the terrorist attacks, and are not as interested in Halloween as they were last year. The news story says:

A fire is raging out of control at a crematory. Firefighters greet people at the door, supposedly to lead them to safety. But along the way, a descent into horror: The firefighters turn into demons and the visitors learn they're being led into hell.

That was the plan, anyway, for this year's haunted house at the Castle Park amusement center in Riverside. On the afternoon of Sept. 11, park officials and creative consultants huddled to come up with Plan B.

"It didn't take long to realize that what we were planning would be completely inappropriate," said Ed Pearson, general manager at Castle Park.

Halloween has long been the national holiday of terror - a time to confront fear in a harmless way and stir up the ghosts of our imagination. Once considered a children's holiday, it has grown in recent years to encompass adults as well. It has become our bacchanal, a largely secular celebration in which the national id is allowed to run rampant.

Now, with real horror having trumped fantasy, some people are rethinking the whole idea.

( Los Angeles Times, October 23, 2001, p. A1).

Personally, I'm glad Halloween isn't doing well. We've had enough of it! In this time of terrorism in America, we don't need Halloween! We need God! We need Christ! We need to be in church next Wednesday night instead of some fool Halloween party!

But other people are defying common sense - and God - and are going to party anyway. The news story went on to say:

West Hollywood hosts a Halloween carnival, which is going forward as planned. About 250,000 people are expected, city spokeswoman Louise Grasmehr said. At the Cobalt Cantina on Robertson Boulevard, manager Amy Layman said she hoped that this year would be as lively as ever.

"You know, honestly, I think people are going to be so tired of not doing anything that they're going to get their ya-yas out, you know what I mean?" she said. "I think a lot of people are just going to be defiant that night. I know I am, and I know that most of the circle of friends that I have are the same way. You know, enough is enough."

She said she wouldn't be surprised if costumes got a bit tasteless. "I would hope not, but . . . just from past experience, I would say yes. You're going to have terrorists, you're going to have airplane victims, you know. People do things like that."

Mostly, though, she predicted that people would try to forget their troubles. "And if they don't, I feel sorry for them," she said, "because I'm certainly not going to let all this get in the way." ( Los Angeles Times, ibid.)

That foolish woman isn't going to let acts of real terrorism stop her from having a Halloween orgy. And the Bible calls her a "fool" for rejecting God and playing with demons! The Bible says:

"The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good" (Psalm 53:1).

The Bible calls a woman like that a "fool."

We're going to have more clean fun at church next Wednesday night than that whole bunch of fools in West Hollywood! Be here. Don't miss the real fun that God's people have in church!

Other foolish people will go to a horror movie on Halloween, next Wednesday night, rather than being in church. Many of them will go to see a movie like "Thirteen Ghosts" or "The Others," which is a ghost story starring Nicole Kidman, the former wife of Tom Cruise. I hope you have better sense than to put movies like that in your brain - even on video. It isn't good for you to be terrified by a ghost story. Many people become demon influenced through movies and videos, especially horrifying movies and videos like that. Stay away from it! It can hurt you for years to come!

Here is part of a review of "The Others," taken from the Internet:

A woman whose husband never came back from the war must suddenly deal with her children's claims of seeing ghosts in their own mansion. She tries to talk them out of it, even hires three people to help around the house, but it isn't long before she, too, begins to suspect the house of being haunted…A very cool, very creepy, very dark ghost story.

The movie ends with a séance. The dead are supposedly "called back" through a medium, as people sit around a table in a darkened room.

Many people today believe that the souls of dead people can be called back and speak to us.

The Los Angeles Daily News gave a list of five organizations that employ mediums and conduct paranormal investigations (October 25, 2001, L.A. Life, p. 12).

Here is a news story about the so-called "Haunted House" of movie actor William S. Hart:

Senate has seen Hart's ghost. West Hills paranormal investigator Robert Wlodarski has seen it, too, and says the experience was so scary he's never going back.

The evening began with Senate taking out his fancy ghost-hunting gizmo that records activity, and after a search of the house, the most energy emanated from Hart's chair in his upstairs bedroom.

Downstairs in the dining room, at least three guests had a chat with an uninvited guest, using a pair of Senate's dousing rods.

Senate explained that you can communicate with spirits by asking them "yes" or "no" questions, and the rods (one held in each hand) will cross if the answer is "yes."

"Are you Mary Ellen?" asked Erica Perez of Canyon Country.

No.

"Did you live here before?"

Yes.

Then Katie Sanderson of Granada Hills took the wire rods and asked, "Are you happy?"

Yes.

Danielle Serna of Glendale was the third to try chatting with the dead. The 16-year-old Immaculate Heart High School student, who attended with her English teacher Tony Durante and several other students, had the best luck. She learned the spirit was possibly the young starlet Jane Novak, who supposedly had an affair with the older actor.

"It was really a strange experience. It felt dreamlike, like something else took the rods from me and moved them," said Serna, "but it was very easy for me to focus on what I was doing and not be distracted. And, no, I've never done anything like this before," she added.

(Los Angeles Daily News, L.A. Life, October 25, 2001,
           p. 12).

Many people today believe that we can talk to dead souls. I recently heard two women, on two separate telecasts of "Larry King Live," say that they could call the dead back and have conversations with them. Women like this are mediums. The Bible says that they have "familiar spirits." The "familiar spirit" is actually a demon, not a ghost. The demon comes and pretends to be a ghost. Demons impersonate ghosts to trick people into thinking there is no Heaven or Hell after death. These demons deceive people into thinking that their souls will wander around on earth, rather than going directly into the flames of Hell, as the Bible teaches.

We can learn a great deal about demons and mediums from the passage of Scripture we just read, in I Samuel, chapter twenty-eight. Everyone who has an interest in this subject should study it carefully. There are three main lessons in the chapter.

I. Saul's disobedience

The first thing we learn in I Samuel 28, is that King Saul disobeyed God by trying to contact the "ghost" of the prophet Samuel. In verse three we read:

"Saul had put away those that had familiar spirits (mediums), and the wizards, out of the land" (I Samuel 28:3).

Dr. Charles C. Ryrie says, "In obedience to the law, Saul had removed those who practiced spiritism" ( Ryrie Study Bible, note on I Samuel 28:3).

In Leviticus 20:6; Leviticus 19:31; Deuteronomy 18:11-12, and many other passages of Scripture, God had warned the people not to consult mediums, and not to try to speak with the dead.

But King Saul rebelled against God. He was very afraid. The armies of his enemies, the Philistines, far outnumbered his own troops. He was afraid that he might lose the battle. He wanted to know ahead of time what would happen. So, his fear drove him to seek out one of the mediums he had previously driven out of the land of Israel.

Fear is one of the tools of the Devil. If you are afraid of losing something, the Devil can use it to ensnare you and destroy you. That's the way Satan keeps many people from becoming real Christians.

The Devil puts thoughts of fear into your mind. You think, "Why, if I went to that church, I would lose my friends" (or, "I would lose my fun," etc.). Satan makes you afraid that you will lose something good if you come to this church and become a real Christian. And through that fear, he destroys you. That's exactly what the Devil did to King Saul!

Deliberate disobedience to God will bring judgment. The Bible says:

"He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy"

(Proverbs 29:1).

You cannot keep on living in sin and rebellion without experiencing the judgment of God.

That's what happened to King Saul. He sinned - and then he sinned again - and then he sinned again - and again - and again. He thought he was getting away with it. He thought, "God doesn't see. God doesn't know. God won't judge me for sinning." But he was wrong!The Bible says:

"Be not deceived: God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" (Galatians 6:7).

And God finally judged Saul. God cut him off, and never spoke to him again. That's called "the unpardonable sin." It means that you can't be saved. It's too late. God gave up on you and no longer speaks to your heart! That happened to Pharaoh at the time of Moses. That happened to Judas when he betrayed Christ. That happened to King Saul, here in the book of I Samuel.

That's why you must be converted and become a true Christian while God is calling you.When you go home, tomorrow and next week, there will be two thoughts going through your mind.

1. First, you'll think, "I'm not going back to that church!" That's the thought the Devil will put in your mind.

2. Second, you will think, "You know, I ought to go back there to church. I should go back there." That's the voice of God. He doesn't speak with an audible voice. He speaks with a still, small voice, deep in your heart.

Now, we'll see whether you listen to the Devil or to God. We'll see whether you come back next Sunday.

II. Secondly, consider the medium's fear.

"Then said the woman, Whom shall I bring up unto thee? And he said, Bring me up Samuel. And when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice…" (I Samuel 28:11-12).

Dr. Merrill F. Unger, late professor of Old Testament studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, gave these comments on that passage of Scripture:

Saul asked that Samuel be brought up, that is, from the realm of the spirits, because he knew that there was none like the venerable prophet and judge who knew God's mind and future events so well. The woman doubtlessly began her customary preparations for her control [demon] to take over, entering into a trancelike state to be used by her control or divining demon, who would then proceed to impersonate the person called for.

The startling thing, however, was that the usual occult procedure was abruptly cut short by the sudden and totally unexpected appearance of the spirit of Samuel. Transfixed with terror, the woman screamed out with shock as she [saw] that God had stepped in. By God's power and special permission, Samuel's actual spirit was presented to pronounce final doom upon Saul.

The medium's terrified conduct at the appearance of a real spirit of a deceased person constitutes a complete scriptural disclosure of the fraudulency of all spiritistic mediumship. The woman, to be sure, had the power to communicate with wicked spirits. Such deceiving demons represent themselves to their mediums, and through them to their clients, as the spirits of the departed dead. But actually their messages do not [come] from the deceased at all, but from themselves as lying spirits who cleverly impersonate the dead.

The woman's divining demon had nothing whatever to do with Samuel's sudden appearance. She and her spirit accomplice were completely side-tracked. God stepped in and brought up Samuel, who pronounced doom upon Saul. When the medium was exposed and her craft was laid bare as a fraud by her unseemly fright at the appearance of Samuel, the whole proceeding quickly passed over to a conversation between Samuel and Saul (Merrill F. Unger, Ph.D., Th.D., Unger's Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume I, Moody Press, 1981, p. 405).

I should make two other comments on this point.

1. First, we are told literally that this woman had "a familiar spirit" (I Samuel 28:7). Dr. Murphy Lum points out that this refers to a spirit (demon) who is familiar to the medium. The medium has "called" the spirit so often that she becomes "familiar" with it.

2. Second, Samuel's spirit coming back from the dead is a one-time event. John MacArthur, though wrong on some other things, was right to point out "There is no other such miracle as this in all of Scripture" ( MacArthur Study Bible, note on I Samuel 28:13). In no other instance did the dead actually come back to speak to the living. Therefore, we conclude that every time a so-called "ghost" appears, or someone says they have contacted the dead, the spirit they spoke to is always a demon!

Can we communicate with the dead? The answer is no.This case of Samuel is actually a strong argument against it - because it shows that demons enter mediums and pretend to be the "ghosts" of the dead.

Dr. John Nevius, in his classic book Demon Possession and Allied Themes (Revell, 1894), gives the following narrative of a Pacific Island medium becoming invaded by a demon pretending to be a dead person:

In a few minutes he trembles, slight twitchings of face and limbs come on which increase to strong convulsions with swelling of the veins, murmurs and sobs. Now, the [spirit] has entered him; with eyes rolling and protruding, unnatural voice, pale face and livid lips, sweat streaming from every pore, and the whole aspect of a furious madman, he gives the divine answer, and then the symptoms subsiding, he looks around with a vacant stare, and the deity returns to the land of spirits.

(Nevius, ibid., p. 155).

The witch of Endor was frightened when Samuel came to her because no dead person had ever done that before. She had always been indwelt by a demon, like the Pacific Island witch doctor described by Dr. John Nevius.

III. Thirdly, think how this applies to you.

Your goal in life is not to learn the future from a dead person's supposed "ghost," or from fortune telling, or in any other way.

The Bible tells us exactly where the goal of your life should be:

"If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth"

(Colossians 3:1-2).

To be a real Christian, you must put your hopes and affections in Heaven. Your hope must be in Jesus Christ - who is seated at the right side of God - up in Heaven. Fortune telling, spiritism, astrology, and all forms of magic are from beneath, from this sinful world. "Seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth" (Colossians 3:2).

That's why you need to come back here to church next Sunday. You know, you've been playing with sin too long. It's time for you to get serious with God, and find Jesus Christ. Only Christ can give you eternal life. Only Christ died on the Cross so your sins could be washed away in His Blood. Only Christ can save you.

The account of King Saul is tragic. He continued living in sin until God judged him, and he died and went to Hell. You can't play with sin and get away with it.

I am asking you to leave Halloween behind and be with us - here in church - on Halloween, next Wednesday night. And I am asking you to turn away from this old demon-filled world - and be with us here in church next Sunday! Let this be your song:

I am coming, Lord, Coming now to Thee;
Wash me, cleanse me in the Blood that flowed on Calvary.

("I Am Coming, Lord" by Lewis Hartsough, 1828-1919).

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."

You may email Dr. Hymers at rlhymersjr@sbcglobal.net, (Click Here)
or you may write to him at P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, CA 90015.
Or phone him at (818)352-0452.

Scripture Read Before Sermon: I Samuel 28:7-16.
Solo by Benjamin Kincaid Griffith: "Holy Bible, Book Divine"

by John Burton (1773-1822)

THE OUTLINE OF

CAN WE COMMUNICATE WITH THE DEAD?

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

"Then said Samuel, Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the Lord is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy?" (I Samuel 28:16).

I.   Saul's disobedience, I Samuel 28:3; Leviticus 20:6;
Leviticus 19:31; Deuteronomy 18:11-12;
Proverbs 29:1; Galatians 6:7.

II.  The medium's fear, I Samuel 28:11-12; I Samuel 28:7.

III. How this applies to you, Colossians 3:1-2.