Halloween is the time of year where people often like to talk about ghosts, haunted houses, and other topics that they consider “spooky.” Most people have stories about things that have happened to them which cannot be easily explained away. Many people blame these unexplained situations on the existence of ghosts, or spirits of the dead which they believe still interact with the living in various ways. Ghost stories have been around for many years, and according to a very recent survey, 45% of Americans believe in the existence of ghosts. However, do ghosts really exist? Let’s consider what the Bible says on this subject.
First of all, what happens to us after we die? We are made up of both soul and spirit. Our soul is eternal, and is either rewarded with Paradise or punished with Torment right after death until the Day of Judgment comes, when our souls will be sent to Heaven or Hell. Our spirits, or our “life force,” goes back to God. The soul and spirit of a person are very similar, but the Word of God separates the two. An example of this can be read in Hebrews 4:12; “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
In Ecclesiastes 9:5, King Solomon, through the inspiration of God said, “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.” This verse does not mean that a person who has died has no knowledge of anything, but that they have no knowledge of what is happening here on the Earth. The dead are very aware of their surroundings after death, just as the rich man was in Luke chapter 16. “And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom (v.23). They have recognition as well as a memory of events and people here. Also, we have the ability to recognize people who we have not met while on the earth in eternity.
It is also important to note in the story of the rich man and Lazarus, the rich man was not permitted to cross the “gulf” that was between the realm of torment and the realm of Paradise, nor was he allowed to go back to the earth due to this gulf. “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. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence” (Matthew 16:23-26). No one from the dead were permitted to go back to the Earth and warn the rich man’s brothers (verses 27-31). If the rich man was told that no one could pass from Torment to Paradise and vice versa due to a “great gulf,” and that no one from the realm of the dead would be allowed to go to Earth and warn the living, then why would souls of the dead be allowed to cross that gulf and enter back into the realm of the living today?
The answer is, they simply cannot do this. The Bible is very clear that the dead no longer interact with the living in this life. If we are able to go to Paradise upon our death, we will see and interact with our faithful loved ones again, who have passed away, as well as those who have gone on before us that we did not know. Upon the Day of Judgment, those in the graves will be resurrected. On this day, we will either see these people in a joyous reunion in Heaven on the Day of Judgment or meet in a place of pain and agony in Hell. "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” (John 5:28-29).
So how can I explain the strange occurrences that many people have witnessed during their lifetimes, or the things that go “bump in the night?” I can only say that there are indeed things that happen in our lives that we cannot explain, and that we are not meant to know in this life. If we were meant to know these things, God, would have told us about them. We do know however, that angels are spirits who are involved in our lives in ways that are not totally known by us, but this is in the providential realm. They do not appear to people today as the age of the miraculous has ceased, since we have all things that we need to know in this life in order to go to Heaven was completely given in the Holy Scriptures in the First Century (I Corinthians 13:8-10, II Peter 1:3, II Timothy 3:16-17). Miracles then fulfilled their purpose of giving the Word of God and of confirming it to be from God (Hebrews 2:3-4, Mark 16:20).
What do angels do when they become involved in the lives of the faithful today? We do not know exactly! We do know that they have an interest in the lives of Christians today (I Corinthian 11:10, I Timothy 5:21). We do know that they are involved in our lives in some way from the verses given. All of what is entailed in the ministering to Christians by the angels is not revealed in Scripture, but is within God’s Providential work. Unaccountable children also have angels that help them in various unknown ways, “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10). This is another verse to meditate upon when thinking of the possible work role of angels. “But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?”(Hebrews 1:13-14).
So whenever you hear a chilling ghost story, please remember what the Bible says about how souls of the dead can no longer interact with, nor have any knowledge of what is going on in anything done under the sun. If you, yourself, have had unusual things happen in your life that you might be tempted to blame on the existence of ghosts, please remember what the Bible has said on this subject. We cannot fall into the devil’s trap of believing that we will have another chance on this earth after our death. Some who believe in ghosts think that the souls of the dead remain on the earth to take care of “unfinished business.” This is the same as saying that a person will be given a second chance at doing the right thing before facing God’s Judgment. This, friends, is simply not true. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” (Hebrews 9:27). I hope I have helped you understand how the belief in the souls of the dead roaming the earth as “ghosts” is a false one.