A Bible student excitedly told me about a movie he saw where someone died and went to heaven where he saw his dead loved ones. When I reminded him about the state of the dead, he told me, “Well maybe they did not actually die. Maybe it was a dream.” He was quite emotional about the movie and told me it had strengthened his faith in God.
What could be wrong with that?
Well, it raises the issue of whether we regard movies as authoritative, or not. Do we put our faith in movies or other visual media? Bible-believing Christians regard the Bible alone as authoritative in matters of faith. Sadly, all too often entertainment films promote popular misconceptions rather than presenting what the Bible says.
Satan has been using the “seeing is believing” strategy right from the beginning. When Satan dressed up as a serpent, he offered Eve a treat that turned out to be a trick. God’s Word said, “If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.” (Genesis 2:17 NLT), but then Eve saw that this serpent not only appeared to have eaten the fruit and did not die, but could also talk. This was pretty convincing “seeing is believing” evidence for her. You could disobey God and not die and at the same time enjoy benefits. If the serpent could talk after disobeying God, then what were the possibilities for Eve? The serpent appeared to be more credible than God’s Word because the visible proof was right there.
Eve believed what she saw more than what God had told her. How wrong she was! Eve ate the fruit and ultimately died. The serpent that Satan used died too, and one day Satan himself will die. It may have initially appeared God’s Word was not true, but God’s Word proved to be very true indeed.
Satan uses the seeing is believing trick in many other ways besides just death. During World War 2 many Bible believing Christians were sure Hitler was going to take over all of Europe, even though Daniel 2 says Europe will never again have a one world empire. After all it sure looked like He was going to win! While Jesus traveled with His two companions on the road to Emmaus, it sure looked to them like Jesus was not the Messiah after all. Instead of having them recognize Him, he showed them in Scripture the truth about the Messiah. Why go to Scripture instead of just opening their eyes and letting them see Him? Because Jesus doesn’t want us going by the seeing is believing mentality. Seeing is believing is Satan’s trick. God doesn’t use that. He uses Scripture. Scripture is our safeguard from the seeing is believing deception.
Jesus has warned us that in the last days that :
“… some shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect”. Matthew 24:24.
He was warning us that we need to be aware of how easily we can be deceived by what we see.
The belief that the dead can communicate with us has been one of the greatest delusions playing on the emotions of the bereaved by insinuating that the dead are alive in a different dimension and can talk to us. In parallel with one of the great Awakening movements in the United States, the Fox Sisters appeared to be communicating with the dead in their bedrooms. However Jesus warned us in Matthew 24:26 that He would not be in secret places, such as bedrooms. Those who place their trust in the Bible need not be deceived even though it may appear that the dead can speak.
Someone may say to you, “Let’s ask the mediums and those who consult the spirits of the dead. With their whisperings and mutterings, they will tell us what to do.” But shouldn’t people ask God for guidance? Should the living seek guidance from the dead? Look to God’s instructions and teachings! People who contradict his word are completely in the dark. Isaiah 8:19-20 NLT
The popular media are full of accounts of near-death experiences – in which people supposedly died briefly on the operating table or in other situations – and then “came back” through medical intervention or other means. They tell vivid accounts of what they experienced while dead. While there are scientific explanations for such experiences,1 most people seem to take these as genuine glimpses into the afterlife, particularly those who have had these experiences. After all, seeing is believing. This plays well into Satan’s overall plan of deceiving the people of this world.
A friend of mine was visiting some folk when their young son went missing. Tragically they found him face down in the pool with little sign of life. As they rushed him to the hospital, the mother was frantically praying to the Virgin Mary to save her son. But Mary could not save her son. She was dead. Sadly the boy died too.
In times of trouble shall we call upon the dead, or shall we call on Jesus who is alive and has conquered the grave? Shouldn’t we have a personal relationship with Jesus instead of dead people?
The story of King Saul clearly illustrates the danger of losing sight of our relationship with God. Saul, frustrated with not getting the message from God that he wanted, chose to consult a medium to call back Samuel from the dead. The medium in 1 Samuel 28:14 created the illusion that Saul was talking to Samuel, leading to a set of tragic results for him and his family.
The KJV says Saul “perceived” he was talking to Samuel. Samuel was not talking to Saul. It was an illusion created by Satan. Furthermore, it raised the question why Saul looked for comfort from a dead person to whom he had not listened while he was living, rather than listen to the living God.
Saul should have sought counsel from God instead of an illusion. Today we should seek counsel and courage from the Bible rather than movies and accounts of near-death experiences that depict popular misconceptions. Movies depicting people “crossing over” from the “other side” should not be our source of encouragement.
We can be confident in Scriptures like 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 where Paul describes the second coming and resurrection. He described for us how those who are dead and sleeping in Christ will be raised at the resurrection at the second coming and will meet the living in the air to be with Jesus to live forever.
Paul adds: “Encourage each other with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:18 We don’t need to be encouraged by Media Fiction or phrases like “They have gone home to be with the Lord” Which are found nowhere in the Bible. We can encourage each other with the hope found in the Scriptures which are tried and true.
8 comment(s) for this post:
- Shirley de Beer:
19 Nov 2014
Hi Deva, yes, it so sad that so many people don’t know how much Jesus loves them, how powerful He is, that He is the only true living God and that He is willing to help them.
Only when they come to love and accept Jesus as their LORD and Saviour will they realize that the dead can’t help them.
- Carlos R:
20 Nov 2014
You are correct in that “will not perish” means will not die, or live eternally. But the question is WHEN is that immortality bestowed(actually given)?
The Bible is very clear on when that gift of immortality is given. 1 Corinthians 15:52 says that it is at the “LAST TRUMPET” sound that the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we (living) SHALL BE changed. “For this corruptible must put on in corruption and this mortal must put on immortality,” and this at the last trumpet sound.
So, when is the last trumpet that will raise the dead to be incorruptible and change the living into a state of immortality? Bible says in Matthew 24:30-31 that the earth will “see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send His angels with a great sound of a TRUMPET, and they will gather together His elect.” This trumpet sound is at the second coming of Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 4:15 says that this trumpet shall sound when “the Lord descends from heaven.”
The resurrection and gift of immortality are realized at His second coming at the end of earth’s history (soon), in the last days. John 6:68 Peter says to Jesus, “to whom shall we go? You have the words of ETERNAL LIFE.” This is because Jesus said in verse 54,”whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up AT THE LAST DAY.” In this same chapter verses 39,40,44,and 54 say that this will happen “at the last day.”
So why did Jesus say that “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living?” In verse 18, Mark says that Jesus was being tested by Sadduccees who Mark says “say that there is no resurrection.” Jesus was pointing out their doctrinal error in a loving way. They believed in Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob right? They believed them to be the the Jewish patriarchs..then how could God be their God if they do not ever rise again? Jesus said “WHEN they rise again”, in other words there will be a time in which they will rise and again I will be their God.
Jesus said the at the hour IS coming in which ALL that are in the graves WILL hear his voice, and then the resurrection of life and the resurrection of damnation.John 5:28-29
So, you are correct in saying that those who believe in Jesus will have immortality, and that gift given at His coming and not before. “For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and THEN He will reward each according to his works.” Matthew 16:27
“But now is Christ risen from the dead and has become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep..for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all SHALL be made alive. But each in his order: Christ the firstfruits afterward those who are Christ’s AT HIS COMING. .The LAST enemy that WILL be destroyed is death.”
And, Paul says to Timothy decades after the death of Jesus on the cross, about God, “who ALONE has immortality.” We do not have immortality now, he says to Titus,”in hope OF eternal life.”
keep your faith in God through Jesus and you will be given immortality at His coming and we can have faith in that even NOW because Jesus rose from the dead, and even if we should die we will be raised incorruptible and immortal at His return.
- Shirley de Beer:
20 Nov 2014
The way I understand John 3:16 – Jesus is saying those who believe in me will not perish but they will have eternal life, which means those who don’t believe will perish.
This eternal life that Jesus promises to those who believe will only be realized when Jesus comes to fetch us as He promised in John 14:1-3.
In the meantime these believers are sleeping in the grave waiting for His return as in John 5:28,29
Paul also confirms what Jesus said.
In 1Cor 15:20,23 the believers are sleeping in the grave to be resurrected at his coming.
1Co 15:20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
1Co 15:23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.
Paul also says the believers will receive immortality at the second coming in
1Co 15:51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
1Co 15:52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
1Co 15:53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.
Also in 1 Thess 4:15-17 Paul tells us that those believers who are alive and those believers who are sleeping in the grave will rise up together to meet Jesus in the air and this is how and when we will be with Jesus forever.
1Th 4:15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.
1Th 4:16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
1Th 4:17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.
- Savel Kafwafwa:
20 Nov 2014
Dazza, if the righteous dead are already with Christ in heaven, then then there is no need for Christ to come again (no second coming), and if the righteous departed ones are already in Heaven that should mean there will be no need for resurrection, so if there is no resurrection then our faith is in vain as Apostle Paul said.
- savel kafwafwa:
21 Nov 2014
This passage I think is self explainatory, Jesus used both words death and sleep interchangeably. But the fact is that Lazarus died, started rotting by the 4th day; when resurrected Lazarus had no heavenly stories to tell because he was unconscious, completely dead.
John 11 verse 1. Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, 7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”
9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”
11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”
12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.
14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.
21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.
37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
- Shirley de Beer:
22 Nov 2014
Dazza said: “There is a big difference between asleep and dead, The dead know nothing but when we sleep we may not be conscious but our being whatever state that is lives on till the morning so it is with the resurrection to maybe wake us up to become conscious of our saviour.”
Hi Dazza, I don’t believe there is a difference between what happens to believers or non-believers when they die.
1) In Joh 5:24-29 Jesus said : ALL WHO ARE IN THE TOMBS will hear his voice (29) and come out, those who have done GOOD to the resurrection of life, and those who have done EVIL to the resurrection of judgment.
2) In the case of Lazarus in Joh 11:11-14 Jesus first said he was sleeping but then he said plainly Lazarus is dead. So sleep = death.
Let us look at the passage in question in Mark 12:18-27
I have also struggled to understand it. I have discovered that it is helpful to get an overview of this interaction between Jesus and the Sadducees.
In the first verse Sadducees don’t believe in the resurrection and in the last verse Jesus says “you are quite wrong”. What are they discussing – is there a resurrection of the dead or not? According to the Sadducees you lived and died and that was the end of you. Jesus said they were wrong, you might die but in the last days I will return and you will be resurrected to be with me forever.
The Sadducees were trying to trick Jesus by asking about the woman & 7 husbands, but Jesus said they were wrong because they didn’t know the Scriptures, one because the woman didn’t really have 7 husbands because after her husband died the other brothers had to look after her and try to have a child with her to carry on her husband’s lineage and in the new earth it would not be necessary to keep up the linage and the property that went with it. Secondly going back to the original issue Jesus was saying in effect, see the Bible proves there is a resurrection because God said he was the God of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob because they will be raised from the dead. Because the issue is resurrection or not, to me it proves that Jesus was talking about that fact that the fathers of the Sadducees would be resurrected.
You asked where the Bible says “when they rise”, please see texts below in capitals:
Mar 12:18 And Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection. And they asked him a question, saying,
Mar 12:23 In the resurrection, WHEN THEY RISE AGAIN, whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife.”
Mar 12:24 Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God?
Mar 12:25 For WHEN THEY RISE FROM THE DEAD, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.
Mar 12:26 And as for the DEAD BEING RAISED, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?
Mar 12:27 He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.”
Dazza, if I understand you correctly you seem to believe that we receive eternal life as soon as we accept Jesus. In one sense you are correct, we become heirs of the promise, however we only receive our inheritance at the Second Coming, please see how Jesus says over and over in John 6 that we will only receive this at the last day.
Joh 6:39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.
Joh 6:40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
Joh 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
Joh 6:50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. Joh 6:54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
Lastly Dazza, please help me understand what you mean by your statement:
“our being whatever state that is lives on” because my understanding of the Bible is that we are a unified living being made up of the body and the spark of life from God and that when we die we no longer exist except in the memory of God.
- William Earnhardt:
22 Nov 2014
Excellent point Andrew! I appreciate all the thoughts that have been shared by all.
- carlos r:
22 Nov 2014
I’m answer to your question to me, Mark 12:25, he answers the Sadducees supposed trap, which was in the resurrection who would be the woman’s husband of the seven that has died. They thought it was a good trap to show that there wasn’t a resurrection, that was their belief, and by posing this question hoped to stump Jesus. See if she had seven husbands surely in the resurrection she couldn’t be married to all seven! So, they hoped to prove the fallacy of a resurrection. But Jesus was too wise and pointed out that in the resurrection there is no marriage or giving in marriage, but are like the Angels. So, he outwitted them.
But, he said, “WHEN they rise” (the people in the story) from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage…” Jesus never said that when a person dies they go directly to heaven or hell, they sleep in the grave until the resurrection.
To sleep in the grave means to have no knowledge of what happens on the earth while you are dead. That’s why of the people that were resurrected in the Bible by Elijah, Elisha, or Jesus, there is NEVER a testimony of how heaven or “hell” is like. And if they were in heaven how terrible that they were brought back! Or if in hell surely they would have said something!
The truth is that death being a sleep is an easy concept to understand but people who don’t want to accept it just as Jesus said it come up with some fanciful interpretations of what they think happens. It was the Greeks that promoted the idea of a spirit man that existed apart from the body, and they got this teaching through Babylonian doctrine which got it from the devil that said “you shall not surely die.” Jesus said the devil is a liar and the father of lies.
Source: Daily Sabbath School Lessons