Can Our Dead Speak to Us?
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The ministration of holy angels, as presented in the
Scriptures, is a truth most comforting and precious to every follower of
Christ. But the Bible teaching upon this point has been obscured and
perverted by the errors of popular theology. The doctrine of natural
immortality, first borrowed from the pagan philosophy, and in the
darkness of the great apostasy incorporated into the Christian faith, has
supplanted the truth, so plainly taught in Scripture, that "the dead
know not anything." Multitudes have come to believe that it is
spirits of the dead who are the "ministering spirits, sent forth to
minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation." And this
notwithstanding the testimony of Scripture to the existence of heavenly
angels, and their connection with the history of man, before the death of
a human being.
The doctrine of
man's consciousness in death, especially the belief that spirits of the
dead return to minister to the living, has prepared the way for modern
spiritualism. If the dead are admitted to the presence of God and holy
angels, and privileged with knowledge far exceeding what they before
possessed, why should they not return to the earth to enlighten and
instruct the living? If, as taught by popular theologians, spirits of the
dead are hovering about their friends on earth, why should they not be
permitted to communicate with them, to warn them against evil, or to
them in sorrow?
How can those who believe in man's consciousness in death reject what
comes to them as divine light communicated by glorified spirits? Here is
a channel regarded as sacred, through which Satan works for the
accomplishment of his purposes. The fallen angels who do his bidding
appear as messengers from the spirit world. While professing to bring the
living into communication with the dead, the prince of evil exercises his
bewitching influence upon their minds.
He has power to
bring before men the appearance of their departed friends. The
counterfeit is perfect; the familiar look, the words, the tone, are
reproduced with marvelous distinctness. Many are comforted with the
assurance that their loved ones are enjoying the bliss of heaven, and
without suspicion of danger, they give ear "to seducing spirits, and
doctrines of devils."
When they have
been led to believe that the dead actually return to communicate with
them, Satan causes those to appear who went into the grave unprepared.
They claim to be happy in heaven and even to occupy exalted positions
there, and thus the error is widely taught that no difference is made
between the righteous and the wicked. The pretended visitants from the
world of spirits sometimes utter cautions and warnings which prove to be
correct. Then, as confidence is gained, they present doctrines that
directly undermine faith in the Scriptures. With an appearance of deep
interest in the well-being of their friends on earth, they insinuate the
most dangerous errors. The fact that they state some truths, and are able
at times to foretell future events, gives to their statements an
appearance of reliability; and their false teachings are accepted by the
multitudes as readily, and believed as implicitly, as if they were the
most sacred truths of the Bible. The law of God is set aside, the Spirit
of grace despised, the blood of the covenant counted an unholy thing. The
spirits deny the deity of Christ and place even the Creator on a level
with themselves. Thus under a new disguise the great rebel
still carries on
his warfare against God, begun in heaven and for nearly six thousand
years continued upon the earth.
Many endeavor to
account for spiritual manifestations by attributing them wholly to fraud
and sleight of hand on the part of the medium. But while it is true that
the results of trickery have often been palmed off as genuine
manifestations, there have been, also, marked exhibitions of supernatural
power. The mysterious rapping with which modern spiritualism began was
not the result of human trickery or cunning, but was the direct work of
evil angels, who thus introduced one of the most successful of
soul-destroying delusions. Many will be ensnared through the belief that
spiritualism is a merely human imposture; when brought face to face with
manifestations which they cannot but regard as supernatural, they will be
deceived, and will be led to accept them as the great power of God.
overlook the testimony of the Scriptures concerning the wonders wrought
by Satan and his agents. It was by satanic aid that Pharaoh's magicians
were enabled to counterfeit the work of God. Paul testifies that before
the second advent of Christ there will be similar manifestations of
satanic power. The coming of the Lord is to be preceded by "the
working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all
deceivableness of unrighteousness." 2 Thessalonians 2:9,10. And the
apostle John, describing the miracle-working power that will be
manifested in the last days, declares: "He doeth great wonders, so
that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of
men, and deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those
miracles which he had power to do." Revelation 13:13, 14. No mere
impostures are here foretold. Men are deceived by the miracles which
Satan's agents have power to do, not which they pretend to do.
The prince of
darkness, who has so long bent the powers of his mastermind to the work
of deception, skillfully adapts his temptations to men of all classes and
culture and refinement he presents spiritualism in its more refined and
intellectual aspects, and thus succeeds in drawing many into his snare.
The wisdom which spiritualism imparts is that described by the apostle
James, which "descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual,
devilish." James 3:15. This, however, the great deceiver conceals
when concealment will best suit his purpose. He who could appear clothed
with the brightness of the heavenly seraphs before Christ in the
wilderness of temptation, comes to men in the most attractive manner as
an angel of light. He appeals to the reason by the presentation of
elevating themes; he delights the fancy with enrapturing scenes; and he
enlists the affections by his eloquent portrayals of love and charity. He
excites the imagination to lofty flights, leading men to take so great
pride in their own wisdom that in their hearts they despise the Eternal
One. That mighty being who could take the world's Redeemer to an
exceedingly high mountain and bring before Him all the kingdoms of the
earth and the glory of them, will present his temptations to men in a
manner to pervert the senses of all who are not shielded by divine power.
men now as he beguiled Eve in Eden by flattery, by kindling a desire to
obtain forbidden knowledge, by exciting ambition for self-exaltation. It
was cherishing these evils that caused his fall, and through them he aims
to compass the ruin of men. "Ye shall be as gods," he declares,
"knowing good and evil." Genesis 3:5. Spiritualism teaches
"that man is the creature of progression; that it is his destiny
from his birth to progress, even to eternity, toward the Godhead."
And again: "Each mind will judge itself and not another."
"The judgment will be right, because it is the judgment of self. . .
. The throne is within you." Said a spiritualistic teacher, as the
"spiritual consciousness" awoke within him: "My fellow
men, all were unfallen demigods." And another declares: "Any
just and perfect being is Christ."
Thus, in place
of the righteousness and perfection of the
the true object of adoration; in place of the perfect righteousness of
His law, the true standard of human attainment, Satan has substituted the
sinful, erring nature of man himself as the only object of adoration, the
only rule of judgment, or standard of character. This is progress, not
upward, but downward.
It is a law both
of the intellectual and the spiritual nature that by beholding we become
changed. The mind gradually adapts itself to the subjects upon which it
is allowed to dwell. It becomes assimilated to that which it is
accustomed to love and reverence. Man will never rise higher than his
standard of purity or goodness or truth. If self is his loftiest ideal,
he will never attain to anything more exalted. Rather, he will constantly
sink lower and lower. The grace of God alone has power to exalt man. Left
to himself, his course must inevitably be downward.
self-indulgent, the pleasure-loving, the sensual, spiritualism presents
itself under a less subtle disguise than to the more refined and
intellectual; in its grosser forms they find that which is in harmony
with their inclinations. Satan studies every indication of the frailty of
human nature, he marks the sins which each individual is inclined to commit,
and then he takes care that opportunities shall not be wanting to gratify
the tendency to evil. He tempts men to excess in that which is in itself
lawful, causing them, through intemperance, to weaken physical, mental,
and moral power. He has destroyed and is destroying thousands through the
indulgence of the passions, thus brutalizing the entire nature of man.
And to complete his work, he declares, through the spirits that
"true knowledge places man above all law;" that "whatever
is, is right;" that "God doth not condemn;" and that
"all sins which are committed are innocent." When the people
are thus led to believe that desire is the highest law, that liberty is
license, and that man is accountable only to himself, who can wonder that
corruption and depravity teem
on every hand?
Multitudes eagerly accept teachings that leave them at liberty to obey
the promptings of the carnal heart. The reins of self-control are laid
upon the neck of lust, the powers of mind and soul are made subject to
the animal propensities, and Satan exultingly sweeps into his net
thousands who profess to be followers of Christ.
But none need be
deceived by the lying claims of spiritualism. God has given the world
sufficient light to enable them to discover the snare. As already shown,
the theory which forms the very foundation of spiritualism is at war with
the plainest statements of Scripture. The Bible declares that the dead
know not anything, that their thoughts have perished; they have no part
in anything that is done under the sun; they know nothing of the joys or
sorrows of those who were dearest to them on earth.
has expressly forbidden all pretended communication with departed
spirits. In the days of the Hebrews there was a class of people who
claimed, as do the spiritualists of today, to hold communication with the
dead. But the "familiar spirits," as these visitants from other
worlds were called, are declared by the Bible to be "the spirits of
devils." (Compare Numbers 25:1-3; Psalm 106:28; I Corinthians 10:20;
Revelation 16:14.) The work of dealing with familiar spirits was
pronounced an abomination to the Lord, and was solemnly forbidden under
penalty of death. Leviticus 19:31; 20:27. The very name of witchcraft is
now held in contempt. The claim that men can hold intercourse with evil
spirits is regarded as a fable of the Dark Ages. But spiritualism, which
numbers its converts by hundreds of thousands, yea, by millions, which
has made its way into scientific circles, which has invaded churches, and
has found favor in legislative bodies, and even in the courts of kings--
this mammoth deception is but a revival, in a new disguise, of the
witchcraft condemned and prohibited of old.
If there were no
other evidence of the real character of spiritualism, it should be enough
for the Christian that the
spirits make no
difference between righteousness and sin, between the noblest and purest
of the apostles of Christ and the most corrupt of the servants of Satan.
By representing the basest of men as in heaven, and highly exalted there,
Satan says to the world: "No matter how wicked you are; no matter
whether you believe or disbelieve God and the Bible. Live as you please;
heaven is your home." The spiritualist teachers virtually declare: "Everyone
that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and He delighteth in
them; or, Where is the God of judgment?" Malachi 2:17. Saith the
word of God: "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that
put darkness for light, and light for darkness." Isaiah 5:20.
The apostles, as
personated by these lying spirits, are made to contradict what they wrote
at the dictation of the Holy Spirit when on earth. They deny the divine
origin of the Bible, and thus tear away the foundation of the Christian's
hope and put out the light that reveals the way to heaven. Satan is
making the world believe that the Bible is a mere fiction, or at least a
book suited to the infancy of the race, but now to be lightly regarded,
or cast aside as obsolete. And to take the place of the word of God he
holds out spiritual manifestations. Here is a channel wholly under his
control; by this means he can make the world believe what he will. The
Book that is to judge him and his followers he puts in the shade, just
where he wants it; the Saviour of the world he makes to be no more than a
common man. And as the Roman guard that watched the tomb of Jesus spread
the lying report which the priests and elders put into their mouths to
disprove His resurrection, so do the believers in spiritual manifestations
try to make it appear that there is nothing miraculous in the
circumstances of our Saviour's life. After thus seeking to put Jesus in
the background, they call attention to their own miracles, declaring that
these far exceed the works of Christ.
It is true that
spiritualism is now changing its form and, veiling some of its more
objectionable features, is assuming
guise. But its utterances from the platform and the press have been
before the public for many years, and in these its real character stands
revealed. These teachings cannot be denied or hidden.
Even in its
present form, so far from being more worthy of toleration than formerly,
it is really a more dangerous, because a more subtle, deception. While it
formerly denounced Christ and the Bible, it now professes to accept both.
But the Bible is interpreted in a manner that is pleasing to the
unrenewed heart, while its solemn and vital truths are made of no effect.
Love is dwelt upon as the chief attribute of God, but it is degraded to a
weak sentimentalism, making little distinction between good and evil.
God's justice, His denunciations of sin, the requirements of His holy
law, are all kept out of sight. The people are taught to regard the
Decalogue as a dead letter. Pleasing, bewitching fables captivate the
senses and lead men to reject the Bible as the foundation of their faith.
Christ is as verily denied as before; but Satan has so blinded the eyes
of the people that the deception is not discerned.
There are few
who have any just conception of the deceptive power of spiritualism and
the danger of coming under its influence. Many tamper with it merely to
gratify their curiosity. They have no real faith in it and would be
filled with horror at the thought of yielding themselves to the spirits'
control. But they venture upon the forbidden ground, and the mighty
destroyer exercises his power upon them against their will. Let them once
be induced to submit their minds to his direction, and he holds them
captive. It is impossible, in their own strength, to break away from the
bewitching, alluring spell. Nothing but the power of God, granted in
answer to the earnest prayer of faith, can deliver these ensnared souls.
All who indulge
sinful traits of character, or willfully cherish a known sin, are
inviting the temptations of Satan.
themselves from God and from the watchcare of His angels; as the evil one
presents his deceptions, they are without defense and fall an easy prey.
Those who thus place themselves in his power little realize where their
course will end. Having achieved their overthrow, the tempter will employ
them as his agents to lure others to ruin.
Says the prophet
Isaiah: "When they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have
familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not
a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and
to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because
there is no light in them." Isaiah 8:19, 20. If men had been willing
to receive the truth so plainly stated in the Scriptures concerning the
nature of man and the state of the dead, they would see in the claims and
manifestations of spiritualism the working of Satan with power and signs
and lying wonders. But rather than yield the liberty so agreeable to the
carnal heart, and renounce the sins which they love, multitudes close
their eyes to the light and walk straight on, regardless of warnings,
while Satan weaves his snares about them, and they become his prey. "Because
they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved,"
therefore "God shall send them strong delusion, that they should
believe a lie." 2 Thessalonians 2:10, 11.
Those who oppose
the teachings of spiritualism are assailing, not men alone, but Satan and
his angels. They have entered upon a contest against principalities and
powers and wicked spirits in high places. Satan will not yield one inch
of ground except as he is driven back by the power of heavenly
messengers. The people of God should be able to meet him, as did our
Saviour, with the words: "It is written." Satan can quote
Scripture now as in the days of Christ, and he will pervert its teachings
to sustain his delusions. Those who would stand in this time of peril
must understand for themselves the testimony of the Scriptures.
Many will be
confronted by the spirits of devils personating beloved relatives or
friends and declaring the most dangerous heresies. These visitants will
appeal to our tenderest sympathies and will work miracles to sustain
their pretensions. We must be prepared to withstand them with the Bible
truth that the dead know not anything and that they who thus appear are
the spirits of devils.
Just before us is
"the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try
them that dwell upon the earth." Revelation 3:10. All whose faith is
not firmly established upon the word of God will be deceived and
overcome. Satan "works with all deceivableness of unrighteousness"
to gain control of the children of men, and his deceptions will
continually increase. But he can gain his object only as men voluntarily
yield to his temptations. Those who are earnestly seeking a knowledge of
the truth and are striving to purify their souls through obedience, thus
doing what they can to prepare for the conflict, will find, in the God of
truth, a sure defense. "Because thou hast kept the word of My
patience, I also will keep thee" (verse 10), is the Saviour's promise.
He would sooner send every angel out of heaven to protect His people than
leave one soul that trusts in Him to be overcome by Satan.
Isaiah brings to view the fearful deception which will come upon the
wicked, causing them to count themselves secure from the judgments of
God: "We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at
agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not
come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have
we hid ourselves." Isaiah 28:15. In the class here described are
included those who in their stubborn impenitence comfort themselves with
the assurance that there is to be no punishment for the sinner; that all
mankind, it matters not how corrupt, are to be exalted to heaven, to
become as the angels of God. But still more emphatically
are those making
a covenant with death and an agreement with hell, who renounce the truths
which Heaven has provided as a defense for the righteous in the day of
trouble, and accept the refuge of lies offered by Satan in its stead--the
delusive pretensions of spiritualism.
expression is the blindness of the people of this generation. Thousands
reject the word of God as unworthy of belief and with eager confidence
receive the deceptions of Satan. Skeptics and scoffers denounce the
bigotry of those who contend for the faith of prophets and apostles, and
they divert themselves by holding up to ridicule the solemn declarations
of the Scriptures concerning Christ and the plan of salvation, and the
retribution to be visited upon the rejecters of the truth. They affect
great pity for minds so narrow, weak, and superstitious as to acknowledge
the claims of God and obey the requirements of His law. They manifest as
much assurance as if, indeed, they had made a covenant with death and an
agreement with hell-- as if they had erected an impassable, impenetrable
barrier between themselves and the vengeance of God. Nothing can arouse
their fears. So fully have they yielded to the tempter, so closely are
they united with him, and so thoroughly imbued with his spirit, that they
have no power and no inclination to break away from his snare.
Satan has long
been preparing for his final effort to deceive the world. The foundation
of his work was laid by the assurance given to Eve in Eden: "Ye
shall not surely die." "In the day ye eat thereof, then your
eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and
evil." Genesis 3:4, 5. Little by little he has prepared the way for
his masterpiece of deception in the development of spiritualism. He has
not yet reached the full accomplishment of his designs; but it will be
reached in the last remnant of time. Says the prophet: "I saw three
unclean spirits like frogs; . . . they are the spirits of devils, working
miracles, which go forth
unto the kings
of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that
great day of God Almighty." Revelation 16:13, 14. Except those who
are kept by the power of God, through faith in His word, the whole world
will be swept into the ranks of this delusion. The people are fast being
lulled to a fatal security, to be awakened only by the outpouring of the
wrath of God.
Saith the Lord
God: "Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the
plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters
shall overflow the hiding place. And your covenant with death shall be
disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the
overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by
it." Isaiah 28:17, 18.
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