Thursday, September 17, 2015

Are Ghosts Real?

“But they were startled and terrified and thought they were seeing a ghost.” Luke 24:37

As the holidays approach, I am often asked this question.  First let’s define what a ghost is, usually people think a ghost is a disembodied spirit/soul of a person who has died that wanders the earth.  The idea of the supernatural and ghosts have fascinated so many today. The popularity of television shows like “Ghost Hunters,” “Fact or Faked,” and “Ghost Adventures.”  So what should Bible believing Christians think about ghosts?
     First of all, there are two types of ghost sightings.  One in which the person feels glad they were “visited”  by what appears to be a deceased loved one, and the other type sight or thought of a ghost gives a feeling of fear in the person or persons who encounter it.  If you or someone you know tells you an old ghost tell it gives you a feeling of the need to leave.  That is a flight response driven by fear.  When an angel of the Lord comes to people they always remind them to not be afraid (Luke 2:10, Matt. 2:20). 
     In addition to causing fear, the sight of a ghost causes confusion.  When God’s agents appear to his people it is always 100% clear they are sent from God and their message is unmistakable.  In our culture today many people are seeking out a ghost experience thought EVP’s, heat cameras, and other technologies.  The hope is to document and prove the supernatural.  As Christians we do believe in the supernatural, and we have some clarity about what is out there.  In the event that you are dealing with something that is not clearly from God, and/or causing great fear instead of comfort, it is most likely of demonic origin.  Demons being fallen angels governed by Satan (Matthew 12:22-28).  
     The Bible does record an encounter with what appears to be a dead man’s soul in 1 Samuel 28:7-21, but the spirit that speaks as the deceased “Samuel” says that King Saul and his sons would die the next day, which didn’t happen some of Saul’s sons survived.  This fact leads me to conclude that King Saul was not speaking to the dead prophet, but a demon who was posing as Samuel. 

     So to answer the question, no, I don’t believe in ghosts, but I do believe in demons.  I also would point you to Hebrews 9:27, reminding you that when we die we face judgment, not wandering around the land of the living.  Let me leave you with a warning and an encouragement.  The warning is this, avoid seeking encounters with spirits (Deut. 18:10, Isaiah 8:19) it will not end well.  And remember God is greater than any demon (1 John 4:4)!

Monday, September 14, 2015

What does Paul mean when he says to hand someone “over to Satan?”

“I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” -1 Cor. 5:5

“Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme.” -1 Timothy 1:20

When Paul speaks of handing individuals over to Satan, it is startling and scary. What does it mean to be delivered to Satan? It sounds so unforgiving and harsh. In both places, Paul is encouraging local churches to do this ancient practice. The word “handed over” or “delivered” means to hand over, to give over, to commit. It is not just a possibility to be handed over to Satan it can be a reality! God does hand people over to Satan at times to accomplish His will. It is the ancient practice of church discipline or disfellowship. A practice that many modern churches have stopped. The concept is being cut off from any association of the saints of God and the Lord’s Table. Being part of a local church provides an insulation, protection, and blessing from Satan and the world.

Even unbelievers share in the splash effect of protection and blessing as they deal with or are involved with believers. For example in Gen. 18, we see Abraham seeking to save Sodom and Gomorra if only ten people were found righteous. Think about it, God would spare a city of thousands whose wickedness has provoked God’s judgment if only ten righteous people could be found. So the biblical principle shows that a nearness to and involvement with true believers of God provides a layer of protection and blessing. To hand someone over to Satan is to expose him or her to the evil and wickedness of the world unprotected, with the goal of restoring their soul. Handing someone over to Satan is the atomic bomb of rebuking. The goal is always restoration to fellowship and forgiveness.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Is Bigfoot Real?

Recently, I was witnessing to a young man who was full of questions.   The questions mostly centered on the pop culture obsession with the paranormal.  One question he had was on the existence of Bigfoot or Sasquatch.  While Bigfoot does make for interesting television shows, how would Christians think about these creatures?  Many document eyewitness accounts exist for Bigfoot.  These eyewitness accounts come from creditable individuals and even skeptics.  While many claim to have had an encounter or seen the beast, no body or genetic proof of the beast exists.  Without the smoking gun, some Bigfoot researchers have concluded that they could be inter-dimensional beings or aliens.  I would argue that Bigfoot may be a demonic deception to distract the people from the truth of the Gospel. 

In the documentary film “Sasquatchand Us,” one former skeptic gives an account of searching for big foot all night.  He drove well over 100 miles into the woods in the Pacific Northwest, and he knocked a stick against a tree three times all night.  The hope was that an answer would come in the form of three knocks.  After a whole night of failed investigation, he drove back to his home.  When he arrived, he heard in the woods surrounding his home three knocks.  He said that he knows something was “toying” with him at that point.  In another encounter, a woman shot a Bigfoot.  When the Bigfoot was hit it simple vanished like a hologram. Other witnesses in the film discuss how sightings of Bigfoot follow family bloodlines.  So if grandpa saw one, you have a much better chance of having an “encounter.”  Many who see Bigfoot also see UFO’s.

Think about it, think of all the financial resources, time, and energy that has gone into finding these beings.  All the resources and discussion going into finding Bigfoot is not being used to spread the gospel.  Even the “The Patterson/Gimlin Bigfoot Film” from 1967 praised as one of the greatest proof of Bigfoot’s existence is shrouded in controversy.  But the film is claimed to be a hoax by many, including one man from North Carolina who claims to have sold Patterson the ape suit. The lack of genetic proof coupled with the controversy over the “existing” evidence supports the fact that Bigfoot is really just a distraction from the truth of the gospel.  Our American culture’s obsession with the paranormal seems to be on the rise as the Church loses her voice in the public square.