I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
A Bible student was excitedly telling me about a movie he saw where someone died and went to heaven and saw his dead loved ones. When I confronted him about the state of the dead, he told me, well maybe they did not actually die. Maybe it was a dream. “But you said he saw his dead loved ones in heaven,” I said. My student suggested it was just a future vision then. He was quite emotional about the movie and told me it had strengthened his faith in God. What could be wrong with that? Several things are wrong, but for now lets just look at one. What if he saw another movie validating evolution? Do we put our faith in movies? Do movies validate or discredit the Word of God? No! If my student had read the Word of God but only believed because a movie said the Bible is true then we have a very serious fundamental problem. We don’t go by appearances. We go by the Bible.
I’m not sure if it was Halloween or not, but Satan dressed up as a serpent. He offered Eve a treat, but it turned out to be a trick. Eve heard the Word of God concerning the fruit from a certain tree,
“If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.” Genesis 2:17 NLT
Well sure that’s what God’s Word said, but now Eve sees this serpent who not only ate the fruit and did not die but can also talk now. Pretty convincing evidence if seeing is believing. It appears that not only can you disobey God and not die, but you actually get special powers and advantages you never had before. If the serpent could talk after disobeying God then what possibilities were there for Eve? Eve decided God’s Word was not true since it did not go along with what she saw and heard.
“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. Genesis 3:4 NLT
The serpent appeared to be more credible than God’s Word since the proof was right there in front of her. You can’t disprove something you see and hear right? Wrong! Eve ate the fruit and she is now dead. That serpent Satan used is dead too, and one day Satan himself will die. It may have appeared God’s Word was not true but it was very true!
In Matthew 3 Jesus is baptized and God’s voice is heard from heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son.” In Matthew 4, after 40 days of fasting, Satan appears to Jesus as an angel of light. He tells Jesus there was an angel who was kicked out of heaven, and insinuates Jesus, in His humanity weakened by fasting sure looks like that fallen angel. “If” Said Satan, “You are the Son of God turn these stones into bread.” Jesus may not have felt like, nor in the wilderness appeared to be the Son of God, but He had heard God’s Word say, “This is my Son.” Jesus did not go by feelings or appearances. He told Satan He would live by God’s Word and God’s Word said “This is my Son.”
John the Baptist was there at the baptism and heard the Word of God too. However, John later found himself in prison, and while he wanted to believe God’s Word he struggled because it did not appear to be true, as he sat there staring at prison walls. He sent a message, asking Jesus if He was the Messiah. Why did he have to do that when He already heard God’s Word say “This is my Son?” John made the same mistake Eve and millions have made. They only believe God’s Word if it goes along with what they see. Eve and John the Baptist would have been kept safe if they would have trusted God’s Word instead of illusions.
During World War two, Arthur Maxwell wrote an article for Signs of the Times Magazine, assuring everyone Hitler would be defeated, as Daniel 2 says there will never be a one world empire in Europe again. His boss saw Hitler raging all over Europe invading one country after another, and told Maxwell to hold off on publishing the article as there was no way of knowing what Hitler might do. it appeared Hitler would indeed take over Europe. While Hitler was raging all over Europe setting up concentration camps and destroying his enemies, Maxwell knew it was impossible for Hitler’s army with all of their Flak Cannons to succeed. How did he know? Seven simple words in Maxwell’s Bible read,
they shall not cleave one to another Daniel 2:43
While Maxwell’s boss was joining Eve and John the Baptist at looking at appearances, Maxwell joined Jesus and trusted God’s Word. Maxwell published his article very confident that Hitler would fail in taking over all of Europe. Spoiler alert! Hitler lost the war. The Bible was right-again.
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
Spiritualism, insinuating that the dead are not really dead but can talk to us will be one of the greatest illusions. During the Religious Awakening, the Fox Sisters appeared to be communicating with the dead in their secret chambers, but Jesus warned in Matthew 24:26 that He would not be there. Even though it may appear that the dead can speak, just as it appeared a serpent can speak, the Scriptures will keep us from being deceived.
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
A friend of mine was visiting some friends when their young son went missing. Tragically they found him face down in the pool. As they rushed him to the hospital, the mother was frantically praying to Mary to save her son. Mary could not save her son. She was dead. Sadly the boy died. In times of trouble shall we call upon the dead, or Jesus Who is alive and has conquered the grave? Shouldn’t we have a personal relationship with Jesus instead of dead people?
Saul lost his personal relationship with God and was so desperate he called upon Samuel who was dead. Saul seeks a medium and according to 1 Samuel 28:14“perceives” he is talking to Samuel. When I was 5 years old, I was at the mall with my parents, and went to one store with my dad while my mom went to another store. When my dad and I came out of our store I saw a woman with some bags who I “perceived” to be my mother. I ran up to her and hugged her, but as I looked up, instead of seeing my mother I saw a very surprised stranger. Hopefully she needed a hug that day, but she was not my mom even though I “perceived” her to be. Samuel was not talking to Saul just like the serpent wasn’t really talking to Eve. It was an illusion created by Satan. Further more, why would Saul be seeking comfort from a dead person instead of the living God and the Scriptures?
Saul should have sought counsel from God’s Word instead of an illusion. Today we should seek counsel and courage from the Bible instead of movies based on spiritualism. Movies appearing to prove spiritualism to be true should not be our source of encouragement. In 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 Paul describes the second coming and resurrection. Then Paul says,
“Encourage each other with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:18
When we lose a loved one, our encouragement does not come from the words, “They’ve gone home to be with the Lord.” Those words are never insinuated in Scripture. Paul did not tell us to encourage each other with those words, or with exciting tales about after death or near death experiences. 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. He tells us, encourage each other with these words.
You may study this week’s SS lesson and more here.