John 8:32,36 states, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free… If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.” It is clear that the Christian faith is not a handicap to those who obey the Lord. Rather than being something that captivates our minds with fairytales, myths, fears, and anxieties, the Way of salvation leads us to the calm realization that we are not subject to the superstitions that surround us. We are liberated from sin, worry, anxiety (Philippians 4:6), distracting cares (Matthew 6:25), the fear of the afterlife and those in it (Hebrews 2:15), and everything else that makes so many people of the world ridiculously paralyzed with dread and apprehension. Paul says, “We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you in order that you should turn from these vain things to a living God” (Acts 14:15). What I want to do in this lesson is debunk some of the peculiar beliefs about the supernatural world. Based on the Bible, we will come to realize that many of our greatest fears are fabricated by fear itself.
The first thing we need to realize about ghosts is that anybody who claims to have seen one must instantly forget any thoughts of atheism or evolution. We need to point this out, since the existence of ghosts would automatically prove that man survives the death of the physical body – evolution is completely opposed to anything supernatural, since it cannot be explained by science or worldly reason. There are, however, a few problems with stories about ghosts, ghouls, and specters:
· Most of the ghost sighting in the world take place at locations already imbued with myth and legend. If we are told that a particular house is haunted, we become apprehensive and are more apt to let our minds play tricks on us. It is no surprise that a creaky, dank, dark house in the middle of the night is going to be scary, and it may take nothing more than a gust of wind, a creaking floor board, or a cat exploring the yard to send us into a panic.
· Ghost sightings are often coincidental, and based on nothing more than obvious information. People claim to see disembodied spirits in a house, and then learn later than an old lady died there one hundred years ago. Should it surprise us that people in the nineteenth century died in their homes when access to hospitals and care facilities was hard to come by then? Probably, every one hundred year old house in America has had somebody die in or near it at some point.
· The mind is a funny thing when it comes to believing something. Should we really trust the human mind when it comes to ghost sightings? The same mind also suffers from amnesia, phantom injuries, psychosomaticism, suggestion in advertisement, forgetfulness, and even things as simple as believing that we have run an errand when, in fact, the task is left undone.
· Many situations may make our minds play tricks on us – kids at summer school who hear ghost stories around the camp fire, old houses that make funny noises, being alone in large buildings at night, walking past graveyards, etc.
· One wonders just how many ghost sightings there would actually be if parents and older siblings would stop filling the minds of young children with sickening and grotesque stories of ghosts haunting the world! Perhaps if we did not set up our children with preconceived ideas about mysterious noises and things that go bump in the night, they would be less likely to assume that it is a ghost they are hearing.
· In that odd phase between sleep and being awake, we see many things that we mistake for being real. We wake up from vivid nightmares believing them to be real, but does that make them valid?
Beyond all of the practical observations, we need to remember what the Bible says about death. The cessation of physical life completely cuts us off from this world. “And they will no longer have a share in all that is done under the sun,” states Ecclesiastes 9:5-6. Some say that ghosts are just spirits that have unfinished business to take care of in this life, but the Bible makes it clear that death is a time when nothing worldly can be accomplished (Ecclesiastes 9:10). We also need to remember the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. In death, the rich man was not allowed to do anything about his unfinished business, which poses a problem with most ghost stories. If God would not let the rich man haunt the world for the purpose of preaching the Gospel, then why would the Father release spirits to haunt for revenge, anger, or anything else negative that most ghosts are said to desire. Ecclesiastes 12:7 says, furthermore, “And the spirit shall return to God who gave it,” which means that God has control of the spirits in the afterlife. He decides who comes and goes, and no ghost has the ability to elude God or get lost in the hustle and bustle of the universe.
2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6 make it clear that God has the power to imprison and confine powerful angelic beings. With this in mind, we need to realize that it is no difficult task for the Lord to imprison the souls of humans. God has the power to “keep the unrighteous dead under punishment for the day of judgment” (2 Peter 2:9). This reveals that God does not punish wicked people by making them wander the earth and haunt houses and grave yards. Their punishment is hell, and there is no escaping it. No soul gets misplaced, forgotten, or set free. “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment…” (Hebrews 9:27).
Extra Sensory Perception is the ability to know what others are thinking and feeling, as well as knowing events that are happening beyond the scope of physical capability. Such is displayed by the supposed power to telepathically communicate with others, perceive what is behind walls, and know “what number I am thinking of.” Contrary to this, God writes through Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:11, “For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him?” It seems clear that Paul did not believe that anybody is born with the natural ability to read the mind of another person. In contrast, mind reading is the unique characteristic of God. “Whose heart Thou knowest, for Thou alone dost know the hearts of all the sons of men” (1 Kings 8:39). Jesus alone demonstrates this ability by penetrating the thoughts of man in such instances as Mark 2:8.
If a case cannot be made for ESP, then psychics certainly come into question. It is sad that so many people succumb to their unhealthy curiosities and seek guidance and counsel from psychics instead of God. We see pet psychics, child psychics, and everything else that can be “read” – we see them on television, hear them on the radio, call to them with the telephone, and visit them at their studios and offices. The problem with accepting those who claim to have psychic powers is that they have taken a characteristic unique to God and have claimed it as their own. Only God can know the future, and He issues challenge after challenge to their abilities. “Who is like Me?… And let them declare to them the things that are coming and the events that are going to take place” (Isaiah 44:7). God throws astrologers and the like into the same category, saying, “You are wearied with your many counsels; let now the astrologers, those who prophesy by the stars, those who predict by the new moons, stand up and save you from what will come upon you” (Isaiah 47:13). Further, He states, “Causing the omens of boasters to fail, making fools out of diviners, causing wise men to draw back” (Isaiah 44:25). The challenge to those who claim to tell the future is to prove it.
The test of every prophet was the ability to predict the future (Deuteronomy 18:20). Yet these prophets were all given miraculous abilities by God. Which of the television psychics do you know has been personally given powers by God? Here are some practical observations on the matter:
· If one can truly read the future, then why is he or she selling their talents on some low-budget cable channel or in the classified ads in the newspaper?
· Psychics claim to have amazing gifts, yet there are plenty of amazing gifts in the world that are provable, documented, and organized. I cannot run the one hundred meter dash in under 10 seconds, but there are men who can and they prove every time the Olympics roll by. I cannot eat fifty hot dogs in a sitting, but there are eating contests involving people who can. There are college degrees available for people with amazing gifts in math and literature. Sporting events for the best in the world. Cash prizes for chess players. So why is it that something as amazing as being a psychic is not proven through open, honest, documented observation?
· A true psychic would know the winning lottery numbers, the outcome of sports events and horse races, and know who will win every election. So why are most psychics scraping by in little dingy apartments?
There are some interesting assumptions that are made about aliens from another planet. First, some might say that if life exists on other planets, it would somehow disprove the Bible. But would it? The Bible makes it clear that the Creator over everything is God, not only on earth but in all the heavens (Revelation 10:6, Colossians 1:16). Any life in this universe owes its existence to God.
A second assumption is that such extraterrestrial life would be super intelligent, but that is a strange thing to assume. Many people want to believe that someday an advanced race of beings will come to our planet and solve all of our problems for us, teaching us how to live in peace and harmony. They want E.T. to be their savior. Interestingly, however, a highly intelligent extraterrestrial has already visited this planet and taught us how to deal with our problems. Our Savior has already come (2 Peter 1:3, 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Why is it that so many people look to the stars for help when our greatest Helper has already come and given us everything pertaining to life and godliness.
Others will argue that the Christian perspective is silly because the universe is too big to have been created just for us. Yet that is what God has said (Genesis 1:15). Not only that, but the act of sending the Messiah to die (the very focal point of history since the Creation of the universe) happened on this planet.
· I find that UFO and alien sightings are not credible enough to be believed by the rational person. With so many planes, helicopters, jet fighters, etc. in the air, and so many people in our society looking for their fifteen minutes of fame, we have created a perfect storm of anxiety, fear, assumption, and prankery.
· Why does every alien who visits this planet turn around as soon as his ship is seen by a corn farmer or drunk truck driver outside of a barn? Does it not seem odd that the aliens keep coming in their flying saucers, and yet never land?