Do Ghosts Exist?

Is man’s belief in ghosts based upon the Bible? What factors influenced man’s concept of a ghost? When and how did humans come to believe that ghosts exist? Is it all a hoax — a harmless fictional concept much like the tooth fairy and Santa? Ghosts, spooks, and other related objects of a non-physical nature that are commonly associated with Halloween: Are they mentioned in the Bible? There were encounters with the dead that are recorded for us in the Bible. What are we to make of them?

To understand this subject accurately, we must apply all language in accordance with God’s eternal purpose as set forth in the Bible (see 1 Peter 1.10-12; Ephesians 1.3-5; 3.7-11). Bible prophecy and associated events that involved appearances and contact with the dead or with angels occurred in accordance with God accomplishing his eternal purpose (i.e., our salvation)! Events that involved contact with the dead (ghosts???) were related to this eternal purpose.

Events such as the transfiguration (Matthew 17.1-9), where contact with the dead occurred, were not for freelance interpretation, book writings, personal testimony, etc. with no regard for God’s revelation (the Bible)! While many incidents could be given, let us focus upon one particular story that involved the dead and which would accurately portray to us what someone from the dead (a ghost) would have to say, if he or she could rise from the dead. That story is found in Luke 16.19-31:

There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house — for I have five brothers — so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’

What are some lessons for us from this narrative? If someone could rise from the dead, they would: 1.) warn the living of a terrible place (vv. 24-25,28 — “in anguish”; “place of torment”); and 2.) it would also prove that the scriptures suffice in producing godly sorrow which worketh repentance (vv. 29.31). Accordingly, we read in the Bible that the gospel is God’s means of producing faith, repentance, and obedience to his will (Romans 10.17; Acts 17.30).

The relevance of obedience to the gospel to man’s salvation is seen from 2 Thessalonians 1.7-10: “When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints.

Do you believe in ghosts? Why would anyone believe in them? For anyone who has claimed to have seen a ghost, consider these questions: How did you come to conclude that what you saw/experienced was a ghost? From pictures? Stories? Folklore? The Bible? Why did you not conclude that the image you saw was something other than a ghost? Why did you say that it was a ghost? Was it based upon the testimony of another person who related a similar incident? What has shaped man’s concept of the existence of ghosts? How are we to interpret the appearances and alleged contacts with the dead? More importantly, are they to be the basis for formulating our convictions religiously? How credible is our evidence?

Remember: “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets (i.e., what was written), neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.

“Who ya gonna call (upon, i.e., believe)”?