What’s it mean if I see dead loved ones appear?

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By BibleAsk Team


Can the Dead Appear?

The dead can’t appear to the living simply because they are dead. The Bible teaches that all that die sleep in their graves till Resurrection Day (Psalm 13:3; Daniel 12:2; Acts 7:60; Job 14:12; 1 Corinthians 15:18). Jesus Himself called death a sleep (John 11:11-13). There is no consciousness of time in death (2 Corinthians 5:6-8), so for the believers, the next conscious thought from death is their awareness of their glorified bodies at Christ’s second coming.

The Bible declares that after death a person: returns to dust (Psalms 104:29), knows nothing (Ecclesiastes 9:5), possesses no mental powers (Psalms 146:4), has nothing to do with anything on earth (Ecclesiastes 9:6), does not live (2 Kings 20:1), waits in the grave (Job 17:13), and continues not (Job 14:1, 2) till the Resurrection (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17; 1 Corinthians 15:51-53).

Those that died receive their rewards at the second coming and not at death (Revelation 22:12). They sleep until the great day of the Lord at the end of the world. “The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, … and the dead in Christ shall rise … and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17; 1 Corinthians 15:51-53). There would be no purpose in a resurrection if the saints were already in heaven after their death.

Death – A State of Sleep

The concept of death as a state of sleep is a recurring theme in the Bible, emphasizing the temporary nature of death and the hope of resurrection. Here are 15 verses from the New King James Version (NKJV) that describe death as sleep:

  1. Daniel 12:2 “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
  2. John 11:11-14 “These things He said, and after that He said to them, ‘Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.’ Then His disciples said, ‘Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.’ However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus said to them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead.'”
  3. 1 Kings 2:10 “So David rested with his fathers, and was buried in the City of David.”
  4. Job 14:12 “So man lies down and does not rise. Till the heavens are no more, They will not awake Nor be roused from their sleep.”
  5. Matthew 9:24 “He said to them, ‘Make room, for the girl is not dead, but sleeping.’ And they ridiculed Him.”
  6. 1 Corinthians 15:6 “After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep.”
  7. 1 Corinthians 15:18 “Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.”
  8. 1 Corinthians 15:20 “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
  9. 1 Thessalonians 4:13 “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.”
  10. 1 Thessalonians 4:14 “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.”
  11. 1 Thessalonians 4:15 “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.”
  12. 1 Thessalonians 5:10 “Who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.”
  13. Acts 7:60 “Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not charge them with this sin.’ And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”
  14. 2 Peter 3:4 “And saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.'”
  15. Deuteronomy 31:16 “And the Lord said to Moses: ‘Behold, you will rest with your fathers; and this people will rise and play the harlot with the gods of the foreigners of the land, where they go to be among them, and they will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them.'”

These verses collectively illustrate the biblical metaphor of death as sleep, highlighting the hope of resurrection and eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.

Who Are the Entities That Impersonate the Dead?

The Bible tells us that “For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15, NKJV) and, even more shocking, as Christ Himself. “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:23, 24). By the “spirits of devils, working miracles” (Revelation 16:14; 18:23) that pose as spirits of the dead, the devil will deceive the world (Matthew 24:24).

For this reason, God commanded in the Old Testament, that mediums, wizards, and others with “familiar spirits” (who claim to be able to contact the dead) should be stoned to death (Leviticus 20:27) to protect His children from direct demonic contacts and deceptions. So, any “spirit” appearing or claiming to be the spirit of a deceased loved one is really a demon in disguise! For more on what the Bible states about death, check out The Intermediate State.

Only a true love for the truth and diligence in obeying all the instructions God has given for these last days will prove to be the only safe guard against the delusions of the enemy, the seducing spirits, and the doctrines of devils (2 Thessalonians 2:9–12). This is the test of truth, “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there[a] is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20). Whatever men may teach that is not in line with the Word of God means that they have “no light” in them (Isaiah 50:10, 11).

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In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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