The Supernatural World and Our Supernatural Faith
As we get into the second portion of our Tuesday time leading up to the stretch of year when our wildly decadent culture celebrates the dark things, we are going to get a little more earth-bound for the next subject. Unlike the dismissal of the existence of extra-terrestrials we are going to move away from humanoid creatures and come to talk about the possibility of ghosts, and what may be going on with their presence, or non-presence, we shall see. Now, as we talk about this matter a differentiation needs to be made. Ghosts can be separated (no pun intended) away from apparitions (which we will cover later) or the soul. What we are talking about is the continued manifestation of a person (or animal) in a place or in an object where a previously living being continues to inhabit for the purpose either of warning or scaring away others.
Much like our previous inquiry this may seem not fit for biblical or spiritually mature conversation. However, if you spend any time reading older books of a theological nature there is a seriousness to this question because everyone believed in their possibility. Also, this is a First World Problem. Our brothers and sisters in Africa, Asia, and elsewhere have no difficulty believing in these things. We are very post-modern on this. Sometimes we can forget that our world in the West has been demystified and despiritualized, to our detriment. We lack a fear of God, because our world lacks an understanding of the upside down. It also plays into our lack of concern for prayer meetings and prayer in general. We don’t really act like we believe it because our lack of fruit witnesses to our own weakness.
Part of our goal in asking questions about ghosts, and other creatures of the night, is to help us in our minds get us back into a pre-modern age of wonder, imagination, and curiosity. We are not alone and it is actually healthy and helpful for us to re-enter the world of our great-great grandparents. There is much we can surely learn from thinking and experiencing as they did.
Let’s get moving.
The first place we are going to go is to the Bible. As noted unlike with aliens I not only think ghosts are real, but that the word explicitly tells us so. The Apostle Paul in his closing words to the people of Ephesus writes:
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
What else could he be referring to with the term spiritual hosts than what we refer to as ghosts? It may seem to some a bit daft to draw that conclusion from a singular verse, but what are we to always do when we have a question of interpretation when it comes to Scripture? We interpret Scripture with Scripture. So, let’s look at some other passages which may support my conclusion.
Firstly, at the beginning of the book of Ephesians Paul writes this about Jesus in Eph. 1:20-22:
“which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church”
As you read there God in exalting Christ in the Ascencion has placed Him above the “principality” and “power”, both of which are named in the later Ephesians 6:12 verse. From this we know they are real, because for Jesus to be over them they must exist.
The next question then becomes how do we then identify them with ghosts? For our follow-up passage let’s look at some verses that tell us what ghosts are not.
As the cloud disappears and vanishes away, so he who goes down to the grave does not come up. He shall never return to his house, nor shall his place know him anymore.
For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished; nevermore will they have a share in anything done under the sun.
Sorry to disappoint, but ghosts are not disembodied humans who can’t leave Aunt Suzy’s kitchen because of some murder that happened a hundred years ago. That isn’t what the Bible, or I, mean when I say ghosts are real. When men die they give up the ghost. In other words their souls leave their physical bodies and dwell in Abraham’s bosom, either in the good place or the fiery place, to await the judgment which is to come. (Luke 16:19-31).
So what are they?
Going back to the Apostle for a moment in 2 Corinthians 11:14 he tells us that Satan can disguise himself as an angel of light.
We need to be careful here. It is important for us to understand that not every ghost is bad, and no I’m not referencing Casper or Slimer. If Christ is king over all the principalities and powers that includes the opposite reality of demons, which we refer to as angels. Remember, the demonic beings are angels as well, just fallen ones. If we confirm the existence of the former in passages like James 2:19, Deuteronomy 32:17, Psalm 106:37, Matthew 7:32, and Mark 5:12 then it stands to reason godly ones exist in the latter category as Numbers 22:31, Genesis 19:15, Matthew 13:41, and 1 Corinthians 11:10 show.
So if ghosts are angels, what does that do for apparitions, exorcism, inhabitation, and other questions which may arise from this conclusion? Well, stay tuned because that will be the subject of next week’s inquiry.
In closing, this brief look into the question of ghosts was made for a couple of reasons. First is we need to be much more serious about how wicked of a world we live and experience day-by-day. If we can understand this better than when we sing Under His Wings and say, “safe in the refuge hide thee; trusting His truth and faithfulness, No evil can betide thee” then we can actually mean it when we proclaim it. Comprehending the wholeness of the world is central to living out the faith we are gifted and granted by our Savior.
Till next week here’s another word:
Blessings in Christ,
Rev. Benjamin Glaser
Pastor, Bethany ARP Church