Can people come back from the dead to talk to us?

Recently a friend asked about a message he heard from a church where the preacher claimed he asked God to take his life and let him visit the other side of death for the purpose of returning to tell his congregation what awaits on the other side.

The result was that the pastor saw certain members of his congregation suffering in hell because of certain errors in their life.  Does God allow his servants to come back to life to warn others of dangers ahead?

Rather than debate whether or not God is capable of resurrecting a person (which of course he has done in the past and will do again in the future), it is wise to look into the scripture to see whether God will resurrect someone for the purpose of preaching to others.

Luke 16 is quite clear about this situation.  Lazarus and his rich friend both have died.  Lazarus is in heaven and the rich man in hell.  The rich man asks for Lazarus to go back to his house and warn his brothers not to come to this awful place.  Abraham refuses to send Lazarus because the brothers already have the Bible at their disposal – “Moses and the prophets.”  God uses his word to warn people, not appearances of dead people.

Luke 16:25-31  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.  (26)  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.'  (27)  And he said, 'Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house--  (28)  for I have five brothers--so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.'  (29)  But Abraham said, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.'  (30)  And he said, 'No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.'  (31)  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.'"

Also consider that God has already warned us about hell in his word.  If a messenger from beyond the grave would return to tell us about his experience, it should be exactly as Jesus described in Luke 16 which makes the messenger unnecessary.  If the witness tells of details that do not agree with the Bible, he is a false messenger and should be rejected.

We are not left to imagine what might be the final end of a person in Hell.  Revelation 20:11-15 tells us that every one dead in sins will be raised, judged and then hurled into the Lake of Fire.

Additionally to this example, prayer directed toward the dead is strictly forbidden.  Deuteronomy 18:11 says that anyone who “consults with the dead” is “detestable to the Lord.” King Saul went to a witch to talk to the departed spirit of the prophet Samuel which lead to his death “because he was unfaithful to the LORD; he did not keep the word of the LORD and even consulted a medium for guidance” (1 Samuel 28:1-251 Chronicles 10:13-14).

Shad Sluiter