"Limited" atonement is the Reformed/Calvinist doctrine that Christ died for the elect only, and no one else. In spite of the mountains of (in my opinion) meretricious arguments raised up in its favor, I have never believed it to be Scriptural, and here's a brief sum-up as to why:
Language miracles occur three times in Acts, probably four if the Samaritans (Acts 8) experienced the same thing as the 120, Cornelius, and the disciples of John, which seems likely. They were miracles of speaking (Acts 2:4), not of hearing. The speakers spoke praise to God in real languages (Acts 2:8-11). Gift-language is a mode of prophecy (Acts 2:4, 17).
Tongues are a sign. In each case in Acts, they signified something beyond themselves. The first sign signified Jesus’ ascension to God’s throne (Acts 2:33). The second sign signified God’s acceptance of Samaritans (compare John 4:9 to Acts 8:14-16), and also signified their own unique apostolic authority to the new converts (Acts 8:18). The third sign signified Gentile salvation to the Jewish church (Acts 11:18). The fourth sign signified Paul’s true apostleship (compare Acts 8:18 to 19:6).
It is not quite true that “Pentecost happened only once”, as some teach. Yes, obviously the original event was never precisely repeated, as there are too many differing variables in each case. But on the other hand, Peter’s point about why they should baptize Cornelius rests on the sameness between Pentecost and Caesarea (Acts 10:47, 11:17).
The book of Acts also describes many other true stories in which people believed in Christ, were water-baptized, and there is no evidence they all (or ever) spoke in tongues. Converts are always water-baptized, but there’s no evidence they all spoke in tongues. There were only twelve original apostles, plus Paul and Barnabas, and they couldn’t be everywhere to lay hands on every new believer. That would have been physically impossible.
None of the epistles teach that a one-time tongues manifestation is always how the Spirit’s filling shows itself, and Acts doesn’t teach this either. The promise was of the Spirit Himself (Acts 2:39), not of His gifts, which He distributes as He pleases (1 Cor. 12:11). God gave tongues in Acts as a sign for distinct historical needs and circumstances unique to those moments, and they were tied to God’s unfolding plan of world redemption.
The local, congregational gift of tongues seems to be different from the language miracles in Acts, even though the word glossa is used in both books. Acts tongues required no interpretation (Acts 2:8), but the church gift of tongues did (1 Cor. 14:11). The unbelievers in Acts 2 all knew the languages, but the hypothetical visitors in 1 Cor. 14:23 would think the speakers were insane.
In three out of four cases in Acts, tongues were a sign to believers. Paul says the tongues in 1st Corinthians 14 were a sign to unbelievers (14:22). In Acts, the female disciples publicly prayed in tongues, but 1 Cor. 14:34 says they should not speak in the church. Because of these differences, it seems correct to speak of the sign of tongues in Acts, and the NT gift of tongues in 1 Corinthians, and that they were different.
Let’s summarize what 1 Corinthians 12-14 says about the gift of tongues.
The power to pray in tongues, and to interpret them, comes from the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:10), as He wills (11). This means the gift cannot be taught or learned. The gift of tongues does not signify membership in Christ’s body (11:12-16), hence, it does not signify salvation. God does not give tongues to every Christian (11:30). It is a less important gift than prophecy (11:31, 14:1).
Someday, tongues will completely stop. Right now, we only see the Lord Jesus Christ in the mirror of Scripture, dimly, due to our feebleness of mind (13:12; see 2 Cor. 3:18 and Jas. 1:23 for “mirror” as a metaphor for Scripture). So, God supplements our weakness with spiritual gifts. But, when the day comes we see Christ face-to-face (1 Jn. 3:2), all these intermediary modes of knowledge will be dropped. We won’t need them, because we will be able to talk to Christ in person
“Face to face” means “in person”, 2 Jn. 12, 3 Jn. 14. The "perfect" in 1 Cor. 13 is clearly not the Scripture, since we have the completed Bible but we still only see dimly.
Spiritual gifts are good things (14:1). Paul was entirely pro-tongues (14:5a), and he says he prayed in tongues a great deal (14:18). He didn’t want tongues forbidden, in spite of the possibility of fraud or abuses (14:39b). Tongues are a prayer (14:2).
No one naturally can understand a tongue; it’s content is a mystery (14:2,9). Not even the speaker understands his own prayer, since he needs to pray for the ability to interpret (13). This is why the language-prayer’s mind is “unfruitful” (14:14). He himself does not grow from praying in a tongue, because he doesn’t understand what he’s saying. The pray-er edifies no one (14:6) until it is understandable (14:6, 13). In fact, not only do tongues not edify, but a whole church all praying in tongues would sound like crazy people (14:23).
Our highest priority in the use of spiritual gifts should be to build up others (14:12). Exalting the gift of tongues, not caring about the health of Christ’s body, and praying audibly in uninterpreted tongues, is childish, carnal behavior (14:20). The gift of tongues wasn’t even given mainly for the church. God usually gives a gift of tongues as a miraculous sign to non-Christians (14:22), whereas prophecy is the gift for the church (14:22, 24-25).
If the gift of tongues manifests in the meeting, no more than a maximum of three people are allowed to pray out loud, and they have to pray one at a time (14:27). If the church doesn’t have anyone with the gift of interpretation, they must be silent (14:28). No one is allowed to claim they couldn’t control themselves, because the Holy Spirit never does that (14:32-33). The Spirit of God, who brought order to the world, does not cause disorder (14:40).
A great many, probably most, charismatic churches break many of the Lord’s rules about tongues. They exalt tongues to a high level of importance. People pray or sing in tongues (or what they call tongues), all at the same time. Women pray tongues in the meeting. People pray and sing without any interpretation. People try to teach others to speak in tongues. There is almost always a spirit of wildness in these meetings All these are sinful.
On the other hand, our non-charismatic churches need to be careful not to squash the Holy Spirit’s fire (1 Th. 5:19-20). The doctrinal errors, leadership scandals, and bizarre behavior we see in many charismatic churches are bad, but they don’t justify fear toward the Holy Spirit Himself. He isn’t false, or bizarre, or wild! Satan would like us to confusedly oppose the Holy Spirit in the name of opposing charismatic disorder.
We can’t determine Bible doctrine by anecdotes. One missionary tells a story about someone in another country coming to Christ because they heard a prayer in their own language. Another missionary tells a story about a demon-possessed person speaking uncontrollably in a tongue. The second story doesn’t prove there are no true tongue manifestations. The first story needs to be tested. Neither story proves anything, doctrinally speaking.
The most credible tongues testimony I’ve heard came from an older believer who listened to a man pray in an unknown language during a meeting. My friend somehow knew what the man was praying. Then, a second man came up to the believer, described what he heard in the prayer, and it was the same (intelligible) words that the first believer heard. So, in other words, God supplied the two brothers with verification. This was first-hand testimony to me, not a hand-me-down fable with questionable or unknown provenance, and related by a Christian man I personally know well.
In summary, I believe the book of Acts describes signs of tongues (intelligible languages), which God gave to verify what He was doing at key points in early church history. 1st Corinthians describes the gift of tongues (unintelligible languages), defines why God gives it, and limits its use. A true gift of language is neither extremely important, contrary to Pentecostalism; but if it's real, then it's a blessing.
 Phillip was not able to do this.
 If the speaker knew what he was saying, he wouldn’t need to pray to interpret.
This post will deal only with the gifts (plural, 1 Cor. 12:9) of healing, and will not go deeply into the total Biblical theology of sickness and healing. That is a valuable topic to study, and the small bits we will consider will shed some light on the gifts, but the complete subject would take too long to explore.
My guess as to why the word “gift” is plural here is due to a distinction between physical and mental, which is a common distinction found in Scripture. Demons were usually the cause of mental disorders in the Gospels, and casting them out was also called healing (Mt. 4:24). There is very little written about it in the NT epistles.
Why does sickness exist? God did not create the world with sickness in it. He created it very good. Sickness exists because of sin. Our mortal bodies began failing because of Adam’s transgression (Gen. 3:19b). We inherit the horrible after-effects of Adam’s sin. In addition to the global problem of sin, God sometime inflicts sickness on us as discipline for our own individual sins (1 Cor. 11:30). Sometimes God uses illness to cause contact with people who need Christ (Gal. 4:13-14), sometimes as a test of faith in suffering (James 5:10-11), and sometimes as a preemptive check against pride (2 Cor. 12:7-10).
God also uses sickness to steer life’s circumstances, such as Paul being forced to leave his co-worker Trophimus sick in Miletus (2 Tim. 4:12). This is called “divine providence.” Sometimes sickness is self-inflicted due to foolish actions, such as people who smoke and develop cancer, commit immorality which infects them with dreadful diseases, or do acts of violence that lead to injury.
God in Moses’ Law promised the Jews good health as a blessing for obedience (Dt. 28:4), while sickness was His curse on rebellion (28:21-22). This was not a promise of absolute health, since even faithful people still aged and passed away. Some of the health blessing would have been the natural result of leading a godly life (e.g., not getting drunk, not committing crimes, contracting venereal disease), and some of it was direct divine intervention. Caleb’s exceptional health and strength in his elderly years appears to be an example of direct divine reward for his earlier faith (Josh. 14:11).
I don’t regard the healings of Christ and the apostles to be manifestations of the NT gift of healing, since they were operating before Pentecost. The Lord Jesus was first enabled to heal when the Spirit anointed Him at the Jordan. Christ later delegated healing power to the apostles (Mt. 10), and then even later to seventy others (Lk. 10). These were all signs of His Sonship, a truth which has timeless application. But their ministry was limited to the Jews (Mt. 10:5-6), a rule no longer in force.
The Gospels are a unique historical and theological bridge between Israel and the Church, so we cannot indiscriminately apply every example or rule in every Gospel story to the Church. For example, John 3:16 is a timeless promise, but, in contrast, Jesus’ command not to pack extra clothes is not (Lk. 10:4). Not being careful about applying Gospel material is a common mistake among preachers. I’m not saying we disregard the Gospels. But we must weigh Acts and the epistles together with the Gospels, in order to discern which principles and practices in the Gospels apply today and which ones do not.
Christ gave healing authority only to twelve disciples, not all. When He gave healing authority to the Seventy, no one else got it. The idea that God has granted healing authority to all believers is wrong. Christ even gave this power to an unsaved man (Judas Iscariot, Mt. 10:4), which no longer happens.
Christ died for your sins. There is no Biblical evidence that Christ by His cross made any provision for the miraculous healing of the body. For instance, He fulfilled Isaiah 53:4 by His three years of earthly ministry of healing, a long time before He died (Matt. 8:16-17). Isa. 53:5 says that His cross solves the problems of our transgressions, our iniquities, and our enmity with God, so the fourth parallel term (healed) also refers to sin. This is how Peter interpreted it (1 Pe. 2:24-25). The Bible promises forgiveness of sin to all, but not healing for all. God will meet our needs, but He might meet them in the midst of bodily infirmity.
The teaching that God wants to heal all believers of all illnesses is a devilish doctrine that has broken the spirits, emptied the pockets, and ruined the lives of thousands of Christians.
God’s ability to heal isn’t limited to the gift of healing. The believing prayer of any righteous believer is powerful (James 5:16). The faith of any Christian can move a mountain (Lk. 17:6). Any elder can anoint a sick believer (James 5:14-15). Anyone’s faith in the Lord’s promises will work mighty miracles (Gal. 3:2). It’s faith enough, when you ask, to believe Jesus can do it. You don’t need to believe He absolutely will, or “claim” anything (Mt. 8:1-3).
Unlike evangelist, prophet, pastor, and teacher, there is no ministry role called “healer.” No one in the NT was a healer. They were apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. God worked healings to confirm the message (Acts 14:3), not so much the man. Stay away from people who claim to have professional healing ministries. A godly man never takes credit for what God does through him, but gives all the glory to God (Acts 3:11-13).
There were Christians, such as Stephen and Philip (Acts 6:8, 8:4-8), through whom God worked healings consistently. Repetition and consistency seem to be the key marks. God could potentially work a healing through any believer, such as Ananias in Acts 9:17-18, but God did it through Stephen and Philip on a regular basis. In both their cases, the Holy Spirit worked healings in conjunction with their preaching. They were not apostles. If they are representatives of this gift, then we should expect the healing gift to especially show up in mission settings, which makes sense, since divine healing is a sign of Christ’s Messiahship.
The proof of a healing gift is obvious. If a Christian prays for sick people, and if the sick people on a regular basis get well (maybe instantly), without the aid of medicine, that is the gift. The proof of the pudding lies in the eating. But the gift is not controlled or caused by its users. They can’t just empty out hospital wards. Not even Christ could heal at His own will. When Christ healed, it was because God the Father was going on before, and Christ was following the Father’s will (John 5:19).
Any Christian can pray for any sick person, and, through faith and in accordance with God’s will, God could answer and heal. But some Christians seem to have a distinct power in prayer, where those for whom they pray become well very rapidly (sometimes instantly), apart from normal medical ministrations. Other Christians seem to have a distinct power for ministry to demon-oppressed people, which deals with mental healing. It all seems to happen through prayer. I would suggest these second types of Christians are gifted to heal, especially as part of lifting up Christ to the unbelieving world.
 Health-&-wealth preachers claim that Christians should claim these healing promises because we’re sons of Abraham. However, Galatians 3 says that sonship results in justification, the Holy Spirit, and everlasting life, not the material blessings of the Law.
 His eternal, divine nature could always heal, but His human nature could not unless enabled by the Father.
 I cannot tell from Scripture if the Seventy continued to have this power after Christ’s ascension.
 This fact undermines a classic cessationist retort, “If this gift is for today, let’s see them empty out a hospital ward, like Christ did!” But Christ didn’t have the NT spiritual gift of healing, and neither did the apostles. So, it’s consistent that the NT gift would operate at a lower level than the Messiah and His apostles. Also, the manifestation is not under the person’s control. You can’t just heal someone like tapping them on the head with a stick.
 An error taught by Vineyard founder John Wimber in his original book Power Evangelism.
 Judas could be used in this capacity by the Spirit of God because he belonged to God’s covenant nation, just as He worked through King Saul (1 Sam. 11:6).
 In my opinion, healing ministries are overrun by frauds, or, at best, exaggerators and wishful thinkers.
 Healing was God’s confirmation of the Gospel message to unsaved listeners, not merely that someone was an apostle. The apostles no longer exist, but the message still needs confirming.
For a brief time during my early Christian years, I participated in the Charismatic movement. The church I attended as a new Christian had been neglectful of the Holy Spirit, with a corresponding imbalanced emphasis on end-times, plus their own peculiar church distinctives.
Predestination perplexes Christians from across the denominational spectrum, even though the word itself doesn't appear very often in the New Testament. There is a positive approach we can take to it, however, rather than majoring in controversy. I think it's best to begin with truths on which all Christians agree.
First, we agree that God is all-powerful, and does whatever He wishes (Psalm 115:3). Human beings are not in charge, the Lord is king. Second, we agree that God is executing an eternal plan of His own devising (Ephesians 1:11). God learns nothing new, unlike how we learn. Third, we agree that whatever God chooses to do, it is always righteous. God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all (1 john 1:5). Fourth, we agree that God doesn't directly cause everything. He upholds all things (Hebrews 1:3). God causes no one to sin (James 1:13). He controls the circumstances in which temptations come, He already foreknows how we will respond to those temptations, and He chooses to permit us to be tempted and fall, but He Himself doesn't cause anyone to sin.
The word "predestine" appears six times in the New Testament. The Romans, the Jews, Pontius Pilate, and Herod did that which God beforehand predestined them to do (Acts 4:27-28). God predestined those whom He foreknew to be conformed to the image of His son (Romans 8:29). Those whom He predestined He then called, justified, and glorified (Romans 8:30). God predestined that the hidden wisdom which He later revealed to the apostles (which we have in the form of the New Testament) would be to our glory (1 Cor. 2:7). God predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Christ (Eph. 1:5). We inherited an eternal inheritance through Christ, and to this we were predestined (Eph. 1:11).
What truths do we learn from these six short references?
1. Predestination includes sin. God ordained the murderers of Jesus to kill Him, exactly when, where, and how they did. They did it for their own reasons, out of their own hearts, but God used them (unknowingly to themselves) for His own higher purpose.
God does not just predestine the good actions of good people, but also predestines the bad actions of of wicked people, so that His plan comes to pass. This reminds us of Genesis 50, where Joseph said that his brothers selling him into slavery, which they did freely out of their own bad hearts, was at the same time a manifestation of God's higher plan.
2. God is King and Judge of the universe at the same time. This means He, as King, ordains many human actions administratively that He, as Judge, hates morally. This duality of roles is unique to God. I can't think of any human role which comes near to it.
3. God from eternity foreknew specific people. God knows everything because He is omniscient, but God did not foreknow everyone in the Romans 8:29 sense. Everyone will not be conformed to the image of Christ. This tells us that "foreknow" has a much narrower meaning than simply God being cognizant of something. Jeremiah 1:3 says that God "knowing" an individual in this way is parallel to God consecrating that person to something. God "knew" Jeremiah while he was still in the womb, and appointed him to be a prophet.
4. Those whom God foreknew will infallibly be resurrected unto glory (conformed to the image of His Son). Christ is the first-born from among the dead, so He is the first-born of many brothers yet to be resurrected. They are predestined to that outcome, which means their wills are not the final determining factor. This is why a true Christian can never be lost, not even if he (insanely) should wish to be. Eternal security is based on the eternal predestination of God.
5. God only calls (converts), justifies, and glorifies the predestined ones. He doesn't call, justify, or glorify anyone else. God calls people with the Gospel outwardly, to their ears, but Paul was talking about the Holy Spirit's converting call to the heart.
6. God decided from eternity past that He would keep some of His wisdom hidden until the New Testament era, and only then reveal it to Paul and the other apostles. The apostles' wills, virtue, and piety had nothing to do with when God revealed His hidden wisdom. God gave Paul special knowledge about the Church, for instance, that was unknown in the Old Testament era (see Ephesians 3).
7. God predestined certain specific people to become adopted as His sons through Christ. This is both our soul-status of adoption (1 John 3:1) and the as-yet-future experience of our bodies being raised to glory ((Romans 8:23). The word "adoption" refers to both blessings. The status of adoption is ours now, through faith, and resurrection in glory is our future inheritance.
There are two more redemptive facts about predestination which need to be kept in mind.
One is that, if God did not predestine to eternal life, everyone without exception would hate Him into a condemned eternity. The human race is evil. We hate God by our very nature. We don't change into sinners somewhere along the way. We are born in sin, in the womb. We come forth from the womb speaking lies. Predestination is God intervening in individual lives, so as to bring about conversion and salvation.
Second, God has not predestined everyone. Even though He makes it clear to the world that He is willing that they should come to Him, and that He would receive them if they did come, they do not. So the world's rejection of God logically precedes predestination, in the God/man relationship. God didn't from eternity foresee innocent people and predestine them to be evil. He foresaw evil people, and intervened to predestine some of them to come to Him.
It is important not to force one meaning onto a Bible term. Words like "love" and "law" can have several different meanings, depending on how they're used in a sentence and paragraph. Forcing just one meaning onto a word leads to errors. For example, who is the "world", in II Corinthians? The word is used as a noun three times, in three different ways.
In 1:12, Paul uses it to mean "the people in society I meet." Paul obviously didn't know every person without exception, which is what we usually think "world" means. He said he conducted himself in the world with simplicity (not mixed motives) and sincerity (not guile). He used the word "world" to mean, "the people I deal with every day."
In 4:4, Paul limits the word "world" to unbelievers -- lost people. Satan is the god of this world, that is, he's the lord of unbelievers. Satan is certainly not the god of Christians! John says that Satan cannot touch (claim) us, 1 John 5:18. So here, "world" is limited to unbelievers only.
In 5:16-21, Paul says several important facts about Christ's saving work. Paul; talks about those who are new creations in Christ (5:16-17). This is the result of Christ's reconciling work on the cross. God reconciled the world to himself -- not Himself to the world, but the world to Himself. This happened, not when we come to faith subjectively in our hearts, but when Jesus died objectively in history. God through Christ reconciled the world to Himself by not counting their sins against them. Paul preached as Christ's ambassador, that people would be reconciled to God. This is possible because God had already imputed our sins to Christ on the cross.
Here we see that "world" can't mean everyone without exception, at least not in this paragraph. All are not reconciled to God; many walk in rebellion against Him. Many have already gone to Hell, eternally unreconciled. Yet Paul says that God did in fact, in history, objectively objectively reconcile certain people to God, and so God is reconciled to them. Paul uses the word "world" (kosmos) to denote these people, but it's obvious he's referring to all those who become new creations in Christ.
God expressed love for every person by sending His son, but limits eternal life to only those who believe (John 3:16). He calls everyone without exception to be reconciled to Him. But, on another level, Christ actually bore all the sins of those who would as a result become new creations in Christ. Maybe this is why the apostles in the book of Acts never told the crowds that Christ "died for them." They emphasized the objective realities of who Christ was, and His death and resurrection, and didn't give listeners false assurance that everything was already OK between God and them.
I believe the Bible very clearly teaches that, once a person truly receives Christ as their Savior, God promises never to revoke their saved status. I have read a great deal of opinion to the contrary -- everything from the 18th century sermons of John Wesley and John Fletcher to modern Methodist and Free Will Baptist theologians. Three chronic problems keep cropping up with their reasoning, in my opinion. What are those three problems?
The Bible very clearly teaches eternal security. But it shouldn't be rejected because of guilt-by-association with other errors.
Yesterday morning, in our adult Bible class, we talked briefly about how to explain evil in relation to God. I suggested there were two extremes on either side of the question, both of which should be avoided. It is a strange and unwanted irony that our conversation connects to the great evil that happened in Texas yesterday.
We talked about how one error would be to say that God makes people sin. This is a kind of fatalism -- a denial of human choice. There are probably very few who stray into this error, but I know there are a few here or there.
The Bible is clear: God never causes anyone to sin (James 1:13-15).
We pastors in particular should be careful not to use the word "cause" in a vague way. God ordaining that sins happen doesn't mean God makes people sin. God forbid! The responsibility is entirely that of the perpetrator. God's ordination means that even sin fits, somehow, into His total plan. The ultimate example of God ordaining sin was Christ's crucifixion (see Acts 4:27-28).
But the other, reverse error would be to say that God had no relation to the crime at all. As if God just passively sits up there, just as shocked as all of us, or to say (worse yet), God was helpless to do anything to stop it. This explanation isn't an option, either.
Once we know that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, everywhere-present, and eternal, the option of saying He couldn't do anything is gone.
Consider God's power -- God could have vaporised the weapons right out of the gunman's hands. God could have vaporised him. But God let it happen.
Do we know why God let this happen? No. Will we ever? Maybe not. Probably not, on this side of glory. But we do know other truths that matter.
We do know that God is the kind of Person who willingly sacrificed His own Son so that we could all be saved from eternal death. The Christians who died yesterday went immediately to Heaven, which entrance was purchased for them by Christ's horrible but redeeming death for them. That's the sort of God God is. He is not just some cosmic unfeeling Eyeball.
We also know that the Christians who died yesterday will be raised in glory one day, because of what Christ accomplished for them. Christ promised that. Because Christ rose, they will.
I also believe these Christians are martyrs for the faith, since the man who attacked them was, by reports, an outspoken atheist who vehemently called all who believe in God "stupid." Christ pronounced special blessing on those of our number who suffer for His name's sake (Matthew 5:10-12).
We also know that God is near to the broken-hearted, and will bend His powers to help, comfort, and strengthen those who were left behind to go on living with meaning.
We also know that the villain who did this did not "get away with it", and is now not getting away with anything. This is pure justice. There is a place where the fire never goes out and the worm dieth not. Mark 9:43-44.
Not only that, Christ pledged that this villain's evil work will one day be 100% reversed and undone forever. If it's possible to laugh at the futility of the bad guys, then we will all laugh on that day. These people, with us, will rise and return in victory, because of what Christ did 2,000 years ago on Easter morning.
The apostle Paul once said that, for the Christian, to die is gain (Philippians 1:21). The way these people left is an atrocity. But you know? None of those people want to come back here, at least not until Christ personally leads the way.
So we will pray for the living, and ask God to bring good out of this evil.
Are there such things as ghosts? The Bible says no.
This is the time of year when people exhibit a fascination with ghoulish things, among which are included ghosts -- the alleged departed spirits of the dead. Kentucky tourist sites offer "ghost walks" -- spooky tours of supposedly haunted places. These are all scams designed to separate gullible people from their money; in a few cases they're just interesting historical tours with a tongue-in-cheek ghost angle thrown in for flavor. But then there are real cases of frightening and paranormal manifestations in people's lives, which also fascinate people.
The Bible says that when a person dies, they immediately go to one of two places. If they are a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ, they go immediately to Heaven. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). The Bible says nothing about long tunnels with a light at the end of it. There is no such place as Purgatory -- that is an ancient pagan concept that began to infect Christianity as early as the 2nd century. If a person stands outside of Christ when they die, they go to Hell. In Jesus' account of the wicked rich man and beggar Lazarus, both died at the same time and both immediately went to Hell and Paradise respectively (Luke 16:19-23). There is no intermediate condition, on earth or in the afterlife.
So what is it that people see, when they claim to see ghosts, or experience paranormal events, such as through the Ouija board? For one, they see and hear the overheated products of their own imaginations. A person who expects and wants to see the paranormal will find it, of their own making. This is just human psychology.
For two, they see and hear deceptions perpetrated on them by con artists and tricksters. Whether the seance artists of the 1920s or the so-called ghost hunter TV shows of today, millions have been ,made off the gullibility of human foolishness.
But the Bible also teaches that there are such things as demons. God is the ultimate righteous immaterial Spirit, angels are His righteous immaterial spirits, and demons are evil immaterial spirits who serve Satan. Demons stand behind the false religions of this world (1 Corinthians 10:20). Satan and his demons are able to appear to men (if God permits), and disguise their appearance (2 Corinthians 11:14). In Job 1-2, Satan was able to affect the weather, evil men's minds, and disease -- though only as far as God allowed it. If an apparition is not just a product of the imagination, or a scam, then it is demonic.
As I said, a ghost cannot be a human soul, because every human soul departs immediately for Heaven or hell at the point of death. God God absolutely forbids any attempt to communicate with the dead, and He condemns all forms of sorcery. www.gotquestions.org/Bible-sorcery.html
If you own a Ouija board, destroy it!. If you own Tarot cards, throw them away! Do not dowse for water (which is a witchcraft practice), and do not try to talk to the dead. Talk in prayer and praise to God only! Jeremiah 33: Thus says the LORD who made the earth, the LORD who formed it to establish it, the LORD is His name: Call on Me!" Do not pray to the dead, or seek the dead!
Call instead upon the living, resurrected Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, to free you and your home from evil spirits, and He will do it. He is the Messiah, exalted above all spirits and powers, and is the implacable enemy of the devil. The only "ghost" with whom we should interact is God the Holy Ghost.
I was recently asked a question about God ordering the Israelites to kill all the Canaanites, including their children. To answer that question would require an essay so long that few would read it, so I'm going to address the question as concisely as I can.
1. God sent His Son to suffer and die on the cross, so that children (among others) may rejoice in heaven, free of all sickness, pain, or death. It is not God's will that little children perish everlastingly (Matthew 18:14). They die physically because of Adam's unique original sin, and Adam's sin made us all sinful by nature (Romans 5:18).
But God judges individuals based on their works (Revelation 20:13), and babies have no works (Romans 9:11), so they are not judged. God cannot be accused of not caring about the children of the world. In one case in the Old Testament He refrained from judging an entire city, because of the children and animals that lived there (Jonah 4:11). God is also clear that He finds no enjoyment in punishing (Ezekiel 18:23). God made sure there was an open door to Heaven for all infants and children who cannot know Him or His moral laws. God opened that door with the key of the cross.
2. God visits the consequences of the sins of parents on their descendents (Exodus 20:5). Not the guilt -- God in Ezekiel 18 says He doesn't blame children for their parents' sins. But the practical consequences of adult wrongdoing cascade down on children. We see this in everyday life: when the court system jails a criminal, the punishment negatively impacts the children of the criminal.
A parent can bring divine blessing or cursing upon his or her own children. An example of blessing was Phinehas. When Phinehas righteously executed a rebellious Israelite with a spear, God rewarded his whole line with the honor of perpetual priesthood (Numbers 25:6-13). Another example is Noah -- we all benefit from Noah's obedience (Gen. 9:11). This principle ought to make parents tread more carefully. The Amorites of Canaan lived in violent, evil perversion for centuries, until God decided to erase them. They brought annihilation of their people down upon their own heads.
3. God is the only God, and the Creator, which gives Him absolute, unique rights that no human being has. No one may say to the Creator, "Who do You think you are?" or "What do you think You're doing!?" According to certain science/ecology websites, about 150,000+ people die each day. In each case, the circumstances of the person's death was ordained by God.
God alone decides how long each person lives (Psalm 139:16). Skeptics complain that God was "wrong" to have the Jews kill the Canaanite children. But, since God ordered them to do it, it was therefore not wrong. God always has the right to end life. God is not a giant man. If the Jews had done it on their own, it would have been genocide. But God through His prophet Moses ordered them to do it, so it was a divine judgment.
God is not a moral monster, because human beings do not have a right to stay alive a certain amount of time, or to die in a certain kind of way. There is no moral law, whether above God's head or created by humans here on earth,by which He may be judged. In addition, God created Heaven at the cost of His son's death, so that all the suffering of this life could be wiped out forever. God the Son knows exactly what it feels like to suffer horribly and die, so no one can accuse Him of apathy, and He came of His own free will to undo earth's suffering, so no one can accuse Him of indifference.