In 1999, a movie called The Sixth Sense was a big hit grossing over 290 million dollars. The movie starred Bruce Willis as a respected child psychiatrist who is trying to work his way past a painful memory while overcome a failing marriage and a 9 year old patient called Cole Sear (played by Haley Joel Osment of Second Hand Lion fame) as the boy Willis dedicates himself to helping out. The takeaway line from the movie is when the kid exclaims "I see dead people" as he explains that he sees ghosts. As the movie progresses Bruce learns to believe that the kid is indeed seeing ghosts and then helps him use his talents to bring closure to the ghosts deaths and therefor let them "rest in peace".
The end of the movie introduces the plot twist as Bruce realizes in the end that he is one of the ghosts the kid sees and finding his own closure, moves on to the other world.
Nothing closely resembling any biblical teachings can be found in the movie but I would like to take the idea of "seeing dead people" and present it in a way that is biblical.
But first, let's quickly dismiss the idea of ghosts in our world today. Many, many carnivals, theme parks, movies, and reality shows rely on the idea of ghosts as a cash cow. It seems we all loved ghost stories growing up. The biblical reality however is that there are no ghosts walking (or floating) on the earth today.
David speaking of his departed boy in 2Sam 12:22-23 = 22 And he said, "While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, "Who can tell whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?" 23 But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me."
David knows that the only way he will see his son again is in the next world.
The wise man Solomon stated in Ecc 12:6-7 = 6 Remember your Creator before the silver cord is loosed, Or the golden bowl is broken, Or the pitcher shattered at the fountain, Or the wheel broken at the well. 7 Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, And the spirit will return to God who gave it.
At death Solomon knows that our bodies return to the earth (Gen 3:19) and our spirit returns to God (Ecc 3:21).
In Lk 16:19-31 we find the story of the rich man and Lazarus where Jesus gives us a brief vision into the realm of the dead in Hades. We see Paradise on one side and a place of Torments on the other with no way to change your location. When you die, you are either in paradise or in torments until the final judgment at the end of time.
God's word leaves no room for the notion of ghosts stuck in between the realm of the living, and the realm of the dead.
Now, concerning a biblical concept of the "walking dead" or "seeing dead people", the first place we run into a quizzical verse alluding to this idea is in Matthew chapter 8 as Jesus talks with some men about following Jesus wherever He goes. One of them states that they would like to go first and bury his father.
Mth 8:21-22 = 21 Then another of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." 22 But Jesus said to him, "Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead."
Though a disciple already, he seems to want to put worldly matters ahead of eternal matters. This fits with the context of Luke chapter 14 where Christ makes a point of the cost of discipleship.
Lk 14:26,27,33 = 26 If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. 27 And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 33 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.
The dead burying the dead is a picture of one who is physically alive but spiritually dead burying a parent who has expired physically. The disciple needed to understand the paramount reality of being in the presence of the Son of God who was calling him to a higher level of discipleship where his priorities would seem upside down to the world.
Now we go to the parable of the Lost son.
Lk 15:18-24 = 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, 19 and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants. 20 And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son. 22 But the father said to his servants, Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry 24 for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. And they began to be merry.
Here we see a son who has turned his back on his father and after realizing that he had no standing in his fathers estate, he returns in humility and repentance to his father who then restores him to the family. Note the fathers rejoicing as he acknowledges that his son was as a dead man but is now made alive again. This reminds us that any and all who sin against God the Father are as dead people being separated from a holy God (Is 59:2).
In Ephesians chapter 2 we see this concept of the walking dead distinctively illustrated as those who exist primarily for the fulfillment of their own lusts and desires in sharp contrast to those who are alive to Christ who exist primarily to produce the fruits of the Spirit which are in alignment with God's will.
Eph 2:1-5 = And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
Christ is the only one who can take those who are dead to God and make them alive again in God's presence as we are joint heirs with Christ as adopted brothers and sisters (Rms 8:15-17, Eph 1:3-6). AWESOME!
I have considered this concept of the walking dead for quite awhile now, but have never put it down in writing. The concept brings home the urgency in which we (pointing at self) as Christians should be more evangelistic in reaching out to the lost souls - the walking dead. Many times I find myself in a venue of a large crowd knowing that a large percentage of the people I am looking at are lost according to God's word:
Mth 7:13-14 = 13 Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
This is one of the verses that brought me from the spiritually dead to the land of those who will live eternally in God's presence. I need to face these facts and in so doing, have a burning desire to share the gospel of life with those around me who are the walking dead. There is not much I can do in a large crowd, but there is much I can do, that I should do, on a one to one basis.
In light of this lesson and a biblical understanding of the walking dead, let us make Ephesians chapter 5 verse 14, in conjunction with the complete gospel of Christ, our call to our family, friends, and neighbors.
Eph 5:14 = 14 Therefore He says: Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.
Is anyone here a member of the walking dead? Are you "in Christ"? Have you followed the gospel call to believe in Christ and His message (Jhn 8:24), repent of your sins (Lk 13:3), confess Him as your Lord and savior (Jhn 12:42), and be baptized into Christ for the remission of your sins (Acts 2:38)?
Many of the walking dead believe they are alive, but they need a visit to the Great Physician who has laid out the prescription for an eternal resurrection in His word. Only by following that prescription perfectly will they get the needed results. Most of those who believe they are well but are actually dead miss one key ingredient to the cure, they scoff at the need to be baptized in order to be forgiven of their deadness - that is to say, their sins (Acts 2:38).
Rms 6:3-11 = 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
In recognizing our being dead to God, we realize we must die to our fleshly self in order to live again as a child of God. The dead body we walk through this life with, seeks out our own desires. We must put this body to death symbolically by being immersed in water, having faith that God will accept our action as a pronouncement of our dieing to our selfishness, and then being raised from the dead as a new creature who pledges to live to do God's will (Rms 6:3-4, Col 2:12).