There is a lot of misunderstanding and misleading or erroneous teaching on the subject of ghosts.  Some of the common errors in the world today are as follows:

                        1.  There is no such thing as ghosts.

                        2.  When a person dies, he is dead all over, including any soul or spirit and it is all buried in the grave and remains there until the resurrection.

                        3.  There are ghosts floating around in the world today and haunting people on earth.

                        4.  Ghosts can be conjured up and give insight and knowledge to the living that may help them to avoid some pitfall in life.

The word, ghost appears 109 times in the scriptures.  90 of those times it appears in connection with the title of God, Holy Ghost.  That leaves 19 other times that it appears in scripture.  The first four times that it is mentioned in the scripture, it is found in connection with death:

                        1.  Gen. 25:8 “Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people.”

                        2.  Gen. 25:17 “And these are the years of the life of Ishmael, an hundred and thirty and seven years: and he gave up the ghost and died; and was gathered unto his people.”

                        3.  Gen. 35:29 “And Isaac gave up the ghost, and died, and was gathered unto his people, being old and full of days: and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.”

                        4.  Gen. 49:33 “And when Jacob had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto his people.” 

            In all of the above four passages, the following chronological order is observed:

                        1.  First, the individual gave up the ghost.

                        2.  Second, the individual died.

                        3.  Third, the individual was gathered unto his people.

                        4.  Fourth, the individual was buried.

 These are four related, yet distinct events.  So long as the ghost of the individual is present in the body, the body will not die.  It is only after the ghost departs that the body dies.  Immediately after the death of the body, the ghost of the individual is gathered to his people.  Finally, the body that died is buried.

The word, ghost, is another word used to describe the soul.  Notice the following verse describing Rachel, the wife of Jacob: Gen. 35:18 “And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin.”  Notice that the soul of Rachel departed and she died.  Just like the ghost of Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, and Jacob all departed at the time of death, that the soul of Rachel departed at the time of death.  The soul and the ghost of the individual are the same.  Also, notice the following verse: James 2:26 “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”  Notice that it is only the body that is dead. 

            In the gospels we read that when Jesus died on the cross that he gave up the ghost:

                        1.  Mat. 27:50 “Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.”

                        2.  Mark 15:37 “And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost.”

                        3.  Mark 15:39 “And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.”

                        4.  Luke 23:46 “And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.”

                        5.  John 19:30 “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.”

            Notice that when Jesus gave up the ghost and died on the cross, that it was his body that died, but the ghost (soul and spirit) went into the hands of the Father.  This is where the gathering takes place for the elect children of God at death. 

            That the ghost (soul and spirit) of the elect children of God does not die at death is made apparent by the following verses:

                        1.  Mat. 22:32 “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”

                        2.  John 11:26 “And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?”

                        3.  John 6:54 “Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

                        4.  1 John 5:11 “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”

                        5.  1 John 5:13 “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”

                        6.  1Pet. 1:23 “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.”

                        7.  John 3:36 “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”

                        8.  John 5:24 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”

                        9.  John 6:47 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.”

                        10. Luke 23:43 “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”

The body dies at death.  We have hope of eternal life in the promise of the resurrection of our bodies.  We already have eternal life in the soul and spirit for we have been born of the Spirit and given eternal life.  Eternal life cannot cease to be or else it is not eternal.  If the soul and spirit of one born of the Spirit could die, then the individual never had eternal life.  But the above scriptures tell us plainly that God has given us eternal life. 

Moreover, the story of the rich man and Lazarus tells us that the place of the soul after death is heaven for the just and hell for the unjust: Luke 16:19 “There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. 25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. 26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.           

27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: 28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. 31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”

            Some say that the above is a parable and it may very well be.  However, a parable is simply things in nature used to illustrate spiritual lessons.  Thus, in nature, the souls of the wicked go to hell at death and the souls of the righteous go to heaven at death.  Their places are fixed of God.

            We have answered the erroneous teaching that there is no ghost.  Certainly the scriptures are abundantly clear that men have a soul and that that soul is called a ghost.  Moreover, we have answered the question about the erroneous teaching that the whole man dies at death including body, soul and spirit.  Numerous scriptures above prove this to be untrue.

            Now, we address the erroneous teaching that there are ghosts floating around in the world today and haunting or scaring people.  As we have already seen the scriptures teach us that the ghost or soul of the wicked go to hell at the death of the body and the souls of the righteous go to heaven at the death of the body.  Thus, what people are seeing is something other than the ghost or soul of individuals.  Satan is an imitator.  There are numerous imitations that Satan uses to deceive people with. 

            The scriptures warn us about numerous wicked things in the way of spiritual wickedness:

                        1.  Deu. 18:10 “There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, 11 Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. 12 For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee. 13 Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God. 14 For these nations, which thou shalt possess, hearkened unto observers of times, and unto diviners: but as for thee, the LORD thy God hath not suffered thee so to do.”

                        2.  Josh. 13:22 “Balaam also the son of Beor, the soothsayer, did the children of Israel slay with the sword among them that were slain by them.”

                        3.  1 Tim. 4:1 “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;”

                        4.  Ex. 8:7 “And the magicians did so with their enchantments, and brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt.”

                        5.  2 Ki. 21:6 “And he made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.”

                        6.  Is. 19:3 “And the spirit of Egypt shall fail in the midst thereof; and I will destroy the counsel thereof: and they shall seek to the idols, and to the charmers, and to them that have familiar spirits, and to the wizards.”

                        7.  Dan. 2:10 “The Chaldeans answered before the king, and said, There is not a man upon the earth that can show the king's matter: therefore there is no king, lord, nor ruler, that asked such things at any magician, or astrologer, or Chaldean.”

            As we can see from this brief scriptural survey that there are many wicked devices that Satan uses to deceive people.  Those who practice charming, necromancy, witchcraft, magic, black magic, etc. often use charming or magic to conjure up what they call ghosts or to bring about spells or to haunt buildings, etc. with familiar spirits (what they call ghosts).  These are not the souls and spirits of the departed, but deceptions made to appear as though they are the souls and spirits of the departed.  As children of God we are warned against these practices and we are not to have any interaction with these practices or to fellowship these practices.

Elder Vernon Johnson