Have you ever had a vivid dream where a departed loved one visited you? If so, you’re not alone. Many people have shared stories of being visited in their dreams by someone they loved who has passed on. But what does the Bible say about these types of experiences? In this post, we’ll explore the scriptural perspective on loved ones visiting us in our dreams.
Dreams can be mysterious, intriguing, and sometimes deeply comforting. When a loved one who has died appears to us in a dream, it often feels like a real visitation from the afterlife. We may wake up feeling as if we actually communicated with that person.
As Christians, we want to understand what God’s word says about all of our experiences, including significant dreams. The Bible contains multiple examples of symbolic dreams as well as some real visitations. Exploring scripture can help us find answers about whether our departed loved ones can actually visit us while we sleep.
Below, we’ll look at biblical evidence for and against visitation dreams, along with perspectives from Christian history. We’ll also consider the meaning and purpose behind these experiences. My prayer is that you’ll come away with a better understanding of what God’s word says about this fascinating topic.
- The Bible contains examples of symbolic dreams as well as some real visitations.
- Opinions differ on whether departed loved ones can visit people in dreams today.
- Visitation dreams, if real, could be God’s way of reassuring us or delivering an important message.
- We must test all dream experiences against scripture and pray for discernment.
- The focus should be drawing closer to Christ, not seeking special revelations.
Biblical Examples of Dreams and Visions
The Bible records many occurrences of God speaking to people through dreams. Genesis, Daniel, and Matthew each describe critical revelations given during dreams. God also warned people against false dreamers and false prophets who make up lying dreams. So what do we make of all these passages?
First, we see God at times choosing dreams and visions to communicate important truths to people. For instance, He gave the prophet Daniel insight into future events through his night visions (Daniel 7:1). Similarly, He spoke to people like Jacob, Joseph, and Paul through symbolic or direct dreams to guide them.
However, the canon of scripture is now closed. Hebrews 1:1-2 explains that God’s final word has been given through Christ. While some Christians claim God still speaks through prophecies, dreams, and visions today, we must carefully test such experiences against the Bible.
So could departed loved ones visit people in dreams, as many claim? Specific examples of this occurring in Scripture are scarce. Some passages, like 1 Samuel 28 describing the medium of Endor calling up Samuel’s spirit, are difficult to interpret. However, Scripture clearly prohibits trying to communicate with the dead (Deuteronomy 18:10-12).
In summary, the Bible affirms God speaking through dreams in past eras but also warns of false dreams. Specific dream visitations from deceased people appear rare, if present at all. We cannot definitively say loved ones can visit our dreams based on scripture alone. But neither does the Bible completely rule out God using such means for His purposes today.
Christian Perspectives on Dream Visitations
Christian leaders throughout church history have expressed differing views on whether departed loved ones can visit people in dreams. Here are a few perspectives:
Could be deceptions: Many Christians urge caution about any supernatural encounters, including visitation dreams. They point out that Satan can masquerade as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). The devil could potentially deceive people through dreams.
God can allow contact: At times, prominent Christians have indicated God may possibly allow for contact from deceased believers. For example, Augustine and Aquinas argued God could permit spirits of the dead to interact with people still on earth. However, discernment would be needed regarding the spirit’s purpose – whether from God or not.
Dreams are symbolic: Some interpret visitation dreams as mythical symbolism rather than actual contact. But they still think the dreams hold psychological and spiritual meaning for the person. For example, John Calvin saw dream encounters as imaginary but providential messages from God.
Unsure: Many Christian leaders either express uncertainty or distinguish between different types of experiences. They believe God can genuinely speak to people in dreams today but are unsure about contact with the dead as opposed to angels.
In conclusion, opinions vary within Christianity on whether departed loved ones can literally visit people in dreams. But caution against blindly trusting such encounters is a theme among many church authorities.
What is the Purpose Behind Dream Visitations?
Assuming your departed loved one genuinely appeared to you in a dream, what could be the purpose? Here are some potential reasons:
- To reassure you – Seeing your loved one again can bring enormous comfort and hope. It reassures you that they are at peace with God. Such dreams often come soon after the person has passed.
- To deliver an important message – God may use your loved one to tell you something He wants you to know. However, test the message against Scripture.
- To correct your misconceptions – You may have fears about your loved one based on their death or how you remember them. A visitation can correct those wrong assumptions.
- To reveal the spiritual world – God might give you a glimpse of the invisible realm where departed souls reside. This can strengthen your faith in the afterlife.
- To draw your heart to Christ – Dream encounters often stir up spiritual longings. Use it as a catalyst to pursue Jesus with renewed passion.
While not exhaustive, these potential purposes demonstrate visitation dreams can have real value if handled appropriately. The ultimate goal should be letting it turn your eyes to Jesus and His truth.
Testing Dream Encounters Against Scripture
Because some dream visitations could be deceptive rather than truly from God, we must filter all such experiences through scripture. Here are some biblical tests to apply:
- Does it contradict God’s word? – If a spirit speaking to you contradicts the Bible, it is not from God. Reject its message.
- Is the advice wise and sound? – Use spiritual discernment. Does the guidance align with scriptural values and point you closer to Christ?
- What fruit does it produce in your life? – Monitor whether the dream encounter and any messages you received draw you closer to God or lead you away from Him in the weeks after.
- Does it point to Jesus? – True messages from God will place the focus on Christ’s lordship, not miracles or visitations themselves.
Filtering your experience through these tests can help you determine if it was genuinely meaningful or perhaps just a false hallucination. Guard your heart against naively following anything contrary to biblical truth.
Moving Forward with Wisdom and Discernment
Dream visitations from loved ones can be uplifting if handled appropriately. But pursue such experiences cautiously, with wisdom and discernment. Here are some keys to moving forward:
- Pray for discernment – Ask God to reveal any deception and help you understand His purposes.
- Seek counsel – Talk with spiritually mature Christians and your pastor to get feedback.
- Be wary of regular encounters – Frequent visits may indicate an unhealthy obsession.redirect your focus to Christ.
- Test against scripture – Reject anything contradicting or adding to the Bible.
- Act on any message carefully – Consider advice prayerfully before acting. Consult others.
- Focus on Jesus – Make drawing close to Christ your priority, not visitations themselves.
Properly managing significant dreams can help you turn them into blessings rather than sources of confusion. With wisdom and prayer, you can gain comfort and direction from what you experience.
Dreams where departed loved ones visit us can certainly be remarkable and comforting experiences. However, Christians differ on whether such encounters are legitimate contacts from the afterlife or simply imagined projections. The Bible does not provide definitive answers on whether our loved ones can actually visit us in dreams today.
What scripture does make clear is that we must test all spiritual experiences against God’s word and reject anything contradicting or adding to it. The focus should be drawing close to Jesus Christ, not chasing mystical revelations. Prayerfully examining visitation dreams through the lens of scripture can help us gain true comfort and direction from these fascinating encounters. While the dead may or may not visit our dreams, we serve a risen Savior who will one day turn our own dreams of resurrection into reality.