Personally, I don't believe it was the real Samuel at all. The passage states that Saul "perceived" it was, which could mean he simply thought it was. He didn't see Samuel, the witch described what she saw to Saul. Also, the prophecy that was given by Samuel did not come to pass exactly as stated - yet if it was a prophecy by the Lord, it would have been 100% fulfilled.
If it actually was the real Samuel, it is the only recorded case where a spirit came back after dying to communicate to the living, AND it is obvious it was for the purpose of pronouncing judgement on Saul. Elsewhere in the Bible we are told that basically the dead do not come back (until they are resurrected), and that when man is making offerings to and seeking to communicate with the dead, they are in fact doing this to demons.
I don't believe any dead person comes back and appears to anyone - but I certainly do believe a demon can appear sometimes disguised as someone or something else. So certainly a demon can appear and say it is Mary and pass on "messages from Mary." Not everyone claiming to have seen Mary is making it up - some may actually have seen something but are deceived as to what they have really seen - though I am sure there are religious deceivers out there making up things too.
Thank you all for your encouragement and prayers. I had a hard time at first trying to decide what to preach on - but one of the men from the church told me to cover what was burning in my heart as I was reading and studying the Bible.
Tonight, I will be adapting and combining two messages I have preached before - Wrestling Until The Daybreak (on the life of Jacob) combined with some athletic metaphors on the Christian life. Next week, Lord willing, I will preach about Judah being the surety for Benjamin, picturing Jesus The Sinner's Surety. Then the third week preaching When Life Doesn't Go As You Planned, on the life of Joseph and God's providential care behind the scenes.
Not according to the Bible. After 4:1, the book mostly deals with those who become believers after the church is taken out of this world. Either way, the events are still future, and still worldwide as the book clearly shows.
Nice try, Invicta. We have not had the rest of the events of the book of Revelation come to pass - no worldwide ruler on that scale, no worldwide plagues, no battle of Armageddon, no return of Christ for His bride and to set His millenial kingdom.
Oldtimer, you make it sound like using computer technology and going paperless are evil in themselves - and they are not (though the Bible does teach that marking our bodies IS wrong in itself). Yes, each advancement in these types of technology take us one step closer to the final system. One thing to consider though: it is more than a cashless system or any kind of mark - it is giving voluntary allegiance to the antichrist and Satan.
In earlier posts, he quite clearly denies that Hell is separation from God.
I already gave several posts and verses showing what I believe the Bible teaches about separation from God. There may be others, but I no longer have a computer with a good Bible program, so can't dig deeper right now to find more passages beyond what I've mentioned.
I didn't come back to these boards for endless debates - that is part of why I left in the first place. If you believe there is actual separation from God for the lost soul, I agree - I'm not going to debate how much or how important that is in the overall description of Hell. If you deny this truth, then you're dead wrong, and I've got nothing to prove so I will leave it at that.