The natural speaks of the supernatural.
I love it when the Lord uses His creation to help me comprehend His Word. Today I had one such sweet epiphany as my mind caught a glimmer of what I can look forward to in heaven.
In 1 Corinthians 13, we are reminded, “we know in part” and “we see only a reflection as in a mirror.” We can’t grasp heaven with our earthly brains. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit helps us translate until we reach heaven.
So what natural elements did the Holy Spirit use today?
A Ferris wheel and my daughter.
My daughter recently visited the pediatrician and we discovered her height is in the 96th percentile. Now, my husband and I are tall. In fact, while pregnant we lovingly joked we were having a giraffe, so I wasn’t shocked by her measurements.
What did shock me, however, was a tangible application of her height. We had recently visited Scheels, a sporting goods store whose claim to fame is a Ferris wheel found in the center of the stores.
My husband and I look forward to taking our daughter for her first Ferris wheel ride, and on this day, we were surprised to discover our nine-month-old daughter only needs to grow 6 inches before she can participate!
But she cannot ride it now.
In that moment, the Holy Spirit quietly whispered the concept of 1 Corinthians 15:45-50 to my heart.
My daughter cannot ride now because she does not meet the requirements needed to gain access. She may be incredibly close, but still falls short (pun intended).
Similarly, citizens of first century Corinth refuted the idea of resurrection, claiming earthly bodies fall short (pun still intended) of worthiness to exist in a heavenly realm. In his letter to the Corinthian church, Paul initially agrees with their premise (although not their conclusion!), referring to our earthly bodies as “natural,” “corruptible,” made of “dust,” suited only for life on earth. (1 Corinthians 15:46-48, 53) Physical bodies, Paul goes on to explain, are in the type of Adam, who “became a living being.” (1 Corinthians 15:45)
“Then the LORD God formed the man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life in his nostrils, and the man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7)
Here, however, Paul’s argument shifts as he elucidates for the Corinthians that followers of Christ will be resurrected to spiritual bodies. (1 Corinthians 15:44-46) Our resurrected, spiritual bodies will be in the type of Jesus, often called the second or “last Adam,” who is “a life-giving spirit [. . .] from heaven.” (1 Corinthians 15:45, 47)
Romans 8 confirms, “[T]he law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do since it was weakened by the flesh, God did [. . .]
You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you [. . .]
Now if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit gives life because of righteousness.” (Romans 8:2-3, 9-10, emphasis mine)
Friends, if the Spirit of God lives within us, we are living in the in-between.
Here on earth, we live in our physical bodies, which are passing away, much as a seed planted in the ground appears to die. (1 Corinthians 15:42-44) Yet we look forward, with great joy and anticipation to the day when new life springs forth from that dead seed. This is the hope (read: solid assurance) of our resurrection to incorruptible, spiritual bodies as heirs to the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 15:50)
In Scripture, we see some examples of others walking in the in-between.
After spending time in the Lord’s presence, Moses’ physical body radiated the glory of God’s spirit. (Exodus 34:29-35)
Repentant as he hung on a cross next to Jesus, a guilty convict received the promise of spiritual resurrection, even as his physical body died slowly and brutally. (Luke 23:40-43)
On the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus’ disciples had a glimpse into the spiritual realm, witnessing a transfigured Jesus speaking with Elijah and Moses. The disciples were dazzled and terrified as their physical bodies beheld spiritual beings. (Mark 9:2-8)
From these stories, we learn our heavenly selves do not carry our physical bodies and sinful histories into heaven.
Instead, Jesus grants us spiritual access, and eventual spiritual bodies, through His righteousness, which we can experience now through His crucifixion and resurrection.
This is how we inherit the kingdom of heaven
when we place the full weight of our trust
on Christ’s sacrifice,
offered on our behalf for every sin
we’ve committed against God.
I am humbled as I write this, reminded Jesus died to take my sin in order to enable me to spend eternity with Him (John 3:16), to someday trade this earthly body for a spiritual one.
In light of this hope, we can walk through the in-between with the steadfastness Paul urges in 1 Corinthians 15:58, inviting others to join us on the journey as we anticipate heaven!
May we rejoice in the heavenly life the Lord is preparing for us and seek to bring Him glory along the journey.
“I think earth, if chosen instead of Heaven, will turn out to have been, all along, only a region in Hell; and earth, if put second to Heaven, to have been from the beginning a part of Heaven itself.”
Steadfast Day 12
Dust reaps death, is hostile towards God, and does not submit to the law of God. The man of the dust is separated from God and has a mind set on things of the flesh.
The eternity of those who continue in the image of the man of the dust are excluded from God.
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