Understanding the Natural and Expecting the Spiritual

By Ryan Shaw

In 1 Corinthians 15:46 we find an enlightening Scripture. When understood and applied correctly, this verse provides a spiritual principle that is crucial in grasping what God is moving us towards in the coming days.
“However, the spiritual is not first but the natural, and afterward the spiritual.” This statement comes from Paul in the context of his teaching the Corinthians of the resurrection bodies believers will receive in the next age. He speaks of the body being sown naturally (in this life) and raised a spiritual body (in the next age).
The principle, however, can be applied to a much larger sphere then our glorified bodies to come. What has been true in the natural realm will soon take place in the spiritual realm, releasing tremendous things from the Spirit into the natural realm.
There is a process to grasp here. We can look at history and see what has taken place naturally and then discern God bringing forth a spiritual counterpart over time. The natural happening was a foreshadowing of what the Lord intended to bring in the Spirit.
Let’s consider an example and then look at ways this applies to the mission movement God is developing.
In the 20th Century the world changed more than ever before in human history. Specifically in the realm of knowledge. It is said that by the middle of the 20th century more knowledge was being attained each subsequent year than in any previous century as a whole. By the end of the 20th century, more knowledge was being gained every week than in any previous centuries.
It is said that today we are in the “information age”. This means we are learning and gaining knowledge, and have availability to that knowledge through the internet, in a way never dreamt of previously. This is what has happened in the natural realm.
The spiritual counterpart is that believers are soon to experience a growing knowledge of the things of God as they apply their hearts to attain it. This refers to experiential knowledge of God and not mere intellectual knowledge.
God is revealing Himself, His ways, His emotions, His thoughts, His plans, His glory, His wisdom and much more in increasing ways to those who are seeking it. There is a mountain of spiritual knowledge of Himself that is available, way beyond what believers have grasped before.
This is not because we are special or deserve it. It is simply the timing of God and must be contended for just as the increase in natural knowledge was worked hard to gain in the last 50 or so years.
What are other natural happenings that give us expectation of what to expect in the coming years spiritually?
How about the current rapid change of society globally? Every decade brings an entirely new set of global changes unknown to previous decades. The globalization of the world through the internet has propelled this phenomenon.
The body of Christ spiritually is simultaneously going through fast and significant changes; more so then ever before in its history. The expression of the “Church” in pockets globally is shifting and does not look as it did 10 years ago. It is operating differently, worshiping differently; praying differently as new wine-skins are introduced.
The mission movement is also undergoing seismic spiritual shifts. Business as usual has given way to new strategies and spiritual insights being implemented. Even practices of 10 years ago seem obsolete at times. God is orchestrating these changes and they will continue to unfold more rapidly in the years to come.
He is changing the face of missions; meaning more influx from the global south will continue to engage among the unengaged. Simultaneously, He is raising up His “New Breed” of message bearers walking in spiritual power and authority and pursuing the heights of abandoned devotion to Christ.

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