The Apostle says much about the spiritual side of things (1 Cor. 15), and amongst those statements he says concerning the body that not that which is spiritual is first but that which is natural, and afterward that which is spiritual. We might observe, by the way, that when he used that word “natural” he really used the word “soulical.” That which is first is the soulical body and afterward that which is spiritual, indicating that the ultimate and final thought of God is the spiritual. The Apostle leads on very clearly to show that this body, this soulical body as such, is going to be changed. But there is a germ – the spirit is the germ of a new body, and that spirit will be clothed with a spiritual body. It is something that we cannot wholly understand, but we can see something of what it is like when we remember that the forty days after the resurrection of our Lord Jesus were used precisely for this very purpose to demonstrate and establish the nature of a spiritual man in his final and full constitution, visibly, as well as spiritually.
There is no doubt that in those forty days the Apostles were convinced that Jesus was alive, that they had seen the Lord; they were left without a shadow of doubt – nothing could shake them on that matter. But what a Lord, what a difference! An absence altogether of some things with which they were familiar. He was there, and He was there in a positive presence, not a ghost, not a disembodied spirit, but a full Manhood; and yet how different! He was using the forty days to show what the end of God is for man, the nature of things when God reaches His end. “Afterward that which is spiritual…” God’s final, ultimate thought is the spiritual, and I want to emphasize that for this purpose I am not talking about atmospheres, things floating in the air, but about something very real if I may use the word, very concrete when I talk about spirituality. It is something very practical. The Lord Jesus sought surely to show that after His resurrection.
“Children, have ye any meat?” He can make a fire of coals, He can cook fish on it, He can break the food and distribute it and He can eat with them, and yet in a moment can be out of sight. Dismissing time and geography, He is in one place and then in another far off, but He is real. Do not let us think we are talking about spirituality as something unpractical, mythical, abstract. We are going to see that it is a very practical matter; first that which is natural, and afterward, as the final thought and the goal of God’s activities, that which is spiritual. The end and the eternal will be spirituality; we shall be in the full sense spiritual. Well, that is a general statement.
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