Eternal – The Natural and the Spiritual: Responses to Loss, Grief, and Human Suffering




Intro

The Biblical character commonly known as Satan aka; the Devil, Lucifer, Abaddon, Angel of Light, Apollyon, Beelzebub, Belial, by any name is the eternal enemy of God the Father. The scripture teaches us that our enemy Satan will always work through the circumstances of the natural realm to destroy effectiveness of our spiritual realm. The inherent objective to undermine the faith and hope of those who put their trust in God. That is to say, the natural realities and circumstances of life such as illness, disease, tragedy, disaster, and loss are what Satan uses to devour our spiritual character and strength.


• He wants us broken - to render us faithless, hopeless, and powerless.

• He wants us irrational - to render us divisive, negative, and hurtful.

• He wants us angry - blaming, shaming, and accusing those we love.


The natural human response to illness, tragedy, disaster, and loss is of course grief, sorrow, suffering, trauma and stress. These natural reactions often times are enough to shake and shatter our spiritual hope and resolve thereby undermining our greatest spiritual attributes of faith, belief, and trust in God. However, the natural response process is not evil - it is human, and yet it is the natural human response process that evil uses to destroy our spiritual strength and deconstruct our character.


It is timely that we look at our responses to God’s natural and spiritual order of things. The great difficulty we have is in embracing His order and placing the wisdom and plans of His order above our own. God’s order reflects how His justice and mercy, His love and goodness, take precedence in our lives. How He makes provision for what we need in the natural realm only as it supports and reveals the greater need for the spiritual.


Our responses to God’s natural and spiritual order for things most often reflect what we want or think God should do or not do in and around our lives. There is a glaring theological heresy in western cultural Christianity. That heresy consists of the common belief that God is somehow obligated or should use His justice, mercy, love, and goodness to give us what we want in the natural realm in spite of whether it is inconsistent or a contradiction to God’s spiritual order or purposes. This principle is only valid or viable when there is a complete surrender of our natural realm to the spiritual authority and purposes of His divine order. The natural precedes the spiritual, but in Christ does not have authority or priority over the spiritual.


If this is not revealed, settled, and practiced in God’s order then our natural responses to natural realities become spiritually harmful and hurtful in natural circumstances that demand and require anything but.

Text


1 Corinthians 15:44-49

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.

Context

Of course we understand the context of Paul the writer in response to theological contention God’s order of things for those who have died (natural) before the second coming of Christ. We would know this as “The resurrection of the dead in Christ,” and the spiritual response to the natural reality.


Text


[15: 44(a)] An earthly natural body is fallen and so it is temporal, imperfect, and weak. A heavenly spiritual body will be eternal, perfect, and powerful. This represents for us the contrast between the natural and the spiritual, leading to the significance of having revealed truth regarding the capacity for both our natural and spiritual being. This takes us to an understanding and acknowledgement of God’s order and priority towards our natural and spiritual being.


2 Corinthians 5:1-4

[1] For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. [2] For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, [3] if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. [4] For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Like a seed sown in the earth and the plant which proceeds from it, there is continuity but a gloriously evident difference.

[15:44(b) – 49] Adam was the example or model of the earthly natural body (Grk: psyche; body, psychikos; natural body). Adam gave his nature to all who came after him (the man without the Spirit is the natural [psychikos] man. The last Adam, Christ, exemplifies the heavenly spiritual body which those who belong to Him will likewise assume at His coming from heaven.


1 Corinthians 15:22-24

[22] For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. [23] But each in his own order: Christ the first-fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. [24] Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.

Philippians 3:18-21

[18] For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. [19] Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. [20] But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, [21] who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

The full harvest will produce the first-fruits of Christ Jesus, in that the perishable seed (natural preceding the spiritual) must die; then the spiritual body will emerge (the spiritual overtaking the natural in eternal victory).


Inductive Thoughts


…Natural circumstances create natural realities – spiritual responses to natural circumstances create spiritual remedies to natural realities.


…What we do during times of loss and sorrow is deeply rooted and uniquely revealed through the character and virtue of who we are.


…Speak justly about God amid the awesome fact of loss, suffering, and sorrow. In doing so we vindicate and prove the divine attributes of justice, mercy, and love in relation to the continuing existence of evil.


…In times of loss, suffering, and sorrow speak justly about God at the very moment in which His purposes seem most implausible and questionable.


…The spiritual practice of spiritual theodicy leads us into righteous responses in and during natural times of loss, grief, and sorrow.


The Biblical Response to Loss, Grief, and Suffering



Psalm 3:3

But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.

2 Samuel 22:4-7

I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies. [5] “For the waves of death encompassed me, the torrents of destruction assailed me; [6] the cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me [7] “In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I called. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry came to his ears.

Psalm 37:23-26

The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way; [24] though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand. [25] I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken. or his children begging for bread. [26] He is ever lending generously, and his children become a blessing.

Psalm 30:4-5

Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints and give thanks to his holy name.

[5] For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

Job 42:2-3

I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. [3] ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.

2 Corinthians 7:10-11

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. [11] For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment!

Romans 8:18-21

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. [19] For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. [20] For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope [21] that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

2 Corinthians 5:1-10

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. [2] For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, [3] if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. [4] For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. [5] He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. [6] So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, [7] for we walk by faith, not by sight. [8] Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. [9] So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. [10] For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

James 1:2-4

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, [3] for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. [4] And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Philippians 1:21-23

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. [22] If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. [23] I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.


About Reunion Community Church

We are a Bible teaching Christian church in Peoria, AZ. We love God and teach His Truth. We invite you, your family and friends to join us on the faith journey, growing closer to one another, the Christian community of believers at Reunion, and most importantly with God. Read more about the timeless Truth we build our lives and faith in Christ on HERE.

We are conveniently located just off the 101 on 83rd Ave and Cactus Rd. Join us on Sunday mornings, Weds. evenings, and throughout the week at our small groups, meeting in homes around the Valley, including Surprise, Glendale, Peoria, Phoenix, Goodyear, Litchfield, and more. Connect with us on Facebook and watch our live streaming service on YouTube.

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