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Archive for the ‘Dominion’ Category

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How do we know what’s right and wrong? How do we know that abortion is wrong? How do we know that all human beings have dignity, value, and worth? How do we know that there are two sexes – male and female – which are assigned to us by God at our conception? How do we know the true spiritual condition of mankind (lost, sinful, and fallen)? How do we know how we can be right with God?

There are a number of answers, and almost all of them are wrong. Human reason and logic can’t give us the answers. Neither can intuition, personal experience, or tradition. As Christians, we rely on revelation. God has revealed Himself to us and He has spoken to us in His Word. The reason we know anything, and can know anything, is because God has revealed it to us.

When we think about any issue or question, whether inside the church or not, our first question needs to be “What does the Scripture say?” In other words, we need to ask what God thinks about it. This ought to be our first instinct, not our last. God’s Word – what He has to say – is authoritative in every area of life. That instinct, however, is in short supply in today’s church. We seem to take our cues from just about any other source than God and His Word.

It ought not be so, as illustrated by the following two passages. The apostle Paul has been arguing in the early chapters of the book of Romans that everyone is sinful and, therefore, deserving of God’s wrath (1:18-3:20). He then proclaims that justification by faith alone is the answer to the question of how sinful man can be right with a holy God (3:21-31). In 4:1, he says, in effect, “What about Abraham? How was he justified?” In order to give his answer, he appeals to Scripture, when he says, “What does the Scripture say?” (4:3). A quotation from Genesis 15:6 follows: “Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” Paul cites Scripture to make his case and bring the discussion to an end – the matter is settled.

The second passage is Matthew 19:3-9. Some Pharisees challenged Jesus about whether or not a man could divorce his wife. Instead of quoting an influential rabbi or two, Jesus went straight to the Scripture to give the authoritative answer. He said, “Have you not read?” in verse 4. In other words, “What does the Scripture say?” The Lord Jesus asked this question many times during His ministry. He continually appealed to God’s Word as the final authority in all matters.

The church needs to remember and recover this crucial principle. We know what’s right and wrong, what’s true and false, because we read it in God’s Word – because God says so. There’s nothing wrong with believing and saying that. In fact, if we’re going to be faithful Christians, that’s exactly what we’ll do.

 

 

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I had the privilege this morning of hearing Pastors Rick Elzinga and Mitch Lamotte preach on “What We Value: Evangelism.” Here is a summary of their sermon in one sentence: We support preaching the gospel to all people, obeying the Creation Mandate and Great Commission, helping the hurting and struggling among us, and desire to partner with like-minded ministries and churches to further these ends.

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I had the privilege of preaching on Genesis 1:26-28 this morning. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: God commands us to take dominion, or “tend our garden,” physically, personally, publicly, and in the propagation of God’s kingdom.

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Psalm 11:3 says, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”

Many of us have been asking that question for some time. It seems that, as a follower of Jesus Christ in the United States at the beginning of the twenty-first century, the foundations of our society are in the process of being destroyed and dismantled. We then ask, like the psalmist, what can be done?

The answer is simple but not easy. What can the righteous (those who have been justified by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone) do? We can continue to attend church week after week (Heb. 10:24-25), where we hear the Word of God preached, sing God’s praises, pray together, give to God’s work, and partake of the Lord’s Supper. We can keep on preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone (Mark 16:15). We can continue to support and encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ through accountable fellowship. We can keep on ministering to and serving those inside and outside of the church. In short, the righteous can continue the work of building the kingdom of God.

Keep doing what God has commanded us – that’s what the righteous can do when the foundations are destroyed.

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As Karen was working in our front yard yesterday (summer may have finally arrived!), one of the neighbors who was walking her dog made an interesting comment. She said it was nice to see the yard looking so nice compared to how it has looked in the past. What a nice compliment! (By the way, all the credit for it goes to Karen, not me – I’m horticulturally challenged and averse.)

It reminded me that this is an application of what God had in mind when He commanded us to subdue the earth and rule over it. Genesis 1:26-28 says,

Then God said, “”Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish and the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

Here, God gives His image-bearers the command to take dominion. Some have called this “the cultural mandate.” The theme is continued when the LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. Taking dominion, then, means to “tend your garden,” to take care of what God has given you, to make it better and improve, and to bring it under submission.

Karen was “tending the garden” which is our front yard. She is bringing it under submission and ruling it, and it’s been noticed.

Tending our garden doesn’t apply only to our yard, but also to our life. Dominion extends to every area of life because Jesus Christ is Lord of all of life. Nothing is excluded. We should tend the garden of our finances, our bodies (meaning how we eat and how much exercise we get), our families, our relationships, and our work. The list goes on and on – anything we can think of.

If you’re a student, you can tend the garden of your homework and keeping your room clean. If you’re like me, you can tend the garden of your study by keeping it orderly and clean (which would involve a lot of subduing!). If you’re married, you absolutely must tend the garden of your spouse and marriage. Fathers and mothers must tend the garden of their children. We all should tend the garden which is our church. Out task is to take care of whatever God has given us wherever He has put us.

By and large, I think this is what it means to take dominion, rule over, and subdue His creation as His image-bearers. It’s not real flashy, just day-to-day stuff, but it’s what God calls us to.

 

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