PMW 2022-043 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
The Great Commission is a key text for framing in the postmillennial hope. Postmillennialism believes in the victory of the gospel throughout the world. And the Great Commission shows that Christ expected that very thing.
In this first contribution to a two-part study, I will be examining the Great Commission in the light of the Cultural Mandate (Gen 1:26–28). Postmillennialism not only expects the gospel to win the souls of men, but also their very lives and labors.
The Christian faith is concerned with the material world, the here and now. The Christian interest in the material here and now is evident in that: (1) God created the earth and man’s body as material entities, and all “very good.” (2) Christ came in the flesh to redeem man. (3) His Word directs us in how to live in the present, material world. (4) God intends for us to remain on the earth for our fleshly sojourn, and does not remove us upon our being saved by His grace. As is obvious from these four observations, we have a genuine concern with the here-and-now. Just as obvious is it that this concern is necessarily in light of the spiritual realities mentioned: God, redemption, revelation, and providence.
At death all men enter the spiritual world, the eternal realm (either heaven or hell). But prior to our arrival in the eternal state, all men live before God in the material world, which He has created for His own glory, as the place of man’s habitation. The Great Commission necessarily speaks both to the present state (by giving our duty in the material world) and to the eternal state (by showing the means of our entry into heaven). In other words, it speaks to issues regarding body and soul.
Greatness of the Great Commission (by Ken Gentry)
An insightful analysis of the full implications of the great commission. Impacts postmillennialism as well as the whole Christian worldview.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
Both of the foundation stones for our study of the Great Commission are found in Genesis. In fact, the very foundations of all of reality, revelation, and redemption are laid in the book of Genesis, which makes that book of primary significance to the Christian faith. The very title “Genesis” is derived from the Greek translation of Genesis 2:4a: “This is the book of the generation [Greek: geneseos] of heaven and earth.” The word geneseos means “origin, source.” And it is in the opening chapters of Genesis (chs. 1-3) that we find the essential elements of these foundational truths.
The Mandate Explained
The Creation Mandate was given at the very creation of the earth and mankind upon it: on the sixth day of the creation week. Consequently, the Mandate serves an important purpose in distinguishing man from the animal, plant, and protist kingdoms: only man is created in “the image of God” (Gen. 1:26; 9:6), a little lower than the angels (Psa. 8:5). One vital function of this image is that of man’s exercising dominion over the earth and under God. As is evident in their close relation in Genesis 1:26, the dominion drive (“let them rule”) is a key aspect of the image of God (“Let us make man in Our image”) in man.
Thus, man has both a basic constitutional urge to dominion as a result of his being created in God’s image and a fundamental responsibility to do so as a result of his being commanded in the Creation Mandate. Man’s distinctive task in God’s world in accordance with God’s plan is to develop culture. Culture may be defined as the sum deposit of the normative labors of man in the aggregate over time. Adam was to “cultivate” the world (Gen. 1:26-28), beginning in Eden (Gen. 2:15).
Interestingly, early fallen man was driven to cultural exploits well beyond the expectations of humanistic anthropologists and sociologists. We see the effect and significance of the Creation Mandate very early in history in the culture-building exploits of Adam’s offspring. In the Bible, man is seen acting as a dominical creature, subduing the earth and developing culture, even despite the entry of sin. Man quickly developed various aspects of social culture: raising livestock, creating music, crafting tools from metal, and so forth (Gen. 4:20-22). In that man is a social creature (Gen. 2:18), his culture building includes the realm of political government, as well; this is evident in God’s ordaining of governmental authority (Rom. 13:1-2). Upon his very creation, not only was man commanded to develop all of God’s creation, but he actually began to do so. Culture is not an accidental aside to the historical order. Neither should it be to the Christian enterprise.
GREAT COMMISSION & THE CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW (9 mp3 downloads)
In these nine lectures is demonstrated the world altering consequences of the Great Commission. An important and encouraging study on the biblical foundations of the Christian worldview.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
It is important to realize that the Cultural Mandate was not withdrawn with the entry of sin into the world. The mandate appears in several places in Scripture after the Fall: Genesis 9:1ff; Psalm 8; Hebrews 2:6-8. But the new factor of sin did necessitate divine intervention and the supplementation of the original Mandate with the new factor of redemption.
Immediately upon the fall of Adam into sin, God established the covenant of grace, which secured man’s redemption. Genesis 3:15 promises the coming of a Redeemer (“the seed of the woman”), who will destroy Satan (“the seed of the serpent”). This verse is often called the “protoevangelium,” or the “first promise of the gospel.” The gospel of God’s saving grace began at this point in history.
And it is the Great Commission which comes in as the capstone of this proto-redemptive promise.
I will continue comparing the Great Commission and the Cultural Mandate in my next article.
Click on the following images for more information on these studies:
Tagged: Cultural Mandate
What are your thoughts on the fact that after the fall the word “subdue” is missing in the cultural mandate discussed in Genesis 3 and Genesis 9? Meredith Kline believes this is one reason why we could not “conquer the world” as many Postmillennialists have put it.
There are other expressions in other contexts that affirm the postmillennial vision and which would function as a subduing image.