Discipleship and Christian Discipline Part 1

fruitfulness

Part 1 “Introduction to the Creation Mandates”

Christianity has several words that begin with the prefix, “re”. Regeneration and Redemption being two of the more important ones. Regeneration etymologically means basically “to bring life again.” Redemption of course, thinking back (if you are old enough) to the time when grocery stores used to “purchase back” the glass bottles from our favorite soft drink after we had emptied them of their sweet content, means to “buy again.” The point being that the prefix “re” means to do something again. Jesus in the Gospel is regenerating the human race, redeeming them from sin, and thus restoring them to their former created estate as righteous in the just eyes of God. The wonderful work of the Gospel is not just that we are restored to our former created estate, but that we will be brought eventually to a new estate, “glorification”, which is an unflawed and un-failable eternal state of being.

But for now, if you are reading this, you are still yet dwelling in the restored estate (justification) here in the old creation, and are awaiting the new estate (glorification) that is to come. But when we say, as Christians, that we are now enjoying the restoration of the created estate, what does that mean for us in our lives as they are now? How does it contribute to our understanding of human purpose? How does it contribute to our understanding of what it means to live a meaningful life on the earth?

If you understand yourself by faith to be restored to the created order in Christ, then you should also be renewing your participation in the original “Creation Mandates”. It is there that finding satisfaction and purpose begin for the whole human race in its original estate, and it is also there that those who are restored to that former estate should begin their discipleship to the second Adam, Christ himself. Man’s purpose has not changed on the earth. He is still, as the old catechism states, “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”  The meaningful life that the disciples of Jesus are to live are not at cross purposes with creation. They are at cross purposes to the world, which is a corrupt spiritual system fathered by a corrupt spiritual entity, Satan. But the created order remains unchanged and is still “very good.”

So what are the “Creation Mandates” and where are they found. The Creation Mandates are, (1) Fruitfulness, (2) Marriage and family, (3) Learning and Laboring, and (4) Resting and worshiping the Triune God. They are found in Genesis 1:26-28; 2:1-3.

Genesis 1:26-2:3

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image,  in the image of God he created him;  male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

Over the next few blogs we are going to take some time to unpack each “Creation Mandate” at least a little. The blogs will not be anywhere near comprehensive, but they should give a disciple of Jesus a starting point to begin to explore the four main branches of human purpose. I hope also that they will help Christian’s see the rich meaning that they are capable of providing for the whole human race. The recovery of purpose and meaning within the church, I believe, is absolutely necessary for the discipleship of new (and many older) believers. But it is also paramount for evangelism and broad engagement with a hostile culture that is bent on destroying the church and itself in one fatal swoop…. By destroying forever (in the West at least) both the purpose and the meaning of life for all of our children.

Soli Deo Gloria!

JM

Discipleship and Christian Discipline Part 2 “Dominion: The Purpose for the Creation Mandates”


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