This is a first for me – but today I am sharing a post from another writer, Dr. Bob Gonzales, who serves as Dean of Reformed Baptist Seminary. I ran across Dr. Gonzales’ blog today while preparing for our marriage retreat which begins next week.
Today was my first visit to his blog. I am not promoting Baptists, any particular seminary, or a certain reformed theological viewpoint. (Full disclosure, I first met Jesus through the ministry of a Baptist church, graduated from seminary with Baptist roots, and have definite reformed leanings.)
Honestly, this article could have been written by a Celtic monk promoting his book on Darwinian eschatology and I would still probably share it! It’s that compelling to me.
God continues to capture my heart by the vision and power of marriage on mission. This post just adds new fuel to that fire.
God created mankind for a mission: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen 1:28). Many Bible scholars and theologians interpret this imperative as “the cultural mandate” and see it as providing the basis for marriage, procreation, and vocation. But what they often miss is the cultic or religious dimension underlying this mandate. God’s commission for humanity entailed more than making babies and harnessing the earth’s resources. Adam, as Yahweh-Elohim’s image-son (Gen 1:26; 5:1-3), was responsible to mediate God’s rule and special presence in the world representatively. To be more precise, Adam’s commission included a kingly, priestly, and prophetic calling.
Remembering the cultic dimension of God’s mission for mankind enables one to see the connection between the Creation Mandate and the Great Commission. When Jesus informs his disciples that he’s been invested with supreme authority and commissions them to make disciples of all the nations (Matt 28:18-20), he’s really not introducing “Plan B.” Rather, Jesus, as the Second Adam, is fulfilling the task the First Adam failed to complete. He, together with his helper, the Church, is “being fruitful and multiplying and filling the earth” with renewed “images of God” who, in turn, reflect God’s glory and mediate God’s rule and presence in the world. Accordingly, God’s redemptive intentions are not a substitute for his creative intentions but their fulfillment.
This connection between the Creation Mandate and the Great Commission is developed at some length in John Fesko’s Last Things First: Unlocking Genesis 1-3 with the Christ of Eschatology. Here’s a small excerpt:
The dominion mandate cannot be fulfilled simply by procreation or by having large families. The work of the second Adam cannot be divorced from the work of the dominion mandate. The original pronouncement of the dominion mandate was tied to procreation. Adam and his helpmate were to produce offspring who bore the image of their creator, filling the earth with those who worshiped God. Subsequent to the fall, Adam and Eve could no longer fulfill the mandate because of the presence of sin, as is evident in the battle between the seed of the serpent and the woman (Gen. 4:1ff). With the advent of the second Adam, Christ takes up the work of the dominion mandate by producing offspring with his helpmate, the Church, and creates those who bear his image. The dominion mandate is not fulfilled through procreation but through the propagation of the gospel. Therefore, those who are not married, such as Paul himself (1 Cor. 7:8), can boast of having many children (1 Cor. 4:14; Gal. 4:19; 1 Tim. 1:2; 2 Tim. 1:2; Philem. 10; Titus 1:4) because they are produced through the propagation of the gospel. They are not the offspring of a husband and wife but the offspring of the second Adam and his helpmate, the second Eve, the church (cf. John 1:13).2
So while it’s still appropriate to interpret the Creation Mandate (Gen 1:26-28) as the grounds for marriage, procreation, and vocation, it’s important not to miss its eschatological and doxological dimensions. Adam and Eve were created to fill the earth with worshipers of God who would extend the boarders of God’s Edenic garden-sanctuary to the ends of the earth at which time they, in imitation of their Creator-Lord, would enter into their eternal Sabbath enthronement at God’s right hand. But wherein the First Adam and Eve failed, the Second Adam and Eve shall succeed. And when all enemies are put under their feet, they shall together enjoy the fullness of Sabbath rest, ruling and reigning together in the New Heavens and New Earth.
Bob Gonzales, Dean
Reformed Baptist Seminary