Dominion, Stewardship and the Family
The Dominion Mandate was originally given to man in the context of marriage and family (Gen. 1:26-28). The man was to work (Gen. 2:15) and his wife was to be is necessary helper (Gen. 2:18). He was to love and guard her (Gen. 2:24). She was to obey and respect him (Gen. 2:18). Together they were to have children whom they would bring up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord to continue and expand their work (Gen. 1:28).
None of this has changed (Eph. 5:17-6:4). Sin has simply made it more difficult. But the Christian family, operating in the Spirit’s power through faith in Christ, can work out the Dominion Mandate with joy and hope, knowing that God now accepts our works (Eccles. 9:7-10) and that, in the Lord, none of our labors are in vain (1 Cor. 15:58).
The family, then, must be covenanted to Christ and to His Church (Acts 2:39; 16:31). It must be governed by His word. Furthermore, worship and instruction in God’s word must begin at home. God requires parents, particularly fathers, to teach their children from His law daily (Deut. 6:6-9). Husbands are also to nurture their wives from God’s word (Eph. 5:25-28).
The family must be economically productive. The husband (father) must provide for his family (1 Tim. 5:8). The wife (mother) is to be a wise and productive helper (Prov. 31:10-31). The parents are to teach their children how to work diligently and wisely, and how to save and invest their earnings (see most of Proverbs)—and how to practice charity. They are to prepare their children to be godly, self-disciplined, productive adults.
As successive generations work out the requirements of the Dominion Mandate, their spiritual and economic capital will expand greatly. A pittance may become a fortune. It is no accident that Scripture contains so many images of compound growth (e.g. Matt. 13:8; 25:16-17). God delights to bless His people abundantly—not only spiritually, but also materially (see Lev. 26:2-13; Deut. 28:1-14).
Dominion, Stewardship and the Church
The local church is the visible expression of the Church catholic, the Bride and the Body of Christ. As such, it is the Bride and Body in miniature (1 Cor. 12:27) and has spiritual dimensions that should be quite invisible to the naked eye. Its worship leads its members to worship their risen King, hear His royal word, and feast at His banqueting table. Earth affords no greater privileges and no greater power. The Church—each church—meets weekly with the King of the universe and must learn to make the most of that opportunity.
The church also must learn to pray for the coming of Christ’s kingdom, both generally and specifically. (Matt. 6:10; Isa. 62:6-7). The church must learn to sing His war songs, all 150 songs from the Book of Psalms. This includes the so-called imprecatory psalms that call God to judge His enemies (e.g., Ps. 10, 35, and 140). In short, the church must worship, and she must see her worship as warfare.
The church must declare God’s word for this world and for all of life. She must equip her members to serve Christ faithfully wherever His kingdom manifests itself (Eph. 4:11-16). And the church must reach the lost. She must preach Christ where He is not yet named—whether that be at Harvard College or in the wilds of New Guinea (Mark 16:15).
And the church must reclaim her role as a court (1 Cor. 5-6). “Know ye not that we shall judge angels?” says Paul, “how mush more things that pertain to this life?” (1 Cor. 6:3). Christian pastors and elders must again become proficient in settling disputes and solving problems—and in enforcing their judgments with the authority Christ has given them (Matt. 18:15-20).
Dominion, Stewardship and the State
Most Christian would agree that God’s word ought to govern the home and the church. But the third sphere, that of civil government, always seems to be another matter. Many Christians think that it’s somehow immoral to ask civil rulers to do what is right—that is, to obey the law of God.
And yet the Old Testament prophets did not hesitate to call ungodly rulers—even Gentile rulers—to repentance in terms of God’s law. Neither did John the Baptist (Mark 6:17-20). Paul reasoned with Felix, the Roman governor, concerning “righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come” (Acts 24:25). The Psalmist calls the kings and judges of the earth to “kiss the Son, lest he be angry” (Ps. 2:12).
The State, rightly understood, is God’s minister on earth (Rom. 13:4). By whose standard, then, should the magistrate live and rule? Satan’s? There are no neutral law codes. Every nation walks in the name of its own god (Mic. 4:5). Our Lord has promised that the nations of the saved will walk in the light of their God (Rev. 21:24; Isa. 60). That light is His holy word (Isa. 8:20; Ps. 119:105, 130).
This does not mean that the church should run the State. It does not mean that the State should coerce opinion or belief. It does not mean that Christians should foment political revolution or declare a jihad against humanism or idolatry. It does mean that Christians should use all means peaceful and lawful to disciple their nation—all nations—to Jesus Christ (Matt. 28:19-20). That is what the Great Commission tells us to do.
From the Bottom Up
So let’s understand this clearly. Biblical Christianity is hostile to revolution and to tyranny. The kingdom does not come by the sword (Matt. 26:52). It does not come by bloody jihad or political imposition. It comes through the preaching of the gospel and the conversion of men, women, and children to a living faith in Jesus Christ. We cannot impose the kingdom of Christ from the top down. God grows it from the bottom up.
The same kingdom principle must govern each of us. It is not our place to grab for the crown—even in the name of Jesus Christ. The biblical path to dominion lies in stewardship, self-denial, and service. Adam sinned in reaching too quickly for the reins of power. He wanted the reward of maturity without the self-denial that leads to maturity. Joseph and Daniel, on the other hand, served their way to the top (Gen. 39—41; Dan. 1—2, 6). This is what our Lord said to His apostles when two of them came seeking dominion with the wrong motives:
Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many (Matt. 20:25-28).
We are called to be servants. We are to bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2). We are to edify one another (1 Thes. 5:11). We are to bear the infirmities of the weak and not please ourselves (Rom. 15:1-2). We are to esteem others better than ourselves (Rom. 2:3). We are to submit one to another in the fear of God (Eph. 5:21). We are even to give up our belongings for one another when need requires (1 Jn. 3:15). We are to lay down our lives for the brethren (1 Jn. 3:16).
Obviously this all sounds very strange to the world. But as long as we do our work with diligence, wisdom, and humility, even pagans will be inclined to employ us or buy our products or services. The better we work, the more work they will give us. Dominion flows to the hard working and responsible. As Joseph and Daniel learned, the reward for responsibility is more responsibility.
From the Rim to the Center
Today, the visible Church stands on the shadowy rim of the bright world of power, prestige, and influence. Christians will not be electing a president or prime minister any time soon. We won’t be amending the Constitution or staffing the Supreme Court for a long time. We won’t control the film industry next year or capture the liberal-dominated press the year after that. Get that down.
For now our work is largely grass roots stewardship. We begin with ourselves, with our homes, our churches, and our communities. We read—something worthwhile, that is. We educate ourselves and our families. We worship biblically. We evangelize. We abandon pop psychology and preach the word of God—all sixty-six books. We learn the law of God and how to apply it. We study the creeds; we sing the Psalms. We tithe. We pray for our church. We pray for our community. We homeschool or build Christian schools. We make sure that our children are literate in mathematics and computer science. We teach our children how to work and how to use money. We start profit-making businesses. We develop better products. We apprentice at local newspapers and television studios. We pay more attention to local elections. We walk local precincts. We work harder and more diligently than anyone else.
And we help the helpless. We visit the fatherless and widow in their affliction (James 1:27). We feed the hungry and clothe the naked (Isa. 58:7). We minister to unwed mothers. We adopt orphaned, abused, and abandoned children. We establish private charities based on biblical principles. We give cups of cold water in Jesus’ name (Matt. 10:42).
If we are faithful in these little things, then one day God will give us great responsibilities. Who knows… one day maybe we will even elect presidents. One day maybe Hollywood and Wall Street will be Christian. But by the time we reach those “centers of power,” we will likely find that most of our work has already been done.
From Here to Eternity
How long do we have? We simply don’t know. Even Jesus Christ, when He was on earth, didn’t know the time of His Second Coming (Mark 13:32). We do know that God will accomplish all that He has promised. And the great news is… all the promises are sealed with the blood of Jesus Christ and backed by the power of His resurrection.