Sunday, January 30: Commission

“Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it.” (Genesis 1:28) This command to the first humans, sometimes referred to as the Cultural Mandate, calls the people of God to so much more than merely procreating and being the dominant species over the rest of creation. God appointed the creatures made in His image to do as He does: create and cultivate.

The creation and cultivation of life-enhancing government, agriculture, transportation, sanitation, architecture, art, education, exploration, medicine, and a host of other fields fall under this umbrella. We are made for the work of bringing order out of chaos; of establishing and organizing.

The Great Commission then, is not an un-looked for bolt of lightning from a clear sky, but simply a narrowing of the Cultural Mandate. Jesus’ words to “make disciples, … baptizing, … and teaching” in Matthew 28:19-20 are the command to embark on the Spirit-empowered work of ordering the New Creation according to the only organizing principle to remain constant in every era: the Gospel.

The thread that runs from Christ as King, through Confession of His saving work, His sovereignty over Creation, and the Community that belongs to Him, brings us ultimately to a Commission that is simultaneously personal and public. God gave everyone in Adam a directive to create and cultivate in the context of the garden; He has given everyone in the Second Adam the commission to create and cultivate in the context of a New Creation.

The power of the gospel is that, by the Holy Spirit’s regenerating work, it produces in its hearers the very thing it commands of them. We need only proclaim it with confidence, knowing that our real task begins once the miracle of the new birth takes place. God makes daughters and sons, and we are called to make them disciples. This is what it means in the economy of the kingdom to obey the Cultural Mandate to create and cultivate.

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Sunday, January 23: Community

In light of all that we confess as Christians, how can we think about the fellowship of believers? If Christ is supreme, and He calls us to Confession of absolute realities, and we belong to Him because we are His Creation, what are the implications for the Community of Christ-followers?

The germ of the answer is in the question. Since Christ is supreme, we are united in a community of blood-bought subjects to His supremacy. Since we confess absolute realities, we are drawn to others who do the same, to make our confession in conjunction and communion with one another. And since we belong to Him, not only because we are His creation, but also because we are the new creation, we recognize that we are members of a re-established humanity.

Every person who was ever born after the deluge claimed a new ancestor in common: the prophet Noah. Now, as then, every person rescued from the flood that looms as the direct result of selfishness and idolatry belongs to a new head over the redeemed human race: Jesus the Messiah.

There are communities of every kind in our world drawing people together for every reason imaginable: hobbies, sports, sexuality, pop culture, fitness, ideologies, military service, home improvement, gaming… But none of these can create the incomprehensible unity found in Christ. The bonds built over common interests or pursuits are tenuous and subject to change. The mystical bond wrought by the Holy Spirit Who literally joins us to Christ and to one another is unfaltering, unfathomable, and unfailing.

“Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members [who belong to] one another.” (Romans 12:4-5) For the Christian, community goes beyond shared interests or even common goals — It is fundamentally about belonging. We belong to Christ, and to one another. Integrally. Inseparably. Eternally.

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Sunday, January 16: Creation
We’ve considered the foundational nature of Confession to the Christian faith, following up a meditation on Christ as the chief reality we confess. Now, let’s revisit the idea of confessing truth, and one in particular: that God formed the world by His Word, as He wished, and according to His will.

“And God said…” Over and over in Genesis 1, God spoke and it was so. He formed the world by His word to demonstrate His ultimate sovereignty over it. He did not inherit His rule, or wrest it from some other lord; He rules all that He has made by right, because its existence is owing to His command that it be, … and it was.

“And God saw that it was good.” Another repeated phrase in Genesis validates that God formed the world as He wished. He was not stymied or frustrated in His works. Everything came into being just as He intended, and He rendered the verdict that it was good.

“Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it.” (Genesis 1:28) In the Cultural Mandate, the prototype for the Great Commission, God voices to humans that He has formed the world according to His will. And while the subsequent fall of humanity means that the world is subject to the effects of sin, this first command from God still demands our obedience.

God’s sovereignty over creation, the inherent value it possesses as His precious work, and His purpose for it are still essential to how we think about our care for that creation, and especially the humans made in God’s image. This includes every ethnicity and skin tone, every language and locale, and every age from conception to natural death. 

The world was formed by God’s Word, as He wished, and according to His will. Let us confess this truth, and let us embrace it.
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Sunday, January 9: Confession

Confession, Community, & Commission. Confession can have a negative connotation for many of us, as we may tend to associate it only with the confession of sin which, while necessary, is typically uncomfortable. But more broadly, confession in the Christian faith means to confess the truth. That means we confess not only the truth about our sin, but the truth about the One who has saved us from our sin.

In Romans 10:8-10, Paul writes “This is the message of faith that we proclaim: If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation.” And Phillippians 2:11 tells us that the day will come in which “every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”

Confession then, is not merely a part of the Christian faith — It is foundational to the Christian faith. This is why the truths agreed upon in the great church councils are labeled “Confessions”. Christians are not called to make “Assertions” or “Pronouncements”, speaking truth into being in grand self-determination. Rather, the people of God have the privilege of humbly discovering the truth in submission to His revelation.

As we pursue greater faithfulness to our ever-faithful God, may our prayers and praise and the preaching of the word be filled with, and drive us to, confession of these truths that Charles Spurgeon summed up in these words: “I have a great need for Christ: I have a great Christ for my need.”

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Sunday, January 2: Christ

More often than not, the new year is treated as a reset - a chance to start over completely from scratch. But what if this year, we take it as an opportunity not to reset per se, but to recenter our lives and refocus our vision? What if, instead of bemoaning all the missed opportunities of the past year, we embrace everything that was good about it and double down on those things?

Confession, Community, & Commission. These are central to the life of the church. And the foremost truth we confess is Christ. Christ the King, whose humble entrance into the world we commemorated barely a week ago in the Christmas celebration. Christ the Prophet, who revealed - and continues to reveal - the character of God to a needy people. Christ the Priest, who offered Himself for the sins of those same people.

This Christ is the cornerstone of our faith. All the questions that matter find their answer in Him. — “Who is God?” We understand God as we understand Christ. — “What has God done?” Christ’s deeds are God’s deeds. — “Who are we?” Our identity is found in embracing Christ. — “What are we to do?” Christ has taught us how to live.

If you belonged to Christ in 2021, don’t fall victim to the mentality that He is disappointed with your year, but this year will be the year you really start following Him. Acknowledge the work that Christ has begun in you, and as we kick off this month of prayer, commit to pray for that work’s intensification in the days to come.

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