The Very First Thing God Ever Told Us To Do

When the average person (or even an average Christian) thinks about the commands of God, he thinks mainly of all God says we can’t do. Our minds first go to the Ten Commandments, where we are instructed in many “no’s.” Do not take God’s name in vain, do not murder, do not steal, etc. Sadly and mistakenly, we often think of Christianity in terms of what is forbidden, rather than the glorious promise of all that is given!

Do you know what is the first command of God directly to humans? It’s certainly not a “don’t do this” instruction. It’s actually a “do everything” kind of command! Check out God’s first mandate in Genesis 1:28 (ESV). Keep in mind that at this point He has just created Adam and Eve and has not yet put the close on the sixth day of creation. No sin has yet entered the picture. The Bible boldly proclaims, “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 earth.’”

So there stand the first two human beings, having been blessed by their Creator and commanded to fill up the earth and take charge of it! They are to subdue under their feet all God has given to them. They are to bring glory to their Creator by ruling for Him at His direction while walking in unhindered relationship with Him.

Imagine the scene back then. Adam and Eve are standing on that section of earth in what is now the Middle East. How would they proceed to fill the earth? At the very least, this meant to bear children. But to fill the earth – to get from where they were to all over the earth – they would need transportation. For transportation they would need to observe and study and learn about all the natural resources God had given. They would need to educate the children and families. They would need to build societal structure as the population increased. Housing would be necessary. As society grew, cities would be built. Government would be established. Systems of trade and buying would be developed. Education must continue. Harnessing resources for medicinal purposes would become necessary. People would learn to specialize in their areas of passion and ability.

Fast forward to today. Eventually even the silicon God put in the earth’s crust would be used to build computers. Those computers would access the internet that humans developed. That technology combined with more advanced transportation methods would enable the Gospel to be spread throughout the world in order that Jesus’ command in Matthew 28:19 (ESV) might be fulfilled, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, …”

You see, the first command of God is critical and eternal. Knowing that we would fall into sin, God still gave this original mandate to people. We are to be his vice-regents, harnessing the stuff of the world in order to take dominion for God’s purposes. The instruction God gave in Genesis 1:28 is often referred to as the “Cultural Commission” or the “Cultural Mandate.” It is a beautiful gift to each of us. We can get up each morning and take our part in filling and subduing the earth. We can use the passions God has given to us and enjoy being who He made us to be. In order for us to take dominion, some will have to enjoy academics, some car repair, some construction, some teaching, some musical arts, some medicine, some government, some space exploration, some farming, some manufacturing, some engineering, some journalism, some cleaning, some ocean exploration, some nutritional science, some economics, etc. We are commanded by God to enjoy and take pride in our calling, knowing that all work is sacred when done in obedience to Genesis 1:28. The person delivering packages to our doorstep does sacred work just as the Sunday school teacher – if both are responding to the call of God to fill and subdue this creation for His glory.

One of the greatest gifts for which we can be thankful is the cultural mandate of Genesis 1:28. This gift never ends. God is not going to throw away His creation. He will redeem it and remake it. And I will miraculously dwell one day in this New Heavens and New Earth, passionately studying and teaching as I do now, and exploring a universe restored by my Jesus! We will learn, travel, explore, engage, eat, connect, laugh, run, rule, and reign under the King of Kings!

The critical change will be that the curse of sin will have been removed. We will at last be free to pursue God’s will unhindered by the burdens and stresses we now carry. Our sinfulness has caused our work to contain an element of pain and disappointment (Genesis 3:16-19). In the new creation, all that misery will be removed (Revelation 22:3). We will pursue the desires God put in our heart without resistance – the ultimate fulfillment of Psalm 37:4. What a day that will be!

Do you remember hearing that familiar Christmas passage from Isaiah 9:6-7 (ESV)? “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.”

That child, Jesus, was born so that the command and promise of Genesis 1:28 could continue in my life. He came to die and pay for the sin that otherwise would damn me and banish me from a relationship with Him now and the New Heavens and New Earth to come. Were it not for the sacrifice of the Son of God, my part in the glorious Kingdom of God would come to nothing. But, because of Jesus, I will be a part of the plan. “Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end,” and I will be there … doing what He made me to do …. reigning with Him!

If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him …” 2 Timothy 2:11b-12 (ESV)

What Does It Mean to Believe in Jesus?

The Bible is full of the promise that if a person truly believes in Jesus Christ, he will be saved. But what does that actually mean as lived out in real life? How can a person be sure she believes to the point of salvation?

Let’s use a simple – yet profound – analogy. Assume for a few moments that you are drowning in the deep waters of the ocean. There is no one around you for as far as your desperate eyes can see. The undertow begins to pull you down, and you have never been able to swim. Your strength is waning, and your hope is dissipating. When all of the sudden, a large boat appears and a kind person aboard that craft throws to you a life preserver. You see that preserver and think about how beautiful that red and white round lifeline is to you at that moment.

Now you have a critical choice. You must decide whether or not you are going to place the weight of your body onto that life preserver. You must resolve to actually grasp the device. To simply look at the life preserver – and even adore it to some degree – will not save you. To mutter words through gasps in the ocean waves about how much you appreciate and trust that round lifeline will not deliver you. You can even shout to the people on the boat about the importance of the life preserver and how thankful you are for it. But neither will that save you. There is actually only one thing you can do in order to be rescued; you must put your body on that ring. Until the weight of yourself – not just your mind – but your whole self – rests on that device, you will still drown.

Can you see the parallel here? So many people want to talk about Jesus and say they love Him with their brains and their mouths, but do those same people place the weight of their whole lives upon Him? We can be near to Jesus and near to people who trust Him, we can adore many things about Him, and we can talk of His goodness; but one question remains … are we placing the actual stuff of our own lives onto Him?

When I place my life onto Jesus, it is a different life. I am no longer separated from Him and only talking about Him; I am now talking with Him. My life is now steered by His guidance, not my own. I go where He takes me, into whatever action He deems right. I cling to Him for my life, arms wrapped around Him. This is not “religion” anymore; this is love and life. The moments of my days and the substance of my life have a Lord, and His name is Jesus.

Will you get on the life preserver, or will you only admire it from a distance? The choice is one between life and death. And the actual difference represented here is the difference between mere mental assent and true, saving belief. Will you believe?

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)