What does Genesis 1:26, “Let them have dominion…upon the earth,” have to do with the gospel message? It is the end of the gospel!
Have you ever noticed in Mark 1:15 that Jesus said, “Repent and believe the gospel”? Even after you turn from sin, there is still something of the gospel to believe; there is something to expect of the gospel beyond forgiveness and cleansing of sins.
As we pointed out previously in this series, traditional church teaching has largely limited the “gospel” to the forgiveness of sin, and going to heaven. We have to realize, however, that God had a plan for man before he fell into sin, and that the gospel ultimately addresses the restoration of that plan. God would redeem fallen man, but to what end, to sit around with no purpose? No! God moved on behalf of fallen man because He loved man, but also because He had a purpose for man. God’s original plan for man is found in Genesis 1:26-28. It is here that the Lord declared His sovereign purpose for man: “Let them have dominion…upon the earth.”
It is here in Genesis that we clearly see God’s intentions for man to rule the earth under Him. God never intended to rule creation apart from man. This fact explains why the world is in the mess that it is, and how Satan became the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), after man fell. If God were ruling the world, He would do a better job, but the one through whom He would rule –man– is broken.
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion…upon the earth.
In addition to understanding that God had a plan for man before he fell, it is also important to know that Satan only interrupted God’s plan, he didn’t change it. Satan didn’t change God one bit. The fall didn’t change God’s plan for the earth. Whether you realize it or not, God is headed in the direction of Genesis 1:26-28! If we are not careful, we can hold to the idea that after man fell to the serpent, God set out to save the few He could, and plans to just get them safely to heaven. Never mind His mighty plan for man on the earth; it’s enough to just rescue man from sin. This thinking is below par for God and His gospel message! When Satan stripped man of his God-given authority through disobedience, God immediately set a plan into motion to redeem him, and restore him to his intended purpose of reigning.We need to know that this purpose is the mission of Jesus.
The Purpose of Jesus
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
This is the first Messianic prophecy in Scripture predicting the coming Christ. It is important to keep in mind the context of God announcing Christ’s coming –the fall of man from his dominsion. If we don’t connect the dots between Genesis 1:26 and John 3:16, it is easy to neglect the true meaning of the gospel. The “good news” of the New Testament is that the promised Redeemer of Genesis 3:14-15, the Lord Jesus Christ, has arrived to destroy sin’s hold over man. By doing so, Jesus not only rescues man out of the clutches of Satan, but He also makes possible the restoration of God’s plan for man on the earth. You see, God lost something too at the fall of man. He lost His intended purposes for the earth. For us to get “saved,” and get comfortable with the idea that we are forgiven, and have heaven to look forward to, is a little selfish on our part.
“We have to realize that God had a plan for man before he fell into sin, and that the gospel ultimately addresses the restoration of that plan.”
Let us remind ourselves that God intends to fix this planet. The Bible predicts that God will make a “new heaven and a new earth” (Rev 21:1). God’s purposes will put us on the new earth to reign with Him (Rev 5:10). This is more than the supposed Millennial Reign of Christ. We will reign with Him throughout eternity on the earth (Rev 22:5). It may shock some to learn that we will not live forever in heaven. John did see the holy city with the streets of gold in heaven. But did you ever notice that he saw it coming down out of heaven (Rev 21:2)? The city will be connected with the new earth. We will, as God originally intended, reign with Him upon the earth. This is why I say that God is headed in the direction of Genesis 1:26-28. Satan, and the fall, didn’t change God’s plan; they only interrupted it. I think that as believers, we should get a head start on things and learn to reign with God right now as Paul said we should (Rom 5:17).
In John 15:16 Jesus told His disciples that He ordained them to go forth in His mighty name, bear fruit, and glorify the Father in the midst of a darkened world system. He expects us to do the same. Though God’s ultimate plan for us to reign with Him will not be fully realized this side of eternity, we are to presently walk in a foretaste of dominion, and glorify God with our lives. This is reminiscent of God’s plan for man in the beginning, and is the heart of the gospel message!
Now we can better understand why Jesus emphasized the kingdom of God in His preaching. The word “kingdom” means, to reign. God originally put man in charge of His reign (kingdom) on the earth. When man listened to Satan, and got into disobedience with God, he was stripped of his authority. At that point man didn’t rule anything; he became ruled by demonic forces. Through Christ, however, man can be redeemed back to God and can once again walk in God’s delegated authority. This is the connection between the kingdom of God and the “gospel.” This explains why the gospel is called, “the gospel of the kingdom” (Matthew 4:23; 9:35; 24:14, etc.). The true gospel message not only addresses the answer to man’s sin problem, but additionally, the restoration of God’s plan for man on the earth. It is a kingdom message.
Be sure that you are not just getting by with God, content with the things of the world, and waiting to go to heaven. Heaven is not God’s purpose for you. Intimate relationship with Him, and glorifying Him on the earth, is His purpose for you. Ask Him to show you how He intends for you to serve Him here and now. Ask for the power of the Holy Spirit in your life to reign in this present evil world. If Satan puts discouragement in your path, rebuke him in Jesus’ name. Contend for God’s purposes in your life!
This Article is written by:
Randall D. Waibel,
Founder of ExpectGod.com,
A Ministry resource site designed to
encourage the believer’s faith toward God.