Devotion #5 in Cultured for Reigning
When God created man, He was constrained by objective. This was not an experiment or mere novelty. The revelation of that purpose continues to intrigue the minds of believers. "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them" (Gen 1:26-27).
"And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth." -- Gen 1:28 "Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet" -- Psa 8:6 If these affirmations are true, man was not made to serve. It is true that this is the most notable activity in the present world. Whoever is greatest, is to be the "servant of all" (Mark 9:35; 10:44). Our "fallenness" requires that we take the lowest seat in the temporal realm. But it will not be so in the eternal one. Man was made to have dominion, and have it he shall. Between his loss of dominion and the regaining of it lies the new creation: the experience of the new birth and fellowship with God's Son. The purpose of the salvation that is in Christ Jesus is not to merely deal with the past, but to prepare for the future. However notable our activities here, they are only a prelude to what is to come. No matter how far we advance in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ here, we have, at best, only stood in the vestibule of both truth and experience. What we see now of our blessed Lord is introductory. Our present exploits, no matter how impressive, are only weightless motes in the eternal balances.
When the heavens and earth have passed away, we will lose nothing! When our apparent achievements have paled into insignificance in the light of the glory of God, we will begin to shine as the stars of heaven (Matt. 13:43). We have not been created in Jesus to be the tail, but rather, the head Deut 28:13,44). Our destiny is a glorious one The "world to come" iis the focus of divine intention, and it is the center of our attention. The patriarchs of old received commendation from God for seeking another country and a continuing city (Heb. 11:16; 13:14). They did not appear to be dominant here, but they will be obvious rulers there. It is for them that God has prepared a city (Heb. 11:16b). While pygmy theologians shine their lights upon this world, together with its difficulties and achievements, great men of God focus on the world to come.
The clear declaration
"For He did not subject to angels the world to come, concerning which we are speaking. But one has testified somewhere, saying, "What is man, that Thou rememberest him? Or the son of man that Thou art concerned about him? Thou hast made him for a little while lower than the angels; Thou hast crowned him with glory and honor, and hast appointed him over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet" (Heb. 2:5-8). Observe that the subject under consideration is "the world to come." That is what engages the attention of real men and women of God. The reason for this emphasis is the revealed purpose of God. Upon beholding the wonders of the natural creation, David marveled that God's attention and love had been placed upon man. He seemed so insignificant next to the large and impressive universe. The point of this text, however, is not the perspective of David, but the intention of God. David, the man after God's own heart, knew that God's attention was upon man, not the cosmos. The ecologists, however astute their observations may appear, are wrong. Man is the focus, not "mother earth." The pollution of humanity is the travesty of history, not the pollution of the natural environment.
Man finds his true meaning in the context of "the world to come." There is, after all, a kingdom that "cannot be shaken." That is what we have "received" in Christ (Heb. 12:28), and that is where our attention is to be. True religion is essentially "other-worldly." However, the "world to come" is not intended to be an object for mere investigation. It is to be the stewardship of the redeemed. It is reserved for them, and them alone. Angels will not govern the new heavens and the new earth. That responsibility is for the saved of the Lord! They will be the co-regents of that world, ruling it with Jesus.
The purpose of salvation is to ready us for that reign. This is the reason for remission. It is also the reason for spiritual power and insight. We are being "unplugged" from this world, in order that we might assume the governorship of the next. Remove this perspective, and the faith-life loses its meaning. In the words of Scripture, "If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied" (1 Cor. 15:19, NASV).
The remarkable absence of this emphasis in contemporary churches is cause for alarm. Men declared to be "great preachers" are rarely known for proclaiming the "world to come." The appointment of man over this world is hardly known by professed believers. This condition is not only tragic, it is a sin against the Lord and His people!
-- TOMORROW: THE UNQUESTIONABLE PROMISE --