When God creates Adam, he says man and woman are made in His image. They are children of God and sub-creators. They are commanded to have dominion and multiply.
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 the earth.” Gen 1:28
Adam’s first task is naming the animals and tending the Garden. Adam and Eve later start a family and begin filling the earth. This command from God is called the creation mandate.
As a Neo-Calvinist, this text is crucial in understanding our responsibility in our current fallen world to engage in culture making and also in viewing God's work in non-Christians as they create. This wasn’t a one time command. It didn’t stop when Adam and Eve sinned. It’s something that we should still be doing—with one caveat.
The difference between now and then is Jesus. He arrived incarnate and dwelt among us. He shook everything up with His life, death, resurrection, ascension, and enthronement. He inaugurated the new creation. In the midst of doing this, he gives Christians the gospel mandate.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matt. 28:18-20
First, he establishes his credentials, “All authority is mine” (cf. Ps. 2). He can say this because God has justified his claim as Messiah by raising Him from the dead. He has been revealed as the fulfillment of Israel’s story. Contrasted with have dominion and multiply (physically), he also commands us to make disciples and multiply by baptizing and teaching. We multiply in all the earth through the Spirit’s life giving word proclaimed in the gospel.
The gospel mandate then intensifies the culture mandate by a trillion fold. At its center is Jesus. At its center His kingdom. At its center, He sits at the right hand of the Father—flesh and blood ruling on high. He’s now putting all things under His feet and he will finish the job upon His second return. Brothers and sisters, go out boldly on mission winning hearts, having dominion over the kingdom of darkness, and baptizing all nations for God’s glory in the name of Jesus through the power of the Spirit. For those standing in His way, warn them to kiss the Son before the end arrives.
Mathew B. Sims is the author of A Household Gospel: Fulfilling the Great Commission in Our Homes and a contributor in Make, Mature, Multiply (GCD Books). He completed over forty hours of seminary work at Geneva Reformed Seminary. He also works as the managing editor at Gospel-Centered Discipleship and the assistant editor at CBMW Men’s Channel. He regularly writes for a variety of publications. Mathew offers freelance editing and book formatting.