Rejoicing in the Responsibility of Salvation
"I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
My soul shall be joyful in my God;
For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth beings forth its bud,
As the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth,
So the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations" — (Isa. 61:10,11 NKJ).
We, the elect, the true Israel greatly rejoice in our Lord. As the bridegroom and bride are adorned in their richest garments, eager for their new beginning, so we are clothed in Christ's precious garments of salvation. Our filthy garments have been taken away (Zech. 3:4). Our iniquities are forgiven, our sins are covered (Rom. 4:7). We are a new creation. Old things are passing away. Everything is becoming new (2 Cor. 5:17).
We are covered with Christ's righteousness. This righteousness is not ours by nature, but is imputed, credited to us. "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him" (2 Cor. 5:21 KJV). We are robed in His righteousness, equipped for the responsibility of faith and obedience, ready to exercise dominion over all creation (Gen. 1:26-28) and disciple the nations (Matt. 28:19, 20).
The need for dominion and authority is ours instinctively. We were born with it. We women understand dominion, to a large extent, with our instinct for accumulating and "nesting." As young girls we made play houses. We were particular, eager to command and manage. We claimed areas that were ours and beautified them with delight. Dens and forts were the interest and pastime of little boys. They were exclusive places, with posted rules, where grandiose intentions swelled and giants were overcome.
We women exercise our God-given abilities, taking charge of the place we call home. We joyfully tend and keep, arrange, pamper, enhance and protect the territory God has given us. In the office we stake out our territory and adorn it with precious things, signifying to others that this is our domain. Men exhibit their dominion abilities in controlling, managing, delegating, and ruling over their domain. Sometimes entire rooms in the home are exclusive sports and wildlife areas that scream "this is my place." Where we live and minister, there we instinctively take dominion. We must not use our dominion instincts to further our selfish ends or appoint ourselves as gods over our domain.
We are accountable to God to be good stewards of our domain for His glory. "Know well the condition of your flocks, and pay attend to your herds;" (Prov. 27:23 NAS). "She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness" (Prov. 31:27 KJV). Being fruitful and multiplying, replenishing the earth, and subduing it is a full time job. We have no time to be idle or to live with an individualistic attitude, as if we were not responsible to anyone other than ourselves. "As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God" (1 Peter 4:10 NKJ). "And, having been set free from sin, you have become the servants of righteousness - of conformity to the divine will in thought, purpose and action" (Rom. 6:18). Every day should be lived joyously in consideration of God's purpose for us. Unlike the rebellious attitude of Cain, we are our brother's keeper. We are to look out for the interests of others (Phil. 2:4); please our neighbor for his good (Rom.14:2); give preference to one another (Rom. 12:10); and love our neighbor as ourselves (Lev. 19:18), to name but a few of our responsibilities.
Taking dominion is more than personalizing our own domain. It is the larger domain as well, the whole earth. "Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth '" (Gen 1:26 NAS) Nothing was left out of man's dominion territory. "Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him" (Heb. 2:8 KJV). "Thou dost make him to rule over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet,"(Ps. 8:6 NAS). After the flood, God reiterated to Noah the commands from Genesis to be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth (Gen. 9:1).
God condescended to enter into a covenant relationship with His creatures. Through this covenant we are clothed with garments of salvation. While we were dead in trespasses and sins, God called us to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ. He enabled us to hear the gospel. We were illumined in our understanding and our hearts and wills were transformed by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. We did not set our wills to love and obey God, indeed we could not, because we possessed no ability to do so. Were we free to choose salvation? Yes, but we had no ability to choose salvation. Without Christ's regenerative work in us we could only choose evil. By His grace He enabled us to respond to the gospel. Our conversion took place when we exercised the gifts of repentance and faith, turning from sin to Christ. Salvation is ours only by grace. It is not entitlement. The Christian life is a life of hope. It is a sure hope. We are not ashamed to place our hope in Christ because He will not disappoint us. What He has said in His Word is true. It is that to which we fasten our dependence.
"The purpose of regeneration is to re-establish man in his creation mandate, to exercise dominion and to subdue the earth. The purpose of the law is to give man the God-appointed way to dominion. The purpose of the call to obedience is to exercise dominion."1
Salvation encompasses all of life. In fact, it encompasses all of creation. As God has reconciled us to Himself personally, so He will reconcile all creation back to Himself. This is our Father's world and no amount of evil, nor power of Satan, can deter the Creator from the success of His salvation, in all things, in all the earth, here in history, here in time. Before Christ ascended into heaven, He gave us an admonition to go into all the world and preach the gospel — Christianizing the nations. He said He would be with us, even to the end of the age. This was not an "I'll be thinking about you" gesture. It was His purpose for us, His disciples. It was and is His will. It was also an empowering to carry out His will. Will Christ's foreordained will come to pass? Certainly, all His counsels will, and do, stand. He said "I am with you always, even to the end of the age " (Matt: 28:20). We are empowered to disciple the nations until the very end.
God will cause His righteous justice to prevail, in history, in time, before all the nations (Isa. 61:11). "He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth" (Ps. 72:8 KJV). "…for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" (Isa. 11:9 KJV).
"What Mary sang of God's working of mercy and power through the dawning of the Messianic times has in every respect become historically true. From the beginning Christ has acted in a revolutionary manner on the life and history of mankind. For without Him individual and social life is based on principles which are totally opposed to the right foundations for true life. As far as His influence has extended, and is still extending, a reversal in that connection is brought about for the redemption of man and society."2
God is reconciling all things back unto Himself, back to their original intent. It is God who brings about this restorative work (Acts 3:21; Matt. 19:28; Rom. 8:19-31). We rejoice in His ministering salt and light through us, furthering His Kingdom.
"Salvation is not the act of man, nor of the church, nor the state. It is the act of God in Christ. It is then manifested in its implications in the Christian community, in church, family, state, school, vocation and society in its every aspect. Life in the community of grace is an aspect of the redeemed life."3
"It is a salvation that finds its origin in God and comes from Him. He dispenses this salvation, for it is a salvation from all those things that bring God's wrath upon men. It is far more than a mere delivery from the captivity in Babylon; it is a spiritual salvation, characterized also as good and peace."4
If we are unacquainted with God's instructions to take dominion and Christianize the nations, we may shake our heads in disbelief. We may accept modern Christianity's salvation limitation to only be about going to heaven. Perhaps we think the Great Commission is just for those particular disciples, with whom Christ spoke face to face, or at best missionaries on a "foreign field." If so, disciplining the nations may sound like an idealistic situation without any promise of real success.
While we Christians were waiting to escape, by means of the rapture, the ungodly world was making its own plans. Non-Christians have moved right into areas we should never have relinquished. Instead of our overwhelmingly disciplining the nations for Christ, we, and especially our children, are being overwhelmingly discipled. One of the ways we are trained is through our voluntary participation in ungodly media practices, television, movies, etc. To a great extent, we have embraced a relentless, escalating agenda of evil that touches every part of our lives. Like the plagues upon Egypt, corruption looms, even in our innermost sanctuaries. When will we learn? Ask any well-trained child if it is first better to happily obey God, and enjoy covenant blessings or disobey and later suffer the consequences of covenant curses?
One of the latest government intrusions is "diversity training." We are enlisted to exhibit toleration and assistance for all faiths and lifestyles. This commission carries a judgment that is without mercy. While we are strongly urged to participate today, tomorrow may be another story. Noncompliance with the world's commission may be met with enforcement of laws governing "hate crimes."
In spite of the dominion of evil in this world, our God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations, as the warmth of springtime yields the beauty of the earth. "The earth itself cannot cause these to sprout forth, nor can man, but only the Lord, who is omnipotent."…When men have received the heavenly righteousness, they break forth into praise…. And this will be before all the nations, for in the Gospel the righteousness of God is revealed, and the believing heart praises the God who has accomplished redemption. Isaiah speaks (Isa. 61:10, 11) from the prophetic standpoint, for the blessings depicted have not yet actually occurred."5 What blessings await us. What glorious hope.
We are bought with a price and are to be steadfast, competent, accountable servants of God. Our salvation does not divorce us from our Savior that we may disregard His word and live according to our own "faith" resources. Christianity is not a religion of escapism, or a "God knows I mean well" casualness. We are not exempt from the responsibility of our salvation. We are saved to live as we ought, being vessels for His honor, taking dominion in every area of life, discipling the nations.
May God help us to be responsible Christians. May we rejoice in His merciful salvation, as He reconciles all things back unto Himself, day-in and day-out, here in history, here in time. This is cause for rejoicing!
1. R. J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law, 450.
2. Norval Geldenhuys, Commentary on the Gospel of LUKE, 87.
3. R. J. Rushdoony, Law and Society, vol. 2 of the Institutes of Biblical Law, 75.
4. E.J. Young, The Book of Isaiah, vol.3, 330.
5. Ibid, 466.
Topics: Church, The, Theology