FEED MY SHEEP Chapter 3, Man's Task
Written by: Camping, Harold Posted on: 05/07/2003
Category: Bible Studies
We shall now continue in our study to answer some of the questions
raised and left unanswered in the previous chapter. As we discover solutions
to these questions we shall also get closer to the end of our search for the
Biblical answer to the question of man's task in the world today.
God's Victory Timetable
The first question we shall try to answer is: If Christ had destroyed
Satan and his works by His perfect obedience, why does Satan still continue
to bind the hearts of men throughout the New Testament period? Why is death
and decay still as prevalent as ever? Where is the evidence of the victory
on the cross?
The fact is, of course, that while Christ's work as Redeemer, as the last
Adam, has been completed, the time for the full impact of the victory upon
this sinful world and upon Satan has not as yet arrived. That God has a
timetable in dealing with Satan is suggested in the Old Testament. In
Genesis 3:14 we read:
The Lord God said to the serpent, "Because you have done
this, cursed are you above all cattle, and above all wild
animals! Upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life."
But while the physical snake moves around on its belly, Satan, the real
object of this curse, took over this world as its prince. He actually
appeared to lose almost none of the prerogatives he had had before the
fall. The book of Job gives startling evidence of his continued freedom to
be in heaven. Thus, while the curse was certain and sure, the final effects
of it were not to appear until some future date.
Similarly, while Christ was completely victorious over Satan, the final
evidence of this victory is for the future. This is intimated in I
Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the
Father after destroying every rule and every authority and
power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies
under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
"For God has put all things in subjection under his feet."
But when he says, "All things are put in subjection under
him," it is plain that he is excepted who put all things under
It is even more clearly stated in Hebrews 10:12,13:
But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice
for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, then to wait
until his enemies should be made a stool for his feet.
And in Hebrews 2:5-9 we see that the subjection is not be be complete in
For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come,
of which we are speaking. It has been testified somewhere,
"What is man that thou are mindful of him? or the son of man,
that thou carest for him? Thou didst make him for a little
while lower than the angels, thou hast crowned him with glory
and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet."
Now in putting everything in subjection to man, he left
nothing outside his control. As it is, we do not yet see
everything in subjection to him. But we see Jesus, who for a
little while was made lower than the angels, crowned with
glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by
the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
These verses are quoted from Psalm 8:4-8. While the Hebrew word radah
is never used outside of Genesis 1 to describe man's rule over the
creatures, in Psalm 8:4-8 the Bible does use the Hebrew word mashal to
describe such a rule. There God declares, "Thou madest him to have dominion
(mashal) over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his
feet, all sheep and oxen," etc.
While this appears to be a statment relating to the condition of man
today, a commentary found in the Bible on these verses indicates
otherwise. That commentary is Hebrews 2:5-9, where these verses are
qouted to show that it is in the world to come that this condition will
apply. The whole world is brought into subjection to Christ (Ephesians
1:22) because of Christ's work on the cross. But "we see not yet all
things under Him" (Hebrews 2:8). This will be in the world to come.
Moreover, the man that is in view in Psalm 8 is not mankind. It is not
the believers either. Hebrews 2 clearly shows that the man God is speaking of
in Psalm 8 is Jesus Himself, who was made a little lower than the angels. By
this magnificent victory on the cross He brought everything into subjection
. This subjection includes Christ's victory over Satan.
It is in the world to come, the new heaven and new earth, that the full
destruction of Satan will be realized. At judgment day Satan and all who
are his followers, both demons and men, will be cast into the lake of fire.
Then, too, death itself together with the place of the dead, Hades, will
also be cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14). In other words, at
judgment day the full consequence of Christ,s victory on the cross will be
realized. At that time the full impact of the curse of Genesis 3:14 will
Note the language of Isaiah 65 which indicates the conditions that will
exist in the new heaven and new earth (Isaiah 65:17). In verse 25 we read:
The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat
straw like the ox; and dust shall be the serpent's food. They
shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, says the
Note that the statement speaks of conditions similar to those that
existed in the garden of Eden. There is peace. The animals are again
herbivorous. Note the serpent. The curse of Genesis 3:14 has been
brought to full fruition. His humiliation is complete. In Hell he is
the lowest of the creatures. One is reminded of the language of Isaiah 14
which speaks of the end of the king of Babylon. I believe there is
adequate Biblical evidence to show that the king of Babylon is presented
here as a type of Satan. Note:
But you are brought down to Sheol, to the depths of the Pit.
Those who see you will stare at you, and ponder over you; is
this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms,
who made the world like a desert and overthrew its cities, who
did not let his prisoners go home? All the kings of the
nations lie in glory, each in his own tomb, but you are cast
out, away from your sepulchre, like a loathed untimely birth,
clothed with the slain, those pierced by the sword, who go
down to the stones of the Pit, like a dead body trodden under
foot. You will not be joined with them in burial, because you
have destroyed your land, you have slain your people. May the
descendants of evildoers nevermore be named. (Isaiah
The passages quoted in Isaiah 65 and Isaiah 14 are obviously word
pictures of conditions that will exist beyond judgment day. How much we
can understand them literally is not the burden of this discussion. The
picture of the final punishment of Satan is easily seen.
Why Does God Delay?
Why, we might ask, did God delay carrying out his curse on Satan? Why
has He delayed for almost 2000 years throwing Satan into the lake of
fire? Some light is shed on this question in Ephesians 3:8-11:
To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this
grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable
riches of Christ, and to make all men see what is the plan of
the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things;
that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now
be made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly
places. This was according to the eternal purpose which he
has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The delay of God, in bringing into effect the final destruction
of Satan and his works, is necessary to permit the development of the
church. God has in view a vast throng of people who were chosen from
eternity to be his sons. Until all of them have been born of Christ, the
church will not have come to full fruition.
It is through this church that Christ's wisdom is being made known to
angels and demons, to all of the inhabitants of heavenly places.
The Cross and Satan
However, while Satan's destruction is destined for judgment day, the
impact of Christ's victory on the cross was experienced by Satan at the time
of the cross.
Because Christ was entirely victorious over Satan by his death and
resurrection He was enabled to do with Satan as He willed. His mastery
over Satan is emphasized by the statement that He has the keys of Death
and Hades. In other words, Christ is the complete master of Satan as
evidenced by His mastery over the works (Death and Hades) of Satan.
I died, and behold I am alive for evermore, and I have the
keys of Death and Hades (Rev. 1:18).
He has become the supreme master of the earth, even though Satan is
permitted to continue for the time being as prince of the earth.
And from Jesus Christ the faithful witness the first-born of
the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth (Rev. 1:5).
Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the ruler of this
world be cast out; and I, when I am lifted up from the earth,
will draw all men to myself (John 12:31,32).
He has removed the authority and power of Satan over this creation,
which Satan had obtained by virtue of his victory over Adam. During the
Old Testament this authority and power of Satan was not total. It was
limited by God because God has never relinquished His care, love and
concern for this universe he created. God continued to reign as Creator.
Moreover, it was limited because the Lordship as Jesus Christ as Redeemer
King was anticipated. Thus, while Satan is called by God the prince of
this world, and the ravages of Satan's ruling are seen on every hand, we
read in Psalm 24:1:
The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world
and those who dwell therein.
For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a
thousand hills. I know all the birds of the air, and all that
moves in the field is mine (Ps. 50:10,11).
This same theme is emphasized in the New Testament where we read in I
For the earth is the Lord's, and everything in it.
At the cross, however, the limitations placed upon Satan became more
pronounced. We read in Colossians 2:14,15:
Having canceled the bond which stood against us with its legal
demands; this he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He
disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public
example of them, triumphing over them in him.
The victory over Satan which was anticipated in the Old Testament
became a reality at the cross. Because of this reality Satan began to
experience increasing difficulty in maintaining his dominion over man.
He was cast out of heaven so that he can no longer accuse believers
before God as he had done with Job.
Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting
against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but
they were defeated and there was no longer any place for them
in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient
serpent who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the
whole world--he was thrown down to the earth and his angels
were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in
heaven, saying, "Now the salvation and the power of the
kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come,
for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who
accuses them day and night before our God. And they have
conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of
their testimony for they loved not their lives even unto death
And he said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightening from
heaven" (Luke 10:18).
Christ bound Satan so that he can no longer deceive the nations.
By this binding the Holy Spirit is enabled to plunder the house of Satan.
In other words, men from every nation who are under bondage to Satan now can
be made free from the shackles of Satan. Matthew 12:18,29 speaks of this
But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then
the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can one enter a
strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first
binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house.
Much New Testament language is employed to indicate the freedom
that has come to men because of Christ's victory over Satan. A few verses
will serve to illustrate this:
Formerly, when you did not know God, you were in bondage to
beings that by nature are no gods (Gal. 4:8).
And you he made alive, when you were dead through the
trepasses and sins in which you once walked, following the
course of this world, following the prince of the power of the
air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of
disobedience (Eph. 2:1,2).
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim
release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed (Luke 4:18).
The startling evidence that something happened to Satan at the cross can
be seen at Pentecost. For more than three years Jesus, the master teacher,
had been teaching and showing the power of God. For example, His home
environment of Nazareth and Capernaum is cited for its unbelief. The converts
were few and far between. While crowds followed him, the conversions that
are recorded are in the main those of isolated individuals.
But then came the cross. And 50 days later Petecost. Peter preaches
one sermon and a whole multitude are saved from every nation. Just think
of it, 3000 were saved that one afternoon. Surely something had happened
to Satan's power over man.
And as we look at this dramatic proof of the fact that Satan's house is
being plundered following the victory on the cross, we might ask the
question, "what then is the mandate, the responsibility of the
Christian in this present world?" Isn't he to subdue this world for the
glory of Christ? Isn't he to probe the scientific mysteries of the world to
His glory? Isn't he to master the animals and all living creatures so that
they are again loyal subjects to him as they were before the fall? Isn't he
to build cities and rule people's to God's praise?
In attempting to answer this question we might review what happened to
man in Eden.
When we first look at man in the Bible we see that he as well as the
world is completely pleasing to God. After the six days of creation "God saw
everything he had made, and behold, it was very good." It was without the
ravages of sin and the decay and death that followed when sin entered the
world. In every aspect of creation there was loyalty, obedience and
felicity to God.
Man who was created in the image of God was given dominion over this
perfect and wonderful creation as God's vice-gerund. He was to rule over
it, to care for it and maintain it in its pristine state of goodness.
He was to multiply and fill this earth with his progeny. He was to be the
head of a great people that would serve and glorify their creator in perfect
obedience to Him. They were to live in a perfectly hamonious relationship
to God the Lord of creation. They would walk as a holy race in personal
fellowship to God. The lesser creatures, the animals, the fish, the birds
together with the ground itself were to exist in a harmonious relationship
to their lord and master, man. And as man ruled over them they too,
would glorify God in their loyalty and service to man. All creation,
both animate and inanimate, praised God as Lord and Creator.
Sinless Man Falls
But one slight condition was imposed upon our first parents Adam and
Eve. They, as the head of mankind, must claim it by their perfect
obedience to God. To give them opportunity to claim their right to be king
of this creation God set up the testing program. He put a tree in the garden
called the tree of good and evil and told Adam and Eve they were not to eat
of it. This tree, together with this command, provided the arena where Adam
would claim his lordship as comprehended in the command to subdue the
The angel Lucifer, Satan, was the enemy who also wanted to assert his
lordship over the earth. We saw that Adam failed the test. Satan became
prince of the earth and man became his slave. The creation was cursed as was
What was man's new relationship to the world? What was his new
relationship to God after the fall? By virture of his obedience to
Satan he had repudiated his own lordship over creation. He, in fact,
became a slave of Satan. Creation itself was subjected to the bondage of
decay in parallel relationship to man's enslavement.
Man, The Slave Of Satan
Because man had become a slave of Satan he no longer wanted to please
God. Instead he transferred his affection, his loyalty, his allegiance to
Satan. The evidence of this transfer was in his lack of desire to please
God and his all consuming desire to please himself. He, himself, was now
the only King who must be served.
He was under God's condemnation because God's perfect justice required
punishment as a penalty for such a rebellion. He lost his fellowship and
his communication with God. His sin-darkened mind and being provided the
avenue through which Satan could assert his mastery over man.
Because he had repudiated his lordship over creation, that lordship
was actually taken from him. Never again was he told to have dominion over
the creatures as Adam was given dominion before the fall (Gen. 1:26 and 28).
Rather the earth and the creatures rebelled against man as man had rebelled
against God. The earth instead of obediently serving man would bring
forth thorns and thistles. Earthquakes, tornadoes, the raging seas, forest
fires, drought, famine, floods, epidemics, insect infestations, wild
animals, and poisonous reptiles are surely all manifestations of a rebellious
creation over which man no longer had dominion.
The cosmos would continue to praise God as creator (Ps. 19). Even the
wrath of man would praise God (Ps. 76:10). God was still Lord of His
creation. But man's position as His vice-gerund had been removed because
man had surrendered to Satan. The perfect order established at creation
had been destroyed. Instead of being King, man had become a slave.
Because man (Adam and Eve) was created in the image of God, that is,
with the ability to know God and serve him with perfect obedience, he could
blame no one else for his sin. He alone was responsible for his fallen
state. And since Adam was the head of the human race all mankind who were
his progeny stand in the same relationship to God as Adam. His kind, the
human race, also are enslaved to Satan and in that sense are likewise totally
The evidence of man's depravity can be seen in his lack of selfless
love for his fellow man as well as in his perversions relating to himself.
Perhaps, the depths of his depravity can be seen in the manner he worships.
He was created to worship God as his Lord and creator. In turn he was to
bear the responsibility as lord over the creation and its creatures as
well as the inanimate part of creation. The sun, the river, the crocodile,
science, material possessions, a fellow man, or the human body are typical
objects of depraved man's worship.
But man's enslavement to Satan and the curse upon creation is not
absolute. If it were, man would destroy himself in the shortest
possible time. Satan is the very essence of death. God had a plan for his
creation which required a prescribed period of time to carry out. Therefore,
certain restraints were placed on Satan, and on mankind his slaves, so
that God's plan could be carried out.
God's plan for this creation was established by God because God loved
this creation, and at no time did he relinquish this love even for a
The love of God manifests itself in the warm sunshine, the cool
streams and the beautiful sunset. It also manifested itself in the fact
that God put the fear and dread of man within the animals and delivered
them into his hand. Thus, man would not be destroyed by the lesser creature,
and they would provide food for man. It also manifested itself in the
fact that God did not remove the knowledge of God (Rom. 1:19), or of guilt
of his sin from man's being. God allowed man to have a conscience (Rom.
2:15). He left the laws of God's kingdom imprinted upon his heart (Rom.
2:15). This gave him a sense of right and wrong together with a
realization that only by attempting to do right could he maintain any
decent level of existence.(1) The knowledge of an eventual judgment day
that God left within man also served to restrain him from total rebellion.
One evidence of this restraint upon man is revealed by the measure of kindness
and mercy shown by natural man to his fellow man (Matt. 7:11).
God also restrained Satan in his mastery of man. Satan, therefore,
cannot lead his slaves, man, into anymore extensive disregard of God's laws
than God will permit.
The knowledge of God and his laws which God has left within man,
together with the blessings of nature, of health, of a sense of well being,
etc. that God bestows upon all mankind, further condemns man and emphasizes
his personal responsibility before God to live in obedience to God. As
he continues to refuse to acknowledge or praise God in the face of this
knowledge and these blessings, he further condemns himself.
As part of God's plan for man to perpetuate himself, God established
government amongst men. Man was given the responsibility of
ruling over his fellow man. This authority manifested itself as parental
authority over child, master over servant or slave, and government over its
peoples. This authority of man over man is not related in any sense to the
Edenic command to Adam to subdue the earth, or to have dominion over
its creatures. These latter responsibilities and prerogatives ceased with
man's surrender to Satan. Rather this phenomena of government may be
found in every level of God's creation. It can be seen, for example, in
the angelic world, (archangels versus angels); amongst humans as we have
seen; amongst animals (the bull elk ruling over the herd) (the bull sea lion
ruling over the sea lions) (the bird pushing the fledgling from the nest).
This rule of man over man enabled the working out of the blessing of God
upon man to multiply and fill the earth to be realized.
In line with his rule over his fellow man, he was also given the
mandate to make judgment in areas of good and evil and to punish the
wrongdoer (Gen. 9:6; Prov. 23:13; Rom. 13:4). This also extends to every
level of authority i.e. parent to child, master to servant, etc.
He is used of God to carry out God's plans in the world. Thus the
Babylonians were used to bring judgment upon the nation of Judah. Because
God is the ultimate Soverign, this use of man is even paralleled by God's
use of Satan and the evil spirits (cf I Kings 22:13) to carry out God's
He is used by God to care for this world, to cultivate it and develop it
for food. (Gen. 3:23--"the Lord sent him forth...to till the ground."
Again this work of man is unrelated to the pre-fall command to subdue
the earth or have dominion over its creatures. Rather the creatures were
delivered into his hand. He is to derive his shelter from the earth as
intimated by the animal skins provided by God to Adam and Eve (Ge. 3:21).
Natural man is endowed with the desire to discover. He is curious
about everything. This is probably a function of the blessing and mandate
to fill the earth, as well as the decision of God that every green food and
all flesh were given to him for food (Gen. 9:3). Because of these
privileges and relationships, man has constantly sought to explore and
discover. In this he is again paralleling the lesser creatures. They,
too, have natural curiosity, and seek to explore their natural habitat
especially discovering that which is edible. (Consider, for example a cat
prowling in a house.) Thus, in this endowment man is not relating at all to
the command to our first parents to subdue the earth or have dominion over
We, therefore, see clearly that natural man, the slave of Satan,
whose chief purpose in life is self service, has been given blessings and
mandates which he is to carry out even though he has become an enemy of God.
The commands to be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth, to receive
every green thing and animal for food and to till the ground, are
foundational within man. These commands and blessings, which were
specifically given to fallen man, are the basis for man's desire to know
more about this world in which he lives. We shall see later how natural man
began to excel in these endeavors.
But are all men, who have ever been born to live on this earth,
estranged from God? Certainly not as we shall see.
God's Man, The Believer
A small percentage of the human race who are completely unique must now
be considered. While all men are members of the human race as descendants
of Adam, not all remain in bondage to Satan. Rather in all generations
since the very beginning a remnant of people has been freed from
servitude to Satan. Let us look at these, who we will call God's man, (as
distinguished from `natural man' who continues as a slave of Satan), to
determine their relationship to God and to this creation.
We might note first of all that God's man is genealogical and
anthropoligically a member of the human race, even as is natural man. As
such, all of the blessings mandates and prerogatives given to natural man
are also given to God's man. As a part of the human race he rules over
his fellow man, (he is a parent, a master, a government official).
He enjoys all of the blessings of God that are common to all mankind
(sunshine, the beauties of nature, health, a sense of well being, the
privilege to procreate). He, too, cultivates and cares for the world to
derive his food and shelter from it. He too, is curious about this earth
with which he is so intimately related and, therefore, searches it out to
discover how it might more efficiently produce for him and his peers.
How then does he differ from natural man? If he is no longer a slave of
Satan, to whom is he related? The Bible tells us that he has become a son
of God. This has changed his whole motivation. Natural man performs
with his highest motivation to recognize and glorify self, as revealed
by self pride, self orientation, self serving. Some of his more humane
actions may be consciously or subconsciously a result of his inherent fear of
God and His judgments. Some of his actions may even be a result of God's
restraint upon him so that he does show some capacity for mercy and love
for his fellow man. But natural man's ultimate drive is one that only
recognizes himself as king, because in so doing he is unwittingly showing
that Satan is king.
With God's man has been given a new inner being, a new nature, a new
heart. He is born again. Whereas natural man's inner being is darkened by
his bondage to Satan so that he will not acknowledge God as Lord of
his life, God's man's spiritual eyes have been opened so that he sees
himself as a sinner hopelessly condemned by God's perfect justice. He accepts
in childlike trust the substitutionary atonement of Christ for his
sins (the condemnation of God for his sin was paid for by Christ as his
substitute). And God has come into his life in the person of the Holy
Spirit and motivates him to live to God's glory. He, therefore, wants
to please God in all that he does. He has become a part of a new race of
people headed up by the last Adam, Jesus Christ. His citizenship is with
Christ as his King. Satan no longer has any claims on him.
Since God's man has become reintroduced into the family of God, we
would expect that the commands to subdue the earth, to have dominion over
its creatures must somehow again relate to him. Shouldn't he now bring
this earth and its creatures into submission to God's glory? Shouldn't
he now have dominion in the earth as Adam was commanded?
The answers to these questions are in the negative. Let us consider
why this is the case.
Let us recall that Adam was made king (given dominion) of a perfect
creation. He had to claim his kingship by subduing the enemy who
threatened, Satan. Because he failed to subdue Satan, he lost his dominion
over the creatures. He was reduced to a slave of Satan.
Christ, the last Adam, was eminently successful in subduing this earth
by conquering Satan. He, therefore, has become Lord of this creation not
only by virtue of being the creator but also because He is the Redeemer.
Christ, therefore, is preeminent in every sense (Col. 1:18). We saw, however,
that the subjugation of Satan would not be finalized until judgment day
when the new heaven and earth are reality. By the same token Christ's
dominion over this creation will also be finalized at that same time. We
read very significantly that every knee shall bow and every tongue confess
that He is Lord (Phil. 2:10). But this will not occur until judgment day.
The dominion over the earth by the believer, who has become a citizen of
God's kingdom, cannot occur until Christ's dominion is seen. Christ said
very significantly; "My kingdom in not of this world." This is the same
world (cosmos) that God loved so much that He gave his only begotten son to
die for it (John 3:16). But this cosmos remains under the curse of sin
until judgment day, even though in principle it has been freed from the
effects of Satan's reign. Jesus declared that when the signs indicate Jesus'
return is imminent, "the kingdom of God is near" (Luke 21:31).(2) The realm
of the kingdom is not this cosmos. It is related only to the new heaven and
new earth where righteousness dwells.
But Jesus repeatedly used the phrase "kingdom of heaven" or "kingdom of
God" as of the kingdom is a present reality. John, the Baptist, stated it
was at hand (Matt. 3:2). It was at hand because the head of this kingdom,
the Lord Jesus Christ, was about to appear. It was also at hand because
Jesus was ready to make provision for the kingdom. He began to claim His
Lordship over this kingdom by his perfect obedience in the face of
Satan's temptations in the wilderness. He completed his claim of Lordship
over this kingdom by His victory on the cross.
He told the 70 who were sent out to declare, `The kingdom of God has
come near to you', to the people they visited (Luke 10:9). It was near these
people because the 70 missionaries were citizens of the kingdom. Their
presence near the people to whom they witnessed brought the kingdom near.
It was also near in the sense that they had only to believe to become citizens
of the kingdom.
For there is one place in this present world where it can be seen. It
is the same place where the victory of the cross can be seen. And this is as
it should be, for the victory of the cross was to usher in the kingdom of
God. It cannot be seen in the physical world. The earth and its
creatures exclusive of God's man remained unchanged because of the
cross. Objectively speaking, the rose is no more beautiful, peaches no more
tasty or music is no more harmonious after the cross than before the cross.
Creation continues to groan and travail awaiting the revealing of the sons
of glory, awaiting judgment day when the new heaven and earth will be ushered
The redemption evidence of Christ's victory on the cross can only be
found in one place--in God's man. Only in him does the first evidence of
the kingdom of God appear. Only in him has a transformation occurred. He
in his inner being, in his soul, has passed from darkness into light, has
been made free from Satan's dominion. That is the reason that wherever a
believer is, the kingdom of God has come near all others who meet him. That
is the reason Jesus said the kingdom is within you. John, the Baptist,
declared the kingdom was at hand because Christ was about to go to the cross
to defeat Satan, and to provide for Christ's Lordship over the Kingdom.
Christ himself is the head of this kingdom, and his appearance at the
Jordan River was the primary evidence of the kingdom at that time.
Christ gave other evidences of the immanence of the kingdom. He healed
the sick, opened the eyes of the blind, raised the dead, and cast out
demons. Do you recall that this is the evidence which he showed to John
the Baptist to prove the genuiness of His Messiahship (Matt. ll:5). This,
also, was the evidence that He gave to his disciples and the seventy who
were sent out. Those who were offered the Gospel could know it was the
true Gospel by these miraculous acts as the ravages of Satan's
dominion (sickness, death, blindness, demons) were removed from man. These
evidences of the victory of Christ on the cross could be shown because He
had obtained authority over Satan at the cross. We saw how this further
restraint of Satan, this binding of Satan, made it possible that his house
could more effectively be plundered of the souls of men. The miracles of
healing, casting out demons, etc. were but preliminary evidences of the
miracle of salvation that resulted because of Christ's victory.
Beginning with the temptation in the wilderness, when Jesus began
deliberately to follow the footsteps of the first Adam, Christ showed
himself as the genuine Lord of creation by His perfect obedience.
Throughout His ministry the evidences of His victory over Satan
multiplied. At the cross His work was completed, and Pentecost
revealed in final form on this side of Judgment day the reality of this
victory. Christ's second coming will reveal in a much greater degree the
extent and degree of Christ's victory over Satan.
In the Old Testament Christ's victory was anticipated. One leper was
healed (Naaman, the Syrian), one lad was raised from the dead, Hezekiah was
give 15 years of added life. And in the area of salvation a remnant of
Israel was saved, a few individuals became believers, one city repented
(Nineveh). The atonement of Christ was so certain and sure that its
redeeming effects reached backward all the way to Adam.
And then Christ himself came on the scene. The atonement was now to
happen momentarily. The shadow of the cross brought greater and greater
evidence of Christ's coming victory. The King himself was present.
Numerous persons (but mostly Jews) were being freed from the ravages of
sin. Many believed and followed Jesus.
And then the cross was occupied by Christ. Satan was conquered.
Now in the New Testament dispensation the impact of this victory reached
forth into every nation, every tongue, every people. And as believers
multiplied, the kingdom of heaven was brought and is being brought into
the eyesight and hearing of every people. At the cross the kingdom of God
became a reality. The believers, the invisible church, are the citizens
over whom Christ reigns. Satan's claim of Lordship over the cosmos has been
shattered, even though he is allowed to continue as prince until all those
who are to believe are saved.
Christ continues to reign over the cosmos as Creator even as He has
throughout all history. But after the cross Christ as Lord of the heavens
and earth is shown to be seated at the right hand of the Father. He has
thoroughly subdued Satan and reigns over him and over all creation as the
Redeemer. But only after He returns will the cosmos be shown to be in
subjection to him.
As king he continues to bring all his enemies into subjection (I Cor.
15:25). This cannot be a reference to Satan being brought into subjection
for he has already been overcome. But as the world continues since the
cross countless thousands of new slaves of Satan are created as people
multiply. Each is an enemy of Christ unless he is transferred into the
kingdom of God. As an enemy, a slave of Satan, he, too, is subject to
Christ's victory. He is under God's wrath.
Then comes the end when all that is under the curse of sin is judged and
removed from the earth. This includes Satan and his demons, unregenerate
man, the cosmos itself (it will be burned with fire, II Peter 3:10-12).
Christ will bring in the realm of the kingdom (the new heaven and earth) and
the reign of the king in its fullest sense. Death itself, the most dramatic
evidence of the work of Satan, will be abolished.
Does The Believer Exercise Judgment?
But the question still persists. If Christ is the head of this new
race of God's men, and if he has been victorious over Satan, shouldn't the
believer begin to exercise dominion over the creatures in some sense.
Doesn't he somehow have some responsibility to bring this creation
under the dominion of Christ. Again, the answer must be repeated in
the negative. Christ has done all this and the fruition of his efforts
must await His return. This in no sense is the born again believers task
The truth can be shown in another way. Noah was told that the animals
would be in fear and dread of him (Gen. 9:2). This is a result of his loss
of the prerogative to have dominion over them. This was an accommodation
by God to prevent the animals from turning on man and destroying him. Now
if redeemed man was again to have dominion over the creatures in any sense,
this would be a good place to show that he has dominion. The fact is,
however, that saved man relates to the animals in identical fashion to that of
the unsaved. The animals have identical fear and dread of both kinds of men.
Likewise, the Christian farmer cannot grow bigger tomatoes or finer
cattle than the unbeliever. He has just as much trouble with blight and
thistles and harmful insects as the non-Christian farmer. The carpenter who
is a Christian is not necessarily any finer craftsman than the natural man
who is a carpenter.
What then is the man of God's task in this world? Is it to do all the
things the unsaved man does--care for the earth, provide food, and
shelter, show mercy, govern his fellow man--with a higher motivation than
his unsaved friend? Yes, that could be expected. The Bible says that
whether we eat or drink or whatever we do we are to do it to the Glory of God.
But the Bible also says that the kingdom of God is not meat or drink but
righteousness and peace. In other words, when we do the things natural man
does--seek a living, find food and shelter, etc.--we are to do these
things to God's glory. But this is not the kingdom. There is something
else that is of far greater consequence. It is citizenship in the kingdom
of Christ. This cosmos is the environment in which the Christian is to
show the evidence of his heavenly citizenship. His efforts therefore, are to
be especially directed in those areas that relate to the Kingdom of God.
A very interesting phenomena is revealed in the Scriptures. Let us
look at the activities of the two lines in early Biblical history. Natural
man was going forth with all zeal to conquer this world--for himself. The
descendants of Cain--he, who was especially cursed by God--built the first
cities, became the first musicians, and the first ironworkers. They were the
mighty men, the men of renown. Surely, God's man should have been doing
likewise--only with a motivation to do it to God's glory. But what does
the Bible record? God's man, the descendants of Seth "walked with God
(Enoch)," looked for "relief from our work and from the toil of our hands
(Lamech)," and built an ark to escape God's judgment on the world. For
some reason the development of arts and crafts, of shelter for mankind, was
not very important to God's man.
Let us pursue this thought a bit further. The next Biblical report of
the two lines of men is that of the sons of Noah. Significantly, the
descendants of Ham, whose son Canaan was especially cursed, were the
great builders. It was Nimrod, the descendant of Ham, who founded the first
great civilization of the world on the plains of Shinar. It was a
descendant of Ham who founded the second great civilization of
antiquity. This was Egypt. But of the descendants of Shem, the brother who
was in the line of God's men, we read of no accomplishments.
That is, except for a brother of Abraham. God had narrowed the
Messianic line through Terah. Terah was the father of three sons, Abraham,
Nahor, and Haran. Haran died in Ur of the Chaldees. But Nahor built
a city (Gen. 24:10). What do we read of God's man, Abram? He was promised
the world (Rom. 4:13) but he dwelt in a tent as a stranger and a sojourner.
The only land he owned was the cave of Machpelah (Hebron), which he
purchased as a burial ploy for his wife, Sarah.
Surely, the Biblical record indicates that the believer's task is not only
completely different in motivation from natural man's, but also different in
kind. God's man is human and a resident of this world and, therefore, is
concerned about the same tasks confronting natural man. But he has a
far greater and more glorious task that takes precedent in his life. He has
become a follower of Christ. Christ is his King, and he wishes to follow
him in perfect obedience. Only in this way can he relate to the kingdom of
God of which he is a citizen.
But if he is a follower of Christ, his king, he must do what Christ
does. Let us see how he can do this. We shall thereby discover how
through the believer the kingdom of God is extended to all the peoples of the
What was the task of Christ? We have seen that Jesus' primary task was
especially twofold. He must defeat Satan by his perfect obedience and thus
claim Lordship over this creation. In this endeavor He was the last Adam
and He became the head of a race of people who are the believers.
Secondly, he must redeem this world from the ravages of 11,000 years of
sin. The most important aspect of this is the redemption of mankind.
The only way they could be redeemed was to provide a substitute
to bear the penalty for their sins in order that God's perfect justice could
be satisfied. This Jesus provided by going to the cross and suffering the
equivalent of an eternity in Hell, as God poured out His wrath upon Him for
man's sins. Because the weal or woe of the rest of creation is
parallel to that of mankind, the rest of the cosmos which was redeemed at
the cross will also be made free from the bondage of sin when Christ comes
again to finalize the salvation of mankind. This, of course, is the time
when God's men will receive their resurrected bodies. They will then live
eternally with Christ as their King in a new heaven and new earth from
which all that is sinful has been banished.
But the believer cannot follow Christ by becoming the last Adam. He
cannot atone for his sins or for the sins of the world. He cannot destroy
Satan for Satan's doom was already made certain by Christ at the cross. He
cannot become the last Adam for Christ is the last Adam. He and He only is
Lord of this creation.
The Believer's Task
But there is an area of Christ's work in which the Christian can and is,
in fact, mandated to follow Jesus. He is our example, our leader, our King,
and His wish is our command. We, therefore, as citizens of His Kingdom wich
to be entirely obedient to him. And there is a glorious area of Christ's
ministry where we can follow and are indeed mandated to follow.
Christ preached the Gospel. During his ministry He declared to the
multitudes that the Kingdom of God was at hand. And this is the mandate He
gives to God's man, the believer.
Jesus said in Matthew 28:19:
Go therfore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing
them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy
In II Corinthians 5:20 the command is a bit differently
So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal
through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be
reconciled to God.
And in I Peter 2:9 the same truth is enunciated:
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
God's own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of
him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
The born again Christian, who has been adopted into the family of
God and who has become citizen of the kingdom headed up by Christ, declares
to the world what Christ has done at the cross.
This is why he is called an ambassador of Christ. The Christian
himself is the evidence of Christ's victory on the cross. This is the
only area of the cosmos where the effect of Christ's work on the cross can
be seen on this side of judgment day. The redeemed soul of the Christian
is the only portion of the cosmos that is changed because of the cross.
The creatures and the earth must await judgment day before the evidence
of Christ's victory will be seen in them.
But even in God's man the victory of the cross is not manifested
as a total victory. While his soul has been transformed--it needs
no further changing to enter heaven--his body, his old nature, has not been
changed at all as a result of the cross.
But because man is an integrated personality consisting of both body
and soul, it is in his body that he can first demonstrate the power
of Christ in his life. When he became a citizen of Christ's kingdom, he
was freed from bondage of Satan, in both body and soul. While his soul was
renewed by the Holy Spirit (he was born-again), his body was unchanged.
It still bears all the desires of the natural man. It still lusts after
the world. But it was freed from Satan's power. This is the reason the
Christian longs for the resurrection of the body. The resurrected body is the
hope of the Christian.
He Must Reign Over His Body
Therefore, this becomes the arena where the victory of the cross is
shown to the unsaved world and to principalities and powers. A man's
soul, his inner essence, cannot be seen, but his body can. He is,
therefore, told by Christ to reign over his body. He is to crucify the
flesh, put to death the old nature. He is to show in his body, as he
exercises control over it, that Christ's victory on the cross is what the
Bible says it is. He, of course, has infinite God in the person of the
Holy Spirit indwelling him to give him the strength. He has Christ to call
upon for aid. He has the Word of God to guide him. He has the love of
the Father as an ever present source of comfort. His body, thus, is the
testing arena where he gains victories over Satan. Because he is
attempting to bring an unchanged natural body under control, he never
totally succeeds. His successes strengthen him in Christ and his failures
repeatedly bring him to the cross as he confesses his sins and experiences
anew the pardon of Christ.
Thus, as the Christian shows the fruit of the Spirit in his life,
(love, joy, peace, long suffering, etc., Gal. 5:22,23), and this can only be
shown as he crucifies the flesh and its desires, he shows to his unsaved
peers the power of a transformed life.
He Is A Prophet
The believer's task to witness goes beyond showing to the world the
redeeming work of Christ as he reigns over his body. Christ, as our King,
preached the Gospel. And he expects us also to preach the Gospel. Christ
has provided the salvation. He, as the head of all believers, set the example
for his followers as he preached to the multitudes. In God's mysterious
divine economy He gave to his believers the task of sharing the news of the
victory on the cross to all men. In the Old Testament this was done in a
limited fashion (Noah to the citizens of his day, the spies to Rahab,
Naomi to Ruth and Orpah, Jonah to Nineveh, Solomon to the Queen of Sheba,
the prophets to the Israelites, and the heathen nations).
But then came the cross and Pentecost. Satan was bound so that his
house could be plundered of captives from every nation. The promise was
given that the gates of Hell could not prevail. (The gates of Satan's
prison that keep men from entering heaven could not keep out the powerful
Gospel that would free men.) The church was given the key to these prison
gates of Hell. That key was the Gospel. The Holy Spirit was poured out to
give power to those who would witness and to provide the power that would
unlock the prison gates (the hearts of men). God's man was to be the salt
of the earth, the light of the world. He and he only is the one that holds
within his hands and heart the knowledge that can set men free.
As parents, he preaches as he witnesses to his children. The housewife
presents the Gospel by her testimony to her neighbors, the business man to
his associates. The concern to preach the Gospel is manifested in the
Christian's support of missionaries and mission ventures. The believer
engages in tract and Bible distribution programs. The methods and
means of bringing the Gospel are as manifold as and as varied as there are
believers. When one of God's men or one organization lies down on the task,
God raises others up to carry the Gospel in other ways. For the Gospel will
He Is A Priest
But the Christian must follow Christ in another dynamic way. Christ
prayed for his people. He interceded on their behalf. This task, too,
is given the believer. He is given an open channel to the throne room
of God to bring his petitions and thanks. Natural man has no possibility of
audience with the King because he is not a citizen. Nor does he want such
an audience for Satan is his master, and he believes that he, himself, is
the King of his life. But God's man realizes every gift is from above.
And he comes to God on behalf of those who are in spiritual bondage.
He prays for the salvation of his friends, of his fellowman.
He also prays for the needs of this world for in its welfare he finds
his welfare. This is the environment in which he is to live and work as
God's man. He, therfore, prays for those who govern (I Tim. 2:1-3). He
prays for the temporal needs of his fellow man. He does, indeed, belong
to a kingdom of priests and has great concern for the needs of this world. He
knows that God loves this world and, therefore, the believer's requests are
well received by God.
But there is another dynamic way in which God's man shows his tremendous
concern for this world. In this he is also showing Christ as his example.
In his priesthood he completes the suffering of Jesus Christ. In
Colossians 1:24 the Bible declares:
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh
I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the
sake of his body, that is, the church.
This suffering is not the suffering of the atonement. No man can take
part in that. But Christ also suffered in bringing the Gospel. He
suffered as men reviled him, as he endured physical hardship in preaching
the Gospel., as he was slandered, beaten, and cursed. The bringing of the
Gospel caused great suffering for Christ completely apart from the
redemption suffering caused by his perfect obedience to God in bearing the
wrath of God for our sins.
And the church, the society of God's men, is the body of Christ.
It is as it were Christ himself, continuing to present the Gospel. Christ
ascended to heaven but he left his citizens here to complete his
suffering--to be his ambassadors, his representatives, his body, his
presence. The Christian is to endure hardship, persecution, revilings, and
deprivation in order that he might bring the Gospel as Christ brought it.
The focal point of the Christian's life is obedience to Christ as his
King, as his Savior. His task is not in any sense to bring the world into
subjection, or to have dominion of this world. This was accomplished by
Christ, but will not be revealed until judgment day. Geehardus Vos (3) as
well as others would include much more within the kindom than we are
setting forth in this discussion. He does say:
The kingdom remains to all intents a supernatural kingdom
and he further declares:
It would not be in harmony with Jesus' view so to conceive of
it, as if by gradual extension of the divine power operating
internally, by the growth of the church by the everwidening
influence of the truth, the kingdom which now is will become
all-comprehensive and universal and so pass over into the
final kingdom. This would eliminate all true eschatology and
obliterate the distinction between the two aspects of Jesus'
teachings on the subject (p. 45).
But he also states;
There is a sphere of science, a sphere of art, a sphere of
the family and of the state, a sphere of commerce and
industry. Whenever one of these spheres comes under the
controlling influence of the principle of the divine
supremacy and glory, and this outwardly reveals itself, there
we can truly say that the kingdom of God has become
manifest...we may safely affirm two things. On the one hand,
his doctrince of the kingdom was founded on such a profound
and broad conviction of the absolute supremacy of God in all
things, that he could not look upon every normal and
legitmate province of human life as intended to form part of
Vos is unable to provide any direct Biblical basis for this latter
conclusion. In fact, he himself declares in reference to the question of
including these spheres as a part of the kingdom:
Now our Lord in his teaching seldom makes explicity reference
to these things (p. 89).
He also comments:
As already stated, this is a subject on which our Lord's
teaching does not bring any explicit disclosures and which
can only be treated by way of inference (89).
We might add that philosophically this extension of the kingdom as
suggested by Vos and others appears very logical, even though there is no
direct Biblical warrant for it. But when such statements as God's command to
subdue the earth and have dominion over its creatures are studied in the
light of the whole Word of God, we have seen that this idea will not
accord with Biblical revelation. It appears, unfortunately, that Vos did not
explore the Biblical revelation from the aspect of these direct commands.
Rather he is to be content with his lot in life because his citizenship
is in heaven. He, with Abraham, is a stranger and a pilgrim here. The
city he is looking for is the heavenly city. But he is living here as in a
foreign land with a glorious task. In the carrying out of this task, he
utilizes the products that man (both natural and God's man) has produced, even
as Jesus used a boat when he preached. The all important aspect of
Jesus' ministry, however, was not the boat, but the Gospel message.
Likewise, the all important aspect of the Christian's task is not the
production of means of communication but communication itself--
communication of the Gospel.
The Christian shows mercy, the Christian loves and the Christian
provides food and the cup of cold water for the same reasons that Jesus
healed the sick, wept over Jerusalem and fed the five thousand. In these
programs he is obeying Christ and showing the love of God. And as he
manifests his love in these endeavors, he is providing the context and
contact for presenting the Gospel that will set men free. He is truly the
aroma of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Christian realizes that he is heir to this earth. Jesus promised
this when he said "the meek shall inherit the earth." But he knows
that his inheritance will become a reality when Christ gives it to him as
a new earth following judgment day. Then the enemy, Satan and all his
followers, both demons and men, will be removed, will be destroyed from this
earth. Today they claim possession of this earth. They appear to
be very successful. But victory for God's man is certain. He will be the
prossessor, the heir of this earth, because Christ has been entirely
successful in his subjugation of Satan. God's timetable calls for the final
evidence of Christ's victory to be shown at His return when only God's man
and the angels will be eternally present with God in the new heaven
and new earth, wherein righteousness dwells.
How glorious is the salvation offered by the Lord Jesus Christ to
whosoever will believe on Him. How glorious is the task of the disciple of
Christ as he follows his Lord and Savior.
(Notes to numbered passages in Chapter 3)
(1) The 12 rules of Alcoholics Anonymous are a good example of this fact.
If these rules, which are derived from Biblical truth, are followed, the
members of this organization are able to stay sober. This in itself can
never bring salvation, but it does permit alcoholics to live decent lives.
(2) In the same context Jesus indicated that when it is time for
Christ's return, "your redemption is near" (Luke 21:28). The kingdom of
God is exactly parallel to salvation. At conversion man's eternal
salvation in all of its fullness is guaranteed--at the cross the eternal
kingdom of God was assurred in all its fulness of the new heaven and new
earth. At conversion salvation can only be seen in the soul of man and in
his body as he reigns over it with his new soul. This side of judgment day
the kingdom of God can only be seen in the redeemed souls of men as believers
reign over their bodies. At Christ's return redemption will be totally
completed--both of man's body as well as the cosmos. The kingdom will come to
(3) Vos, The Kingdom and the Church, Erdmans 1951.
Continued in FEED4.TXT
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