In Genesis 1:26-28, we read the original covenant of creation God gave Adam. This is the most important covenant in the Bible to understand our purpose in the earth because it shows the original intent with which we were created.
Essentially, man, made in the image of God, was called to have children; he was called to multiply them, fill the earth, which would lead to subduing it and having dominion. Thus, the original covenant God gave humankind was to influence all of culture or the created order. This is why many scholars call this passage "The Cultural Mandate."
However, others refer to this passage as the "Dominion Mandate" because of the end result of following the steps laid out (having children, multiplying them). I usually shy away from using the term "dominion" because in its vernacular usage today it connotes images of top-down autocratic rule, whereas Jesus taught us to lead through humble service (John 13). Hence, dominion in the context of the Genesis passage primarily refers to influence. Consequently, God was telling Adam and his progeny to influence and manage the planet.
I believe that the Dominion Covenant is the pre-suppositional starting point to understand all subsequent covenants. Also, Genesis 9:1-2 illustrates this covenant was still in effect even after Adam fell into sin since Noah received virtually the same instructions found in the original covenant.
For the sake of the points I set forth in this article, I am going to refer to this covenant as the Dominion Covenant. The following are 20 implications of the Dominion Covenant:
1. God made humankind in His image, which shows the sanctity of life. All humans, irrespective of their lifestyle, religion and economic status have inherent dignity because they are image bearers of God. This is also the strongest theological case to stand against abortion, racism, bullying and slavery.
2. God made humankind in His image, which shows creative potential and power. Since God is the Creator of the universe, those made in His Image are also co-creators within the framework of His cosmos (universe and or the created order). The more we humans unpack this, the more astounded we will be as we discover our abilities and vast potential. The breakthroughs we have seen in technology are just a small taste of our incredible creative abilities. Psalm 8:4 says that humans were made a little lower than God, and Jesus quoted the Psalms (John 10:34-36) and said ye were gods! This meant that the Most High God sent vice regent humans to govern the world for Him.
3. God made humankind in His image, which means we should have children and multiply after our own kind. God gave us a co-creator role in which we are called to work with Him and create other image bearers of God. Multiplication does not start until you hit four children, and anything less is addition, not multiplication! Hence, biblically, we should not separate our call to have children (both biological and spiritual) from our destiny. Not everyone can have biological children, but every person is called to have spiritual children.
4. God called us to multiply, which means we should plan for more than one generation. God told Adam and Eve to multiply before they had even one child, which implies that God has called us to think generationally.
5. God called us to replenish the Earth, which implies equipping our children to lead all areas of culture. The word "replenish" in this context refers not only to having a lot of physical babies but also to training them to be leaders who will fill every realm of life in the created order. Our children are not just called to be pastors and preachers but architects, lawyers, doctors, judges, politicians, economists, scientists, artists, composers and more.
6. God called us to subdue the Earth, which means we should plan to win the ideological battles. The word subdue implies taking the weapons of warfare away from our enemies. This not only means winning physical victories but primarily ideological victories. Jesus said that only the truth could set a person free (John 8:32-36). Paul said that our battle is not against flesh and blood (Eph. 6:10-13), and 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 teaches us that believers are called to cast down and subdue all systems of thought with the knowledge of God.
7. God called us to have dominion, which means we have leadership capacity. Dominion means influence; hence, how can we have influence without leading others? Believers should become the greatest servant leaders in the world today!
8. Dominion implies we have management capacity. Our call to have dominion over the earth also implies organizational ability and management capacity. There are some believers who should be the world's greatest organizational developers and coalition builders.
9. Dominion implies the truth should influence all aspects of culture. How can we have dominion on the Earth if the gospel of the kingdom of God stays out of the public square? The gospel of Christ is meant to connect all ethnic cultures back to the original intent of their Creator.
10. Dominion implies a victorious gospel not a defeatist gospel. The original covenant of creation implies that the gospel will eventually influence many nations of the world. Consequently, there will be a compelling kingdom witness in the Earth before Jesus physically returns to Earth.
11. Dominion implies a practical faith not a mystical religion. Dominion means that believers should become the greatest problem solvers the world has ever seen. All believers should be the best workers and or owners of businesses and utilize their gifts to cause cities and nations to flourish. Believers who are so spiritual that they are not of any earthly good are not a biblical concept but mystical.
12. Dominion implies God-ordained fame. Dominion implies that many in the body of Christ will be household names and that it will be normal for believers to be the most well-known people in their fields of expertise (athletics, science, technology, film, law, politics and business).
13. Dominion implies the church should establish the cultural norms, not vice-versa. Once the body of Christ puts the dominion covenant into practice, we will proactively be the ones to set cultural norms in ethics, design, fashion, music, science, media and philosophy.
14. Dominion implies believers should be the leading innovators of the world. The next Steve Jobs and Bill Gates should come out of the body of Christ.
15. Dominion implies believers should be the leading scientists of the world. The church should disciple the person who will find a cure for cancer and those who become the leaders in nutrition, fitness, health and all technological breakthroughs.
16. Dominion implies political and economic systems based upon biblical foundations. As the Founding Fathers of the United States wrote the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution with a biblical worldview, so all economic and political systems should be based on biblical principles if they are to succeed.
17. Dominion implies the local church should serve as apostolic equipping centers. Once the church understands the dominion covenant, we will cease being merely focused on Sunday ministry and drawing crowds into buildings. We will focus on equipping and sending the saints out to serve their communities instead of focusing on getting the community to attend a church service.
18. Generational Dominion implies that our children should be the next presidents, governors and CEOs of multinational corporations. Deuteronomy 28:10-13 says that we are the head, not the tail. Once Christian parents understand this, they will train their kids not only how to fish, but how to own the pond!
19. Dominion implies the focus of believers should be on the kingdom and not religion. The dominion covenant is a call to culture and not merely to be religious on a Sunday morning. Jesus told us to pray for His kingdom to come not for His church to come. The church is not the kingdom but the main agent of the kingdom to establish God's government upon the earth.
20. Dominion implies that every culture should reflect the values of the kingdom. Finally, the word "culture" comes from a Latin word cultus, which means religion or cult; hence, the very word culture connotes religion. All culture should reflect the values of the throne of God. The theme of the New Testament is not the church but the kingdom.
Since every kingdom has politics, economics, education, law, art and music and systems that support their citizens, the church should be focusing on training their members with a biblical worldview so that they can once again become the greatest cultural leaders the world has ever seen! This is our destiny and this is the point of the Dominion Covenant.
Joseph Mattera has been in full-time church ministry since 1980 and is currently the presiding bishop of Christ Covenant Coalition and overseeing bishop of Resurrection Church in New York. He is also serving as the United States ambassador for the International Coalition of Apostles and as one of the founding presiding bishops of the International Communion of Evangelical Churches.
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