Inherit the Earth (6)

 II. Dominion by Subordination

The second principle of a Biblical covenant is the principle of hierarchy-authority. God directly and personally controls His creation (principle one: transcendence). Nevertheless, God, the sovereign owner who created the universe, has delegated to mankind the full responsibility of caring for the creation as a whole. God doesn’t directly control the earth apart from those He has chosen to manage His property. He directly controlled all of it during the first week of creation, but He no longer does. In His providential control and mercy, He has decided to delegate control over His property to mankind throughout history.[1]

Despite the fact that God has all power and all knowledge, He is not what we call today, a “control freak.” He owns all things, but has delegated much of the oversight and control over  the earth to men. The scripture says that “the heavens are the heavens of the Lord, but the earth He has given to the sons of men” (Ps.115:16).  That is what He began to do with Adam, in the garden. And that is what He has done through the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, whom the Bible calls “the last Adam” and “the second man” (I Cor.15:45, 47).

How do we know this? Because Jesus said “all authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Mat.28:18). How does God do this? By redeeming His people from the dominion of Satan through Christ, and giving them His Word (the Bible) and His Spirit, so that they can go about the task of subduing the world for Him. The Psalmist said concerning man, “You [God] made him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet” (Ps.8:6). Thus He places men and women in places of authority and responsibility, all over the earth.

Men are not responsible to have their own ideas about how to get things done on God’s behalf. We are to be self-starters, for sure. But we are always to start by obeying the commands of God, for He has given us our marching orders.

This means that Christians ought to be people of the book-the Bible. We are to seriously study how to apply the scriptures to all situations we may find ourselves in, in order that we may put into practice God’s plans and not our own. This is what the Bible refers to when it tells us, “Great are the works of the Lord; they are studied by all who delight in them” (Ps.111:2).

With knowledge comes responsibility. In one place, God lamented saying, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hos.4:6). Thus ignorance is not an excuse before God. We are thus duty-bound to find out what it is that God requires of us, and to do it. Great men and women in the Bible did not see themselves as independent people, but as His servants.

This was the case with Paul. When this arrogant and self-righteous Jew was converted on the road to Damascus (Acts 9), he learnt to submit to the authority of God, represented by a person, Ananias (Acts 9:5-19). As he grew in the faith, he gained the ability to take a lot more responsibility as an apostle. But how did it all begin? When he submitted to the authority of God on the road to Damascus, accepting God’s direction for his life.

Men outside of Christ reject His authority. They suppress the truth about God (Ro.1:18-22), because to acknowledge the truth would require them to change their attitudes and behaviour. They say in effect, “there is no God, no providential oversight of the world. It is up to us to make our own plans and decisions, based upon our knowledge and attitudes.”

The political outworking of this in the twentieth century led to socialism’s central planning, which places a great responsibility upon central planners, that restrict individual initiative and liberty in favour of their “master plan.”

But socialism has never benefitted anyone except bureaucrats and politicians. Its inherent restrictions stifle growth, because people are not able to go about their life unimpeded by government control. Socialism has always been wasteful, inefficient and frustrating, actually leading to greater poverty for the community.

Men are called to enjoy their service and liberty under God, while they engage in productive and profitable pursuits, in serving the community. And the basis of this is always to be God’s law.

In short, Christians are supposed to recognize that authority is inescapable, and therefore that hierarchy is inescapable. It’s always a question of whose authority and what kind of hierarchy. To understand the nature of responsible ownership before God, we need to acknowledge these Biblical principles: 

1. Men are responsible primarily to God.

2. God is the only true central planner.

3. The primary agency of economic planning is the family, as the primary owner of property.

4. The primary agent of the family is the husband.

5. Socialistic central planning is demonic; it is man’s attempt to replace God.

6. Socialistic central planning requires a tyrannical elite.

7. Individual responsibility requires individual initiative.

8. Individual initiative requires personal liberty.

9. Obedience to God is the basis of liberty.

10. Reconciling differences requires a system of appeals courts (plural).

11. Men are responsible (subordinate) to several human agencies.

12. No one human institution is absolutely sovereign.

13. Submission to authority is absolutely necessary. Man must serve someone.

14. Leadership begins with “followership.”

15. Man operating independently from God (autonomy) results in failure and defeat.

16. Wealth flows toward those who accept personal responsibility for their actions.

17. Responsible action requires a concept of law and ethics.

18. Biblical law is the basis of responsible dominion.[2]

[1] Gary North, “Inherit the Earth,” 1987, p.23.

[2] ibid, p.35-36.