On our main purpose

When anyone says that they are making X to do Y, then Y is the primary purpose of X. It may well be that X can be used for other things. It may also be that in time, Y is no longer the main use and Z takes over as primary purpose.

So, in this case X is mankind and Y is to rule over the earth. We can come back to whether there is a Z.

Gen 1:28 is where God gives man his first briefing. Any competent manager [yes I know God is more than a manager, but he is our Boss] will ensure that in the initial brief the main points are covered.

Here the instructions are:

1. Go forth and multiply, which as you say is necessary to the scale of the task. Humans have done this rather well. Christians in most parts of the world are rather poor though.

2. Replenish the earth and subdue it.

3. have dominion over all living things and the earth itself.

This is God’s explanation to man of his purpose. Y.

One of the things creeping on the earth was the serpent, the devil, so the rule / have dominion over the devil and, by implication, his works, is built into the primary purpose as stated by God.

Note that nowhere here does God mention worship. Which does not render worship as unnecessary, but does clearly not include it in Y.

Why did / does the earth need to be replenished and subdued? It was made good, and by the time man was made it was very good.

You only replenish things that have been depleted or used up and subdue things that are in rebellion or out of control.

So what is the outworking of point 2?

Farming would be one – watering the land where rain is lacking. But why is there lack of rain? Because of sin coming into the world and the devils actions.

But one of Jesus’ big priorities in his mission was healing (Luke 10:38 plus all the stories of healings). Much sickness is due to the body wearing out – disk problems, heart conditions, loss of eyesight/hearing. So replenishing those things on the earth means healing those sick.

What is in rebellion or out of control? Much. Why is it so? The overall teaching of the bible seems to say that the devil is behind most trouble on this earth, or people infested with his demons. John 10:10 and the demon possessed man in Luke 8:30 would be two examples to show this.

Therefore i conclude that attacking the devil and his works is at the heart of the initial command in Gen 1:26. I say that it is consistent with Luke 4:18-19 – the reason Jesus gives for the Spirit being on him. Who are the oppressed and captives and what oppresses and en-captures them? I suggest that this is clearly talking about sicknesses that oppress and trap people, plus devils that need casting out.

So this Luke 4:18-19 is totally consistent with Peter’s description of the life of Jesus in Acts 10:38.

Also it is consistent with the instructions Jesus gave to the 12 and 72. Go,heal the sick, raise the dead cleanse lepers cast out devils and preach good news to the poor. Freely you have received freely give.

Jesus did not say that he was given the Spirit to facilitate worship.

One of the last things Jesus spoke was John 20:21-22 As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you. 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

So we are sent exactly the same way as Jesus was sent. And given the same Spirit for the same purpose. Not for worship but for doing good to those who need God’s love and help.

I suggest that you cold summarise Luke 4:18-19, Mat 10:8 Luke 10:38 as replenishing people whose lives are depleted due to the devil’s work and subduing his attacks on people.

Thus these verses are totally consistent as outworkings of Gen 1:26,28 and the main purpose of Jesus’ three years was to do these things. Clearly, the ultimate main purpose of Jesus’ life was the cross – to defeat the devil, enable salvation by his death and healing of sickness at the whipping post (Is 53:6). And his main purpose, based on the information in the gospels, seems to have been to outwork this and preach the gospel of the kingdom.

If we are to be like him and sent like him, how can we be different.

Has our main purpose been changed to Z – Z being to worship God?

First, I know of no scripture to say it has.
Second, the rhetoric above, which I trust is much less weak that the original précis, demonstrates clearly that doing the works of the Kingdom and overcoming the devil was Jesus’ No 1 priority, and thus remains ours.

On a final note, if someone has totally fulfilled their primary purpose, but failed to address their secondary tasks, that is always excusable.

‘I am sorry I did not do thus and thus, but i was concentrating on my main job’.

So as long as we spend most of our waking life in worship and enjoying God’s presence, doing all the other things is relatively unimportant and living as a hermit would be a viable option.

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2 Responses to “On our main purpose”

  1. Gabe Says:

    Great post. Funny thing isn’t it that Jesus never said “worship me.” He said, “if you love me you’ll obey me.”

    • jeremypenwarden Says:

      Thanks Gabe. Exactly true what you say. Of course, we should address that Jesus did say the Father is seeking worshippers – who will worship in Spirit and truth. But I believe that is a contrast to temple worship. I haven’t fully worked out what it does mean, but I note that on a couple of occasions God is glorified when the sick are healed, so I think that our worship now is giving our bodies as a living sacrifice and doing the things Jesus told us to do.

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