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Do you know …
God’s original mission for the world was given at creation?
Many are surprised to learn that God revealed his original mission for the world in Genesis 1 and 2, not in Jesus’ Great Commission in Matthew 28.
God’s mission continues today through your work?
God’s original mission for humanity and creation included work and God continues his same mission today as His “cosmic restoration project.”
God’s mission will continue through you forever?
As a follower of Jesus Christ, God’s mission on earth through your work includes not only this life but also the life to come on earth.
Learn how God’s original mission to establish his kingdom on earth through humanity, still continues today through your work.
After the Fall Adam and Eve were banished from paradise, but they were still image bearers, rich in beauty, dignity, and worth. Even though they knew and believed in God’s promised conqueror who would one day defeat Satan and restore God’s kingdom on earth, it hadn’t happened yet.
So what were they to do now that paradise was lost and they and all their children, were cursed, corrupt, and banished from Paradise to a cursed and corrupt earth? Should they just fold their arms and wait for the conqueror to come and defeat Satan and accomplish God’s Cosmic Restoration Project
In the second part of Genesis 3:23, we find the answer: “Therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken.” The Hebrew word used here for work (לַֽעֲבֹד֙) is the same word used in Genesis 2:15 to describe the work God gave them to do in the garden paradise as his vice-regents.
The good news is that God’s original mission for Adam and Eve, to glorify him as his vice-regents by multiplying and also subduing his creation, could not be thwarted by Satan or sinful people. Even though God had to keep his promise to curse Adam and Eve, it did not change the reason he created them and the world.
Later, we see God’s same mission continuing in Noah’s generation. After God poured out his judgment of a flood on all humanity and creation, in his amazing grace, he saved Noah and his “offspring.” Then God gave them the same mandate he gave Adam and Eve, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Gen 9:1-9).
Four hundred years later, God made the same promise of an “offspring” or “seed” to Abraham that he made earlier to Adam and Eve as the “offspring” or “seed of the woman.” And God reveals more of his mission by promising Abraham that through his seed God would bless all nations (Gen 12-17). God also promised to bless Abraham by giving him and his future offspring “a land on the earth.”
With the passing of generations, God’s unfolding mission to redeem and restore fallen humanity and reestablish his kingdom on earth, became more clear. Soon the “promised seed” became known as the “promised son” of not only Abraham but King David.
When we open the New Testament and look at the first verse of the first book, we find the culmination of God’s mission in the good news of “Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matt 1:1). And in Galatians 3, the Apostle Paul tells that Jesus Christ is the promised seed of Abraham, “And to your offspring, who is Christ.” (Gal 3:16).
Therefore, when the resurrected Jesus gives us his Great Commission to “make disciples of all nations,” he’s not announcing a new mission from God. Instead, we hear the echo of God’s promises to Adam, Noah, and Abraham (Gen 12:1-3, Matt 28:16-20). Author Christopher Wright says, “It’s as if Jesus is saying, ‘Go…and be a blessing…and all nations on earth will be blessed through you.’”
Just as Adam, Noah, Abraham, David, and Jesus gave their lives to God’s cosmic restoration project, it’s now our turn. In Galatians 3, Paul tells us that Abraham’s offspring now includes all followers of Jesus Christ, “If you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Gal 3:28-29).
Just as Adam, Noah, Abraham, David, and Jesus gave their lives to God’s cosmic restoration project, it’s now our turn.
What does Paul mean that we, as Abraham’s offspring, are now heirs according to promise? It means that God’s three-fold promise to Abraham of a holy offspring to bless the earth with a holy land is now God’s three-fold promise to us.
First, this means God calls us to continue his mission by multiplying and filling the earth with a holy seed. For most followers of Jesus, this involves reproducing a spiritual seed physically by becoming parents. But for all followers, this involves reproducing a spiritual seed by multiplying disciples.
God also calls us to continue his mission by ruling and reigning as his vice-regents over all the domains of influence he entrusts to us so we might bless all the nations on earth. The reason we multiply and fill the earth with a holy seed is so that we, and our children, will be used by God to cause “his kingdom to come and his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven (Lord’s Prayer).”
Also, to be an “heir according to promise” means that the land God promised to give Abraham is now the same land God promises to give us. At first Abraham thought the land God promised him was the land of Canaan near modern Israel. But Abraham never possessed that land, he just lived in it as a foreigner. And through that experience God taught him to look for another land on the earth:
By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. (Heb 11:9-10)
The New Testament teaches that the promised land of Canaan was only a symbol of the coming reality of the promised new earth (Heb 4:9). When the Apostle Paul speaks of Abraham’s promised inheritance of the land, he even changes the word “land” to the word “world” to show us this refers to the new world (Rom 4:13). And the Apostle John gives us a breathtaking description of this coming new earth at the time of Jesus return:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. (Rev 21:1-2)”
The bible presents “heaven and earth” as a way of describing the one entire universe God creates and rules. In the opening chapters of Genesis, God creates a heaven on earth and puts his image bearers in it to carry out his mission of building his kingdom on it.
When sin entered the world, heaven and earth were temporarily separated, with the holy God revealed in Scripture as up in heaven and sinful humanity pictured as down on earth. But in the final chapters of Revelation, God brings heaven back down to earth and puts his image bearers in this new heaven and new earth to continue carrying out his original mission of building his kingdom on it forever.
Just as work was a vital part of the original creation paradise, it will be a vital part of creation regained as the new earth.
God’s mission for us to rule with him establishing his kingdom on earth was never abandoned or revoked. It’s only been temporarily interrupted and corrupted by the Fall. Neither Satan nor sin is able to thwart God’s mission for humanity and the earth. Just as work was a vital part of the original creation paradise, it will be a vital part of creation regained as the new earth.
In our next chapter, we’ll learn why our work in this life truly matters in the life to come.
 Christopher Wright, “The Mission of God,” p. 213
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