Murray: Reprobate Enjoy Benefits of Christ’s Death?

John Murray

John Murray’s “Redemption Accomplished and Applied” is in part a well aimed study of the subject of redemption, not to mention a great read.   For that reason alone I want to make it clear it is not my aim to criticize Murray’s study concerning the subject of redemption itself.   In fact, concerning Murray’s treatment of accomplished redemption I have nothing to say beyond suggesting that if you haven’t read it yet, then you probably should.

However, having said that, I do have a bone to pick with Murray.  While he maintained that Christ had accomplished His people’s redemption by offering His body to God at the cross as a sacrifice for their sins, he was under the impression that Christ’s death brings benefits and blessings – not including justification and salvation – to all men, both elect and non-elect alike.  This I take hearty exception to, and most vehemently.

Murray writes on page 61 of his book:

“In continuing the analysis of this doctrine (particular atonement), it is necessary to be clear what the question is not. The question is not whether many benefits short of justification and salvation accrue to men from the death of Christ.  The unbelieving and the reprobate in this world enjoy numerous benefits that flow from the fact that Christ died and rose again.  The mediatorial dominion of Christ is universal.  Christ is head over all things and is given authority in heaven and earth.  It is within this mediatorial dominion that all the blessings which men enjoy are dispensed.”

Some time later, as though to reinforce his earlier thoughts, Murray writes:

“The provision which God has made in his providence for the sustenance and comfort of man and beast is not the sparring or niggardly.  He has made the earth to teem with good things to satisfy the needs of man and beast and to meet their varied tastes and appetites.  Psalm 104 is the inspired lyric of praise and admiration.  ‘These wait all upon thee; that Thou mayest give them their meat in due season . . . Thou openst thine hand, they are filled with good’.  ‘Wine that maketh glad the heart of man, oil to make his face to shine, and bread which stengtheneth man’s heart’.  And the psalmist exclaims: ‘O Lord, how manifold are Thy works!  in wisdom hast Though made them all: the earth is full of Thy riches.’” – Redemption Accomplished and Applied, pg. 79

I see three problems with Murray’s argument.

1.  It is internally inconsistent
2.  It begs the question
3.  Most important it is unbiblical

Internal Inconsistency

Murray asserts that the reprobate enjoy numerous benefits which flow from the fact that Christ died and rose again.  He bases this assertion on the notion that Christ’s mediatorial (priesthood) dominion is universal.   But where in Scripture is Christ’s mediatorialship presented as universal?  I do not deny His dominion is universal — “Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name” (Phil. 2:9)  . . .  “according the working of His great might that He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion” (Eph. 1:19-20) —  but nowhere am I confronted with the idea He is also the mediator of a non-justifying, non-redeeming covenant.

Murray recognizes the fact Christ’s priestly ministry is tied uniquely to the efficacy of His sacrifice.  Earlier in his book he states:

“It is necessary to remember that He eternally embodies in Himself the efficacy that accrued from His sacrifice upon earth and that it is in virtue of such efficacy that He exercises His heavenly ministry as the great High Priest of our profession.” – Redemption Accomplished and Applied, pg. 54

How then can Murray on one hand argue that Christ’s priestly ministry is tied uniquely to the efficacy of His sacrifice, and yet on the other hand insist His mediatorialship governs even those whom He did not sacrifice for?  I ask, because, after all, is He not the mediator of a covenant that was promised only to the elect?  “Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant” (Heb. 9:15).  Or was the eternal inheritance promised to the world universal?

Galatians 3:22 is clear that the eternal inheritance was promised only to the elect.  How then can this be true while at the same time Christ’s mediatorialship also be universally beneficial?  It can’t be!

It seems clear to me that Murray assumes because Christ’s mediatorialship is eternal, therefore it is also universal.  Thankfully he rejects universal atonement and so limits his idea of Christ’s universal mediatorialship to “just short of justification and redemption”, but this still leaves us with a logical dilemma.

If God also works all things together for good to those who hate Him (the opposite of what is stated in Rom. 8:28),  then it must asked, on what basis does He do this?  Murray answers it is upon the basis of a death that does not justify those whom God hates.  “The unbelieving and the reprobate in this world enjoy numerous benefits that flow from the fact that Christ died and rose again” (pg. 61).

However, it must be asked in light of this assertion, why is this not also the same basis for God’s goodness shown to those He does love?  After all, if God’s goodness is not dependent on His love, but is instead dependent on His dominion, then upon what basis can the elect say God is kind to them because He loves them?   They would have no basis!  So what if Christ died for someone.  So what if God loves someone.  According to Murray’s argument, these two conditions are unnecessary for a person to benefit from Christ’s death.

According to Murray’s argument, all that is necessary is that God reigns.  But if this is the case, then why should it not be said God also gives good gifts to rebellious angels?  After all, does He not reign above all principalities, powers and dominions?  And does He not so reign, because of His obedience unto death?

I trust now we see the logical inconsistency inherent in Murray’s argument.

Begging the Question

I mentioned a moment ago Murray assumes that because Christ’s mediatorialship is eternal, it is also therefore universal.  Murray writes:

“The provision which God has made in his providence for the sustenance and comfort of man and beast is not the sparring or niggardly.  He has made the earth to teem with good things to satisfy the needs of man and beast and to meet their varied tastes and appetites.  Psalm 104 is the inspired lyric of praise and admiration.  ‘These wait all upon thee; that Thou mayest give them their meat in due season . . . Thou openst thine hand, they are filled with good’.  ‘Wine that maketh glad the heart of man, oil to make his face to shine, and bread which stengtheneth man’s heart’.  And the psalmist exclaims: ‘O Lord, how manifold are Thy works!  in wisdom hast Though made them all: the earth is full of Thy riches.’” – Redemption Accomplished and Applied, pg. 79

When did it enter into mainstream thought that sustenance and comfort are always to be understood as good things?  Personally, I am of the opinion it became the dominant view as the result of American industrial dominance and the subsequent explosion of sudden wealth in the average immigrant household at the end of World War 2.  I am certainly positive no one who was condemned to a brutal existence in a Soviet gulag would ever have considered it a good thing for Stalin to continue receiving sustenance and comfort.  Murray, in my opinion, spent way too much time studying his Bible in the shadow of Western culture.

Psalm 104 is clear enough, all right.  God gives water for drink to every beast of the field, a song to sing for every bird in the air, grass to eat for livestock in the field, and vegetables to grow for every man in a tent.  But no where in this Psalm is there talk of all these things being universally a good thing for the people who receive them.

Yes, the Psalmist does say in verse 28 “when you open your hand they are filled with good things”, but he is using the word good to describe the savory taste of food!

“These all look to you,
to give their food in due season.
When you open Your hand, they gather
it up;
when you open your hand, they are
filled with good things.”

The Psalmist does not declare these things are universally good to everyone who receives them.  Quite the contrary.  He looks at all which God does and has done in creation, and then praises Him for creating it all in His wisdom (v. 24).  He praises Him for His majesty, for His splendor, for His glory, but nowhere does he say everything that receives gets for its own good.   In fact, when the Psalmist states in verse 27, “these all look to you, to give them their food in due season”, does anyone believe the wicked think this a good thing?

Certainly it should be said God gives for the good of His glory, but this should not be interpreted as meaning He gives to the wicked with the intent to bless them.  He did not raise Pharaoh up with the intent to bless Pharaoh.  He did not raise Assyria up to be the rod of His anger in order to bless Assyria.  Assyria’s rise to power was not good for Assyria.  It was good for God, good for God’s people, but it was not good for Assyria.  It was a curse for Assyria, just as King Saul’s installment onto the Jewish throne was bad for King Saul.

God gives wine to gladden the hearts of men.  We praise Him for His wisdom in this.  We say He is wise to do this.  But let us ask the thrice-divorced, homeless alcoholic whether this gift is beneficial for him before we assume it is.   Let us ask Noah and Lot whether it was beneficial for them.  It benefited Christ at a certain wedding feast, and then later benefited His disciples in a certain upper room, but let us not assume from these few examples that it benefits everyone universally.

God sends His rain upon the just and the unjust, but as Hebrews 6:7-8 points out, this rain chokes the unjust.  It produces thorns and thistles for them.  It is not beneficial to them.  God created oxygen for lungs and the stomach for food, but Hitler’s continued supply of air and food was not beneficial for the millions who suffered and died in Nazi concentration camps.  God ordained this.  He ordained it for the good of His glory.  He did not ordain it for the benefit of any non-elect who died in a concentration camp.  If you have a hard time accepting this, then you will have a hard time accepting the truth about God’s sovereign grace.

Unbiblical Argument

There is no doubt God’s dominion is universal.   But there is great doubt Christ’s mediatorialship is.   In fact, I deny it.

Several times in the gospels Christ warns He will return at the end not only to collect His elect, but also to destroy the reprobate.  He makes no promise of mediating anything for the reprobate, either then or now.  He promises only destruction.  His return will not benefit them.  Not their governments, not their homes, not their lives.

Scripture tells us all things work together for good only for the obedient.

Ecc 2:26 – For to the one who pleases Him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner He has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to the one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after the wind.

Ezek 20:25-26 Moreover, I gave them statutes that were not good and rules by which they could not have life, and I defiled them through their very gifts in their offering up all their firstborn, that I might devastate them.  I did it that they might know that I am the Lord.

Amos 9:4 And if they go into captivity before their enemies, there I will command the sword, and it shall kill them; and I will fix my eyes upon them for evil and not for good.

Jeremiah 5:24-25  They do not say in their hearts, “Let us fear the Lord our God, who gives the rain in its season, the autumn rain and the spring rain and keeps for us the weeks appointed for the harvest.”  Your iniquities have turned these away and your sins have kept good things from you.

Isaiah 1:19  If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land, but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

The good news for those who are in Christ is Christ fulfilled all the conditions required of them for their receipt of God’s blessings.  This is why all things work together for the elect.  This is not to say the elect are promised an easy life of health and wealth, far from it; but ultimately, even if only in the later, God will work all things together for their good.

This is not the case for the non-elect.  Nothing will work together for their good.  They may at times believe things are working out for their good, but they are not.  As the old cliché goes, better be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.

How many times do we have to be confronted with another poor bastard who got rich and famous only to then later find himself embroiled in some embarrassing public scandal played out on our evening news?  The guy who wins the lottery and then five years later receives a twenty-year prison sentence for tax evasion.  The young lady who wins the next big talent show and then finds herself a virtual sex slave, addicted to heroine and meth after she spent a few years chasing the lifestyle of a “rock star”.   The popular TV preacher caught in a financial scandal, the politician caught in a sex scandal, the TV star caught in a drug scandal.  Time and again we watch people’s lives come undone as a result of receiving what many of us would like to receive.  And time again we shake our heads, tsk to ourselves, and then go back to assuming the view of assuming the next big lottery winner has received a good thing.

Sure, there is pleasure to be found in sin, but only for a season.  “By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.” (Heb 11:23-24).  This pleasure is not a good thing to receive though.  It coils tight around its prey like a serpent, choking its prey with desperation and addiction.

This is not to say the righteous will not suffer though.  No, suffering is promised to be their lot.   “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” (Rom 8:20-21)

In either case, whether suffering or pleasure, we cannot say suffering is always bad and pleasure always good anymore than we can say winning the lottery is always bad or falling in love is always good.  It depends.  The one thing I will not say is the non-elect receive anything from or because of Christ’s death.  They most certainly do not.

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5 Responses to Murray: Reprobate Enjoy Benefits of Christ’s Death?

  1. Pingback: Scott Clark Believes All (Gordon) Clarkians are Hyper-Calvinist, But He Doesn’t Want to Say It | Cornbread & Bourbon

  2. Pingback: The Marrow Controversy and Tolerant Calvinism Discussion Notes – Part 1 | Cornbread & Bourbon

  3. markmcculley says:

    http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/eq/2000-1_057.pdf

    The incarnation is not the earthly sacrifice of the priest, contrary to the Torrances. But they want to focus on the incarnation because they want Christ to have been the priest for all humanity.

    Donald Macleod—It was no part of the work of Christ to make God love us, The very fact of his being on earth at all was proof of the divine love. The business of the atonement, therefore, was to propitiate the God who already loves us: to lay the foundation for an advocacy directed towards him specifically as Father (1 John 2: 1). God unequivocally requires such propitiation,
    but in the last analysis God also provides the propitiation and God even becomes the propitiation. The whole cost of our redemption is borne by the triune God. In that sense, the atonement is a transaction entirely internal to the trinity. But by virtue of the incarnation, it is also external. It takes place not in heaven, but on Calvary; not in eternity, but on Good Friday, p 71

    Torrance is surprised (p. 96) that Rutherford did not regard the death of Christ as the cause of the love of God, but as its consequence. He should not have been surprised. Rutherford’s view was universal among Scottish divines, if only because all felt the force of John 3:16, ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son’. The love came first and the sacrifice followed

  4. markmcculley says:

    Donald Mcleod, p 202, the Person of Christ, IVP, 1998–

    The hypostatic union did not by itself secure the theiosis of every human being. In fact, the hypostatic union did not by itself secure the theiosis of even our Lord’s human nature. He was glorified not because He was God incarnate but because he finished the work given him to do (John 17:4). It is perfectly possible to be human and yet not be in Christ, because although the incarnation unites Christ to human nature it does not unite him to me.

  5. markmcculley says:

    http://standardbearer.rfpa.org/articles/he-shines-all-thats-fair-and-curses-all-thats-foul-11

    David Engelsma–

    Against this proposal of an independent cultural purpose of God with history, there is a weighty objection. The objection is decisive. Jesus Christ is not behind this cultural purpose! Jesus Christ is not in this cultural purpose as it unfolds in history! Jesus Christ is not the goal of this purpose of God with creation and history!

    The proposed cultural purpose, supposedly grounded in infralap-sarianism, has nothing to do with Jesus Christ. It leaves Him out. It ignores Him. The total absence of Jesus Christ from the supposed cultural purpose of God with history is fatal to Dr. Mouw’s common grace theory. For God has clearly and emphatically made known in His Word that He has one eternal purpose with creation and history and that this one purpose is Jesus Christ.Ephesians 1:9-12 reveals the mystery of the will of God with regard to “all things.” The mystery is His one purpose to “gather together in one all things in Christ.”

    Colossians 1:13-20 is even more pointed and detailed about God’s purpose with all things. God’s purpose with “all things” is Jesus Christ. “All things were created … for him,” that is, for Jesus Christ (Col. 1:16). The existence and history of all creatures have been subordinated to Jesus Christ and must serve Him. All things cohere in Him (Col. 1:17). In all things, Jesus Christ is to have the preeminence (Col. 1:18). There is no divine purpose with creation and history alongside and independent of Jesus Christ. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is unrelated to Jesus Christ—not Tiger Woods’ putts, not Hal Newhouser’s fastball, not “the glory that was Greece,” not the splendor of American civilization, not the falling of a sparrow from a housetop. The meaning of history is Jesus Christ.

    Nor is the Christ of Colossians 1 simply the eternal Son of God, the second person of the blessed Trinity. Rather, He is the Son in human nature, the child of the virgin, the man who was crucified and who now sits at the right hand of the Trinity as risen from the dead in His human body. This one is the one purpose of God, for He is the “dear Son in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:13, 14), the “firstborn from the dead” (Col. 1:18).

    The explanation of His being the one purpose of God with all things is that Jesus Christ is first in the counsel of God. Here we enter (with the caution that dreads speculation, but with the boldness that dares to follow where revelation leads) the mysterious, awesome, holy realm of the supra-/infra- debate. It is mysterious, awesome, and holy because this realm is the eternal mind and will of God in their innermost, profoundest secrets. There in the eternal thinking, decreeing counsel of the all-wise God, Jesus Christ is first. He is first, not in any temporal sequence, for there is no time in the eternal counsel. But He is first in that He is the one purpose of God to which all the other decrees of God, for instance, the decree of creation and the decree of providence, including the fall of Adam, are subordinated. Freely, wisely, graciously, the triune God thought and willed Jesus Christ as the object of His love, as the one with whom He would have fellowship, as the one whom He would exalt, and as the one in whom He would glorify Himself.

    This is the meaning of the teaching in Colossians 1:15, that Jesus Christ is the “firstborn of every creature.” As decreed, the creature Jesus Christ opens the womb of the counsel of God to the decree of all other creatures, they following Him and serving Him in the counsel. In this sense, Jesus Christ is “before all things” (Col. 1:17).

    All things must know this! They must know their place! They must know that they are not “before” Jesus Christ, or apart from Him, but after Him and for Him. Gifted, prominent unbelievers, especially the Tiger Woods of this world, arrogantly suppose that they are quite something in themselves, regardless of Jesus Christ. Common grace with its two-purposes-of-God-with-history idea encourages them in this foolishness. The biblical gospel disabuses them of this folly.

    That Jesus Christ is first in the counsel of God, even before the decree of the election of the church accompanied by the reprobation of the others, is the teaching of Ephesians 1:4: “he [God] hath chosen us in him [Jesus Christ] before the foundation of the world.” If we were chosen in Christ, Christ was before us in the counsel. God chose Him first. Our election was grounded in His election.

    The truth that Jesus Christ is first in the counsel ought to have been the Reformed response to the Arminian challenge to the Reformed faith at Dordt. In the interests of freeing the atonement from the limitation of election, much as Dr. Mouw thinks to free creation and providence from the restriction of election and redemption by placing election after the decree to create, the Arminians placed the decree of election after the decree of the atonement. This, they argued, made Christ the foundation of election as well as the executor of election. Since in the Reformed order of the decrees, Christ did not appear until after the decree of election, as the Mediator who would carry out the decree of election by redeeming the elect, the Arminians charged that the Reformed reduced Christ to the executor of the decree. The Reformed could not honor Christ as also the foundation of the decree of election.

    The Reformed at Dordt fell back on Christ’s being the decreeing God. But this was to evade the Arminian objection. Christ is indeed the foundation of the decree of election. The elect are chosen “in Him.” But this does not refer to His being the electing God, which, of course, He is. Rather, it refers to Him as incarnate, as the head of the church. As incarnate, as the man Jesus, He is the first decree of God. The election of the church is founded upon the election of the man Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is both the foundation and the executor of the decree of election.

    The truth that Jesus Christ is first in the counsel as the one purpose of God with all things is the deepest intention of the old, and perennial, dispute among Reformed thinkers between supra- and infralapsarianism. Oddly, however, Reformed theologians often carried on the dispute without any reference whatever to Jesus Christ. It is striking that Jesus Christ does not figure in Richard Mouw’s discussion of supra- and infralapsarianism. Mouw leaves the impression that the question is whether the salvation of the elect is the sole purpose of history, or whether the development of culture by the ungodly is also a purpose of God with history, alongside the salvation of the elect. This is not the question, or, at least, the main question. The question is this: Is Jesus Christ the one purpose of God with all things in history, because He is first in the counsel of God?

    Scripture’s plain teaching that Christ is first in the counsel conclusively rules out the notion that God has a purpose with creation alongside His purpose of redemption in Jesus Christ. God never had an “original purpose with creation,” whether grounded in infralapsarianism or anywhere else, which He carries out after the fall by common grace. The theory of “multiple divine purposes” shatters on the rock of Jesus Christ as first in the eternal counsel. Inasmuch as the idea of two distinct divine purposes of God with history is fundamental for the theory of common grace, the theory of common grace likewise shatters on the rock of Jesus Christ as the one purpose of God.

    The primacy of Christ in the counsel of God is the Protestant Reformed response to a particular criticism that Mouw makes of their theology. Mouw sharply criticizes the teaching of Herman Hoeksema, which is certainly the teaching of the Protestant Reformed Churches, that all things exist for the sake of the elect.

    This is where I find Herman Hoeksema’s thought … most puzzling. Here is a typical Hoeksema comment: “in the counsel of God all other things in heaven and on earth are designed as means to the realization of both election and reprobation, and therefore, of the glory of Christ and His church.” Here is another: “All the things of the present life are but means to an eternal end.” So the goal of bringing the elect and the reprobate to their eternal destinies, for Hoeksema, is the divine goal, and all other seemingly independent goals are really to be viewed as means to the attainment of that one goal. Thus Hoeksema is committed to a perspective in which the paths of the eagle’s flight and the ocean’s waves are ordained by God simply as means to the goal of bringing human beings to their foreordained destinies, and in which the divine delight in such things is necessarily connected to the role they play in fulfilling the eternal salvific decree. I find this belief no less puzzling when I extend it—as surely it must be extended from Hoeksema’s perspective—to the actions of non-elect human beings (p. 36).

    Mouw repeats the criticism later, listing a number of events that, according to him, have nothing to do with the decree of predestination: Plato’s writing of the Republic; Babe Ruth’s hitting sixty home runs in a season; Kennedy’s approval of the Bay of Pigs invasion; and the decline of the Tokyo stock exchange in 1998 (p. 61).

    The criticism is itself puzzling. Hoeksema’s doctrine here is the explicit teaching of the Bible. It is the teaching ofRomans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” In I Corinthians 3:21, the apostle assures the elect church, “All things are yours.” He specifies: “Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours” (I Cor. 3:22). He explains: “And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s” (I Cor. 3:23).

    In addition to overlooking the explicit teaching of Scripture, the criticism fails to recognize that Jesus Christ, who is first in the counsel of God, was chosen as head of the church (Col. 1:18). His election was our election, as His body, with Him and in Him. Therefore, as all things were created for Him, they were also created for us. The providence that carries out the decree that all things are for Christ the head necessarily governs all things also for our advantage, who are His body.

    We have not the slightest hesitation to confess that Plato wrote his Republic, Babe Ruth hit sixty home runs in one season, and the Tokyo stock exchange suffered declines in 1998, among other subordinate purposes that God was realizing, in the service of Jesus Christ and His church and, thus, for God’s glory.

    Who can figure this out? Which Reformed Christian is not deeply humbled by this, as well as comforted in his miseries and encouraged in the difficulties of the way. But who dares to deny this, since to deny this is to deny that all things serve Christ? And Christ, the elect of God, the crucified Servant of Jehovah and the risen Lord over all, is worthy that this should be.

    Once upon a time, the God of history gave remarkable proof in history that the universe exists for the sake of the chosen people of God. For an entire day, God brought the rotating earth, the moving solar system, and the wheeling galaxies to the outermost limits of space to a halt. All waited patiently, as servants, upon Joshua—typical Christ—and Israel—church of the Old Testament. The redemption of the church of Christ—this commands the universe. Joshua had no doubt: “Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon” (Josh. 10:12-14). Neither do we.

    The truth of God’s one purpose with history sheds light on the “cultural mandate” of Genesis 1:28: “Subdue it [the earth]: and have dominion.” The mandate is not simply that Adam and Eve exercise rule over the earth. Rather, they are to have dominion as servants of God, so that the earthly creation develops as the kingdom of God.

    Fallen men and women are unable to fulfill the mandate. By the admission of the advocates of common grace themselves, fallen men and women cannot fulfill the “cultural mandate” even with the help of common grace. With the help of common grace, the fallen race develops creation, not as the kingdom of God, but as the kingdom of Man and Satan. According to Abraham Kuyper, father of culture-building common grace, by the help of common grace the ungodly erect the kingdom of Antichrist in history. Not only is common grace a fiction, it is also a failure. It cannot do the job.

    The only fulfillment of the “cultural mandate” is by the crucified and risen Jesus Christ, as God intended from the beginning, that is, by the first decree in His counsel. Christ begins to fulfill the mandate now by His regenerating grace in the lives of elect believers. A J. S. Bach writes lovely music to the glory of God. A Christian writer uses words well to explain, defend, advance, and apply the truth of the gospel. A godly farmer cultivates the ground, a godly businessman conducts his business, and a godly laborer works at his otherwise menial task, as unto the Lord Christ. A covenant mother orders her home and family according to the will of Christ.

    This is true culture. This is the only culture that pleases God. The perfection of the “cultural mandate” by Jesus Christ will be His renewal of all things—elect humanity out of all nations and the creation itself—by His (special) redeeming grace at His coming.

    Then we will see how in the vast, complicated panorama of history every creature and every motion of every creature cooperated, wittingly or unwittingly, willingly or unwillingly, in serving Christ and His church. Until then, we believe and confess it. Thus honoring Jesus Christ—the fulfillment of the first decree of God.

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