The Bible has a lot to say about God’s purpose and plan for mankind. As human beings created in God’s image, we have been given a special assignment and calling to fulfill during our time on earth. By exploring key passages throughout Scripture, we can gain insight into the duties, responsibilities, and privileges God has entrusted to us.
In this comprehensive blog post, we will examine biblical teaching on man’s assignment under several key themes: representing God’s rule, stewarding creation, building God’s kingdom, living in community, glorifying God, and sharing the gospel. As we survey these important topics, we will consider relevant verses primarily from the New King James Version (NKJV) of the Bible.
- Man is called to represent God’s rule and steward creation.
- Building God’s kingdom and living in community are central parts of our assignment.
- We are to glorify God and make His name known among all peoples.
- Fulfilling our assignment requires depending on God and walking in His ways.
Representing God’s Rule
A foundational aspect of man’s assignment in Scripture is that we are created to represent and reflect God’s own rule and authority. The opening chapters of Genesis establish man’s identity and purpose in this regard. After creating mankind, God blessed them and commissioned them saying, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28 NKJV).
Being made in God’s image, Adam and Eve were to multiply, fill, and subdue the earth as God’s vice-regents. This charge reflected their designation as royalty, endowed with a measure of God’s own dominion to steward the creation. The Psalmist affirmed this status saying man was “crowned” with “glory and honor,” made to have dominion over all God’s handiwork (Psalm 8:5-6).
Though this rule was corrupted by the Fall, Christ’s redemptive work enables restoration of this original purpose. The New Testament teaches that believers are called to reign in life through Jesus (Romans 5:17). As God’s children in Christ, we represent His kingdom authority in this world (1 Peter 2:9-10). One day, man’s dominion will be fulfilled completely in the world to come when the saints reign forever in the new creation (Revelation 22:5).
Along with representing God’s rule, man is charged by God to be a steward over creation. As Genesis 2:15 states, “Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.” Man was to manage, care for, and cultivate God’s creation as a gardener or servant stewarding a master’s property.
This stewardship reflects God’s own diligent care in crafting a good world for mankind to inhabit. As the Psalmist proclaimed, “O LORD, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all…You have made him to have dominion” (Psalm 104:24,26).
Humanity was to harness creation’s potential for God’s purposes and their own flourishing, while safeguarding its integrity and fruitfulness. This required proper use of freedom and resources, overseen by wisdom and self-control. Unfortunately, stewardship was damaged by the Fall, as selfishness and exploitation corrupted human rule.
Nonetheless, God still calls us to proper stewardship today. We are to use natural resources wisely and treat the earth with care, recognizing God remains Owner of all things (Psalm 24:1). As redeemed stewards, we labor to unlock creation’s potential while limiting abuses, managing time and talents responsibly. Our stewardship also extends to caring for our bodies, which are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
Building God’s Kingdom
In commissioning mankind to multiply and subdue the earth, God charged humanity to build His kingdom throughout the world. This kingdom would be characterized by righteousness, justice, love, and worship of God in spirit and truth. Tragically, after the Fall mankind turned away from constructing God’s kingdom to building their own secular civilizations in defiance of Him.
In response, God initiated a plan of redemption centered on Abraham and his descendants the people of Israel. God commanded Abraham, “I will make you a great nation…and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:2-3 NKJV). Israel had the privilege of serving as God’s chosen people, called to model covenant faithfulness before a watching world.
Through Israel’s rise and fall, the prophets foretold the coming Messianic King who would someday establish God’s kingdom forever. Jesus announced the arrival of God’s kingdom in His ministry (Mark 1:15). By His death and resurrection, Christ dethroned the usurper Satan and inaugurated God’s kingdom on earth. All who repent and believe may now become citizens of God’s unshakeable kingdom (Hebrews 12:28).
As kingdom citizens, the New Testament calls believers to live out the values of righteousness, justice, love, and truth brought by Christ. We are to be salt and light bringing God’s gracious rule to all people (Matthew 5:13-16). Our lives should be characterized by compassion, justice, reconciliation, and hope. Our good works help extend God’s kingdom (Matthew 5:16; 1 Peter 2:12). We long and pray for the day when God’s will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Living in Community
A critical aspect of man’s assignment on earth involves learning to live in fellowship and harmony with others. From the beginning, “God saw that it was not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18 NKJV). We were made for community, crafted for relationship with God and one another. The two great commandments are to love God and love neighbor (Matthew 22:37-39).
This requires nurturing healthy marriages and families that fill the earth with godly people. Parents are instructed to teach God’s ways to their children (Deuteronomy 6:4-7). Beyond the family, believers are to live as members of Christ’s body, encouraging and serving one another with grace and mutual submission (Romans 12:3-16; Ephesians 5:21; 1 Peter 4:10).
The Bible exhorts us to build friendships and cultivate fellowship within the household of faith. “Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24 NKJV). Godly friendship fosters spiritual and emotional health. “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend” (Proverbs 27:17 NKJV).
Living in community also involves caring for the needs of strangers. Israel was called to love sojourners (Deuteronomy 10:19). Jesus taught that showing mercy to those in need demonstrates love for God (Matthew 25:35-40). As God’s people, we are to defend the vulnerable and disadvantaged in society.
Bringing glory and honor to God is repeatedly emphasized in Scripture as man’s chief aim. The Westminster Shorter Catechism succinctly states, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” As God’s creatures, it is only fitting we should live for the praise of His excellent glory and grace.
The Psalms repeatedly exhort us to acknowledge God’s greatness and extol His wondrous works (e.g. Psalm 96:1-3). Isaiah declares that God formed us for His glory (Isaiah 43:7). Jesus taught that our lives should shine before others to bring glory to the Father (Matthew 5:16). Paul urges us to do everything for God’s glory (1 Corinthians 10:31).
We glorify God by reflecting His holy character in our conduct. Our good works testify to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ (Matthew 5:16; 1 Peter 2:12). Worship and thanksgiving offer tribute to God for His marvelous deeds and gifts. Proclaiming the gospel broadcasts the glory of Christ to the world. In all we do, we are called to live for God’s renown rather than our own.
Sharing the Gospel
A central aspect of man’s duty on earth involves proclaiming the gospel to make God’s name known among all peoples. This commission was first voiced to Abraham when God declared, “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3 NKJV). Israel was to be a light to the Gentiles, that God’s salvation may reach to the earth’s ends (Isaiah 49:6).
Jesus explicitly charged His followers to take the gospel worldwide. He commanded, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15 NKJV). Before ascending, Christ reiterated this mission – “You shall be witnesses to Me…to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8 NKJV). The Great Commission applies to every believer in each generation until Jesus returns.
Paul affirmed that faith comes by hearing the word of Christ (Romans 10:17). Therefore we must communicate the gospel far and wide, both in proclamation and demonstration of God’s love. We preach Christ, warning and teaching all people to present them complete in Him (Colossians 1:28). Compelled by Christ’s love, we plead with others to be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:14,20).
To summarize, man’s grand assignment according to Scripture encompasses:
- Representing God’s rule and glory as His image-bearers
- Stewarding creation as faithful stewards
- Building God’s kingdom by righteous and just living
- Living in godly community through love and service
- Glorifying God in all we do
- Sharing the gospel of salvation with the whole world
Fulfilling such lofty duties is only possible by God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit. We rely on God to equip us for every good work as we walk in His ways (Hebrews 13:20-21). While imperfect, Christ’s love compels us to press on in joyful obedience to our callings. By God’s strength, we labor to carry out man’s high yet humbling assignment to the glory of God.