Volume. XXI, No. 2
Sunday, 09 July 2006

From the Pastors heart: Cultural Mandate Our Hard Work

Last week I said that “culture” comes from a word meaning “to cultivate.” It indicates that we ought to work out our Christian culture based on Biblical principles. By culture, I do not simply mean something that comes by accident. Culture is a product of deep thinking and diligent study, too. This nature of culture should not surprise us. When God created us, He made us a living soul, which has reason and intellectual capabilities. For example, you and I are conscious and rational beings. We can think and reason. That’s why man has sought after the purpose and meaning of life. Of course, I am not saying that all purposes and motivations are good. Some have wrong goals in life, and some have evil purposes. It gives us a reason why we need to cultivate good Christian culture that may influence on the mind of the believers. When we are thinking about cultural mandate, it is necessary for us to recognize that we have capabilities to think. It is because cultural mandates require our thinking and commitment.  Unfortunately, Christians do not use their mind to interpret culture they experience. Harry Blamires said, “there is no longer a Christian mind” (The Christian Mind: How should a Christian Mind think? Ann Arbor, Mich.: Servant, 1963, 3).  Bertrand Russell said, “Most Christians would rather die than think.  In fact, they do” (Cited in Os Guinness, Fit bodies, Fat Minds: Why Evangelicals Don’t Think and What to Do about It, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994, 2). Or sometimes, they use their mind based on their uninformed mind. We need to remember what Jesus said in Mark 12:30, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” Our minds are important to God. The reason that God has given us His truth in written forms is because He wants us to reason, think, and consider His truth with our minds. It is true that wrong thinking leads us to wrong doing. Likewise, if we do not think properly, our culture will lead us to wrongs. Cultural mandates lead us to find the purpose of our life, too. Can we know God’s purpose for our life? The answer is, “yes,” with many implications. God has given us His mandates or commands. Then, we have responsibilities to fulfil them, which is a purpose of our life. Then, let me think of the cultural mandate shown in Genesis 1.

First, I must begin with a thought of God’s image. God created us in His image. Therefore, being conformed to His image is an important beginning to fulfil His mandates. It requires  our Christian character. Hence we must say that Christian culture should be a way of life, because it must be a fruit of our being, conformed to the image of God.  Henry R. Van Til said in his book, Calvinistic Concept of Culture, (Grand Rapids, Baker, 1959, 29-30): “. . . that activity of man, the image of bearer of God, by which he fulfils the creation mandate to cultivate the earth, to have dominion over it and to subdue it. . . . culture, then, is any and all human effort and labor expended upon the cosmos, to unearth its treasures and its riches and bring them into the service of man for the enrichment of human existence unto the glory of God.” Culture is, after all, a way of life, through which man must glorify God. In order to fulfil cultural mandate, we ought to imitate Christ first. Think about our position in God’s creation. Psalm 8:5 says, “For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.”

Cultural mandate also tells us that we are to be God’s vice-agents. Having created all things, God entrusted them to man. The authority to rule over them was given by God Himself.  Therefore, man does all things in the name of the Lord on His behalf. It puts us under awesome responsibilities, which gives us reason to live well. This cultural mandate is still in force today. We are to rule over everything God has given to us. To rule over God’s creation refers to what we do with all things God has given us such as work, play, music, entertainment, clothing, diet, home, family, government, school, and everything we have. We must also think about schools, government, literature, arts, sports, media, and scientific endeavours.  Many fathers of scientific fields were Christians, and it should not surprise us. God has given us everything to cultivate for His honour and glory. God wants us to advance, rather than to regress. We are to rule over everything.  Otherwise, the god of this world will take everything for his pleasure. As a result, we shall live in a darker and hopeless world.  For example, we have seen rapid growth of homosexual communities and pro-abortion movements. We do not agree with them. However, we have to blame ourselves for such phenomena. We have not done enough to promote our values and Biblical truth.

In God’s image, there is an aspect of our intelligence which gives us capability think. Christians are able to develop nobler and higher culture that may influence on the minds of people in the world. It really matters what we think. That’s why Paul said in Romans 12:2, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” In order to formulate Christian culture in our fellowships, churches, and societies, we ought to have a Christian mind within us. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” Christian culture must come from the purity of mind and thinking.  In other words, our intellect must be purified. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”  It indicates that corrupt and worldly culture in Christian churches is an unavoidable consequence of corrupt and worldly minds of Christians. Music, fellowship, activities, and plans in churches are only reflections of the hearts and minds of Christians. Even our imaginations and every thought must be cast down to the obedience of Christ.  

Then, naturally we raise a question. What shall we have to do with culture? Negatively, we must set us apart from the worldly culture. However, it is not enough. If we isolate ourselves from secular world culture, eventually we will create our subculture. We use our own language and signs. It is not good enough. Positively, we must be proactive to create Christian culture amongst us and in the world. You probably remember that I have said that we must cultivate our culture. Here is an answer. We must initiate culture even for the world. It sounds simple, but carries lots of weight. It means that we must conquer the world with our culture. In order to do so, Christians must excel where they are. Whether we are politicians, artists, business people, educators, social workers, policy makers, inventors, scientists, labourers, students, media people, we must excel and lead the world, not be led. We have to be excellent in order not to be led but to lead. Man and woman, boys and girls, young and old must excel in their fields. If we do not lead, we’ll have to be led. You, Christians, arise and shine forth the light to the world!

Your Pastor

More Lively Hope



Shorter Catechism Question No. 53: Which is the third commandment? The third commandment is, Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.  

Please pray for health & God’s healing: Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren, Rev Peter Clements, Rev David Koo, Rev Timothy Tow, Dr S H Tow, Preacher Zhang, Dn Yaw Chiew Tan; Bros Makota Kobayashi, Raphael Ng’s father, & Winston Selvanayagam; Sisters Sheila  George, Myung Ki, Alice Lee’s father, Aranka Rejtoe, Sally Teng, Susan Veradi, & Giok Yeo’s sister-in-law; Dn Edwin D’Mello’s sister, Auntie Oei & others afflicted with viral illness. "My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth” (Ps 121:2).

Please pray for – a) Cambodia Missions - Rev & Mrs Moses Hahn & ministry (Sihanoukville); Khmer pastors & believers; Khmer Bible students studying at FEBC (S’pore); b) Laos Missions - Bro S Dhamarlingam; c) Pastors & believers in India & Pakistan; d) Sketch n’ Tell Ministry - Bro H S Lim & ministry; e) Journey mercies - Dn Tony & Sis Sally Law; Bro Hai Seng Lim, Mr Checkie Mah, Sis Amber Au (Adl), Lena Fan & Serene Wong (S’pore); YAF campers (Aldinga); others travelling during the university and school vacation; f) B-P ministers & Churches all over the world; g) Coming events - YAF retreat, and Vacation Bible School; h) Jobs for - Bro Jonathan Liao, Mr Leo Xeng & Sis Yee Min Tee.

Praise and Thank God for – a) Ladies’ & AFG pre-BBK meeting, Wed Prayer Meeting & Bible Study, & YAF Prayer & Share; b) Journey mercies - Dn Tony & Sis Sally Law (Tas); Bros Yik Ho Lam (S’pore) & Terence Lee (Adl/Perth); Mr Victor Liu (Melb); Sisters Lena Fan (Adl), Tracy Ho (S’pore/HK), Sis Lehia Paauwe (Perth), Lydia Tan & family (Adl), & Serene Wong (Europe).

Special Prayer: For the LORD to provide $11,684 for Pastor’s car.

Amendment: Ladies’ Fellowship - Pre-BBK classes conducted by Ps Ki, on Tue 18 July, from 9:30am to 3:00 pm. All are welcome to attend. Crèche and lunch provided.

Looking Ahead: Vacation Bible School, 17-21 July. Speaker: Bro Hai Seng Lim.

Looking Ahead: ACM at 7:30 pm on Sat, 12 Aug. All members expected to attend. Annual reports to Dn Edwin D’Mello by today.



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