Taking Dominion


In Genesis 1:28, God told Adam to take dominion over the earth. This was a call to use the resources of the earth for man’s prosperity. This was the first commandment given to humanity. It still stands despite the fall. The catch now is the requirement to submit to God’s laws and commands in order to obtain the prosperity available to us.

The primary vehicle for carrying out the dominion mandate is the family (Genesis 1:24). The family is the fundamental institutional unit of all societies. Families should be the primary owners of a nation’s property and resources. Families have different interests and responsibilities to single people. Most single men will live for themselves whereas married men usually work hard and sacrifice to generate finances and assets for their families. People who live in families have greater stability, higher standards of moral behaviour, higher levels of property ownership, lower levels of abuse, increasing prosperity and economic growth. It is a fundamental Biblical principle that wealth flows in the direction of those who take social, ethical and economic responsibility (Deuteronomy 28, Proverbs 13:22, Matthew 5:5). The task of government is to protect families and help them pursue their dominion mandate. Obedience to Biblical economic principles by a person and families, or a nation for that matter, leads inexorably to economic prosperity. There is a direct relationship between the two. If we seek God’s kingdom first, as taught in Matthew 6:33, then all these other material blessings will follow.

Consider the following economic developmental scenario:

  1. Individual men and women are changed through the preaching of the good news of restored relationship with our creator.
  2. These people begin to examine God’s will for their lives and His word, then submit their lives to His laws and commands in all areas of life. Standards of morality begin to rise and they become better citizens, reducing the need for coercive civil governmental policing.
  3. The blessings of God begin to flow into their jobs and spending habits. They get promotions, start saving more for their family’s future and start businesses. They begin to take dominion little by little. They believe in the future because of God’s promises.
  4. The stewardship principle of service as a road to leadership begins to spread as these people rise to prominence in many spheres of life such as family, education, church, the courts, government, business, and the economy. Service slowly begins to overtake the will to personal power as the standard for running their country.
  5. Legal systems and social institutions then begin to slowly conform to Biblical standards.
  6. Economic development accelerates as the whole social fabric of the nation improves.

This is the pattern for the growth of the kingdom in all cultures.

When rulers forget these principles and act as though they are independent of God and His law, they tend to lose dominion and their nation becomes poorer over time. This is one of the ironies of history. When Adam rebelled against God, he was being greedy and trying to assert his own control over creation. He failed because of the judgement and he became much poorer. When men rebel against God and His moral standards in order to increase their power base, the exercise also backfires over time (Psalm 73:2-20). Adam rebelled against God, and the creation rebelled against him. When wicked leaders ethically rebel against God’s laws, their citizens then rebel against them. Investment in their economy falls off, businesses move elsewhere, people emigrate or become more financially cautious. Spending slows and recession or depression kicks in. Crime rises as the poor emulate the theft perpetuated by their rulers. The entire country goes backwards. The problem is never lack of natural wealth but ethical rebellion against God and His law order.

The repeated defeats and captivities of the Hebrew nation throughout the latter part of the Old Testament came about because they ethically rebelled against God (Ezekiel 16, 22, 23). They served other gods. In the New Testament, we read of a similar rebellion in the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-31). He demanded his inheritance without waiting. He lived an ethically rebellious and selfish life and slid down the slippery slope toward absolute poverty. These stories provide economic illustrations of God removing dominion after moral rebellion. The western world has become a modern prodigal son, abandoning its relationship with the father and wasting its economic inheritance on current debt-fuelled consumption. How long will it be before we are living in an economic pig sty?

Much of Third World poverty today is exactly the same story with a fresh makeover. The worship of money and greed impoverishes billions of people globally. We cannot have two masters (Matthew 6:24). God cannot bless a corrupt, unethical, power hungry people (Deuteronomy 8:10-20, Psalm 37). But modern economists do not believe there is a relationship between high personal or national ethics and economic prosperity, or between sin and poverty. The rampant corruption and fraud that engulfs the vast majority of poorer countries around the world speaks loudly to us of the correctness of the Biblical standard. The moral decline of the once Christian countries is also a sure sign that severe economic decline will arrive sometime early this century (Job 5:10-16, Romans 6:20-23, Philippians 3:17-20).


The Bible teaches us that the family is the primary agent of stability in a society. It is families that are charged with the primary responsibility of:

  1. Imparting to children the principles and importance of God’s laws (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).
  2. Training the ethical behaviour of future citizens (Proverbs 23:13-14).
  3. Establishing the bedrock and basic building block of the culture (Genesis 9:1-7).
  4. Imparting the balance between liberty and justice, freedom and responsibility, strength and compassion (Deuteronomy 28:18-21).
  5. The education, welfare and training of children (Deuteronomy 4:9).
  6. Relieving scarcity, hardship and poverty within its own membership (1 Timothy 5:8).

When families fail, the culture fails. Tyranny in a nation is the direct result of the failure of families. A study of the family backgrounds of the most brutal rulers of history, such as Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, will nearly always unearth a dysfunctional family background. When a family fails, a micro civilisation dies.

The family is the prime economic institution in society. Economics starts here. Dominion starts here. Government starts here. Education starts here. Welfare starts here. After the fall of Jerusalem in 70AD, the Jewish people kept their culture alive for nearly 2,000 years without a homeland, because they knew the secret of family strength. The family is the primary trustee of every nation’s physical, cultural and spiritual capital. To increase the capital base of the family is a foundational aspect of Christian culture (Proverbs 13:22, 28:20). Thus, the lazy unbeliever becomes an industrious worker. The selfish sinner becomes the caring Christian. The uneducated drop-out has a sudden desire to learn and grow in their understanding of God and His world. The delinquent father starts providing for his family. During the Industrial Revolution, this phenomenon became known as the “puritan work ethic”, and it played a large part in the rise of industry and prosperity in England during the Nineteenth Century. Today we call it the Industrial Revolution. This ethic, though fading because of the rise of the welfare state, is still at work in millions of lives today.

If Christian families can grab hold of a vision of cultural and economic victory, they will see their outward prosperity rise and their opportunities to speak to the culture increase. Christians should be financial savers not spendthrifts, putting aside something for the future opportunity to invest in accordance with their gifts (Proverbs 13:22). This increases their capital and their ability to implement the mission of the kingdom (Matthew 5:5). Christian leaders must begin to teach the importance of self-discipline (Titus 2:6, 12), thrift (Proverbs 13:11), hard work (Ephesians 4:28), quality service to employers (Titus 2:9), honesty in the marketplace (Leviticus 19:35, Ephesians 4:25), and zero debt for all families (Romans 13:8). This is the real prosperity message of scripture, as opposed to the heretical get-rich-quick “prosperity message” currently in vogue.


The Christian family should have confidence in the future, because we know that the promises of God are on our side (Psalm 37:1-40). People who have a confident future orientation can make long-term social and economic plans. Our economic vision for our families should extend beyond our own graves. Present orientation creates a consumption mindset, leaving no capital for future dominion. Followers of Jesus shouldn’t think and live like this because we are working on the side of worldwide victory (Matthew 28:18 Revelation 19:6-16). When we’ve completed this great commission the glory of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14). However it takes time, and after 2000 years, we are not there yet. Our children should see us making confident long-term Biblically grounded plans because we trust our God to bless our future service for Him.

The Christendom worldview looks backward. The humanist looks only to the material pleasures of their own lifetime. The future belongs to confident missional Christianity marching to the tune of God’s promises. We actually are going to win the battle for history! History will be “His-story”, not Satan’s, or mans. This is our absolute confidence (Daniel 2:31-35, Mark 4:30-32). However, if we Christians have a misguided fear of satanic victory in the near future, if we believe in the imminent return of Christ to remove us from cultural engagement and the earth itself, then we have already lost the war. This teaching cripples our capacity to fight the battle for the hearts and minds of men (Romans 12:2). It makes us cultural cowards. However, if we believe our descendants will still be here in hundreds of year’s time, we will plant the seeds of economic, social and spiritual dominion with confidence, as will our children and grandchildren!


Part of that long term planning should be for the education of our children. It is not the responsibility of the State to educate our children. It is the responsibility of Christian parents (Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Proverbs 22:6, Matthew 19:14). All the great universities of Europe and America, before being taken over by the humanists, started as Christian institutions. All the early schools in Australia started as Christian schools or community schools that were set up largely by Christian families. With Government funded education, it is now all too easy to allow the State to take the burden of education from us. It costs less in dollars up front, but the cost is immense in terms of imparting a humanist worldview to our children as well as a bloated tax burden for an inefficient bureaucracy. Taking responsibility for the Christian education of children will cost each family dearly. It is a huge financial responsibility. However, there is no alternative if we are going to recapture cultural momentum for the kingdom of God. Mother Theresa started her ministry through a school in the heart of the Calcutta slums with nothing but a burning vision. First comes your vision in response to God’s commands, then God provides the resources you need.

The Government of Australia has recently found, after 25 years of growth in Christian education, that Christians can provide better education at a cheaper price than the State sector. Surprise, surprise! They are therefore happy now to fund these schools as they save them tax money that they can spend elsewhere. It was not always so. For a decade or more, Christians shouldered the full financial burden of educating their children. There were battles with state and federal Governments, local councils and communities who did not understand this new kingdom vision. Nowadays thousands of non-Christians gladly send their own children to Christian schools. The battle is going well for now, but only because families took the responsibility first.

To this end, leaders should work toward the establishment of Christian schools, or help parents home-school their children, confident in the knowledge that what God has ordained, He supports (Philippians 4:19). It will take time for missions minded parents and leaders to get the vision, but when the light bulb goes on there is no turning back. It is part of the worldview shift that God is unleashing this century.

Why is Christian education so important? Education is the prime means of imparting religion. The humanists know this and have organised for the state to fund the impartation of their religion for over a hundred years now. The term “secular education” is a misnomer. There is no such thing as secular education. All education is religious. If you want to know what the real religion of a culture is, don’t go to the churches, temples, or mosques. Go to the schools and especially go to the universities. It is time for families of faith to expand the Christian school sector wherever they find themselves. Cultural authority will come to those who take this kingdom responsibility.


The family is designed by God as the chief agency of human welfare (1Timothy 5:8). It is the social group that is most effective in solving the problems of poverty, sickness and crisis. It is the only institution in society that instinctively knows its obligations and its limits. Part of the job of every parent, especially mothers, is to calculate the costs and benefits of every project undertaken by the family. No other social institution so clearly links the functions of mutual self-interest, understanding, obligation, support and respect like the humble family. Members are closely linked by blood so they instinctively respond when needed. They are there in times of crisis.

The scriptures do not give this welfare function to the state. It is the job of government to encourage families in this function, not to replace this function through inefficient tax funded programs. The breakdown of a single family throws its crucial welfare function into crisis. A divorce rate of approximately 40% in developed countries has led to a whole range of welfare functions being abandoned by multitudes of families. Regrettably, these welfare tasks have now been transferred to the state. The result is increased taxation, lumbering bureaucratic interference, uncoordinated inefficiency and the institutionalisation of vulnerable citizens. The alternative would see society literally crumble to pieces.

The Biblical answer to Government welfare is charity (Hebrews 13:16, James 1:27). Charity is about Christians graciously helping hurting people on a personal level. The chief agency of this charity is of course, the family. Biblical charity comes with love, hope and life. This is a reflection of the genuine care for people that Jesus displayed when healing and helping those in need. It is task specific, situation specific, person specific, totally accountable, and the embodiment of the word “compassion” used by Jesus in Matthew 9:36. Families who shoulder their welfare responsibilities pass on this sense of compassion to their next generation. Their children learn a sense of responsibility to the sick and infirm. They learn about the servant heart of God.


Work has a spiritual dimension. Work is a God-ordained cure for the curse of scarcity that was the result of our rebellion (Genesis 3:19). However, work is much more than this. Work is also the means by which we establish dominion over the earth and re-establish something of the blessings of Eden (Psalm 1, Romans 8:21). Work is the means by which the kingdom of God grows. Making disciples of all the nations and building a Christian culture is a lot more about hard work than fancy theology.

Jesus worked for a living. His profession was house building. Imagine that for a minute. The creator of the universe got a job while waiting for His human ministry to begin! He also chose fishermen who had learnt the value of hard work in their own professions. These two facts are not accidents of history. Jesus knew that to get a big job done, you must choose people with a good work ethic, reliability, endurance, team skills, self-belief and grunt. Fishermen have it in spades!

Work is the means God has ordained for establishing a righteous culture. This is not to say that our works save us from sin. However, we are saved from sin for the express purpose of doing good works (Matthew 25:35-36, James 2:14-24). A Christian faith without good works is a dead faith. In practical terms, it means there should be tangible, positive change in the behaviour and lifestyle of someone who comes to faith (Ephesians 4:17-6:9). For example, when a family all come to faith in Jesus, the diligent, devoted labour of the parents who have now dedicated their lives to Christ will create strong Christian families. The children of such families will almost always copy their parents and will become a blessing to their community, rather than a nuisance and negative influence. They will pay their way in life, work well, avoid crime, resist the greediness of corruption, stand on the side of justice and their dominion will grow (Proverbs 23:24).

Diligent labour is also the means by which believers will defeat those in the community who grasp for personal power (Psalm 37:1-40, Zechariah 1:18-21). This Biblical call to serve society is constantly in direct mortal combat with the selfish and rebellious elements of society. Isaiah 2:2-4 gives us a near perfect example of how an implement of work, the ploughshare, overcomes the implement of power, the sword. This symbolism has even been used by the United Nations. This Christian cultural victory comes through a life lived in service. Kingdom growth is the goal; works of service are the way we get there. The work ethic of a growing army of diligent believers, faithfully labouring away in a multitude of unpaid volunteer roles, manual labouring jobs and skilled professions will eventually overcome force, corruption, deception and the lust for personal power in a community. In 1980, a Communist party leader from China confided to Paul Kauffman, director of Asian Outreach, that if a person was not going to be a Communist, they wanted them to be a Christian, because the Christians were their best workers! This admission tells us that, eventually, the China of the future will be greatly influenced by Christianity. This is how it should always be. Works of service are the hands that pluck the fruit off the tree of God’s promise of dominion for families and nations.


Sadly, it is not always the case that Christians are ambassadors for our Lord though the diligence of their hands or minds. People become Christians with lazy habits inherited from their previous sin-filled lives. Sometimes Christian children grow up being materially spoilt by their parents (1 Samuel 8:3). Our idleness must be nailed to the cross along with all other selfish aspects of our lives. The Apostle Paul mentions work more than any other teacher in the Bible, and he modelled what he taught. He was not a financial burden to any town he visited (Acts 18:2-3). He laboured for the gospel like no other worker in that era. His teaching in 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15 is a stinging rebuke to the lazy Christian:

“In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, labouring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he should not eat.”

Paul goes on to warn the believers to disassociate themselves from lazy Christians in order to shame them. This is a hard teaching to implement! The message, though, is clear. The Christian obligation to the lazy believer is to knock away their props. The Biblical work ethic is foundational to everything scripture teaches about poverty, dominion and charity. It is too important to ignore. The Christians of any nation must become its best workers. They will then be given promotions and positions of leadership, their wealth will increase and their cultural influence will expand, furthering the kingdom of God.

Finally, the Christendom notion that the work of a preacher or religious professional is somehow superior to the work of a “layman” is unbiblical. All work submitted to the ethical laws of God and which uses our gifts and talents for the service and blessing of others is glorifying to God. It is all a form of worship, therefore it should also be called ministry (Proverbs 31:10-31). Some people may like to place a preacher on a level above the rest of us, but this thinking is not part of New Testament Christianity. It is part of the Christendom system of entrenched power structures, which we must now leave behind. Was Jesus any less spiritual when He was a carpenter or a child? When submitted to Jesus every profession becomes a mission, from mother to prime minister. We are all equal under God and we all labour for the kingdom, not position, pride and profits. We are all priests now (1 Peter 2:9).


The New Testament spells out very clearly how much we should give financially. II Corinthians 8:1-7 tells us to give until we are giving generously. This is a simple formula. The amount is irrelevant. The attitude is crucial. There is no room here for the spirit of mammon to creep in and establish an idol in our hearts. When we give with generosity, we release a little more of our ego and false security. You cannot give generously without giving something of yourself away. The ultimate gift of generosity was Christ’s incarnation; He gave his very life and spirit on behalf of us. When we in turn give generously of ourselves, we reflect Christ’s incarnation to others in our community. Both the kingdom and our faith grow in such an environment.

Generous giving means we will continually have to trust God for our daily bread. Creating vast storehouses and a materialistic back-up system of assets is not necessary when living a kingdom life (Luke 12:13-21). Our heavenly Father gave us everything. For that reason, we hold on lightly and release easily. This is not to detract from creating savings or making future financial plans. These things are all good, only if they are emotionally released to God and not tied to our selfish ambition (James 4:13-15). It is not so much what we do with our money as why we do it that is important to God.


Government-to-government foreign aid has become an accepted feature of the relationships between richer countries and poor countries during the last half-century. There are several principles from scripture that should guide our thinking on this issue. Firstly, Deuteronomy 28 tells us that when a people covenant with God and take seriously His commands for every area of life, there will be material blessings. Foreign aid should not be necessary if a nation as a whole seeks God’s law and grace. They will become lending nations instead of borrowing nations. This leads us to the understanding that it should be the goal of every nation to free itself of its dependence on foreign aid. This will come about when the nation submits to the salvation of Christ, and the ethical and legal principles of the kingdom. As the Psalmist eloquently says, “I have been young, and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread” (Psalm 37:25-29).

Foreign aid, if given at all, should be short-term or for emergency purposes. Long term institutionalised aid is dangerous to any country. The receiving nation develops a condition of dependency. Aboriginal leaders in Australia appropriately called it “Sit Down Money”. Scripture firmly instructs us that if a person does not work they should not eat either (2 Thessalonians 3:10). This principle applies to nations as well as individuals. Institutionalized aid creates laziness and is an invitation to poverty. Leaders see free money arriving year after year and do not make the hard and visionary decisions needed to move the nation forward. Scripture also declares that anyone who does not provide for his family’s needs is worse than a non-Christian (1Timothy 5:8). By extension, leaders are the fathers of their nation and bear the same responsibility.

Government-to-government foreign aid is, in many respects, similar in principle to the welfare payments a rich nation gives its own citizens. The poor of a wealthy country are poor often, though not always, because they have lived a wicked life. The cure for these citizens is faithfulness and obedience to God’s law, not further handouts. There is no other cure for long-term poverty except outward obedience to God’s kingdom principles. This ideal applies to nations as well as individuals. In the modern world most nations are usually poor due to the effects of sin in the culture and leadership. The answer to their poverty is the same as the answer to sin, obedience to God.

Related to this principle is that of authority and service. Those who take responsibility for their actions increase their sphere of dominion and their wealth (Deuteronomy 5:29, James 1:22-25). This applies to nations as well as individuals. If there is the national will to take responsibility for the financial needs of the nation then, over time, blessings will flow. To achieve this goal a nation firstly needs the determination and the will to be free from foreign aid. The strategies, methods and specific means to do so come later. Vision always comes before action. The Protestant Christian nations did not need foreign aid to prosper two hundred years ago. They submitted themselves to God’s salvation and ethical law. Asian nations did not need foreign aid to prosper. They copied many of the kingdom methods of the developed Protestant nations.

Foreign aid so often creates the conditions for poverty within a receiving nation. This is not always the case, but if it leads to greater wealth and politicisation in the governing elite it is doing long-term harm to that nation. Foreign aid frequently leads to the clambering for political power as a means to further personal power. Politicians learn over time to divide the spoils of foreign aid among themselves. This in turn leads to political instability, corruption and national poverty.

This lust for personal power ironically creates economic dependency and actually takes away power from leaders. The recipient nation loses part of its sovereignty and becomes highly susceptible to foreign intervention. This was the subtle and insidious policy of the United States during the last decades of the Twentieth Century. They bought their influence over the natural resources of developing nations through international loans and foreign/military aid. They continue to buy influence over the ruling elite of Islamic nations today such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. This use of foreign aid is simply a large-scale form of bribery. Bribes blind the eyes of even a wise man and bring about the curse of God (Exodus 23:8, Deuteronomy 27:25). Leaders that lack Godly ethical standards can usually be bought, given the right price. If these leaders compromise their sovereignty for the sake of personal gain, their nation will lose dominion and slide toward a lower standard of living (Proverbs 4:14-19).

Because foreign aid goes to governments and not to the poor, the result is an urban bias in its use. The City that is the seat of political power sees a lot of the spending and indulgence as the political elite show-off their assets and toys. Those “little emperors” further down the political food chain copy the methods of their political masters. The poor who live in outlying areas see little benefit from foreign aid. These poorest citizens are the direct victims of a selfish and corrupt leadership (Proverbs 14:31). It is the job of God’s people to come to the aid of these poor people. They are what the Bible calls “the oppressed” and they are dear to the heart of God (Psalm 146:5-9).

Biblical teaching does not encourage government-based foreign aid. However, there is one type of foreign aid that scripture demands. This is what we would today call charity. It is the responsibility of Christians to look after the widow, the orphan, the hungry, the illiterate, the refugee, the poor, the sick and the destitute wherever they find them (Isaiah 1:17, 58:6-11). The long-term prosperity of believers who receive God’s grace and follow His law enables them to share the fruit of their work with the less fortunate. This show of love tangibly demonstrates Gods grace to others, who in turn begin to seek out God’s mercy and law for themselves. This has been one of the most effective methods of kingdom expansion ever since Jesus fed the five thousand (Isaiah 58:6-12, Matthew 4:23). This type of foreign aid goes directly to the needy and the agency handling the operation is directly responsible to the givers. There is little waste and no government bureaucracy or corruption. Those who handle the operation are motivated by service, not personal power. It is yet another example of private sector efficiency.

The simplest form of charity is to give financially (2 Corinthians 8:1-5). If the Western church, the Europeanised Christendom church, stopped spending 50-80% of its finances on buildings, then the funds made available for relief work, hospitals, education and development projects around the world would multiply at least five fold. In one sense though, the giving of money is cheap. The giving of time and effort is much more expensive and much more effective (Luke 10:29-37). The ultimate form of charity is to give one’s life for the poor, to utterly dedicate your life and mission for those who can’t help themselves, living out the incarnation of Christ. This is the charity that Jesus demonstrated for us and this is what He expects of us (Titus 2:11-14, James 2:14-17).


In reality, there is only one long-term goal for any Christian who is in business, or who is contemplating starting a business, and that is to glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Each of us has been given this same task, no matter where we find ourselves in life. The mandate to glorify God in business is extremely difficult because of the dangers of mammon, the will to personal power and the hazard of working with people who are less than ethical. Christians who serve God through business should see their task as important as any other function in the body of Christ. They serve as a minister of Jesus Christ just as visibly as a full-time pastor. Perhaps their ministry is even more visible due to the scrutiny they are under from non-Christian employees, customers, suppliers and the government.

This goal of glorifying God can be broken down into a number of observable tasks. It is obvious that a prosperous Christian businessman or woman will be well placed to fund the Gospel (Proverbs 3:9). The bigger their profit is, the greater their ability to give to others in need. This generosity in business actually enhances growth (Proverbs 11:24). This is a well-understood business principle. This funding function is important, but is not the most important aspect of a Christian Business.

Also important is the employer’s responsibility to supply the material needs of their own family and the families of employees (1Timothy 5:8). Employees should be fairly paid (Jeremiah 22:13, James 5:4); their workplace should be safe. They should know your business is a far superior place to work than the business of a non-Christian. They should see your honesty, integrity, generosity and care (Ephesians 6:9, Colossians 4:1).

The number one task of a Christian business should also be to see workers come to know Jesus themselves. The best way to evangelise workers is to model Christ to them. Try challenging workers to hold you responsible for being the kind of boss God expects you to be according to Scripture! This will open the doors of your heart and theirs to God’s standards, and conviction. Vulnerability to workers is a reflection of the vulnerability God demonstrated when He walked the dusty roads of Israel. Eleven of the twelve workers in Jesus’ leadership “factory” gave their lives for their boss, while the other stole from him. If you model Jesus, you will probably have similar results.