Thursday, August 29, 2013

Food and Dominion

In 1 Timothy 4:1-5 we learn several things. First, everything created by God is good, and second, we are to be thankful to God for His blessings. To reject either of these things is to destroy God's gifts (see other posts on these subjects here, here, and here). A third thing that Paul brings out is that God created food “to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.” What then? Did He not created it to be received by all men? What about common grace and the rain on the just and unjust? John Calvin has a great point to make on this subject:
“I reply, Paul speaks here of the lawful use, of which we are assured before God. Wicked men are in no degree partakers of it, on account of their impure conscience, which, as is said, 'defileth all things.' (Titus 1:15)

"And indeed, properly speaking, God has appointed to his children alone the whole world and all that is in the world. For this reason, they are also called the heirs of the world; for at the beginning Adam was appointed to be lord of all, on this condition, that he should continue in obedience to God. Accordingly, his rebellion against God deprived of the right, which had been bestowed on him, not only himself but his posterity. And since all things are subject to Christ, we are fully restored by His mediation, and that through faith; and therefore all that unbelievers enjoy may be regarded as the property of others, which they rob or steal."[1]
In a similar vein, commenting on the fact that “it is made holy by the word of God,” Calvin comments:
"And which of us would venture to claim for himself a single grain of wheat, if he were not taught by the word of God that he is the heir of the world? Common sense, indeed, pronounces, that the wealth of the world is naturally intended for our use; but, since dominion over the world was taken from us in Adam, everything that we touch of the gifts of God is defiled by our pollution; and, on the other hand, it is unclean to us, till God graciously come to our aid, and by ingrafting us into his Son, constitutes us anew to be lords of the world, that we may lawfully use as our own all the wealth with which he supplies us."[2]
Of course, this doesn't mean that unbelievers don't have civil property rights. It does mean that in the eyes of God they are unlawful trespassers on earth. It does mean we have been restored to the task (and promise) of dominion under Christ. It is because Christ was exalted with dominion that we as His people gain the dominion which we lost in Adam. By our union with Christ we are made kings to reign with Him (Rev. 5:10). Since He is the Lord of all, so we also are heirs with Abraham of the whole world by faith (Rom. 4:13). As children of Abraham (Gal. 3:29), we inherit the land. The world and the blessings on it (e.g. food) have been given to us so that we may enjoy and glorify God through them.

The food we eat is made holy. It is set apart for righteousness by the Word of God and prayer. We are taught by the Word of God our place of dominion in our Father's world. We give thanks in prayer for our food, eating for the glory of God, the giver of these blessings. When that is done, we will not be self-centered. We will give our worship and service not to food, nor health, nor any other earthly thing, but to God alone. In that way will God’s blessings be used correctly and to our good. We will thank Him for the way He has made all His blessings. We will not pervert His blessings for our glory, but will stand in awe of His wisdom in His creation, and work with it humbly and joyfully.

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