Throughout the course of history, many men have accomplished many great feats in the name of pride, excellence, dominion, and victory. Some have taken siege on fortified cities; overcoming impossible odds, and trampling over armies much larger and stronger than their own. Others have traversed great distances—by land and by sea—risking their very livelihood to explore and conquer new worlds. Others still have overseen the formation of nations, kingdoms, and empires. They established governments, built beautiful cities, and captivated the hearts and minds of generations of people.

The drive toward dominion is a part of man’s nature; and can be no more separated from us than can the breath from our lungs while we yet live. From the beginning this mandate of dominion was established by God and given to our forefather, Adam, and, by proxy, to us as his descendants. God said in Genesis 1:28,

“Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that creeps on the earth.”

Two verses earlier, in verse 26, we are given the basis for such a mandate in that man is made in the very image and likeness of the Living God. God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness, (and here’s the kicker) SO THAT they will have dominion…” The purpose of mankind, as God sees it, is to be a visible expression of the invisible God on the earth that He created. God is the sovereign Master and Lord over the entirety of reality.

Romans 11:36, “for from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever.” Colossians 1:16, speaking of Christ, says that “…in Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.”

In the creation of man, God delegates authority and rulership to the creatures made in His image. Adam was to be a king and vice-regent under God’s Own authority and commission, and was to spread out across the land and fill it with God’s glory, goodness, wisdom, and creativity. The earth was filled with an immeasurable number of raw materials to be used in the quest for dominion to the glory of God, and Adam was granted the glorious task of harnessing these materials in the furtherance of the Mission of God. 

But, as we know, sin entered into God’s perfect world due to disobedience of the Creator’s command. The hearts of men became corrupt and evil; filled with violence, bloodthirst, envy, pride, covetousness, adultery, malice, and ill-intention. By God’s own evaluation, every intent of the thoughts of man’s heart is only evil continually. The prophet Jeremiah describes the human heart as deceitful and wicked above all things, and the Apostle Paul notes that all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory. So while the fall of mankind into sin did not do away with the quest for dominion, the quest itself became subjected to increasingly malicious operation with man now seeking to glorify his own name, instead of that of the Creator’s.

It is in this kind of world that we find ourselves today.

My grandfather was a man of dominion, but if compared to the many conquerors and kings of the past, he would seem rather small and insignificant in the world’s estimation. He did not amass unto himself riches of untold value. There have been no statues built in his honor; no biographies written telling the great tales of his conquests. And there are no villages, cities, or even streets that bear his name. Yet I would argue on the basis of the witness of Scripture that my grandfather thoroughly surpassed the many great men of the past.

My grandfather was a man who was ruled, first and foremost, by the King of kings. He was, in the truest sense, a King’s man, and his life was that of a living sacrifice to His Master. He ruled well in the sphere which God called him to and offered his talents, gifts, and abilities to the service of his King.

The world is full of men, strong and brave and fearsome as they may be, who are ruled by a great many passions. They are those of whom the Scripture says, “their god is their own appetites.” Men of wrath and anger, impatient and indulgent, driven by desire, filled with all forms of lust and covetousness. They would sooner wage war against a fortified city than seek to conquer even the least of their corrupted appetites.

In a world full of men like these, my grandfather stands as a giant among men. Proverbs 16:32 says that “He who rules his own spirit [is greater] than he who captures a city. Godly men rule well because they have first learned to rule their own hearts under the authority of God’s Word. When Christ saves a man, He claims the entirety of that man for Himself. The crown of his head, the soles of his feet, and everything in between are now the purchased property of the Master and are to be exercised in a way that glorifies Him.

As such, Christ renews and restores the fractured and disfigured Image of God within man to its rightful place. This is a work that spans the course of our lives and ends with that beautiful commendation from our King, “Well done, good and faithful slave. Enter into the Joy of your Master.”

But before any of us hears these blessed words, there is one final enemy that we all must face. Hebrews 9:27 says that “it is appointed for man to die once, and after this comes the judgment.” It’s rare that we view death in this light—death as an appointment—but this is very much the case. There are many appointments in this life which can be postponed with little difficulty; Doctors’ visits, car repairs. Some of you may have arrived late to this very service. But death’s appointment is one to which we will all arrive precisely at the appointed time.

In light of this present dilemma, what hope can we have? The Bible tells us clearly. It is Christ alone who offers victory in the face of certain death. Jesus Christ, the exalted Son of God and Son of Man, lived a perfect life, tasted death, and rose again in victory, offering His perfect sacrifice to all who will believe in Him. Jesus took dominion over death, and He offers the fruits of His victory to all who belong to Him. Romans 10:9, “if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved…”

As a child, my grandfather was the greatest example of godly masculinity available to me. He was a kind and gentle man. Thoughtful and well-spoken. He was never known to me as a man of undisciplined appetites and always kept an even-temper. He was a man of deep, unshakable joy whose laughter arose from a wellspring of genuine happiness and satisfaction.

Yet, for how wonderful all of these characteristics may have been, not one of them commended him to God. But it was his unwavering faith in the Risen Lord that made him into the man that we all came to know and love. My grandfather was a man who had been met, redeemed, and transformed by the power and authority of the Risen Christ. He knew his God and His God knew him. As such, he was a man who was ruled well, and ruled well in all of his affairs. He was a lover of his wife, children, and grandchildren. He managed his affairs with shrewdness, tact, and wisdom. He stood strong in the strength his Lord provided and faced this world, with all of its vices and temptations, with courage and conviction. He was, in the words of Hebrews 11, a man of whom this world was not worthy to hold.

Nearly 11 years ago when I was in the Salvation Army- Adult Rehabilitation Center, I received a letter from my grandparents. This wasn’t unusual, of course. I have received many letters and cards from them over the years for things like birthdays, holidays, and the like. But this one was different. Usually in the cards I received, the handwriting was distinctly that of my grandmother’s. What came as a surprise to me on this occasion is that at the bottom of the card, following my grandmother’s writing, was a short message written by my grandfather’s own hand.

He wrote, “Josh, give your life to God, He can do more with it than you can.”

In those fifteen, brief words contained the whole of my life purpose. So simple, yet so beautifully pregnant with meaning. Obviously, there is much to unpack in something like that, and my understanding of that message has grown with me ever since. But the glorious simplicity of that message remains the same.

So I offer you, my dear friends, that same message of encouragement… Give your life to God; He can do more with it than you can. This is the mantra that hung above my grandfather’s life for all to see. It was his legacy, and, by the grace of God, it will be mine as well.

Thank you.