Friends, I’m delighted to announce the publication of my book, Fill the Earth: The Creation Mandate and the Church’s Call to Missions. Since many of us are quarantined at home these days and perhaps have more (or at least different!) time on our hands, I thought I would write a series of short posts introducing the book, and hopefully you’ll have enough time and interest to read them.
My hope, of course, is that you will consider buying a copy, not because I benefit from it in any way (if enough people buy one, I will possibly be able to buy a venti latte at Starbucks once this virus goes away), but because I believe in the ideas conveyed within the book and believe that more of us in the church need to think more deeply about why we are here on this earth.
In this first post I’ll begin by asking and answering a few questions about the book.
Why did I write this book?
I wrote this book, first and foremost, to help myself understand more clearly why the church is called to engage in the work of missions. I began researching and writing this book while we were still in the early stages of raising support to come to Japan. I’ll be honest, I didn’t want to go through all the trouble of raising support, selling all of our stuff, moving across the world, learning a new language and culture, and struggling to minister in that new language and culture if I didn’t believe it was central to God’s call for the church.
Since seminary I have believed that the geographical and ethnolinguistic expansion of the church is central to our identity as God’s people, but now that I was actually putting my money where my mouth was, so to speak, I wanted deeper and broader biblical confirmation of this belief. What I found as I studied and researched was stronger confirmation of the centrality of the church’s call to missions than I could have imagined. My hope and prayer is that others will benefit from this biblical exploration the same way that I have.
What is this book about?
This book is a biblical theology of mission. It asks the question, “Why did God put human beings on this earth?” and then traces the answer to this question throughout the entire Bible. I argue that God’s first reported speech to humanity—known as “the creation mandate”—provides us with God’s original mission for humanity: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” As God’s representatives, humanity is called to fill the earth and thereby represent the fact that God is King over the entire earth.
Throughout the book I trace how this original mission for humanity is frustrated by the fall into sin, resumed by the call of Abram, organized by the call of Israel, redeemed by the work of Jesus, reinstated through the Great Commission(s), executed by the geographical and ethnolinguistic spread of the church, and fulfilled in the new creation. In this way, the church’s call to missions is the contemporary expression of this original mission for humanity and therefore is central for the identity of God’s people today.
Who is this book written for?
This book is written for any Christian who takes seriously Jesus’ work of redemption and His call for the church to proclaim the gospel throughout the world. When writing this book I primarily had pastors and seminary students in mind, since they are the ones who have (or will have) the most influence over how the church engages in missions. But my hope is that any Christian—whether seminary-trained or not—will be able to follow the flow of the argument and benefit from it.
To give a real-life example, here is an excerpt from a text message I recently received from my mom (Yes, my mom is reading it!):
“I am learning a lot… I get a little bogged down when there are a lot of Hebrew words, but even there I can follow what you are saying and the point you are making.”
Indeed, there are a few junctures where I get into the weeds of Hebrew or Greek syntax, but I make every effort to explain those details without presuming that the reader is familiar with those languages. My hope is that you will see for yourself in the text how I am reaching these conclusions and developing my argument.
How can you get the book?
For more information on Fill the Earth, including a table of contents and endorsements, go to the Fill the Earth website. You can purchase the book through the following websites (NOTE: Kindle version will be available for $9.99 in the near future):
In the posts to follow I will briefly summarize the content and argument of the book. Ideally this will pique your interest and encourage you to purchase the book so you can explore the whole discussion for yourself. Hope you enjoy!