From the Garden to the City

New Philly Hongdae (video streamed to Sillim, Itaewon, Busan; one week delay for Sydney)
Preached by Christian Lee on March 29, 2015, Sunday.
Duration: 60 minutes (audio)
Theology of the City: Part 3

NP Hongdae


Discussion Questions

The Cultural Mandate and the City

  1. Read Genesis 1:28. Scholars call this the cultural mandate. How do many Christians interpret the cultural mandate? What has it meant to you in the past?
  2. Read Genesis 2:8, 15 and then read aloud this Keller quote:

    “Gardening (the original human vocation) is a paradigm for cultural development. A gardener neither leaves the ground as is, nor does he destroy it. Instead, he rearranges it to produce food and plants for human life. He cultivates it. (The words culture and cultivate come from the same root.) Every vocation is in some way a response to, and an extension of, the primal, Edenic act of cultivation.”[1]

    Discuss how different vocations are a response to our call to cultivate culture. How does the creation mandate transform our understanding of work and vocation?[2]

  3. How does the cultural mandate and gardening relate to the city?
    The New Jerusalem

  5. Read aloud Revelation 21:2; 22:1-2. Discuss how the holy city at the end of the Bible relates to the garden in the beginning of the Bible.
  6. When the first Adam failed to fulfill the cultural mandate and the cities of the earth kept getting destroyed by God’s wrath for its evil, God sent a second Adam. According to I Corinthians 15:45-49, who is this second Adam and how does he fulfill the cultural mandate that Adam failed to obey?
  7. PC mentioned how Christians often underestimate the church’s ability to impact cities and treat them like lepers and stay away at the first sign of moral decay. According to Matthew 13:31-33, what implications can you draw from Jesus’ teaching in regards to the church’s ability to impact the city?

  9. Read Jeremiah 29:7 aloud. In light of this verse and the cultural mandate, the church should be engaged in city growth and not just church growth. What are big or small ways in which local churches can engage in city growth and a city’s cultural development?
  10. Optional: For homework, memorize Micah 4:1-2.


  1. Tim Keller, Center Church, p. 150.
  2. Tim Keller, Center Church, p. 152.


  1. One hoenst question that came to me as I was relistening to this message is, how does this theology of the city interact with a post-trib, pre-mil eschatology such as we hold to?

    What it sounded like was that we would continue to carry out the cultural mandate and the flourishing of culture would continue to a point where Jesus would then come in and consummate/finish it as opposed to Jesus bringing judgment and God restoring and renewing a broken world and establishing his eternal city.

    However, the reality of the Tribulation would seem to imply that the state of this world will deteriorate, while the fulfillment of the cultural mandate would seem to dictate that things are going to improve…is there a contradiction between the two, or can they both be true simultaneously?

    • Something that may help explain:
      Towards the end of the message, PC refers back to his work series where we will encounter futility in our endeavours in this life due to the fallen nature of the world. So even though the Church may not see the results in its mission to the cities, we know that Jesus will return and complete the work.

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