Discipling Nations

Monday, November 21st, 2011

One of the key themes in the Gospel is the declaration that the Gospel will be preached in “all nations.” Jesus, as the Risen Lord, commanded His disciples to make disciples of all nations. It is interesting that, on the popular level, we often interpret this as making disciples of “individuals.” However, Jesus said we are to disciple the nations. What does this mean? The word Jesus uses for ‘nation’ in these texts is not the Greek work for country or any political entity. Jesus uses a “people” word. It is the word “ethne” which means “people-group.” The Gospel is for every people. We may work with individuals, but our goal is always an entire people-movement to Jesus Christ.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ should make an impact on the whole of society, including the values, goals and ethics of a people. The Gospel impacts not only individual hearts, but the entire social structure of a community.  The church is always more than just the aggregate number of saved individuals. The church is the community of the redeemed. The body of Christ finds local expression in particular communities who live out the future New Creation in the present order. The society should really notice the impact of a Christian presence. We should see churches as little outposts of heaven planted on the earth to give people a vision of the future.

My wife Julie and I are going to spend Thanksgiving in Tanzania with our daughter Bethany. She is there in Tanzania to bring the Gospel to the Alagwesi people. There are about 40,000 of these people in a dozen or more small villages in northern Tanzania. They live in an extremely remote area without running water or electricity or paved roads, etc. Isn’t it wonderful to know that the Lord of glory loves these people so much that he became incarnate to redeem the Alagwesi for himself. We are praying that God will help the team plant a church there and that, in time, a new nation will be discipled. Jesus declared that the Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in “every nation” and then the end will come (Matt. 24:14).


  • Paul Lawler says:


    Grace to you.
    Thank you for the gracious reminder regarding God’s command to make disciples all “people groups.” Praying for you, Julie, Bethany and the Alagwesi people.
    For His renown,

    Paul Lawler
    Senior Pastor, Christ Church Birmingham

  • Ed says:

    This is really a wake-up call to the Church today. Thanks Dr. Tennent for your wonderful insight and your leadership at Asbury. Enjoy your holiday with your daughter. I’ve been to Tanzania twice and have fallen in love with the people.

  • Just how do you reach a whole people group with the gospel; leading one individual to Christ at a time and move from one person to another or mass rallies??????????

    • Oladele says:

      It is great to see your seed working for the growth and the expansion to the work of God’s seed. More gratifying is the fact that this is happening in your life time. I rejoice with you and your wife and wish you the best experiences on your trip.

  • John says:

    “The Gospel of Jesus Christ should make an impact on the whole of society, including the values, goals, and ethics of a people” If this is true, and I believe that it is; why are we as a church, so strangely silent in the face of the illegal, and immoral acts committed every day by the people of our “nation”, the present leaders of the Congress, and Senate, and the sitting chief executive in the White House?
    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the work of making disciples for Christ should stop at the American border, but ignoring the obvious need for this ministry right here at home that is staring you directly in the face is reminiscent of the kid that passes up the supper on his plate, and goes straight for the dessert.

  • Nicholas says:

    Please pray with us that God will provide us with all the resources required to build our planned international christian school(Camp David Green Academy) in Kenya.

    Waiting upon the Lord.

    In His service,