Discipling Nations

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).