As 2022 comes to a close, it seems there has never been a more important time for the discipling of nations, and we hope we can count on your partnership and financial support for our continuing work, but first, what is this idea of discipling a nation all about?
My mind first goes to the intentionality of God in creating the nations of this world. God cares about the nations and His redemptive plan has always included the blessing and healing of nations. Listen to the clarity of His plan in the calling of Abram more than 4,000 years ago:
I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing…
and all nations on earth
will be blessed through you. (Genesis 12:2,3b)
God unfolds this plan by raising up a holy nation, blessing them, and through them, blessing “all nations on earth.” This “holy nation” is Israel in the Old Testament, and the church in the New Testament and beyond. As followers of Jesus Christ, that includes all of us. God saved us and blessed us for a purpose. To participate in His plan of blessing the nations of this world.
How, exactly, does this happen? Most evangelicals will answer: by proclaiming the biblical message of salvation; that Jesus died to save us from our sins and give us eternal life. “Gospel” means “good news” and this IS good news. But is there more to the gospel? Is there more good news that will bless the nations? Yes. Consider this good news:
- There is a law that transcends man-made laws. One that defines good and evil for all peoples, for all time: God’s moral law. Even the most powerful king or emperor is accountable to this higher law.
- All human life is sacred, with God-given dignity, purpose, and worth, and with God-given rights to life and liberty.
- Creation is God’s magnificent handiwork, and humans are to wisely rule over creation, and bring forth its vast potential.
- As image-bearers of God, human beings are creative workers. Human creativity and innovation are the sources of resources and wealth.
- The source of evil in our world lies within the fallen, rebellious hearts of all people. Genuine social transformation begins with inward regeneration that comes through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
- There is meaning and purpose in history. God works in history to fulfill His redemptive purposes for the nations, and He grants us the privilege of participating in this work with Him.
- Marriage and family, as God designed them, are the basic building blocks of strong, healthy communities and nations.
- Among our highest moral duties is this: Love your neighbor.
- Authority is God-granted, and to be used to serve those under authority for their own good.
Each of these statements–these biblical principles–is amazingly good news. Any life. Any family. Any organization. Any business. Any nation that is built on these powerful true principles will flourish. It will be blessed.
God has given us, His church, these precious truths. We are stewards of these priceless treasures. But they are not for us alone. They are to benefit the nations that Christ loves and came to redeem. We are messengers. Ambassadors. We must allow them to work deeply into our lives and change us. And then proclaim them fearlessly, and lovingly to our nations, and the nations of the world.
These powerful biblical principles “fit together” and mutually reinforce each other as a comprehensive worldview. We are stewards not only of a message of spiritual salvation, as absolutely vital as that message is. We are stewards of a comprehensive worldview. As the late Chuck Colson said, “Christianity is a worldview and we have to live it and express it and contend for it, otherwise it’s not going to be there. We’re the ones who are the custodians of that. Otherwise, you’ll see the continued deterioration of the culture and all that goes with it.”
The Bible tells us that there are other principles at work in the world as well. False principles. Counterfeit principles. The Apostle Paul calls them “weak and miserable principles” in Galatians 4:9. Satan sows these deceitful principles in order to enslave, and ultimately destroy the nations. For each true principle listed above, there is a corresponding false principle:
- There is no transcendent moral law to which people and authorities are accountable. Cultural opinions and narratives lead to a government that makes its own rules about what is right and best.
- Human life is a cosmic accident. We are highly evolved animals or biological machines that have no intrinsic dignity, worth, or inherent rights to life or liberty.
- The physical universe, or “the environment” is the highest good. Because human beings consume resources and despoil the environment, it is essential to cull the human population.
- History has no meaning and is going nowhere. There is no ultimate purpose or meaning in life.
- Resources and wealth are fixed, limited, and running out. Those who have greater resources came by it illegitimately through systems of oppression. Justice demands these systems be torn down, and all inequity remedied.
- Evil is sourced, not in fallen, rebellious human hearts, but in society, and specifically, in social groups who establish systems of oppression for selfish gain. To transform society, these groups must be destroyed.
- Marriage and family are oppressive systems designed to subjugate women and children.
- The male-female binary is not a biological reality. We are free to determine our “gender identity.” Sexual intimacy, in whatever form people desire, is essential for self-actualization, and even salvation.
- Authority and power are only ever used to subjugate those under authority for the benefit of those in power.
Any life. Any family, business, organization… any nation that is built on these counterfeit principles is really headed for destruction. True principles produce life and blessing. False principles lead to death.
Two sets of principles. But only one will shape any given culture. If not true, biblical principles, then by default, false, counterfeit principles. A culture built on the foundation of true principles will produce beauty, abundance, and human flourishing. False principles are poisonous. They give birth to poverty, destruction, and dehumanization.
Everything we see around us is the product of ideas. That’s where everything starts. Worldviews, and the foundational principles that flow from them shape culture. They shape a nation’s institutions, including government, businesses, schools, media, and entertainment. They shape laws, governing policies, and educational curricula. These, in turn, shape the thinking and behavior of everyone, both Christian and non-Christian alike.
To disciple a nation, followers of Jesus must work in His strength, with great strategic intention and perseverance, over generations, to sow and nurture biblical principles at the foundation of a culture, in ways that shape policies, programs, curricula, and institutions, and eventually shape the way everyone in the nation thinks and lives.
Tragically, for more than a century, the church has not been doing this. Instead of discipling nations, we have narrowed our mission to getting people saved and into churches. The often unspoken assumption is that God isn’t concerned about the affairs of our nations, which are corrupt, fallen, and destined for destruction. In this view, efforts to influence culture based on true biblical principles is a waste of time, and a dangerous distraction from our “higher calling” and first priority.
Are evangelism and the ministry of the local church important, even essential? Absolutely! They are fundamental and essential. But to imply that our concern as Christians should be limited to these domains is a tragic mistake. It is a dereliction of our duty to bless the nations, and be the salt and light of the earth.
If we aren’t discipling the nations, that doesn’t mean that others aren’t. Someone will always disciple the nations. If not followers of Jesus with true, biblical principles, then enemies of the Gospel with false, demonic principles. This is exactly what has happened. For more than a generation, the church has largely abandoned the field of play, leaving it wide open for others to aggressively advance, with almost no opposition. In sports, if one side leaves the field, the other side generally wins. When the church began to neglect her nation-discipling mission, others took up the challenge with gusto, and for several decades have gone about this very deliberately, effectively, patiently, and strategically.
Today, we look around us with a sense of shock and sadness to see our institutions captured by false ideologies that dominate the commanding heights of our culture, including our universities, Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and Hollywood. Poisonous ideas now shape our educational curricula, civic laws, and corporate policies… and are even coming into our churches. But should we be surprised? As Disciple Nations Alliance co-founder Darrow Miller has said: If the church doesn’t disciple the nation, the nation will disciple the church.
Today, we are in what Christian commentator Aaron Renn calls a “negative world.” Leading, powerful voices in our culture hold an entirely negative view of Christianity, and are increasingly hostile towards Christians. In this “negative world,” openly proclaiming biblical principles doesn’t make you popular. It leads to confrontation.
Today, many evangelical leaders seek to avoid this confrontation at all costs. They call it “culture warring” and “getting too political.” They encourage us to be “loving” and “nice,” to the point of affirming Christanized versions of false principles in the hope that this will make unbelievers open to the gospel.
Have we “lost” the culture? Is it too late to turn things around? Only God knows, but that doesn’t change our mission. We must never stop speaking and standing for the truth, no matter the outcome. In the bracing words of the famous Soviet dissident, Aleksandr Solsynitzen, “Let your credo be this: Let the lie come into the world, let it even triumph. But not through me.”
The Disciple Nations Alliance exists to help churches recover their true mission of discipling the nations. To know, cherish, and embody true, biblical principles and allow them to shape and influence their lives, families, churches, businesses, and communities. To network with others in a powerful global alliance to disciple the nations.
We call Christians to return to the biblical theology championed by the great reformers, who didn’t see a world divided between sacred and secular categories. They saw one world. God’s world, with Jesus Christ as Lord over all. For them, biblical principles weren’t confined to church services and Sunday morning Bible studies, they were to shape all areas of public life. In the words of the great missionary Lesslie Newbigin: “We must affirm the gospel not only as an invitation to a private and personal decision but as public truth which ought to be acknowledged as true for the whole of the life of society.”
For more than 30 years, we have worked to help Christians live out and proclaim the powerful, precious biblical principles that produce life and bless nations. And though the hour is late, we do not despair. God has called us to this time. This is our time. We are to honor and glorify Him in it by standing strongly for truth, and by loving our neighbors, and even our enemies. We take heart knowing that Christ is victorious, and no earthly power can thwart His good purposes. We take heart, remembering that: “Every high thing was cast down at Calvary. Principalities and powers were spoiled there. [Jesus] made a show of them openly, triumphing over them. We have to do with a conquered foe, not a conquering foe. We follow a Captain who is unconquerable!” (Amy Carmichael).
If you would like to see some highlights from 2022 and hear about some projects we feel led to complete in 2023, I would encourage you to visit disciplenations.org/reflect where you will find:
- Testimonies from the Global Forum and Online Training
- Featured podcast episodes from Ideas Have Consequences
- Planned improvements for our Online Training site and new language courses
- Darrow Miller’s new book, A Call for Balladeers: Pursuing Art and Beauty for the Discipling of Nations, and a webinar on January 19 where Darrow will interview and highlight the work of a very important balladeer from India
- Plans to release the first in a series of new core teaching videos using high-quality animation
- Plans for the completion of another new book, Ten Words that Transform Culture
Thank you for your commitment to bring glory to God in every area of your life! Our ministry is incredibly thankful to have you as part of the DNA family! We feel God leading us to complete important projects in 2023 and rely on the support of ministry partners like you.
If you have the opportunity to make a year-end gift, please take time to submit that gift today! We would be grateful for your support!
A gift of any amount is appreciated and helps us further our reach to people of all ages in new and hard to reach places with important teaching about God’s purposes for believers to bring transformation to every sector of society.
Scott D. Allen, President
An Ongoing Legacy–Include DNA in Your Estate Planning
God will continue to use DNA’s mission to impact new generations. With support from DNA, believers and their families within the Church will flourish and stand strong against misleading narratives from our culture.
As you complete your will and estate planning, we hope you will consider including Disciple Nations Alliance. It has been a privilege to partner with so many believers in our ministry over the years and we look forward to decades of impact to come.
If you, or your attorney, would like to discuss this further, don’t hesitate to contact Tim Williams (602-386-4560, email@example.com)