NOTE: Dug this one up from deep in the archives…

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations.                                                               Matthew 28:18,19

The
modern Evangelical church tends to celebrate the “Great Commission” of
making disciples of individuals while ignoring the “Cultural Mandate”
to disciple nations.  One reason for the neglect is our gross ignorance
of history.  We know about preachers and missionaries who evangelized
pagan souls, but we know little about reformers
and educators who helped transform pagan nations.  We celebrate and
honor soul-winning preachers like Wesley and Whitefield.  But we forget
about nation-changing statesmen like Wilberforce and Witherspoon.

Because
of our rapture-any-moment mentality, the separation of church and state
doctrine and our evangelical obsession with the individual, we have
missed half of the point of the Matthew 28 commission.  We make
disciples, but we do not disciple nations.  We reach out to people groups, but ignore political groups.  We expect moral change, but not social change.

Is
it actually possible to disciple a nation?  Can the gospel really
change society?  Or, should we expect everything to get worse and worse
as the End draws near?  Is our ultimate goal simply to not be “left
behind”?  Is there a valid hope to influence nations for the glory of
God?  A quick look at history tells us that, yes, the gospel really can
and should change nations.


Fifteen hundred years ago Ireland was an idol-worshipping,
slave-trading nation of savage pagans.  In just one generation Ireland
was transformed into a godly nation known for its scholars and
missionaries.  The best-selling (secular) book “How the Irish Saved Civilization” tells how this national transformation was primarily the work of one man, Patrick.  During his thirty years of missionary work in Ireland, Patrick helped establish over 700 churches
and schools and trained over 3000 ministers.  But his ministry went
beyond just church work.  He also helped transform government reform
laws that brought the end of slavery in Ireland.


William Wilberforce was elected to Parliament at the age of
twenty-one.  He had a two-fold life mission as indicated in his diary
entry on October 28, 1787: “God Almighty has set before me two great
objectives, the suppression of the Slave Trade and the reformation of morals.”
For the next forty-six years Wilberforce worked tirelessly to change
English law, to change English culture and to change the English
economy in order to end the English slave trade.  Three days before his
death on July 26, 1833, the House of Commons passed the bill that
abolished slavery in the entire British Empire.  This was not done by a
preacher, but by a Christian serving God in civil government.


In 1768 John Witherspoon resigned his pastorate in Scotland and moved
to the New World to pursue a career in education.  He did not abandon
his faith or calling.  He served
God as an educator the same way he had served God as a pastor.   He
became the president of a school that trained ministers, the College of
New Jersey (now the apostate Princeton University).  Many of
Witherspoon’s graduates became pastors and ministers.  Those who did
not end up in ministry included: a US president, a US vice-president,
ten cabinet officials, twenty-one senators, thirty-nine congressmen,
one supreme court justice, one-fifth of the signers of the Declaration
of Independence, and one-sixth of the delegates to the US Constitution
Convention.  Witherspoon is called “the man who shaped the men who
shaped America.”  In other words, Witherspoon discipled a nation.

Where
are the modern versions of Patrick, Wilberforce and Witherspoon who
will right social wrongs and change unjust laws, who will run for
political office and serve in government?    Unfortunately most
Christians are too busy with prayer meetings and Bible studies to
effectively engage the culture and disciple the nation.  Real
Christianity is not measured by how much time we spend in church, but
by how we apply God’s word in all of life.   We should applaud and
support every godly citizen who is willing to obey the Great Commission
by not just discipling individuals, but by discipling the nation.