There have been relatively few times during my missionary career when I have had the joyful opportunity to witness a person actually coming to Christ. Ultimately, only God can see the heart, but there are times when a person’s outward response to the Gospel leaves little doubt that they have been born again.
Today I witnessed just such a rebirth in my own living room.
Several months ago, a man named Vasyl began attending our English Club here in L’viv. It was evident from the beginning that God was working in his heart, and he asked lots of questions about the Lord. On two prior occasions we had extended conversations during which I explained the Gospel to him in detail. Although he seemed very open, it just didn’t quite penetrate.
Last night after English Club, Vasyl, who works as a taxi driver, drove Jessie home since Jessie’s van is currently in the shop. Jessie called me later that night and said that they had had a great conversation and that Vasyl seemed to really be searching for answers. Due to the language barrier, their ability to communicate was limited so Jessie suggested that Vasyl come and meet with me today. I later called Vasyl and we agreed that he would come to my house.
He arrived around 3:30 or so, and we talked for over three hours. During the course of our conversation we read many passages of Scripture including Romans 4:4-5, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Romans 10:1-10, Philippians 3:9, 2 Corinthians 5:19-21, and others. He hung on every word, and after about an hour or so, the lights came on. As I went through the basics of imputed righteousness and the contrast between faith and works, his eyes lit up. He exclaimed over and over how he had never understood this before, how a weight had suddenly fallen from his shoulders, and how he could barely keep from weeping.
Finally, when I was convinced he had really understood, I gave him the test questions.
"Vasyl, if you were to stand before God today, and He asked you on what legal basis you should be admitted to heaven, what would you say?"
Without hesitation he replied, “Because Jesus died for me.”
I pressed further, “Yes, but you’re a sinner. What is to be done about your sin?”
"Jesus paid for my sins and has given me His righteousness."
Now I was the one who could barely keep from weeping. With great joy in my heart I said to him, “Vasyl, if you have believed what you just told me sincerely from your heart, then on the authority of the Scriptures, all your sins are forgiven and God has granted you everlasting life.” We talked for a while longer and towards the end we prayed together, thanking God for His provision of salvation through Christ.
The Vasyl that walked out the front door of my house today is not the same one that came in. I started out to have a chat with a friend, and I ended by embracing a brother. Rejoice with me today: a sinner has come home!
"Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth."
These are a few photos I snapped with my iPhone during our recent family picnic at the Shevchenko Forrest in L’viv.
Hey there! Thanks for the questions. There are actually quite a number of missionaries of various denominations serving in Ukraine. I’ve heard that Kyiv actually has the greatest concentration of foreign missionaries anywhere in the world. That said, there is still plenty to do here and plenty of people who have not heard the Gospel.
Our ministry is focused primarily on preaching the Gospel and teaching the Bible. We do this largely through our correspondence Bible course called Bible First. Thus far, we have not done any work with orphanages. If you’d like to learn more about our work, I’d invite you to check out our web site: www.euroteamoutreach.org. God bless you!
Our team recently completed our revisions for Lesson 5 of the Bible First! course. Below is an excerpt from the lesson which talks about the significance of God’s rest on Day 7 of Creation.
Genesis 2:1-3 “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day, God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it, because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”
According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, to rest is “to cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength.” This begs the obvious question: why would Almighty God need to rest? Although His creative works were indeed great, the Scriptures are clear that God does not experience fatigue. “The everlasting God, The Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary.” (Isaiah 40:28)
As with many of His actions, God’s choice to rest was for our benefit and not His own. By resting on the seventh day, God set it apart, leaving a pattern for us to follow: six days of labor, one day of rest. Years later, when God gave His law to the nation of Israel, He commanded them to keep the seventh day as the Sabbath, a holy day on which work was strictly forbidden. (Exodus 20:8-11)
But the seventh day as recorded in Genesis holds a much deeper meaning than a simple day of refreshment. Consider the following passages in which the author of Hebrews sheds more light on the distinction of this special day:
“For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.” (Hebrews 4:3–4)
The Bible makes a very clear connection between faith and rest. One who believes God is resting in God’s provision. Consider Adam’s position when he was created. For Adam, the seventh day was actually his first full day of life. What was Adam asked to do on that day? Rest. What did Adam contribute to all the beauty he enjoyed on that day? Nothing. God did 100% of the work, and Adam merely entered into God’s rest as a beneficiary. There were many things on that first day that Adam did not understand, but that didn’t matter. Adam simply trusted God for provision.
God did 100% of the work, and Adam merely entered into God’s rest as a beneficiary.
“There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” (Hebrews 4:9–11)
Adam’s rest on the seventh day is a beautiful illustration of salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ. Many people mistakenly believe that they must work hard to contribute to their salvation. They labor fearfully in the hope that someday God will grant them eternal life because of their religious fervor. But this is not the path of faith, and it is contrary to God’s will. As quoted above, Hebrews 4:10 warns: "For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.”
Consider the following passages which also talk about the contrast between believing rest and self-righteous labor:
- Ephesians 2:8–9 – "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."
- Romans 4:4–5 – “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”
- Philippians 3:8–9 – “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:”
- Romans 10:1–4 – “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”
When Christ died on Calvary, He finished all the work that was needed to pay for your sins. Your task is to believe Him and thus enter into His rest.
Copyright © 2012, Euro Team Outreach, Inc.
Please pray for our landlady, Maria. Her husband Andriy has cancer and will have an operation this Friday. Maria came just now to collect rent, and I had a wonderful opportunity to share Christ with her from the Scriptures. We looked at verses like 2 Cor. 5:21, Rom. 4:4-5, John 3:15-16, Romans 10:1-4, 9-11, and others. I explained to her the meaning of righteousness imputed by faith, and that salvation is based on what Christ has done on our behalf. She told me through tears that in spite of all her years going to church, this was the first time she had heard the Gospel.
She wrote down the passages we read on a piece of paper so she could read them later at home. We prayed together before she left, and I encouraged her to share these truths with her husband. Please pray for the salvation of this family.
"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (2 Pet. 3:9)
Everyone has a Bible these days. Even over here on my side of the world, access to the Scriptures is not really the problem. The problem is the failure to actually read the Scriptures. Most people I talk to feel lost when it comes to reading the Bible. Where do I start? How do I stay on track? Enter YouVersion.com.
The web is full of Bible sites that can help you with studying and reading Scripture, but in my opinion, YouVersion stands out for several practical reasons.
Huge selection of languages and versions
I’m a committed King James man, so that’s the only English version I need. But I also like to check out Ukrainian and Russian translations from time to time. Regardless of what language or version you read, YouVersion probably has it.
Free audio streaming
I must confess: there are times when I’m reading the Bible and my mind begins to wander. Especially when I’m working on a read-the-whole-Bible plan and I find myself slogging through genealogies. This is where audio accompaniment can really come in handy. With YouVersion, you just click the play button, and the passage you’re on is read aloud!
You can use YouVersion on the web or via their mobile app. In the mornings, I usually read my Bible on my iPod Touch, listening along with streaming audio. When I’m at church, I can switch around quickly between my English Bible and my Ukrainian and Russian Bibles. Additionally, any changes I make to my YouVersion account on my mobile device are synced up to my online account and vice-versa.
Broad array of reading plans
Want to read the whole Bible this year? How about in 90 days? Or maybe just the New Testament? Perhaps you’d like to read the whole Bible in a year but also read the New Testament twice? Whatever your goals, YouVersion probably has a plan that fits. Happily, recent updates to their interface have made this experience even better. For example, right now I’m reading through the Bible on the M’Cheyene One Year plan. So my daily reading is usually something like Genesis 3 > Matthew 3 > Ezra 3 > Acts 3. As I finish reading (and/or listening) to the first passage, YouVersion automatically advances me to the next.
If you’d like to learn more about YouVersion Bible-reading plans, check out their web site. And whether you choose YouVersion, another web tool, or just sit down with a hard copy of the Scriptures, don’t neglect the daily reading of God’s Word. "And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." (2 Timothy 3:15-17)