"Wow, I've never heard anyone teach that before!" That is the response I often receive from Ukrainians when I have the opportunity to explain the concept of righteousness imputed by faith — the idea that Jesus' perfect righteousness completely replaces my own and becomes the basis of my justification before God. (Romans 3:21–22, 4:4–5; Philippians 3:9)
Like the Jews of Paul's day, most here in Ukraine only know about one kind of righteousness: their own. They know they're not perfect—after all, no one is. But in their hearts they cling to a vague hope that maybe their good works will outweigh their bad works on Judgment Day. At best, they suppose, they'll only need to spend a short time in purgatory.
So when a local church here in L'viv invited me to preach the Gospel message for their Christmas outreach service, I knew just what angle I wanted to take. Abigail came with me to help out, and when we arrived we were met with the sight of a packed auditorium. Looking out over the crowd, I saw people of all ages — moms and dads, young people, and plenty of kids. To illustrate the concept of two kinds of righteousness, I had brought with me two bath robes from home: one a bright white, the other a dingy bluish-gray.
I began by talking about the familiar Christmas story, and how much we all love to receive gifts. I talked about the gifts we give to each other and then about the various gifts God gives to us in the form of daily blessings. "But did you know," I continued, "that the most important gift God has ever given is one that He crafted personally for us? It is hand-made and took over thirty years to complete."
Next I invited two kids to come up as volunteers. On each I placed one of the bath robes, explaining that the white robe represents the perfect righteousness of Jesus, while the gray robe is our own righteousness, soiled by acts of sin. "Kids, have you ever gone outside to play and gotten your clothes dirty? You start with a new shirt or dress, but when you come back inside, you notice spots and mud that you picked up from the street. Sin has a similar effect. We start out with a clean garment, but each time we sin a blotch appears on our robe until finally we stand before God in shame, soiled by our own disobedience. What can we do? How can we become clean?"
I then gave the answer: "Every day that Jesus lived on earth, He said 'Yes' to righteousness, and 'No' to sin. He earned beautiful, pure, clean righteousness through His obedience to the Father, and now He wants to give you that righteousness as a free gift." I then switched the robes on the two children, explaining how Jesus took our sin upon Himself, and that in exchange He offers us His righteousness.
The room was silent as every eye remained fixed on the two children at the front, each now clothed in the other's robe. The audience listened intently as I closed the message, challenging them to consider whose righteousness they were trusting in. I cannot know what was in their hearts, but I rejoice that God allowed His Gospel to be heard that day. Please pray with us that He would bring much increase from the seed sown.
"Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."
2 Corinthians 5:20-21
Curious to hear some Ukrainian preaching?
The clip below is from the Two Robes message. I'm reading a portion of Luke 2, and then asking the audience to quote in unison the phrase, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."
After many months of work, we are pleased to announce that the Ukrainian translation of Good and Evil is complete! Our designer in Kyiv is now working through the page layout and has already completed several chapters. More work remains before the project is complete, and we appreciate your continued prayer support. To find out more about our progress, check out our recent blog post on the ETO site: euroteamoutreach.org/blog/2018/03/translation-complete
CMO 2018 Deadline
The application deadline for CMO 2018 is nearly upon us! We're praying that God would raise up a strong team of laborers this year to help us minister the Gospel here in Western Ukraine. If you or someone you know is interested in joining us, we need to hear from you right away. All applications need to be submitted no later than April 1st. To learn more, visit the CMO site at: cmoproject.org/apply
A few more photos…
How You Can Pray
- Pray for those who heard the Gospel at the Two Robes presentation.
- Pray for a strong team for CMO 2018!
- Praise the Lord for the complete translation of Good and Evil in Ukrainian!
- Praise the Lord for continued preaching and teaching opportunities! Pray that God would use us to turn many to Christ.
- Pray for peace and liberty in Ukraine.