To the world’s standards, Ivan is a decent man living in the Caucasus. He doesn’t drink or smoke, he is a good husband and father, and he enjoys helping people.
But the world’s standards are miss-matched with God’s. In His eyes, men and women are counted “good” according to their belief in Christ’s sacrifice at the cross—not according to any “good” they have done.
Ivan’s friend, Aleksander is a follower of Jesus. Out of love for Ivan, he made a constant effort to share the gospel with him. Ivan was hesitant to respond, pointing to his good works as proof of a relationship with God.
He missed the foundation of the gospel. Good works fall short of God’s standard of persecution. A perfect sacrifice is needed, and God provided that through Jesus’ willingness to take on the sins of the world to offer grace to those who place their faith in Him. This stumped Ivan.
Aleksander began to visit Ivan more often and continued to dive into spiritual conversations in hopes that the Holy Spirit would use him to clear up his misconceptions of Christianity and what it takes to be in relationship with God. Despite his effort, Ivan’s heart remained closed to the Gospel.
Aleksander continued to pray for his friend, trusting that the Lord would change his heart.
On one of his visits, Ivan shared that he was totally without peace. As they talked, Ivan came to realize that his lack of peace was the result of his own sin. He was exhausted from living with the guilt of his wrongs and striving to work to please God.
For the first time in his life, Ivan repented and trusted Christ for the first time.
Immediately, Ivan’s new faith led him to invite his friends and neighbors to listen to God’s Word and read the Bible. He’s now under Aleksander’s mentorship to become a spiritual leader, and these two friends are witnessing the church continue to grow in their community.