This morning I was thinking about the power of testimony. The Cambridge Dictionary describes testimony as “(an example of) spoken or written statements that something is true, especially those given in a law court.” The Collins Dictionary, 1. A declaration of truth or fact. 2. Evidence given by a witness especially orally in court under oath or affirmation. 3. Evidence testifying to something.
In Christian circles, testimony is looked upon as a statement of one’s life experiences in relation to one’s relationship with God. Usually one will begin with childhood experiences and descriptions, i.e. “raised in a Christian home”, “no knowledge of Christ as a child” etc. One would usually go on to describe one’s life, being introduced to God, deepening relationship with God, etc. etc.
Testimonies are such a fantastic tool for church services as they provide so much towards teaching, understanding God and they provide food for thought with regard to one’s own journey with Christ. In this way, everyone’s “testimony” is important, even those out with the Christian faith. By listening to the views of Christ from the perspective of a non-Christian we can see from a worldview and thus we may be capable of coming alongside others to comfort, to guide them to Christ, ultimately, we may be in a better position to interface whilst seeing things from two viewpoints. We all have something important to share. We are all God’s children and as such, we all have a purpose on this planet, each and every one of us.
Testimonies can provide great reassurance. When we hear or read some testimonies, we can falsely understand salvation to be a “ball of lightening experience”, so it is comforting to realise that this is not always the case. Salvation is not a one size fits all, we are all in different places and all on different paths and thus our new birth will differ person to person.
Another important aspect of testimony is learning about the character of God. We will find as we journey through our walk with Christ that we change, our character changes, we become a new self, 2 Corinthians 5.17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” By studying these new characteristics, we can see the character of Christ as it is through Him that gradually, throughout our lives, we become more and more holy.
So, what can we see of God from a testimony?
- The power of God – Almost always we can see the power of God. No-one who has been born again is exactly the same person that they were before. They have all been changed to some degree or another. What power this shows of Christ! That one day we are one person, the next we are a new person! Day by day our thought patterns change, and we become more and more in the image of God.
- Our need for God – Almost always we can see our need for God. When one is born again, one becomes a new person, but more importantly, one becomes a better person, and this shows our need of God. We need God to show us love, help us become more patient, help us to be more kind, more caring, more compassionate. All men are capable of displaying these traits but only with God can we truly understand what it is to love.
- What God communicates – Through others sharing their journeys we can hear what God has spoken to them. We learn how God communicates with different people and what he communicates, perhaps He gives direction to one, words of comfort to another, teaching to yet another.
- What He does – Through the testimony we see actions of God in the lives of His people, we see His glorious provision in the lives of some, His protection in the lives of another, still we see His rule of yet others.
So, how do we give our testimony?
- Simply, 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 “And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power,so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.” Paul, the author of Corinthians, was a highly educated man, taught by one of the most supreme Rabbi’s in Jerusalem, yet he chooses to speak simply, so that the people will understand and also, so that God is glorified.
- By the Holy Spirit, John 15:26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me.” We are helped to deliver our testimony by the Holy Spirit who is within us.
- Joyfully – Isaiah 12:4-6, In that day you will say: “Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things, let this be known to all the world. Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.” A testimony is not to be given with a long face, or a quiet voice but with confidence and joy because in this way, people will see the wonder of God.
- By our lifestyle – Philippians 1:27-30 “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel” Words are not always necessary to testify to Jesus, rather one can provide a testimony purely by ones actions.
Why must we give our testimony?
- To lead others to Christ, 1 John 1:3 “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.”
- Because of what God has done for us, Jeremiah 1:2-3 “‘The Lord has vindicated us; come, let us tell in Zion what the Lord our God has done. We would be very quick to tell everyone about the kindness or generosity of another man towards us but yet we are often less so about sharing God’s goodness with others!
- So that Jesus will accept you, Luke 12:8-9 “I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God.”
- To be a witness to Christ, Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
- Because this was part of God’s plan from the beginning, Matthew 24:14 “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
- Giving testimony is part of the good fight, 1 Timothy 6:12 “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”
- We are told to – John 15:27 “And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.”
- It may be your purpose, Mark 5:19 “Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” This passage describes a moment after Jesus had healed a man from possession by demons. This man wanted to follow Jesus into the boat and sail with him on his travels, however, Jesus does not allow him. The man’s purpose was to tell others about Jesus.
- It can be a sharing of suffering in Christ, 2 Timothy 1:8 “So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.” Sometimes our testimony will be mocked, sometimes relationships will break down as others do not understand why you have chosen such a path for your life, however, this is just part of the suffering that we must bear for Jesus understanding the suffering He endured on our behalf.
The ultimate tale of salvation must lie in the testimony of Paul the Apostle, Acts 22:1-21“Brothers and fathers, listen to my defence which I now present to you.” When they heard that Paul was addressing them in Aramaic, they became even more quiet. Then he said,“I am a Jewish man, born in Tarsus of Cilicia but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, trained strictly according to the Torah of our fathers, being zealous for God just as all of you are today. I persecuted this Way to the death, arresting both men and women and throwing them in prisonas the kohen gadol and all the council of elders can testify about me. I also received letters from them to the brothers, and I went to Damascus to bring back to Jerusalem even those who were there in chains to be punished. “But it happened that as I was traveling and drawing near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly flashed all around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?’ “I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ “He said to me, ‘I am Yeshua ha-Natzrati, whom you are persecuting.’“Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand the voice of the One who was speaking to me. So, I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ “And the Lord said to me, ‘Get up, and go to Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been appointed to do.’“But since I could not see because of the brilliance of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me and came into Damascus. Then a certain Ananias a devout man according to the Torah, well-spoken of by all the Jewish people living there came to me. Standing before me, he said to me, ‘Brother Saul, look up!’ In that very moment, I looked and saw him! “And he said, ‘The God of our fathers handpicked you to know His will to see the Righteous One and to hear an utterance from His mouth. For you will be a witness for Him to all people of what you have seen and heard. Now why are you waiting? Get up and be immersed, and wash away your sins, calling on His Name.’ “It happened that when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the Temple, I fell into a trance; and I saw Him saying to me, ‘Hurry! Get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your witness about Me.’“And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another, I was imprisoning and beating those trusting in You. Even when the blood of Your witness Stephen was spilled, I too was standing by and approving, and guarding the clothing of those who were killing him.’ “And he said to me, ‘Go! For I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’”
Let us be courageous and honest like Paul and let us testify like the Psalmist in Psalm 71.15-18.
Love and Blessings
I shared my testimony early on in my blog, however, I felt it was right to add it again here. I would love to hear and share your testimonies, so that others can benefit from hearing them. If you are comfortable with this, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
When I was a child, I went to Sunday school and had some Christian books and as I grew up, I was aware of God as someone who was just there. I never really doubted there was a God, but I was not in a relationship with Him. After many years away from the church I returned and I felt good after the service, however, my faith practice did not extend past Sunday. Many years later I began to read the Bible. I had no need to search for one as a simple stretch of my arm found my dust laden book in pride of place on my bedside table. How thought provoking to look back and think of all the years my Bible sat there untouched, yet it was never hidden away in a cupboard or given to charity. Was God begging me to pick it up all those years I struggled without Him? Letting me know every day that He was there waiting for me? So, picking up my Bible I begin with Genesis and the next day I read some more and the next then life happens, single mum with 3 little boys who won’t go to sleep and I am lucky to make my bed before sleep is upon me only to be woken through the night by a procession of little feet coming along the hall. Hanging off the end of my bed or sleeping sideways with a toddler face directly in mine I wake, and another day begins. Months later I return to my Bible and I have to start at the beginning again and this record plays again and again over the years. Without God and going through many troubles alone I found myself very lost. My mental health suffered greatly, and I rooted in a place of darkness and it was there in a pit of utter despair that God found me, and I met God for the first time. In desperation I cried out to Him to save me from a rut I had found myself in and in all his glory He did. Now I had no doubt that there was a God. Surprisingly at this point I still did not seem to understand the need to get to know Him. And life meandered on. Then I met my husband Craig, a Christian from childhood, and I developed a thirst to find out more. I read the Bible in less than 3 months and began finding out more about the Apostle Paul. He, then as now, fascinated me in his transformation and his ability to suffer so greatly for Christ. Once I had read books of him and studied his travels I wanted more. I began summarising the books of the Bible and finding out a little more about them all. Still I wanted more so I enrolled in an Access to Christian Theology Course with HTC and relished every moment of it. Understanding Jesus that bit better aided my prayer life and I accepted Jesus into my heart. Now I have no idea the day, the month, or quite frankly, the year but I would estimate around 3 or 4 years ago. Previous to this I would have identified as a Christian because I occasionally went to church, took communion once or twice a year and believed there was a God. I had never been taught the need to invite Jesus into my life, the need to understand basic doctrine or the need for a relationship with God. I was fooling myself. I was placing myself as bride of Christ and He did not “know” me. Now when I gave my heart to Jesus there was no lightning from the sky, there was no audible voice from heaven, the ground did not shake, I did not have heat or tingles pass through my body … nothing happened. I did not feel the Holy Spirit enter me and to this day I have experienced none of the glorious manifestations of the Spirit that many claim to have experienced. I will admit I have struggled with this. I have doubted that I am saved, that I am truly a child of God. Yet, I am different. I am not the person I was before. I have an ability to forgive that surpasses human ability. I have the capacity to love which surpasses all human ability. I can withstand all heartache that surpasses human ability. This is how I know that I am a daughter of Christ and sister to all those in the church of God. I am now studying a Theology Degree and I could not enjoy it more. I sign up to Bible Studies and courses that I see, I read mostly Christian material as has been the case for approximately 4 years and I revel in it all. I hope that my testimony will help others understand that Christianity is not a set of rules and regulations, nor a one size fits all faith. Each one of us will follow a different path on our journey with Christ and as I journey along mine sometimes at great speed, sometimes sliding backwards, and as I am being completely frank sometimes taking the wrong turn off, sitting in a traffic jam 20 miles long, before meandering along a one way path to nowhere, getting a puncture, no signal on phone, walking to nearest garage 20 miles away before finally returning to the road of righteousness a month later. As you can see the journey is not an easy one, in fact it is far more difficult than the many other roads one can choose. The road of righteousness is littered with potholes, frequented by floods and narrow are the tunnels, however, this road is the only one on which you have an on board sat nav guiding you every step of the way and this sat nav does not break down or make mistakes, this sat nav knows every roundabout, every turn off, every roadwork and though you in your foolishness will make wrong turn offs this sat nav will always guide you back.