Q: #214. What is a Christian testimony?
By: Steve Shirley
A: A Christian testimony is one of the most powerful tools that a Christian has in helping others to understand the importance of having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Of course, if a person doesn't have this personal relationship, then they don't have a testimony. This relationship is called being "saved" or "born again," and it is the most important decision any person will ever make in his or her life. If you have never made this decision, or are not quite sure if you have or not, please go to our Plan of Salvation link on this website and begin a new relationship today!
I began my relationship with Jesus, and was born again on Oct 27, 1994 at a Billy Graham Crusade. I share my testimony of how my life was changed here. In fact, the importance of sharing a testimony occurred at that Crusade, as I gave my life to Christ after hearing someone else share his testimony.
One thing that is GUARANTEED when you become a Christian is that your life IS going to change, and for some, this change is very dramatic. Some are immediately set free from bondages to drugs, alcohol, sex, violence, smoking, unforgiveness, etc... Some, however, change in lesser and not so dramatic ways. I was set free from anger (although it still rears it's ugly head at times) and had a peace I had never had before. But, no matter what change takes place, you can share this with non-Christians to show them what they are missing in their lives. This is your testimony. Yes, those people with the HUGE changes often have a more dramatic and powerful testimony, but even if you don't have one of those, (like me) your testimony is still important, because ultimately, we ALL share the most important life changing thing: We were on the way to Hell, and now we are on the way to eternity with Jesus Christ! Share that life changing joy with others!
Sharing a testimony can be very effective because it is hard for the non- Christian to argue with. Of course, sharing the Gospel and the Bible with a non- Christian is crucial, but sometimes you just can't get through or end up almost arguing. This is where your testimony may help. If you say, "I used to be an alcoholic, and the day I gave my life to Christ, I was set free and haven't had a drink since," what can a non-Christian say to this? He may disagree as to whether or not "Jesus" did it, but he certainly cannot argue that a life-changing experience occurred in your life.
In addition, as Christians, we should not only have this testimony to share of how being saved changed us, but we should also have testimonies of how God has miraculously worked in our lives since we were converted or born again. The longer we have been saved, the more testimonies we should have. As we go through our everyday lives as Christians, we all face trials, often times serious ones. As we turn to God in prayer for help, strength, healing, deliverance, etc... in the midst of these trials, miraculous things often happen. These miracles are a testimony that can also be shared with non-Christians when witnessing, and in addition, can be used to encourage fellow Christians in their trials as well. The Bible tells us the importance of this in numerous places (Rom 1:12)(Heb 3:13)(1 Th 5:11).
*** Note: I suggest writing these miracles out in detail, because sometimes the memory of them and their importance can fade over time. As the trials of life continue, we can look back at these writings to see how God has been faithful and delivered us in the past as we face new trials, or, we can use these writings to encourage others who may be struggling.
In witnessing to non-Christians, and sharing your testimony, obviously the most important thing to keep in mind is that EVERYONE is a sinner (1 Jn 1:8,10)(Rom 3:10,23)(Eccl 7:20) and needs to accept the sacrifice Jesus made to pay for his so he can go to Heaven when he dies. However, there is also a lesser, but important reason why we need Jesus too. That is to have the POWER of the Father, Son (Jesus), and Holy Spirit to help us with these trials of life we have already discussed. Unless a person is born again, the Holy Spirit does not dwell in him, so he doesn't have that power to overcome. I believe the Bible is clear that he cannot go to the Father in prayer without first going through the blood of Jesus Q: #142. And, obviously, if he hasn't been born again and given his life to Jesus, he doesn't have Jesus either. EVERYONE needs this help!
The Bible also tells us that all people instinctively know that God is real because God has made His presence known to them through the light and testimony of creation (Rom 1:18-20)(Ps 19:1-2) and conscience (Rom 2:14-15). Deep inside (very deep for some), all men have a longing for God and a hole inside that can only be filled by Jesus. No persons life will ever be complete (Col 2:10) or perfected (Heb 10:14) without the Lord. As we share our testimony of how God has helped and changed us, the Holy Spirit can work to use that testimony to convict the non- Christian that they need Jesus and what you have. (In a non-Christian the Holy Spirit works from the outside, and in a Christian He works from the inside.) This happens when a person is drawn by the Father (Jn 6:44), who draws ALL men, desiring that all would be saved (1 Tim 2:3-4)(2 Pet 3:9)(Ezek 18:23)(Mt 18:14). However, man can reject that drawing (Jn 5:40)(Mt 23:37)(Acts 7:51)(Jn 7:17).
*** Note: This is important to remember because if our witnessing does not lead to someone accepting Christ, it can be because the Father is not drawing him at that time or he may simply be rejecting that drawing. If this is the case, we are doing what the Bible calls "sowing (or planting) seeds" (Jn 4:35-38)(Lk 8:5-15). They may bloom at a later date.
Most likely though, if the Father is drawing, and the Holy Spirit is convicting, it is almost certain that the person you are sharing your testimony with is going to be impacted, just as I was when I heard that testimony at the Crusade. I knew something was missing in my life. I saw it in that man. I saw it in my wife. While I wasn't really expecting to be delivered from any particular sin, I just knew I needed help and forgiveness for them all. I needed what changed that man from the life he had been in, and that was Jesus. Jesus changed my life that night!
While I didn't have any particular sin I was seeking deliverance from, MANY non-Christians are needing deliverance from one "besetting" sin that is destroying their lives. They are at bottom and have nowhere else to turn. As we said above, if they have not turned to Jesus, they have tried to overcome without God (many don't realize God wasn't in their life, I didn't). These may be alcoholics, drug addicts, sex addicts, etc... These may be those who cannot forgive. These may also be those who cannot forgive themselves or believe they can be forgiven. These can be murderers, rapists, thieves, or criminals of any kind. As you witness and share your testimony, they may come to believe that "If Jesus changed your life, and did these miraculous things for you, maybe He can change MY life too!"
From these who come to Christ, will come some of the most powerful testimonies! Then, they in turn, can use their testimony to help others. God can and does use testimonies, in conjunction with His Word to change lives! Remember and memorize yours, and be ready to share it at any time.
*** See Paul's testimony in Acts 26 for a good Biblical example.