FIRST-PERSON: Teach them to tell it

by Eric W. Ramsey, posted Friday, March 31, 2017 (2 months ago)

FORT SMITH, Ark. (BP) -- A personal Christian testimony is a powerful thing. Sadly, it seems many churchgoers don't understand exactly what it is or how to share it.

By definition, a testimony is a firsthand account of something. So, a Christian testimony is a firsthand account, or story, of Christ's transformational work.

A common outline is: 1) My life before Christ; 2) How I realized my need for Christ; 3) How I responded in faith to Christ; and 4) The difference Christ has made in my life.

There are many reasons why it is important for each believer to learn to tell his or her faith story or testimony. Here are just a few:

1) A testimony enhances worship.

Anytime a believer articulates his or her story of God's grace, forgiveness and adoption, that believer is reminded of God demonstrating His love through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. This leads to the believer expressing a deeper sense of gratitude, awe and wonder toward God.

2) A testimony prepares a believer for evangelism.

A meaningful Gospel presentation typically entails a personal testimony of a changed life. Without it, the Gospel can sound like a religious sales pitch. A personal testimony produces firsthand evidence and legitimacy to the hearer. It is difficult to argue with a personal account of a miraculously transformed life.

3) Teaching how to share a testimony is a proven evangelism method.

As crazy as it might sound, I have seen many people make professions of faith as they are thinking about their personal testimonies. In leading numerous evangelistic training seminars and training hundreds for service on international mission teams through the years, I would estimate that more than 100 individuals discovered that they had never been born again, leading to a true salvation experience. I have even seen a young man get saved in a seminary class I was teaching. In most of these cases, as people are trying to write their personal testimonies, they discover that they really do not have one. The Holy Spirit utilizes this to convict them of their lostness and draw them to a true profession of faith in Jesus Christ.

4) A testimony enhances Christian fellowship.

A person's story helps us understand not only that person's experiences, but also that person's very personhood. It helps define for us who that person is as well and helps us understand that person's personality, attitude and actions. It helps us love each other more deeply and accept each other for who we are. It reminds each of us that without God we are nothing.

Every believer has a testimony. What's yours? Tell it and teach others to do the same. Those who hear may hearken to the Savior for life abundant and eternal.

Eric W. Ramsey is an evangelism and mission strategist serving as associate pastor of First Baptist Church in Fort Smith, Ark. He is a former president of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists. This column first appeared in the Arkansas Baptist News (www.arkansasbaptist.org/news), newsjournal of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.
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