Tuesday, July 20, 2010

How to Have a Good Testimony

A sermon developed by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett based on Acts 22:6-18.

  • Many years ago Paul's name was Saul and he persecuted Christians.
  • Paul had a dramatic conversion experience that led him to become a Christian missionary.
  • So many people responded to the Christian message through Paul's ministry that some people became jealous and upset.
  • Paul realized that his ministry was about to come to an end so he traveled back to Jerusalem under the leadership of the Spirit.
  • While in Jerusalem he tried to make peace with his opponents by taking part in a Jewish religious ritual.
  • However, his opponents used the ritual against him and got him arrested for something he did not do.
  • In this passage we find Paul standing on the steps to the jail about to give a defense of his actions.
Verse 6 - About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me.
  • Of all the types of defense that Paul could have given, he chose to share his testimony of how he became a Christian.
  • When things are going bad in our lives, sometimes need to remember our testimony.
  • We may not be where we want to be, but praise God we are not where we once were.
  • Paul's testimony started with bright lights flashing from heaven while he was still an unbeliever.
  • Our testimony may be a bit less dramatic, but our story is still powerful and begins when we were still unbelievers.
  • When sharing our testimony, we should tell how we realized we needed Christ. 
Verse 7 - I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, 'Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?'
  • In Paul's story, he got knocked off his horse and ended up in the dirt.
  • Lying in the dirt, he heard Christ speak to him for the first time.
  • Many times our own story begins with us getting knocked off our "high horse."
  • Many of us came to Christ in a time of crisis or difficulty in which we had to admit that we could not continue on without help.
  • It was often in those moments of crisis that we began to hear the Spirit speak to us in ways we had never heard before.
  • Even for those who did not come to Christ in a time of crisis, it is often a crisis that forces us to get serious and grow in our faith.
  • Notice that Christ said that Paul (Saul) was persecuting, or hurting him.
  • Paul did not realize that every time he sinned, it was like driving another nail in the hands or feet of Jesus.
  • Have we come to realize this in our own lives yet?
Verse 9 - My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me.
  • The people who were with Paul when he had this amazing experience could see the light, so they knew something big was happening.
  • But they did not understand the voice of God that was speaking to Paul.
  • When we give our lives to Christ, people around us will know something has changed.
  • But they do not always understand what it is. 
Verse 10 - What shall I do, Lord? I asked. "Get up, the Lord said, and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been assigned to do."
  • Paul asked the Lord what he was supposed to do. This indicated Paul was not just making an intellectual decision; he was also making a change of behavior and lifestyle.
  • When we become a Christian, it should cause a change of behavior in our lives.
  • What behaviors have changed in our lives? 
Verse 11 - My companions led me by the hand into Damascus, because the brilliance of the light had blinded me. 
  • When Paul was first converted, someone had to hold his hand and walk him through the experience because he was overwhelmed.
  • When we first become Christians, sometimes we are confused by the Bible and all the "church stuff" and we need someone to walk with us until we begin to understand. 
Verse 12 - A man named Ananias came to see me. He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there.
  • Paul was assisted by a man named Ananias.
  • Ananias was a strong and respected Christian.
  • We all need a spiritual mentor to help us in our early Christian experience.
  • Have we found a mentor yet?
  • If we have been a Christian awhile, have we become a mentor to anyone yet? 
Verse 14 - Then he said: The God of our fathers has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth.
  • Ananias helped Paul understand that God had chosen Paul.
  • Ananias helped Paul understand God's will for his life and how to hear the word of God.
  • Spiritual mentors help us find purpose in life and help us learn to hear from God.
  • Once we find purpose and learn to hear from God, then we "graduate" from the mentoring process and should start mentoring someone else.
  • Have we graduated yet? Or are we still in spiritual kindergarten? 
Verse 15 - You will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard.
  • Part of Paul's purpose was to become a witness to others of what God had done.
  • This is part of each of our purposes.
  • We are not saved from sin so we can sit and soak up the love of Jesus.
  • We are saved from sin so we can serve the Lord by sharing His message of hope with others.
  • This does not mean that we all have to become pastors as our "job."
  • But it does mean that we should all look for people to whom we might minister.
  • One reason we need to know how to share our testimony is so that we can fulfill this part of our purpose.
  • Our testimony is the story of God's work in our lives. When was the last time we shared? 
Verse 16 - And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.
  • Ananias asked Paul what he was waiting for.
  • Sometimes we just need to "do it!"
  • Paul also needed to make his commitment to Christ public through baptism.
  • If we have not yet been baptized AFTER our conversion experience, this is something we should do soon.
How to Have a Good Testimony:
  • Make sure we have called on Jesus for salvation.
  • Make sure we have been baptized as an outward sign of our inner commitment.
  • Find someone, ANYONE, that we can share our testimony with.
  • Find a mentor to help us discover our purpose and learn to hear God's voice.
  • Become a mentor to someone else.

1 comment: