Sunday, July 20, 2014

How to Share Our Testimony

John 1:35-41
35 Again the next day, John was standing with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look! The Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this and followed Jesus. 38 When Jesus turned and noticed them following Him, He asked them, “What are you looking for?” They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are You staying?” 39 Come and you’ll see, He replied. So they went and saw where He was staying, and they stayed with Him that day. It was about 10 in the morning. 40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard John and followed Him.41 He first found his own brother Simon and told him, We have found the Messiah! (which means Anointed One), 42 and he brought Simon to Jesus. When Jesus saw him, He said, You are Simon, son of John. You will be called Cephas, which means Rock.

          This passage introduces us to John the Baptist, the great prophet and somewhat eccentric preacher. John constantly explained who Jesus was to those around him and many of them became followers of Jesus.
          One of John’s followers who began to follow Jesus was Andrew. Andrew immediately began to share his faith with others. Andrew was not a preacher, he was just a guy who had been changed by his faith in Christ and wanted others to experience that blessing too.
          The first person Andrew shared his faith with was his own brother, Simon. Andrew told Simon he had found the Messiah and then brought Simon to Jesus. When Jesus saw Simon He gave him a new name. In that culture a person’s name meant everything. Changing one’s name was rare and normally only happened when a person’s life was so changed that they were no longer the same person they were before. That happened to Peter and he became a powerful preacher and one of the key leaders of the early church.
          Many of us came to faith because a preacher told us about Jesus. We came to understand who Jesus is and committed our lives to following Him. Like Andrew, we have an obligation to share our faith with others, even if we are not preachers. We should start by sharing with those closest to us, including family and close friends. We should want every one of our family and friends to come to faith in Christ. Imagine if one or two of them become powerful leaders in God’s church like Peter did!
          There are many ways to share our faith with our friends. One way is to share our testimony with them. Our testimony is simply our story of how we came to faith in Christ and what Christ has done in our life.

          Our testimony has four key parts:
1.     What our lives were like before we became Christians.
None of us were born Christians, therefore we all have a time in our lives in which we were pre-Christians. When sharing our pre-Christian story, we do not have to include every dark or dirty detail because we do not want to glorify sin, but we need to set the stage so those we are sharing with so they understand our lives before Christ.

2.     What caused us to first begin to turn to God.
At some point in our lives, God reached out to us and began to draw us to Himself. This was often through some specific event or period in our lives, such as the death of a loved one, the break-up of a marriage or some challenge to our faith that shook us in some way. Though this is not the actual moment when we became Christians, it is what caused us to realize our relationship with God was not what it should be.

3.     The circumstances of how we received Christ into our lives.
This is where we talk about the moment everything clicked in our minds and we personally made a commitment to Christ. This is where God brings together what we have heard about repentance, faith in Christ’s death, burial and resurrection to atone for our sins, and the grace of God all comes together and we not only express belief in all of these truths, but we make the commitment to follow Christ as the Savior and Lord of our lives. This experience is called many different things by different Christian traditions, such being born again, being saved, getting religion, finding Jesus, getting the Spirit, being converted or finding peace with God.

4.     How our lives have changed as a result of our faith in Christ.
If Christ really came into our lives, then our lives are changed in some way. Perhaps we have overcome anger and resentment. Perhaps we gave up some bad habits or gained some positive habits. Perhaps we learned to appreciate the Bible, worship and the people of God in a greater way. Perhaps we changed our minds on a number of crucial life issues. The changes that come through faith in Christ are different for each person because we all start in different places. But since we all come to God the Father through the same Gospel of Christ, then change is inevitable. These changes will be positive and we must share them with others.

When we share our testimony, it is often helpful to give a sample prayer our friends might use to accept Jesus if they want to. This is especially important if they are not particularly religious and are not sure how to pray. Then we should invite them to pray that prayer, or some other one they might make up on their own so they can receive Christ. It is important to make sure they understand it is the grace of God, expressed by their sincere faith in Christ alone as they repent of their sins that guarantees them eternal salvation, not the specific words of a sample prayer. Otherwise they might trust a prayer instead of God Himself for salvation.

When we share our faith with others, what types of responses might we expect?

      Some will receive Jesus – which always causes our hearts to rejoice
      Some will want to think about it – this is not a bad thing, as it is not a decision to be entered into lightly
      Some will want to ask questions – this is not a bad thing either and it is okay if we do not know all the answers to their questions.
      Some will reject it – which is always a sad experience. But we should remember that the seeds we sow in their hearts might bear fruit many years down the road. Regretfully, if they never respond to the Gospel positively, there is nothing we can do about it. We will never argue or debate someone into becoming a Christian. Ultimately, how they respond is between them and God. But it is our holy obligation to tell them about Jesus so they at least have the chance to make a decision for themselves.

We live in a world that is quickly losing its understanding of who Christ is. Though we cannot control how people will respond to the Gospel, we must share it with as many people as possible. Though there are many ways to do this, sharing our testimony is an important way.

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