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Discussion Forum : Scriptures and Doctrine : Testimonies

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Joined: 2003/7/8
Posts: 58


I notice that in the NT there seems to be no personal testimonies given when the gospel is being spoken. However, Paul did speak of his personal experiences when writing to the church body (ie, discipleship) to build them up.

Look at Peter at Pentecost

Acts 2:14-36
14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: 15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. 16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: 19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: 21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. 22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: 23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: 24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. 25 For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: 26 Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: 27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 28 Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. 29 Men and brethren, let me F4 freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. 30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; 31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. 32 This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. 33 Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. 34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, 35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool. 36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

So, does personal testimonies as evangelistic have any scriptural basis? Or are we forgetting the power of God, and trying to do it ourselves?

 2003/10/30 11:06Profile

Joined: 2003/7/21
Posts: 268

 Re: Testimonies

Hey Luke,
I do think that personal testimonies are powerful evangelical tools, but should only be given when we feel led.
God has shown me powerfully lately how my testimony, as horrifying as it may be, is not only powerful in being able to tell the lost "Yes, I DO know what you're going through," but also in encouraging my brothers and sisters in Christ, saying to them, "Hey, if I can be saved, then anyone can!"
The Scripture you quoted is a great example of sharing one's testimony as a form of witnessing, and Paul gives his testimony a few times throughout his letters to the churches in order to encourage and edify them.

And there is DEFINITELY caution involved, as your second question implied. A testimony should only be given if it glorifies God. How dare I try to say "Look what I did -- I was a sinner, and now I'm a righteous person. Hooray for me!" A testimony should be all about God, and nothing about the testimony-teller.
Think of what a testimony is -- it is a personal account of where you were and where God and God alone has brought you. It involves the whole gospel (if told correctly), and allows the listener to compare their own life to the life story being told. I was a sinner and was dead in my sin, my sins deserved the death penalty, my own efforts (and I made A LOT of efforts) got me nowhere, Christ paid the death penalty my sins deserved, He is my Savior, He has changed my life for the better and I love Him enormously and have an insatiable desire to serve and praise Him and to know Him more. That's the basic outline for every testimony, and it lines up with basic evangelism.
It is so important not to give half a gospel, or credit yourself for anything. God deserves the glory, not us!!

Mary M.

 2003/10/30 11:37Profile

Joined: 2002/12/11
Posts: 37633
"Pilgrim and Sojourner." - 1 Peter 2:11


So, does personal testimonies as evangelistic have any scriptural basis? Or are we forgetting the power of God, and trying to do it ourselves?

Luke, great question, I personally think that testimonies [i]do[/i] have a part in evangelism.

[b]Luke 1:1-4 (kjv)[/b] - Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also having had perfect understanding of all things fromt he very first, to write unto thee in order most excellent Theohilus, That thou mightest know the certainity of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.

In this passage Luke is clearly giving a testimony of the things of Jesus to encourage a believer in the faith, but I also see in other cases this same method used in evangelism:

[b]Acts 21:40 (kjv)[/b] - And when he had given him licence, Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tonguem saying...

If you follow along through Acts chapter 22, you will see Paul giving his personal testimony to unbelievers to help them come to faith in Jesus.

and also in Acts chapter 26 you see Paul before Agrippa giving the same personal testimony.

SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2003/10/30 20:44Profile

Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re: Testimonies

hi laholmes

I do think we have changed the emphasis from the NT point of view. The promise was that 'having received the power of the Holy Spirit "you shall be witnesses TO ME". i.e. Christ-centred witness. The unfolding of Acts is just this; they witness to Christ, who He is, what He has done, what He will do soon.

The modern emphasis is to witness to 'what He has done FOR ME'. This has its place but can just be another expression of our egocentric view of salvation. But it ought not to be forbidden, just watched.

My favourite personal testimony of Paul's is found in Galatians:

" I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."

This is not just a crisis event that happened 20 years ago, but a current expression of his experience
Literally, "I have been and still am co-crucified with Christ (perfect tense); nevertheless I am living; yet not I, but Christ is living in me: and the life that I am now living in the flesh I am living by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

Ron Bailey

 2003/10/31 3:51Profile

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