A Christian testimony can be a powerful opportunity. As Christians, we seek to share about God in our life, home, and work. Sadly, many times we struggle to find the words to say. When is it the right time to share? What should I say? Can you help me? You may sympathize with these statements and so do many of us.
Testimony comes from the Greek word martyreo, from which we get the idea of a ‘martyr’. A ‘martyr’ was someone who witnessed or gave evidence of someone else. The term changes once Christians continued to witness of Christ and as a result would be killed. A ‘martyr’ is a self-less witness of God no matter the consequences. We should immediately think of John the Baptist (John 1:7, 19), whom King Herod killed. We may even think of Stephen when the High Priest and the crowd stoned him (Acts 7:1, 54-60). We shouldn’t be surprised that the word ‘martyr’ means opposition and confrontation. Nearly every disciple and apostle of Christ in the 1 Century was ‘martyred’. So how did all these great heroes of the faith stick to the message knowing their life was on the line? What tips did they have and what would they tell us? Here are 5 tips to be faithful in your testimony about God:
1- Say More About God Than Yourself
Often times we think too much of our own experience when thinking of our Salvation. It is important to remember two key passages that give us humility when talking about our conversion:
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (NASB).John 1:12-13
“But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (NASB).Philippians 3:7-11
First, it wasn’t our will. John 1:12-13 reminds us that nothing of our conversion is apart from the will (i.e. desire) of God. We must remember to give the glory to God’s story because it is after all his-story. Second, it was God who saved us. Paul, in Philippians 3:7-11 reminds us that we are to count everything we did apart from Christ as literally ‘dung’ (i.e. rubbish). Instead, we must be thankful to God for our ‘righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith’. Paul is right in line with Peter who tells us to ‘proclaim the virtues’ of Him who called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light’ (1 Peter 2:9). The more we say about God the more we give tribute to His virtues and light. To have complete joy, we want testify more about God and less about us (John 3:29-30).
2- Mention Sin, But Don’t Glory in the Detail’s
In the beginning of a believer’s conversion, we can be so excited to share our testimony that we share too much about our old self. It is one thing to say ‘I led a life of debauchery…I was in an illicit relationship…I bought into the world’s understanding of fulfillment and pleasure’, but it’s inappropriate glory in detail about those events. The audience gets what you’re saying and God wants you to move on to His-story. There are so many examples in the Bible where the writer makes the perfect balance between historical reference of sin, it’s relevance to confession of sin, and witnessing about God.
For instance, in Psalm 32 we see that David describes the physical and spiritual ailments of his adultery, lying, and murder by the use of 3 different words that refer to sins effects on him. In Psalm 32:2-3, David speaks of sin (missing the mark), transgression (crime, offence), and iniquity (guiltiness), all of which he did in deceit (plotting evil). However, David quickly gets down to the point of the Psalm in v.5, where he focuses on restoration from each sin when he ‘acknowledged’ his sin and ‘did not hide’. David took personal responsibility for his actions and said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.” David’s confession led to forgiveness of the ‘guilt’ of David’s sin. God forgives every kind of sin, but only through confession.
Also, consider the Samaritan Woman’s testimony of Jesus in John 4:29-30-39 “Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?” 30 They went out of the city, and were coming to Him…From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things that I have done” (NASB). The Samaritan Woman had a reputation that many in the city knew about, and so did Jesus in His Omniscience (all-knowing). She didn’t refer to the 5 men that she was with, which Jesus mentions in John 4:18. Instead, she mentions generally ‘I have done’ implying that all before Christ was sin and the point now is that He knows and He saves. She poses a question to the men, out of respect, to point out the obvious by saying ‘this is not the Christ, is it?’ She mentions sin so she can give a testimony to the Savior, the all-powerful and all-knowing God.
3- Share the Gospel: The Good News of Salvation from Death
First, Share Salvation out of Death. Interestingly, sometimes we reflect on how much God has changed us, but forget to reflect on what God has done for us. God saved us from the state of judgment. In fact, John even says “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (John 5:24). We must realize that apart from Christ we were not ill, not even sick, but dead. A testimony without the message of death is the equivalent of a doctor prescribing cancer without a diagnosis.
Second, Share the Sola’s of Salvation. It is important to mention the specifics of the good news. The Gospel is the greatest news and one who believes in the Gospel will rejoice in Sola Fide (Faith Alone) through Sola Gratia (God’s Grace Alone) in Sola Christus (Jesus Christ alone) for Sola Gloria (the Glory of God Alone) and live according to Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone). These are the 5 Sola’s of the reformation of 1517. In recent years, so many have stated the Gospel as plainly as “Believe in Jesus and you will be Saved”, which is true but what do we mean? If we are clear in our meaning, we explain more comprehensively what was intended by Acts 16:31. We even may get to the often left out prepositional object ‘Lord’, which implies a control over our lives as the ‘master’; which also means we are “subjects in submission to the sovereign.” In our understanding of the Sola’s we separate ourselves from anyone who would agree with the statements such as justification by Faith, I’m saved by grace, I believe in Jesus, but would disagree with the more theological accurate statements of justification by faith alone, saved by grace alone, and Jesus alone and nothing more. The clear explanations of Salvation will ‘narrow’ what I call ‘gate disciples’ up front and avoid many that may be interested at first and then realize later they disagree (John 6:26-27, 66-71). The Sola’s are contrary to the official teachings of Roman Catholicism (deny all 5 Sola’s), Church of the Nazarene & Church of God (rely on Baptismal Regeneration), Jehovah Witnesses & Mormons (Deny all 5 Sola’s), Judaism (Deny Deity of Christ), and really any other Religion apart from Bible believing Christians.
4- Mention the Resurrection & Sanctification
Victory over death is important and that is what we celebrate as a result of our salvation. First, we have to talk about Jesus’ physical resurrection. It is extremely important in our testimony so much so that Paul included it in his remarkable chapter of systematic theology on the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15. Paul mentions the testimony of the witnesses of Christ after His resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:4-12) and how we are ‘made alive’ in Christ’s resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:22).
Second, Christians realize that God the Father has granted to God the Son the role of judgment when it comes to our resurrection (John 5:29). This is why John talks about sanctification so much when bringing up salvation. At the tail end of Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus, John says that belief is evidenced in our ‘practice of the truth’ and un-belief is evidenced in our ‘deeds of the flesh’ (John 3:19-21). In fact, Jesus says ‘This is the Judgment’ (John 3:19). We also learn that Paul talks about the Fruit of the Spirit and Deeds of the Flesh in Galatians 5:19-26 and we learn that Christians ‘crucified the flesh’ and are told to ‘walk by the Spirit’. Resurrecting into life has many applications for our sanctification and it is one message that we should capitalize on in our witness of what Christ has done and is doing through us.
5- Don’t Feel Guilty or Ashamed, God Deals with the Results
We would fail to recognize God at work if we only praised God for the testimonies that brought many followers to Christ. What about the times where faithful witnesses of God led to persecution? The message shouldn’t change whether hundreds follow after Christ, denied, or we get physically persecuted. As faithful Christians, we must say the message no matter the result and realize that God is in control. You are responsible for witnessing about the message and that is it. John 3:8 says “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (NASB). When we truly understand that the Spirit quickens the heart, we realize that our witness is speaking the message, but the power of a miraculous conversion is the Holy Spirit’s job within the Trinity. That’s why Paul said we don’t have to be ashamed of our witness because “it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (NASB). Paul wanted us to know this when he wrote 1 Corinthians 3:7, “So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth” (NASB). Paul was poor and had very little charisma or popularity within the Church, yet he was a faithful witness of God. Job was a faithful witness of God and had no ‘consensus gentium’ (general consensus) with his friends and family. In fact, we learn from David in Psalm 69:7-12 that his family turned against him when times get rough. The same will happen in the tribulation (Mark 13:9-13) so we shouldn’t be surprised today.
One thing is for sure, our testimony will help us to ‘Fight the Good Fight of Faith.’
 Spicq, C., & Ernest, J. D. (1994). Theological lexicon of the New Testament (Vol. 2, p. 345). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.
David J. Lupinetti is the Associate Pastor at Bloomfield Hills Baptist Church in Michigan. He has a passion for Expository Preaching, Biblical Counseling, Discipleship, and Evangelism.