…………………….Paul’s Story………………….My Story
In a courtroom you give your testimony to the facts as you know them concerning a legal case. The story of your salvation experience are those facts that relate to your coming to faith in Jesus as your Savior. The time before you put faith in Jesus, the details of that day, and the time following your conversion all make up your Salvation Testimony. Your story is unique and one that will speak to the heart of someone you share it with. Let’s look at some Bible verses to get a clearer picture of God’s view of a salvation testimony.
In Acts 22 is the account of the testimony of the apostle Paul, formerly called Saul. Though it is probably more dramatic than you picture your testimony, we can learn principles from it.
“’Brothers and fathers, listen now to my defense.’
When they heard him speak to them in Aramaic, they became very quiet.
Then Paul said: ‘I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. I studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law of our ancestors. I was just as zealous for God as any of you are today. I persecuted the followers of this Way [Christians] to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, as the high priest and all the Council can themselves testify. I even obtained letters from them to their associates in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.'”
In less than a minute, Paul has a hold on his audience. He clarifies his strong Jewish upbringing which would have impressed his listeners. He speaks to the very heart of these fellow Jews in his hatred of what they hate–this new religious following of the man Jesus. His audience must have been forming exciting pictures in their minds of this Jewish brother dragging Christian believers off to their death.
“’About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, ‘Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?’
‘Who are you, Lord?’ I asked.
‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied. My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me.
‘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.’ My companions led me by the hand into Damascus, because the brilliance of the light had blinded me.
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. He stood beside me and said, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And at that very moment I was able to see him.
Then he said: ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. You will be his witness to all people of what you have seen and heard. And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.’”
Now the story takes a sharp turn. This zealous Jew . . . something has happened to him. The audience is turning pale. How could a man so well schooled become . . . a follower of this . . . Jesus? The listeners must have had varied reactions at this point in the story. Some may have thought, “Could this Jesus really be the long awaited Messiah?” And yet others must have turned cold. “This man is a lunatic.” But Paul’s testimony is not yet over.
“When I returned to Jerusalem and was praying at the temple, I fell into a trance and saw the Lord speaking to me. ‘Quick!’ he said. ‘Leave Jerusalem immediately, because the people here will not accept your testimony about me.’
‘Lord,’ I replied, ‘these men know that I went from one synagogue to another to imprison and beat those who believe in you. And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.’ (Acts 6:8-8:3 and Acts 9:1-19)
Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’ ”
The crowd now turns violent. As a mob, their ears are plugged. This madman has mentioned the forbidden Gentile people. They shout at Paul, turn their faces away, and want nothing to do with this story of his. But within this emotion led people, there may be a few silent ones thinking over this incredible story–pondering the possibility that Jesus could possibly be the awaited Messiah.
The effect of Paul’s three minute testimony is not completely clear. The effect of yours may not be clear either. The listener may offer a polite thank you and then leave, or embrace you with sobbing appreciation. The purpose in sharing a testimony is to declare the truth. The truth of what happened in your life and the truth of what God offers to all who will turn to Him with a heart of sincere repentance.
My Salvation Story has the same three parts as yours. My Before part took twenty-two years and the After part forty-five. If you have not already done so, write out your responses to the eight steps to the right and develop your personal salvation testimony. My eight steps were the same as yours. Each testimony will vary in experiences, but each will contain the encounter with Jesus–His prompting to place trust in Him for the salvation only He can give.
MORE ON SHARING A TESTIMONY:
Mark 5:18,19; John 4:39-42; Revelation 12:11
“. . . Always be prepared
to give an answer
to everyone who asks you
to give the reason for the hope that you have. . .”
1 Peter 3:15