How often do you tell your conversion testimony to unbelievers?
If you do it often, how do people react?
Me: I try. But writing today's post has got me thinking a whole lot more about this. Specifically, it's been making me think about how to tell a testimony effectively.
In the Book of Acts, there is a critical moment where Paul role-models how to tell a testimony. It's the end of his ministry, he's an older man, and he just goes for it. It's a wild, hair-raising story of how he became a Christian.
"Paul, you are beside yourself, much learning is driving you mad!" Someone shouts on hearing it (Acts 27:24).
"I am not mad..." answers Paul, respectfully.
We see him tell his testimony twice in quick succession: The same story, the same details, same manner of telling it. You might like to read both versions in Acts 22:1-21 and 26:4-23, they're pretty short passages.
This is all so far so good. What a wonderful testimony Paul has been given! But do they all fall over in amazement and think it's wondrous? Nope!
When Paul stands up in front of a mob of Jews in Jerusalem, he starts by saying, "I am a Jew ... I used to persecute Christians too ..." before launching into his story about how Jesus completely changed him.
"And they listened to him until this word, and then they raised their voices and said, "Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he is not fit to live!" (Acts 22:22-23, NKJV)
Not fit to live? Yikes.
After that, he quietly has the opportunity to tell his testimony to Felix, a Roman Governor of Caesarea. We don't see Paul tell the testimony here; the Book of Acts just says they talked. Felix is initially open, but then:
Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, "Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you." (Acts 24:25, NKJV)
The cross makes people feel convicted, uncomfortable. They want it to go away for a while until they have a 'convenient time.' Go away. Go away.
Undeterred, Paul has a cast-iron spirit, and he will not curl up into a defeated ball. No, he is fighting fit and ready to speak all over again. The final re-telling of the testimony is to Caesarea's new governor, Festus, and the visiting King Agrippa. Paul tells the testimony and it is Festus who shouts out:
"Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!"
But he (Paul) said, "I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason." (Acts 26:24-25, NKJV)
BUT, here comes the kind of response that makes it worth the while:
Then Agrippa said to Paul, "You almost persuade me to become a Christian." (Acts 26:28, NKJV)
'Almost persuade me' is not a bad response. What if King Agrippa were to then hear ten more testimonies like this, from ten different Christians? Would he then cross the line into belief? Perhaps so. And that is what makes our testimony-telling important.
I titled this post, How to convey our personal testimony, because we can look at how Paul did it. Here are some key points:
- He told his audience how he was similar to them.
- He described what he used to be like.
- He referred to witnesses who could attest to who he used to be.
- He described the supernatural encounter that changed his mind
- He described in a sentence the Christian faith. "Arise, be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord"
And, finally, he did not give up.
My friends, all of this is making me think about prepping and practicing my own conversion testimony a little more deliberately, using the above points, and thinking a bit more carefully about what kinds of places I am to speak it out. Even at a party, or when having a casual chat with an unbelieving friend.
What do you think about this topic of personal testimony? Let's chat in the comments!