What is more compelling than the testimony of a former gay activist turned heterosexual pastor? An ex-drug dealer turned missionary, or a former Feminist turned homeschool teaching stay-at-home mom? Scripture! Sharing the gospel on a university campus is a tremendous opportunity for our church to further the gospel. In talking with many college students, I get to hear lots of stories about how people used to be Christian turned Atheist, Fundamentalist turned Agnostic, Baptist turned pagan, straight turned gay etc. I often point out that the reason I do not often share my personal testimony or seek to jerk out tears through my personal conversion story is because my testimony has its limits. In fact, every faith has its “converts.” We need to also bear in mind that all false religions are based on the elemental things of the world (Col. 2.18-20) and thrive on carnal methods of psychological manipulation that seek to impress people with personal experience above truth. But for the believer, our testimony has its limits. It was not until the Samaritans heard for themselves that they would come to a settled conviction that Jesus was the “Savior of the World” (John 4.39-40).
Our marching orders are not that we go around sharing our testimony with as many people as we can, that would make our evangelism far too man-centered. There is a place for that, but our ultimate aim is to testify to what Jesus has done for sinners not just for us personally. Several other things should be consider if we place too much of an emphasis on personal testimony in our evangelistic presentation.
An over emphasis personal testimony can minimize the grandeur of the cross and its universal scope (Rev 5.9-10). Jesus’ redemption is ultimately cosmic in its scope (Rev. 21). He died for every tribe and nation that’s why the gospel, that is, the message of Jesus’ redemption goes to the nations (Mt. 28.19-20).
We may cause others to look for the particularities of our experience in theirs. If we tell folks about getting emotional or coming to Christ because of some duress in our lives, they may think they don’t “qualify” for salvation. Or that God does not relate to them as He did with us— we don’t want to preach a customizable Jesus.
We also don’t want to make others think that something has to happen first before they repent. No! People need to know that Jesus saves all kinds of people in all kinds of situations from all kinds of backgrounds freely by His grace and irrespective of our phase of life or personalities and quirks. So every time someone asks you for a “testimony” sure, share that, it brings glory to God; but do not fail to stress that the testimony of Scripture is what is true, reliable and infallible.
Emilio Ramos is the preaching pastor of Heritage Grace Community Church. Pastor Emilio is committed to the expository and exegetical teaching of the Word of God. Emilio is also the author of Convert, From Adam to Christ and the founder of redgracemedia.com- a media ministry devoted to the glory of God’s redemptive grace through Jesus Christ. He and his wife Trisha live in Dallas, TX.