By Tim Frank
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Carthage
Everyone loves a good story. There is something about a personal story that draws you into the life of another. It may be the struggle and hardship of a particular time in life. It may be the drama and change that made all the difference in a situation. It may be the lessons learned and the transformation that has occurred. In the Christian’s life, we call that type of personal story a testimony.
In Acts 26, the Apostle Paul shares his story with the Jewish king, Agrippa, and the Roman governor, Festus, in the city of Caesarea. Paul was delighted to share with anyone who would listen to his story, especially the Roman governor and Jewish king (Acts 26:2-3). Paul’s testimony provides a simple outline to use in sharing your story.
First, share about life before trusting in Jesus. Paul gives a very detailed description of his life as a devout Jewish leader in Acts 26:4-11. He shares of his religious standing and his zeal against followers of Jesus.
For you, your life may not have involved persecuting Christians, but we all have sinned and done things that were not right in the sight of God. Even a child realizes what sin is and how it has been expressed in his life. A good rule of thumb in sharing is to keep this part brief, moving toward the change Jesus has made. This isn’t a confession time for all the details of your sin.
Second, share how you came to turn from your sins and believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Paul relays his story of personally meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus and the dramatic events of that encounter (Acts 26:12-18). Not all testimonies are as climactic with bright lights and divine voices; however, every encounter with Jesus is life changing.
For example, I trusted in Christ as an eight-year-old boy. For years, I hesitated to share my story because it seemed so unimpressive. As I have matured in my understanding of salvation, I now realize that event changed the course of my life for all eternity.
Third, in telling your story, share the difference Jesus has made since you began following Him. Your testimony didn’t end at your conversion. It began there and continues through today.
Paul concludes his story by sharing his life’s work of declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ, beginning in Damascus and then to the Gentile world (Acts 26:19-23). Your testimony may include ways God has used your life for Christ. It may share of great challenges He has seen you through, such as illness, despair or grief. The faithfulness of God and His work in your life is a powerful part of your story.
The results of sharing your story may vary. For Paul in Acts 26:24-32, the Roman governor Festus thought he had gone mad, while King Agrippa, on the other hand, said he was almost persuaded to become a Christian. Others may disagree with you as you share your story, but they can never deny what happened to you. It is your story, and it is a powerful tool for sharing Jesus.
In this first lesson of the year 2020, try writing out your testimony using the simple outline from the Apostle Paul’s life. Then, ask the Lord to give you the courage, opportunity and ability to share it. May this be a great year of sharing your story with others that they may hear and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ.