Testimony – “a public recounting of a religious conversion or experience.”
I have been blessed to hear the testimonies of Pastors Vince and Larry, and more recently last week from Brother James.
When discussing such testimonies with my students I like to call them “Peter Testimonies.” How someone had played spiritual hide and seek with God, before being confronted by God’s saving grace.
You might recall when Peter first encountered Jesus he wanted to flee from Him. “Go away Lord, I am a sinful man.” But Peter was called and flourished in the Lord. That is often the nature of Peter Testimonies and that is what makes them such powerful witnessing tools.
A while back Brother Rich K. gave his testimony and it was of a different type. It is one of meeting the Lord early in life and growing in Him. In Rich’s case he grew with intent of being preacher even when still a teenager.
My own experience is very similar. But mine is a “Paul Testimony.” One of being in the faith from childhood, but becoming caught up in it for its own sake.
Paul in various places talks about his religious credentials, in Philippians 3, he states that he was “circumcised on the eighth day, (and) of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, . . . . as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.” In Acts 22 states “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city (Jerusalem). 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.”
But Saul needed to find the Lord as much as anyone. He had persecuted the church. He was caught up in his own righteousness.
He went from Hebrew of Hebrews, super Pharisee complete with cape and utility belt.
To find his salvation and relationship with God. It was developmental:
In Acts, “zealous for God”
1 Corinthians 15: 9 least of the apostles
In 1 Timothy 1:15 Chief of all sinners
But as we have said before there are many parts to the body. And when it comes to testimony, this is clearly true.
Some of these other testimonies types are – “The come in the night” testimonies. It is like when Nicodemus came by night to seek understanding from Jesus. He had his encounter in secret, whether from fear or by accident.
Mark 5 presents us with a contrast of styles as well:
21 Jesus went back across to the other side of the lake. There at the lakeside a large crowd gathered around him. 22 Jairus, an official of the local synagogue, arrived, and when he saw Jesus, he threw himself down at his feet 23 and begged him earnestly, “My little daughter is very sick. Please come and place your hands on her, so that she will get well and live!”
24 Then Jesus started off with him. So many people were going along with Jesus that they were crowding him from every side.
25 There was a woman who had suffered terribly from severe bleeding for twelve years, 26 even though she had been treated by many doctors. She had spent all her money, but instead of getting better she got worse all the time. 27 She had heard about Jesus, so she came in the crowd behind him, 28 saying to herself, “If I just touch his clothes, I will get well.”
29 She touched his cloak, and her bleeding stopped at once; and she had the feeling inside herself that she was healed of her trouble. 30 At once Jesus knew that power had gone out of him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”
31 His disciples answered, “You see how the people are crowding you; why do you ask who touched you?”
32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 The woman realized what had happened to her, so she came, trembling with fear, knelt at his feet, and told him the whole truth. 34 Jesus said to her, “My daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your trouble.”
35 While Jesus was saying this, some messengers came from Jairus’ house and told him, “Your daughter has died. Why bother the Teacher any longer?”
36 Jesus paid no attention to[a] what they said, but told him, “Don’t be afraid, only believe.” 37 Then he did not let anyone else go on with him except Peter and James and his brother John. 38 They arrived at Jairus’ house, where Jesus saw the confusion and heard all the loud crying and wailing. 39 He went in and said to them, “Why all this confusion? Why are you crying? The child is not dead—she is only sleeping!”
40 They started making fun of him, so he put them all out, took the child’s father and mother and his three disciples, and went into the room where the child was lying. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha, koum,” which means, “Little girl, I tell you to get up!”
42 She got up at once and started walking around. (She was twelve years old.) When this happened, they were completely amazed. 43 But Jesus gave them strict orders not to tell anyone, and he said, “Give her something to eat.”
One sought help, but tried it without trying to bring her needs to the attention of anyone but Jesus. Jairus came humbly but openly to Jesus, and his testimony of though Jesus said to keep it quiet was equally public.
A Phoenician Woman came boldly to Jesus as well. Though outside the faith, she was willing to make her needs known.
Philip and Eunuch gives us the story of a seeker. This African man had gone to Jerusalem to seek knowledge, and seemingly left still wanting. But God sent Philip to meet on the road, and God’s will was made clear to him.
There are loads of models but in each, the needs and personality of the individual gave them a story to tell.
What is your story, where were you found, where will you be found?
What tale do you have to tell?