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Sharing Your Story: Your Testimony

First Baptist Church http://fbcbartow.org

“Sharing Your Story: Your Testimony”

Series: Sharing the Gospel [on screen]

Rev. Matthew C. McCraw, EdD

First Baptist Church, Bartow, Florida

November 25, 2018

Introductory Comments:

We’re continuing our series on sharing the Gospel. 

This morning we’re going to talk about sharing your testimony. 

Many of us have heard the word testimony before. 

When it comes to sharing the Gospel, the word testimony means “your story.”

Your story shares what Jesus has done in your life. How have you been changed by Jesus? That’s your testimony. 

In preparing to share your testimony it’s helpful to think of three aspects of your story: your story before Jesus, your encounter with Jesus, and your life after Jesus changed you. 

We’re going to look at those this morning and we’re going to use the story of the apostle Paul as our model of how to share our stories. 

Find Acts 26 in your Bible as we prepare to see what we can learn from God’s Word. 

Let’s pray before we get started. 

(prayer)

Before we read this passage, I want to give you a little context. Paul was in trouble and was being punished. He revealed to them during this process that he was a Roman citizen and he wanted to appeal to Caesar. First, he sees the governor, Felix. Felix is later succeeded by a new governor, Festus. Then the king was in town, so Paul stood before King Agrippa and told him his story. This is Paul’s story as told to King Agrippa. 

Let’s look at Acts 26:1-11 to begin. Look in your Bibles. 

(Read Acts 26:1-11)

This takes us to the first aspect of your testimony:

  1. Tell about your life before Jesus. [on screen]

Paul is beginning his conversation with his life before Jesus changed him. 

He says things like:

my way of life from my youth

I myself was convinced 

I actually did this

Paul gives a short history of his life before Jesus. He spoke of things that he did. He spoke of his life without Jesus. 

Notice that this is past tense. This is what Paul used to be; how he used to live. 

As you prepare to tell this part of your story, think about what your life was like before Jesus. 

Some of you might have a hard time remembering what your life was like before Jesus because it was a long time ago, or you were really young at the time. 

However, there are certain things that we definitely know about all of us before we were with Jesus: we were sinners! We did not live for God! We lived for ourselves! We didn’t know the purpose for which we were created!

Romans 3:23 tells us, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” [on screen]

We have this in common and it should be a part of our story. 

Our lives were different before we experienced Jesus. 

Paul was a man that hated Christians. He was a devoted Jew, and as such, he saw it as his duty to persecute those who followed Jesus. 

(pause)

What was your life like before Jesus?

(pause)

In order to share the Gospel, we should be able to tell our story, which includes our lives before Jesus.

Second, . . . 

  1. Tell what Jesus did in your life. [on screen]

Look at Paul’s account of what Jesus did in his life. 

Look at Acts 26:12-18. 

(Read Acts 26:12-18)

Here are some things Paul tells about his experience:

“I saw a light from heaven brighter than the sun”

“I heard a voice speaking to me”

“I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’”

Jesus said to him, “I will rescue you from your people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them”

Paul is telling what Jesus did in his life. 

This element is essential to your story. You have to share what Jesus did in your life! You have to share what the change in your life was!

It’s not biblically correct to say, “I just became a better person,” or “I just decided to become a Christian,” or worse yet, “I’ve always been a Christian.” You must have a life changing experience with Jesus!

You’re not born a Christian, you don’t become a Christian by osmosis, you certainly don’t become a follower of Jesus by your own power. It’s all because of Jesus!

Listen to what Paul says elsewhere about this point. 

Listen to Ephesians 2:1-9: 1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins 2 in which you previously lived according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit now working in the disobedient. 3 We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us, 5 made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! 6 He also raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might display the immeasurable riches of his grace through his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast. [on screen]

Being made alive by Jesus is the main ingredient in our Gospel stories. 

We must share this part of our story. We must tell others about Jesus. 

(pause)

Finally, . . .

  1. Tell about your life since Jesus made you new. [on screen]

Listen to how Paul’s life was different. Look back at Acts 26, starting in verse 19. 

(Read Acts 26:19-23)

Paul starts off this section by saying “so then.” 

Why does he say this?

He’s saying, “Because I was changed by Jesus, I was obedient to what He called me to do!

He says things like, 

“I preached!”

“I called people to repentance.”

“I’ve had help from God.”

“I stand and testify.”

Paul is telling how his life is actively different since Jesus changed him. 

(pause)

How is your life actively different now that Jesus has changed you?

(pause)

God has not called you to salvation without a changed life. God had saved us from the curse of sin in order that we might live for His glory. 

Paul was so radically changed that instead of persecuting Christians, he was now being persecuted as a Christian, and he was trying to tell more and more people. 

We are to be changed people who lived changed lives. We were created for that purpose. 

We read Ephesians 2:1-9 a moment ago. Listen to what verse 10 says: 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do. [on screen]

This is our calling in Christ: to live changed lives. God created us for this!

We must be ready to live changed lives, including being ready to share our story. 

That takes us to our bottom line this week:

Bottom Line: Be ready to share your story of Jesus! [on screen]

(repeat)

Remember the words of the apostle Peter in 1 Peter 3:15, “15 but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” [on screen]

We must be ready to share!

As we’ve been learning from James in the book of James, and from Jesus in the sermon on the mountainside, we must live changed lives. When we live those changed lives, people will notice. When they notice, we should be prepared to share our stories.

Challenge yourself this week in the following ways:

Weekly Challenge:

  1. Write your testimony. [on screen]

(refer to the “My Gospel Story” handout)

On the back page of your notes, I’ve provided an outline for you to write your testimony.

Take some time this week to write your Gospel story. 

Now, let me give you a few more pointers:

First, remember that this is your story. It’s not Paul’s story, it’s not my story. It’s your story. Write it as yours. 

Second, be sure to focus on the change. Remember, you haven’t always been a Christian. That’s not possible. Talk about how your life was changed. 

Third, as you write it, write in such a way that anyone can understand. This will be helpful as you share it with others at some point. 

That takes us to our second weekly challenge. 

  1. Share your testimony. [on screen]

Tell someone else your Gospel story. 

The culmination of you preparing your story is for you to share it with someone. 

Remember, it’s your story so don’t be intimidated to share it with someone. You’re the expert on your story. 

Think about that for a moment. If I were to ask you about where you grew up, or about your kids, or your spouse, would you be nervous about not sharing it quite right, or fumbling over your words? No! Because you’re an expert on that subject! In the same manner, this is your gospel story. You’re the expert. 

Also, be aware that sharing your testimony is not the same as sharing the Gospel. 

Here’s what I mean: sharing your testimony is specific to you, not necessarily everyone else. However, sharing your testimony creates a bridge for you to share the Gospel with someone else. 

Here’s how it works: you ask someone if you can share a story about something that happened in your life, your share your testimony, and then you ask, “Do you mind if I share with you what the Bible says about that forgiveness that I experienced?” Most people will allow you to share after you’ve shared your own story. 

In the next part in this series, we’ll learn more about what you can share as you present the Gospel. 

Concluding Thoughts:

As we conclude this morning I am well aware that some of you have not yet realized the Gospel story that God has written for you; you’ve not yet experienced it. 

I want you to know that God has a unique story for you. That story is about God’s great love for you and how He can make you new. That story is about how you rejected God but God loved you anyway. He wants you to be His child, not His enemy. 

(Gospel Presentation)

(Closing Prayer)

Invitation Song – Let Others See Jesus in You

Benediction:

If you have any sort of spiritual decision that you would like to make, you can contact me or Pastor Richard and we would be glad to talk to you anytime.

I hope to see you back here tonight for our study, “An Expedition in the Bible.” We’re continuing our chronological timeline of biblical events. I hope to see you here at 5:30 PM. 

Also, we have a team of 10 going to the Holy Land this week. Please be in prayer for us as we travel. We’ll leave Wednesday and be back on December 7. On that note, Dr. Jay Brinson will be back with us next week to conclude his series, “The Adam and Eve Effect.” You’ll want to be here for that!

Let’s dismiss by singing the Doxology. 

(Sing Doxology)

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