Giving your personal testimony is a great way to witness to the lost. One advantage of giving your testimony is that it requires very little Bible knowledge. Some people shy away from witnessing because they think they do not know enough of the Bible. But, when you give your testimony you do not have to be a theologian, you just have to tell what happened to you. If you will read John chapter nine you will see a man that was a great witness even though he knew very little. He simply told the “one thing” (John 9:25) that he knew: “whereas I was blind, now I see.”
Giving your testimony is also a great way to witness because it emphasizes that the Bible actually works. Instead of arguing with them over the doctrine of sin and salvation, you simply explain to them that the Bible has worked in your life. If they disagree, they will have to call you a liar. It removes this barrier of argument.
All saved people basically have the same testimony. We were lost in our sin, someone showed us how to be saved, and now we are on our way to heaven. When you give your testimony you want to highlight those three things:
1. Your life before becoming a Christian.
2. How you became a Christian.
3. Your life since becoming a Christian.
Now a word of caution: Do not go into great detail about your sinful past. It could actually work against them getting saved. For example, lets say you used to drink three six packs of beer every Friday evening when you got home from work. You tell this to the person you are witnessing to, but he only drinks one six pack of beer occasionally, or does not drink at all. He may think to himself, “I’m not as bad a sinner as this guy. I don’t need to be saved.” So, do not disclose much information about your sinful past. Simply tell them something like this: “Before I was saved I did a lot of sins I am now ashamed of. My life was empty and hopeless before Jesus saved me.”
Next, you want to tell them how you got saved. Again, do not go into great detail, you can not afford to spend all night talking about yourself. Remember your testimony is a tool to win them to the Lord. Keep it short and simple. You could tell them something like this: “Someone cared enough about me to tell me how I could be forgiven of my sins and go to heaven. I did what the Bible said to do and Jesus saved me.”
Finally you will want to tell them what your life is like now that you are a Christian. Let them know that you are happy that you are saved, and have a purpose for living.
In Acts 26 we have a great example of how to give your personal testimony. Below are some of the specifics on how to be efficient when you give your testimony:
1. Be polite and do not force your testimony.
Acts 26:1 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself:
Keep in mind that you have not been invited over to their house. You are the visitor knocking on their door. Be polite. If they do not want to hear your testimony, they are simply exercising their prerogative. Get over it. Rude and uncouth manners will only cause the unsaved to think worse about Christians and the Lord than they did before. Do not be a “super saint” by forcing scripture verses and smart aleck comments. That shows a sing of insecurity and spiritual immaturity. It is not about YOU anyway, it is about the Lord!
2. You have to “live” your testimony.
Acts 26:2 I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews:
This is especially true when you are giving your testimony to someone that you have contact with on a frequent basis. If you tell them Jesus has changed your life, and you have the victory in Christ, you had better live it! Untold damage has been caused by Christians who say one thing, but live another. As someone aptly said, “Your life may be the only Bible some people will ever read.”
3. Be complimentary.
Acts 26:3 Especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently.
Be gracious and kind. Give honor to those who deserve it, and by all means show respect to the person you are talking to. If the person is your senior use the appropriate titles. If they hold a military or positional office address them as such. You will be closer to gaining their ear if you are complimentary.
4. Center the testimony on the Lord Jesus Christ. Verses 14-18
14 And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
15 And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.
16 But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;
17 Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,
18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
Even though you are telling them what happened to you personally, the essence of your conversation is what the Lord did in your life. He is the Giver, you were simply the receiver. You have to get that across.
Notice that Paul gives a few critical details, but he does not go overboard. Tell just enough to testify of what great saving power the Lord has. Emphasize how good the Lord is and what a change He has wrought in your life!
5. Conclude with an invitation for them to become a Christian.
Acts 26:27 King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.
After you finish with your brief testimony of how the Lord saved you, extend an invitation for them to do the same. You could say something like: “If the Lord can save somebody like me, can’t He save you?” If they say “yes,” then respond with: “Let’s pray and you can ask Him to save you right now.”
A Word of Caution
You need to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit during the entire visitation process. A person may be fidgeting around, not because they are under conviction, but because their supper is getting cold and they want you to leave. They might be more polite than you are!
You should not force someone to pray the sinners prayer so you can report a conversion. Neither should you wear out your welcome when you visit. Be careful and sensitive. Establish whether or not the person is saved, figure out the best way to talk to them, then “compel them to come in” (Luke 14:23).
This is a spiritual work. You can not save anyone. You can not quote enough verses, give your testimony persuading enough, or argue them into heaven. This is a job for the Holy Spirit. Don’t forget that!
John 16:8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: