By delivering His people from sin’s power and penalty, God has given every Christian a testimony—a story of sin and grace; justice and mercy; failure and redemption. Yet, a personal testimony of salvation in Christ is unique to all other stories we can tell. We might have warm-hearted stories of time spent with family or riveting stories of adventure and friendship. Our testimony of salvation in Christ is unique, however, for it is the story through which all our other stories find meaning and significance.
A Blessing and a Stewardship
In this way, our testimony is both a blessing and a stewardship. It is a blessing because it reminds us of God’s grace in our lives and renews our assurance of salvation. Our testimonies are a stewardship because they serve as evidence of God’s continued work in the lives of sinners. We have been given a story to tell, not to keep to ourselves. Indeed, Jesus told His disciples, just prior to His ascension, that they were to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8). The word used here for witnesses is also translated in the New Testament as “testimony.” When a person gives a testimony of salvation, they are standing as a witness to the power of the gospel and the reality of Jesus Christ.
I love to hear testimonies of salvation. By freely offering their stories of redemption, Christians are seeking to fulfill Jesus’ commandment to be His witnesses. And, by obeying Christ, they are also serving others. Those who already believe the gospel will find in these testimonies cause for much joy and encouragement; those who do not yet trust in Jesus will discover good reasons to consider the claims of the gospel. Still, I am convinced that both kinds of people will be helped by considering how Christian testimonies demonstrates three essential truths about the nature of salvation.
A Complete Salvation
The first truth underscored by a genuine testimony is this: God’s salvation is a complete salvation. In the retelling of their experience of salvation, Christians demonstrate that God’s grace was active and effective both in their conversion and in their life following their initial faith in Christ. In no case did God draw someone to Himself only to leave this new Christian with conversion and nothing more—as though the promise of heaven after death would be enough stave off the inevitable temptations to sin and despair that these believers would encounter. In many cases, there were profound physical, emotional, and spiritual trials following conversion; but God remained faithful in these situations, providing everything needful for a life of faith and obedience.
According to the Bible, salvation promised is salvation provided, both now and in the future (Romans 8:28-39). Where God gives genuine conversion, He provides enduring faith in the gospel, desire for Christ, longing for Christian fellowship, passion for Scripture, love for the saints, gifts for ministry, and perseverance through suffering (Hebrews 10:39). While our affections may ebb and flow and our progress in godliness occasionally sputter and threaten to stall, the Spirit who first ignited faith in Christ promises to keep our hearts kindled with steadfast hope in a merciful God (Philippians 1:6).
A Diverse Salvation
The second truth highlighted by these testimonies relates to how God conducts His saving mission. Not only is it clear that God’s salvation is a complete salvation; we also see in these testimonies that God’s salvation is a diverse salvation. Now, by “diverse” I do not refer to salvation’s Author and Founder, Jesus Christ, who is the only way, truth, and life, and apart from whom, no one has fellowship with the Father (John 14:6). He is the only Savior of the world; and forgiveness of sin, justification, and deliverance from eternal judgment is only found by repenting from one’s sin and placing conscious faith in Christ alone. Clearly, there is only one Savior (Acts 4:12; Ephesians 4:4-6).
Rather, by “diverse” I refer to the varied ways that people are brought to believe the gospel. Some are rescued after walking through a series of life-threatening events, finally moved to trust Christ by the prayers, letters, and testimonies of other faithful Christians. Others grow up in the Church and enjoy a genuine relationship with Christ from a very early age. Some are delivered from external, man-made religion, others from paganism. Prior to their conversion, some are attracted to Christianity at some level, while others are repulsed by any thought of it. Some live many years under the pretense of a false conversion; others believe in Jesus the first time they hear the gospel.
Yet, this diversity of God’s methods of drawing His people into salvation is not exclusive to the testimonies we hear today; this variety is showcased in the biblical narrative as well. Paul, previously a violent persecutor of the Christian Church is leveled by Christ in a dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-19). Lydia, immediately upon hearing the gospel, places her faith in Christ as the Spirit opened her heart to understand the message the apostles spoke (Acts 16:13-16). A government official from Ethiopia, after studying the scroll of Isaiah on his chariot-ride back from Jerusalem, trusts in Christ after receiving clarifying instruction from Phillip as to the identity of the Suffering Servant (Acts 8:27-38). Cornelius, a soldier in the Italian Cohort, is visited first by an angel and then by the apostle Peter; the latter bringing the gospel message to this eager, God-fearing Gentile (Acts 10:1-33). Paul’s ministry apprentice, Timothy, was led to Christ as a result of the early biblical tutelage he received from his faithful and godly mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 3:14-15).
Examples could be multiplied. Still, the above cases suffice to illustrate Jesus’ mysterious statement to Nicodemus recorded in the Gospel of John. After explaining the necessity of spiritual rebirth to this reputed teacher of Israel, Jesus concludes His discussion with an enigmatic sentence: “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes” (John 3:8).
While Nicodemus and the other Jews desired a predictable religion they could control and dispense through extra-biblical rule and ritual, Jesus spoke of something infinitely better: a sovereign Spirit that descends upon whomever He will, who is neither deterred by someone’s religious, ethnic, social, or educational background, nor obligated to action by the same. The Spirit saves whomever He desires, however He desires, uncontrolled by human methods. Often, we find that He saves those whom we least expect. Indeed, He delights to do so (see 1 Corinthians 1:18-31).
Yet, God is also a God of means, and He is pleased to use a myriad of different circumstances to draw people into relationship with Christ. Actually, while it may be tempting to conclude that God started working toward our salvation at a specific point in our life—perhaps after a family crisis or an evangelistic encounter that really got us thinking about spiritual things—the truth is that God has been orchestrating the salvation of His elect since before creation, from eternity past! God the Father “chose us in Him [Christ] before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:3).
Our upbringing, our geographic location, our personality, our jobs, our families, our friends, and our experiences are all vital aspects of our testimony because they are what God used to bring us to repentance and faith in Christ (Acts 17:26-27). To give our testimony of Christ’s grace in our lives is to exalt the sovereignty of God.
I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; Behold, I have not restrained my lips, as You know, O LORD. I have not hidden Your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not concealed Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness from the great congregation (Psalm 40:9-10).
A Compelling Salvation
The third truth that Christian testimonies illustrate is that God’s salvation is a compelling salvation. While some people may be unwilling to investigate Christianity on its own terms because they doubt the Bible’s veracity or because they find little power in erudite, rational defenses of Scripture’s truth claims, it is unlikely that they will remain unmoved in the face of a genuine testimony of God’s life-changing grace. A clear testimony of one’s recognition of their sin, repentance, and faith in Jesus coupled with a presentation of the objective truths of the gospel can serve as a powerful means to encourage faith in others.
Apologetically, these testimonies demonstrate the reality of Christ and the truth of the gospel. Jesus has truly risen from the dead and He is in the business—right now— of changing lives for eternity. Although we believe unashamedly that Scripture is sufficient in and of itself to turn a sinner to Christ, we also thank God that He has seen fit to use our personal testimonies as a means to draw attention to the truth of God’s Word and the beauty of the gospel.
Testimonies Encourage Evangelism
As we consider the three biblical truths highlighted by these testimonies, we should find ourselves encouraged to share the gospel with others. If there is one thing we hope you take away from listening to Christian testimonies of salvation , it is this: God can save anyone! There is no heart too hard, no hypocrisy too entrenched, no life too lost, no lifestyle too sinful, that God is unable to break through the wall of unbelief and, by His grace, rescue those for whom His Son died. “And this is the will of Him who sent me,” Jesus proclaimed to His listeners centuries ago, “that I should lose nothing of all that [the Father] has given Me, but raise it up on the last day” (John 6:39). Nothing can stop Jesus from building His Church, not even the powers of hell (Matthew 16:18). Those whom God draws to Christ will believe the gospel and, despite the worst of trials, come safely into His eternal kingdom (Romans 8:30).
Over the years you may have allowed yourself to become convinced that there are friends, family members, and colleagues in your life who are beyond the hope of God’s grace. If so, let the hearing of Christian testimonies and the truth of God’s Word realign your mind and heart. We have concrete proof in the life of a Christian of God’s power to save. The stubborn unbelief of your dad, co-worker, or neighbor is no match for the God who will unfailingly fulfill His purposes, the Christ who freely shed His blood for his sheep, and the Spirit who blows upon whom He will. God can save anyone (Romans 10:13).
Many Stories, One Gospel
It is essential to keep in mind, however, that the foundational reason we can celebrate a diversity of salvation stories is because there is one and only one gospel. Jesus did not commission us with good news that is relevant only to particular cultures and limited to particular eras of history; the gospel is vitally relevant for everyone at all times. So, our testimonies never replace the gospel, but they do serve to demonstrate its power (Rom 1:16), and for that we can thank God—and keep sharing.