Summary: How to Utilize the power of the personal testimony in the way the apostle Paul appropriated its usefulness through the power of the Spirit
The Power of Paul’s Personal Testimony
Illustration:In the midst of a generation screaming for answers, Christians are stuttering.
Illustration:T.H. Huxley, a well-known agnostic, was with a group of men at a weekend house party. On Sunday morning, while most of them were preparing to go to church, he approached a man known for his Christian character and said, "Suppose you stay at home and tell my why you are a Christian." The man, knowing he couldn’t match wits with Huxley, hesitated. But the agnostic said gently, "I don’t want to argue with you. I just want you to tell me simply what this Christ means to you." The man did, and when he finished, there were tears in Huxley’s eyes as he said, "I would give my right hand if only I could believe that!"
Our Daily Bread, January 24, 1993.
1. Why are some testimonies able to influence positive changes while others statements are met with disbelief? We live in a world where there are many personal testimonies that obviously lack credibility, power or authority.
Paul’s personal encounter with Jesus Christ empowered him to speak about truth and love. Paul’s wholehearted defense came from a firm conviction that he was speaking out of obedience to the God who desired all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
The great apostle’s testimony affected lives because it came from a man who could identify with the pain of his audience. Make your testimony compelling in the sense you are constrained by the love of Christ.
Ask the Lord to help you speak as God spoke to you.
2. Paul identified with his audience by citing his credentials in a way that demonstrated God’s transforming power in his life.
Paul said, “I was brought up in Jerusalem, sat at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our father’s law and was zealous toward God as you all are today.” (Acts 22:3)
Ask the Lord to help you to make connections with your audience in a way that you establish good emotional, social, political, religious and spiritual connections.
3. Paul cited the ways God had personally communicated to him. God spoke to him through a dramatic heavenly vision; through deliverance from a lifestyle of destruction; miraculous healing and commands to reach the Gentiles. By describing the source of his authority, Paul cast his accusers in a position of opposing the very God they professed to worship.
Ask the Lord to help you stick with the facts of your authority in Christ, in the Holy Spirit and in the word of God, but do it through a prayerful personal testimony.
4. Paul realized that he might not be able to change the minds of hateful people but he could muster the courage to obey God and do what he could.
Do not be discouraged if you think your testimony is falling on deaf ears.
Ask the Lord to help you have the courage to change what you can, the peace to accept the things you cannot alter and the wisdom to know how the will of God overcomes all problems.
5. Paul found ways to find the social, historical, mental, emotional, religious and spiritual keys to hearts of his audience.
Paul knew that every person has locked doors to protect their emotional inner being. Good communicators learn how to connect to the perceptions of every individual in their audience.
Ask the Lord to help you find social, mental, emotional and spiritual keys to unlock the doors to your minds of your audience.
Illustration:When I am conscious of the fear of failure holding me back, I go through a kind of personal checklist:
1. Does this fear come basically from pride, a fear that I will not live up to my own expectations or to those of others?
2. Do I remember that God has called me first to faithfulness, then to efficiency?
3. Do I trust that the Holy Spirit is working before me, with me, and through me?
4. Do I remember that I am called to be neither more nor less successful than Jesus Christ was?
5. Do I remember that God does his greatest work when I seem to be weakest? Isn’t that, after all, the mystery of the cross?
Leighton Ford, Good News is for Sharing, p. 65.
6. Paul reasoned with his audience in the way God reasoned with him. The Lord proved his providential presence, power and purpose on the road to Damascus. Everyone can discover God’s presence as they prayerfully search the scriptures.
Ask the Lord to use your personal testimony to encourage people to allow God to reason with them through the pages of their Bible.
7. Paul used divine arguments, inducements and warnings. The great apostle used divine appeals to a Jewish audience that prided themselves on being the people of God.