Each year at New England Baptist College we have a Christmas Banquet. A local restaurant caters the meal, but all the staff members are asked to bring a dessert. This particular year, I chose to make a peach cobbler because I had a great recipe from another church member. Even with little baking experience I was confident I would be successful. After all, I had their recipe which I knew tasted amazing. Just as a good cook can give us a great recipe, we learn the recipe for an effective evangelistic testimony from the Apostle Paul in Acts 26.
One of the most effective witnessing tools you have is your testimony! A lost person may object to hearing how they can be saved, but few will object to hearing how God has worked in your life. Even with little soul winning experience you can learn how to effectively give your testimony. Sharing your testimony is an important skill to develop if you are to go forward in the area of witnessing.
Prep time: Have you ever wanted to bake something only to realize you lack some of the ingredients? Any good cook will spend time shopping for the right ingredients. Sometimes shopping for ingredients takes more time than the actual cooking! Learning how to give your testimony is no different. The time to prepare to give your testimony is now — not when you are trying to lead your friend to Christ. In Acts 26 God gave Paul the unique opportunity to give his testimony to two high ranking leaders in the Roman Empire. Long before this moment, Paul had become adept at giving his testimony. As you prepare yourself to serve, God will open up the doors of opportunity for you to use your preparation.
Step 1: Preheat the oven
Pray that God will help you give your testimony, and that He would work in the heart of the hearers. If you doubt God will answer this prayer consider Matthew 7:11, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” God is interested in helping you use your testimony for His glory. If you ask Him He will certainly help you.
Step 2: Consider the guest
If you were baking cookies for a gluten free-friend, you would choose to use gluten free ingredients. When giving your testimony to an unsaved friend it should be tailored to their spiritual need (salvation). Learning how to omit certain parts of your testimony that clutter the Gospel message and emphasizing the aspects of the Gospel message is essential. For instance, fear, uncertainty, relief, and joy — these feelings may have been experienced at the time of salvation and may seem natural to share, but are non-essential to the gospel message. Realizing they are a sinner is essential. Spending little time explaining this realization but much time on your feelings is a recipe for confusion.
Step 3: Give your background
Cooking shows will often include some background behind a certain dish. In Acts 26:4-5 Paul gave his background — He was a Pharisee. Paul’s listeners were familiar with Pharisees and knew they were very religious. This communicated to them that their good deeds and religion were insufficient for salvation. When I give my salvation testimony I tell the listener that I was born into a Catholic family. My dad was an altar boy, and my grandparents were heavily involved in the Roman Catholic Church. In our region most people are Roman Catholic. By sharing my background the listener has something with which to identify and infers that being a Roman Catholic will not get you to heaven.
Step 4: Emphasize the important ingredients
The afternoon before the banquet I baked the peach cobbler. I had to throw it in the garbage instead of bringing it to the banquet because it came out so badly. My mistake — When the recipe asked for a tablespoon of baking powder, I accidentally put in a teaspoon. Some ingredients in a recipe are absolutely necessary. When giving your salvation testimony emphasize each part of the Gospel because it is absolutely necessary. The listener should have enough information about the Gospel to trust Christ as their Savior after hearing your testimony. The Gospel dominated Paul’s testimony in Acts 26. In your testimony tell the listener how you realized —
- You are a sinner.
- Your sin separated you from God condemning you to a place called hell.
- Christ is the sinless son of God. He loved you so much that He payed for your sin by dying on a cross to save you.
- The only thing that can get you to heaven is to accept Christ payment for your sin by putting your faith in Jesus Christ.
Step 5: Stir in the ingredients
Some recipes ask you to add in an ingredient as you stir instead of just dumping it all in the bowl. As you introduce the listener to the Gospel by your testimony be sure to stir in memorized Scripture to back up what you are saying. For the listener this is just your story and your opinion without the power of Scripture to back it up. You should have certain memorized verses in your testimony that give the Gospel. For a list of verses to memorize for sharing the Gospel click here.
Step 6: Set the timer:
Even a great recipe will taste terrible if it is under or over cooked. You need to give your testimony in an amount of time that fits the opportunity given you. In Acts 26 Paul was given a considerable amount of time to give his testimony. I have found that I usually have only a couple minutes to give my testimony in a conversation. Practice giving your testimony in such a way that it is concise and powerful.
Step 7: Enjoy!
I enjoy eating what I bake. After my Christmas banquet failure I attempted baking peach cobbler a second time. This time it was delicious! Sometimes after giving our testimony we may feel like a failure if our friend does not get saved. In Acts 26 Felix accused Paul of being insane after finishing his testimony. After sharing our testimony some may think us to be a religious nut. That can be expected. 1 Corinthians 1:18 explains, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness…” Sadly others may seriously consider becoming a Christian but never make a salvation decision. In response to Paul’s testimony King Agrippa tells Paul in verse 28, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” Even though both leaders rejected the Gospel Paul was still a success because he did what God called him to do. You are successful whenever you do what God desires you to do.
Your personal testimony is unique and powerful. Start preparing to witness with your testimony today by putting into practice these seven steps. It can make the difference between heaven or hell for one of your friends.