Lesson 12 Personal Testimony

The courtroom is the usual scene for terms like “witness,” “testify” and “testimony.” It is in the courtroom of this world that these same terms are used of believers in Christ as they witness, testify or give their confession of faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Paul charged his young disciple Timothy, “Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate” (1 Timothy 6:12-13 NASB). Confession of Christ before others is a great privilege which can be used of God to bring others to Himself. It can also be the occasion of persecution and even death. The words “witness” and “testify” are translations of a Biblical word which relates to our English word “martyr.” It is used in that sense in Scripture (Revelation 2:13) as believers testified to their faith even unto death.

The Lord was clear in His call to His followers to be forthright about their relationship to Him. “Whosoever shall confess Me before men, him shall the Son of Man also confess before the angels of God” (Luke 12:8; cf. Matthew 10:32). The opening of our mouths before others is linked even to salvation itself. “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved” (Romans 10:9 NASB). Our allegiance to the Lord Jesus should be no secret.


A good testimony involves two factors. First, there must be a firsthand authentication of a fact. Ananias told Saul of Tarsus upon his conversion, “Thou shalt be His witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard” (Acts 22:15). A good witness deals with what he has seen or knows, not guessed or felt. A good witness for Jesus Christ tells how he met Christ, how his life has been changed and on what authority he makes claim to being a child of God. Second, a witness makes a solemn declaration under oath in response to a question about the truth of a matter. The believer is told, “Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). The Apostle John in his gospel gave testimony of the things he knew to be true (John 21:24). Paul wrote for the benefit of doubters that he was truly testifying that Christ was risen from the dead. If it were not so, he would have been found a false witness in the sight of God (1 Corinthians 15:15).

The testimony of a child of God often begins with the needs which brought him to Christ, especially the problem of sin. “Many that believed came, and confessed, and snowed their deeds” (Acts 19:18). These were evil in the sight of God. The Lord Jesus has brought relief to millions gripped with a sense of guiltiness, emptiness, lack of meaning, lack of peace, fear of death and loneliness. Joy and purpose have replaced them. Yet supremely Jesus came to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15), delivering them from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10). Believers therefore testify to the time in their experience when they heard the gospel of their salvation and believed it (Ephesians 1:13). They received “redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

Any good testimony is Christ-centered (Acts 5:31-32). It is rightly called “the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 1:2, 9). Particular emphasis was given by first century believers to the fact that Christ had risen from the dead (Acts 2:32; 4:33; 13:30-31). Both prophetic fulfillment and the testimony of witnesses was cited by them. It is important to tell how Christ has changed our lives (1 Thessalonians 1:9; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Paul once was a blasphemer and persecutor of Christians (1 Timothy 1:13). He became their foremost champion. A good testimony often brings opportunity to solemnly challenge hearers as to the need of “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). Remember that spiritual opposition is overcome by believers through “the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony” (Revelation 12:11).

General Outline

1. As Seen In Scripture. The witness of Paul in Acts 26:1-29 is a Scriptural example of a testimony which deals with the Before, How and After aspects of receiving Christ. Note this order in his appeal to
King Agrippa:

a. Before Christ Was Received (26:4-11). Paul tells of his religious background and resistance to Christ.

b. How Christ Was Received (26:12-18). He tells of his meeting with Christ on the Damascus road and how the Savior reproached him for his sins, yet called him to the service of the
One he had persecuted.

c. After Christ Was Received (26:19-23). He speaks of the changes in his life and how he became a preacher even among countrymen who sought to kill him.

2. As Reflected In Your Testimony. When giving your own testimony, keep certain things in mind:

a. Before Christ Was Received. What elements in your former life caused you to see the need for a change? Which of them are common to the needs of others?

b. How Christ Was Received. Be specific so that others will not see this as a vague spiritual change, but rather an encounter with the living God. How, when and where did this take place?

c. After Christ Was Received. What clear evidences of a transformed life took place? What are the benefits of becoming a believer? What touches the longings in the hearts of others?

Guidelines For Preparing The Specific Content

The following guidelines should be observed in composing your testimony.

1. Keep the Lord Jesus central, telling what He has done.

2. Use the Word of God (Hebrews 4:12; Ephesians 6:17). Mention the verses that God used in reaching your conscience. This lends authority and brings conviction (Mark 1:22).

3. Be personal (“I” and “my”) and conversational, rather than unnatural and “preachy.”

4. Be careful in using religious phrases and special Christian terminology unknown to your hearers, such as “born again,” “repentance” and even the word “saved.” If you use them, define them.

5. Think of elements in which people can identify with your story.

Certain details may be interesting. Use words that paint a vivid picture.

6. Stick to facts, rather than feelings. That makes a good witness.

7. Be gracious in your words (Luke 4:22), not bitter or condemning other groups. Speak with humility, not arrogance.

Sequence Of Preparation

1. Pray for wisdom and guidance in making clear how you found new
life in Christ.

2. Accumulate brief notes on three separate sheets of paper labeled:

(1) Before (2) How (3) After

3. Write out a long, rough draft using your notes from the three
sheets of paper. (It will usually take about ten minutes to read it.)

4. Make improvements on the long draft. Evaluate your testimony in view of the comments under “General Outline” and the seven “Guidelines.”

5. Cut your draft down to under four minutes to read.

Outline your three-four minute presentation on a 3 x 5 card. Learn to give your testimony using only your outline.

Learn to give your testimony in three-four minutes without the outline.

Classroom Exercise

The training session for this lesson will be given over entirely to the sharing of personal testimonies. We will divide into groups of six or less. Each person will give his testimony in turn. You may use your outline on your 3 x 5 card to refresh your memory. Some may wish to read their testimony, but it is preferred that only the 3 x 5 cards be used. We will seek suggestions from the group as to how these testimonies might be improved, shortened, expanded or clarified as necessary.

You may wish to ask other persons or a group to help you accomplish this.

Personal Testimony

Read NOTES thoroughly and prepare your testimony according to the “Guidelines” and “Sequence of Preparation.” Your final draft should be recorded under the three major questions below which bring out the Before, How and After of your conversion.

1. What was your life like before making Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior?

2. How and when did you make Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior? What were the circumstances? What Scripture did you claim by faith? In a simple, understandable way, make clear to others the way to God. Be sure that Christ, rather than people or the church, is central.

3. In practical terms, how has your life been changed after making Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior? A commitment that resulted in a changed life is a mark of reality. There is no point in telling about a “decision” or prayer that had no such effect.