Personal Testimonies = Evangelism?

Self

It is not uncommon today for Christians in evangelical churches to present their personal testimony of conversion as a kind or method of evangelism.

In fact, such testimony is often confused with the presenting the gospel itself.  In other words, when someone “gives their testimony” we can mistakenly think that the gospel message itself has also been presented, when all that may have actually been presented was the believer’s conversion experience.

Michael Horton writes,

 . . .it is important for us to recognize that personal evangelism is not primarily concerned with testifying to ourselves but with testifying to Christ. There is nothing wrong with relating our Christian experience. In fact, it is often a good way into a conversation with an unbelieving friend or relative. However, it is a mere preamble to the gospel. The apostles and martyrs faced death not because they had a spiritual experience or because their marriages were stronger and they were better people now, but because of their testimony to Christ. (The Gospel Commission, p.181)

So if we are relating our personal testimonies of conversion either in a church setting or in one-on-one conversation, we must be sure that we are not just settling for giving (in Horton’s words) a “mere preamble to the gospel.”

We can surely testify as to what the Lord Jesus Christ has done (and is doing) in our lives, but we must be careful not to stop there.  We must be sure to testify to Christ Himself – to the actual gospel message itself – to the truth that Jesus Christ died on the cross to save sinners, and that He rose again from the dead on the 3rd day.  We must tell sinners that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but shall have eternal life (John 3:16).

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