Saturday, March 11, 2006

What a Testimony is Not

Okay, now that (hopefully) everyone has recovered from the WTD (Weapon of Theological Destruction) I lobbed yesterday, let's take a deep, calming breath. ***Richard Simmons - "Inhale (sniiiifffff)...exhale (sheeeewwww)."*** Good, now that that is over with, let's look at what a testimony is not. 1. A testimony is not about growing up in a church or being a member of a church. Now, a testimony conceivably can and most often does include mention of growing up in a church environment and being a member. Mine does. I grew up in First Baptist Church, born and raised. Sunday School, Royal Ambassadors, Vacation Bible School, summer missions trips, youth evangelism conferences, handbells, choir (I was tolerated here), the whole nine yards. I even lived through times of friction within and without the church. And there were periods of time where my family didn't go to church regularly also. And I even got baptized and put on the membership roll without having a genuine testimony of salvation in the 7th grade. (For the record, I actually accepted Christ on Valentine's Day in my freshman year of high school. I'd previously asked to become a Christian after VBS in the 5th or 6th grade because it was the "popular" thing to do at the time. For what it's worth, my pastor there, when I asked, felt that I did not need to be baptized again.) But these things don't speak to being saved. They're merely groundwork. Worth mentioning is that some of the things I listed occurred before I believed in Christ and some happened after. But do any of these things really yell, "Steve is saved?" No. It just means I was blessed enough to be raised in a Christian environment to some degree. 2. A testimony is not about who your parents are. I get this one more often than anything else from my teenagers. "My dad is a deacon at church. My mom runs the nursery. My daddy's the assistant pastor. My mom teaches Sunday School. My dad started an outreach ministry." And so on and so forth. More common than the "Daddy Warbucks" answers are the "I was raised by my parents to be..." answers. You know these, people say they were raised to be good people, moral people, or what have you. And yes, these were responses to the question of how one knows one is saved. But again, do any of these things clearly say, "Jesus saved me?" No. 3. A testimony is not about "following the teachings of Christ." Anyone can do that! Come on. Joe Blow at Trixie's nudie bar can follow what Jesus taught, in principle. Though of course, he (and you and I for that matter) won't be able to follow the "be perfect" command, but I digress. This is the response I most often get from church members. "I follow the Bible. I follow what the pastor teaches me about Jesus. I study my Sunday School lesson. I try to live a Christian life. I always ask myself, 'What Would Jesus Do?'" This is where things tend to get cloudy for us. Obviously, if someone has really accepted Christ, these are the exact things we would look for. But do actions divorced from the saving work of Christ constitute a saving testimony? No. None of these things proclaim, "There's a saved person here!" Ephesians 2:10 ought to debunk any notion of a works-salvation: "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." Notice something here, the works come after we are "created in Christ Jesus." When are we "created in Christ Jesus?" When we are saved! WWJD is the result of salvation, not the cause. And as such it does not constitute a true testimony. I feel that, after having given these three points, I must repeat myself: I utterly and totally reject the authenticity of any testimony that does not proclaim Christ and Him crucified. Okay, I think that's enough for tonight. Let's meditate and pray over them, and examine ourselves to make sure our "spiritual resumes" are correct. More to follow.

9 Comments:

Blogger -mike- said...

Joe Blow wouldn't be following the teachings of Christ if he were to be in a such a situation. To follow Christ is to be lead into making this earth, with it's social/spiritual/political/etc... issues, a better place. Strip Bars promote the general degredation of women, disease, and moral corruption (according to both societies norms and scripture) How can he be following Christ and his teachings, even in principle?

To have a story from God is to follow Christ into what many people would call "lordship" or formation. That is what would form a "testimoney," wouldn't you agree?

3/11/2006 06:57:00 PM  
Blogger Brandt said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3/11/2006 07:16:00 PM  
Blogger Stephen Newell said...

It would seem both of you have had an adventure in missing the point.

What should have been obvious is that there are a multitude of people (including Joe Blow at Trixie's) who testify about following the way of Christ, but have no testimony about the cross and placing faith in Christ.

That's a completely different concept from having a testimony of faith in Christ and no testimony of living in Christ.

3/11/2006 11:38:00 PM  
Blogger Cristy said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3/12/2006 01:29:00 AM  
Blogger Cristy said...

OK...so first of all you talk about not name calling and personally attacking others, yet you are calling people trolls. What is this about?

Secondly, please show me where you are finding your basis for what a testimony should be. I agree that it should not be exclusive to "because my parents are" or "because I grew up in the church", but I think that including these things is fine. Would you rather someone give a testimony of faith in Christ, yet not live their lives like Christ? I think these two things must go hand in hand or we are not being a living testimony. I think that a living testimony is more important than anything we could ever put into words. Showing Christ's love to others around us must be a priority. I am sorry but I do not see the love of Christ in your response to the comments made on this topic. Your responses come across as arrogant and rude.

Please don't think that I am trying to attack you because I hope not to come across that way. I do not personally know you and I do know Brandt and Noakes and I see Christ's love exibited in their lives daily and they spur me on the be more Christ-like. To me it appears that you are talking down to them and I don't think that is fair of you.

3/12/2006 01:51:00 AM  
Blogger mike said...

I'm not gonna talk about the actual topic at hand--I don't think I can add to it. What I do want to talk about is your attitude towards people posting comments on your blog. You may disagree with them, but at least be civil to them--especially as they are brothers and sisters in Christ. "They shall know you are Christians by your love" and all that. By the way...nice, pointed comment in the reference to McLaren's book "Adventures in Missing the Point".

3/12/2006 10:20:00 PM  
Blogger Stephen Newell said...

Cristy,

I'll repeat what I said in the original thread: the things that were said by the individual in question, I wouldn't wish on anyone, and as such they were deleted. This is not about who can have the bigger hissy fit, and I refuse to stoop to that level.

Mike,

Glad you saw the reference. Perhaps it was the wrong thing to attempt levity with, especially in the light of the heat elsewhere. Seems like none of you were ready to see it as intended. I blame myself and the medium for that one, and beg your leave on it.

3/12/2006 10:32:00 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

Wow! It appears you never do get free of these conversations. Just to try and explain the situation for some as I see it, Stephen (correct me if I'm wrong) is attempting to show the danger of allowing nominal Christians a foothold in the body of Christ. These are the people who will acknowledge Jesus with their lips, but deny Him by their lifestyles. These are those who will stand up in church and say I've been coming here for years and it's my right to... The last time I checked slaves had no rights and according to Romans, we are to be slaves to Christ (we have Christian liberty, but this is only understood when being captive to Christ). This is by no means found only in youth, but is deadly throughout the church. I am unaware of the specific testimonies being bashed, but I know that Jesus died in my place. I deserved eternal fiery hell and still do outside of the saving grace of Jesus. God can only look on me because I am in Christ. A dead man cannot do anything worthy of salvation, but a Savior can breathe life into a dead man.

3/13/2006 03:01:00 AM  
Blogger Stephen Newell said...

Thanks for the timely backup, Jason.

3/14/2006 03:31:00 PM  

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