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.