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Why your “good testimony” might be keeping them from Christ

Posted by on 16 April, 2009 in Jesus Christ | 6 Comments

“Before you can get someone saved,
you first have to get them lost.”

good-testimonyThe primary need of our day is to help lost people realise they are sinners. And that is difficult in a society of relative morality.

There is a school of thinking in Fundamentalism that focuses on “guarding your testimony with the lost.” I believe this is an example of the man-centred thinking of the Missional Fundamentists.

Granted, the “good testimony” ethic recognises that living the gospel in front of others is the most powerful testimony to the power of Jesus Christ. But here’s the rub. The lost cannot see the gospel at work in my life until they see that I’m a sinner! The gospel is about rescuing sinners!

That’s why your “good testimony” might be the biggest hindrance to others seeing the gospel in your life.

maskDon’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we should indulge in sinful activity “that grace may abound.” I’m saying that we should be real.

It’s as if we go on high alert any time we’re around unsaved people. We become weird. Like some sort of super-spiritual honing device that can find an opportunity in every discussion to “turn the conversation towards the things of God.” It’s all about being a “good testimony” to this unsaved person.

But is this on-your-best-behaviour approach to witnessing helping them see Jesus Christ? Or is it obscuring him?

If a lost person tells you you’re “such a nice person,” you ought to be disappointed. They’ve seen you. They haven’t seen Christ.

Again, I’m not saying we should try to have a bad testimony. I’m saying we should stop worrying about our testimony so much and focus on showing them Jesus Christ and his gospel. And the best place to do that is in your own life—specifically, in your own sin.

Until they see you for the sinner that you are, they cannot see the gospel at work in your life! You’ve got to get to the point where you are the real you around them, failures and all. And it will be in that very point where the gospel will become evident.

Do you respond in humility and repentance to your sinfulness? Do you admit your weaknesses? Do you rejoice in Christ’s forgiveness and grace? Do you forgive others specifically because Jesus Christ forgave you so much?

Until they understand that you’re a bad person, they will not see the grace of Jesus Christ in rescuing you. And that grace is the heart of the gospel.

As believers, we must be careful not to hide Jesus Christ and his gospel behind our “good testimony.”

Links

My net speed was slow last week so I didn’t bother with the links so it’s catch up time now!

There is a subtle, satanic attack on a ministry that God is using that most of us who are in God’s work are not prepared for: It is the sickening feeling of shame when one’s heart condemns him in the middle of his prosperity.

If you could argue away everything about the Bible (which you can’t) you can’t ignore its supernatural insight into humanity. It sees the world as it really is.

And, back by popular demand: the video.

About Jason Harris

avatar
Jason loves to communicate God's word both in the local church and at conferences and retreats. Jason has been involved with Worship Music since 1996 and InFocus since 2005. Jason has degrees in theology, music, and accounting and is currently a research student and lecturer in the School of Business at James Cook University, Cairns. You can contact Jason at jason@teaminfocus.com.au.

Comments (6)

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  • avatar

    Farid Wardan

    It’s as if we go on high alert any time we’re around unsaved people. We become weird. Like some sort of super-spiritual honing device that can find an opportunity in every discussion to “turn the conversation towards the things of God.” It’s all about being a “good testimony” to this unsaved person.”

    Insightful post, that paragraph in particular really hit me.

  • avatar

    Apo

    “If a lost person tells you you’re “such a nice person,” you ought to be disappointed. They’ve seen you. They haven’t seen Christ.”

    A challanging thought…

  • avatar

    Jolita

    Hmm, never thought about it that way before. Interesting…and challenging. =D Thanks, Jason!

  • avatar

    Peter

    Interesting Post…….it raises some important issues.

    Those of us who were saved from a sinful lifestyle remember what we thought about Christians. The ones who tried to copy our lifestyle, we laughed at them. The ones who were “good”, we mocked – but respected them for at least practising what they preached. You don’t have to be a Christian to be a “nice person”. Individual personality is a big factor in this.

    We should be as we are,whether with Christians or Non-Christians. If Christ has saved us, he has also changed us, and is in the process of renewing us everyday.

    You really need to clarify what you mean by, “Until they see you for the sinner that you are, they cannot see the gospel at work in your life!” If people see Christ in us, they won’t see the old sinner that we were, they will see the new person in Christ.

  • avatar

    Jason Harris

    Thanks for the comment Peter.

    btw, all of us were saved from a sinful lifestyle.

    Just to clarify the two points that you brought up.

    1) I agree that copying their lifestyle not good. We are indeed set apart to God and that means we are to be distinct in our submission to God. What I was trying to communicate was more along the lines that we easily become so focused on our testimony that we aren’t real with unsaved people.

    2) As far as the statement: “Until they see you for the sinner that you are, they cannot see the gospel at work in your life!”

    What I was meaning to communicate is that only sinners need to be saved. The difference between a believer and an unbeliever is that the believer admits he’s a sinner while the unbeliever does not. So part of our distinct testimony is that we admit we’re sinners in need of God’s grace.

    When the lost see me admit my sin, not only against them, but against God and then seek biblical reconciliation and then go forward without guilt, that is a powerful testimony to the gospel. They can’t handle their problems that way because they won’t admit that they have sinned not only against the other person, but against God. They have to patch up their human relationships as best they can and then live with the guilt before God.

    So I’m not suggesting that we should intentionally sin. I’m just saying we all sin many times in a day. If we are open and real with the lost, they will see that and will get the chance to see the gospel in action in our lives.

    Hope that clarifies a little.

    Grace to you.

  • avatar

    Albert Alcoceba

    Thank you Jason! One of the most insightful postings I’ve seen anywhere!

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