What is the difference between preaching and testimony? Testimony is telling others what God has done in your life. It is personal. And it is Jesus’ strategy for reaching the world. Simple and effective! Listen today and hear more about this weapon.
It’s good to be with you again as we draw near to the close of another week.
In my previous talks this week I have dealt with three main weapons of attack: prayer, praise and preaching. Today I am going to deal with what I consider to be the fourth main weapon of attack, testimony.
We need to begin by distinguishing between testimony and preaching. The other word of testimony is “witnessing” or “being a witness.” Preaching is presenting the truths of God’s Word directly, but testimony is speaking from personal experience, but it’s speaking about experiences that relate to the Word of God and confirm the truth of God’s Word. For instance, if we are preaching a message on healing, we preach the principles on which God heals. We offer His promises of healing. But if we are testifying about healing, we speak about some experience in which we experienced God healing us. So, testimony and preaching are both related to the Word of God but they approach it from different angles.
Now testimony was, I believe, basic to the strategy of Jesus reaching the whole world with the gospel. He unveiled this strategy in His closing words on earth as He stood on the Mount of Olives with His disciples, about to leave them. He said this in Acts 1:8:
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (NIV)
We notice, first of all, that to be effective witnesses for Jesus we need supernatural power. Our testimony is supernatural. It needs to be backed and enforced by supernatural power, the power of the Holy Spirit. So Jesus did not permit His disciples to go out and to begin testifying until they had been endued with that power on the Day of Pentecost.
Secondly, Jesus did not say, “You will witness,” which is what a lot of religious people say today. He said, “You will be witnesses.” In other words, it is not just the words we speak or the tracts that we hand out or something like that, but it is our total life, our total life is to be a witness to Jesus and the truth of the gospel.
Then Jesus envisaged an ever-extending circle. He said start where you are in Jerusalem. Go and tell people and let them believe and let them be filled with the Holy Spirit and let them go and tell other people in turn. Let them in turn, believe, be filled with the Holy Spirit, and go and tell others. And He said it will start in Jerusalem, it will move out to Judea, then to Samaria, and it will not cease until it reaches the outermost part of the earth. And those were the last words of Jesus spoken on earth. His mind and His heart were in the uttermost part of the earth. He would never be satisfied until that had been reached. And His way for reaching it, His basic strategy, was all God’s people becoming witnesses, witnessing to an winning others and those, in turn, witnessing and winning until, like the expanding ripples from stone cast into a pond, they would reach the uttermost part of the earth.
Now we have to say, looking back on history, that when God’s people applied this strategy, it worked. Within three hundred years it had conquered the Roman Empire. And I believe that great basic spiritual force that overthrew that pagan Roman Empire was the testimony of thousands and thousands of Christian believers from different backgrounds, different races, different social levels, different religious persuasions, but they were all saying, “Jesus changed my life!” And the impact of this, ultimately, broke down that stern, strong, cruel empire of Rome. I believe the Bible indicates that the same weapon will ultimately cast down even Satan’s kingdom in the heavenlies. We see this, I believe, in prophetic preview in Revelation 12:7-11. I believe these verses describe a great conflict which will span both heaven and earth at the close of this age, a conflict between angels and men. This is what John says:
“And there was war in heaven [I believe that is still in the future]. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.”
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.” (NIV)
The accuser of the brothers is Satan. This describes how he’s been hurled down from his kingdom in the heavenlies. Then it describes how the believers overcame Satan. And notice it is a direct, person-to-person conflict.
“They [the believers] overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” (NIV)
What was their main weapon? I believe it is in that word “testimony.” It was their testimony that ultimately shook down the kingdom of Satan, or rather, since this is a vision as yet unfulfilled, that will ultimately shake down the whole kingdom of Satan. I believe their testimony centered in two things: the Word of God, the blood of Jesus. Their testimony released the power that is in the Word and the blood. I believe that we can apply this in a simple, practical way to ourselves. We can put it like this: We overcome Satan when we testify personally to what the Word of God says the blood of Jesus does for us. Let me repeat that: We overcome Satan when we testify personally to what the Word of God says the blood of Jesus does for us. You see the importance of bearing personal testimony to the Word, to the blood.
Now there are various ways that we can do it. One appointed way is the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist. Sometimes we don’t see it in this light, but this is a continuing testimony of our faith in the Word and the blood. Speaking about the Lord’s Supper, Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:26:
“For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (NIV)
We know the cup represents the blood of the Lord, so in taking the Lord’s Supper, we are continually testifying, proclaiming the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In order to testify effectively to what the Word of God says about the blood of Jesus, there is one simple and obvious requirement: we have to be familiar with what the Word of God actually tells us about the blood of Jesus. So I am going to point out to you now five extremely important provisions revealed in God’s Word that come to us through the blood of Jesus.
First of all, in Ephesians 1:7, Paul says:
“In him [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace...” (NIV)
That tells us two things that are provided for us through the blood of Jesus: first of all, redemption (we are redeemed); secondly, forgiveness (we are forgiven).
And then in 1 John 1:7, we read:
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (NIV)
Notice, the blood cleanses us—continually. Through the blood we have available to us continuing spiritual cleansing.
And then in Romans 5:9, Paul says:
“Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.” (NAS)
That tells us that we are justified. That means made righteous. The best description I ever heard of “justified” is like this: Justified, “just-as-if-I’d” never sinned, because I have been made righteous with a righteousness that knows no sin—the righteousness of Christ. So, through the blood of Jesus we have been justified.
And then in Hebrews 13:12, we read:
“Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate.” (NAS)
There it tells us that we can be sanctified through the blood of Jesus. “To sanctify” means to make holy, or to set apart to God.
So, there are five great provisions of the blood of Jesus revealed by the Word of God:
First of all, we are redeemed;
Second, we are forgiven;
Third, we’re cleansed;
Fourth, we are justified (made righteous);
Fifth, we are sanctified (made holy).
Now these provisions only become fully effective in our lives when we testify to them personally. We have to be bold enough to state our convictions. We have to say it like this: Through the blood of Jesus, I am redeemed out of the hand of Satan. Through the blood of Jesus, all my sins are forgiven. The blood of Jesus cleanses me from all sin. Through the blood of Jesus, I am justified, made righteous, “just-as-if-I’d” never sinned. And through the blood of Jesus, I am sanctified, made holy, set apart to God. I am no longer in Satan’s territory.
Just meditate on those five provisions of the blood of Jesus: redemption, forgiveness, cleansing, justification, sanctification. And then grasp the fact that they become effectually yours when you testify to them personally. And by testifying to them personally, we overcome Satan “by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony.”
Well, our time is up for today but I’ll be back with you again next week at this same time, Monday through Friday. Next week I’ll be sharing with you another rich and exciting theme.