“If someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.”
Many Christians struggle with how to share their faith with friends, family, coworkers and strangers. Believe it or not, sharing your own testimony of how you came to faith in Christ can be one of the easiest ways to begin leading someone to Jesus.
1 Peter 3:15 encourages us to always be ready to explain why we have faith in Jesus, while Paul exhorts believers to “be ready in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2, NKJV)—that is, ready to share Jesus at any time.
Maybe that sounds like a great idea, but you’re just not sure what to say. If we will rehearse our testimony, we can have it at the ready whenever an opportunity arises to share our faith.
Let’s take a look at how the Apostle Paul shared his story of coming to faith in Christ.
THE APOSTLE PAUL’S TESTIMONY
The story of Paul’s conversion appears three times in the New Testament. The first is in Acts 9 where the book’s narrator, Luke, tells how the Lord Jesus appeared to a Pharisee named Saul on the road to Damascus. In Acts 22 we see Saul—now called Paul—recounting his conversion to an angry mob in Jerusalem. Finally, Paul shares his testimony again as he stands trial before King Agrippa in Acts 26.
It is clear from these accounts that Paul had spent considerable time meditating on his life-changing, soul-saving encounter with the living Lord Jesus. After all, he was blinded for three days by the glory of the Lord, during which time he also fasted (Acts 9:9). Afterward, he was able to communicate clearly what had happened to him.
Notice that in each telling of Paul’s testimony, several facts are repeated. We learn that he had previously persecuted Jesus’ followers. Then we hear how Jesus Himself appeared to Paul in a blinding light as he was traveling to Damascus to arrest Christians. When Jesus told him to “Arise and go” (Acts 9:6; 22:10, NKJV), he “was not disobedient to the heavenly vision” (Acts 26:19, NKJV).
FOLLOWING PAUL’S PATTERN
Paul’s pattern when sharing his testimony is one we, too, can use when sharing our own. Keep these points in mind when sharing your personal story of salvation:
1) Explain who you were before you knew the Lord.
“I not only locked up many of the saints in prison… but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them.” ~Acts 26:10, ESV
2) Tell when and where Jesus met you.
“About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me.” ~Acts 22:6, NIV
3) Share what He said, showed or revealed to you.
“Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. ‘…I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of Me.'” ~Acts 26:15-16, NIV
4) Share what steps you took in obedience to your own heavenly vision.
“And so, King Agrippa, I obeyed that vision from heaven. I preached first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that all must repent of their sins and turn to God…” ~Acts 26:19-20, NLT
5) Describe how your life looks different now, and thank God for the good work He has done in your life.
“God has protected me right up to this present time so I can testify to everyone, from the least to the greatest.” ~Acts 26:22, NLT
YOUR UNIQUE TESTIMONY
Admittedly, Paul’s conversion was quite dramatic. Who wouldn’t want to share a testimony like his! But, it doesn’t matter how exciting you think your own story is, especially compared to Paul’s. Even if you weren’t knocked off your feet by a light from heaven, rest assured that your testimony is no less powerful.
Every Christian’s conversion is a one-of-a-kind transformation. Your unique testimony uniquely qualifies you to testify to the people God has placed in your life.
“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” ~2 Corinthians 1:4, NLT
If Jesus met you during a time of depression, your testimony can bring the hope of Jesus to someone in despair. If you were freed from the bonds of addiction, you will be able to share freedom in Christ with those still trapped in its grip. If you received a physical healing from the Lord, you will pray for the sick with newfound faith and authority in the name of Jesus Christ.
To learn more about why it’s important to share our past honestly, read my post, How Far We’ve Come.
ADAPTING THE DETAILS
When you read all the accounts together, you’ll notice some differences between the three. For example, the Jewish teacher Gamaliel is mentioned only in Acts 22, and Acts 26 doesn’t mention Ananias at all, although both other instances do. On the surface this may seem problematic, but if you pay close attention, you’ll see that Paul never tells a different story. He simply relates different details. The details are carefully chosen but never contradictory.
Paul adapts the details of his testimony to fit the needs of those to whom he’s speaking. When addressing a mob of Jews who want to kill him, he relates to them by sharing his own Jewish background, name-dropping his famous teacher Gamaliel, and empathizing with their devotion to the law: “I was zealous for God, just as all of you are today.” (Acts 22:3, CSB).
One detail Paul shares with King Agrippa is particularly interesting: “I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads'” (Acts 26:14, NKJV). Apparently, Paul had been resisting the conviction of the Holy Spirit before his conversion. Now discerning a similar resistance in Agrippa, he challenges the king: “King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe” (Acts 26:27, NKJV). Paul shares the “goads” detail in his testimony to prompt Agrippa to recognize the Holy Spirit’s conviction in his own life.
When you share your testimony, listen for the leading of the Holy Spirit. Fully and completely understanding the heart of the listener, He will lead you to share certain details—and omit others—in order to best draw them to Himself.
“When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.” ~Luke 12:11-12, NLT
Dear Loving Father,
Thank You for choosing us to share the hope of salvation through Jesus Christ. Thank You for giving each of us a story of salvation to tell. Thank You for the unique way in which You rescued me and the one-of-a-kind testimony You’ve given me to share. Father, give me a passion to see the lost saved through faith in Your Son, Jesus. Show me opportunities to reach out to the hurting with the hope of Christ. Direct me toward those You would have me to reach, and lead me by Your Holy Spirit in what to say. Grant me boldness to speak up, to speak out and to give voice to my testimony that others in turn would have their own testimonies to share.
In Jesus’ Mighty Name We Pray,