The Power of Your Testimony

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, July 21, 2017 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

“And they overcame him with the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” ~Revelation 12:11

A couple months ago, I spoke at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference. I had a two-week notice on a workshop about how to use your past in your fiction, and in my preparation for teaching the workshop was this key factor: the power of your testimony. I would like to share what God made clear for me to teach at this workshop.

There are two primary types of testimonies: those who have been through the gutter and come out, and those who have been preserved from the gutter. The former is what most of us think of when the topic of testimonies come up: “I used to be this, now I am that.” The latter is for those who never did go through gutter. Each of these types of testimonies are necessary in the church.

The “rescue from the gutter” testimonies cover the lives of those who fell into darkness, either by their own choices or were dragged into the gutter by someone else and then escaped. Many of us have heard of the former drug addicts, alcoholics, porn addicts, slaves to anger or gossip, and those who lost it all only to rise up and get back on their feet.

Every Christian has some rescue from the gutter testimony, because every one of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. If we had not fallen into the gutter of sin, we would not need a Savior. The blood of Jesus brought us out of our sin and now we should either be walking in victory or walking towards victory. But I want to zoom in on specifics. What did Jesus really save us from? Greed? Lust? Pride? Anger? Rebellion against authority? Is there any change in us after we became a Christian? If not, perhaps we should evaluate ourselves to see if we are indeed in the faith.

People who have come out of the gutter have great value. They can give those in the gutter hope of getting out, and they can go back into the darkness and use their escape to guide others to the light. I have not experienced the pain of divorce or a broken family. I cannot relate to people who have in that area. However, I can relate to people who deal with special needs kids. Last month, I got to spend some time with a dear friend I met at this writer’s conference a few years ago. He has an autistic child, and I am able to encourage him because of my own experiences in dealing with the issue.

The other type of testimony tends to be frowned upon in many churches: the preservation from the gutter. Why? This type of testimony does not have the dramatic story behind it. People who never went through the gutter tend to feel like their testimony does not demonstrate God’s power. I used to think this as well, but I was wrong. God demonstrates his power not only in his ability to get us out of the gutter, but also to keep us from it.

I have this type of testimony. I was raised in a Christian home, in the mission field. I was saved when I was seven years old. I have never tried drugs, never had a drink, never faced a broken family, never dealt with the death of a loved one prematurely, and most would say I’ve never had a real problem to face. That doesn’t mean I really don’t have issues, but I simply do not have that classic gutter-to-glory story. That being said, my story is also needed.

Having not been through the gutter, I can show those who have been through the gutter what it should look like to live outside the gutter. In the movie Shawshank Redemption, Morgan Freeman’s character, Red, describes the “institutionalization” of inmates and how those who have been in prison for years forget how to life outside the prison system. The “rehabilitation” process never prepares inmates to return to society. The same idea is true for us. We who were formally sinners do not know how to live as a Christian because all we know is how to live in sin. We need someone who knows how to live outside sin to show us how to live outside of sin. Jesus is the ultimate example of this, however we can do that job as well.

There is another advantage to having the preservation testimony. If you have not fallen for alcohol, drugs, lust, or whatever, you can go to those in the gutter because what is a weakness to someone else is just water off a duck’s back to someone else. You can go help someone walk that mile and not be afraid of falling into the mire, because that issue is not a temptation for you.

The power of the testimony cannot be underestimated. Which do you have? Have you been caught in the gutter and need help escaping? Look for someone who has been in the gutter. Do you want to know how to live free from an area of sin? Look for someone who escaped or someone has never had to face it for encouragement. But remember this one key: the most important element of any testimony is Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, too many people make their story about them and God is just a side-character. He is our rescuer and/or our preserver. This is His story. We are the damsel in distress, and Jesus is the knight in shining armor. He is the one who rescues us and the one who preserves us. Let us make sure he gets the glory and the center of attention in our testimonies.

While I have a preservation from the gutter testimony, I realized shortly after I taught this workshop at the writer’s conference exactly what God has preserved me from. In some of the issues I have struggled with in my mind, I have not carried them out in action and I realized just how much Jesus has preserved me. I have realized how easily I could have fallen into the gutter apart from God’s grace, and with that is the very scary reality that God could pull his grace at any point and he will not have to explain to me why. I have to take that warning seriously. God does not have to save us or preserve us. He loves to do so, but he has no obligation to save us. Whether we are saved or preserved, let us not forget that what we go through is for God’s purposes and for God’s glory. He will get his glory if we are rescued or preserved. Let us give him what he is due in our testimonies.

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