Part One: “My STORY”
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In the June issue of the Paraclete, I introduced the inspired instruction of the apostle Peter to first-century Christians who were facing a secular Roman culture:
Simply reverence the Lord Christ in your hearts, and always have your answer ready for people who ask you the reason for the hope that you all have. But give it with courtesy and respect and with a clear conscience…(1 Peter 3:15, JB)
Christians in America today are confronted with a similar situation. To be effective witnesses for the Good News of Jesus we will also need to make a “3:15 Response.” There are four components of this response. In this issue, I will detail the first one.
“May I share with you what God has done in my life?”
The blind man who was healed by Jesus was asked by the skeptical Pharisees to explain what happened to him (John 9). He kept it simple: “One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see” (v. 25, NIV). That was his story! A man crippled from birth was healed by Peter in the name of Jesus. His immediate response was to go into the temple courts “walking and jumping and praising God” (Acts 3:8).
You may not feel that you have a dramatic story to tell, but your personal testimony can have a powerful impact. You are claiming to be in touch with the transcendent Creator of the universe. He loves and cares about you, has forgiven you, and assures you of eternal life with Him. This is intriguing to a person who doesn’t know God. Don’t do theology at this point or even cite evidence; simply share the experience of how your life with God is different than your life without God. Don’t be hesitant. Do it with boldness and with conviction.
Even if you confessed Jesus as Savior when a child with little memory of a time without God, you know from Scripture that without God you were born with a sin nature; were separated from God with no experience or expectation of forgiveness; and had no assurance of life after death. Now you have been born again by the Holy Spirit who is continually at work to transform you into the likeness of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). Tell that story!
Here are your action steps:
- Pray for the Holy Spirit to convict you deeply that confession of sin and personal faith in Jesus is the only way of salvation (Acts 4:12; 1 John 5:11-13). Ask God to give you a burden for those without Jesus who are lost forever.
- Identify and write down three positive changes you have experienced in your life because of your faith in Jesus (Galatians 5:22-23; John 5:24; Romans 8:1,16). One of them should be your assurance of eternal life with God.
- Organize these changes into a brief presentation of about three minutes, and rehearse until you can share with ease and sincerity. You do not share your story to preach at people, but to give praise for what the Lord has done in your life. Ask permission (“May I share with you…”). You will find this to be a natural way to begin a conversation about God.
In the next issue of the Paraclete, I will explain a second component which will shape your mind to think like Jesus: “My Worldview.” It will further enhance your “3:15 Response” to fulfill the heart of Jesus (Luke 24:46-48;