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September 15, 2012

Sharing your personal testimony

The Daily Star

---- — I speak here on the subject of Christians sharing their personal testimony.

I start with sharing an abbreviated version of my own testimony. I gave my life to Christ in 1969, and in 1975 heard God’s call to preach. I’ve been telling what the Lord has done in my own life ever since then, as well as proclaiming the message of the gospel to others. In view of how much God has done in addition to saving my soul, I’m a thankful man who cannot hold back from praising God for preserving my life beyond the recent crisis of third-stage esophageal cancer diagnosed in early 2010. With the initial dire prognosis my doctors gave me for surviving anywhere from 30 days to maybe a few months, it borders on being a miracle that I’m still here. 

Having God’s help to make it through the tough experiences life throws at us ought to be shared to encourage others. God gave me a word from Psalm 118 that further encouraged me to testify to his goodness: “I didn’t die. I lived! Now I’m telling the world what God did. God tested me, he pushed me hard, but he didn’t hand me over to death.”

I am humbled at how God gave me opportunity to preach the gospel to thousands of people and also tell of the amazing things he’s done in my life. Only a great God could make that possible and open so many doors to bring his message.

In regard to sharing one’s faith, a Christian does run the risk of being the recipient of some unbeliever’s displeasure for sharing one’s faith.

I guess such voices expect us to be intimidated by unfriendly responses to those who speak of faith in Christ. We can go to great efforts to speak in love and still arouse negative responses. Ephesians 6:19 speaks of remaining committed to “fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.”

In the face of unbelieving, critical voices, it’s no time to back down from sharing one’s faith and to continue doing so with kindness and respect towards others who don’t share our beliefs, always maintaining kindness even when we’re despised for our faith. 

When you put your faith in Christ, there will be a change in your heart. You can know Christ’s spirit lives within you. Your eternal destiny changes. From that point forward you have a home in heaven awaiting you.

Many people have lived lives steeped in dark sin and wrestle with God over giving up sinful things that have a hold on their lives. It doesn’t have to be that way. Anyone can give their life to God and let the sinful lifestyle go through faith in Christ. God helps in overcoming that old lifestyle and strengthens our walk with him and enables us to get over the hurdles of life thrown our way. Many have messed around with especially dark, evil practices and it will take the power of God to root out every possible residue of evil those dark experiences produced. As a Christian, you’re cleansed of all sin and no longer living under the weight of guilt and condemnation. 

Many are desperate for help to escape their past sinful life. God can give the needed release from pain and guilt of the past.

Some can testify to having gone through terribly difficult times of struggling with all kinds of sin and evil. Others may not have so dramatic a testimony of being delivered from a terribly dark, sinful life. But “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

There may be some who read this and think their life of over-indulgence of booze, drugs, sexual immorality, and the whole gamut of a sinful life is just fun and exciting and they want to keep right on with that way of life. They’re “satisfied in their sins” and that’s a dangerous place to be. There’s a price to be paid for such a life that’s unrepentant towards God. The Bible says “there’s pleasure in sin for a season.” But it also says eternal loss and separation from God awaits the one who rejects Christ.

Many are fooled or deceived into believing they can sin and reject Christ with impunity. Sooner or later it all catches up with them and it is too late to turn to God when they breathe their last breath. 

God’s free gift is eternal life through faith in Christ. I did that many years ago. It changed me forever. All can have eternal life, forgiveness of sins, freedom from their past, and entrance into a new life by confessing their sins, repenting, believing in and receiving Christ as Savior and Lord. A brand new life awaits the person who takes this step of faith.

The Rev. Jim Wheeler Sr. is an Assemblies of God Evangelist who lives in Oneonta.