This is the day of personal stories. You read them on blogs, watch them on television, exchange them among friends, and even write a few yourself.
The church has followed suit. Modern sermons are peppered with stories about people’s experiences, usually the pastor’s.
Sometimes you learn more about the pastor’s life than you do about Christ’s.
In the marketing world, that’s called the hook.
It’s meant to get your attention and engage you.
We’re naturally attracted to stories. They entertain us, inspire us, teach us, make us cry, or get angry, or applaud.
When someone asks you, “Tell me your story?” you launch into describing the events that led up to your conversion. That’s your personal testimony.
But as riveting your personal story may be, it won’t lead others to faith.
What? That’s crazy, you say.
Let me explain.
First, there’s no power in your personal testimony.
Second, it’s your story, not Jesus’.
If somebody were to ask the Apostle Paul about his testimony, you wouldn’t hear about him, how he made tents, how he studied under the best teachers of the day. He wouldn’t give you all the gory details of how he persecuted Christians to put them to death.
What you’d hear Paul tell you is about Jesus Christ. He was obsessed with Jesus.
The only power to lead someone to faith is in the story of Jesus Christ and him crucified.
That’s why if you check the sermons in the book of Acts, they tell the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.
Paul, Peter and John, and the other apostles could have told wonderful stories about their life with Jesus, but they didn’t. The few times they did they highlighted their failures and fears.
The gospel, which is the testimony about Jesus, is the power of God.
It is the message that announces the lengths God has gone to save us from sin and death. It tells sinners that Jesus came to abolish who they are in Adam (dead in trespasses and sins), to cut off their life in Adam because it cannot be rescued or repaired, and to raise them from the dead and give them life in Christ.
How did Jesus do this? By nailing your long list of sins to the cross. Since the paycheck for sin is death, Jesus paid the legal debt for you and secured your release.
That’s the story to tell.
Go out and tell someone!