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Recently on a Jesus Army conference, I shared the brief testimony of a new friend of mine who was recently saved and healed from what seemed to be demonic suppression. ∞
I’m very happy and very tired. Last Saturday was Walpurgis night which for some reason is a huge thing here in Uppsala, hundreds of thousands of people fill the streets and so it’s a great opportunity for evangelism. We were out with the Pancake church at a central square and ministered to hundreds, and one guy from Morocco came and wanted to get saved. Just like that. He had some extremely bad experiences from Islam and had realized that Jesus is the Way, so we helped him receive Him.
The next day was Sunday, I was organizing the service for our house church and we got a new visitor that I had been in touch with on Facebook. She wanted to be saved as well. We rejoiced, prayed with her and then talked about and answered questions that she had about the Old Testament, God’s character and other religions as we went out to evangelize according to our “Come in, go out” principle.
And then last Tuesday my friend Johannes and myself were invited to a folk school where we got to speak about faith, doubt, atheism and theism for three hours. Johannes has struggled a lot with atheism and I used to be an atheist in my early teens before turning to God. We covered several arguments for God’s existence as well as sharing our own stories and answering questions, and it was appreciated. (more…)
Every time my house church meets, we share Jesus stories – testimonies about what God has done for us during the last week. It’s always very encouraging and often pretty amazing; we’ve heard about cancers getting healed, people receiving visions as well as evangelistic opportunities, prophetic insights and ordinary Jesus trot. In my latest contribution to the MennoNerd vlogging relay race, I talked about testimonies and some testimonies that have impacted me:
The Gospels are testimonies, Acts is a testimony, Revelation is a testimony. Church history is filled with testimonies. The Psalms encourages us to share testimonies (Ps 145:11-12). Testimonies rock, basically. When I was a younger Christian I refused to read any Christian books besides the Bible, ’cause my experience was that most of them deradicalized the Bible. But when I discovered Christian biographies and testimony accounts by saints that have encountered the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit, I became a Christian book nerd.
My fellow MennoNerd Allen Green followed up my testimony vlog with talking about martyr accounts and testimonies of sufferings for Christ, which I agree are also very important and encouraging in a way to read – not in a happy-clappy sense obviously but as a reminder of that Jesus is worth suffering for, faith in Him stands in the midst of hardships and injustice. In fact, the most powerful testimonies I’ve read both contain miracles and suffering, which I think was noticable in my video where I mentions some books that I recommend.
God, let us experience both the cross and the glory!
Paul summed up the Gospel like this:
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.”(1 Corinthians 15:3-8).
As you can see, Paul thinks that at the core of the Gospel lies Jesus’ death for our sins, His burial and His resurrection. And among these three, the resurrection receives most attention. He lines up everyone he knows of that has seen the resurrected Jesus, including himself. Then he goes on discussing the resurrection in the rest of the chapter.
Likewise, Paul, Peter and others who preach the Gospel in the book of Acts often emphasize the resurrection even more than they emphasize the cross. This used to confuse me, since the atonement happened on the cross. It was on the cross that Jesus died for our sins and defeated the devil – the cross is at the core of all atonement theories. The resurrection is great of course, Jesus is alive hallelujah, but shouldn’t the death of Jesus be the focus of the apostles rather than His resurrection?
I’ve just attended our yearly church camp where I had the privilege of teaching about Jesus stories (video above). Every Sunday we share Jesus stories in my church – testimonies about what Jesus is doing in our lives. We also try to share them on our website (although it needs to be updated). And of course I love to share them on this blog as well, on the streets – everywhere really.
Even if I know of many other churches that are doing likewise, it is not the case in most of them. These neither share testimonies in their services nor on their websites. Why?
First of all, perhaps not so much is happening! Secondly, the church has not viewed it as something important, having a tradition where testimonies are absent for a long time. And finally, I’ve actually heard people arguing biblically for not sharing testimonies – they point to the fact that Jesus sometimes told people that He had healed not to tell anyone about them.
The problem with that argument is that all those events have been recorded in the most-read book in the whole world, so they did indeed tell someone! The command not to tell was a temporal one. Likewise, Jesus many times forbade people to tell others that He was the Messiah, but today we shout it from the roof tops and use Christ as His surname. Our default position should always be to proclaim His Messiah-ship and His miracles. Psalms 145:4-6 says:
One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness.