Now we come to probably the most important part of your personal testimony: What happened? How did you meet Christ? There are two aspects of this question to consider.
First, what were the circumstances in which you met him? Did a friend open a Bible with you? Did you hear a sermon? Were you at youth camp? Did you read a tract?
In Paul’s case, he was on his way to round up more Christians when he was literally bowled over by an encounter with Christ. Yours was undoubtedly less dramatic but no less significant.
Can I just take a moment to put in one of my little pet peeves here? I know it’s not that big a deal in the grand scheme of things, but words are important. It irks me a little whenever I hear someone talking about how they “found Jesus.” My friend, as I heard long ago, it wasn’t Jesus who was lost. And as C. S. Lewis put it in one of my favorite lines ever, talking about “man’s search for God” is like talking about a mouse’s search for a cat. If you were “searching” for something deeper in life and “found him,” it’s only because he was seeking you first. Just like in the beginning with our first parents, if the Lord was waiting for you to seek him, he’d be waiting forever. He took the initiative, not you.
But there’s a second aspect to this that I want to address which is really important. When I talk about “how” this meeting with my Savior occurred, it'd probably be a good idea to include something about something deeper than just what were the circumstances.
What I’m referring to is some explanation of how this transaction happened. You might say something like “I realized that I was a sinner before God and needed a Savior. I asked Jesus to forgive me and change me, and he did.” You might go into more detail--depending on the time constraints—into something like “I heard that Jesus died for me, that God took my sin and placed it on him. I heard that he rose again. I received Christ as my Savior and my Boss.” You can go into a short explanation as to how Jesus’ actions on the Cross and his resurrection benefit you. Lord knows I’ve gone into that enough here on the blog, so hopefully you can give some further detail if it’s appropriate.
You might be wondering “But Keith, Paul didn’t go into all that in today’s passage.” That’s absolutely true. But he certainly did in Romans. And remember what he considered “of first importance”: "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 even in today’s passage, he made sure to mention what Jesus told him on the road in their encounter: “I am sending you to [the Gentiles] to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” Paul’s not adding this tidbit just for flavor. This is as good a short explanation of what Christ came to do as any other I’ve ever read. In this one sentence, Paul just happens to drop in the facts that Jesus’ purpose (through Paul’s ministry) is 1) Open peoples’ eyes, 2) turn them from darkness into light, 3) and from the power of Satan to God, 4) so that peoples’ sins might be forgiven, and 5) they might find a place among those are set apart by faith in him.
What’s my main point here? Is it that your presentation of your testimony is incomplete unless you go into a full explanation of salvation by grace through faith? Of course not. Paul didn’t go into that here. But it does mean more than simply telling people that you met Jesus like someone might meet another person. It’s more than, say, telling the listener how you met the President one time. It’s more than meeting your guru. This person, Jesus Christ, did something to your eternal standing and changed how you relate to God—forever. That should somehow get a mention, don’t you think?
Lord Jesus, you did more than meet me. You opened my eyes, you turned me from the darkness into your light, from the power of Satan to God. You forgave my sins and gave me a place among those who are set apart by faith in you. Wow. Thank you. May my every word, my every action, my every thought be affected by that.
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