I’m not sure where we modern evangelicals get the idea that our personal testimony is a “private” thing. We may not actually say that out loud, but by not sharing our personal testimony with others that is in essence what we are saying. It’s my testimony, something between me and my God. No where in scripture does it say this, so in light of hoping to be a doer of the Word and not just a reader of the Word, I went ahead and posted my own personal testimony on my blog today.
The Story of the Woman and the Well
I don’t know how many times I have read through the story in John 4:39-42 about Jesus and this “despised and immoral” woman at the well, but today, as I contemplated the reaction of the woman I thought about my own personal testimony and how many times (or I should say how few times) I have done what this woman did in verse 4:28-29. She left her water jar (her purpose for being at the well), went into town and gave her testimony to anyone who would listen.
This story is contrasted by the story of Nicodemus in chapter 3 who was a “religious” person of faith in that day, compared to the woman who was a despised by society, an immoral Samaritan. But look at the end result from the BKC chart below (click pic to see full chart), the woman was converted, she gave her personal testimony to others, and then others came to believe in Jesus Christ.
The “Faithless” in our Culture Today
Putting it in post-modern terminology we can understand, it was recently presented to me like looking at a modern church-goer (the Jew) and the homosexual or atheist (the Samaritan) of our twenty-first century society. While we evangelicals are quick to point out the sins of homosexuals and argue with the atheists who possibly represent to us the antithesis of faith and religion, it was this person who received the call of Jesus, and then proclaimed it to the world, not the church-goer.
When you look at our culture today the two groups I mentioned above probably know more about Christianity than evangelicals do, and they give their testimony loud and clear to whoever will listen. Those two minority groups in particular have educated themselves well in the arguments for their way of life, and how to oppose Christianity. Evangelicals though often stumble and fumble with what to say when asked simple questions about their own faith. Many today will not respond to apologetical arguments because they know their talking points so well they can refute all those common points of contention, but it’s hard to argue with a truly changed and transformed life. That’s the point of your personal testimony.
During part of my time in seminary it was required for us to actually write down our personal testimony. That exercise alone was an eye opener to me. I had to take a real look at what actually is my testimony, and until then, I’m not sure I was prepared defend my faith or give a proper testimony when needed.
True Faith Moves to Confrontation with Jesus Christ
Look what happened when she shared her faith with the town. “Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony”, but the key to this verse is understanding the next set of verses in 40-41 where the “witness of the woman led to the Samaritans’ personal confrontation with Jesus”, giving them true and lasting faith in Jesus. Jesus didn’t need the testimony of this woman (John 5:34) but because of the rejection of Israel in chapter 3 her testimony was more effective than the “religious” person.
As we move into verse 42 we see that ultimately the person coming to faith solely based on the testimony of an individual is secondary. These Samaritans proclaimed for themselves “for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this [Jesus] is indeed the Savior of the world.” Moving from the personal testimony of an individual, true faith then moves to it’s own experience and the “confrontation” with Jesus Himself.
If We Claim a Saving Faith We are Called to Share It
While this isn’t one of those traditional “share your faith” set of verses for the modern church-goer, it was a call to me to make sure we don’t just play “religion” and end up totally missing the point. This post could head in so many different directions from here but it really was meant to be a simple straight forward post. If we claim to be believers in Christ, we are called to share our faith with others.
 John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, , The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty, ed. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, Vol. 2, 2 vols. (Chicago, IL: David C Cook Publishers, 1983), 284-288.