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Testifying to God's Mercy & Grace

posted 29 Jan 2012, 10:46 by Peter Booth   [ updated 30 Jan 2012, 04:13 ]
"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised it is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." - Hebrews 10:23-25 (Ideally read from verse 19.)

"For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you - that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine... For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes..." - Romans 1:11-12,16 (Ideally read vv.8-17)

We see in these words from Paul's letter to the Romans his desire not only to encourage but also to be encouraged by those in Rome. In a way the whole of the Bible is an encouragement to look to the author and perfecter of our faith, that is God, but in many of the NT letters, Paul and others go out of their way to encourage the believers in various geographical areas or even individual people. Commonly there is a reminder of who God is, his grace shown to us, who we are because of that and the hope we hold to. Following that there's often an encouragement to then live in response to those things. 

It is good to encourage one another and, as the writer to the Hebrews says, we should be thinking about how best to do this in the church. We are to encourage and strengthen one another to press on forward, not growing weary or faint-hearted (Hebrews 12), living in a God honouring and God glorifying way. 

One of the ways we can do this is by sharing our testimonies of how we came to know Christ. Last Thursday Xin Ying suggested we do this; we did, and it was great. Here are three reasons why this can be a helpful thing to do:
  1. For the hearer, it can be a great encouragement seeing how God has worked in very different ways in different people, and is a reminder of the gospel's power to save, spurring the hearer on in their own work for the Lord and enabling them to give thanks for everything God has done
  2. For the person giving the testimony, it helps them to reflect on how God has been with them and once again praise him for his saving work in them
  3. As we share our testimonies, it helps us to get to know one another on a deeper level and helps us to understand where the other is coming from; how their experiences may affect them now etc.
The first point can also be expanded as we think about being 'links in a chain.' When we give
our testimonies, almost all of the time there will be several people involved and used by God in bringing us to faith, some directly, some indirectly. Often when we meet people and share with them the gospel we do not see any immediate fruit, which can be discouraging. However, we need to remember (and sharing our testimonies helps with this) that we may well be links in a chain to someone coming to know Jesus, whether 6 months, 6 years or 60 years down the line. This should spur us on to share the good news, confident in God's power to save and in his sovereignty, and should help us to continue to do this even when we don't see any fruit. The video below which we watched in the study is a great example of where someone continued in ministry despite not knowing of any lasting fruit in people's lives. How long did he continue before he heard? 16 years. His name was Frank Jenner.