“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” (Rom 10:14 [NIV])
In this post, the first in our series on the essential elements of worship, we’ll be looking at what the Bible tells us about testimonies.
An essential part of our worship, both privately and for the church as a whole, is remembering and speaking of what God has done. The more we share these things the more we’ll learn the real character of Jesus, and the more we’ll become like Him and do the exploits He’s called us to do.
I think that we need to understand what a testimony really is: a testimony is telling someone about the goodness of God. We often think that ‘our testimony’ is telling the story of how we got born again, but it is so much more than that. We have a testimony of God’s goodness to us everyday, whether we realise it or not, for a start when we wake up in the morning we have God’s fresh mercy towards us (Lamentations 3:22-23) and so our day continues with blessing after blessing (Psalm 91).
An important reason for publicly giving testimonies is shown in the above passage from Romans 10:14 – people aren’t going to know that God is good and is blessing people today unless they are told. I have found this in my own life when telling people about the lady who came to Living Word Church deaf, and left being able to hear; or the diabetic who no longer needs insulin injections; or the person who’s cancer miraculously vanished; or the person who was told she would never walk again but now can! People are amazed by these stories as they don’t know that God performs miracles like these, so we need to make sure that everyone is aware that Jesus’s sacrifice means that we don’t need to be sick (1 Peter 2:24), or poor, or oppressed, or held captive by anything (Luke 4:18)! Hallelujah!
It is also very important that our testimonies contain the word of God, for instance I had no idea that there was a scripture that tells me that I don’t need to have sleep problems. Then one day I heard someone read “He gives His beloved sleep” (Psalm 127:2) and I then knew that God’s will for me and all His children is that they sleep well (see also Psalm 4:8). If someone hadn’t told me that scripture it might have been years of bad sleep until I found those verses, and I read my Bible, so think about your neighbour who doesn’t even own a Bible – how will they know that God loves them and has provided an abundance of blessing for them unless we tell them!
Testimonies build faith and facilitate miracles. The root word in Hebrew that “testify” is derived from is “uwd” (pronounced “ood”, Strong’s number 5749) which means to return, repeat, do again. I believe that when this is used it isn’t solely refering to re-telling the story of what happened – it’s allowing the same thing to be repeated, or to be done again. As we tell each other what God has done it builds other peoples’ faith to receive the same thing, they think “if God has done that for them He can do it for me”. The same miracle will return, be repeated, be done again, meaning that’s God’s blessing will get to more people – exactly what His will is.
There are lots of examples throughout the Bible of testimonies being important to God, a few examples are given below to give an idea of the different aspects of testimonies.
- One of the constituents of the incense that was used in worship in Exodus 30:34-37 was onycha. The onycha was from shells found at the Red Sea, so whenever the incense was made, a journey had to be taken back to the Red Sea – the water through which God delivered them from their Egytian slavery. They were made to remember the deliverance they had received, and how much better life was for them in the promised land than it was whilst being oppressed slaves. For the New Testament believer Jesus wants us to always remember His wonderful sacrifice, our deliverance from darkness to light (1 Peter 2:9), and our transformation into new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). For more about the incense, check the post on the incense of worship.
- Hebrews 9:4 tells us that the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament contained a gold jar of manna. The manna was the “bread” that the Lord provided for the Israelites to eat whilst they lived in the desert so that they would not starve. So whenever a priest approached the Ark to worship God, the jar of manna reminded them of the provision they had received from God. We need to make sure that one of the elements of our worship is that we remember God’s provision for us. ‘God’s Provision’ refers to a huge array of things – there should never be a time when we can’t think of anything that He has provided for us. Here are a few things He’s provided for all of us to help get you thinking about His provision in your own life: a relationship with the Father, The Comforter living within you, freedom from sin, good health, finance, a family, protection, the mind of Christ, victory in all situations, eternal life, a hope and a future, good works prepared in advanced for you, joy, peace, love, righteousness…
- Revelation 12:11 says that the believers “conquered him [satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony“. This shows how important and powerful the word of our testimony is. Jesus has already shed His blood, so the rest of our life of victory is achieved by us testifying to Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection in all circumstances. Let’s make sure that we don’t neglect this!
- Colossians 4:6 says “let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt”. When it says ’salt’ it is referring to the covenant that God has made with His people (2 Chronicles 13:5, Numbers 18:19). Our conversations with people should include us telling them about the covenant that God has made with us (that He wants to make with everyone) – this is a testimony - telling people the good things that God has done.
The scriptures above show that we always have something to testify: God is always good and always will be! Our testimony is a fundamental element of our worshipful lifestyle, it permeates every conversation we have, every prayer we make, and is a foundation of all our worship. Let’s go and spread the good news: Jesus is good, Jesus is risen, and Jesus is changing lives TODAY!