The recent appearance of Nick Vujicic at a Manila megachurch brought again to the forefront the power of a testimony to draw big, adoring crowds. Especially if the speaker is a celebrity such as Vujicic, Tim Tebow, Christian Bautista, Piolo Pascual or Gary V.
First-time or even regular visitors to our church will never see or experience a powerful “personal testimony.” Why not? If you want hordes of people to come to your church and be saved, then celebrity testimonies are the way to go.
But our worship services include only one kind of testimony: the testimony of the writers of the Holy Scriptures who were inspired by the Holy Spirit. This testimony—martyria in Greek—is nothing more than the faithful preaching of the pure gospel of Christ, which brought about the martyrdom of almost all the apostles (and is still is today):
If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son (1 John 5:9).
So let me tell you ten reasons why we don’t have personal testimonies during our worship services. Not all testimonies are the same, but these are generally their flavors.
1. Public worship in the Bible never included testimonies.
Have you ever stumbled upon a personal testimony being given during a worship service in the Bible? In the Old Testament, the priests, psalmists and prophets testified about God’s goodness and mercy, and his justice and righteousness. They spoke to the congregation only what God had revealed to them. The priests offered sacrifices to God on behalf of the people. The psalmists wrote songs of worship, praise and thanksgiving to God for the congregation, proclaiming God as Creator, covenant LORD, and Savior (Psa 18). The prophets declared God’s warning of judgment, as well as his blessing of restoration (Isa 43-44). Examples of congregational worship in Exodus 19-24 and 2 Chronicles 5-7 do not mention any personal testimony.
In the New Testament, the Lord’s Day worship consisted of “the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42). In the Gospels, Jesus gave a testimony about himself and his work of saving his people from sin. Peter “bore witness” (testified) to the crowd on Pentecost Sunday (Acts 2:40). Paul was “occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus” (Acts 18:5). The closest thing to a personal testimony in the New Testament is when Paul defended himself against his accusers before King Agrippa (Acts 26:1-29), but this obviously was not in a worship service.
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