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April 28, 2024

Isaiah Demonstrates a Model Testimonial

Passage: Isaiah 12

There are many portions of Scripture that match the directive of our sermon text, which directs us to “sing to the Lord,” “Praise the Lord,” and “Declare His deeds.” These imperatives can be considered commands to do outreach or evangelism.

In attempting to follow the Lord’s directives towards outreach by sharing His holy name, many Christians resort to the method of personal testimony. “What God has done for me!” Of course, if done properly, this can be an excellent method of outreach, and it is Scripturally warranted. The Psalmist writes, “Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what He has done for me.” He then relates how God had listened to his prayer and not withheld his love from him. Jesus instructed the Gerasene out of whom he had just driven a legion of demons, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” The apostle Paul also did not hesitate to use a personal testimony approach. Writing to Timothy, he says, “I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man.” But, he says, “I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.”

Demonstrated by Scripture what the proper model of this method of outreach should be, Christians today can properly respond to witnessing opportunities with personal testimony. They can tell people what they once were (“I was a sinner on the way to hell”), what has happened to them (“I’ve been rescued from death and hell”), and what this means to them (“I know my sins are forgiven and that one day I will go to heaven”). They can tell their friends that what Jesus did for them he has done for all people. It should not be difficult for Christians to give such brief “what Jesus means to me” personal testimonies when they have occasion to do so.

Yes, personal testimony can be useful in this regard. Yet, personal testimony tends to be looked down upon by some as being too subjective, too much “I” and not enough “Jesus.” We can sympathize with this criticism, for there is good reason to approach the subject of personal testimony somewhat cautiously. The reason: often times it can focus too much on self and not enough on the Savior. Yes, when using the personal testimony method of evangelism, one should be careful lest they make it about what they did instead of what Jesus did. To demonstrate the danger, some groups in Christianity have gotten so off based that they even think it is important to remember the year, month, date, and even hour of when one became a Christian. For example, when one of my professors was once asked, “when did you become a Christian?” My professor said, “I don’t remember specifics. I was baptized as an infant, washed by water and the word into the saving name of Jesus.” The man looked at him like that didn’t count. He said, “well, I gave myself to Jesus on June 12th, 1986. Through baptism at the river, I pledged my life to him.” What’s the issue here? Why all the numbers? Why the emphasis on him giving himself? Why is he focusing on his own pledge? The man clings to a number and his own pledge, making his testimony about himself and what he has done. This is not about what Jesus has done for him.

Now, don’t get me wrong, personal testimony can be an excellent way to preach and teach God’s saving grace to others, and it is Scripturally warranted as we saw earlier with the psalmist, Jesus’ instruction, and Paul; but it must be done properly. We must never increase over Jesus. Jesus always takes the glory, for His glory is our salvation. Let us now see how a true testimonial is given by looking to Isaiah 12.

(We pray…)

Isaiah’s testimonial breaks down a beautiful picture for us regarding Christian witness. He begins his model testimony for every Christan by saying, “In that day.” What is “that day?” Remember, Isaiah is an Old Testament prophet who first wrote his message to Old Testament believers. In that day refers to the coming root of Jesse, the Messiah, Jesus Christ. For the Old Testament believers, the day was still coming. For us, the day has already come. And what was that day? The day when God’s anger turned. Isaiah demonstrates how a proper testimonial is given by taking his works and self-worth out of it. He simply says, “you were angry with me.” And this is no petty anger like misspeaking in front of a friend and they can’t get over it. You and I, along with Israel and Isaiah, have done damnable mistakes. We have warranted righteous anger from the Lord our God! Have we kept His commandments perfectly…PERFECTLY?? Let’s be real, we’ve prioritized things over him, we’ve taken His name in vain, we’ve lacked in the desire of His word, we’ve disrespected authorities that He put in place over us, we’ve been angry with others, we weren’t always loving in our marriages or pure in our thoughts, we’ve lied for personal gain, we’ve gossiped to destroy people’s good names, we’ve coveted. All these misdeeds, sins, warrant God’s righteous anger. He was angry with us! How then can anyone possibly make a personal testimony egocentric, about them, if they are just awful people!

No, doing so would cheapen the testimony. Here’s what makes the testimony amazing, however. Though God was seething with anger towards us, as He had every right to be, here is what the Lord did. The Lord was angry with us. We did not deliver on our end. The Lord’s Laws were not kept by us in the slightest. We had not a reason to sing at all. The Lord had every right to be angry with us. Yet, His anger was turned away. His anger was met on the cross, where Christ took upon Himself our sin and its punishment. That is right. Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, descended from Heaven and took on human flesh in order to take the anger that we deserved and give to us peace with God, so that we may be pleasing in His sight. We have been forgiven through Christ Jesus our Lord. And now the personal covenant Lord comforts us! This comfort is seen by the fact that Jesus is Risen from the dead! This is the greatest comfort, for it means that Jesus’ succeeded in His mission to save us. From this comfort flows every comfort, like a healing river into our hearts. Jesus is Risen, what can man do to us, what can any evil do to us!

God, the Almighty and powerful creator, is our salvation. He is our victory. He saved us in Christ. He saved us from all evil, He saved us from doom. We trust in Him to bring about what is best for us. We do not need to be afraid whatsoever. Yah the Lord, the covenant and only God is our strength and song, just like he was for Moses, the one who made the same claim about the Lord, when he and his people crossed the red sea to escape the clutches of Pharoah. He is our strength and our song. The Lord then is the most practical detail in our lives, giving us our gifts and the grace to live according to His will, and He is the most poetic detail in our lives, showing us His love and care through the beautiful blessings He bestows. He has become our victory—our salvation. He rent the sea in twain, brought us through from eternal death in hell to eternal life in heaven, and crushed our enemies at calvary—our strength. He rose from the dead and made us rejoice as His people—our song. He is our victory and salvation.

That’s a real testimony, if you ask me. That’s a testimony where only Christ shines, the only thing that can bring about such wonderful truths. You then, o people of God, with this tremendous joy you now have through Christ, you will draw waters from the wells of salvation. Like the implanted word, like the Spirit who comes to us from Jesus, we come back to this victory and salvation found in Scripture as if it were a well with endless, refreshing water. Drink from it constantly. Like the Samaritan woman who ran from Jacob’s well in more ways than one, his physical well and his eternal well of satisfaction found in His descendant Jesus, to tell her townsman about her Savior, the Messiah; let us ever drink from Jacob’s well so that we may receive forgiveness and strength to run from the well to sing real testimonies about our Lord Jesus.

Which, now that we’ve dwelt upon a good and proper Christian testimonial, it’s time to see our Lord’s encouragement to give this testimonial to others. Isaiah says once again, “In that day.” Remember, it was still coming for Isaiah’s original audience, but for you, it has come. The day has come, Jesus has died to save you and has risen to show you His victory. The day has come, so, Praise the Lord, then. This is no small matter. This is the core of your life. Praise Him! Praising Him means giving Him all the glory. If you are blessed by God and someone notices, give Him the credit. If your peace of mind catches your neighbor’s attention, tell them why: Jesus Christ!

Also, call upon His name! Pray to Him. If Jesus has turned away God’s anger for you, making Him your strength and song; if He does all of this for you, how can He not also give you everything else you need! Pray to Him for all your needs, physical and spiritual.

Also, make His deeds known! There are all sorts of deeds of God to demonstrate throughout Scripture. Make these known to all. Studying them not only helps you grow, but it makes you more familiar with them for outreach purposes, for certain of the Lord’s deeds may resonate very well with certain people. For example, a person who doesn’t know the way of salvation one might tell of Jesus’ deed as he explained the way to Nicodemus in John 3. If someone says they are such a bad sinner and that God won’t forgive them, God’s great deeds of restoring David, Peter, or Paul would be applicable! For a friend who once was an active Christian but has wandered away and wonders, “will God take me back?” Tell them of Jesus’ deeds which Jesus Himself illustrates in the Lost Sheep, Lost Coin, and Prodigal Son.

Also, make mention that His name is exalted! His name is everything about Him. His name in a sense is unreachable in understanding. He is not simply one of an endless arrays of philosophical ideas in a world of unknown absolutes. No, the Lord is the only one that can save and give life meaning. Make that known. Sing to the Lord for He has done excellent things! This is known in all the earth. The fool says in his heart that there is no God. They know He made things, so elaborate in song. Tell them who it is who made these things and tell them that that isn’t even the most glorious things He’s done, for that title belongs to His salvation of all people, you and me, won on the cross and sealed by the empty grave.

Sing then the rest of the story. Cry and Shout, You of God’s people. The Holy One is in your midst. This means that Jesus’ dwells in you. He is with you always, after all, even to the end of age. Your testimonial is really His then, His story of how He saved the one speaking and made them a child of God.

Jesus is your real testimony. He is your strength and your song. His works of love shown towards you will then burst forth as they have opportunity so that those may hear the Lord’s song, the Good News that God has become ours salvation, His anger is turned away, and now He comforts us constantly until the day where there will no longer need to be comfort, the day where we will sing unto God the rest of our days.

So, testimonies can be a good way to share God’s love, and if you want a great example, turn to Isaiah’s 12th chapter. From there you can take the same message and say to others, “Though God was angry with me, His anger has turned. He comforts me. He is my strength and my song; and He has become my salvation.”