The gospel is a relational message that has both vertical and horizontal implications. It is, first and foremost, a message of how we, though sinners, can be reconciled to God through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. But that vertical reconciliation has profound horizontal implications.
Paul reminds the believers in Corinth that because of the gospel, they are both new creations in Christ and ambassadors for Christ. And that ambassador role means that all Christians should give away what we have received as ministers of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)
One of the best ways we can do this is by sharing our personal testimony as a bridge to the gospel. By sharing how our own life story found its meaning and purpose by fitting into God’s story, our testimony becomes a powerful tool that serves as both an example of the power of the gospel and an invitation to respond to the gospel.
To begin with, our own relationship with God takes the shape of a story. Because no one is born with saving faith, there was a time in our lives when we were separated from God by sin. Whether you were saved at a young age, as a teenager, or as an adult, the beginning of your life story is one marked by sin and separation.
But then someone, whether a parent, friend, pastor, or stranger, shared the gospel with you – making the message clear and leaving you with an understanding of your need to trust in Jesus. You understood that you are a sinner, God is holy, and you could not save yourself. “But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8, CSB)
So you responded by surrendering and putting your faith in Jesus, trusting him to forgive you of your sin, thereby reconciling you to God. And now your life is different in many ways. Where there was sin and separation, now there is a desire to please God and be near to Him.
Do you have a story like that?
If so, you are a new creation in Christ and an ambassador for Christ. Your story has found its meaning and purpose by finding your place in God’s story. Your story is a powerful tool, that when used by God, serves as a bridge to the gospel.
Notice the components of your testimony in bold print above. You can share your story simply by following this pattern and personalizing it to your own experience:
- “There was a time in my life when I was (insert two words that characterize your life before Christ) ________ and _________.”
- “But then, someone shared the good news about Jesus with me that (insert a verse of Scripture that summarizes the gospel like Romans 5:8, John 3:16, etc.). So I surrendered and put my faith in Jesus.”
- “Now my life is marked by (insert two words that display the change the gospel has affected in your life) ______ and _______.”
- “Do you have a story like that?”
Sharing your testimony – or, as many of my friends and I refer to it, our “15-second story,” – serves as a bridge to a gospel conversation in two primary ways. First, your story is an example of the power of the gospel to save. Second, your story provides a point of comparison by which a person can view their own life and see their need to respond to the gospel themselves.
I want to encourage you, right now, to write out your “15-second story” and begin practicing by sharing it with others. It is best to practice with another believer, going back and forth repeatedly until you get the flow down and have it memorized. Once you’ve done that, be looking for the brokenness in the people you come in contact with. When someone shares the reason they’ve had a bad day, week, year or even life, take that as a cue to offer hope – beginning by sharing your testimony as a bridge to the gospel. After all, “we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us.” (2 Corinthians 5:20)
EDITOR’S NOTE: George Robinson is a professor of missions and evangelism at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary who is an adopted child of the Father, and a flawed, but forgiven husband and dad. He is a disciple-maker, missionary, elder and author who loves hunting, riding his Harley, and cheering on the University of Georgia Bulldogs.