A Word to the Wise: The powerful attraction of a personal testimony

By: Tom Rupp, Special to the Telegraph
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In speaking of his religious faith, Johnny Cash sang, “I was there when it happened so I guess I ought to know.” A personal testimony is just that — personal. No one can take that away from you. In court we are asked to “solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” That statement serves as a proper standard by which the Christian can conduct his or her business, and also as a guideline for giving a personal testimony. There’s something to be said for the old-time, now defunct habit of testimony services in the church. In our attempt to be modern and relevant we have sometimes become downright lukewarm or backslidden, to use other old-timey but still relevant terminology. In 1 Peter 3:15, it tells us to be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks us a reason for the faith that we have. Could that be the issue? Could it be that we no longer live exemplary lives that catch the world’s attention? Could it be that many times the Christian lives a life no better, and sometimes worse, than those who profess no relationship with God? Here’s what I think happened. I think that, like any good thing that becomes a mindless tradition, most churches threw this custom out the window because it lost its purpose. Why keep on doing something if it is meaningless? Also, I think the general culture of the church has capitulated to the general culture of the world. It feels too much like an imposition, or a crooked salesperson, to stand up and speak of something you firmly believe in anymore. Speaking of being there when it happened, I was there when it happened fifty-two years ago today. That’s right, today is my “big” day. Whoop-dee-do. I cannot recall anything about that day. My mother told me the stories of how she nearly died giving birth to me. I wish I would have written some notes down from those conversations. You don’t have to be a theologian to be qualified to testify. Being born again is something like our physical births. You don’t have to thoroughly understand it in order to experience it. You don’t have to figure everything out first. I was born Aug. 17, 1959. I was born again on Dec. 31, 1973. I was there when it happened so I guess I ought to know. Tom Rupp is a Bible teacher at Capital Bible College and English Ministries Pastor at Zion Presbyterian Church in Sacramento. He can be reached at