The Power of Our Testimony
Posted on July 27, 2015 by gschaywood
“Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: ‘Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has done down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.”
Disclaimer: I am no Revelations expert! I have not studied this cryptic book in depth and I am very much mystified by its visions and prophecies. But I think this key passage is a strikingly clear and important message with some direct and unmistakable implications that are crucial for the way we live our lives today as Christians in an unsaved world.
If you are like me, and you are daily discouraged by the sickness, suffering, apathy, sin, idolatry, brokenness, and pain that you see both in the world around you and inside of yourself, this vision should be a brilliant glimmer of light in the murk of this world. The message is simple and clear, and it is this: The battle is won. Our accuser has been defeated and hurled down. We are contributing to his defeat; we are overcoming death and sin and darkness by the power of Christ and by the way we display and communicate his power in our lives. Therefore, rejoice.
I LOVE hearing peoples’ testimonies, their stories. I love seeing what God redeemed them from and how he used their sin and brokenness to show them their need for him. I love seeing how people have been changed by grace, and how the theme of “… but God used this hardship for my good” fleshes itself out in so many different ways in each of our lives.
There are still scars, lingering memories that haunt, sorrow for things or for time lost, but when we come to know Christ, the valleys become filled in light of how God uses our sin and pain to redeem us. Where once there was captivity, there is freedom. Where once there was insecurity, now there is security in his love. When once there were so many questions concerning if I’m good enough and how do I know and where do I go, there is now surety and peace.
One of my roommates had a friend in town just this past weekend that I was meeting for the first time. The way she talked about her life story and her past, there was a very clear divide between “this was me before I knew Jesus”, and “this is me now that I know the Lord”. She was head-strong and rebellious and constantly searching for truth and contentment. The woman she is now bears those same character streaks, but now all qualities take on a redeemed nature. She is infectiously joyful: the deep-seated kind of joy that only comes from firmly rooted confidence in her Savior’s affections and her right-standing before him. She is not fearful of the future despite her not presently having life desires met. Her story is a beautiful one, and all throughout it is woven with the marks of God’s grace, his goodness, his power, and his faithfulness.
I think most of us, for a variety of reasons, tend to shy away from so boldly proclaiming what Jesus’ kingship has done in our lives and how his grace has changed us. For me, I am so afraid of offending, or being socially inappropriate, or even am fearful that I’ll do a poor job of representing what a redeemed life looks like. It’s fear that holds me back from bursting with the truth of my Savior’s goodness: fear of man, fear of condemnation, fear of not being well-accepted or well-liked. So often I feel my story and my speech is robbed of its sweet potency by my own death-grip on the approval and acclaim that this world has to offer.
Revelations 12 points to this in warning concerning the boldness of those that speak their testimony with power. Verse 11 says “… they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” What is it that we really fear? Man? Death? Rejection? Our hearts are so quick to forget that Christ has overcome death and therefore surpasses all of these things. We actually have nothing to fear at all.
The flipside of this scenario is a body of believers that uses the powerful weapon of our tongues and our stories that Christ has wielded with the fierce freedom he brings.
Revelation 12 actually tells us that we (past tense) overcame Satan by the saving blood of Christ and by the power of our testimonies! Christ has already done the hard work! For those of us who know him, we now already have a story of redemption, and that story is actually used by God to overcome Satan! Did you hear me?! Our measly, shameful, broken-past, sin-ridden stories are used by God himself, through the saving power of Christ, to overcome Satan and sin. In the context of the broken and painful world that we still live in, it’s important to take every opportunity to remind ourselves and others of this truth, that Satan already has been and will be overcome, and that the sin and suffering we know on this side of the story is coming to a sure end.
Jesus also issues these instructions during his ministry of healing and miracles on the earth. In Mark 5, there is a story about a crazy, demon possessed man who lives in the tombs. No one will go near him, and for a time he was actually chained and left alone in an attempt to control his crazed and disturbing behavior, but he was so strong that he kept ripping the chains off. He would cry out all day and cut himself with stones. Jesus comes, and the man tells him that he is called “Legion” since there were many demons occupying him. Jesus definitively commands the demons to flee, and the man is suddenly in his right mind, dressed and seated calmly. He then begs and pleads with Jesus, the man who freed him and gave him new life, to be able to go with him. Jesus declines his pleas, and his response is this: “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” (Mark 5:19) He stopped the man from some huge, life-altering act of leaving the family he can now finally rejoin in order to follow him, and instead issues a simple command: go home to your family and tell them what the Lord has done for you. Live and enjoy your life, sharing with those that God has placed in it of the great mercy and power of the Lord.
These verses are an encouragement and a challenge to me. If Satan will be hurled down, and my story helps bring that defeat and bring about God’s kingdom, why would I shrink back in fear? Oh that God would set our tongues ablaze, that the individual, unique stories of his grace dispensed in each of our lives would be an uncontainable fire in our mouths that bursts free all throughout the day.
What is it holding you back from sharing your testimony and proclaiming God’s grace in your life more often? Is it fear of how you will be received or perceived? Is there an idol of approval that keeps your lips sealed? Do you struggle to believe that your story matters? Do you doubt the power of Christ to redeem your sin and brokenness? Do you fail to see where you’ve been set free? If you don’t feel like you have a testimony to share, or have yet to develop a cohesive way to communicate what Jesus has done in your life, I exhort you that this is immeasurably important. Spend some time reflecting on this so you can use that powerful muscle to take part in overcoming Satan and bringing God’s kingdom to this earth.
Grace and Peace,
Chelsea Batten, PA-C