What do you say to people whose testimony of salvation does not include the Word of God? They just knew something happened sometime in their life, The Lord Jesus Christ gave them peace and their life was changed.
Thank you for your interesting question. Sometimes people have an “encounter” and mistake the drawing light of God for the full light needed to bring one to salvation. In other instances, there actually is enough light for salvation but clarity is lacking in the “testimony.”
Ultimately salvation is in a person—Jesus. The Bible says when you believe in Jesus you receive forgiveness of sins (Acts 10:43), credited righteousness (Rom. 4:5; 10:4), and eternal life (John 3:16; 6:47). Yet, the Bible also says that faith comes by hearing and “hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17).
The object of faith is Jesus, but the warrant or basis for believing in Jesus is the Word of God. Faith in Jesus comes by the word (rhema, Greek ῥῆμα) of God. The rhema refers to the words or specific truth of God. The Spirit of God uses the truth of God to lead people to trust in the Son of God, who is truth personified.
Salvation comes no other way. That is why we need to witness. “How shall they hear without a preacher” (Rom. 10:14, cf. 10:13-17). People need to hear and be convinced of the biblical message of salvation—the good news. The specific truth of sin (the problem), righteousness (the payment found in Christ), and judgment (the penalty) is what the Spirit uses to convince people to believe in Jesus.
The issue here is the truth of the rhema, of the words of God pertaining to salvation. Faith comes by the words. Faith comes by specific truth. This is necessary. Sin has a consequence and Christ alone is the answer. This is the gospel, and this is the singular issue on which the Spirit convicts the lost.
In a salvation testimony, people do not have to be able to quote the verses or know the references. But they do need to have understood the truth that the words of God convey. They have to know Jesus saves and on that basis put their faith in Him to save them. A decision of faith must be made based on salvation truth. To know that Jesus saves in a salvific sense is to know that Jesus is the answer to man’s problem of sin. On this basis a decision of faith for salvation may be made.
Sometimes, a person has a crisis and looks to God for rescue, and in His mercy, God responds. This is “light.” God is the deliverer, and the person knows that God intervened. Without further understanding the individual may mistakenly think that this temporal deliverance is salvation deliverance. Now, they need someone to show them that Jesus also saves from sin and its consequence.
In other cases, people know enough truth because somewhere they came into contact with Bible truth even if they cannot articulate it. They know they are sinners and that sin must be judged. And they know that deliverance is beyond them and in Christ. So they look to Jesus—and Jesus saves.
In regard to your question about an individual’s testimony, you might seek to learn what led up to the “something happened” and get more specifics on the event itself. Does it reveal enough salvation truth to be a salvation testimony or is there a need for more light?
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