God’s Story and Our Story
In his first epistle, the apostle John writes, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. What we’ve seen, heard, touched with our hands, the Word of life—we proclaim to you” (1 John 1:1–4).
The Importance of Eyewitness Testimony
John’s words highlight the importance of eyewitness testimony. John knew what he was talking about—literally. He and his fellow apostles had followed Jesus during his earthly ministry. They had seen him nailed to the cross and had seen him raised from the dead three days later. And they had experienced his life-changing power! Jesus is the crucified and risen Lord, and he has the power to changes lives! We have it on good authority—apostolic eyewitness testimony.
At the same time, it’s important to remember that, properly conceived, the focus does not belong on the eyewitnesses themselves but on the truth to which they bear witness. As long as they’re telling the truth, the focus should be on the historical reality they affirm. Witness is re-presentation; we’re simply his representatives. As John the Baptist said, he—Jesus—must increase, while I—the witness—must decrease (John 3:30).
God’s Story and Our Story
Also, it’s important to realize that witness is not optional but required. As Jesus told his followers, “You, too, will bear witness” (John 15:26–27). As the apostle John affirms in the opening quote, we must speak of what we’ve heard, seen, and experienced in our lives—the power of God in saving us and in calling us to his service. This should be a heartfelt joy and desire, not an unpleasant burden and obligation.
Yet while each of us has a story to tell, we believe that the account of our conversion and God’s life-changing power is more than just another story. Our story, in turn, is grounded in God’s story. This is what gives our testimony its compelling force. We call people to respond, not to our story, but to what God has done for sinners on the cross in Christ. Jesus is the only way! (John 14:6)
Ambassadors for Christ
In this way, then, we’re ambassadors for Christ, appealing to and imploring people: “Be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:20). As Paul wrote, “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:18–19).
You can read my own conversion story here.