The parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus gives an interesting dimension of what a testimony should aim to achieve. Luke 16: 28, ‘for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come into this place of torment’. The message goes out to those in the land of the living because they still have a chance to escape the dreadful conditions of hell.
The cry is from one soul to whoever may take his message seriously. This damned soul knows that some people that are still alive may join him in hell and feels he could do something for them. This means that when he recalls his behavior and possibly his influence while on earth, he anticipates that some souls will be follow his teachings and end up in hell. The damned soul’s sinful works has landed him in a situation where he has to cry out, ‘I beg you therefore, that you would send him to my father’s house, for I have five brethren, that he may testify unto them – lest they also come into this place of torment!’ Note that the request is for a testimony and not necessarily preaching to his brothers on earth. We could say that a testimony has more weight than a sermon.
The urge to testify works when it is strong enough to stand against any force that may want to oppose it. To testify about something means you know without a doubt of the reality and existence of what you testify about. It calls for a constant, irresistible, undaunted strength, in case someone questions or rejects the testimony.
Take for example when Jesus testified about His betrayal. When Jesus Christ identified His betrayer, the Holy Bible says that He had said a mouthful to His disciples but then He got troubled in His spirit and testified saying, ‘most assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me’ (John 13:21). In verse 27, the Holy Bible says that this testimony led to Satan’s action of entering Judas Iscariot. This was and today should be typical of a real testimony. The sequence may differ but the components could be the same.
Turning to the directive to testify, I want to quote Acts 10:42. Testifying is not optional to the believer, it is a command. However, it must be acknowledged that testifying is not an easy exercise. Think how challenging it is to approach drunkards, the swearers, the liars, the adulterer, the embezzlers, the false religion leaders, the hypocrites, the murderers, the cheaters, the thieves, the covetous, or any ungodly people only tell them that they should stop doing what they are used to doing. To some it could mean loss of money, paying friendships, etc. It might bring anger to some when you tell them that many others that are in hell lived the same way they do. They might behave like the king of Judah that wanted to kill the messenger, forgetting that message will not die (2 Chronicles 25:16).
Therefore, he who says he gives a testimony or preaches on the Word needs to do so heartily. If it calls, do it again and again, reminding people that their sins lead to death (Romans 6:28). No good works qualify anyone for heaven but only the grace of God. However, known sins are to be shunned at all times. Live honestly, pay everyone their dues, live in (strive for it) peace with all man (Hebrews 12:14), give/share with the poor, share the gospel, and believe in Jesus Christ and it will count to God.
Be blessed as you testify!
Revised: 4th April 2015