I took a class in college all about testimony literature, meaning literature that tells a person’s account of an experience. The writer of a piece of testimony literature is a witness to a significant event and writes to record his or her perspective about what happened.
Usually when we hear the words “testimony” or “witness,” it’s in the realm of law. Someone’s testimony in a courtroom is a formal statement given under oath in response to questions from a lawyer, and a witness is someone who has knowledge about an event relevant to a trial. I’ve also heard “personal testimony” used to describe a Christian telling the story of being saved.
But the literature class made me think differently about the many verses in the Bible that talk about testimony and being a witness. They go beyond the standard English uses in a way that for me opened up a lot of added meaning and depth.
1. Being witnesses connects Christians across time
One way testimony literature is powerful is that it binds a group of people through shared experience. The disciples of Christ were eyewitnesses of the gospel, the good news about God’s plan for the world. They wrote down the events that happened during that time and their experiences so that future generations would know the truth and to help keep the story from getting distorted or forgotten.
We continue to act as witnesses and extend their work today by believing that what’s written in the Bible is truth and sharing that belief with others. We know this is an important responsibility of the Church from what’s written in Acts 1:8 Acts 1:8But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come on you: and you shall be witnesses to me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and to the uttermost part of the earth.
American King James Version×: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
This charge gives all followers of Christ a sense of purpose that’s the same no matter when or where you’re born. The Bible as testimony literature connects us all with a story, plus a purpose that stems from that story.
2. Sharing our stories helps us and others in our spiritual walks
Another way testimony literature becomes meaningful is the way it helps those involved process impactful events and understand their own feelings about them. Accepting the role of witness means not denying or ignoring what has happened. Instead it means taking on the duty of sharing the truth about God boldly, which includes the need to explore what that means for each of us personally, along with making sure we are representing Him in the way that He wants.
It’s definitely not always an easy role, since there are those who don’t want His story told. But God knows this responsibility helps us develop spiritually and understand Him more completely. He says, “You are My witnesses … and My servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He” (Isaiah 43:10 Isaiah 43:10You are my witnesses, said the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that you may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.
American King James Version×).
There’s also an interesting connection between the Holy Spirit and testimony. Becoming baptized and receiving the Holy Spirit adds an even greater dimension to our ability to testify and be witnesses of the truth about God (John 15:26-27 John 15:26-27  But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceeds from the Father, he shall testify of me:
 And you also shall bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.
American King James Version×). That’s something to look forward to if you’re not yet baptized. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can share our personal stories of God’s intervention in our lives, along with the testimony of other witnesses from the Bible to help those we encounter in the world learn about God (John 17:20 John 17:20Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
American King James Version×).
True testimony, and our true identity as spiritual witnesses, creates a strong connection between us as God’s people through our shared experiences as Christians. It also deepens our relationship with God as we communicate and express what He’s done and what He’s doing.
So, ask older Church members to share their stories. Explore the testimony of Christ’s disciples in the gospels of the Bible. And start to share your own stories about when you’ve felt God work in your life. Because we gain a lot when we become witnesses like David in Psalms 66:16 Psalms 66:16Come and hear, all you that fear God, and I will declare what he has done for my soul.
American King James Version×and say, “Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will declare what He has done for my soul.”
Kourtney Kovanis, Managing editor | email@example.com