Sometimes testimonies of salvation are just wrong. By wrong I don’t mean unclear and vague which may be wrong because they do not communicate clearly that Christ died for our sins and resurrected for our free justification (1 Cor 15:1-4, Rom 4:25). By wrong I mean doctrinally wrong, i.e. a false gospel.
To many people, saying a testimony of salvation is wrong is like telling someone they have a bad haircut. It’s not polite to mention it, and besides it is a matter of personal preference anyway.
Meanwhile, when we understand that there is only one gospel which is the power of God unto salvation today, then the wrong-ness of a testimony depends on how it lines up with the one gospel that saves.
Perhaps you have heard these wrong testimonies:
“I was born a Christian.”
“I felt God’s anointing.”
“I keep the commandments.”
“I live the best life I can for God.”
“I decided to be a better person.”
People who describe salvation like this are most likely unsaved people who do not know the gospel. Do not be deceived, many people go to church with these wrong testimonies. The above false salvation testimonies are owned by people who claim to be Christians.
These testimonies are worse than just unclear, they are simply wrong. Anyone who takes these statements as a testimony of salvation is wrong to do so, even if the person has been to seminary, has written popular Christian books, is on the radio, and teaches other Christians.
A Good Bad Example
In Christian books (how can a book be Christian, right?) it is customary for the author to give a personal testimony. Normally their stories are in the front of the book so that they can gain credibility among their readers. Some of the best examples of wrong testimonies are spattered about on pages written by men with more degrees than the Masons.
A seminary graduated, dual master of divinity, popular Ph.D in the evangelical Christian community gave this testimony early in his book:
“As a teenager I heard the gospel – that God loved me, He had a plan for my life, and I needed to ask forgiveness for my sins to receive Christ into my heart and experience eternal life. I did just that, and my whole world changed when I became a follower of Jesus.”
Not only does this testimony use almost every Christian gospel cliché in the book, it is also just plain wrong when compared to what is truly the gospel. If this is all he knows about how he was saved then by his own testimony he does not know the power of God unto salvation in the preaching of the cross.
The good news of the gospel is not that God loves you and he is driving your life car. Neither is it that anyone needs to plead for forgiveness, since God has already offered forgiveness through Christ’s death on the cross (Eph 4:32, Col 2:13). “Receiving Jesus” like a package is not at all like trusting his finished work on the cross to deliver you from the bondage of sin and death.
Following Jesus in his journeys around the Holy Land will not get you a step closer to salvation since no one understood the preaching of the cross throughout his earthly ministry (Luke 18:33-34).
A Right Testimony
The gospel that saves is that Christ accomplished everything needed to save you from sin and death when he died on the cross for sins. The cross took your sin problem out of the way already, and through his resurrection you can have free righteousness on Christ’s behalf through faith (2 Cor 5:21, Rom 4:24-25; Rom 5:1). Do you believe this? Do you trust this gospel?
By trusting his death and resurrection for your salvation and adding no other works or church traditions you are sealed with the Holy Ghost (Eph 1:13, Rom 4:5). This latter “no works” disclaimer is necessary for all those who would make God’s grace powerless to save by adding any necessary work to Christ’s finished work (e.g. baptism, confessions, prayers, experiences, etc.)
The Cause of Wrong Testimony
Wrong testimonies of the gospel are either spoken out of ignorance of the right gospel, or out of intent to hide the gospel of salvation. The second motive would be devilish according to 2 Cor 4:4, and such sinful behavior should be stopped.
If we choose to give the testifier the benefit of the doubt then he is not a deceiver deliberately hiding the gospel, but he is merely ignorant. Ignorance is curable, but it means he is the victim of a confused evangelical system that has successfully hidden the true gospel from him so that he cannot articulate it in his own salvation testimony.
“In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” – 2 Cor 4:4
Ignorance of the gospel can be cured by hearing and trusting the right gospel (Rom 10:17).
“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost…” – 2 Cor 4:3
Wrong testimonies teach false gospels. When celebrities articulate wrong testimonies many follow into the damning trap of a false gospel. It should be no surprise that many people who claim to be Christians simply are not in that they are ignorant of the gospel that saves.
It is not that the gospel is hard to understand, and I would, as God wills, that all men were saved (1 Tim 2:4). This is why Grace Ambassadors endeavors to clearly minister the gospel of the grace of God, but wrong testimonies produce false converts and they need to be called out.
If your testimony is unclear, make it clear; get a better understanding; know the gospel of salvation (1 Cor 15:1-10). If your testimony is wrong get your story straight or be quiet.