Monday, January 21, 2008

I Need to Testify

(A Communion Meditation based on Psalm 40:1-11)

When I was a boy, I worshipped in a context in which personal testimony was very important. Each Wednesday night, we had a personal testimony segment in our prayer service. Person after person would stand up and tell of what the Lord had done for them. Some of the testimonies were moving. Some were frankly a little silly. Some were standardized—the same person said the same thing week after week. But it struck me as impressive and vital: these people were willing to stand up in front of the congregation and tell what the Lord had done for them.

And so it came to pass that one Wednesday night, with great fear and trembling and with much knocking of knees, I stood up and said in a quavering voice, “I’d like to say that I love the Lord. Pray for me and my family” and sat down. I felt that I had gone through a rite of passage. I felt that I had done something that I had to do. I had testified.

We all need to testify; we all need to tell of what the Lord has done and particularly of what the Lord has done for us. What else can we say about such testimony?

First, we testify because the Lord has saved us. Like the Psalmist, we can testify to the fact that God has heard our cry, that he has pulled us out of the pit, and that he has set our feet on a rock. Each one of us can name a time—and probably time after time—that the Lord has delivered us. The main event that we would all name, though, is our salvation from our sin. Through the life, death, and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ, God has saved us and given us eternal life. How can we help but tell? “He put a new song in my mouth,” the Psalmist proclaims (v. 4). We burst with joy over what God has done in our lives! Whether we sing or whether we talk or whether we do both, we testify because the Lord has saved us.

Second, we testify by doing the will of God. Many of us think that going to church and giving our money and doing such church stuff is adequate thanks to God for what he has done. But look at what this Psalm says: “Sacrifice and offering you do not desire, but you have given me an open ear…. Then I said, ‘Here I am; in the scroll of the book it is written of me. I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart” (vv. 6-8). Now, that is not to say that we shouldn’t go to church and give our offerings. But it is to say that we offer adequate testimony of what God has done when we are obedient to God. He will open our ears and open our hearts to know his will and he will then open our lives to do his will. We preach the gospel to those around us as we are obedient to that gospel.

Third, we testify so that others may come to trust in the Lord. The Psalm states, “Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD” (v. 3b). The Lord has delivered and saved us. As we celebrate that fact through our words and through our actions, it may be that others will come to trust the Lord. That gives us even more to praise about, for such a great blessing is too much to be kept to ourselves.

Fourth, we testify because we need the Lord’s help again. With v. 11 the tone of the Psalm changes: “Do not, O LORD, withhold your mercy from me; let your steadfast love and your faithfulness keep me safe forever.” This one who has been praising God and singing a new song and testifying gladly and displaying obedience now is in trouble again. He needs the Lord’s help again. We always need the Lord’s help. It never ends. Life is a cycle of good and bad, happy and glad, and we need to keep celebrating and telling of what the Lord has done for us so we will be confident in looking for his help again. The same Lord who has delivered us will deliver us.

As we approach the table of the Lord, I ask you to remember three truths.

First, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who came to take away the sin of the world, died on the cross that we might be saved. We remember that death today and we praise God for the salvation secured for us through that death.

Second, the same Lord who has saved us continues to save us and will save us in the end. We continue to need his saving presence in our lives until our lives come to an end.

Third, the Lord’s Supper is itself an act of testimony. As Paul said, “As often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” So let us proclaim his death and our salvation. Let us keep proclaiming the good news when we leave this place.

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