When I go around training people in how to clearly and effectively share their faith, I often teach the “Before, Then, After” approach to sharing your personal testimony. The basic idea is that you put together a two-minute testimony that shares what your life was like before you encountered Christ. Then you tell about the moment that you put your faith in Christ. Finally, you talk about how your life changed after you put your faith in Christ. It is a simple approach to telling your own, personal, amazing story of conversion.
In Acts 26, Paul essentially tells King Agrippa his before, then, after testimony.
“My manner of life from my youth, spent from the beginning among my own nation and in Jerusalem, is known by all the Jews. They have known for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that according to the strictest party of our religion I have lived as a Pharisee. And now I stand here on trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to our fathers, to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship night and day. And for this hope I am accused by Jews, O king! Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?
“I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And I did so in Jerusalem. I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities. (Acts 26:4–11, ESV)
“In this connection I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me. And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ (Acts 26:12–18, ESV)
“Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance. For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.” (Acts 26:19–23, ESV)
What is your Before, Then, After testimony?
Okay! We have definitely left narrative and landed firmly in the theologically rich letters… Welcome to Romans!
It is wild reading Romans right after reading Acts. The Apostle Paul was trying so hard to get to Rome, and it is precisely because he was unable to get to Rome that we have the book of Romans. Praise God for the dreams that don’t come true in our timing!
I love the boldness of Paul. Even though this gospel message was getting him into so much trouble, he faithfully shared the gospel, anyway.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16, ESV)
Amen! May we be unashamed of the gospel, as well!