Testimony Time

I love to hear how people were saved. It’s thrilling to hear about the different links in the chain, the moving of circumstances, the acts of providence, the moment of faith, and the change that resulted. Little wonder there is joy in the presence of the angels over one sinner that repents.

Well, Daniel chapter 4 is really Nebuchadnezzar’s story of conversion. He put it into a ‘tract’ and published it throughout his empire, and I want to encourage you to do a similar thing. I’m not talking necessarily about writing a tract, but I am urging you to write down your story of conversion in a clear and concise way, and commit it to memory to pass on to others. Why? Because it is one of the most effective witnessing weapons in our arsenal.

Let me give you a couple of reasons why a personal testimony is so effective:

  • Everyone likes a story - it’s a way of catching people’s interest and drawing them in.
  • You are preaching to them but not at them - you are communicating the gospel about sin and judgment, Christ and salvation, without coming across as superior or arrogant - it’s about you, but they’re getting the message too.
  • You are letting them know that this isn’t theory to you. You can stand and debate evidence all day (and sometimes it is necessary to discuss evidential issues) but in your testimony you are showing them that you know the reality of this in your own experience.

You may object that you were saved early in life, and there is nothing really remarkable to tell. Well, I can identify with that sentiment, but even if you were saved early in life the fact is you do have something worth telling. Although there may be nothing terribly dramatic or shocking in what you did before your conversion, you can tell people what you were - a guilty and helpless sinner. You can tell them the truth of the gospel you knew, and how you actually were saved. You can tell them about the reality and joy of being in the present possession of salvation.

Before we get back to the chapter, let me give you a couple of tips:

  • Keep it short - Nebuchadnezzar’s story takes about 7 minutes to read, but in personal witnessing that is too long. Practise getting your story down below two minutes. In personal witnessing you are in a dialogue not a monologue, and if you speak for too long you will be interrupted or seen as rude. Cut out the peripheral details.
  • Keep it scriptural - you may have been truly saved when you ‘asked the Lord into your heart’ or when you ‘gave your heart to the Lord’, but you weren’t saved by doing those things. You were saved by repenting and putting your trust in Christ, Acts 20. 21. Therefore, in your testimony, leave out the language or details that cloud salvation rather than clarify.

Now let’s take a look at the chapter. Nebuchadnezzar was at rest and was flourishing, v. 4 - a picture of contentment. This was a man you would have thought was unreachable, but the chapter shows us how quickly things can change, and no one is beyond the reach of God.

Nebuchadnezzar had been spoken to before.

In chapter 2 we might have thought he had been converted. He learned there that God was omniscient, ‘The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret’, v. 47. He was moved, and his profession sounded very promising. However, he went back to his old ways.

Then, in chapter 3 we might have thought this was when he would bow the knee. In that chapter he learnt that God was omnipotent, ‘there is no other God that can deliver after this sort’, v. 29. But again, he remained unrepentant, still seeing himself as the lord of his own life, and the centre of his own universe.

What this shows us is that it is possible for someone to be powerfully affected by the gospel, and to make a profession that sounds genuine, but to remain unconverted. To put it in New Testament terms - the proof of having had the new birth is having new life. If someone remains completely unchanged it indicates they remain completely unconverted.

But then Nebuchadnezzar had this dream and sent for Daniel. You can see from verses 8, 9 and 18 that the king held Daniel in high esteem and knew he was really in touch with God. Daniel might have been discouraged after the experience of chapter 2. Perhaps he was expecting Nebuchadnezzar to have turned to the Lord in repentance, but instead saw him continue on his course of rebellion and sin. But Daniel’s testimony had not been forgotten, and it had left its mark on the stubborn heart of that wicked king, so that, when God spoke to him again, the king wanted to know what Daniel had to say. Let that be an encouragement to you. Maybe you have had opportunities in the past to explain the gospel to someone at school or work, and it seemed that they were touched, but the next day they acted as if it never happened. Don’t be discouraged - it hasn’t been forgotten, and, in a time of crisis, you may find that person turning to you for answers.

As in the previous chapters we find this lovely blend of courtesy and courage in Daniel. He spoke respectfully to the king, but he warned him faithfully to turn from his sins, v. 27. Daniel left the warning with him, because that’s as far as we can go in the matter of evangelism, present the truth, make the application, and leave it with God.

Nebuchadnezzar went on, still sitting on the throne of his own heart, until God took him down a peg or two. The king was the most powerful man on earth; he thought (and so did others) that no one could challenge his authority. It took only a word from God to bring him down, not just to the level of ordinary men, but to the level of a beast. Those who walk in pride, God is able to abase, and it was when God brought Nebuchadnezzar down that he really began to look up. Until then he had been looking down on others but when God dealt with him he realized he was no better than anyone else, and there was a God upon whom he was entirely dependent.

In our day we see governments in the Western ‘Christianized’ world becoming more hostile to God and the gospel. How important it is that we heed Paul’s exhortation to pray for kings and for all in authority, 1 Tim. 2. 1-3. We may feel those in authority are immoveable, but be encouraged - when Paul tells us to pray for kings he does it hard on the heels of the mention of another King – ‘Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen’, 1 Tim. 1. 17.

Whatever power an earthly king or ruler may have, we pray to the all-powerful King, and He is able to bring them down, and also to lift them up. Nebuchadnezzar is a testimony to that.