What is meant by a testimony? I've seen so many sharing their testimonies in churches. Can we share the testimonies like that? One brother asked me to share my testimony in their church. What can I say?
To give testimony really means to give evidence that something is true. In many denominations, giving a personal testimony is offering the church evidence that you were saved. Many churches rely on testimonies because they don't follow biblical teachings. Because they declare a person is saved by faith alone, how do you know when a person is saved? The testimonies serve as a way to measure whether a person has enough faith.
When you read about "testimony" in the Bible, think about "witness." For example, "And whoever will not receive you, when you go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet as a testimony against them" (Luke 9:5). The disciples' action serves as evidence against their treatment in a particular city. When John said, "This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true" (John 21:24), he wasn't talking about his testimony of his personal faith. He is talking about his giving evidence regarding what he personally witnessed concerning the life of Christ. "Then a certain Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good testimony with all the Jews who dwelt there" (Acts 22:12) means that you can ask any of the Jews in the area and they would tell you what a good, God-fearing man Ananias is.
One of the terms for the Bible is a "testament" or a "testimony." "The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple" (Psalms 19:7). The reason is that God's law also serves as a witness that what God said is true. As an example, the Bible has detailed prophecies regarding the future that came true -- that is a testament to the inspiration of the Bible. So when Paul said, "when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed" (II Thessalonians 1:10), he is talking about the preaching of the Gospel that was done in Thessalonica. He wasn't talking about statements concerning his personal faith. You see, the apostles served as witnesses to Jesus Christ. "And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree" (Acts 10:39). The apostles could give personal testimony concerning Jesus because they literally were eyewitnesses of what happened.
Giving a personal testimony doesn't really prove anything. You only have that person's word for what they claim to feel. Jesus talked about this reality, "If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true" (John 5:31). He isn't saying he would lie, but that his own personal claims would not prove he was the Christ. That is why he went on to call upon the witnesses of John, God, the miracles he did, and the Bible to prove his claim. A personal testimony is merely words. It is a claim of evidence, but it proves nothing. "If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son" (I John 5:9).
I would rather do as the disciples, and when asked for a testimony offer the evidence of God. "He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God" (I John 5:10-13).